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Nock Nock, It’s Azalea — Ranger Master Class, Part Two: The Matchups

Welcome to Part Two of my master class series on Ranger, my favorite class in the game, and the one I far and away have the most experience with. If you missed Part One, you can find it here. In today’s article, I’m going to be delving into specific matchups, what makes them good and bad, and general things to look out for. Note that I’ll be talking about the matchup based on the deck list and strategy I shared in Part One. Without any further delay, let’s dive straight into it.

Deck List via fabdb.net
Class: Ranger
Hero: Azalea, Ace in the Hole
Weapons: Death Dealer
Equipment: Bull's Eye Bracers, Fyendal's Spring Tunic, Skullbone Crosswrap, Snapdragon Scalers

(3) Command and Conquer (red)
(3) Endless Arrow (red)
(3) Enlightened Strike (red)
(3) Hamstring Shot (red)
(3) Head Shot (red)
(3) Life for a Life (red)
(2) Nimble Strike (red)
(3) Nimblism (red)
(3) Plunder Run (red)
(3) Ravenous Rabble (red)
(3) Razor Reflex (red)
(3) Red in the Ledger (red)
(3) Remorseless (red)
(3) Salvage Shot (red)
(3) Scar for a Scar (red)
(3) Sigil of Solace (red)
(3) Sleep Dart (red)
(3) Take Aim (red)
(3) Three of a Kind (red)
(2) Nimblism (yellow)
(3) Rapid Fire (yellow)
(3) Remembrance (yellow)
(3) Ridge Rider Shot (yellow)
(2) Take Aim (yellow)
(3) Nock the Deathwhistle (blue)
(3) Ridge Rider Shot (blue)

fabdb.net

Brute

Brute is a decent matchup for Ranger. As they have no “on-hit” effects to worry about, and since you’re very rarely concerned about Intimidate, the low defense strategy is really at a premium here. Generally, defend with one card a turn if you can’t make use of it elsewhere, or defend if you can with two cards on any turn they come at you with Barraging Beatdown (Red). This matchup is going to be a race, one where Brute has a few extra hit points over you by virtue of their equipment set up. The main issue in the matchup is that Brute is a more effective closer than you, and they can chip away fairly effectively with Romping Club, a luxury you lack. 

Hamstring Shot (Red)Red in the LedgerSleep Dart (Red)Remorseless

With that being said, you have the advantage in that your attacks are strong and have irritating on-hit effects. Hamstring Shot (Red) and Red in the Ledger are both excellent here, helping to stifle some of the biggest blow-out turns Brute is capable of. Sleep Dart (Red) is less useful, but is still a nice tool to have in case they were intending to go crazy with Barraging Beatdown (Red) and were relying on their hero ability to get you below two cards. Remorseless is a great card here as well, as it helps to get around Defense Reactions while also providing a punishing amount of damage if Brute was going to try for a big turn. Ultimately, your suite of arrows is pretty effective at neutralizing or at least hampering Brute’s biggest turns.

I would not sideboard out any cards in the match-up. Focus 90 percent of your game on keeping up the aggression and you can go toe-to-toe with this titan.

Guardian

I’ll be honest, Guardian is something of a nightmare matchup. Red in the Ledger, our best trick, does next to nothing here. Crippling Crush and Spinal Crush are both absolutely backbreaking, pun intended. They have so much bulky equipment that they can block extremely effectively as well. On top of all of that, Anathos is such a powerful and consistent threat that it can sometimes be hard to keep up enough pressure to outpace them.

Crippling CrushSpinal Crush

Hamstring Shot (Red) and Sleep Dart (Red) are both highly useful in this matchup, and can be fairly reasonable at disrupting Guardian’s biggest turns, or at the very least neutering them. On highly aggressive draws, you can output enough damage to keep up pace with Guardian’s control effects. Still, this is definitely one of the more difficult matchups, particularly because of just how much equipment Guardian has. Seriously, it’s crazy. 

My advice is to try and keep an arrow in your arsenal if you’re expecting a Crippling Crush or Spinal Crush the following turn; that way, you at least have some level of aggression you can counter with the following turn rather than just being beaten up and having your turn skipped.

Ninja

Ninja is a decent matchup for Ranger. Like Brute, Ninja isn’t really pushing out punishing on-hit effects, though you will need to block sometimes in order to prevent Whelming Gustwave (Red) or Mask of Momentum from triggering. The main difficulty in this matchup is that they can also output crazy amounts of damage, and are slightly more consistent in their draws than you are thanks to Katsu’s ability.

