I have a history with the Champion Morgan McBombus_:
-I got into Hex partially because of the Prophecy Burn deck played by Jeff Hoogland.
-My first competitive Hex Constructed deck was a Morgan McBombus deck.
-I qualified for my first CCS solely with Morgan McBombus.
-I helped pioneer and innovate a several Morgan McBombus decks in the Herofall constructed format.
For the longest time, I was “that guy” on the fringes of the format who finds a way to play their favorite cards despite the format, but not for long. While the initial Scars of War meta seems to be defined by powerful blood cards, I anticipate the lasting story of the metagame will be one of Morgan McBombus.
SoW: McBombus’ Time To Shine
These two cards are both insane. When I was looking at the spoilers, Consult the Talon looked really impressive. It draws three cards, potentially for a single resource. It is immediately comparable with Ancestral Recall and Treasure Cruise, two extremely powerful cards from MTG. The card does require troops to exhaust which you wouldn’t mind not attacking or blocking with, but with Assault, Scrounge, and potentially other Mobilize cards, such “low value” troops can actually be extremely useful. Morgan McBombus’s charge power makes a 1/1 to Mobilize with, and those decks often want to be playing Thunderfield Seer, more perfect Mobilize fodder. Warpsteel Shardsworn may look unassuming, but does so much and I think it is actually a stronger card in constructed than Consult the Talon. It produces two bodies which plays well with the mechanics mentioned above, plus it has a socket and a random bonus on the Depth Crawler, which puts it over the top.
Given my experience with Heart of Embers Valor McBombus from last season, I thought that would be a perfect place to fit the two new powerful cards. With Warpsteel Shardsworn using the valor gem, Blamsmith is suddenly less valuable. Here is the first version of my Scars of War McBombus deck:
4 Thunderfield Seer
4 Warpsteel Shardsworn (Minor Ruby of Valor)
4 Heart of Embers
1 Buzztech Innovator (Minor Sapphire of Dread)
2 Typhoon Skyshaper
You can read about its ancestor here.
With the loss of Burn, Transmogrifade is infinitely more important to have 1 cost quick removal and so I want to play four copies of it in my main deck. I wanted to try out many of the new cards, and they definitely did their jobs. Feed the Flames is an interesting card that can answer a Bride of the Damned, Vampire Princess, or Matriarch of Flames when played without Scrounge and can answer larger threats when scrounged. Typhoon Skyshaper is a really powerful and flexible card. It can reuse Deploy effects, save your troops from removal, enable “free” chump blocks on larger threats, ambush attackers in combat, and is also simply a good rate as a 4/5 flyer that costs 4 to play most of the time. Buzztech Innovator as a singleton gives a nice bit of reach from an empty or almost empty board and provides decent value even if they remove the 4/4. Stifling Sting is excellent because of its flexibility. It is great when used to interrupt an opposing action but can serve as a quick removal spell in a pinch.
Everything worked as well or better than I expected. Consult the Talon and Warpsteel Shardsworn especially over performed. I had my doubts on the Buzztech Innovator but the card proved powerful and Typhoon Skyshaper was as stellar as I hoped. Feed the Flames was medium, but the deck as a whole seemed really promising. I played a slightly less tuned version of the deck in the 5shards weekly on the 5th and even though the bugs of the tournament coupled with my slow connection meant I never got to connect to use my reserves or play game 2’s after the first round, I still crushed most opposition and made it to the top 8.
To Phoenix or Not To Phoenix
One of my friends suggested I add some Sunsoul Phoenixes to the deck and kindly lent them to me. Some games revealed that the Phoenix was powerful but not ultimately the sort of effect I felt the deck was looking for. Even though I don’t think I lost a match with Phoenixes in the deck, and they had synergy with several parts of it, they didn’t feel right.
Part of the reason I thought the deck was so good was not only was it able to out value every other deck I had ran into, it also had aggressive draws involving Warpsteel Shardsworn backed up by removal and Lazgar’s Vengeance that sometimes won the game before all of the high value cards kicked in. I thought it was pretty unfair that I sometimes became the aggressor against decks like Angus and Josephina, using my Lazgar’s Vengeance aggressively and still had draw threes and Heart of Embers in case they started stabilizing. This foreshadowed events to come.
I played a good amount on ladder both with and without the Phoenix, and was constantly impressed by the power of Morgan McBombus cards. I felt like I had a great version of Morgan McBombus, but even people with what I considered worse versions of McBombus decks were doing really well with them. This made me want to skew my deck and my reserves to beat other McBombus decks and I decided that Typhoon Skyshaper was one of the absolute best cards in the mirror. It is large, quick, and flies, so it blocks Bumblebots, and potential Flickering Gobblers and Sunsoul Phoenixes, has 5 points of defense so it survives a Lazgar’s Vengeance, has a cost of 6 even though it only costs 4 to play, so you get a 5 off of a Transmogrifade, and is a troop in a matchup where you want Reginald’s Riposte and Stifling Sting as your interrupts to deal with card draw and Lazgar’s Vengeance, so it is often very difficult to answer cleanly. One of my final changes to the deck was to add two extra Skyshapers to the reserves for sapphire based decks, but Morgan McBombus mirrors in particular. I also was wondering if I should also add some copies of Halt to my reserves in addition to the Fire in the Holes case my opponents also figured out that Skyshaper is the best, but decided the time was not yet right to go that deep metagaming for the mirror.
