So this deck began as a way to ease myself into the whole “budget to S-rank” climbs many S-rankers do to pass time. “Ease” was an understatement. Budget Ragnora tore up ladder, carrying me from bronze to ~rank 3 at which point I switched to faie for the majority of the remaining climb because even on a budget, rag was broken, fighting constructed decks on equal turns and cheesing veterans and noobs alike out of existence. Net result of the two decks was bronze to s in 95 wins (rag’s wr was notable better despite queueing into the same players, allowing them to play around combos).
I: the deck
As others have noted, Ragnora is the undisputed king of budget decks, with the overwhelming majority of his kit being commons or basic. However, unlike its predecessors, I decided to go for a far more aggressive setup, as you can never have too much cheese in a budget deck.
Magmar has access to tectonic spikes, meaning you can run a ton of his cheap spells with impunity while still going F A C E. Bloodrage came from a conversation with perennial #1 ladder player Moggin, in which he tested it briefly in a standard tempo build. It is an incredible budget option, catching even veteran S-rankers off guard in lethal calcs as well as evening your odds vs ziran by in the massive bodies it can generate when cast on ragebinder or shieldmaster.
II. Combos and Tips
Given the many elements the deck shares with its constructed brethren, I will skip the egg kit and go straight to the piloting:
- Dampening wave is a criminally underrated card, enabling clears on big body turns without disrupting your curve. A single ripper + punch clears the likes of wanderer, while also being a solid way for even a meager board to mop up chunky provokes/ body blocks without resorting to weak developments like repulsor beast. Cycle it early unless you have an inceptor in hand. Note that it has anti-synergy with raptyr.
- Cycle bloodrage early. This is not a true bloodrage combo deck (see @akurane et. al.). Rather, treat this card as you would killing edge– something you topdeck for lethal or hold in the midgame as you craft a lethal. Only exception to this rule is when playing vs a ziran in high gold or better, as a bloodrage on a ragebinder or shieldmaster generates a body she will likely be unable to deal with (lower tier zirans generally run sunbloom and martyrdom, so be wary to throwing this out in silver, saving it instead to pump a massive ripper through lancer buffs).
- do not be afraid to burn many cards turn 1 and 2. You lack makantor as a comeback mechanism, so you need to be ahead early and deny any ramp your opponent will attempt. The latter is particularly important in the fault and strategos matchups.
- keeping with the previous point, your ideal starting hand maximizes a tempo start while holding spikes to play into combo. Given the wealth of 1 and 0 mana tempo plays you have, spiking on 4 or 5 is generally not a tempo loss for you.
- Bloodrage combos are not as math-intensive as the constructed varieties involving krater, quillbeast et al. An attack + counter attack = +2/+2. Flash is +1/+1. Your empty board combos bbs + flash inceptor + punch + rage on 7 = 12 damage ripper boi, adding consistency to the GF combo via redundancy. More likely however is casting rage on a ripper which stuck, with even a minor board presence spelling lethal for your opponents (~20% of my games ended on turn 3, often with 25+ dmg lethals).
- Don’t be afraid to play rippers safe (but not too safe). They are very sticky when hatched, especially in conjunction with resident thicc boi shieldmaster. In addition, if you draw ok, your opponent likely won’t have the ability to clear off board alone during the opening turns, maximizing your tempo or comboability for future plays.
- You have the element of surprise. Many times, even top players will position into celerity range of a ripper for the sake of developing or taking a tile, thinking they can tank a GF combo. Unfortunately, if you have board, bloodrage (or bloodrage into a next turn spikes) often means lethal.
- Don’t be afraid to get creative. A hatched raptor on second hit or any rebirth minion are all prefectly fine bloodrage targets if it serves your tempo. Burning combo pieces early is particularly ok if you can spike early.
- Bloodrage is icing on the cake. You still have the broken GF combo as well. Flash makes it come online as early as 4. Delet flash reeeeeee
This deck is strong. Very strong. Strong enough for me to slot 2x bloodrage into my constructed ragnora.
Probably the most powerful budget deck in the game as of the time of this writing, complete with 20+ dmg lethals, galaxy brain plays, and a learning curve challenging enough for noobs and S-rankers alike. I actually switched to Faie in diamond because this deck felt too dirty.
So yeah. Give it a spin if you’re feeling degenerate. You won’t be disappointed, though your opponent likely will.
As for changes to the deck:
- you could swap silithar for primus fist to pump your GF combos better ( GF + fist is 14, which can come online as early as 6 if you have flash). A similar move was pulled in G r A n D m A s T e R @alphacentury ’ s constructed raggro to terrifying effect. Note that the lack of makantor means the increased board fragility makes this swap somewhat more risky in budget.
- cutting any non-inceptor minion for a second rage reactor could also be worth. A pre-equipped reactor makes all your combos 1 mana cheaper if a trade can be made with face.
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Spamming that Ripper cheese. Uses no cards above rare.
As both the strongest general and one with crucial and powerful cards at common or lower Ragnora is an ideal budget general.
Wanderer Ragnora list piloted by Ryvirath in the playoffs of the Meltdown League.
Combo deck with a distraction
A grow deck that uses Moloki Huntress and Oropsisaur to create a powerful board in tandem with Verdant Fulmination and Godhammer and relies heavily on growing rippers to win.
Budget Ragnora deck for only 680 spirit (by an unknown deckbuilder)
It’s like Egg Ragnora, if Egg Ragnora decided it didn’t want to be a fair board-based deck any more and preferred killing people on 6 mana.
Wanderer Ragnora list piloted by SonofMakuta in the playoffs of the Meltdown League.