Hello again readers, and welcome to my new weekly column on RNG Eternal. After the great reception that my previous article on Time Midrange received, I’ve decided toaccept a permanent writer position and produce more content! The focus of the column will be primarily on Constructed with articles focusing on broad spectrum analysis such as this one, as well as more detailed ones going over specific matchups, decklists, and of course – the tournament scene.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into our topic for this week. Perhaps the other great ‘pillar’ of Eternal for most of it’s existence aside from Time Midrange has been Fire Aggro. Unlike Time Midrange, the differences in Fire Aggro decks tend to lie in the subtle ways that they optimize their aggressive plan. Whether it is by flooding the board, going ‘tall’, or relying on direct damage – the card choices and slight curve differences can immensely impact how the strategy of aggression is executed.
The main core however is the same, a brutal combination of Fire’s near monopoly on powerful 1-drops along with the #1 early game removal spell of Torch. If Time is the faction of Value, then Fire is the faction of Tempo.
As with the previous article, we shall be examining the decks via a breakdown of
each of the Factions. For this article however, we shall be omitting Praxis since at the time of this writing there has not been an aggressive Praxis deck developed or discovered.
Rakano Plate: who says Birds can’t wear Armor?
This is likely one of the oldest decks which is still around in close to the same form that it was from the beginning, sharing this destinction with Big Combrei and Elysian Midrange. Rakano Plate is the formats best example of a ‘go-tall’ aggro strategy, in which it seeks to utilize the Warcry keyword alongside equipment and sticky or difficult to deal with units to assemble a threat that is simply too big to handle.
While lately Rakano has fallen out of popularity due to certain metagame trends leading to an extremely removal-filled format and the relative lack of new cards to help Rakano keep up with newer archetypes – it still in many ways remains a timeless classic.
The namesake of the deck is of course it’s key card, Deepforged Plate. Deepforged Plate is an extremely powerful piece of equipment due to it providing a massive increase in health alongside two keywords which make it extremely difficult to combat the unit in question. Overwhelm means that it can no longer be chump-blocked, while Endurance means it cannot be outraced in most circumstances. It’s Power Cost of 5 also means that the deck can remain relatively lean and low to the ground with it’s Power requirements.
The other key lynchpin of the deck is the ubiquitous Oni Ronin. In my opinion, Rakano Plate is the deck which makes the absolute best use out of this powerful 1-drop. It’s gameplan takes long enough that the Warcry is important, and it helps create the Warcry chain which can quickly overwhelm the opponent with the quality of units and equipment that the Rakano Plate player is drawing.
Due to the way that the stat distributions in Eternal work and it’s careful balancing of them, even something as small as +2/+2 can make a unit more than twice the power-level of what you are paying for it. The deck likewise has a multitude of it’s unit base possessing different battle skills which help accentuate how powerful this increase in stats actually is.
Another important aspect is that because the core of the deck is so synergistic and powerful, it can be readily adapted to multiple metagames as Unearthly demonstrated multiple times throughout the past year of the Eternal Tournament Series. There are a lot of ways to tune Rakano and this is barely scratching the surface. The card pool for the archetype might be one of the deepest.
From adding Righteous Glory to close games out faster and deal with the high burst damage being inflicted by Stonescar Burn, to the addition of Crownwatch Cavalry to help against larger Midrange decks, to the common tech choice of Silverwing Familiar against faster Aggro decks.
I spoke with Unearthly regarding this deck while preparing this article and he had the following to share:
“In general, Rakano is good against decks that fall into one or more of the following categories:
– Poor interaction. A combination of few removal spells, or poorly positioned ones like Permafrost or ones you can setup Protect against like Death Strike.
– Slow, passive gameplan. Rakano’s interaction is usually just Torch, Vanquish, and Valk Enforcer silence. Maybe some relic weapons in the SB. In general Rakano wants to deal with its opponent’s threats by going over them by building up the biggest unit using multiple cards. If the opponent’s deck requires that you are interacting rather than building your voltron, it can be in trouble. But on the other hand, if they sit back and let you voltron up then the deck will perform well.”
With that said, while if it assembles VOLTRON, Rakano Plate can win very quickly and very decisively. Due to it’s gameplan being so linear and synergy driven it can also be disrupted. Rakano does not deal well with removal in large quantities, especially if this removal is in the form of Relic Weapons which can often produce a 2-for-1 or act as both a removal spell and then a difficult to interact with threat.
