This Dynasty Card is Bringing Runeblade Back in Flesh and Blood

As a Runeblade stan myself, it’s been a tough couple of months. Since Pro Tour 2 in France, Runeblade has seen a notable drop off in play. It’s possible that the Runeblade class has fallen out of favor with players due to being less effective in the current metagame, or because players have found other strategies that are more successful. Part of that may be due to the rise of more efficient aggressive strategies such as Fai along with its less than stellar matchup against the Ice Queen. This isn’t to say that it has disappeared entirely from the spotlight, as Chris Ilalli recently finished second at the World Championship sporting the Elemental Runeblade, but he did run into the aforementioned problem of having a poor Iyslander matchup. 

If you’re a Runeblade lover like myself, don’t fret, we may have found a solution in the latest set Dynasty, Diabolic Ultimatum. 


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Specifically, the second line of text which reads “If a ‘non-attack’ action card was pitched to play Diabolic Ultimatum, each hero chooses and destroys an aura they control.” This may seem like an innocuous piece of text until you start breaking down the fundamentals of Iyslander. 

Let’s take a step back. The way LSS has balanced arcane damage being difficult to interact with is by creating cards that are below rate with respect to cost. This means that AB3 and several blues usually efficiently nullify a turn with minimal damage leaked! With this in mind, it’s a natural question to ponder how Iyslander ever beats a dedicated fatigue strategy revolving around Arcane barrier 3+ and lots of blues… *cough* Guardian *cough*. The answer to that question lies in these two Auras. 

These two cards, in combination with Amulet of Ice, Ice Eternal and Aether Icevein, allows Iyslander to completely strip their opponents’ hands while being able to play Ice Eternal at instant speed to nuke their opponent’s life when they have no cards in hand. 

The key to everything I said above was the two Auras, which Diabolic Ultimatum cleanly deals with. This means one of the most aggressive archetypes we’ve known for the last two years now has the ability to completely pivot and turtle up against arguably its worst matchup! To state it plainly, our goal is to fatigue Iyslander. The way we should be approaching this is by trading our red actions off as early as possible, either through efficient attacks or blocking their attacks. The ultimate goal is to take as little damage as possible while effectively setting up Diabolic Ultimatum to trade with their Auras. 

The next question is which Runeblade shall we choose to champion the novel strategy. With Chane being Living Legend, that leaves us with Briar and Viserai. My current nod goes towards the former rather than the latter as I feel Viserai is lacking that little bit of oomph that Briar is provided with power cards such as Channel Mount Heroic. 

Here is a combo Briar list I’ve been working on for ProQuest Season 3 and it’s a spicy one! 

Deck build - via https://fabdb.net :
Belittle Briar - PQ3 (Briar, Warden of Thorns)
Weapons: Rosetta Thorn
Equipment: Crown of Dichotomy, Crown of Dominion, Fyendal's Spring Tunic, Grasp of the Arknight, Nullrune Boots, Spellbound Creepers, Vexing Quillhand

[3] Arcanic Crackle (Red)
[3] Belittle (Red)
[3] Channel Mount Heroic (Red)
[3] Diabolic Ultimatum (Red)
[3] Minnowism (Red)
[3] Nimblism (Red)
[3] Overload (Red)
[3] Sigil of Solace (Red)
[3] Snatch (Red)
[3] Sonata Arcanix (Red)
[3] Swarming Gloomveil (Red)
[3] Belittle (Yellow)
[2] Cash In (Yellow)
[2] Minnowism (Yellow)
[3] Snatch (Yellow)
[2] Tome of Fyendal (Yellow)
[3] Amulet of Earth (Blue)
[3] Autumn's Touch (Blue)
[2] Belittle (Blue)
[3] Force of Nature (Blue)
[1] Minnowism (Blue)
[3] Snatch (Blue)
[2] Sow Tomorrow (Blue)
[3] This Round's on Me (Blue)
[3] Tome of Harvests (Blue)
[3] Vexing Malice (Blue)
[1] Gorganian Tome

See the full deck at: https://fabdb.net/decks/KrZbZyjA

The core of the deck is based around Pro Tour 2 winner Matthew Foulkes’s take on the Briar archetype. Where this deck was always based around Belittle/Minnowism, I have taken it to a hyper focused next level. The cards that jump out that may be odd are yellow Minnowsim, blue Belittle and blue Snatch, so let me explain.

Michael Hamilton made famous this theory about four card hands having a cut off of ~14 net damage to be dubbed “good” or “above average” and was the driving force behind his inclusion of the attack actions into his World Championship-winning deck list. If we take this concept and apply it elsewhere, we find hidden gems in strategies that were previously written off due to previous misconceived dogma. Take for example a hand that consists of blue Belittle, yellow Snatch, Nimbilism and any generic blue pitch. The aforementioned four-card hand still represents 14 damage plus an on hit from Snatch! 

Now as a disclaimer, this deck is still a project under construction which means that it is not yet fully optimized. If your goal is to win a ProQuest (PQ) at any cost, then my recommendation is to still take an Ice hero of your choice to your local PQ. If this strategy sounds intriguing to you but you want to try this new strategy in a more conservative shell, you could take Christopher Iaali’s runner-up Briar deck and slot in Diabolic Ultimatum to try and gain percentage points vs Iyslander. 

Does this strategy look fun and exciting? Feel free to give me your feed back on the idea or deck @tariqpatel10 on twitter or the comments below!

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