If you’ve been playing Redemption regularly over the past year or so chances are you have played with or against a deck using a clay offense. The Persecuted Church expansion increased the clay card pool, including some new churches, and added some powerful options for clay offenses. A few months ago, around Christmas, one of the best Redemption players said “clay is meta.” Based on my opponents in ROOT tournaments since the PC release, I have to agree. Not everyone is playing clay but your odds of seeing a clay deck are higher than other decks right now.
Whenever a certain deck becomes popular enough, or is viewed as the “meta offense/meta defense,” one thing I always look for is ways to tech against that offense/defense. I look for cards that are already solid cards to include in a deck that are especially helpful against that deck you expect to see. So what are some counters to clay? I’ve compiled a list of ideas below.
Hezekiah’s Signet Ring – In this case, I am putting (in my opinion) the best all-around clay counter at the top of the list. HSR is already an incredibly powerful card as it stops your opponent from searching any deck or discard pile. It could go in almost any deck and would improve the deck in most cases. Most clay churches have a “church builder” that searches deck or discard for certain heroes and often bands to them as well. Clay also has some of the best recursion in the game – The Holy Spirit is probably the most obvious example but there are others. HSR isn’t a “hard counter” that will make your opponent’s clay offense worthless but there’s a good chance it will make many of the clay cards ineffective. And that’s not to mention that an early HSR can slow an opponent’s offense down so that it never gets that “downhill momentum” to overpower an opponent’s defense.
Covenant With Death/Darius’ Decree – Very few clay heroes are CBP or CBN so CWD makes a great counter to clay hero abilities. And clay also has a LOT of territory-class enhancements; 9 Fruits of the Spirit, 6 Armors of God, plus some others. Both CWD and DD restrict your opponent from playing TC clay enhancements. Both of these in the same deck is probably overkill. A deck that uses both HSR and CWD will be prepared to slow down a lot of popular offenses, especially clay.
Household Idols – If you are noticing that the first 4 cards mentioned are Artifacts that’s because they can go in almost any deck. HSR and DD don’t target their owner at all; they have no downside other than taking up a slot in your deck and taking up your Artifact pile when you use them. CWD and HHI can hurt your own decks so you need to build around them. Clay has a LOT of banding including most of their best heroes: Epaphras, Philemon, Syntyche, Claudia, Stephanas, Cornelius, The Ephesian Mentor, etc.
Romans Destroy Jerusalem/Emperor Claudius – With these two cards Romans have two powerful counters to a clay offense. RDJ discards all clay heroes in play and is CBN; its only drawback is that it must be used by a Roman and Romans do not get initiative easily. The Roman Jailer and Namaan’s Chariot and Horses are the best methods to play RDJ against an opposing clay hero. A side battle created by your offense (Gold, Blue, Red, and Green all have options) is also a great way to play RDJ. Emperor Claudius is protected from NT heroes and Good Dominants and his ability is CBP. Clay does have plenty of interrupts and negates that can get past Claudius’ protection but nevertheless Claudius can present a major problem for an opposing clay offense early or late in a game.
Simon the Magician (Apostles) – Every evil enhancement played on Simon the Magician is CBN against clay heroes unless Peter or Philip the Evangelist are in play. And of those two heroes Peter is the only one that is commonly used in clay offenses. Black has some of the most powerful enhancements – if they can avoid being negated. Wrath of Satan, Hunger, and Joseph in Prison can all be brutal to an opponent’s offense but on their own can be both prevented or interrupted. Simon the Magician can provide a way to make these enhancements CBN.
Silly Women/Rebellious Spirit/King’s Pomp – With clay comes a lot of good enhancements that place themselves on heroes including the dreaded Peace and Armors of God. These three cards all help discard placed good enhancements; King’s Pomp discards all of them in play! These 3 cards are not “hard counters” for clay by any means but they can definitely help against many of the popular clay GEs that get placed on heroes.
Scattered/Disagreement Over Mark – Scattered goes without saying as it is an easily-splashable, not-easily-protected-against battlewinner that is CBN unless there is only 1 hero in battle. Clay has a lot of banding especially with its “church builders” like Epaphras. Disagreement Over Mark also needs mentioning here. It is only crimson instead of the 4 brigades of Scattered but everything else about it is similar to Scattered. Since characters “use” the enhancements that are played on them DOM can’t be negated by a NT hero or a NT enhancement; only an OT hero using an OT enhancement can negate DOM. These two cards are one reason I like crimson so much as an evil brigade right now. Crimson also has a way to recur and play these two cards with one evil enhancement: Imitating Evil.
Negates (preferably CBN) – You might say that this is a very generic description but the fact of the matter is clay’s best ways to play CBN enhancements are Stephen, Peter, and Paul. All of these heroes are 7/7 or greater and provide no protection against chump blocks. Most clay offenses want to be attacking with the searching and drawing heroes like Claudia and Philemon, as well as other great clay heroes like Barnabas, Cornelius, Jude, etc. Peter is often used for healing and a CBN Gamaliel’s Speech and I haven’t seen much of Stephen or Paul in T1. This presents an interesting opportunity for defenses: negates, especially CBN negates or interrupt + play next cards could be quite valuable on defense now. Usually, these cards have been left out of small and medium T1 defenses in favor of other enhancements that are more of a “sure block”. Against clay, CBN negates can win battles. There aren’t many of them but they exist. Stiff-Necked is probably my favorite since it discards the negated GE, is 0/6, and is CBN on any OT brown human. And the ITB + play next cards like Two Thousand Horses and Namaan’s Chariot and Horses can be basically CBN if you can follow them up with a CBN or CBI enhancement like Scattered, Forgotten History, Heavy Taxes, RDJ, etc. Even the ITB + remove EEs (Achan’s Sin, JiP, and Korah’s Rebellion) could be worth playing, in my opinion, if you are wanting to tech against clay. Interrupting the battle is very valuable against the ongoing abilities of the Armor of God enhancements, some of the Fruits of the Spirit, and many clay heroes.
Hopefully this brief list gives you some ideas of different ways to counter one of the more popular T1 offenses right now! Clay is a really fun offense to play, and has some very useful enhancements you can add to any clay offense. It’s also fairly easy to make a clay offense. The combination of being fun, easy to play, and competitive means that a lot of players will want to play clay.
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