Table of Contents
Throughout the Rise of the Floodborn meta, we are going to be highlighting different deck archetypes that we think are particularly fun, interesting or unique. We will go over the card choices, the strategies and the matchups in-depth so that you can take the deck to your locals or on ladder and compete with it right away.
Today's deck spotlight is going to be focused on an Emerald/Steel Relentless Control list. This is a list I have been having success with on ladder, garnering a 64% win rate over 60 games played so far. I will go over the card choices, the mulligan and game plan strategies, as well as specific matchups and what to watch out for and what to do to improve our win rate against the most common decks in the meta.
So for this deck I wanted to build around two cards that I thought looked quite powerful during reveal season: Cheshire Cat - From the Shadows and Beast - Relentless. Both of these cards take advantage of pings to full effect and so Steel seemed to be the natural second ink to incorporate into this deck.
First off, we want a lot of pings to capitalize on both our build-around cards. So that meant Robin Hood - Capable Fighter, Beast - Forbidding Recluse and Hans - Thirteenth in Line make for great inclusions to the list. As does Tinker Bell - Giant Fairy and her shift target, Tinker Bell - Tiny Tactician. Grab Your Sword is another solid inclusion, but I'm only running two of them as they are definitely not as crucial with so many other ways to deal damage. I also have 3 copies of Let the Storm Rage On as both a ping effect and card cycle.
Card cycle, and particularly card draw, is another important aspect of the deck. We are running 4 copies of A Whole New World because it's just so good at keeping our hand full of resources. It also gives us a secondary win condition of decking out our opponent, especially useful against Ruby/Sapphire Pawpsicle Control decks. We also run 3 copies of Beast - Tragic Hero as secondary card draw. With all this draw and cycle, we should have no problem keeping a pretty full hand.
For the rest of our action cards, we are running 4-of Ring the Bell as our main form of removal, when we don't have the big Cat on the board. I also like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo as a flexible card that can help us double-down on an enter the board effect or just to keep a key character safe from challenges. Lastly, we have Lady Tremaine - Wicked Stepmother as, basically, another copy of every action in your deck. Her flexibility to call back the exact card you need for the situation makes her a great fit for the deck.
When mulliganing, I like to keep always one A Whole New World. Typically we run out of cards around turn 5 or 6, and being able to play that card draw right when we need it is vital. The rest of the mulligan should be trying to find a good curve, including the cards we need to ink. Be wary of mulliganing too hard and throwing away inkables and getting back a lot of uninkable cards. We have 18 uninkable cards in our deck and it is possible to get a bricked opening hand, which is disastrous. I will often keep everything if I have one A Whole New World and whatever various assortment of other inkable cards.
So the main game plan of this deck is to get to the late game using our board control tools such as giant Tinker Bell, our direct damage spells and early game characters like Captain Hook - Forceful Duelist. Once in the late game, we can play control by removing things with our pings and either big Cheshire Cat or Ring the Bell. Or, if we can get Beast - Relentless to stick to the board, we can combo off with him in one turn with our multiple ping effects. It's not uncommon for Beast to get us 6-8 lore in one turn.
Vs. Amber/Amethyst Aggro
This is one of our easiest matchups, I haven't lost to an A/A aggro deck yet. We just have so many ways to ping off their aggro cards like Lilo - Making a Wish and Maleficent - Biding Her Time. We don't want to play A Whole New World in this matchup unless we are desperate. Giving them a handful of resources to play out onto the board is not the best idea. Just remove their stuff with our direct damage and if you can get a Beast - Tragic Hero down to push your card advantage, you should come out on top in easy fashion.
Vs. Amber/Steel Songs Midrange
This matchup is favored for us (80% winrate in my sample size of 60 games). We can go toe-to-toe with them in the early and midgame and can just outlast and outvalue them in the late game. One of the key cards in this matchup is Beast - Relentless. The only hard removal this deck usually runs is World's Greatest Criminal Mind and Beast, at only 4 attack, dodges it. That means as long as you keep him ready, it is very hard for them to remove him. You can just quest a couple times with him each turn and slowly progress towards your win condition and there isn't much they can do about it. Just be sure to prioritize killing their small Cinderellas so they can't shift out Cinderella - Stouthearted and remove him that way.
Vs. Ruby/Sapphire Pawpsicle Control
This is probably our toughest matchup but not unwinable. I am just under a 50% winrate against this deck in my playtesting. There are two main ways we win against Pawpsicle Control: either a very fast start that they can't come back from or we play the long game and mill them.
The good thing is these two things aren't mutually exclusive. We always mulligan for A Whole New World and we want to play things onto the board quickly to wheel on turn 5 or 6 anyway and reload our hand. If they have a slow start, and most importantly don't have Be Prepared right at 7 ink, you can many times get far enough ahead that you can close the game out by sticking one or two characters later on. Just be aware of the turn they are able to cast Be Prepared so you don't over commit too many characters into the board wipe.
If the aggressive strategy doesn't work, we go for the mill strategy. Because we aren't telegraphing a mill strategy early on, our opponent will often go hog wild drawing tons of cards. By the time they realize we have the capability to mill them, it is often too late. I will sometimes encourage them to draw cards early by leaving their Hiram Flaversham - Toymaker on board, even when I have the tools to remove it. One of the keys to your mill strategy is Lady Tremaine - Wicked Stepmother. She effectively gives us 7 copies of A Whole New World which means we don't have to rely on the perfect sequence of draws.
Another key card in this match is John Silver - Space Pirate. He can lock out one of their big characters from questing, sometimes for two whole turns, buying us that extra time to find our Tremaines or Whole New Worlds to finish off what is left of their deck. Don't ink John Silver in these match ups. On the other hand, don't be afraid to ink Beast - Relentless or Cheshire Cat as they will generally not get you any value in this matchup. They get removed immediately pretty much every time I play them. Ring the Bell is also a key card for this matchup. Save them to take care of Tamatoa - So Shiny! or risk just losing to Tamatoa questing for tons of lore.
Vs. Amethyst/Ruby Bounce
This matchup is another tough one. They have a lot of ways to make their board non-interactive so we need to find our direct damage like Let the Storm Rage On and Grab Your Sword. John Silver is another key card in this matchup as hitting an Arthur - Wizard's Apprentice with Reckless denies your opponent a lot of lore. Just try to remove as much as you can with direct damage early and be sure to, uh, be prepared for Be Prepared going into turn 7. Once they wipe the board, slam down your Beast - Relentless and try to race them to the finish line.
Vs. Amber/Emerald Discard
This is another strong matchup for us. We don't really care too much about discard. We just play A Whole New World and undo everything they just did. Just be careful you don't get into a situation where they force you to discard it. Grab your Sword is a key card in this matchup as it lets us remove Prince John - Greediest of All. And don't worry about playing A Whole New World into a Prince John, we don't care if they draw an extra 2 or 3 or 4 cards. Our card quality is just so much higher going into the late-game, those extra draws for them usually aren't enough to get them back in it.
And that's the Emerald/Steel Control deck. In my opinion, it is a strong choice in the current meta, as it has fantastic matchups against 3 out of the top 5 decks and then plays about even with the other two. And best of all, it is super fun to play! Give it a try on ladder or at your local gaming store and see how it performs for you.