In addition, it has very limited ways to deal with over-stated large minions that Time commonly deploys as it has access to just 4 Vanquish at the most to deal with these monstrosities. Finally, while it has decent tempo generation due to how powerful Torch is – it can be brutally out-tempo’d by Stonescar decks which tap into not just Torch, but other cheap and fast speed removal such as Annihilate.
To break it down.
Shiftstone Cost: 27,350
Rakano Rally: Who needs a Queen anyway!
Rakano Rally or as the deck was originally called, Rakito. Is arguably the fastest aggro deck possible to build in Eternal right now that is consistent in it’s execution. The original deck was iterated on by NeonBlonde after he came across Conley Woods, one of the developers of Eternal, playing something similar on ladder. The deck spread like wildfire but lasted a rather short time as the card Frontier Jito received a nerf from 1-power to 2, effectively killing the deck.
Recently however, I’ve been working on the deck personally after noticing a rather unassuming Common that was printed in Set 2 and bolstered by the powerhouse Cinder Yeti from Horus Traver. That card, is Strength of Many, a 2-power fast spell in Justice which gives a unit +1/+1 for each friendly unit that you control. In a deck with as many 1-drops and token generators as Rakano Rally, this often means that you are paying 2-power to give a unit as much as +8/+8 or more.
What the deck lacked originally it now had, additional redundancy of payoffs for it’s go-wide strategy. The cost of the card also means it will almost never end up being uncastable in your hand if used in a timely manner since hitting 2-power is significantly easier than the 4 required for Bandit Queen in Stonescar Rally.
The main force behind the deck however is more simple, the reason why Rakano Rally is an even faster aggro deck than it’s Stonescar cousin, is because of the quality of 1-drops that you can play. Rakano Rally can play not just 1, but 2 sets of 3 attack 1-drops in Nomad Outlaw and District Infantry. While Infantry will fall off as the game goes on and you run out of power, for the first 3 turns of the game he is going to be attacking as a 3/3.
The rest of the deck is fairly simple with the large chunk of it being 1-drops followed by premium 2-drops, synergistic 3-drops, and the payoffs of Rally and Strength of Many themselves. Of course, the deck has it’s weaknesses that are worth discussing. It has less sustainability to it’s offensive pressure than Stonescar since it cannot refuel the board was easily. It likewise is worse at dealing with other decks that go-wide since it cannot benefit from the Quickdraw that Bandit Queen grants units. Finally, it still suffers many of the same consistency issues as all Rally decks in that it cannot afford to draw too much
power or to have slow development.
To break it down.
Shiftstone Cost: 13,000
Burn Queen: Flame Blast Face, I Win
Perhaps the most famous tournament aggro deck and occasionally a popular choice on Ladder, Burn Queen has been around for awhile and was at one time perhaps the best deck in the game. Even taking home the 1st place prize at the Midseason Major for Burn Queen afficionado, Kampfkrote. Originally the product of a player named Lighteningball, the amount of people that have worked on iterating and refining the deck is too long to list.
However, this deck has received a large amount of fundamental nerfs which have led to it becoming slowly a mere shadow of it’s former performance. What Burn Queen thrived on was how efficient the Stonescar suite of cards were, such that it did not have to devote too many slots to it’s early-game while having explosive openers. This allowed the deck to secure it’s early damage and then finish off with large amounts of from-hand damage via Flame Blast and Obliterate.
It first received a (much-deserved) nerf to Champion of Chaos, cutting down on the amount of free wins which the card could generate by virtue of being a 5/5 Overwhelm Deadly unit that dodged Annihilate. Alongside this nerf it had hit the influence requirement on Soulfire Drake, leading to the card being slightly less consistent in being cast on 5. It was then followed up by a nerf to Rapid Shot leading to less explosive turns 2, 3, and 4 from the deck. Finally, it received a colossal nerf to Flame Blast – essentially eradicating the consistency of having large from-hand burst damage.
This has compounded to force Burn Queen into a more ‘fair’ form of play in which it must rely heavily on it’s units to secure damage. However, with the increase of removal in the format this has become more difficult – and coupled with the increase in lifegain, requires to be more sustained.
It is in my opinion that Burn Queen as it was, is effectively a dead archetype and has instead morphed into several different decks that we will be covering in this section. It’s addition here is more-so due to it’s historical relevance than it’s current performance.
The deck was powerful and perhaps the best exploiter of all that Stonescar had to offer between it’s powerful tempo tools such as Annihilate, Torch, Rapid Shot, Suffocate, and Flame Blast. It’s great and often over-stated creature suite in Argenport Instigator, Champion of Chaos, Impending Doom, and Bandit Queen. Backed by the powerhouse combination of Obliterate and Flame Blast.
