Hello everyone!

Welcome back to the Limited Lab. I hope that everyone is having a blast while battling in the HexClash each weekend for hundreds of dollars and some sweet exclusive swag, all from the comfort of their own home. I was able to Top 8 the first one, but due to real life scheduling issues I haven’t played in one since. I hope to remedy that this weekend, so hopefully I can open a great pool and get into the elimination rounds again!

In my last two articles I listed out some different Set 5/Set 6 sealed and draft strategies, but I intentionally left one out because I wanted to break down the different parts of the deck and what some of the challenges you may face when trying to assemble what I feel is the most fun Limited archetype and one of the most powerful: Blood/Diamond Sockets.

Right off the bat I want to be clear on one thing for this archetype. It is risky to go for this strategy, but the payoff when you get even a mediocre deck is huge. Some of my easiest 3-0 draft decks have been in this archetype, and that’s even with missing at least one of the key components.

There are two cards in particular that make this strategy worthwhile. They both play off the Socket synergy, are a card advantage engine, and sometimes generate upwards of ten resources for you over a game.

The risk though, is that they are only found in Herofall, and when you draft, there is only one pack of that set.




In fact, there are a lot of good cards for this archetype that you can pick up in your Herofall pack, but those two are the most important. I think that Altar of Nulzann is the most important of the two, and have had some very easy 3-0’s with Socket decks missing Sentry of Nulzann, but never the other way around.

A lot of time the resource and tempo advantage that you are getting out of the Sentry won’t be enough to close the game out, but the sheer grinding ability from Altar of Nulzann can be impossible to overcome.

The Deck

Now, let’s break down the deck.

The first thing to look at are the socketed cards. These generally fall into 3 categories: Great, Playable, and Dregs. I am willing to play cards from all three categories as the raw power gained by having the synergy is too much to miss out on, but the cards in the dregs spot are generally unplayable outside of the sockets deck.

Great
















These are all great cards that I am more than happy to have in my deck. Tacking on “draw a card” to these is insane value as they are all playable on their own. You can see though, that there are a lot of rares here in this category, which makes picking them up more difficult, but not impossible. Especially something like Emsee, Etcher of Nulzann, and sometimes the two crusaders, since they come with some hefty deck building requirements.

“Right off the bat I want to be clear on one thing for this archetype. It is risky to go for this strategy, but the payoff when you get even a mediocre deck is huge.”

One benefit of being Blood/Diamond means that we have access to some of the best gems. Minor Diamond of Wind and Minor Blood Orb of Intimidation are both great evasion gems, while Minor Diamond of Protection is a great defensive gem that will help get us into the late game where our card advantage engines can take over.

*Quick tip – It’s almost always right to put +2 defense in your Spiritbound Vicar. Keeping it alive makes all your other troops better.

Another great troop that you have access to as Blood/Diamond is Twilight Revenant. I’m sure that just like me you all have nightmares of Gorn fueled Twilight Revenants pummeling you mercilessly during 5-5-5 draft. Now the card is a bit more narrow and easier to answer with Cheap Shot, Strangle, and others available, but it can still win games all on it’s own. Outside of Sockets, Blood/Diamond isn’t very popular, so if you happen to be in the archetype, the odds you get passed a Twilight Revenant if there is one is pretty high.

Playable











These cards are all playable, but not something that I am actively looking for. Seeing these available isn’t going to make me think that the socket deck is available, but I am likely to take them over something of similar cost and size purely on the merit of having a socket. Playing into the Sentry and Alter synergy is the most important thing so that we can press that deckbuilding axis, but remember, since our big payoffs are in pack three, we have to commit early.

I do want to note that Fang of Nulzann has been surprisingly good every time I’ve had it, but it does sit on Weeping Banshee at that spot. It’s important to note that Power and Pain in unique because it’s the only Quick card with a socket in these shards. This in unique since it lets us trigger the card draw from Altar of Nulzann on our opponent’s turn so that we can double dip in the turn cycle.

Dregs









These are all cards that I will play in a pinch if I need to hit the 7 or more socketed cards that I usually want to have in the deck. Crowbones can be decent as an extra value card, and I’ve beat some people down with Alarm-o-Matic 3000 before (socketed with Minor Ruby of Intimidation), but I’m not happy about it.

These cards will generally get cut for other decent common or uncommon troops in these shards. Cards like Razoredge Duelist or Necropolis Garroter are going to end up being better than these un-impactful socketed cards.

