In part 1 of our Primal Dawn Limited Archetype series we looked at the B/R Yotul Mogak_ archetype whose strategy focused on 1) early threats 2) removal to cleave the way 3) finish things up with cards that do not need to attack to deal damage. Today’s archetype takes a totally different approach but can be just as effective – please give a warm round of applause to Ms. Fiona Honeyfinch.

Archetype Name: D/S Fiona Honeyfinch


Power Level: Tier 1

Archetype Strategy: Don’t let the name of the archetype intimidate you – this is actually quite a simple Flight based deck that tries to race opponents in the sky. We have some defense heavy ground blockers and we play and swing with as many Flight troops as we have with the occasional trick/removal/tempo cards helping us in the race. That’s really all there is to it.

I mentioned back in my “Final Look At Armies of Myth” column that the D/S Flight archetype in the 3-3-3 format was a sleeper and now with the arrival of Set 4 and the slew of new quality Flight troops at our disposal, it has elevated into Tier 1 status.

Key Commons: Unlike some of the other shards, Diamond & Sapphire don’t have a ton of quality removal options. For this reason your success with this archetype might very well rest on the number of Totem Trap you have managed to snag up. If you’re in the unfortunate position of not seeing any, you will have to pick up and play a Quell or two. Sapphire Infusion Device is also something you should consider, especially if you have a few of those double Sapphire threshold troops in your deck.

TotemTrap

In terms of Flight troops we’re looking for things like Whirlwind Scout, Duskwing Shepherd, Cyclone Rider, Runeweb Cultivator, Cheery Songbird and Wakuna Brave. Canyon Runner with MinS Sky gem is just as good if not better than all of those and becomes even better when you haven’t actually managed to fill out your deck with Flight troops.

Staying in the shadow of the flyers but just as important to achieving your goals are the early ground blockers. The most key among these is Cloudspeaker which is surprisingly good at both blocking the plethora of 3 attack two or three drops in the format as well as giving a significant buff to one of your Flight troops.


Another good option is Adamanthian Captain who can serve multiple roles and ultimately becomes big enough to handle even the biggest of threats. Solemn Cryptguard is not as flexible as the Captain but can be an acceptable curve topper as well (especially when you can shift his Defensive ability on our Cloudspeaker) if you lack 5 or 6 drops. Pale Harvester and Startouched Watcher are less attractive but still capable options in these roles.

Risen Lancer and Runeweb Weaver are not our top choices but if you happen to fail at going the whole ‘Flight’ route they can still help along somewhat towards a tempo beatdown plan.

Shield Bash is a nice trick you should make room for both as a way to get past an annoying defensive troop and potentially get one of your key troop out of harm’s way. Time Flux can be a nice multi-purpose trick as well.

Key Uncommons: Once again Hex Ent makes it easy for us to know which of the uncommons we should be chasing in this archetype: take the one matching your threshold! Yes, Spellstone Gargoyle is exactly the card we want and it should get out of hand quick unless your opponent finds an answer to it. The fact that it doesn’t even need other Flight troops to keep on growing makes it an easy first pick in this archetype.


Stern Infinitor is nearly as good for its flexibility in giving you early damage and then passing on any of its abilities to help you adjust to the board state. If you’re in the gambling mood and have a sense that you’re the only one in the D/S archetype you can even pick this above the Spellstone Gargoyle which has a higher chance to wheel.

You probably can’t afford more than one or two, but Chilltail Guide is insanely good for what it does as a big Flight body that also gives you a few Chill that can make the difference in close races.

Another great card that you don’t want more than two of is Airvolution who’ll buff your Flight troops and probably even turn your Cloudspeaker into a 1/5 with Flight.

MackerelMitts

We mentioned before how removal was a problem and Mackerel Mitts helps us in this respect with the ability to severely hamper our opponent’s attackers. It also forces them to play around it in games 2 or 3 if they see you with unused resources.

Shadestalker and Pious Paladin don’t really fit our archetype but are still great cards that you’ll make room for in your decks.

Prestidigitator, Midnight Spiritualist, and Mesa Totemist, are all fine cards as well but don’t aid our archetype as much as it does others and aren’t as universally good as the two mentioned above.

Your deck should have enough troops with Flight so Moonwarden shouldn’t be a necessity and while Inventive Saboteur is another nice Flight troop – especially off the reserves against Elves – it isn’t really better than Runeweb Cultivator so draft it accordingly.

Tricky Cards: Force of the Tomb is one of those cards that is borderline playable in this archetype and so it’s hard to rate it one way or another. If for example you have a few Cloudspeaker but didn’t manage to pick up enough Flight troops, then this card becomes a pretty good alternative.

The Hatchery Malvoker / Azure Fang Decree ‘combo’ is one many Sapphire decks outside of the core B/S Spiders try to incorporate but it really doesn’t fit with what we’re trying to do.

PrairieTrapper

Prairie Trapper is something I’ve been criticized for rating too low but unless your deck is stacked with Coyotle troops from top to bottom, it’s something I would try to avoid. It’s expensive, situational and doesn’t even deal with annoying blockers.

