My name is Chris VanMeter, and I play Magic: the Gathering. You might have seen some of my content on StarCityGames.com or seen me commentate the SCG Tour on SCGLive.
In the last month or so, I decided to give HEX a try after seeing it on Jeff Hoogland’s stream and have since fell in love with the game. This is my first piece of HEX content, and I wanted to take this opportunity to not only explain the game as I see and experience it from a person who has played MTG for 20 years, but also to break down the constructed metagame and give you some references for deck-lists and price points.
WHAT IS HEX?
HEX is an MMOTCG, and the first of it’s kind.
What his means is that, in addition to being a trading card game, like we’ve seen in the past with Magic: the Gathering, the WoW card game, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and Kaijudo, but it is also an MMO.
What exactly does that mean? Well, as an massive multiplayer online game, HEX is split into two parts. Player versus Environment, or PvE, and Player versus Player, or PVP. In the PvE campaign, players will choose a class and race, and with the 200 starter cards that you are given when you start the game, you will explore your way through dungeons and rich storylines where you can earn PvE specific cards and equipment hat you can use to buff up your deck and enhance specific cards to fundamentally change how they work. You can earn packs with PvE only cards, and can earn the Gold currency while exploring and leveling your character in the PvE campaign.
Hex recently launched on the Steam gaming platform, this was their trailer for the game.
I have a pretty extensive background in World of Warcraft, which really makes me excited for all of the things offered in the PvE campaign, but for now I have been just focusing on PvP and the competitive formats.
HOW MUCH $?
HEX itself is completely free to download, and the PvE side is completely free to play, and doing so you can even use the items and Gold that you accumulate to break into the PvP side. Platinum is the currency used for PvP, whether it’s buying packs from the in-game store, or from other players via the trade channel or by using the fully functional auction house. The PvE packs, cards, equipment, and Gold are trade-able for Platinum from other players, which you then use to acquire cards, packs, and pay entry fee into events.
Platinum can also be purchased via the in-game store, which gives it sort of a real dollar value, similar to Tickets in MTGO. You can buy 500 Platinum for $5.00 USD, which is basically 100P for $1USD as an exchange rate. I will use this as we look more into pricing for cards and decks, but there are also Booster Draft and Sealed Deck events that you can play in.
Packs are 200P from the store (generally a bit less from the AH or other players, but for the simplest calculations let’s just look at the store). To draft, it costs three packs and 100P, or the equivalent of 700P, which is $7.00 USD.
Yes, you can draft for only seven bucks.
There are both competitive drafts (similar to 8-4’s in MTGO) and a normal draft queue (which is similar to swiss draft in MTGO). In a competitive draft the payout is 5-3-2-2 and single elimination and in the regular draft you earn a pack for each win you get. Again, this is all for only seven dollars. In addition to the draft queues, there are also gauntlet’s, which are similar to leagues in MTGO.
For a constructed gauntlet, you pick your deck, and pay 500P to enter, which is the equivalent of $5.00USD. From there you battle until you get five wins OR three losses, which ever comes first, and then you get packs based on your number of wins. So it’s not just five matches like in an MTGO league, you have the potential to get more games in, which is important for testing, and extra opportunities to make something while playing in the gauntlet.
Pay out is as follows:
1 Match Win: 1 Pack
2 Match Win: 2 Pack
3 Match Win: 3 Pack
4 Match Win: 4 Pack
5 Match Win: 6 Pack
Now, with packs being 200P from the store, and it costing 500p to enter, if you go 3/3 in the gauntlet you technically make 100P. Let me point that out again. You can only win 50% of your matches in the gauntlet and still be up some Platinum.
That is value.
There is also a Sealed gauntlet that uses the same payout. You can enter for 200P + Six packs, or the equivalent Platinum of the packs you don’t have.
Example: 400P + 5 packs, or 600P + 4 packs.
“Let me point that out again. You can only win 50% of your matches in the gauntlet and still be up some Platinum.
That is value”.
