Anyone familiar with my Hex history and the various McBombus decks I have played throughout his stay in standard would not be surprised to find out my favorite Doombringer card is Briny Ray. This little guy, affectionately dubbed the “filter fish” by Jeff Hoogland’s twitch chat, does so much. Its stats are fairly impressive as a 2 cost 2/1 speed flight troop is nothing to sneeze at. However, it also has a “rummage” ability that allows you to discard and draw whenever it attacks! This ability makes it a valuable enabler for any deck looking to get value out of discarding, filter towards key cards, combine with Scribe of the Flayed Man, or simply fill its own crypt. There are almost endless variations of what our filter fish and his partner in crime, Scribe of the Flayed man, so here is a guide to a few of the possibilities.
The first deck I am going to talk about is the place that I went to naturally when I saw Briny Ray, RS discard tempo:
4 Briny Ray
4 Conjured Candleghast
2 Scribe of the Flayed Man
2 Painstoke Sister
4 Primordial Sabretooth
2 Eternal Seeker
Unlike most of the decks built around Briny Ray and Scribe of the Flayed Man, this deck is trying to win mostly fairly by deploying troops, lining up removal, and exploiting discard synergies to generate a steam of card advantage. One of the key features that pops out at first glance is the shard base, namely the inclusion of all 8 on threshold drop shards. That is because unlike the rest of the decks in this article, this deck is full of ways to discard those drops for value. In addition to superstar Briny Ray, the deck plays full sets of Theorize, Whip Crack, and Alchemite, all of which love to have drops to feed them.
This deck is a great one to start off talking about Briny Ray decks because it features a number of discard packages: the Light Em Up package and the Scribe Package. Light Em up is a very powerful tool in discard based decks because it has a double purpose of repeatable discard fodder and an alternate, go wide win condition. Both Whip Crack and Painstoke Sister can get back the powerful illuminating action in addition to providing a little bit of reach and the ability to both sweep away small troops and finish off larger ones.
The maindeck and reserves are geared towards fighting Candles and Momentum, the two boogeymen of the format, as Whip Crack excels in both matchups, killing Candlekin and momentum troops on their start of turn, and we have access to more tools post reserves. Scars of War is simply your best card against Candles. Dark Heart and Burning Ire help deal with the larger threats out of Momentum.
The rest of the reserves hedges against a mostly unknown field. While Return to Cinder certainly comes in against Candles, it also helps against random aggressive decks and deathcry decks you happen to come up against. Similarly, Verdict of the Ancient Kings is your best tool against opposing combo and control decks, helping interact with various Mordrom’s Gift, Sugar Rush, Absolute Power, and Psychic Ascension based decks.
If you want to build a slightly more aggressive and cheaper version of this deck, I would recommend replacing the Scribes and the Seekers with Righteous Outlaw, which is a powerful stand alone threat that synergizes with both the discard theme of the deck by generating extra Valors to discard and provides a way to get back your Light Em Ups.
4 Briny Ray
3 Scribe of the Flayed Man
4 Painstoke Sister
3 Voice of D’endrrah
4 Primordial Sabretooth
1 Eternal Seeker
I have to admit, when I first saw the above deck, I didn’t get it. I thought it was a slightly bigger version of my RS tempo discard deck that was splashing for a couple of powerful cards because it was close to free to do so. I was wrong. While at first glance this deck looks like a midrange deck with every card being individually powerful, it is actually a combo deck. The largest hint is the inclusion of Scour the Archives, which isn’t quite good enough without a powerful combo to fetch.
For those not yet in the know, the combo is Voice of D’endrrah repeatedly discarding Light Em Up, which comes back immediately because of a Painstoke Sister. Assembling the two 4 cost troops in play when the recursive action is your crypt or hand lets you ping your opponent to death! The combo is even somewhat resilient to removal as if your opponent tries to remove one of your troops in response, you can simply discard another card to get back Light Em Up. The moral of the story? Make sure your opponent doesn’t get to have both of the four cost troops in play at the same time or you could just be dead.
I was fooled at first into thinking this was a fair and grindy deck, but its one of its great strengths, because unlike the other discard based combo decks, this list has no trouble playing a fair attrition based game with the powerful discard synergy engine.
The reserves give you an additional set of tools to adjust your interactive slots against various opponents. Again, Verdict of the Ancient Kings and Whip Crack are some of the best tools for fighting the various decks in the format.
