Greetings fellow Hexers!

In my last article, I took and broke down Hex from a Magic: the Gathering players perspective. I explained how I was able to use my MTG knowledge to easily identify how mechanics and abilities worked, and listed out what the Constructed meta was along with price points for buying in.

Now though, Primal Dawn has been released. The strategies employed for Draft and Sealed with just Armies of Myth are no longer viable, and the Constructed meta is going to be in flux as the new powerful cards start to see play; integrating themselves into existing decks and spawning entirely new archetypes all on their own.

Jeff Hoogland and I recorded a set review for Primal Dawn as well. It is a little long, although it is broken up into six different videos, but I hope that it’s worth the time to listen to what we have to say.

Since Primal Dawn was released, I spent a whole lot of time playing Draft and Evo Sealed, which is a brand new format that was released with Set 4. It’s basically Pack Wars, where you receive two booster packs, and then a handful of random commons and uncommons. You then build a 40 card deck and battle Gauntlet style, but with a twist. Once you get a win, then another Primal Dawn pack gets added to your pool and you can rebuild. This also happens at three wins and if you manage to get five wins then you receive an unopened Primal Dawn pack for your troubles.


This format is extremely fun and addictive. There are no games with Reserves, and they fire very quick. Getting through multiple Evo Sealed Gauntlets in a single day isn’t uncommon, and it was a perfect way for me to get to play with the cards and start learning what they do just by sight, and to amass a collection of Primal Dawn cards.

That’s not why you’re here though. You aren’t interested in hearing me gush about the new limited format, or how awesome Primal Dawn meshes with Armies of Myth in terms of Booster Draft. You want Constructed information. Raw, unadulterated Constructed tech.

Ok, I can do that.

For those of you who follow me in MTG know that I have a bit of an affinity for a card that is no longer legal in Standard. Most of you are probably thinking Stormbreath Dragon, but the real answer is Elvish Mystic. Mana creatures have been my thing for pretty much my entire MTG career. From Werebear in Miracle Grow, to Arbor Elf and Avacyn’s Pilgrim in Abzan Reanimator, to Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid in Jund Monsters. Breaking the fundamental rule of “one resource per turn” is my kind of gaming, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have been working on decks in the new Constructed with Howling Brave – the Hex equivalent to Elvish Mystic.


Varranis wrote a pretty good article over on the Hex mother-ship about Howling Brave and the ways to use it to your advantage, but there is a card that was recently printed in Primal Dawn that I feel pushes Howling Brave and ways to interact with an opposing Brave to the forefront of the format.


A double-socket three cost troop is impressive on it’s own simply based on the sheer number of possibilities that you have access to, but this aggressive bunny also has another ability that gives it a permanent +1/+1 each time a troop comes into play under your control.

That ability combined with the double-socket is what I think pushes this card way beyond the realm of fair and reasonable Hex card. I have been working on different decks that can take advantage of Howling Brave into Rune Ear Hierophant along with multiple gem configurations, but so far the one that I have had the most success with has been MinW Conservation and MajW Dominance, or Spell-shield and rhino.

I cannot even begin to explain to you just how far ahead it feels to play this troop on turn two or even turn three against a vast majority of the field. With enough troops in our deck, we are very likely to make the Hierophant a 3/3 at least on the following turn, which is very difficult for our opponent to block and actually trade with. If they let it connect, then it grows again and we get a 3/3 Rhino. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. We can also just have a removal spell for their troop which will clear the way and get the ball rolling.

Now, before I go any further I will say this. Yes, Extinction is a thing. Yes, Exarch of the Egg is a thing. We do have to remember though, that they won’t always have it and games will spin out of control fast, or they will and then we rebuild because we played around it.

There really are no wrong questions, only wrong answers. I want to force my opponents to have the right answers from a very narrow selection or die in the onslaught of my questions.

Rune Ear Hierophant poses a threat that really hasn’t been an actual thing until now. Azurefate Sorceress and Arborean Rootfather were the primary threats that might have Spell-shield up until now, but with the advent of a double-socket three cost Troop, protecting yourself against Spell-shield is going to be more important now than it ever has.

The other Primal Dawn card that has impressed me immensely, especially alongside Rune Ear Hierophant is Greenpaw Emancipator.