The last really awesome thing about the in-game tournaments and the payouts is that every time the game generates a pack for you via prizes or buying from the store, there is a 2% chance that you get a “Primal” Pack. These primal packs contain 2 Legendary cards and 13 rares. They are quite valuable to say the least, and it’s a pretty neat bonus to get a Primal pack out of the blue. It’s happened to me twice from 5-0’ing a couple gauntlets.
Now that I’ve gone over the different ways that you can play HEX, let’s take a look at how the game actually plays, and just how easy it is to transition to HEX from other TCG’s, especially Magic: the Gathering.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Let’s face it. MTG pretty much got it perfect on the first try. Richard Garfield and company did an amazing job designing a rich and imaginative game that has continued to grow and evolve over time. Captivating players, new and old, and continuing to stretch the boundaries of imagination on paper, but that’s just it. On paper.
For those of us who love MTG deeply, we have and still continue to play MTGO even though there are still so many things about it that are frustrating. In the end, the truth is that MTG was designed to be played in person with physical cards. What Cory Jones and the HEX Ent. team at Cryptozoic have done is taken the foundation of what an amazing game MTG is and said “What if this was designed strictly in a digital space. What could we do differently, how can we improve and innovate this already fantastic experience.”
Before I go any further, I do want to address some things.
Yes, there was a lawsuit between HEX and Wizards of the Coast. Yes, it has been resolved. Yes, there are some things about HEX that were changed, speculatively because of it, but never officially stated. This was all from before I started to learn and play the game, but from what I’ve garnered here are some of the glaring changes.
-The PvE only Kickstarter Backer card Spectral Lotus was removed and changed around to Spectral Acorn.
-Champion starting health cannot be 20, and is varied from 17-25 (without being 20).
-Booster packs now have 17 cards in them (1 Rare/Legendary, 4 UC, 12 C).
Please check out this article if you would like some more information about it.
Ok, so how does HEX work, and how did my expansive knowledge of MTG help me get up to speed very quickly.
The first thing that I want to talk about is the resource system in HEX. HEX uses Shards as their resource system, and they are very similar to Lands in MTG, however rather than having the physical embodiment of your resource on the field, when you play a shard in HEX it is consumed and then your available resources are effected.
This is formatted in the game with a “/”. In MTG we are used to seeing that when referring to power and toughness, like 3/3 or 4/5, but in HEX when we see the “/” it is referring to resources.
This is a Sapphire Shard. It’s basically the equivalent of an Island from MTG, but what I want to focus on is the 1/1.
Similar to Hearthstone, rather than actively having to do something to your resources to use them, you just have a pool of resources that you can use every turn. In HEX it doesn’t go up automatically, so you have to use effects and Shards to increase your resources. The 1/1 here basically means that you get 1 resource to use this turn cycle, and one resource to your over all total that refills each turn cycle.
So, if I were to play this on turn one, then I would have 1/1 resources available to me.
This is important because there are some types of Shards that will give you 0/1 resources, like here.
This gives me one resource towards my total that refill every turn cycle, but does not give me one that I can use this current turn cycle. This is exactly like a land that enters the battlefield tapped in MTG. It adds to the resources that you have overall, but does not allow you to use it right now. You can see from the two different Shards, that they have different colors and symbols on them. In HEX there are five colors, Ruby, Sapphire, Blood, Diamond, and Wild. The way that the colors work in terms of resources, is that HEX uses a Threshold system.
Let’s take a look at this card.
There are a few things going on here, but I want to call your attention to the top left of the card. Crackling Bolt costs two resources to play, and requires one Ruby Threshold to be unlocked before you can play it. Basically, what this means, is that before you can play Crackling Bolt, regardless how many resources that you have, you have to have gained at least one Ruby Threshold.
Now, if we look back at Sapphire Shard, it gives us 1/1 and we gain a Sapphire Threshold, but if we look at Shard of Innovation, it gives us 0/1 and we can choose to gain either a Ruby Threshold or a Sapphire Threshold. This is basically a Ruby/Sapphire dual land that comes into play tapped so that we can’t use the resource that it gives us this turn.
