Hello! After Defiance came out I have mostly spent my time trying to make Rat Cage work. I've tried Xenan Cage with Katra, the Devoted
to pump up the rats, more aggro versions with Cabal Scavenger
, playing with and without Kerendon Merchant
This current build is the most successful I've found. It's essentially a combo deck of sorts, with two main combos:
1) Play rat cage and a bunch of relics, then pop a Bazaar Stampede
2) Stall until you can hit stampede using the Porcelain Mask
and Shepherd's Horn
How to play
You want to mulligan aggressively with this deck, and you're aiming for a hand with either:
1) Rat Cage or Display of Knowledge (or Elvish Swindler in a pinch, but the first two are vastly preferred)
2) Components to assemble the Horn/Mask combo, so: Mask, Horn, Display, Merchant, Swindler
The first option is preferred. If you get Rat Cage, you're definitely in the game. If you don't get a Rat Cage then you might not hit critical board and relic mass soon enough to win with Stampede.
Azindel is in the market as a plan B, but often doesn't come out. You'd pull Azindel if you end up in a late game situation where the board has stalled or a Rat Stampede alpha strike hasn't eventuated.
If I've got a display or cage in hand, I'll hold back some relics until cage is out. The exceptions are Porcelain Mask - you want to play this out early if you get one in your opening hand just for the silence effect. Pitfall Trap should be played out early as well to take out Hojans, Oni Ronins, or other X/1s.
When to play Stampede? Basically as soon as you have three or more units, and Stampede is at least +3/+3 (in most games it will be at least +4/+4 by the time you can play it). The buff from Stampede is permanent, so if you can a relic or unit in hand you'll want to play it before Stampede if you can do both on the same turn.
Some other less obvious interactions in the deck:
is actually really good. It makes your draws better, gets your consistently up to the 5 power needed for Stampede, and plays well with Obelisk. Combined with Pitfall Trap it makes a very good draw engine, since after 5 power you can cycle power without concern unless you need to play Azindel. Lethrai Hideaway
can pump Courtier, Swindler and the token it creates
This is not going to be a top tier deck, but it can win against top tier decks.
It is weakest against fast aggro. You want to hit the lifegain combo against aggro, or delay as you can with Permafrost, Pitfall, and Equivocates
It plays well against slower midrange and greed piles. It is actually quite resilient to board clearing, as you can build a decent board back up very easily if you have even one rat cage out.
Passage of Eons and Bore are obvioulsy issues, but I honestly don't see these enough to play counterspells. Passage of Eons is also quite slow.
Otherwise, enjoy the deck - it's very fun!