Hey guys, today we are going to review a deck revolving around Runes and of course Ocular Fiend while also having a lot of burn potential. This archetype doesn't use a specific God Power but most commonly utilizes Blastwave to help out with controlling the board while collecting runes to make more threatening Ocular Fiend. This list has multiple win conditions, making it a good choice to climb the ladder.
We won't be mentioning all rune generating cards here even though they technically make up the core of the deck but some of them aren't really the ones that the deck relies too much upon. Rather let's focus on cards that impact our strategy the most and feel the most powerful and enable us to go for those win conditions.
Ocular Fiend doesn't need much introduction. He is a centerpiece for any Rune archetype so far. One of the win conditions of the deck because it has so much swing potential for clearing your opponent's board while developing a huge body that can be further supported with Runes from your hand. If your opponent lacks answers for more than two turns it is usually over.
Runestorm is currently Magic's best support for this archetype which is why it's so important. Unlike other rune generating cards that are random, with Runestorm we know the results so it's easier to make a decision when to sacrifice 5 mana worth of tempo to build up your Ocular Fiend or just prepare yourself for the next turn.
Arcane Transcendent is an amazingly strong play in most scenarios. 3 mana 3/3 body is almost premium a 3-drop can have and the effect adds us 2 more mana worth of tempo, just amazing. Makes your Runestorms and Rune Viper Tinctures easier to play while doing something relevant on the same turn or provides a swing play with immediate Starshard/Tracking Bolts for 0 mana.
Faraday Cage fits perfectly in this deck because most Magic's board clearing spells are expensive. 2 damage is enough for stopping many aggressive strategies and if needed for 1 extra mana it can be paired with Street Conjuror. In a deck with a focus on single target damage, this card patches a hole with a reasonable clearing power for early to midgame boards.
Wyrmbreath is part of a second win condition of the deck which is burning your opponent's face. Two of them already do the third of your opponent's total health in a deck with so much burn damage already. Also, it can be used to clear mid-sized threats which make this card even better.
Leyhoard Hatchling, pretty much the same story as Wyrmbreath with an extra 2/1 body attached to it. In Rune archetype decks, you tend to have quite a number of cards in your hand so playing it for 5 mana or lower isn't too much to ask for.
The second win condition we already mentioned is burning your opponent's face down. If you were to sum up all of the potential damage this list can do, excluding randomly generated runes equals to 40 DAMAGE! Of course, it is unrealistic to draw all of these cards in every single game but if you start to add up a couple of hits from your creatures and any extra Runes of Fire the total amount of potential damage becomes absurd. Portal Wrangler can be easily played with cheap Leyhoards to gain a bit more damage as well. The "burning face" strategy is worth going for against other slower decks that don't have sustain like Heal Light or most Nature decks, instead focus on winning with big Ocular Fiends in those match-ups.
Against aggressive decks, as per usual, you should be looking for cheap removal spells and creatures to stall until mid-game because the most likely win-condition will be a big Ocular Fiend swing play from which most aggro decks just can't recover.
Keep in hand: Starshard/Tracking Bolt, Shadow Scryer, Arcane Transcendent, Faraday Cage, Street Conjuror
Against control decks, you will have time to build up those runes in hand so keeping more than one early game removal is often a mistake. You should be keeping early game creatures to extort some pressure to help you with burning your opponent down.
Keep in hand: Shadow Scryer, Backstreet Bouncer, Time-Bomb, Mana Toad, if your hand is already decent, keeping Ocular Fiend can be a good idea so that your opponent has less time to react to it making the burn win condition easier to pull off.
TL DR; Pros and Cons
- strong early game
- not constrained to one god power
- multiple win conditions
- weak against a lot of sustain
- weak against midrange strategies
- no hard removal
Easy on The Budget
This deck is one of the cheapest competitive decks currently costing 0.1607 ETH (around $25). The most expensive cards and most of the total price are Ocular Fiends so there are no replacements I can recommend and I don't feel like it's needed. Probably harder to obtain are those Time-Bombs and Choralis Rune Moth and you can easily replace them with some early game creatures like Skeleton Heavy and Ranger Firstbow or something similar just to maintain the early game power.
Okay guys, that's it for today's deck review, this list can be a bit trickier to pilot than it looks so I hope this breakdown can help some of you to make better decisions. If you have any question please leave a comment below.
The announced changes to Enrage (probably a nerf) is good news for this deck because it will help relieve some early game pressure so that you can focus on building huge Ocular Fiends with less risk of losing too much tempo and getting overwhelmed on the board.
Good luck with climbing the ladder!
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Thank you for reading!