This is where the big difference from MTG comes in. The resource itself isn’t usable this turn, but the Threshold that we gain will unlock cards for us regardless.
For example, if I were to play a Sapphire Shard and then another Sapphire Shard on turn two, I would have 2/2 with 2 Sapphire Threshold. On turn three I could then play a Shard of Innovation, which would bring me to 2/3 (i.e. two resources to use this turn, with a total of 3 resources that will be replenished on my next turn) and if I chose to gain a Ruby threshold I will then have 2 Sapphire and 1 Ruby Threshold and be able to play the Crackling Bolt since I now meet the requirements.
Two resources and at least one Ruby Threshold.
My brain translated it into this coming from Magic: as long as I have played at least one mountain this game, then I can play any card that has one Ruby Threshold. There are ways to gain different Threshold outside of playing Shards, but remember, that Threshold isn’t resource, so while cards need specific Thresholds to be unlocked, you still need the right number of resources to play them.
There are cards that have multiple Threshold requirements, like this one. Periwinkle is a very powerful card that costs three resources to play and has a Threshold of one Wild and one Ruby.
The last part of the resource system that I want to touch base on are Charges. We’ve seen this a few places, like on our Sapphire Shard, Shard of Innovation and even on Crackling Bolt. Charges are something that are unique to HEX, and play a big part of how you construct your deck. When building your deck for HEX you must pick a champion. This champion will determine your starting health total, and each champion has a champion power.
Here we can see Kranok. If you select him, you will start with 21 health, and he has a champion power that reads Blood Blood: Basic 4: Pay 2 health → Draw a Card.
The easiest way that I was able to explain these champion powers to myself coming from MTG was this.
Imagine that you started the game with an Emblem and this Emblem read the following:
-You start the game with 21 life.
-Whenever you play a land, put a charge counter on this Emblem.
-As long as you have played two Swamps this game, you may remove four charge counters, pay two life, and draw a card.
-You can only play this ability once per turn whenever you could play a Sorcery.
That is basically what the champion power is. You gain charges, from either playing Shards or from some other effects like Crackling Bolt. You can use these charges to activate your Champion Power as long as you meet the correct Threshold requirement. This makes it so that you can’t just select any Champion and play it with any deck.
Kranok is a popular champion to use with the very powerful Mono-Blood Control deck.
Here is the Mono-Ruby Aggro champion of choice.
As long as you have at least two Ruby Threshold, you can use two Charges to give a Troop +1ATK.
This takes us right into the next big difference between HEX and MTG. As a digital game, one of the things that HEX gets to take advantage of is permanently effecting cards. In HEX, unless something specifically states this turn, or until the end of turn, it is permanent. That +1ATK that Urgnock just gave to my one-drop, yeah, that’s permanently there and I get to keep attacking with it over and over.
On the flip side though, there are also cards like this.
Four cost, requiring a single Blood Threshold, Atrophy will give a Troop -1ATK/-1DEF and we get to draw a card. Now, this doesn’t say this turn, or until end of turn, so that Troop has been changed permanently for the remainder of the game. If it were to be returned to their hand, or put back into their deck, or destroyed and then reanimated somehow, it would still have -1ATK/-1DEF.
This is also used via the Prophecy mechanic that we see primarily on Sapphire, Wild, and Diamond Troops from the Coyotle race.
Brightmoon Brave gives the next Troop in your deck +1ATK/+1DEF. That’s a permanent bonus that just goes on the card. How cool is that?! Being a digital game, HEX is able to explore new and exciting design spaces using permanence and effecting cards that are still in your deck and have yet to even impact the game.
From an evaluation standpoint, how do we even try and compare that to MTG. Brightmoon Brave is basically a 1/1 for one, but gives a +1/+1 bonus to the next Troop that we draw. What if that Troop has Flight? What if it is unblockable? Even if it’s something like a 2/2 for two, that then becomes a 3/3 for two. Is that worth at least a card, maybe more?
Mechanics like Prophecy are what make me extremely excited for HEX and all of the things that it can do.
ANATOMY OF A CARD
Let’s check out the actual anatomy of a card, taken directly from the HEX TCG website.
