Champion Report – R/R Incarnation by Royce Townsend

“Please don’t be another R/R deck, please don’t be another R/R deck, please…”
— Most people reading this article.

Hey there everyone! Royce Townsend here bringing you, you guessed it, another Reflect deck! Though I’d like to think this is a pretty interesting take on it, and it took me to an undefeated finish in swiss at our 48 person ARG Holiday Event at Gamer’s Edge. I piloted Cthulu Reflect with a couple interesting meta choices. This write-up is going to be a longer one, so without further ado let’s dive right into the list!

Ruler: Reflect, Child of potential

Deck: 40
4 Rasputin
4 Rukh Egg
4 Hastur, the Unspeakable
4 Nyarlathotep
4 Artemis, the God’s Bow
3 Change the World, Orb of Illusion
3 Yog-Sothoth, the Dark Myth
3 Lora, the Blood Speaker
3 Little Red, the Hope of Millenia
2 Granny by the Fireplace
2 Stoning to Death
2 Guinevere, the Jealous Queen
1 Carmilla, the Queen of Vampires
1 Susanowo, the Ten-Fist Sword

Stone deck: 10
4 Ruler’s Memoria
4 Magic Stone of Scorched Bales
1 Grusbalesta, the Sealing Stone
1 Little Red, the Pure Stone

Side deck: 15
3 Flame of outer world
2 Thunder
2 Realm of Pure Spirits
2 Robe of Fire-Rat
2 Deathscythe, the Life Reaper
2 Barrier of Shadows
1 Dark Pulse
1 Blazer Gill Rabus

My teammates and I spent countless hours on Lackey testing every deck we could think of, every idea got ran through another person and if it seemed good enough we started building. For the past week or so we’d been working with the more popular Gwiber heavy variants that were floating around to see what all the hype was about, and honestly the decks are pretty good! So good that it got me thinking about what kind of deck would fare well against it, and what card or combination of cards could answer the turn two dragon that is showing up everywhere. That’s when I stumbled back to the dark side and embraced our incarnation overlords, and the first draft came soon after. The deck ate up every Gwiber/Brali strategy we threw at it, and could grind out advantage while easily leaving the opponent top decking. Still I couldn’t get over the raw power of Adombrali-Gwiber combos and Alice’s World, and while Cthulus are terrible to run into with that deck, it did manage to hold it’s own versus aggro fairly well, something that incarnate strategies always struggled with. So the day before the event I put together my America R/R variant and felt reasonably confident, and that’s when my grandma called….

She didn’t actually call, but I did have an epiphany about how much potential that package has in incarnate strategies. I mean, what better way to handle Knights of Mad Demon and Valkyries of Passion than with a nice old lady knitting away? Really solid stats for chump blocking is exactly what Cthulus needed, as Hastur doesn’t make that great of a blocker. Another great use is following up a Rasputin T1 with a T2 awakened little red. This leaves you open to play a Hastur or Nyarl while leaving the granny up to block, or sacking all three for a T2 Yog to gain a lot of momentum. As an experienced incarnate player I was convinced that in and aggressive, board swarming meta the Cthulu Granny deck would perform exceptionally, so we made it to the event early and I sleeved it up.

The tournament was six rounds of swiss, and had a surprisingly competitive player base hosting three worlds competitors. My matchups throughout the day went as follows:

 

Round 1: American Reflect (Win 2-0)

This was one of the matchups that we built the deck for, and my oh my did it perform. I didn’t see a T2 Gwiber from my opponent either of the games, but double Cthuga openings definitely put the pressure on. Both games were sealed on the back of Yog-Sothoth, who in once instance netted a +5 in card economy. I was definitely looking forward to playing this matchup more throughout the day.

Round 2: Sylvia Aggro (Draw)

I can’t lie, I respect Sylvia but I never thought the deck was going to be that much of an issue, mostly due to the fact that I tested that matchup from a Gwiber-based deck’s point of view. I quickly realized that once the Sylvia flipped, unless I could set up a Susan play I was going to have a hard time without the side deck. Game 1 started off pretty aggressively with my opponent opening Flame Sprite into Lancelot. I usually mulligan for Artemis’ Bow assuming that I’m playing aggro, and they certainly came in handy. I was able to set up a play with Guinevere and multiple Refrain activations to clear my own board in response to the Sylvia J-activation and force it to shoot itself which made finishing up game one a breeze. Deathscythe and and early Robe of Fire Rat slowed down the aggression game two enough for me to play comfortably, but Sylvia eventually snuck through a bit of damage. A Lancelot + Rapid Growth play sealed the game on the last turn of time, forcing a draw for the match.

Round 3: Reflect Knights (Win 2-0)

Granny, Granny, Granny, boy how you excelled in this matchup. Between the Granny and the Artemis Bows I was able to grind out the aggression to a halt. Nyarl puts in a lot of work as well, putting pressure on Perceval to search things that can be played immediately. Game 2 brought a nice surprise in the form of Jeweled Branch of Horai, a card that I was completely unprepared for. It was a solid combo with Sign to Future where I want to try and flood my board to put up more targets than Horai can handle, but then get swiftly punished by having my best two resonators removed from the game. Eventually I found an opening to play Barrier of Shadows, shutting down three Bows and two Orbs. With those threats turned off I was able to grind out the rest of game two to a match victory.

