The core idea is that relic weapons are very difficult to interact with if you run lots of removal to kill units. Burn spells are very flexible because they can contribute to the relic weapon gameplan (by protecting the relic weapon). Burn spells can also be directed at the opponent’s face to win games.
For whatever it’s worth, I went from #10 to #3 on the ladder with this. The strength of this deck is highly dependent on the metagame. It is very strong against Rakano, monojustice splashing shadow, many control Decks, and Armory. It is a little soft to Bandit Queen and Combrei variants.
This deck is somewhat similar to ones piloted by dudewitbangs (deck tech) and weiseguy (no deck tech).
How this deck wins
Plan A is to repeatedly attack with a relic weapon and to use removal to protect it. Who needs armor when you can just kill the opponent’s units?
Sword of Icaria is ideal as the warcry triggers provide value later on. Most control decks run very few answers to relic weapons. While some control decks run Decay or Lightning Strike, this deck packs more relic weapons than the control deck has answers.
Alongside plan A, this deck also runs some units. They too can damage the opponent. Valkyrie Enforcer is particularly good against decks that are weak against flyers (e.g. stonescar midrange/weapons, feln midrange/control). Sometimes a 3/3 flyer will do a lot of work.
Plan B is to finish off the opponent with burn spells.
Plan C is to use Rise to the Challenge to tutor up Icaria or Starsteel Daisho. Starsteel Daisho is good for cheese-ing opponents for 12-24 damage. Icaria is a slower clock that is somewhat more resilient. However, because this deck doesn’t run a lot of good creatures, opponents will often have removal for Icaria. Icaria also can’t get past Sandstorm Titan.
The answer game
This deck can be pretty devastating against decks that try to abuse aegis and powerful equipment. Because relic weapons ignore aegis, this deck is good at killing aegis units before the opponent can put powerful equipment on it that would make that unit safe against relic weapons. The aegis player will have equipment stranded in their hand, unable to develop a board presence. If they do manage to land a very big aegis unit, this deck has plenty of spells to strip aegis. A big reason why this deck is good is because it preys on aegis decks like monojustice variants and Rakano.
This deck also preys on traditional Armory, although that deck is not very strong and sees little play at the highest ranks of the ladder. Obliterate, Assembly Line, and Auric Sentry are all strong in the Armory matchups.
Understanding this deck
I must admit that the deck doesn’t look like it has a lot of synergy. And the card composition looks really weird. Oni Ronin is normally played in aggro decks, yet it sees a home alongside Harsh Rule (a “control” card) and Icaria, The Liberator (a control finisher). So here’s the explanation: the 1 drops in this deck are largely to counter aggro. In non-aggro matchups, they contribute some damage and warcry triggers against opponents. They do work in every matchup. Because they are cheap, they will often get in some damage before the opponent kills them. They also serve to confuse opponents since this deck can look a lot like Rakano aggro… potentially luring the opponent into overextending into a Harsh Rule. Rolant’s Favor, Assembly Line, and Auric Sentry are the only early-game differences that can tip an opponent off (but heck… I would run Auric Sentry in Rakano aggro).
The Rise to the Challenge toolbox and finishers exist because the deck packs so much removal that the game goes long.
I’m not a huge fan of Rise to the Challenge right now. The card is a little slow and durdle-ey. At the moment, we don’t have a good target to deal with Combrei and Sandstorm Titan. Because the Combrei matchup isn’t good, I would recommend tutoring for Starsteel Daisho and attempting a quick cheese kill.
Keep hands that are good against aggro. Depending on how much aggro there is in the metagame, you may want to mulligan more aggressively to beat aggro.
It is usually ok if your relic weapon dies, or if you have to do a 1-for-2 on a problem unit like Combrei Healer or Sandstorm Titan. Because most games go long, you will likely draw another relic weapon or threat.
Pay attention to the burn plan and diligently calculate how many points of burn that you have in your hand. Sometimes you want to speculatively burn the opponent in the hopes that you will draw lethal burn, since your other lines of play may not be as good.