Zoltog, one of my favorite cards, is a 4/4 for four, requiring two Ruby Threshold. In magic terms that would be equivalent to a 4/4 for 2RR. He is an Orc Ranger, and Unique which is basically the same as being Legendary in MTG. We can see from the rarity and set icon that he is from the Shards of Fate set, and that he is of Legendary rarity (basically the same as a Mythic Rare in MTG).
His game text reads: “When an Orc Troop you control deals damage to a champion, create a Savage Raider and put it into play.”
In game you can hover over Savage Raider, or click on it, to bring up an image of that card.
Savage Raider is also an actual card that you can play in your deck and is a 2/1 for R (in MTG terms) that must attack if able. They are also Orcs, so Zoltog can get out of hand pretty quickly.
There are five card types in HEX, and here is how my brain correlated them to MTG.
Constant – These are basically Enchantments. They are sorcery speed and they stay in play. Some have abilities that trigger when they enter play, some have other triggers.
Artifcat – These are basically the same as Artifacts in MTG. They stay in play and are either similar to Constants with differing effects, or Artifact Troops that you can attack and block with.
Troop – These are the Creatures of HEX. They can attack and block, and their powers can be activated, if they have any. They will stay in play until they are destroyed or moved to another zone through various effects in the game.
Resources – These are like Lands. As we touched on previously, when a Resource is played it is consumed and then you gain the effects of the Resource.
Actions – Actions are like Instants and Sorcery’s from MTG. They will go to the Crypt once resolved, unless specified by the card effect. There is another keyword, Quick, that we can find on things, and this allows us to play them at instant speed. The opposite of that is Basic. So a Basic Action can be played on our turn when we have priority, similar to a Sorcery in MTG, and a Quick Action can be played on any turn when we have priority, similar to an Instant in MTG. Likewise a Quick Troop can be played at the same times a Quick Action could be played.
Here we have Rot Cast, a two cost double Blood Threshold that will destroy an opposing troop with cost 3 or less, similar to the card Smother from MTG. Since it is a Quick Action, we can play it anytime that we have priority. Heat Wave is a Basic Action that costs two resources with a single Ruby Threshold that does two damage to each troop, similar to the MTG card Pyroclasm. Since it is a Basic Action, we can only play it on our turn when we have priority.
How priority works in HEX is basically the same as in MTG. In HEX we have the Chain, which is similar to the Stack in MTG. A last in first out organization. The big difference is that in MTG everything uses the Stack, but not everything uses the Chain in HEX. Some things that don’t have targets will not use the Chain, so a Champion power like Urgnock will go on the Chain and then you have a chance to respond to it, but some like Kranok that just draws a card at the cost of life will not use the Chain.
These subtle differences take a few cycles of game-play to get the hang of it, but once you understand how it all works, everything just kind of slides into place. The colors in HEX even have color identities that are similar to the ones from MTG, so it’s not like you’re going to draft a Wild deck and not have plenty of beefy Troops to throw around at your opponent.
In HEX we will find keywords on cards, particularly Troops, that will determine just how they behave while in play and interact with our opponents. Before I get into the combat system, let’s go over some of the abilities that Troops can have in HEX and how I interpreted them as coming from MTG.
Flight – Troops that have Flight can only be blocked by other Troops with Flight and can block Troops that have Flight. This lines up just like the Flying ability in MTG. Pretty simple concept, but very powerful. Also, since HEX is a digital game, Troops that have Flight visibly hover while they are on the playing field which looks awesome!
Spellshield – Troops that have Spellshield can’t be targeted by opposing cards and effects. This works similar to Hexproof in MTG, where it doesn’t circumvent global effects or prevent you from targeting your own Troop with cards and effects.
Lifedrain – Damage that is dealt by Troops with Lifedrain cause it’s controller to gain that much health. This works similarly to Lifelink in MTG in that it also effects non-combat damage as well as combat damage.
Lethal – Any amount of damage that a Troop would deal to another Troop is fatal. This works similar to Deathtouch in that you are able to split up damage to blockers since even just one point of damage is considered fatal.
