The Build: Key Cards
The core card of this build it’s obviously Juggernaut. It reads: “Whenever you gain block, deal 5(7) damage to all enemies.” Simple enough, right?
So what are we aiming to do to exploit this effect? Surely we want cards that generate high block for low energy and possibly draw other cards that we can play to trigger Juggernaut another time. And here the fun begins: the Ironclad has two of the strongest block cards for this type of deck in all the game (in my opinion) at common rarity.
As you all have guessed now, we are talking about: Shrug it Off and True Grit.
Let’s analyze them a little more:
Shrug it Off reads: “Gain 8(11) Block. Draw 1 card.”
This is the core card you want early, possibly on Act 1, and you can add up to 3 copy to your deck by the end of the run (better if only 2 both upgraded). It gives you 11 block at the cost of one energy which it’s huge and it’s really important for the final stage of the deck as I’ll explain.
True Grit reads: “Gain 7(9) Block. Exhaust a random (not random) card from your hand.”
This card it’s exceptional and by far my favorite in the Ironclad’s kit: it gives you 7(9) block, which is honest for 1 energy, and act as a CARD REMOVAL for free and here is where it shines! Thinning your deck every time you cast this card and sculpt your deck in order to give you always the best hand it’s part of the strength of this archetype and why it works so well in every stage of the game.
You want the 1st copy as soon as possible and possibly the second (it’s not necessary if you can have your deck not bigger than 15 cards) by the end of the run. Note that you can also skip the first upgrade on this bad boy if you think you can manage to exhaust what you need by playing other cards 1st, even though later you’ll need to do it or risk the defeat.
Now that we got those 2 most important things out of the way, let’s go for a list of other useful cards tha you can pick up:
Clothesline: If you lack damage or your 1st boss it’s the Hexagost, you can consider it .
Armaments: Maybe. Usually you will end up Upgrading all you core cards so no need for this. Early game can be an option if you are short on money or smithing.
Body Slam: Yes. You want one copy upgraded and no more. In this build you can reliably deal around 60 damage or more per turn every turn with this, so let’s get it! (Sometimes you won’t need it, but the Time Eater gets really easier with this).
Iron Wave: Maybe. It’s good early, so if you feel you need it you can take it with no big problems. It’s great with Juggernaut since it will deal the damage then trigger it for an extra 5(7).
Warcry: Maybe. It exhaust and gets you closer to Juggernaut, so isn’t bad in your deck but not necessary.
So really few common cards serve our purpose, 2 defensive and 1 offensive. You can pick up others but often remove them by the end or at least exhaust it during the fights.
Battle Trance: Well… One never hurts right? Or does it? Sometimes does, as you are trying to chain draw to block multiple times. One copy it’s ok but, during boss fight in particular, try and find a moment to exhaust it or you could regret ever picking it.
Flame Barrier: While this isn’t necessary, it speed things up quite a bit. Go for one copy and no more (during act one it’s mvp vs Hexagost and The Guardian so… ).
Shockwave: This card it’s so strong it’s obscene. Defends you weakening all the enemies, in some fights will help you kill the first enemies with ease and exhaust itself. One copy.
Disarm: Strong but unnecessary. If you like fighting Elites then maybe one copy is for you, no more though.
Metallicize: Shockingly, no. If you get to have one copy early it’s ok, as after you play it isn’t anymore in your deck. It triggers Juggernaut every turn but… It’s low impact late game. One copy maximum.
Ghostly Armor: One copy early or nothing (since most of your cards generates block this is mostly irrelevant).
Carnage: Maybe early if you lack some damage, else no.
Burning Pact: Well… that’s more useful! Sometimes it’s a better Battle Trance in this deck, still I don’t believe it’s good enough. One copy if you got a “big” deck and need more exhaust cards.
Entrench: Funny enough you don’t need entrench for this deck to work. Maybe consider it if you have Calipers.
Sentinel: Can work and does synergy with exhaust cards. Be wary that too many defensive cards with no setup for your combo will just slow you down though.
