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How to Build and Play Ruby/Sapphire in the Into the Inklands Meta


Ruby/Sapphire is in a really good place right now. With some great additions from Disney Lorcana's latest set, Into the Inklands, the deck finally has what it needs to compete with other tier 1 decks. With Store Championships and the Lorcana Challenge Events taking place, there's no better time than now to discuss where the deck is at and how to play it. We'll discuss the key cards, strategies and synergies, and favorable matchups. Let's jump right in.

The Deck

Let's take a look at a recent list that made a Top 8 cut in an online weekly tournament called Mishi Mondays, piloted by James Gray:

Key Cards and Synergies

Ruby/Sapphire combines the best characteristics of each ink color; Ruby with strong removal, and Sapphire for ramping, card draw, and overall strong questers. Your most effective strategies will involve stabilizing the board and ramping to your late game bombs. Aggro decks are your more challenging matchups, so keep that in mind during the mulligan. Here are some great synergies play into:

Draw Engine

Pawpsicles and Hiram Flaversham - Toymaker are your main draw engine. Being able to draw two cards per item banished when he quests keeps your hand full of cards to continue to ink for ramping and maintain card advantage. For an explosive start, you can play Pawpsicle into One Jump Ahead into Hiram Flaversham for a nearly uncontested draw 2 by turn three. You also have Gramma Tala - Keeper of Ancient Stories and Gaston - Intellectual Powerhouse to help filter through your deck and get the right cards in your hand.

Stronger Ramp

The key here is to get a large amount of ink in the inkwell to play your high value threats. Thanks to cards like One Jump Ahead, Fishbone Quill, and Heart of Te Fiti, you'll have the ability to ramp. With Fishbone Quill, make sure you have enough cards in hand to productively ramp. You don't want to send your entire hands to the inkwell without anything to play once you have the ink you need to spend.

Strong Late Game Board Control

Things start looking a lot better once you have 5 or more ink in the inkwell. Maui - Hero to All tends to trade favorably with prior board threats thanks to Rush. Having Maui's Fish Hook in play also allows Maui to swing for a massive 9 damage or into an Evasive character if one is present. Madame Medusa - The Boss also provides targeted removal against a character with 3 or less attack. Be Prepared is for large board wipes when the opponent has overcommitted. The board reset puts you in a stronger position for controlling the rest of the game with your high value cards like Maleficent and Scar.

Explosive Lore Generation

Sapphire/X decks have become more explosive late game thanks to noninteractive lore generation from Lucky Dime. Because of this, turns are a bit more calculated early on to benefit from this. Cards like Gaston, Tamatoa - So Shiny!, McDuck Manor - Scrooge's Mansion, and Maleficent - Monstrous Dragon can gain a ton of lore in their own respect. Some common strategies include playing McDuck Manor when there's no board presence, thanks to Be Prepared. Gaining two lore per turn with a hearty 9 willpower makes this a difficult location to deal with. Playing Lucky Dime with 9+ ink allows you to play and activate it immediately on someone like a Gaston or Tamatoa, sometimes even closing the game out for you.

Strategies and Overall Gameplay

As with control decks, you should be ramping as fast as you can responsibly. Your mulligan should consist of at least one ramp card and some draw through Pawpsicle and Hiram Flaversham. If you know you're facing an aggro style deck, try to dig for Queen of Hearts - Impulsive Ruler and Maui. Try to get to 7 ink and slam down a Be Prepared and turn the game around in your favor from all your card draw on previous turns.

Against Amber/Steel Songs

With The Bare Necessities early on, it's really hard to keep your key non-character cards in your hand. The good thing is that a lot of their direct damage abilities aren't really effective against you in the early game. Try to play around A Whole New World offensively by making use of your cards before they're discarded. If you can get a ramp card down, this is a great way to get cards in the inkwell rather than in your discard pile.

Dealing with Ruby/Amethyst

Given that Ruby/Amethyst is one of the most flexible decks in the format, it's a bit difficult to understand how they plan on winning. Some decks play locations, some don't. Some play with The The Sorcerer's Spellbook, some done. Whatever the case may be, take advantage of the fact that this deck does not have item removal. Race to 7 and get Lucky Dime out, and start getting value from it ASAP. They will have the character removal, so you want to make sure you're at least getting lore from Lucky Dime in the event the character doesn't get a chance to quest.

Facing the Mirror

This is probably one of the most noninteractive races to 20. Curve out well with ramp and get your Lucky Dime and McDuck Manors out when possible. If you can sing Be Prepared instead of paying for it with ink, you can maintain board advantage since you can get out characters first. Otherwise, go fast.

Emerald/Steel Discard

Emerald/Steel Discard is heavily favored in this matchup. Ursula - Deceiver will rip songs out of your hand. Ursula - Deceiver of All can sing Sudden Chill twice. Try to counter with drawing more, and don't overcommit on ramping if you can't afford to. If they're playing with Prince John and Bucky, you'll have to dig for Be Prepared. However, after that, the match should become a bit easier.

Sapphire/Steel Ramp

This matchup hurts because not only does the opponent have the ability to ramp just as hard as you, but they also have access to item and location removal. Look out for cards like Cogsworth - Grandfather Clock and Cinderella - Stouthearted. You'll definitely want to dig for Be Prepared in these situations. If your local meta is Steel heavy, don't be afraid to consider Judy Hopps for countering opposing Fishbone Quills.

Closing Thoughts

Ruby/Sapphire is one of my favorite breakout decks for the Into the Inklands format. I've always enjoyed items and the fact that they can be activated right away. Even with a lot of item counters due to a Steel-heavy meta, this deck still thrives and has proven its spot it deserves with other tier one decks. This is a deck to definitely look out for in the upcoming Store Championships and Locana Challenge in Atlanta. I can only begin to wonder what new additions we can expect from Ursula's Return once it releases in May.

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