To break it down. Matchup breakdown omitted due to inconclusive contemporary data.
Shiftstone Cost: ~39,000
StoneScarDeckWins: It just does.
This is a deck created by ManuS which seeks to be in the middle between the high-card quality and high-curve Burn Queen, and the all-out aggression of Rally. It’s a very similar deck in terms of it’s card choices but it tends to have a very different playstyle. In that what Burn Queen/Rally sacrifice in consistency for high roll potential, SSDW aims instead for the opposite. It can of course overwhelm the opponent as any good aggro deck, but it doesn’t have ‘unbeatable’ hands as often.
The core of the deck is very much focused around the generation of tempo plays andconsistent development, with a greater minion focus than original incarnations of Burn Queen. While this means that the deck is in certain ways more vulnerable to removal it also means it was less effected by the nerf to Flame Blast.
As of the time of writing this article, I would say that the SSDW-style has replaced older variants of Burn Queen as the premier non-Rally Stonescar aggro deck. A great example of this deckstyle is the list which Sunyveil played at the ETS World Championship.
The matchups for the deck are generally very similar to those that Burn Queen had, with a slight benefit in the pseudo-mirror as it is the faster aggressive deck. There is some exploration with transformational sideboards of SSDW curving it into a more Midrange version of Stonescar but as of yet this has not proven to be highly successful.
The weakness for the deck is much the same as for Burn Queen but the lower high roll potential can make these feel even more pronounced. It relies a lot on drawing the right mixture of interaction, threats, and burn damage to have a great game – but the addition of more 1-drops leads to the deck topdecking weaker in exchange for a better statistical curve.
Likewise, compared to older Burn Queen lists it doesn’t have quite the same degree of burst damage which means it relies a lot more on continuous minion damage. This means an opponent stabilizing too early due to a missing removal spell can often leave the game impossible to win in short order.
To break it down.
Shiftstone Cost: ~29,000
Stonescar Rally: Goldfishing and Wrecking
The menace of ladder and another extremely old but constantly evolving deck, by now I believe most players that have played the game for at least a week are familiar with Stonescar Rally. It is an extremely low-curve and explosive aggro deck which relies on quickly establishing a wide board and then turning those bodies into large chunks of burst damage with either Bandit Queen or the namesake Rally card.
This deck originally was known simply as Queen back during Closed Beta. Back then it relied a bit more on generating tempo turns with Madness and Combust, often even omitting the Rally in favor of Burn Out in order to provide it’s burst damage. However, multiple nerfs destroyed that variant of the deck and it eventually transformed into an even faster version running Frontier Jito.
While the deck no longer has quite the same speed as it did with Frontier Jito, most of the deck remains the same as it was in that era. Rally is especially powerful in Aggro mirrors in which it’s fast speed makes it extremely hard to front a defense. The high level of redundancy likewise leads to the deck often being able to play out it’s early game consistently, however the exact explosiveness of the deck can be very volatile and if it’s hand texture is a bit too slow – can often feel underpowered.
The deck likewise has reasonable degrees of resistance to sweeper effects as it can opt to play Shadowlands Guide on top of Assembly Line for refuel, it can add more explosive high roll potential with Lurking Sanguars, or it can rely on a more consistent board-focused playstyle with Cinder Yeti. While it does not have a lot of slots to work with as the hyper-linear nature of the deck makes it difficult to alter too much, the alterations that are possible change important aspects of the deck.
As it has many strengths which are very pronounced, so too are Rally’s weaknesses just as pronounced. It folds extremely hard to multiple form of sweeper effects, it relies on fast starts, and it can lose steam very quickly. It’s also a deck which is relatively absent from the tournament scene as it’s sideboarding is extremely limited. In many ways, Rally is the epitome of a deck which if you are prepared for does not feel that powerful and thrives instead on people disregarding it’s game-plan for long term success.
To break it down.
Shiftstone Cost: ~27,000
Big Burn/Maulers: Who needs early-game when I have Burn
This is another deck much like Burn Queen which is in some ways more of a historical reference than a topical deck list, however TheSkeeJay was able to pilot a Mauler-style build of the deck to Rank 1 during the November Season and hold Rank 1 for the majority of the season.
Big Burn is very much stretching the definition of Aggro, the deck does not have a particularly fantastic earlygame and is even more reliant on individual card threats than Burn Queen. What it does have, is an absolutely astounding amount of direct damage. Original incarnations of the deck would play the full suite of Flame Blast, Umbren Reaper, and Obliterate – coupled with a few Soulfire Drakes. This amounts to on average about 74 points of direct damage.