Greenpaw Emancipator is an “army in a can”. These types of cards are generally very powerful, and from my experience in other TCG’s give decks that are weak to sweepers staying power in the face of sweepers.

Extinction is good against Rune Ear Hierophant and Greenpaw Emancipator is good against Extinction.

When they don’t have Extinction though, oh man do we get to have some fun. Imagine that we are playing Cressida_. Imagine that we get to play a Howling Brave on turn one and a Rune Ear Hierophant on turn two. Now imagine that we get to play a shard on turn three, use our Champion Power to gain a temporary resource, and now five five resources available to us we get to play a Greenpaw Emancipator. Not only is this putting eight attack worth over three troops on the board, but it is also triggering our Rune Ear Hierophant three times for an extra +3/+3. Good luck profitably blocking that on turn three.

Here was my first draft of the deck.

CVM Gauntlet 5-2 (4/30/16)

The main idea was to use Cressida as a midrange champion. We do have some ramp elements, but we aren’t looking to go crazy big, we are more-so trying to play multiple things early, or speeding up our midrange threats a turn or two.

While playing this version, I did go 5-2 in the gauntlet, but there were some things that I noticed while playing that had me excited to get back to the drawing board.

Eye of Creation was bad. Without something like Puck, Dream Bringer to fuel our big X action, I found that I was too often playing it for just two or three, and with X being that low, the odds of the card being high enough impact to warrant having it and it being dead in the early game just wasn’t worth it. I also felt like I was bringing in a decent number of actions from my reserves which diluted Eye of Creation even further.

Likewise, I was unimpressed with Burn to the Ground. I wanted a flexible card that could be removal and also end the game if I needed it. I also had dreams of using Burn to the Ground in conjunction with Periwinkle to burn people literally to the ground. Like, their computer would just catch on fire from the immense flames that I would be throwing at them, but it just didn’t work that way. A lot of the time I either ended up one short of killing whatever troop I was trying to dispatch, or I would be holding onto a Burn to the Ground trying to make shards live outs to burn out my opponent only to be foiled by something like a Carnasaurus or Succulent Cluckodon gaining some health and putting the game out of reach.

I was super impressed with Arborean Rootfather though. With Cressida’s champion power without any help from Howling Brave or Chlorophyllia she lines up perfectly to give us a boost on turn three to play a four or five drop, and then again on turn six to play our Arborean Rootfather. With MajR Destruction and MinR Ferocity, for seven resources we get a 16 point life swing, which is an insane amount. Our opponents have to be focused on the pressure we are applying with Rune Ear Hierophant and Greenpaw Emancipator that they are often left with shields down for a kill from an extremely high life total. If we happen to have two then we can even just kill over two turns through a removal spell. If we happen to have a Periwinkle and play an Arborean Rootfather, well then it’s usually a quick “Bye Felicia” for our opponent.

The other thing that I noticed, and unfortunately haven’t really found a good answer for yet, is that Shard of Savagery sucks. Like I mean it really sucks. The number of times that it is the only Wild source in our hand when we have Howling Brave, another shard of two, and just awesomeness really makes me wish that I could find a better way to build the shardbase. Shard Prism had been playing very well, giving us on-curve shards when we need it and a way to draw a card later in the game when we are flooded, but I think that consistency is more important when we are a Howling Brave deck.

Over the course of the first gauntlet I played against two Winter Moon decks, one of which was my loss, and I really felt that having our cards get interrupted by Countermagic was such a huge tempo swing – especially if it’s played using the temporary resource from our Champion Power.

Taking a page from MTG, when you are up against a tempo aligned deck with counterspells, having an uncounterable threat that you can line up against the turns where they are saving resources to counter something is a very good way to steal tempo back and try to control the pacing of the game. This led me to want to try out Justicar of Aryndel.


I also felt like the reserves could use some changes, as the Fury Chant deck was likely going to go down in popularity since it will be changing from one to two cost, and Succulent Cluckodon had really been impressing me.

Here is the list I came up with after learning a bit about the deck in the first gauntlet.

