In “Ruthless Stuff”: Part 1 I explained how the deck came to be and shared a summary of the performance at Nationals. I’d like to take some time to explain some of the fun interactions you get from the deck, then talk about which cards from Persecuted Church might be good to include.

The Dominants

I’ll start by explaining some of the selection of cards that make up this deck. I believe most of the Dominants to be pretty straight forward. Angel of the LordNew JerusalemSon of GodChristian Martyr and Falling Away are all pretty standard and don’t need much explanation.

Vain Philosophy probably fits that category too. I like it’s versatility. There’s the obvious use of taking away your opponent’s chance to score 2 Dominant rescues. Played after a rescue is declared, but before you present a blocker, it’s also useful to remove an important battle winner from an opponent’s hand, allowing you to get a block where you didn’t previously have one.

Destruction of Nehushtan is probably the most controversial Dominant on the list. I believe it’s highly under rated. I rarely run into a deck that doesn’t have at least one Artifact that I want to discard. I usually wish I could do it multiple times. It’s often used to save an Evil Character from Holy Grail, or to ensure a Writ/Charms doesn’t hinder a rescue. Rain Becomes Dust and Golden Cherubim are both common targets as well.

The Lost Souls

Like the Dominants, I believe many of these Lost Souls to be fairly standard, needing little explanation. Souls like “female only“, “hopper“, “revealer“, “wanderer” and “3-line” are in most competitive decks.

N.T. only” is pretty common as well, but it’s been shunned by some due to last years release of a set containing all N.T. offense. There are still a number of strong O.T. themes it shines against, like Judges, Genesis, royalty, warriors and fight by the numbers banding.

Can’t be prevented” is here strictly to ensure that my Suicidal Swine Stampede and Death of Unrighteous both work against fight by the numbers Heroes.

Pigs” is the most questionable of them all. It was a last minute inclusion that took the place of “retribution“. I expected to see a lot more disciples offenses at Nationals but there were virtually none. The only time this really worked for me was in the last game of the day against Chris, it stopped his Throne of David.

The Heroes

This is where things get interesting. These wasn’t enough room to fit everyone I was using in “Good Stuff”. Originally the offense included King David due to Samuel‘s ability to search for him to draw 2, his utility and size. But the deck simply didn’t have room.

It had also used The Strong Angel for the sheer power factor. After I switched Angelic Guidance to Wheel Within a Wheel I didn’t care for a Hero that had no Enhancements to set him up. I prefer Wheel for it’s utility and reusability but both can work well.

With the loss of King David, I had a hard time justifying the use of Pentecost. I’ll admit, Darius’ Decree makes me a little nervous. Cutting a potential 5 card draw from the deck would be devastating, if it hadn’t made room for Jair. He more than makes up for what I had to cut. He’s also amazing with Sword against Sword.

If it wasn’t for Wheel Within a Wheel I would have cut Samuel for Deborah. They have the same stats, both allow for a CBN Samuel’s Edict but she isn’t shut down by Household Idols and has access to the “female only“. However, I really felt like I needed a 3rd character on which to play the Wheel.

If you’ve read “I Am Second”, then you know as a general rule I prefer to draw 1st. This deck can often change that. With the potential to open with AUTO, Jair or even both, you can quickly overcome any card disadvantage that going 1st would normally leave you with. Pushing Jair into battle the first couple turns gets you a decent lead in card advantage. Because of his size he often doesn’t survive very long.

Simeon has “anti-synergy” with Jair. But once you realize that Jair is typically for the early game and Simeon is for the late game, you no longer view them as a contradiction. Simeon is here to band to Captain, or to AUTO then exchange for MosesAaron to Moses is a strong play too, but not quite as strong.

The protection Gideon gets from AUTO is enough against some defenses. There are still decks that don’t have a reliable way to deal with him. At the very least he’s useful as a character to rescue with when your opponent is relying on a capture Artifact to stop you.