Whelming Gustwave (Red)Mask of Momentum

On the flip side, all of your arrows are fantastic here. Red in the Ledger and Remorseless are brilliant. Sleep Dart (Red) can make you far less worried about the follow up turn, and any turn with a “sleepy” Katsu can be considered fairly safe. Keep up the aggression, block the second Kodachi hit each turn to break the Momentum chain and take advantage of any turns where you can set up a big dominate arrow. Those control effects will be golden for you here.

Warrior

Warrior is another reasonable matchup for Ranger. Since you’re playing a low block strategy, they won’t be able to trigger Reprise often, if ever. Of course, the main concerns in the matchup are Warrior’s Valor (Red), Spoils of War and constant Dawnblade triggers; those are something you certainly need to stop and be willing to block with your entire hand against a Warrior’s Valor (Red), particularly if they have a counter on Dawnblade already. If Dawnblade ever gets to two counters, you’re in huge trouble.

Warrior's Valor (Red)Spoils of WarDawnblade

With that being said, this is another match-up where all of your arrows, with the exception of Remorseless, are awesome. With your high potential damage output, you can keep up with Warrior’s damage output with ease, which ends up being consistent rather than spikey, with the exception of Steelblade Supremacy turns. By not allowing them to trigger Reprise, you can leave them with a few dead cards in hand each turn, and if you notice that they don’t clear out their Arsenal for a few turns, try not to block unless absolutely essential. They could have an attack reaction sitting in there, such as Ironsong Response, stuck and waiting for a time to shine. The longer you can hold out, the greater an advantage you can generate. 

Mechanologist

Mechanologist is another decent matchup for you, whether they’re aggressive or playing control. Go-wide strategies tend to be highly effective against control builds, as they are much more difficult to block against effectively. As such, because of the wide array of threats you can present, you can certainly keep up with their damage output, particularly if you can get aggressive early before they’ve got their equipment set-up.

Against more aggressive Mechanologist builds, you’re again in a race situation, one where you have the benefit of a having an array of control effects. They’re a little more consistent thanks to their weapon, but with the amount of aggression you can push back at them, on top of the light control effects, with Red in the Ledger being huge here, you can very much put them constantly on the back foot. 

Runeblade

Honestly, I haven’t played against newer version of Runeblade since the introduction of Crucible, but they’re a bit of a poor matchup. They have solid defense and they can push out some brutal turns. Since they have the ability to mix up their turn styles, it’s hard to know what arrow will be effective against them. In addition, because of the low pitch values in your deck, you can’t use Arcane Barrier very effectively, meaning that you’re going to get butchered on any big Runechant turns.

Runechant

However, the high amount of pressure you can apply can help to prevent Runeblade from pulling off big combo turns or being able to set-up a huge amount of Runechants to punish you with. Sleep Dart (Red) and Red in the Ledger are both useful here to prevent massive turns from appearing out of nowhere. When you have either of these in hand, it’s okay to block a bit the turn before, then just fire one of them off to regain some tempo. Remember that pitching to prevent arcane damage is more effective and efficient than preventing physical damage, as you’re able to keep the cards in your deck rather than them being discarded. 

Wizard

Wizard is a great matchup for Ranger. With -10 Health, and the amount of damage you can output each turn, it’s easy to see how you can race them to zero. Sleep Dart (Red) and Red in the Ledger are useful for, again, preventing huge combo turns and can sometimes force Kano to try and pull off sneaky tricks during your turn, which is generally less effective. In this matchup, I’d probably take Scar for a Scar (Red) and Life for a Life (Red) out because of the huge life total disparity. 

Scar for a Scar (Red)Life for a Life (Red)

With your native two Arcane Barrier, be willing to take it slow on a turn to prevent big setup cards. If you see your opponent lead off with an Aether Flare (Red), for instance, try and use a yellow pitch to reduce its impact. If you’re just copping damage, simply take it and smile. Wizard cannot consistently match your damage output, and with only 30 Health, he can’t possibly win a flat race against you. Just keep up the pressure, be willing to lose a card to block Arcane damage each turn, and you’ll be golden.

Conclusion

In summary, the Power Ranger build, as I call it, tends to really struggle against heavy defenders with control effects but shines in matchups where it’s an aggressive race, primarily by virtue of your card advantage engine and your light control effects, which can easily wrest the tempo back in your favor. It’s quite a difficult deck to pilot, and it definitely has its challenges, but it’s an extremely rewarding deck to play, and when you do win with it, you can be satisfied that your skill played a huge part in it.

That brings an end to my Ranger Master Class. I hope that it’s served you well and inspired more people to pick up their bow and arrow and get shooting. Until next time, may your arrows always hit their mark.

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