“Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits.”
This is the philosophy needed to build and conquer the early progression for a Human Mage.
You may ask yourself when you look at this guide, why the heck would anyone want to play a Human Mage? They have the worst stats possible!
To that I say… “Yup!”
I mean… “No, you’re wrong! Be quiet… You just don’t even know….”
Maybe I don’t even know?
Then I hit it…
I hit level 6, and my grin got larger and larger. That grin nearly cracked my lips at level 8…
Are you ready to take the challenge that rewards you later? Join me.
First off, I’m Nicosharp, and the hardest PvE challenge has been managing wifeaggro and babyaggro while feeding my obsession with HEX PvE. I have been playing HEX and running a HEX guild (Cornerstone) since HEX’s inception, and happily get to farm content with a robust collection I’ve accumulated. I’m happy to have the opportunity to share my fun with everyone, and hope this guide benefits you in your travels, or at least gives you fun ideas to explore, and cards to buy.
The early game for Human Mage is rather unforgiving. I knew going in, my deck needed to be explosive to match my glass-cannon stats. You only start with 14hp. So immediately out of the tutorial gates, (Let’s pass the appetizers and get to the meat), I concocted a plan to build the Sly Nico deck… I mean, Sly Huntress… Or more notably, 1 of my many go-to Mono Ruby aggro decks, with modifications for the PvE early game campaign.
Lvl 5+ modifications:
This deck was not played much after I hit level 8, so I did not make further modifications.
Early Talent Tree build, and focus:
Level 2 – Take Spry = +2 starting HP, and +1 starting SP (great for glass-cannon build, and starting 1SP guarantees a successful Soothsaying on 3 charges)
Level 3 – skip (or take Spell Sprites, and respec it at level 4)
Level 4 – Secret Knowledge = Random card in top 5 get’s -2 cost (it’s awesome with this deck)
Level 5 – skip (or take Spell Sprites, and respec it at level 6)
Level 6 – Self Knowledge = +1 starting hand and max hand size (this begins the grin)
Level 7 – Spell Sprites = Nice little cantrip – 0 cost 1/1 flight troop and gives you 1SP
Level 8 – Learning or Telekinesis (we will benefit from either fairly equally, given the slower pace of generating enough SP to cast what you need when)
Level 9 – Have to grind for it – Optional, or wait for next PvE patch
The goal for this deck is to get in as much damage as possible in 1 all-in attack. Of course this doesn’t mean you don’t attack when you have the opportunity to. Always attack when there is no disadvantage to you for doing so, or you have to trade.
The linchpin of this deck revolves around the Sly Huntress Gloves Equipment – For each Ruby Threshold you have, you put a Sly Fox into play. Unfortunately these Foxes die at the end of your turn. This is why the play is an alpha strike, and all the Foxes benefit from the pyromancer inspire triggers, as they are 3 drops.
Just like a Human Mage, the deck we are playing is fragile. You are not building a board of blockers to defend. In fact, you often will ignore attacks while you build up for one fatal swing. The most important units to play first, and keep in play are your Ruby Pyromancer and Elite Pyromancer. Once you get 4-7 ruby threshold, depending on the scenario, your goal is to draw a sly huntress and alpha strike. The deck explores a few other options with Royal Falconer, and Duplicitous Duke and Woolvir Baa’sher. Adding Crushing Blows and Burns for taste. Sandstone Rumbler is also a great finisher with the damage to opposing Champion on entrance gem. Soothsaying for Mage, is a great way to dig for your combo.
A typical late-game turn by turn as human mage with this deck:
Turn 1: Play a shard
Deck playing tips:
- Aggressively trade with your Psychotic Anarchist as needed for card draw.
- Remember you get a free mulligan in PvE if you need it, it really helps with a starting hand-size of 8!