Rampage: Yes. If you do not have Body Slam early in the game, then this becomes really good. It is just direct damage and works well with you thinning your deck. It will be easy to play this 2 or even 3 time per round later in the game and can help you close difficult fights. (If you believe in the dream Juggernaut carry… You will try and use only that! But this helps quite a bit)
So we got only rares left but we can see that there are not many things we want. This deck is really focused and, if you want to make the Juggernaut tactic work every time, the pieces become really few.
Offering: well this is a yes in almost every deck and here is too! Super useful to find your Juggernaut early and defend in the same turn.
Impervious: If you want. I don’t find it particularly essential to the build.
Feed: Early you can consider it. It can help you long term with that HP boost. After Act 1 do not bother.
Barricade: Well it’s a block deck so… If you want. As Impervious this card is not necessary for the archetype and many times will slow you down costing you a ccard and energy. Said so, if you get it you can pick it and will work well in this deck.
Immolate: Now this can be used as a better Cleave! Jokes asaid, it’s a nice bonus the fact that the Burns will be soon exhausted and if you need mass damage you can get that (destroys the raptomancer fight that is the most difficult for you).
Dark Embrace: Can speed you up, making True Grit the most broken card in your deck. Nice but not essential.
Juggernaut: Yes, yes and yes. Fun fact you need only one to do enough damage to win most fights, the second sometimes is clunky but speeds up boss fights so you can consider it.
As you see clearly now this deck needs only one power to work, Juggernaut , and this is great against the Awaken One. You can add some rares and also some powers, you can go for a more Barricady deck but, in its purest core, this is a fast pseudo-combo deck.
Let’s have a look now at the colorless cards: those are not essential BUT we can setup really nasty combos with those so it’s only worth taking a look at them to see which one we want:
Here I’ll say this for every colorless card: even if it seem to work you cannot affort it. Most of your money will be invested in card removal so you got no chance for much shopping, sorry.
Finesse: Oh baby, what is this? Hell yeah I want a card that blocks for 0 energy AND draws a card! This is the BEST colorless card in this archetype and if you get 2 is game over! In fact when you get to a deck small enough (6 cards) you can play those an iinfinite amount of time, each time triggering Juggernaut and dealing 7 damage per time… without ever stopping! Infinite damage and block? Yep man!
Flash Of Steel: Although you don’t need to buy this, you can consider taking it if you got spare money. Free damage man.
Impatience: Can be considered as you will luckly have just one attack in your deck most of the times.
Madness: This one is as important as Finesse. If you can land it on a Shrug It Off (easy enough with True Grit) then you can go infinite with one finesse and the 0 cost Shrug It Off. Awesome! (If you got 2 both on 2 different Shrug It Off…. Combo time!)
CURSES: They are less bad in this deck then others because you can exhaust them but I suggest to not take any if possible. The worst would be Necronomicurse.
Here i will list the most useful relics for the archetype based by rarity with a brief explanetion of why I think they are good:
Anchor: Really good relic, can let you setup you 1st turn and hopefully play Juggernaut while still blocking plenty.
Ancient Tea Set: As the previous is a setup relic. Becomes really good the more draw effects you have and can let you play Juggernaught and defend for more than 20 on the same turn.
Art Of War: This is a must have! in this deck it’s basically an extra energy relic almost always active!
Bag Of Preparations: This may be one of the strongest relics in the game, helps your setup and let’s you see more of your already thin deck making it really easy to play your power asap.
Bronze Scales: It’s good with our strategy and we are happy to see it, not a priority though. If you are lacking mass damage it can be nice, expecially vs the birds on Act 2.
Centennial Puzzle: Nice but not too important. If you have offering this becomes really good.
Happy Flower: Awesome relic, alway happy to have it.
Juzu Bracelet: As the previous. We do not care much about elites in general so question mark rooms are a priority and this makes them great.
Lantern: Another nice setup relic.
Oddly Smooth Stone: Stat relics are good in general, this is exceptional and if you can get it you should.
Smiling Mask: This is an AMAZING relic for us; it could make us gain virtually hundreds of money and let us sculpt our deck as it requires.
Tiny Chest: As Juzu Bracelet, it’s a good effect, cheap and sometimes you could even get 4 relics from this effect! Really good.
War Paint: All skills deck? Even if this gets 2 Defends those would be the ones you leave in your deck so no problem!