CVM Gauntlet 5-0 (5/03/16)

I was able to go 5-0 in this gauntlet, although I didn’t play against Winter Moon a single time. This still leaves me wondering just how good Justicar of Aryndel is, but my gut tells me it’s just fine. A decent sized body for only three resources, that we can empower when we are flooding out. It is also an Elf, which combined with some copies of Periwinkle lets us play Feralroot Acorn to help with playing cards on curve.

I did cut the Shard Prism, but I’m honestly not 100% on what the correct base is and plan on continuing to tweak it here and there.

Wrathwood Master Moss definitely pulled its weight every time I drew it, and I will likely be cutting the Balthasar, which was abysmal for a second copy. With mass removal being so good against our deck as a Hierophant strategy, having sticky threats is exactly where we want to be.

I have yet to play against any new forms of Mono-Ruby Aggro, but I have to imagine that they will creep up at some point, so I really don’t want to have less than three copies of Carnasaurus, and I think that having access to Burn is a must so that we can start to interact early against other Howling Brave decks and anything with Azurefate Sorceress (that likely won’t be Spellshield).

I really want to try out Young Seer as I think that it plays very well with Rune Ear Hierophant and our troops with Empower. Rune Ear Hierophant for only one seems great, but when you reduce the cost of a card with Empower, when you use the Empower ability it only doubles the cost that’s actually on the card. Justicar of Aryndel can be Empowered for just two resources if Young Seer hits one. Greenpaw Emancipator can be Empowered for only six resources if Young Seer hits one. That just seems insane!


I hope that everyone enjoys playing these types of decks just as much as I do. Accelerating creatures have been proven to be too good in MTG when only costing one, and I hope that the way Hex is designed can mitigate some of that because I sure do love playing with some!
Chris VanMeter
With 20 years of TCG experience, CVM is a well known MTG personality who has decided to give HEX a try. Producing written and video content for MTG in addition to being a live broadcaster has allowed him to not only compete in the game at the highest level, but also observe and analyze other skillful competitors. He hopes to bring a unique insight to the HEX community and loves playing decks that can find unique ways to end the game without much interaction from opponents


  1. I’m a big Winter Moon player and I’ve run into iterations of these type of decks w/ Howling Brave, Hierophant and Greenpaw at the core. They’re always a rough go; luck is a more prominent factor in this match up for me to squeeze out some wins

  2. Nice deck but as great as all these Rune Ear Hierophant beatdown variants are, tbh I think Wild/Diamond is going to stand on top as the best variant. Grace of Tiaanost on a Hierophant with Spellshield is just so unfair. A flying beater that creates more beaters. If you get extinctioned, you get your Hiero back and start making Rhinos again. It’s a hefty threshold cost, but you’re playing in Wild with Howling Braves and you can play Blue Grass too.

    Diamond also can solve a lot of the extinction problems that the other Hierophant beatdowns like mono wild and Wild/Ruby have.

    • I think that the big draw to diamond is gaining Unicorn as protection against Extinction and to make combat a nightmare. That being said, red gems in Rootfather have won me an insane amount of games. I think that depending on what the meta is, either deck will be viable. If we aren’t worried about a bunch of Extinction, why dilute your deck to fight it?

  3. That depends on the match up. Winter Moon players would rather deal with a W/D variant than mono W or W/R simply because the aforementioned would be deploying threats at a slower rate. Also, Howling Brave into Hierophant into Greenpaw is a more consistent/effective strategy than Howling Brave into Hierophant into Grace of Tiaanost due to threshold requirements. It’s a strong strategy but you’ll be successful at deploying it less often.

    PS: apart from Winter Moon and Blood midrange/control variants, think of Ruby/Sapphire tempo decks with Zygmunt’s game; another instance where more threats are better than less

  4. Why wouldn’t you play Greenpaw in W/D too? In a wild deck, threshold is less a problem than you think. You just have to be careful and not go too overboard.

  5. And uh, Cyriuus’19-2 D/W deck is far more aggressive than this deck. It’s an actual aggro deck. This deck is more slower/midrangey. Which is viable and great, but your point doesn’t really stand.

  6. Hey, I watched a ton of your MtG tournaments on youtube. Nice to see you here and writing such a nice article. Cheers and hope to see you promote HEX even more 🙂


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