“I never won so much or felt the deck I was playing was so powerful at any time previously in my life, in any TCG.”
I felt that the deck was extremely good, was really excited to play it in the CCS, and felt confident with pretty much every deck building decision that went into the main deck and the reserves. I never won so much or felt the deck I was playing was so powerful at any time previously in my life, in any TCG. I though the deck was so good, I went to build a Warpsteel Shardsworn + Consult the Talon McBombus deck in Immortal. Because of the existence of extremely fast decks like Angus, Hideous Conversion, and Titania’s Majesty, I didn’t want to durdle around with Heart of Embers or other more expensive threats. I wanted to be able to put a huge amount of pressure on my opponent early so a single piece of interaction will likely buy enough time to get them dead. Luckily, I had really positive experiences with Warpsteel Shardsworn beatdown in Standard, had some Sunsoul Phoenixes on loan, and a history playing Flickering Gobbler and Combat Training. I built the deck and it looked extremely powerful, but the most interesting aspect of that experience was the only non-Standard legal cards I was playing were Burn and Shard of Innovation.
I played a single match with the deck where I smacked around a Titania’s Majesty player and immediately knew what I had to do. If I found a deck capable of hanging with the big dogs in Immortal that was all but Standard legal, I had to play it. I replaced the Burns with Cremates, the slow shards with standard resources, slightly modified the reserves, and I had a deck.
Back When I first came across Sunsoul Phoenix, I thought I had found a broken card. All you have to do is play three actions and you get to play a free 4/2 speed flight that can resurrect itself? That is insane! It turned out there wasn’t quite enough support for the Phoenix to reach its full potential until Scars of War. It saw some play alongside valor generation in Rw Valor with Herofall, but that deck was more using it as an enabler for Visage of the Masquerade, rather than being the payoff card. Consult the Talon changes everything for Phoenix, and it is a good thing they are SS and RR respectively or else the combination would be a little too easy and a little too good. Consult is not only another 1 cost action, it is a 1 cost action that draws more cards, finding more Phoenixes, cheap actions to enable them as free, and actions to resurrect Phoenixes in the future. Not only that, wasting spells to play an early Phoenix is a lot more appealing when you can reload your hand with a Consult. This pairing is extremely powerful and I expect to be a mainstay of Hex’s constructed formats (both Standard and Immortal) for as long as they are legal.
I found the concept a couple days before the CCS and was crushing everything with it. I thought the deck was insane and I was easily going to top 8 the CCS. I was wrong. For starters, I wasn’t playing enough shards and my main deck wasn’t geared to fight the variety of aggressive decks I thought I could easily race. I was playing two less shards, the full 8 draw threes in the main deck, less removal and more cards that weren’t stellar on the defensive (the fourth Combat Training and the third Flickering Gobbler).
My suboptimal build, as powerful as it could be, had too high of a fail rate and I lost a bunch of games in the CCS due to too many unkeepable and nonfunctional hands, and then I bugged out in round 6 at 3-2 which ended my tournament. I have since updated my list and arrived at the above, which I think is extremely powerful.
I played a version of the list (where I fixed the too many draw threes problem but not the too few shards problem) in the bug test tournament and won every round except my match against Kami, where I had a pair of nonfunctional hands. That was the final straw and how I ended up with the version above.
I thought I had done it, that I had built the ultimate McBombus deck, capable of outracing or outgrinding anything, but there was still more that could be improved. At the very beginning of the format, Androod suggested playing Warpsteel Shardsworn alongside Blamsmith to enable Scrios Limestone as additional threshold fixing.
I tried a Heart of Embers build with that package, but was unimpressed and almost forgot the idea. However, after randomly generating enough Depth Crawlers with the Minor Sapphire of Wit and attacking with 4/4 and 5/5 Depth Crawlers, I thought that maybe having Blamsmith make a Valor and Warpsteel Shardsworn have Minor Sapphire of Wit wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
It may look awkward to be playing the racial shard with only 8 dwarves, but trust me, the threshold consistency is definitely higher with the dwarf package. The deck really wants to hit SS for Consult and RR for Phoenix and Vengeance on curve, and having 8 dual shards helps immensely. Blamsmith is really easy to Scrounge because of Seer, Shardsworn, and the charge power, but is also invaluable as another proactive turn 2 play to help enable Vengeance and Consult.
The reserves have extra removal for matchups where it lines up well, Psychic Ascension and Buzztech Innovator as go over the top cards, the rest of the draw threes are for grind matchups, Trashmute is mainly for the socket deck, Riposte is for Sapphire and Vengeance decks, and Sting is for Sapphire and Vampire decks. The main cards that get cut are Lanupaw’s Sight against aggressive decks, removal where it lines up poorly, and Combat Training when you need something to go. Shaving a Thunderfield Seer is also fine in the attrition based matchups when you are trying to fit in your trump cards, but never cut a dwarf because the dwarf count is questionably low as it is.
I tried a lot of Morgan McBombus decks with the release of Scars of War. My win rate is higher than it has ever been, even when I was working with less optimal lists. I didn’t want to share my journey until I felt I had solved Sunsoul Phoenix and the inconsistency problems of wanting RR and SS early, but I am confident that I have finally done it. I will probably go back to working on the bigger McBombus deck with Heart of Embers and Typhoon Skyshaper as the flying quick coyotle seems well positioned to deal with opposing Phoenixes, if they get popular.
The lesson I learned? There is always more brewing to be done with my favorite shard pair and champion, RS Morgan McBombus.