- Be aware that if you need it, Polymorph: Beast is a quick action, and can revert life-threatening buffs/damage defensively
- Don’t be afraid to drop to low health, and take swings while fishing for your win-con, believe in the deck
- Sometimes, you can win with very silly combos on this deck that are not anticipated, like using a Duplicitous Duke with a Psychotic Anarchist or Scraptech Brawler
- Plan out your turns based on your hand, and know when to switch to defensive for certain encounters
- Always check the PvE Champions buff and passives so you can accurately assess the pain points for the encounter.
- Use soothsaying to combo out
- You can use some 2 drops as throw aways, but try to save every pyromancer as they are crucial to this decks success.
3 Deathmask Assailant – An Assailant is a versatile card we are using that fits several little niche’s in this deck. It’s buffed by Ruby Pyromancer, it’s free with our -2 cost talent, it can transfer it’s shift power to something crazy, like a soon-to-be buffed elite pyromancer, and it’s a perfectly legitimate chump blocker to help us survive until combo-town. The AI doesn’t care when you shift, so if you plan out that 1 mana use early, it may help you assure there are enough resources to do other things with later.
1 Psychotic Anarchist – This guy gets better and better with time, but we want him in the deck for utility, akin to the Assailant above him. What Anarchist brings to the table is that he is a 2/2 for 2 with speed, and a nifty little draw effect. The AI will get more cards too, but who cares, it’s a single player game and I’m smarter! (I think?). The Boots equipment allows him to be a legitimate chump troop as well, and he procs the Ruby Pyromancer Inspire as well. When we hit level 8 and have access to 3 of these, it’s going to be a nice over-stimulated hand to increase combo potential.
3 Ruby Pyromancer – We are going to call Ruby Pyromancer part of team BREAD. Her teammates are Elite Pyromancer and Lord Alex. She might have a few teammates warming the bench like Jags and Ruby Enchantress (options if you want them). The BREAD team is necessary to invite in team BUTTER. Without BUTTER there is still BREAD, but without BREAD there is no BUTTER.
Noob#1 – “What is up with this lame Analogy, Nico?”
Nico – “I like bread.”
But back to the point, Our team BUTTER are cards like the Sandstone Rumbler, Royal Falconer and most importantly, the Sly Huntress. The buffs the Ruby Pyromancer and team BREAD provide are essential to our combo securing wins. Pyromancer should always be the first card played on turn 2, with only a few exceptions: Her cost is reduced, you start with an extra shard, or need to burrow a scraptech first for a ramp combo. She is team BREAD’s Rover.
3 Woolvir Baa’sher – By himself, he can help you block early on against 2 attack troops, but with the help of many Ruby troops he becomes a beast. Especially effective later on with Assailant buffs for all-in attacks. Another 2 drop that gets inspired by Ms. Ruby
3 Elite Pyromancer – The Forward of team BREAD, she is going to be the one that sends an amazing corner-kick to you to slam in the goal. Notably a great target for Assailant now that we are running her Chest equipment. She will get nice and big, but has no butt, so we need to give her a bit of evasion.
1 Lord Alexander, the Courageous – A 3/3 for 3. He is team BREADs goalie. When he gets the ball, you will be propelled forward with momentum. Giving speed to troops is huge when you are looking for a win-condition and have the ability to make more than 1 troop at a time come into play.
2 Scraptech Brawler – “How the hell did a Dwarf sneak in here?” If the AI could talk, you might hear that from it. Scraptech Brawler is just stocked full of utility. It’s a shame as a Human that our shard restrictions will only allow us to play a max of 2 uncommons. I’d love to have 4x of him in the deck. He has a way to play multiple troops in a turn. Playing him face-up is sometimes the better play than face-down. Actually, that is often the case with this deck. His head equipment gives us extra Ruby Threshold, which can make a difference when trying to play a fatal Sly Huntress, and even sometimes securing in an early Zakiir (specially if Zakiir gets reduced cost).