The weakness of the deck was generally that due to how slow it was in developing it’s earlygame it gave Control decks ample time to assemble a defense, and a great vulnerability to lifegain and silence effects or cards such as Auric Runehammer which allowed efficient dispatching of it’s midgame damage sources in Umbren Reaper.
An alternate build of this deck would instead use Stonescar Mauls as it’s curve topper and this is the build which seems the most promising now. After the Influence adjustments on Soulfire Drake and Umbren Reaper it become unreasonable to play both of these in the same shell. Due to this Stonescar Maul is a lot more appealing as well as being a bit more reliable of a damage source than Umbren Reaper and playing better against opposing removal heavy decks which may not have an adequate answer to a Relic Weapon.
The strength of the deck is ultimately similar to Rally decks, if you are not prepared for the continuous direct damage which the deck outputs it can be very difficult to win outside of presenting a powerful counter-clock. Outlasting the damage that Big Burn can do is not a very reliable strategy without the prior mentioned large lifegain.
The weaknesses however in my opinion outweight the benefits. The deck can often be very clunky and very slow. It doesn’t make the best use of the tempo tools which the rest of the Stonescar decks use to such great effect, and opens itself up to a disastrous Aggro matchup. However, against decks which prefer to skimp on interaction and rely on their own linear gameplan – Big Burn will win a great amount of the time via it’s evasive must-answer threats and direct damage.
To break it down. Matchup breakdown omitted due to lack of conclusive contemporary data.
Shiftstone Cost: 40,250
Skycrag Aggro: The Yeti are angry
The latest addition to the Fire Aggro family and probably the most impactful deck from Omens of the Past, Skycrag manages to play a lot of different style at the same time depending on it’s hand but the crux of the deck remains a unique and powerful way of utilizing Fire’s powerful aggressive cards.
What Skycrag lacks in the removal of it’s brethren, it makes up for by presenting massive headaches to decks relying on removal while being fast enough as to get in under non-spell based Control decks such as Chalice and Armory. The bevy of Aegis makes the deck difficult to focus fire down, while the quanity of Quickdraw makes it a headache to fight in combat.
Skycrag likewise has the best suite of direct damage in the game now with playsets of Mortar and Obliterate giving it great reach. The combination of having a difficult to interact with earlygame and a way to make every point of damage that much more threatening combine to make Skycrag in my opinion the best Aggro deck in the game right now.
There aren’t too many things that give it great problems except for the Elephant in the Room, or should I say Titan. Skycrag has absolutely zero great ways to get past a Sandstorm Titan and given how ubiquitious that card is to the format, this means that Skycrag has a weakness to every single Time multifaction. Yes, even Elysian tends to perform relatively well. Skycrag has a lot of ways to complicate combat but if the units are simply too large it relies solely on Permafrost to continue it’s offensive.
One way that certain players have been experimenting with to bypass this gigantic is to utilize the card Steelfang Chakram as this piece of equipment on any Quickdraw unit allows it to attack into a Sandstorm Titan while producing a reusable ‘threat’ in the sense that any unit with Steelfang Chakram produces a sizeable clock.
In practice however, this has shown to be rather clunky and forces the deck to slow down a bit more than it is comfortable with while also conflicting with it’s Burn slots. The other issue with Skycrag Aggro is that it has pretty terrible sideboarding options, Primal is very reactive in general with it’s cards while Fire simply does not have a very deep pool. A lot of what Primal offers that makes it amazing for other archetypes simply are not usable or do not fit the gameplan of an Aggro deck.
This has led to Skycrag Aggro largely being relegated to an extremely good ladder deck, but a continuous under-performer in the tournament metagame. Finally, while Skycrag is great at punishing slow decks which rely on dragging the game out – it can often be outraced by faster aggro decks.
To break it down.
Shiftstone Cost: ~24,000
Well, this was shorter than Time Midrange but still quite a doozy. As you can tell, the differences between the flavors of Fire Aggro are in a sense more subtle than those between the different Time decks where there are very overt and noticeable shifts in not just play style but strengths with each one. In the case of Fire Aggro, due to the game plan being largely the same – the decks tend to operate on a very similar axis. The differences however, become far more pronounced because of this. While Rally decks will tend to under-perform in a Metagame heavy on Lightning Storm, Skycrag or Rakano Plate will flourish instead.
This means that knowing just what is the best form of Fire for what you are facing can often produce a more noticeable change in your own win-rate and ranking than shifting in other archetypes. I hope you enjoyed reading this discourse on one of my personal favorite playstyles and I look forward to continuing this regular column!