Round 4: Abdul Cthulu (Win 2-0)

Hey fellow Cthulu players! Guess what our worst matchup is! It’s Abdul, something that I had written off entirely and had to find out the hard way. My relief when I saw Ebony Prophet was very short lived, because all the advantage that I gained up until turn four all went away after Abdul came to play. I looked back at every boss monster in my deck, seeing the word “Enter” in the nice black bubble and the game got a lot harder. But guess who isn’t an enter ability? Your favorite granddaughter Little Red, and Granny put in some serious blocking. Just long enough for me to build up a wall of Nyarls and start bouncing blockers to seal the game. Game two I was pleasantly surprised to see my opponent boarded into Reflect/Refrain, and this game went on for a lot longer. The judge called time and my opponent conceded saying that he didn’t think he could make a comeback for the draw.

Round 5: Alex Blandin piloting an American Reflect brew (Win 2-0)

We both joked all day that we were playing janky home brews and how we were please how far they were coming versus these more popular decks. Finally we had the home brew showdown, and after losing to him in a previous tournament I knew this was time for my comeback. As soon as he saw Cthulus he mentioned it was his worst matchup, and game one went exactly as planned, ending pretty quickly. Game two started off terribly with a double Cthuga into Lancelot opening by my opponent. Before I knew it I was at 1700 life and struggling to stabilize. This was one of the games where Refrain really shined, bouncing back Fiethsings and Lances while searching me Flames to pick apart the field. It came down to the last turn in time and me sitting at 200 life. I had widdled down my opponent to nothing but an on field Fiethsing and whatever card he drew for turn. With a stacked field of double Granny, double Nyarl, double Robe of Fire Rat and a flipped Refain with two counters I was able to pull out the victory.

Round 6: Aaron Miles piloting Fairies (Win 2-0)

The last round of swiss and I paired against another friend of mine. We both knew what each other was playing, and he joked that all day long he was hoping to dodge playing me. I knew that this was another match-up Yog would shine in, but I hadn’t played it first hand. From the gate I took a pretty dominating position going T1 Rasp into T2 Hastur and a T3 follow up Hastur. This aggressive start accompanied by double Bow allowed me to pop off protections and keep a firm grasp of the board. Shortly afterwards I searched a Yog and second Rasputin complements of Refrain, and he cleared the board for me to swing for game. Game two followed the same pattern as game one. I mulliganed into double bow again but this time used Refrain to tutor up double Thunder, clearing away two Flame Sprites. After a few turns of aggressive clearing I had him in a position where my field was established and had enough counters on Refrain to bounce Vivianne every turn. He conceded shortly after and I finished first in swiss with a record of 5-0-1.

Swiss rounds ended after 9pm, and it was the group consensus to split Top 8 and report by standings. The event was a blast with a lot of great players, and I was very pleased with the deck overall. After reflecting on the list for a bit,pun intended, here are the changes I’d consider:

  • Susanowo was really underwhelming all day long. Hastur is my searchable out to Gwiber, and three mana is a big commitment in a deck of this nature. He would definitely get cut.
  • Carmilla can come out for the same reason, too much of a mana commitment. I’ve honestly considered just running four Lora. Scion may be a nice addition as well because of the stats and the life gain.
  • Guinevere was solid throughout the day as a late game search to combo with Rasputin and build back up advantage. With that being said, that’s all she was really good for. I wouldn’t mind seeing her at one to make room for one more Darkness one-drop reso. A Jeanne D’Arc could fit nicely here, anything that can be played on one and followed up with an awakened Little Red.
  • I sided in Thunder multiple times throughout the day, so I’d definitely like to fit them into the main deck. It was the best card in the Fairy matchup, so I may try them in place of the two Stonings.
  • Change the World is nuts, no one can argue that. Personally though I’m not sure how much I like it in this deck. I think I may cut one for a copy of Horn of the sacred beasts. Recycling Rukh Eggs seems widely important, and it’d allow you to keep the Lora train rolling.
  • The side deck was really rushed, and thrown together on the spot. It needs a lot of love. Blazer can go, as Reflect saves you from the worry of Split Heaven and cards of that nature. Dreams of Juliet or any addition removal should find it’s way in there, as Barrier of Shadows can be a bother. Dark Pulse underperformed, and Crime and Punishment could help a lot vs J-Ruler intensive strategies. Other than that, tailor it to the meta you’re expecting.

Well that was certainly a mouthful. I can’t stress how much consistency Reflect added to incarnate strategies. No longer do you have to be worried about drawing too many big guys or too much fodder, it’s easy to find a nice balance. I highly recommend this deck to everyone, it’s definitely not something to be overlooked. Thanks everyone for reading, and best of luck to everyone attending ARG Nationals! Until next time!

-Royce

 

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