Hello and welcome to my first “Immortal Technology” piece! This column is one that will look at both theoretical, and eventually proven, archetypes in Hex’s non-rotating Immortal format. While we are simply theorycrafting for these first couple of weeks I am going to focus on taking archetypes that have been successful in our previous standard formats and look at upgrading them with tools from Set 6.
The first deck I would like to take a look at was one of my favorites back during the Set 4 standard format: Blood-Sapphire Control. Let’s start by revisiting the archetype as it existed during the set four constructed format:
The Original Deck
A deck playing four copies of Extinction was a powerful choice in the wake of all the various socketed troops abusing the Spellshield gem and I expect the very start of the Immortal format to feature many of these. Removal dense control decks like this are also generally good choices against ramp strategies that we will likely become popular based around the return of Titania’s Majesty.
The biggest problem for a control deck like this was troublesome constants and artifacts due to our shard combination’s inability to remove them from the table. This lead to having to play clunky cards like Chaos Key or something that was card disadvantage like Time Ripple in the reserves. Thankfully Set 5 printed the perfect answer for a control deck like this that also doubles as a threat:
In Immortal not only will Dark Heart generate card advantage by causing our opponent to sacrifice cards, but it will also draw us cards thanks to the major sapphire gem of card draw(MajS Mind) alongside the minor sapphire gem of flight (MinS Sky) to provide evasion.
Dark Heart does mean that playing non-socketed threats like Vampire King becomes less appealing though.
Relentless Corruption is also a card I was never a huge fan of, but it was a concession to the fact that we needed a threat that was resistant to opposing removal. Thankfully sapphire got one of the best finishers in Hex currently in Set 5 as well:
Anyone who has ever played with Ascension knows that for decks without interrupts this card is essentially unstoppable end game. Ascension rewards us for doing things that we want to be doing anyways in an action based control deck like this.
In addition to Herofall coming in Set 6 though is a really powerful new piece of removal:
I like this card a lot because it is a bit more flexible than the previous two cost removal we had in Rot Cast. Not only does Strangle remove troublesome threats like Lixil, the Deathless Gem, but it can trade up on tempo by killing four cost troops such as Vampire King. Strangle in combination with a block from our Dark Heart can also remove attacking threats like a Crocosaur.
We mentioned Extinction a bit earlier as being one of the reasons to play a deck like this. Set 6 is bringing with it another reasonable sweeper effect in this gem:
While we previously played the powerful card Mass Polymorph: Dingler, I will be fairly happy to trade that in for a copy or two of Dread End. The difference between a five cost and a eight cost sweeper is huge – even if the later is one sided. Dread End gives us a good solution to threats that are generally troublesome for control decks such as Underworld Crusader and Wrathwood Master Moss.
The power of a card like Inquisition will depend on the context of the format, but if other sapphire based decks see play it will be a reasonable choice. Hedging a bit with less discard and more interrupts is likely a good choice. Because sapphire is more of a splash, we want to prefer cards that have a single sapphire in their cost. This means instead of Countermagic we likely want a split of these two:
In addition to being less threshold intensive than Countermagic, these cards are also cheaper. Which means they can generate double action turns sooner against aggressive decks. Whether we want to favor Dingle or Verdict in our main deck will vary depending on which decks are more popular in Immortal when the format gets going.
The last couple of cards I want to try from Set 6 are reasonable not because of their raw power level, but because of the flexibility they offer:
Sapphire’s Favor is definitely the weaker of the two, but having a singleton copy of a card like this is something I am very interested in trying in a deck like this that can see a lot of cards every game. From countering Titania’s Majesty to buying us a bit of time against dreadlings, Sapphire’s Favor is fairly flexible.
Blood’s Favor is a card that I am very excited to play with. You always want to judge a card like this based on the “floor” or “worst case scenario” for it. With Blood’s Favor the “default” mode is drawing two cards and losing two health. Meaning at worst it will be a painful Oracle’s Song, while at its best it can take an important card away from your opponent or provide a small health boost against an aggressive deck.
The last Set 6 card I want to mention for Blood Sapphire Control is probably the most important one: Well of Cunning. One of the biggest issues with this archetype was always balancing our desire to play double blood threshold cards early, while having enough sources of sapphire to play our secondary shard cards consistently.
All of these new ideas bring us to this first draft of Blood Sapphire control for the Immortal format:
The Immortal Deck
Until we have a format to actually start playing in I am mostly just spitballing, but I would be fairly surprised if the following archetypes do not exist / get experimented with at the start of Immortal:
Cressida / Mono Wild Ramp
Kaigu Crusader Midrange
Boris Blastforge Rocket Rabbit
Diamond Sapphire Banks Control
Mono Ruby Angus
As I mentioned earlier I expect the Ramp / Mono Wild matchups for a deck like this to be fairly strong. Because of this our reserving will be fairly minimal. In fact I would likely simply swap our two Inquisitions for the third Dingle and a Rot Cast.
The Kaigu Crusader archetype will likely be a good matchup for us as well. They will often have a hard time getting underneath us and Dread End does a good job of cleaning up their cards that are better against us. In a matchup like this I generally like to trim cards that do not interact with the board such as Verdict of the Ancient Kings, Dingle, and Inquisition. I would bring in cards like Dread End, the additional Uruunaz, Gemborn, Charge Colossus, and Rot Cast.
I expect the Boris Blastforge matchup to be fairly similar to how things played out during the Set 4 metagame. The games where they have a fast Rune Ear Hierophant backed up by Countermagic will be difficult to win, but any game that goes long we will be a firm favorite in. We will want to bring in our additional copies of Inquisition and Dread End in this matchup to provide both proactive and reactive answer to their Spellshield threats. Verdict of the Ancient Kings and a Herofall would likely be my go to cuts.
The Diamond Sapphire Banks Control matchup will be fairly awkward game one since both of our decks are fairly threat light. The most important thing to prioritize in this matchup is making sure your Psychic Ascension resolves with Inquisition and Verdict of the Ancient Kings. Heading to the reserves for a control mirror we want to trim our Strangles, Extinctions, and Dread Ends. We get to bring in a pile of additional threats in Vampire Princess, Gemborn Prowler, and Charge Colossus. We also bring in more disruption in Inquisition and Verdict of the Ancient Kings.
The Mono Ruby Angus matchup for a control like this will likely be fairly difficult. If they are action based our copies of Extinction and Dread End will be fairly embarrassing. Out of the reserves we bring in some health gain in Terrible Transfer and Vampire Princess, but it will likely still be an uphill battle.
What do you think of the Blood Sapphire Control deck and some of the upgrades I have suggested here today? What decks / archetypes are you most excited to get to play with when Immortal becomes introduced? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
Thanks for reading.