Swiftstrike – A Troop with Swiftstrike will deal combat damage before a Troop without Swiftstrike. This works similar to First Strike in MTG, and is a potent combination with Lethal.
Crush – Attacking troops with Crush will deal any amount of damage above and beyond the amount necessary to kill a blocking troop to the opposing champion. For example, if my 5/5 with Crush is blocked by a normal 1/1 troop, 1 damage will go to killing the troop while 4 damage spills over towards the champion. This rules works similar to Trample in MTG with a few exceptions. For example if the blocking troop above is a 0/1 Flock of Seagulls which technically prevents any combat damage (hence doesn’t die), then no Crush damage will be dealt to the opposing champion since lethal damage to the troop has not been dealt. This mechanic is a great way to push damage through annoying chump blockers.
Steadfast – Troops with Steadfast do not exhaust to attack. Exhausting is basically the same as tapping in MTG, which is trademarked by WoTC. This works very similarly to Vigilance and is a great way to press the attack while also protecting yourself from a counter-attack!
Now, here is where things start to get pretty cool. Since HEX is a digital TCG, we get to utilize that medium in some extremely unique ways.
Shift – Shift is one mechanic in HEX that I have fallen in love with. Have you ever played a Troop with one ability, only to have it outclassed by another Troop with the same ability? In those situations I wish that I could just make one of my other Troops, usually much larger, have that ability and start to take over. Troops with can do just that.
Deadeye Ripper is a 1/1 Troop that costs one resource with a single Ruby Threshold. It also has Speed, which means that it can Attack and use any abilities that use the exhaust symbol the turn that it comes into play. The interesting part though, is that it also has Shift.
How Shift works, is at Basic Speed (anytime you have priority on your turn with an empty chain) you can pay the Shift cost, which is one resource, and permanently give the ability on the Troop, here it is Speed, to one of your other Troops.
This is especially powerful with something like Speed, where it’s not longer useful on the Troop that currently has the ability after it’s already been in play for a Turn and would no longer be affected by Troop Trauma.
We find Shift on a myriad of different Troops in HEX, allowing us to move abilities around at will, positioning our growing army to overpower our opponents.
Revert – Another keyword that is applicable in the digital world. Revert basically reverts the Troop back to its original state. This is important since HEX takes advantage of permanent effects, and there are quite a few cards that can Transform other cards into different things. Reverting something will take all of that away and make the Troop fresh as the morning dew. You can even use Revert in combination with Shift to move abilities onto your other Troops, and then Revert the Troop that you Shifted the ability off of so that it can regain the ability that it originally had. Tricksy Troops!
Inspire – One of the most popular and powerful Troop in HEX is Azurefate Sorceress. As a four cost 2/2 Sapphire Troop, there really isn’t much to call home about, but there are two things that it has going for it. First, it has Sockets. One of the awesome things about HEX as a digital game is that some of the cards are gem slots that allow you to customize them. These gems can even be switched around in between games. They are totally free to use though, since different gems require different Thresholds to be active, but there is still a lot of play with these gems.
There are two different types of Gems. Major and Minor, and each have differing abilities. Cards can be socketable by Major or Minor Gems, and some, like the Azurefate Sorceress can have both types! From the list of Sapphire required Gems in the table, we can give her Quick and Flight. This means that as long as we have at least two Sapphire Threshold, our Azurefate Sorceress will have Flight and Quick in all zones. Now, there is a restriction with the gems, where you can only have up to four of any one gem in your deck at a time, so you aren’t able to just have 20 different Troops with the Minor Sapphire of Sky and have Flight.
The Inspire part is what gets really powerful here. How Inspire works is that as another Troop with cost equal to or greater that the Troop with Inspire’s cost, in this case, Azurefate Sorceress has a cost of four, then that Troop will enter plat with all socketed powers of the Troop with Inspire.