Finally, we get to the deck that is the most fun and has the most raw power of any list here, reanimator:
4 Briny Ray
4 Scribe of the Flayed Man
3 Voice of D’endrrah
3 Doombringer Kha
2 Eternal Seeker
1 Oinkers the Party Pig
1 Ruby Ice
3 Well of Innovation
1 Primal Prism
1 Root of Hatred
4 Remnant of Hatred
2 Well of Cunning
1 Root of Retribution
4 Remnant of Innovation
4 Sapphire Ice
1 Well of Purpose
1 Root of Innovation
1 Nameless Draught
1 Root of Cunning
The game plan here is fairly simple. Survive the early turns, cheat giant monsters into play with Scribe and Mordrom’s Gift, profit. Of the giant monsters, Doombrinker Kha is easily the generically strongest as it generates immediate value and puts a quick clock on your opponent. Each of the other fatties provides some utility. Eternal Seeker is a pseudo sweeper that can deal with multiple threats at once, like an army of candles, and can even deal with spellshield threats like Gargalith out of wild decks. Aegilus acts as a “lock piece” that completely invalidates your opponent’s board until it can be dealt with, and often spells “lights out” for your opponent when doubled up. Finally, the party pig himself makes an appearance because he represents the most possible inevitability as he find additional giant monsters and ways to cheat them into play every turn. Since he triggers at the end of your turn, finding a Kha isn’t as great as putting it into play in your first main phase, but getting a Seeker or an Aegilus is excellent.
The reserves contain additional answers, including both Blight Knight and Massacre which are excellent against Candles. Shroud is another notable inclusion which lets you protect your scribe, your fatties, and even your back up plan out of the reserves. That’s right, this deck features the extra plan of Absolute Power and Silent Auctioneer. By discarding the 8 cost action with a Scribe in play, you get to draw your entire deck, and then play the auctioneer. When you go to discard to handsize, you get to bury your opponent’s entire deck, which usually wins on the spot. People have tried to build decks around this interaction, but I feel like it is at its best as a backup plan out of this deck to sidestep any crypt hate your opponents possibly have.
To close out this article, I would like to mention a number of general tips and tricks for building and playing discard decks in current standard.
- At the end of the turn, you get to discard down to 7 cards in hand. This can be beneficial if you are looking for a way to discard certain cards or simply generate value with Painstoke Sister and Light Em Up. You will get all of your discard triggers, but you only discard down to handsize once, unlike in MTG, so you can’t go infinite using handsize as a discard outlet for Painstoke Sister and Light Em Up.
- If you are discarding multiple cards at the same time when you have a Scribe in play, either to hand size or to Excruciate, the first card you discard will be the last one to trigger and vice versa, so make sure you play your Eternal Seeker and not your Drop of Chaos
- Briny Ray discards first and always draws, so if you have an empty hand, the filter fish draws you a card for free!
- Primordial Sabretooth is one of the best cards in RS discard decks because not only is it an efficient removal spell that doubles as a threat in the late game, it is also a powerful card to cheat into play with Scribe that doesn’t clunk up your hand. In a similar vein, Primordial Cockatwice is likely an excellent inclusion in most builds that dip into blood.
- Burning Ire is especially strong in these decks as it will return any Light Em Ups you have in your crypt in addition to dealing with a problematic opposing troop.
- Have a plan of what you want to do with each discard. Some games you will get to run away with a Briny Ray and it doesn’t matter too much what order you loot through your hand, but other times you have to be more careful. Often, especially in the more combo centric decks, it is important to save your champion power to make a big play. Even in the fairest of the fair, RS tempo, it can be vitally important to save a champion power for a drop resource or to floop a Conjured Candleghast into play.
- The first Scour the Archives only draws a card so it is often correct to bin it to a discard effect instead of investing the two resources to play it.
- If you have an Alchemite and a Painstoke Sister in play, you can discard your entire hand to shoot your opponent or their board because you can activate Alchemite additional times in response to the Painstoke Sister trigger(s).
There are dozens of variations on Briny Ray decks that are possible in the current Standard format, but these do a nice job showcasing most of the possibilities, from aggro-midrange to combo-midrange, to combo-combo. As the combinations seem almost endless, I know I will be enjoying playing our filter fish and all of his fishy friends as long as they are in standard. What fishy combinations are you working on?