While it was fun as heck trying out all the different Armies of Myth limited archetypes over the past nine months, the breath of fresh air a new set brings to the limited environment is something that was sorely needed. But with such a big change, we will of course need to re-evaluate our strategies and forge new ones. There’s a lot of tidbits that could go a long way towards making your release week experience more enjoyable and profitable and some of those tips will be shared here. Not sure how much of a help this article will be to newer players that have recently joined us through either PvE campaign or Steam launch, but hopefully it sheds a light on what more established players do when it’s time to draft a brand new set.
Tip 1: Read The Cards (Duh!)
Might as well start with the most obvious one: make sure to read all the cards carefully before you set foot in your first draft. There will be those that will want to jump right in without taking a look at the cards but this is disadvantageous for several reasons:
1) You’ll stress out most of the time trying to read cards before the draft timer runs out.
2) You might pass on some rare that actually is worth quite a lot (eg: Cerulean Mirror Knight on first glimpse didn’t give the feel of a $5 card.)
3) You won’t know what strategy to go for or what archetypes exist.
It’s a very common habit initially to misread cards so you’ll want to pay special attention. For example it was common for people to think that Excavation Bot made tunneled cards come out slower as opposed to quicker. Most of us STILL don’t know what Kismet’s Reverie actually does… Hopefully you’ve taken the time over the past few days to look at the full spoiler list of Primal Dawn.
Don’t forget to occasionally check the Crypts as some cards like this one have a lot going on.
Tip 2: Don’t Commit to a Shard/Archetype Too Quickly
With the introduction of 17 card packs, it’s now much easier to build a viable limited deck. This allows you to spend the first few picks in draft observing your environment and seeing what the other player’s preferences are at the ‘table’. There’s no major punishment for doing a complete 180 five or six picks in so don’t fall too much in love with that shiny rare you got as your first pick. Remember that 70% of cards that will come your way will be commons and will represent the majority of your deck. A good archetype is stronger than a wonky deck with one or two powerful cards.
Tip 3: Make A Note Of The Quick Cards In The Format
If there’s one thing you should do while playing a new set, it’s to make sure you know what tricks your opponent could be holding in his hand. While you can always take a few seconds and read a new troop your opponent drops on the board and have time to react to it, a quick speed action/troop will have done its damage before you even have the chance to know such an effect exists. You could write down somewhere all the quick action spells but we have the internet these days and one of the best tool for this can be found at Hex.TCGBrowser where you can set filters exactly based on your opponent’s available threshold and resources and filter out the Quick cards so you know exactly what they could do. This is especially important to do when your opponent questionably attacks into your defense or leaves resources unused as you attack into his.
Troops, not just actions, can be Quick. Although this one is the only non-Rare Quick Troop in Primal Dawn, it’s dangerous enough to think twice about attacking into a Coyotle deck with 5+ resources open.
Tip 4: Figure Out Format Synergies
Any TCG worth its salt will have interesting interactions and synergies sprinkled around their set. Some of them are obvious like Robot/Dwarf, Humans, Shin’Hare archetypes in the first few sets (or Spiders / 5 cost+ in Set 3) but there are also more subtle ones that you’ll gain a huge edge if you can figure out before others. For example Shattered Destiny’s double socketed cards were especially amazing in the Blood/Diamond colors as Rage and Swiftstrike combined to make a one card ticking bomb. During the first week you’ll be probably be able to pick the strongest archetype, as was possible with Humans on Set 2 release, but after the strongest archetype becomes mainstream it’s time to diversify your options with less popular synergies. There’s a ton of video content with top players reviewing all the new cards where you’ll perhaps hear interactions you hadn’t immediately thought of. We advise you to check these out: Varranis, Wurtil&Kroan&CoachFliperon, Alucard&Dinotropia, CVM&Jeff. For written reviews, you can find our ratings here .
Tip 5: Make Use of The Triple Pack of Same Set Format
The first weekend of release means all the limited events will use solely Set 4 Primal Dawn packs (with the week after transitioning to the normal 4-4-3 or 4-4-4-4-3-3 for sealed). With knowledge that you’ll be drafting from the same pool of cards, you can make much more specific plans as to what you’re going to play. For example it’s not uncommon for advanced players to ‘force’ a very niche strategy because they know there’s 24 packs worth of these undesirable commons that will come their way (Dementia Daisies was a good example of that in the 222 format). Remember that limited play doesn’t restrict you to the “4 of a given card” constructed rule, so you could probably build some ridiculous decks if you find a unique niche. Are you getting a ton of Fury Chant passed your way? Don’t be afraid to draft 8 of them and go nuts.
Wanna pick up a bunch of cheap Elves then swarm opponent with free 3/3s? Release Weekend is the best time to try!