Basically, if we have Flight and Quick gems in our Azurefate Sorceress that’s in play and then we play another Troop that costs four or greater, it will gain Flight and Quick when it comes into play. That is extremely powerful! There are other Inspire Troops that just give set abilities or stats to Troops that come into play and cost either the same or more than them, but the Azurefate Sorceress is the most popular, and I believe the most powerful.
There are also a subset of cards that put things into your opponents deck, and when they would either enter their hand or Crypt they would be Voided instead and then trigger something. Some, like Spiderling Eggs will make 1/1 spiders that can’t be blocked. Others, like the Terrorantula Eggs from the Exhaust ability example from above will put a 5/5 into play on your side that destroys an opposing Troop when it comes into play. Talk about a big swing.
Hand, Deck, Crypt, and Void are terms that you will see and reference game zones. The Hand is of course your hand of cards, the Deck is your deck of cards that you are playing with, the Crypt is where cards go when they are used, like an Action or destroyed, much like the Graveyard in MTG. The Void is a special zone where cards go when it is specifically states that they are Voided. This plays similar to Exile in MTG, where they are no longer in the standard game zones and would need something special to bring them back.
Players both start with seven cards in their opening hand, and whoever it determines is the winner of the coin flip at the beginning chooses if they want to play or draw first. You are able to redraw if you don’t like your opening hand, and when doing so you get one less card, and you win the game when you reduce your opponents health to zero, and you lose if you can’t draw a card from your deck. A turn is split up into phases, Ready, Draw, Main, Combat, Main, End, and is all similar to MTG, which made it real easy to actually play the game once I got accustomed to the unique digital only implementations. Combat is also pretty intuitive, where you are able to attack with any number of Troops and then your opponent chooses if they want to block any number of Troops or not. If more than one Troop is assigned as a blocker for an attacking Troop, then the attacking player gets to order the blockers to deal combat damage as they see fit. Again, this is extremely intuitive if you are coming from an MTG background, which thankfully is very easy to learn if you are completely new to TCG’s and ends up as a huge win for learning how to play HEX.
HOW CAN I START PLAYING CONSTRUCTED?
Now that you have an idea of just how the game itself works and have been bombarded with a lot of information, lets take a look at what the current constructed meta looks like and just what it would cost to flat buy into the cards.
By far the most popular Champion is Winter Moon. There are all kinds of strategies that are used that vary from Troop heavy Tri-Shard decks, so mid-range decks, to full on control style decks, but the bottom line is that Winter Moon has a very cheap, and extremely powerful Champion power. As long as you have one Sapphire and one Wild Threshold you can use two Charges to put two cards from your Crypt into your Deck and they gain “Draw a Card.” these decks all use cheap actions to fly through their deck and interact with their opponents, and recycle them back into their deck with Winter Moon’s Champion power looking to make the game go as long as possible while they build inevitability. Here is a list that I used to earn five wins in a gauntlet.
2 Arborean Rootfather (MinS Sky / MinS Mischief)
1 Archmage Wrenlocke
3 Azurefate Sorceress (MajS Mind / MinW Conservation)
2 Brown Fox Scout
2 Reese the Crustcrawler
2 Windsinger Master of the Hunt
Approximate Price: $150.00 – $175.00.
Similar Deck: Koma’s Invitational Winner
That’s not bad considering this deck is likely one of the best decks in the entire format.
Kranok is a popular Champion and is generally found headlining Mono-Blood Control. This deck is focused on removing all of our opponents Troops and winning with some extremely efficient Troops with Flight and Lifedrain, Vampire Princess and Vampire King. This is one of the most expensive decks, but is extremely powerful, and can be quite punishing if you opponent happens to be on an aggressive strategy. Extinction is a very iconic card in HEX and is reminiscent of Wrath of God in MTG. Sweeping up the field and letting us reset our opponents aggression.
Approximate Price: ~$300
Similar Deck: MasterMattchu’s Invitational Qualifier Winner
Mono-Blood decks are significantly more expensive that most of the other options, but that is because for a long time it was the best deck in the format. Winter Moon was a champion that was released in Set 3 and has been slowly taking over the top spot.