2 Veteran Gladiator – A 3/2 for 3 that locks down a blocker is very good. He also procs all the fun inspire triggers we’ve loaded in the deck. Great card, and although interchangeable, I really like him in this spot.
1 Duplicitous Duke – Duke is one of my favorite cards, and has endless potential and utility. I’d be doing you a disservice if I explained all of them here. Have fun with him, and think of exciting ways to use his shift power.
1 Mancubus – 2 words – “Nipple Rings”, Oh, and he can get buffed up enough to steal big threats from the enemy. Definitely fun to have, but also sometimes the utility needed to close out encounters.
1 Royal Falconer – This card is great. You get 3 troops, and all 3 get inspired by team BREAD. Be careful when attacking with the Falconer, make sure he won’t die if you need his birds for damage or defense. Team BUTTER
3 Sly Huntress – Team BUTTER!!!! – This is our combo piece, and how we want to win. Make sure you play her in your first main-phase when you are planning to combo out. Play a scraptech brawler first if you have one, face-up to add a fox to the mix, also play out any crimson clarity you want to assure fatal is achieved.
1 Zakiir – It’s just an awesome card to play if you own it, but is not essential. If you do successfully cast a Zakiir, and it lives through a turn, you will not lose the game. Especially with the trinket equipment for the dragon.
3 Burn -It’s cheap, it’s effective, and it’s one of your only legit turn 1 plays. Save it for when it matters, or just use it aggressively to curve out.
3 Crushing Blow – Another cheap 1 cost ability, but it is especially effective in tricking the AI, and getting through with lethal.
3 Crimson Clarity (Will Switch to ‘Crimson Copperhead’ Equipment When It’s Fixed) – The card allows you to end the game a little faster. Not the ideal card to draw late game, but pays dividends early game. Remember, if you are somehow threshold screwed, it gives you threshold, which does not often happen with all Ruby shards but there are some scenarios where it does.
1 Gore Feast of Kog’Tepetl – An alternative route to an early win. The damage Gore Feast provides is hard to match with a few troops on board. Remember to click slowly after you attack the first time to make sure you don’t pass your second attack window.
Rather than getting into specifics of replace this for that, I want to leave everyone with a quick list of budget cards I would consider. I won’t go into equipment for many or why, but want to give you ideas when you are building a similar deck. This will include cards that can be obtained for free in PvE that may be of rare or higher rarity.
Let me also preface this shared knowledge below with a little tip about HEX marketing model and successfully being a Free-to-Play player. The game will give you back exactly what you put into it. HEX is possibly the only game where I felt like my time has value outside of progress in the game itself. Improving your collection slowly, can bring you real world value. With that said, make sure you trade for cards, use the Auction House, and explore trading gold for plat. It will take you much further than you think. When you do open your wallet to thank the HEX creators or a 3rd party website to stretch your dollar, in doing that you will improve your experience with quick access to a powerful arsenal, and your value for time will improve drastically.
Crackling Bolt – Most notable for Devonshire against Wiktor
Shatter Shield (Weapon Equipment)
Relic of Nulzann (Unblockable Gem)
Purging Flames (Great potential with equipment)
Phantasmal Slayer (Could be ridiculous with Assailant buff)
Mesmeric Hypnoscientist (Great card and would fit well here)
Hellhound (Unblockable Gem)
Gem-Crazed Berserker (Unblockable Gem)
Adaptatron (equipment is amazing for lifedrain)
Effigy of Nulzann (Unblockable Gem)
Campaign Tips: Tough Encounters
There are 5 encounters where the Sly Huntress deck falls short, and you need to adapt. I have unique builds for each encounter that I was able to win with easily, and are fun to play as alternative decks.
Please note: For the decks below my only goal was to stomp the challenge with them, so there are no considerations for budget variations. Feel free to experiment, as the access to new PvE cards and old budget alternatives exist, and can help you slay all the content in HEX PvE.