The good news is that the list is skewed towards the Good and Playable section, so filling in the holes is usually pretty easy if you can hit the engine cards in the last pack.

Removal

One strategy that I like to employ is to keep an eye out for the bombs in the first two packs, but prioritize removal until we get into pack three. This lets me be comfortable snagging Sentry or Altar as early as my first pick. Thankfully in Scars of War Blood and Diamond are stacked for removal.









And we can even sometimes use our interaction as removal with Blindside and Outflank leading the pack. Being Blood/Diamond is a huge benefit with removal since we can pick up so much in the first two packs, but there is even more available if we get the chance in pack three. Llamafy, Bring to Justice, Exporesion, and Drain Soul are all playable in this archetype.

Champion

Since we want to make the game go long, a champion that facilitates that is important. The Standard constructed version of this deck uses Marshal Josephina_, and I see a lot of players doing that in Limited too, but I actually feel that Ada the Apparitionist_ is the best choice. Since the change to two Diamond threshold over three Diamond threshold, Ada has clearly been overperforming in Limited and I plan on running her in any Diamond deck that I can until something is done. In fact, I weight Ada so highly that to me just being able to play her is worth almost two cards in my evaluation of the early picks.

Generating two Phantoms for only five charges is fantastic. All we want is to make the game go longer. Not only that, but a large percentage of our troops are going to have evasion in the form of the Intimidation Blood gem or the Wind Diamond gem. This invalidates the aggressive aspect of Marshal Josephina and really makes Ada superior in my eyes.

Wrapping Up

When it comes to the Blood/Diamond Sockets deck, the risk is real, but the payoff can more than make up for it. Here is an example of one of the easiest 3-0, 6-0’s I’ve had in Draft – even without Sentry of Nulzann to make the games super nutty!

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I hope this helps you prioritize your picks so that you can draft a super awesome sockets deck and crush the competition. Good luck in the HexClash everyone!

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

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thanks for the write-up Chris. I agree with most of what you wrote. The deck is a lot of fun and very strong.

    It looks like you missed Spiritbound Vicar in your “great” category!

    I have found that when the deck comes together it’s practically unbeatable — maybe a really fast/streamlined dreadlings deck is it’s hardest matchup. However, I think we disagree a bit about what the “core” of this deck is (or what “really” makes it work). You site the alter + sentry as your 2 cards that make it come together, but I consider the Vicar + Weeping Banshee to be the ones that get it there. With those 2 cards + a random assortment of at least 5 other socketed cards, it’s felt like enough to “get there” regardless of whether or not I have the draw engine or shard discount active..it may just take a bit longer.

    Here’s an example of one that didn’t quite come together for me last night.
    https://hexpvptools.net/gauntlet/run/1116015760623303937

    While I do have a sentry, I would say it didn’t really factor in and might have considered cutting it if I had a better early defensive option. In this particular deck, I didn’t really have a critical mass of sockets to make the shard discount worth it. However, it does still block 2/x’s with some minor side of maybe getting a discount or two if i draw it early.

    The reason it didn’t really come together: I started in blood, sapphire and jumped over when a weeping banshee wheeled from my pack 1. The “socket deck” package was very light — 1 sentry, 1 Wakuna lookout, 1 Alarm-o-matic (not a fan of this card), 1 grim skull, 1 winter brave, 1 spiritbound vicar, 1 fang of nulzan, 2 weeping banshee. That’s only 8 cards with sockets, and 7 if I needed to transform Alarm-o-matic.

    I won almost every game on the back of weeping banshees. What made it work was just stalling out the game until I could draw them — as an example, I’m playing barrier bot. No one is excited to have that in their deck, but it was one of only reasons I won a couple games, as it was consistently eating 4 damage each turn while I selectively chumped/removed the other threats.

    I think you’re right on the money with Ada being the better champ pick…you just want to make the game go longer, you’re going to eventually win anyway, so there’s not a huge need to make one of their creatures not block/attack for 1 turn. The 2 phantoms can fog the same creature for 2 turns assuming they don’t have trample and if you don’t need them to chump are great at sneaking in damage.

    It’s a shame that the alarm-o-matic doesn’t really have any good gems and sometimes needs to be reluctantly played. I think you meant minor blood orb of intimidation as your go to gem on it, but it would be nice if playing the 1 drop gave some kind of value (think dreadlings).

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