Hello everyone! Allow myself to introduce … myself. I’m Chris VanMeter and you may recognize me from my content over on Hextcg.com, StarCityGames.com (a Magic: the Gathering website), or from right here where I’ve already written a few pieces in the past! I am a professional TCG player, or so they tell me that, and after moving out to Seattle with my wife in the last year or so, I have really taken to playing my games digitally.
It’s been a bit since I produced some Hex content, and after being away from the game for a couple of months, I am back at it with the release of Scars of War. There couldn’t be a better time to be diving back into Hex. The Standard format is experiencing its first rotation and after months and months of slamming Valorous troops into each other trying to gain ground with Lysander or Marshal Josephina, we have a new limited format with some nerfs and buffs to a handful of Champion powers.
I’m going to use my column here at HexPrimal.com to cover the limited aspect of the game. Primarily focusing on Sealed and Booster draft to help players prepare and succeed in the new Hex Clash weekly sealed event, but to also help those who happen to make it into the Top 8 of a Cosmic Crown Showdown event and must play some Booster draft! I will also be covering Evo Sealed a bit as well since it’s a great way to climb the Limited ladder, so don’t worry – you’re going to get a heaping dose of all the different limited formats.
A Look Back On Herofall Limited
Now, Scars of War has been out for about a week now, and I have had lots of time to play the different limited formats. Before we jump into what 6-6-5 draft has looked like for me, let’s take a quick moment and look back at what happened in 5-5-5 and what changes we can expect.
With triple Herofall draft Ruby was the deepest shard followed closely by Diamond. Both shards had plenty of removal and efficient troops, including the biggity bomb Lava Shaper. These shards were so deep in fact that there could be multiple drafters in Ruby and/or Diamond at the table and all of them would have good decks.
This was because how good the Valor mechanic was and how great both Lysander and Marshal Josephina were as champions.
The outlier here was good Gorn of the Hellpits. This combined with the above information led to Blood/Ruby and Blood/Diamond also being good, the latter being based on overpowered Twilight Revenant was when paired with Gorn. I wrote a bit about the triple Herofall limited format before and the summary was that it ended up being a bit awkward and only felt like there was one or two archetypes you could draft and compete.
-Lysander’s charge power increased from 3 to 4
-Gorn of the Hellpits charge power increased from 3 to 4
-ALL triple threshold champions were reduced to double threshold
-Angus the Arsonist reduced to three damage from four damage
-Wildshaper Kaliban has his charge cost increased from 5 to 7
-Takahiro had his health increased to 18
-Blue Sparrow has her health increased to 21
The Angus nerf was in part due to how good the deck was in constructed and when reduced to double threshold it may have ended up being too good. Gorn and Lysander being nerfed was important as they were two of the most oppressive champions in the last limited format, and even though Scars of War wasn’t as Valor focused as Herofall, for the health of the format and to create some diversity they needed to be changed.
Wildshaper Kaliban being nerfed was interesting as he was mostly viewed as a fringe and mostly unplayable champion anyway, but the explanation offered about why the change was made does make some sense when you think about it. Sadly, the nerf makes him 100% unplayable.
Now, there were also four new champions added to the mix with Scars of War, and I have been very impressed with them. I have used all of them except for Octavia the Faceless and have been extremely happy with how they have played out.
With that out of the way, lets dive into the new draft format!
Scars of War and The New Limited Format
At first glance and after playing through a bit, I think that Diamond is once again the deepest shard, but things are much more synergy focused, and because of the aggressive champions being nerfed, there is a lot more play and there are some decks that get to highlight the new mechanics in Scars of War.
My favorite new mechanic is Conscript. I admit that I undervalued some of the Conscript cards in my first few drafts, but after playing with them more, they are all playable and worth picking early. The exception is Moonglow Hunter which is a card that I will only play as a 22nd or 23rd card in my deck. The rest of the Common and Uncommon ones are all quick actions which means that we don’t have to leak any information and they play with will interrupts and other quick troops. They are great curve fillers and give us things to do with our resources in the mid to late game. The most important aspect of the conscript cards is that it could literally be any troop with that cost. That is very exciting and leads to some insane games. This limited format is very skill testing because of the randomness involved in conscript, but it also makes it extremely fun.