Those Encounters are (I will post decks below):
- Piranha’s – Built a mono-Diamond swiftstrike deck that works well
- Sea Hag Witch – Built a mono-Diamond reversion deck for the princess
- Wormoid Queen – Built a mono-Diamond healing centric ramp deck that nabbed it
- Kilipede -1/-1 encounter – Built a mono-Diamond healing and Swiftstrike deck
- Devonshire – Built a tempo healing Sapphire/Diamond deck
- Army of Myth 6starting resources – I’m working on this still, but will include verdicts from Sapphire.
Piranha’s (can be achieved early on, but fine to wait till later levels):
3 Adamanthian Scrivener
3 Spiritbound Spy
1 Deathless Guardian
3 Grim Skull Sorcerer (Swiftstrike)
1 Her Majesty, Queen Grace
1 Highlands Shinobi
1 Living Totem
2 Mentor of the Wind
1 Protectorate Defender (Swiftstrike)
2 Righteous Paladin
2 Crypt Shrieker (Lifedrain)
3 Deadeye Slicer
1 Princess Victoria
3 Rigid Buffalo
1 Ethereal Caller
The trick is, you want to play first, and you want at least 1 stinging ambush by turn 3. Surviving and saving a stinging ambush until turn 3-5 is the easiest way to win, but it’s really hard to get other stalls and slowly build a board while doing so.
This is a bit easier to do at level 8 as a human, when you have access to 3 copies of rares in your deck, and can splash Ruby for Heat Wave/Staggering Blast/etc. Ruby troops do not really help as much here as Diamond troops do.
Sea Hag Witch:
Not to much to say here, besides the fact that Reversion is needed for the Princess.
Wormoid Queen (suggested to tackle after level 8 is achieved):
I’d probably rate this the most difficult encounter in the game currently. Being able to build a board and pump a Paladin and Totem is pretty much required, while saving resources for a shard ward or blinding light to protect against the burrowed worm that does damage to opposing troops. Hopeheart Unicorn is great in this deck as well for that same protective purpose, and to trade favorably when forced to block.
Killipede (level 5 required):
This encounter was pretty easy with the above deck – Focus on swiftstrike and spot-removal to deal with the troops. Late-game is not bad with larger troops and totems.
Devonshire (Level 8 highly recommended/grind for it in an earlier dungeon):
This dungeon is pretty unforgiving in it’s damage over-time mechanic and scary early game troops for some encounters. It is also a really fun dungeon because there are a lot of non-linear options to complete it. As a mage, a lot of abilities really come into great effect here, like saving soothsaying to discard a toxin in the final battle, or defensively polymorphing an opposing threat.
Tough Dungeon Boss Battle Tips:
Chained Goliath: This fight is all about managing your health, and his so that you swing for fatal before you die, and before he hits 25 HP. At 25 HP he becomes unchained, and the Sly Huntress deck really has very little to answer him on a Mage’s HP total. Luckily, we can combo well before he can go unchained, so just make sure you have the combo ready.
Wiktor: This fight is insane, but as a Mage we have some nice tools through soothsaying to dump a toxin he might have added +2 damage to at the end of our turn. The trick however, is modifying our deck to include at least 9 answers by turn 2 for his 2/3 troop in play. The troop in play is the priority to take out before we can even start becoming a threat. I like splashing Diamond, or using a complete deck swap as listed above. Here are some recommendations on what we can add to have significance here:
I highly recommend considering a different deck with tempo advantage, big butt troops (high defense), swiftstrike troops, removal, and lifegain elements. Adaptatron with equipment is a solid universal inclusion you could make for free (farmable card).
Image of Shard Restriction break-points for Human/Mage:
I’ve found Human Mage to be incredibly rewarding at level 8, and I am really looking forward to scaling potential with future adventure zones. Please stay tuned, as this guide will be updated over time as new content releases, and I’d appreciate your comments and thoughts on your unique play through. Good luck out there!