Pack 3 Highlights: Since Diamond & Sapphire hard removal is severely lacking in Set 4, you’ll want to pick up cards like Incubation Webs, Pride’s Fall and Cripple as high as first picks when pack 3 rolls around.

Alternatively, it might also be helpful picking up tempo generators like Throwback or Entangling Webs.

Windspeaker is an excellent card in these shards and also worthy of a top pick. Brightmoon Brave is a late pick but a one drop that could make your deck as an early blocker and something that buffs your Flight troops.

Nothing else that really deserves special mention with the arrival of Set 4 – you may want to look at the Diamond and Sapphire ratings for the Set 3 cards to refresh your memory.

Sample Deck Composition (From Actual Draft):

dsfionahoneyfinch

Conclusion: Diamond Sapphire Fiona Honeyfinch archetype is a simple archetype to draft and play but yet quite powerful. You don’t even need to use Fiona Honeyfinch_ to be effective as any of the champions in your shards will do, with Dreaming Fox_ or Knightsbane Ovo_ serving as solid alternatives. Playing this deck or against this deck is all about tempo – if you get behind and you lack removal, you’ll have an uphill climb to race. Otherwise this is a very potent archetype that can beat anything including the much feared B/S Spiders.

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Bootlace
As a decade long MTGO player, Bootlace made the permanent switch to Hex in 2013 when he realized it was the future of digital TCGs. He beat out nearly 300 competitors in the largest Invitational Qualifier tournament yet and earned his spot in the first major tournament for Hex: Shards of Fate. He writes on just about every topic, with a focus on the limited side of the game.

7 COMMENTS

  1. From my experience this archtype (like most in this format IMO) don’t really need Fiona as the champion. And yes, you’ve mentioned that, but what is really important in that fact is that you can easily splash any other shard through Uzzu. I’ve played this archetype with success splashing ruby or blood for removal (and possibly some other single threashold bomb that happens along). This flexibility makes for a lot more consistent decks. I don’t even use the splashed shards, just rely on Uzzu for it.

    • That’s a good point. I’ve not mentioned Uzzu to this point since it can technically be played in all archetypes except Yotul Mogak but this one is probably most in need of such splashing for removal.

      • Yeah, that’s what I mean. I find myself playing 3 shards more often then anything else. Splashing some removal, evasion or bomb with Uzzu is just so easy, it’s hard to pass up. I even drafted a R/B aggro, that ended up running Uzzu instead of Yotul for Totem Trap, Houndmaster and Pyresoul Summoner. Lost 2-1 in the final of comp draft with it. That was a pretty specific situation as I didn’t have much direct dmg (4 cards, not counting the totem trap), so it didn’t really warrent Yotul, but the splash increased my decks power immensly.

        Other then the R/B aggro or Spiders I can’t really think of a champion that would be really important to it’s archtype, which makes Uzzu enabled splashed decks pretty much defining the meta. BTW: I eagerly await your opinion on Spiders. Hopeing somebode other then me will diss the archtype in the current meta 🙂

        • Yea I was doing the same in most of the Evo Gauntlets I was doing but I don’t like having to wait until turn 4/5 to use my removal in draft where aggro decks can be pretty quick (think of something like Deathmask Assailant + Seeing Red). Will have to do some more testing to see how viable Uzzu is in all of the different archetypes in comp draft. Honestly if what you say is true, it’s pretty bad design from HxE’s part.

          • I’ve done ~20 drafts now, though Im really new to Hex, I have quite extensive, even if outdated MTG background. Most of those drafts I played Uzzu, becouse it was a question of do I want a top tier removal/bomb instead of my worst cards or some not really significant ability. Have in mind that changing your champion to Uzzu doesn’t slow the rest of your deck. Against a start you’re describing would a turn 7 Oracle Song, Gigantasaur or even Fiona’s ability make any diffrence? On the other hand if you’re on the play, that Deathmask Assailant will be able to get in only once before your splashed removal get’s on-line. And that does make a huge diffrence.

            The meta-defining part lies in the drafting though. There were times I’ve switched shards midway through 2nd pack, leaving the originally drafted shard as a splash. That also made me reasses double threashold cards to a bit lower then I originally though about them. What this entails and what as I understand you’ve been reffering to as bad desing is it compleatly messes up signals, makeing it really hard to find your shards. I get it that they wanted to make rainbow viable, but Uzzu should get a nerf – i.e. needing to have 5 diffrent sharded cards in your deck or the ability requireing 3 diffrent threasholds (no matter what kind). That would still make rainbow possible, while eliminating Uzzu as a spalsh-enabler.

  2. I agree, Fiona isn’t that great of a champion. She will buy you a couple turns against spiders and maybe 1 turn against any other deck but playing Uzzu and a splash is often the better route, especially if you are heavy D or S with a minority of the other and a similarly small splash in a third. This is one deck that works fine regardless of the hero power so Uzzu and a 3rd color is often the best choice.

  3. Fiona is more of the champion u want if your evasion deck is just average or simply slow with few early blockers. It can and will make the difference. But i totally agree with what u guys said above. This archetype has alot of champions to choose from.

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