Bottled Lightning and Bottled Tornado: Both greate. Obviousely Juggernought goes on tornado while on lightning you can put any card draw (I prefer to go for Shrug but also Batttle trance, Offering and Finess are good)
Gremlin Horn: Always nice effect to have, no need to spend too much for it though.
Letter Opener: Nice AoE effect that often will be active and sometimes you can also activate it 2 or even 3 times some turns.
Meat On The Bone: The best thing that this relic does is letting you not waste campfires to rest instead of upgrading your deck.
Mercury Hourglass: Same as Letter Opener, free AoE.
Pantograph: like Meat On The Bone.
Runic Dodecahedron: Usually will be active later in the game for the nature of the deck, can be considered if you have pare money (spoiler, you won’t XD)
Sundial: If you reach the 6 card deck goal, well you made it. This is really strong late game.
Toxic Egg: The best egg of the three since we just want skills.
Calipers: Pseudo-Barricade for you Entrench lovers. This goes on the high block variant of the deck.
Gambling Chip: This one is REALLY strong and if you have the money get it! It sets up your draw making it really easy to setup your power early game and sculpt your first hand, most of the times, the most important of the fight.
Incense Burner: Always good.
Old Coin: lucky you if you get it man! Look for shops to remove and occasionally buy some cards, or better, some relics.
Peace Pipe: Crazy good early since when you cannot upgrade you can remove a basic Strike.
Thread And Needle: Always good.
Turnip: Sometimes saves you many hp, since we are a block deck….
Here you all know what is good and what is less good so i’ll jusp put some general things.
4 energy at least, not Snecko Eye, Calling Bell or Velvet Chocker.
Enchoridion: I think is best in general on the Ironclad, in this deck you can also exhaust Berserk if it scares you.
Medical Kit: Always good, especially on Iroclad for that pesky Break Through.
Membership Card: Another good value relic since for us shops are really key.
The relics that are not mentioned here are nice or not bad effects mostly. Since you can’t choose your relics generally this list was more focused on the ones you can buy on the shop. Pay attention for some relics that you should not pick up to make this deck work, like Strange Spoon (thinning our deck would be impossible), Dead Branch (same reason)…
Map and Routes
Now lets talk about the map and how to climb while forcing a build like this.
First a quick list for priorities, from most important to less:
2) ? Rooms
Why this order? Lets talk about it.
We saw that the final deck aim to be really thin, around 14 cards if not less. This means 2 things: you need to remove a lot of cards and the deck can realistically be all upgraded.
Campfires are greate later since you need to upgrade a lot of cards, but early are essential to your survival. An early Body Slam+ can speed up a lot of fights and every defensive card improve our chances while also being part of our damage.
If all goes well you should not even need to rest more than 2 times all game. With Peace Pipe it becomes even better.
? Rooms are overall really greate and here we are fishing for free upgrades, removals and relics. Usually, if there is a curse involved you should tend to not take whatever it’s offered to you unless it’s greate. (For example, always pick the simple upgrade over the Warped Tongs).
Shops become priority if you have enought money to at least remove a card. Usually that is the only thing you want from there, a part some relics that we discussed before. When choosing your path alway look to how much money you have to see if you want to pay a visit or continue your monster slaughtering for more bounty. (To note that sometimes we could find a shop in a ? room, for this trying to go for as many ? rooms as we can it’s beneficial)
Elites are dangerous but rewarding, everyone knows that. So why not try and get one? “My deck works fine, i can get it” you might think. Here is why I personally avoid Elites in high ascension while trying to build this kind of decks (and in general):
1) This deck is tought for bosses mostly. Hallway fights are managable or easy but elites are risky since they tend to counter a particular deck sometimes (looking at you Gremlin Nob). This playstyle is really selective with the deck building and this reflects on your clunckiness against this fights.
2) Every time you rest you are wasting resources: that is a questionable way to look at this but i really prioritize a good deck to a moltitude of marginal relics and i’m positive that a good deck can be more funcional than a medium deck with many relics.
3) The prizes are not worth it: in this build, rare cards (which elites drops more often) and many relics do not serve your purpose (and in general i think that relics are a little bit overrated, but i’m special XD) so you obviousely would enjoy those but for what I said before those fights are not worth.