Ehud is the MVP of the offense. People are splashing Priest of Zeus into non-Greek defenses. Ehud eats him up. Even if they have some black Enhancements to play on him there are 3 potential negates to answer with. He’s great for forcing your opponent to block with a less than optimal character. Maybe they wanted to use a banding chain. You can deny them that opportunity. I don’t think I even need to mention how great he is against a king, emperor or pharaoh if you have his Dagger.

The Good Enhancements

I’ve already covered the Enhancements to some degree so I’ll just touch on a couple of my favorites that are less commonly played.

Eli’s Sound Advice is amazing. The versatility to negate and/or draw and play is what makes it so good. Add to the fact that it works on Moses even when a CBP evil card is used and you’ve got a recipe for success!

Sword against Sword creates one of my favorite plays with this deck. It’s pretty easily set up with Jair or a protected Gideon. A couple times I first needed to play Eli’s Sound Advice to negate the popular Gamaliel’s Speech, then create the side battle. Choose the blocking Evil Character to fight another Evil Character that’s orange or pale green. Band to more of the opponent’s Evil Characters when appropriate, ensuring that you have initiative in the side battle. Now execute Suicidal Swine Stampede or Death of Unrighteous to remove all the Evil Characters in the side battle, including the one that was blocking you and shuffle your souls, all while making a successful rescue!

The Evil Characters

Foreign Wives is here for her ability to “auto block” and use the spectrum of evil Enhancements I have. If my opponent has banding Evil Characters I usually want to use Suicidal Swine Stampede or Death of Unrighteous so she doesn’t stick around since I like to use an AUTO of my own.

King Manasseh can band to all but one Evil Character in the deck. Besides being a magician he’s part of larger protected banding chain that ends with Elymas the SorcererElymas is an under rated card that most people overlook. He was a late addition to the deck thanks to my friend Sam. He took the place of Balaam. The CBI protection Elymas offers is amazing. I didn’t regret the change once.

The Serpent is another amazing blocker that often gets used only once, hopefully followed by a Suicidal Swine Stampede or Death of Unrighteous. His ability to restrict an opponent’s Dominant play makes Vain Philosophy all the more effective.

Despite the nasty blocks I’ve described above, I have yet to touch on the combo that originally gave the defense the name “Ruthless”. It begins with Spirit of Temptation who allows you to put either Worshipping Demons or Forgotten History under your deck, costing your opponent a card as well. Add any number of your (or your opponent’s) banding characters in between, ending with Egyptian Magicians, revealing the afore mentioned “end the battle” cards and adding one to the battle. It creates an instant CBN block, that if played well, beats the opposing Hero(es) by the numbers and doesn’t give your opponent any chance to respond.

There isn’t a lot to say about the remaining evil Enhancements. Any deck that can use Scattered should and the remaining two go great with all the magicians.

The Question of 51

In Part 1, Justin asked, “If the minimum deck size was 51, what additional card did you find yourself wishing you had most often?”.

I can’t really say that there was any one card I really wish that I had. I could see shoving King David back into the deck. I strongly considered using Urim and Thummim. I’d also considered Sites like Fortress of Antonia and Hormah. There was one game I would have loved to have Gideon’s Call! Captured Ark is another card I think I would have been pretty happy with. Deborah’s Directive is another strong consideration.

The Future

With the release of the Persecuted Church, this deck gets some cards that we can consider for upgrades. Two of the most obvious inclusions are swapping out King Manasseh for The Judean Mediums and “pigs” for “awake“. Silly Women is another great include that can probably go in for Foreign Wives.

Cards like The Egyptian Rebel, Mist, Pestering Spirit, Wizard and Crooked Ways could all find a home in this defense depending on what kind of adjustment a person wants to make.

Persecuted Church offers nothing to the offense. It’s worth asking, is clay strong enough yet that it could take the place of the existing offense?

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