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

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Sapphire/Steel has always had a special place in my heart. When playing it, I feel comfortable thanks to a lot of familiar Steel cards I see in other decks I play. Sapphire has great tools that give you additional draw and ramp which synergizes well with the Steel's draw as well. Today we'll explore the strengths, weaknesses, and synergies to prepare you for the upcoming Store Championships and Disney Lorcana Challenge Events. Let's take a look.

The Deck

Starting with the deck profile, I decided to go with a list from Eddie Caudill, who played this at the Card N Game Con Brave Tailor Mickey Tournament, placing 1st in a 76 person tournament.

Key Cards and Synergies

Sapphire/Steel is a strong ramp control deck that has a lot more answers against aggro style decks. With the value you get from Steel's damage option, you should be able to develop a strong board presence over your opponent. Once you're out of cards, you'll use your draw engine to fill your hand right up and get you to the later turns of the game where you are aiming for explosive lore gains. Let's take a look at some synergies:

Draw Strategies

Pawpsicle and Hiram Flaversham - Toymaker remain the top choice for card draw when it comes to playing decks using Sapphire. Drawing up to 3 cards by turn four gives you access to more options to ramp with and setting up your mid to late game plays. Once Beast - Tragic Hero hits the board, you'll be drawing an extra card a turn unless your opponent has answers in the form of damage or removal. Using Gaston - Intellectual Powerhouse and Develop Your Brain to filter through and find the right pieces at the right time are key as well. Finally, you have A Whole New World to strategically play or sing to fill your hand right back up after you've played out your foundation.

Ramp Options

Is it really a Sapphire deck without Fishbone Quill? While we have 4 in the deck, we also have Mickey Mouse - Detective as fall back in the event we don't draw Fishbone Quill or it gets removed due to discard or targeted removal. Belle - Strange but Special works well too, but you really want to save her for late game. Remember to balance ramp with draw. A whole bunch of ink in the inkwell does you no good without cards to pay for.

Lines to Victory

With Sapphire/Steel being a somewhat flexible deck throughout the game, it's important to identify what your opponent's strategy is, so you know how to play against it. Having Captain Hook - Forceful Duelist and Mr. Smee - Bumbling Mate in the beginning puts aggro in an awkward spot since you can make favorable trades and can keep Smee healed up with Pawpsicles if necessary. If you have the board handle, feel free to drop your McDuck Manors to generate some passive lore. While your opponent is forced to deal with them, you can start to set up your larger plays with Gaston and Lucky Dime. With a heavy Steel presence right now in the meta, Cogsworth - Grandfather Clock will make things extremely difficult for your opponent by giving all your other characters +1 Resist. He also has Ward, making him extra sticky. Being able to gain lore immediately with Lucky Dime before either it or your characters are banished is key here.

Strategies and Overall Gameplay

Let's take a look at some specific lines to help turn the tides in your favor against top tier decks:

Against Amber/Steel Songs

With Amber/Steel, cards like Cogsworth really put in work here by providing Resist to other characters while being untargetable thanks to Ward. We want to make sure this is in our hand either after the mulligan or digging for it as fast as we can and ramp to play it as early as turn four. You'll also need to play around their A Whole New World plays, since they don't lose much tempo when it comes to singing it with either Ariel, Queen, or Robin Hood. Your goal should be to banish their singers with effective trades or actions. Getting them to play A Whole New World instead of you can be advantageous.

Dealing with Ruby/Amethyst

Ruby/Amethyst decks have a lot of flexibility thanks to a wide meta. Their earlier turns will typically put you in a rough spot thanks to their enter and leave the field effects of Kuzco, Merlin - Rabbit, and Merlin - Goat. You'll need to use your removal effectively, and try to play A Whole New World right after a bounce effect to get either Merlin characters back to their hand. Luckily, you'll be able to get rid of their draw and Be Prepared. A key thing to note is that this deck does not have any item removal right now, so getting your Lucky Dimes on the board fast and using them on high lore characters like Gaston, Belle, and Tamatoa are effective ways toward victory.

Ruby/Sapphire

This is a tough matchup since they have answers to items, characters, and locations. You will need to counter with a solid curve to ramp faster than them if possible. Leverage your Rise of the Titans against Fishbone Quill and opposing McDuck Manors. If you can get to Lucky Dime and use it before they play Judy Hopps, you're in a good spot. Expect them to have a ton of removal, so you want as much non-interactive lore gain as possible. Slam down the Lucky Dime and then use it on your high lore characters before they get banished.

Emerald/Steel Discard

This is an interesting matchup since you will be dealing with a lot of characters that just completely fold to Grab Your Swords. You want to make sure you're ramping conservatively as the opponent does have cards to empty your hand. Try to get your draw and ramp from Fishbone Quill, Pawpsicle, and Hiram Flaversham to find the Grab Your Swords. After the 2-drop Ursula hits the table. During the mulligan, try to avoid having a critical song in your hand too. Otherwise, once you clear their board, it should be smooth sailing towards your late game bombs.

The Mirror

For this matchup, you want to try to maintain tempo in any way necessary. Usually the one who gets Cogsworth down first tends to have a pretty strong advantage throughout the rest of the match. Use this to your advantage to keep your other characters on the board from having Resist. You want to try to force your opponent to spend their resources to banish less effective characters and items so you can play your late game threats and Lucky Dime.

Closing Thoughts

For what's considered to be one of the most unforgiving decks, it's still a fun deck to pilot. Given that we're in a Steel-heavy meta right now, you can expect to see this specific deck in the upcoming Store Championships and Disney Lorcana Challenge in Atlanta next month. This means you will need to consider making adjustments for both events since your local meta could differ. If you're seeing more Steel in your locals, you might want to consider using character with high Willpower, Ward, and Resist. For more aggro style decks, you could consider maxing out Grab Your Swords for dealing with wide boards. With these tips, you should be well suited with a foundation to pilot the deck really well. Good luck out there in the Inklands!

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