Tip 6: Champions, Champions, Champions
Champions hold tremendous importance in the world of Hex limited play. It’s not uncommon for Champions to dictate how a deck is picked, built, and played and ultimately have a huge impact on a game. In Shards of Fate, two of the most popular champions were Zared Venomscorn_ and his -1/-1 ability & Bertram Cragraven_ and his 1/1 Worker Bot ability. This reduced the effectiveness of 1 toughness troops by quite a margin. On the offensive end, Feather Drifting_ combined with a big Wild troop or Lionel Flynn boosting an Infiltrator Bot were devastating charge power combos that won you games.
In the 2-2-1 format, we saw that Bunoshi the Ruthless_ become a particularly popular champion as a lack of removal allowed players to form a legit win condition through one mega evasion troop. This meant that having a removal, even if it meant ones at 5 or 6 cost, became pretty much mandatory.
In Set 3 we saw everything from Boris Blastforge_ + Vine Lash combos to Urgnock_ + Deathmask Assailant make a huge mark on games. In case you’re not sure which champion to pick, selecting one with a high life total in your colors can be a safe bet.
In Set 4 we have some new exciting options. Uzzu the Bonewalker_ is particularly interesting as it allows you to play almost any bomb you happen to pick-up, no matter how late you get it, since Uzzu’s champion power gives you any threshold you want.
Bottom line: you’ll want to build your deck both with your champion in mind and with what your opponent might be playing as.
Tip 7: Think Of The Money
No we’re not here to think of the kids, cash money rules everything around us (we’re trying to draft like a PRO remember?). So that means you’ll want to rare draft, A LOT, because the first few days even the most junky of rares can fetch ridiculous prices. Remember the crazy prices some cards like Scheme and Lady Shimmer fetched the first few days when Shattered Destiny came out – there’s always eager Timmy’s/Johnny’s who’re stoked to get that one awesome looking card to build their dream rogue deck. So make sure to not only rare draft but put it up on the AH as soon as the draft concludes.
Famous from his appearance in the Hex Novel, this little guy has much hype behind him. But if the Diamond Weenie deck doesn’t pan out once again, his price will drop super fast. Sell these guys right as you get ’em!
Tip 8: Know What To Play When To Play It
New set means: lots of new/inexperienced players coming back to play and also when cards fetch the highest prices – so naturally its in our benefit to play as much as possible during this time. That means DO NOT play Swiss drafts (unless you’re new to the TCG genre looking to maximize your playtime as opposed to value), which can take considerably longer time, and instead focus on competitive drafts or Gauntlets even if you might face slightly better competition.
Also make sure to budget your time and packs/plat/money to account for the release weekend (use up any draft ticket you might have lying around as this is the time when packs are most expensive and you will gain most from using your tickets). We haven’t seen the release weekend AA that will be rewarded to tourney winners, but it should fetch anywhere from $10 to $20 depending on the card and how much activity we see. Our hunch is it’s going to be closer to $10 this time due to the sheer amount of players that’ll be playing and the existence of formats like Gauntlet where the AA can be acquired fast. Regardless, that’s some significant extra EV (Expected Value) you’re not getting at any other time.
During the brief release weekend only (generally Friday-Monday), you might actually look into playing the Swiss queue (lower competition) and drop out if you lose your first or second match – because it’s all about winning the draft and getting that AA. If you’re a top player then Gauntlet is where the real action will be at, Sealed or Constructed, as you can legitimately earn one AA per hour.
Tip 9: Mind The Bugs
HexEnt did a great job with smooth Set 2 and Set 3 releases but some bugs still slipped through. Grave Nibbler couldn’t be buffed or debuffed and some players were tried to abuse this bug in clever ways (like leaving Grave Nibbler unblocked in alpha strikes knowing that a pump spell couldn’t effectively be cast on it to deal the final bits of damage.) We would advise against this type of behavior even if it means a few extra wins along the way because 1) you’re technically forbidden to exploit bugs and 2) it’s a scumbag move for which your reputation will suffer. Regardless, you’ll want to visit the bug forums from time to time to help report and find out about these bugs. Finally, don’t forget to hit up support.hextcg.com if a bug cost you a game (and ONLY if it has cost you a game!) for compensation.
Tip 10: Have Fun!
Most of this guide has been written from a very Spike perspective as we try to get the most value, increase our chances of winning, and try to make money but at the end of the day it’s all meaningless if you’re not having fun. Even during salty moments of an annoying losing streak, try to take a moment to enjoy the beautiful art, clever card designs & interactions, or simply a good ol’ friendly chat with your opponents. Sometimes, creating a relaxed atmosphere for yourself with a chill approach can even result in better plays and ultimately better results. Now that Primal Dawn is finally shining upon us, it’s time to experience the thrills of playing with a brand new Set once again!