The Azurefate spider combo deck basically comes in two flavors. It is a Blood/Sapphire combo/control deck and you will find both Dreaming Fox and Zorzym of Korru as the Champions used. The decklists are identical, and it really just comes down to preference. Honestly, I think that Dreaming Fox is better, as 25 starting health is a huge buffer against aggro, and getting an Oracle Song during the game feels much better to me than putting a few Spiderling Eggs into our opponents deck.
The way this deck is planning on winning is by using Phenteo, the Brood Priest to put those Terrorantula Eggs into our opponents deck. They have a cost of five, so with an Azurefate Sorceress in play with Major Sapphire Gem of Subterfuge, when a Terrorantula hits, in addition to destroying a Troop out opponent has, it also will mill our opponent for ten. This will likely hit another Terrorantula and start the cycle over again killing our opponent by decking them. There are also a lot of controlling elements, so this deck is looking to make the games go long.
This strategy was unveiled at the $100K Invitational, and there is a great write-up on it here.
3 Exarch of the Egg
4 Phenteo the Brood Priest
4 Azurefate Sorceress (MajS Subterfuge / MinS Mischief)
2 Xentoth’s Inquisitor (MajB Brutality)
3 Reese the Crustcrawler
1 Xartaxis, Bishop of the Azure Fang
1 Brood Baron
Approximate Price: ~$300
The Deck: Cyriius’ Invitational 4-0 Deck
The AzureCannon deck is my favorite deck. It’s one of the only decks so far that I was extremely impressed with his design and how all of the cards interact with each other. Cannon is a combo deck that can play a loose control or tempo plan, but primarily revolves around two interactions. First up is Azurefate Sorceress, yet again. Here we are socketing her with Major Ruby of Destruction and Minor Sapphire of Mischief.
These give her Quick and make it so that when she comes into play she does damage equal to her power to an oppposing Champion. Remember though, she has Inspire, so this will make all subsequent Troops do the same as long as they cost four or more.
We get to break this with the Tunnel mechanic. I didn’t talk about Tunnel earlier because I wanted to save it for the AzureCannon deck, as it is by far the deck that takes advantage of this mechanic the most.
Tunneling is kind of like suspend and morph all mixed together from MTG. You can pay the Tunnel cost of a card as long as you have the required Treshold, and at the same speed as a normal Troop. This card then goes face down (to your opponent, you can still see what it is) and every turn during your ready phase it gets a Tunneling counter, then if it has counters equal to the Tunnel number on the card, you can play it for free.
It’s tricky because there are multiple Tunnel Troops, so our opponent won’t always know what we are Tunneling. Some of the creatures with Tunnel even do special things while they are “underground” or have sweet abilities that trigger when they come into play.
Reese the Crustcrawler is one of the most expensive cards in the game, and for good reason. A Tunneled Reese that resolves can end the game extremely quickly, and since we aren’t using any resources the turn we play him as he comes out of Tunneling, games can quickly become planning to protect yourself against a Reese, or trying to get yours into play and keeping it alive for a few turns.
Jeff Hoogland has a pretty good write up on the deck that you can check out here.
Here is a list that I have been using to quite some success in the gauntlets.
4 Azurefate Sorceress (MinS Mischief / MajR Destruction)
2 Cerulean Mentalist
3 Jags the Blademaster
4 Mesmeric Hypnoscientist
3 Reese the Crustcrawler
2 Subterranean Spy
Approximate Price: ~$175.00
Similar Deck: Vazrael’s Invitational Top 4 Finish
Urgnock is the champion of choice for the Mono-Ruby Aggro decks. Much like in MTG I have found that the aggressive strategies can thrive in HEX since most players seem to not give them enough respect due to the amount of hate that is available for the Reserves. There usually tends to be a handful of cards that can be good against the Urgnock deck, but people start shaving them as they don’t run into the aggressive decks, and then a whole slew of them will do well.
Personally, I think that the Mono-Ruby deck is actually very good, and I have been spending some time working on the list. The resource system with the Charges let us apply the Philosophy of Fire from MTG pretty well to the cards and effects available to us, and navigating the games and playing around the potentially devastating cards that our opponents might have is something that I find very rewarding.