2 Flame Blast (Set1 #2)
4 Inspire (Set1 #129)
3 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
1 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
1 Champion of Glory (Set1 #314)
3 Rolant’s Favor (Set0 #18)
4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Assembly Line (Set1 #29)
2 Auric Sentry (Set1 #146)
4 Sword of Icaria (Set1 #315)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
2 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
3 Rise to the Challenge (Set1 #320)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
1 Starsteel Daisho (Set1 #328)
2 Icaria, the Liberator (Set1 #329)
10 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
7 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
Flame Blast: The worst burn spell in this deck. Obliterate is amazing against Armory because it often takes down a unit and a relic weapon at the same time.
Assembly Line: This is a fine answer against aggro. Originally, I wanted to go deep on Assembly Line so that warcry triggers would stack onto relic weapons rather than units. In theory, Assembly Line has some synergies with Steelfang Chakram. Rising for a 6-attack equipment (that will repeatedly come back) turns every token into a must-answer threat. However, 8-silence Combrei is a thing so this may not be a great idea. As well, lightning storm is devastating against multiple Assembly Lines.
Pyroknight: Because this deck runs so few creatures, it is likely that an opponent will have removal for Pyroknight. Cutting it for Oni Ronin may be fine.
Champion of Glory: Decks that rely on Permafrost actually have a very difficult time with Champion. Clockroaches and to a lesser degree Elysian are such decks. This unit may be a good Rise tutor target in those matchups.
Vanquish: Run 2-4 of these. If there is less Combrei and Xenan around, then dropping the count should be ok.
Auric Sentry: It’s not great to have more than 2 of these in a single game. However, do run more if there is a lot of Bandit Queen or Rakano aggro running around.
Auric Runehammer: This is not good in multiples. Feln Control decks can often kill this relic weapon very easily with Vara’s Favor, Lightning Strike, or Black Sky Harbinger. It also dies to Argenport Instigator and Umbren Reaper.
Auric Runehammer is a fine rise target in the Rakano matchup. In Combrei, you can tutor for this to deal with a Sandstorm Titan that is on the board.
Harsh Rule: 3 or 4-of.
Obliterate: Probably a 4-of. In a pinch, it deals with problem creatures. It is amazing against armory. It is not very good against aggro. Against control, you want a few of these to put on a fast clock. Control decks have a better lategame than this deck so you want to burn them out before they can really get going with things like The Last Word, Sword of the Sky King, and Combrei units (e.g. Mystic Ascendant, Siraf, etc.).
Starsteel Daisho: Rise for this in unfavored matchups (e.g. Combrei and occasionally Xenan) to try to cheese an opponent.
Rolant’s Favor: Some portion of the time, you want to save this until after you’ve played a relic weapon. The extra armor can help the relic weapon take down another creature before running out of armor.
Kaleb’s Favor: Some number of these may be fine.
Icaria, the Liberator: 1 or 2-of.
Lavablood Goliath: At 9 power, it seems too slow to be useful. Icaria is probably better (even though she won’t always work against Combrei).
Marshal Ironthorn: Maybe there is a burn-heavy build (with 4X Flame Blast) where Ironthorn might be good, but I doubt it.
Plated Demolisher: I haven’t tried this.
Sword of the Sky King: This is a fine finisher against control and Combrei if you can hit 8 power. Strongly consider substituting 1 in.
Rolant, the Iron Fist: May actually be good against Combrei?!?! (One of this deck’s weaknesses is that it doesn’t have a great answer for Combrei.)
Kaleb, Uncrowned Prince: Might be ok against Combrei??
General Izalio: Might be ok against Combrei?? Some synergy with Assembly Line.
Navani, Warsinger: Will die to removal. She is a trap in this deck.
Rakano Artisan, Sentry Gate, Armorsmith: They are ok if you need to make budget substitutions.
Stonescar Maul: I haven’t really tried this. As a 1-of, it might be a good tutor target since the overwhelm ability can burn opponents out.
Worldpyre Phoenix: Not good when Combrei is running 8 silences and other decks run void hate like Statuary Maiden and Steward of the Past.
Seek Power: Subbing in 1 or 2 may be fine. Don’t run Diplomatic Seal because it won’t help you hit 3 fire influence.
Note: I made this deck after seeing dudewitbangs and weiseguy’s decks. Weiseguy’s deck runs Kaleb’s Favors.
Rakano Melting Pot – an earlier deck tech / deck list