The first time that you Boisterous Ballad a William Rowan you will understand. The first time that you Eager Lackey into a High Infinitrix you will understand. In fact, the first time your opponent does any of the above you will understand
The main point that drove all this home for me was that I kept seeing my opponents play with Power and Pain and I felt like it was just unplayable. I kept wondering why they didn’t just play a four drop, or even another two drop instead. Well, the fact is that Power and Pain ends up being better than just a random two or four drop, especially when you get to put something like Minor Diamond of Wind in it and guarantee a great attacker. You are trading early tempo, but you don’t need to play it right away and it’s a great curve filler.
There is even a Diamond/Wild conscript deck, that if you can get is by far the best archetype in limited. It can be rough because some of the key pieces are uncommon, but if you get in early it can be unstoppable. Over the release weekend I happened upon this Evo Sealed pool. It was my starter pool and was the easiest 5-0 that I ever had and didn’t use any cards that I opened from the other two packs.
3 Drokka Outcast
1 Eager Lackey
3 Blessed Scout
1 Llama Herder
1 Dream Guide
1 Storm Rider
1 Rune Ear Recruiter
1 Royal Halberdier
1 Howling Plains Runner
Another great archetype is the Diamond/Sapphire mobilize/diligence deck. There are a lot of great, cheap diligence troops in these shards, like Cerulean Sage and Blessed Scout and then you have some big mobilize fliers like Cloud Bounder and Phoenix Guard Lancer.
I didn’t get much of a theme deck going, but here is a draft deck that ended up going 3-0 on the day of release before I fully understood how good the mobilize/diligence combo was.
Now, you may notice that both decks that I just shared were Ada the Apparitionist_. That is going to be a trend that you will notice that continues throughout my limited experience in the first week or so of the format. The reduction from triple threshold to double threshold makes Ada much more reliable to generate two Phantoms on curve, which is extremely powerful. This gives us troops to mobilize with. It gives us buffable troops if we have some sort of anthem affect. It gives us flying defenders if we are under a lot of pressure, and can put troops in the crypt for us to scrounge.
Ada has basically become my default champion for decks with Diamond in them, which is most decks since Diamond still seems to be the deepest shard.
Here are some Blood/Diamond Ada decks that either 2-1’d or 3-0’d their drafts.
1 Gust Mage
1 Intrepid Conjurer
1 Dread Botanist
1 Giant Centipede
1 Midnight Gatherer
1 Razoredge Duelist
1 Deadeye Charger
1 Dread Driver
1 Awakened Herald
1 Dread Apprentice
1 Mindwrack Sorcerer
1 Storm Rider
1 The Buffalord
1 Smokeclaw Raker
1 Bloodeye Defiler
1 Shadowblade Slicer
1 Dread Transport
1 Furious Smasher
2 Giant Centipede
1 Razoredge Duelist
1 Dread Apprentice
1 Mindwrack Sorcerer
2 Storm Rider
1 Angel of Atonement
1 Canyon Fleetfoot
1 Royal Halberdier
2 Shadowblade Slicer
Now, the second deck was drafter during the Release Celebration that was triple Scars of War, but a lot of the cards and themes are going to be the same if it were 6-6-5. Removal really wants to be traded up in this format and creating great tempo plays is important. There are some cheap combat tricks that can be used to facilitate this, and so far, Blitz and Outflank have been the best.
What these allow you to do is play a troop and still attack through opposition, or create unfavorable attacks for the opponent.
In triple Herofall draft you could safely take something like Lava Shaper or Ardent Officer over a bomb rare in Wild or Sapphire and be reasonably sure that it was the right pick. So far with Scars of War added to the mix, rares have much more impact in the draft as a bomb rare or legendary will absolutely push you into certain shards and you can be happy with that since there wasn’t a de-facto best shard or combination of shards to be.
Overall I am very happy with my first impression of 6-6-5 draft, and in the coming weeks I want to take you through pick orders for the different shards and what some of the other archetypes are. Ruby/Wild Grandfather Elk has been very fun and I have also had a lot of success with different Ivan Slagpot builds and High Cleric Marzul decks with multiple Arena Regulars.
What are your favorite archetypes in draft so far?