Here is a list that I have been playing with lately.
Approximate Price: ~$30.00
Similar Deck: KingGabriel’s Invitational Qualifier Top 8 Finish
This was the first deck that I purchased to start playing PvP, and I highly recommend it. Powerful, yet inexpensive, is the perfect way to break into the HEX PvP scene and start to learn just what you like to play with, and some Platinum at the same time!
Savvas is used primarily as the Champion for the Ruby/Sapphire ActionBurn deck. This is a combo deck of sorts that plays a lot of inexpensive Actions that draw or filter cards along with a bunch of awesome burn spells to lay waste to their opponents. The big payoff card for this deck is Sunsoul Phoenix, which is an extremely powerful card that really takes advantage of the digital aspect of HEX.
This is another deck that I enjoy playing quite a bit, and one of my Rated Hex compatriots put together a good write up about the deck that you can find here. This deck, and cards like Sunsoul Phoenix feel like they can only get better with Set 4 Primal Dawn on the horizon, so this is definitely one to keep an eye out for.
Approximate Price: ~$100.00
Similar Deck: Varranis’ 5 Win Gauntlet
The Rutherford Banks decks that are popular are basically Wild/Diamond ramp style decks that also have a Reanimator aspect to it with Banks’ Champion power. Using cards like Howling Brave and Chlorophyllia to ramp, we are able to accelerate into heavy hitters like Arborean Rootfather, Crocosaur, and Eternal Sage.
These decks are high power and have some pretty busted draws, especially when they happen to hit an Angel of Dawn for free. Angel of Dawn is basically Serra Angel from MTG with Miracle = 0.
Yep, high variance and pretty busted when the chips fall the right way. Everything I love about a TCG! The deck, however, like most ramp style decks in TCG’s can draw the wrong part of the deck at the wrong time, and for the most part I have not had very much success with it.
Approximate Price: ~$175.00
Similar Deck: JadiimJedi’s Invitational Runner-Up
The other ramp deck of the format is Cressida Ramp. Using the majority of the same ramp cards that we see in Rutherford Banks, Cressida goes even harder on the ramp plan with a Champion power that gives us a resource to use on this turn only, bumping us up an entire turn. This combined with he powerful Periwinkle means that we get to double all the sweet powerful Troops and Actions that we are ramping into.
The other signature card of these decks is Eye of Creation, similar to Genesis Wave from MTG, this X Action has the potential of turning our board into a giant army of monstrous Troops, and if we happen to have a Periwinkle out and play it for more than five total resources, then we get to spin the wheel twice!
Approximate Price: ~$175.00
Similar Deck: Koma’s Invitational Qualifier Winner
As you can see, HEX is a huge game and although there are some similarities to MTG, it is no doubt something unique that can stand on its own and even thrive in the TCG market. Having both a PvE campaign with MMO roots, a thriving card economy, an awesome community, and an ever growing PvP scene complete with tournaments that you can qualify for and win upwards of $40,000, I can honestly saw that HEX is more than worth the time to pick it up and start battling, plus it is absolutely free to play if you are interested in just grinding the PvE content to try and go “infinite.” There was another very good article that went up that lists some of the reasons that you should give HEX a try, and if you are interested I highly suggest that you check it out here.
I know that this was a lot of information, but hopefully I was able to break down how the game works, explain clearly just how my MTG based brain was able to translate the HEX mechanics into a very easy way for me to hit the ground running, and a quick snapshot of what the constructed meta currently looks like; along with some price points if you were interested in just buying into a specific deck.
This is the first of many HEX content pieces from me, so make sure that you keep an eye out for more. Primal Dawn is on the horizon, and I plan on going through the set card by card and doing a review along with some gauntlet and Draft videos. The game-play is very engaging while also being fast paced, and the limited format is a blast. With 17 cards in the packs, we can get some pretty busted decks, but just beware, so can everyone else!
Thank you for considering HEX, and here are some links that I have found extremely helpful in my beginning journey in learning this great game!