Dead of Winter is here and alongside hundreds of new cards, it has brought with it a rotation for standard. When so many cards change in a format it leaves a lot of room to be explored in terms of what is viable in a competitive sense. Even once we do have a good idea of what seems to be playable, we still have to work out the details of each decklist.

Today I am going to take a look at a pair of obviously powerful cards that were printed and Dead of Winter and then examine a couple of different shells that can abuse them properly:

While the stats on these cards alone are nothing to write home about for Hex cards, the coins they generate are something we are very much interested in creating decks to leverage:

While the Lucky Coin does not create a charge for our champion power like a standard resource, it still provides resources to use and more importantly fateweaves the top card of our deck. The ability to keep hitting resource drops in the midgame, while ensuring we draw action every turn is extremely powerful. Especially when it is combined with Dead of Winter’s Momentum mechanic.

For those unfamiliar – Momentum rewards you for playing resources. It says “When you play a resource, this gets +[ATK]/+[DEF] equal to the amount of Momentum this has until the start of your next turn. Then, its Momentum increases by 1.”

There are a few different ways to approach a Diamond-Wild deck that leverages the power of the Goldfather and momentum. The first I would like to look at is a ramp based approach that has been putting up strong numbers on the ladder so far:

DW Momentum Ramp

Our Leprechauns are joined by Skylance Captain and Exalted Pathfinder to provide some aggressive draws. Palm of Granite is as powerful as it is punny. Not only does it accelerate us into our top end, but it allows us to play out multiple shards in a turn to build up some crazy momentum. When combined with our champion power we can give a new momentum troop +6/+6 the turn after we play it.

Speaking of top end, of the things this configuration has going for it is a package at the top end that goes over the top of other midrange decks nicely:

While Eldurathan’s Glory might seem awkward in a deck with twelve troops it can exile, remember our troops grow! By playing out our resource before we play Glory, it often ends up being a one sided sweeper against other aggressive decks. This lets us make large attacks on an open board that are often lethal. Eternal Seeker is a card that is not only an answer to problematic cards, but also is an evasive threat. Having Seeker in our deck makes every top deck we have in the late game scary.

These pieces of top end do not come without a cost though. While this deck is doing very powerful things when we curve out from two drop to seven drop, there are a number of games where we have our expensive cards in our opener and are drawing our two drops on turn ten.

This leads me to a more streamlined, low to the ground configuration of momentum:

DW Momentum Aggro

The idea behind this configuration is simple: Why do we need to go big, when we can simply kill our opponent with large momentum troops instead? This deck can push out an insane amount of damage very quickly. Consider the following sequence:

Turn 1: Diamond Shard -> Righteous Waxshot
Turn 2: Wild Shard -> Jubilant Jouster -> Attack with Waxshot for 1 damage, increasing Jouster’s momentum to two.
Turn 3: Diamond Shard -> Palm of Granite -> Champion Power -> Play additional Wild Shard

The first shard played gives both our troops +2/+2. Palm of Granite gives both our troops an additional +3/+3. Our champion power gives one of our troops an additional point of momentum and then the third resource gives one of them +4/+4 and the other +5/+5. For those who have lost count that is +19/+19 in momentum triggers. Plus the base point of attack the Jouster has this is a total swing of 20 damage on turn three.

This deck is not all in on aggressive openers though. While we do not have the scary top end that the ramp focused build contains, The Goldfather and Exalted Pathfinder give us the ability to grind out card advantage against decks that can disrupt our faster starts. Something to keep in mind when we get both Goldfather and Pathfinder in play is that Lucky Coins fateweave and then we draw a card. This means if we need to find some action Lucky Coin can always fatweave a non-resource directly to our hand with Pathfinder.

Speaking of grinding, one of the best ways to catch up to an opponent who is out carding out is to empty out their hand. This aggressive deck gets to leverage a powerful tool for battling control decks out of our reserves:

There is no better feeling than sticking Brosi-Buck when you are ahead on board and your opponent has a grip full of cards to your one or two. He takes all of their best laid plans and throws them in the garbage, while giving both players five fresh cards to work with.

While the format is still shaping up I am wary to give specific reserving notes. This is because opposing decks likely will vary a good deal while people find optimal builds. The following is some more general advice regarding how I have been approaching generic matchups so far.

When I am boarding out cards in most matchups my go to cut is Jubilant Jouster. While it is a fine additional threat game one, we can often upgrade it for more specifically powerful cards post reserves.

Against other aggressive decks we want to be more reactive on the draw and more aggressive on the play. Bringing in additional removal in the form of Winter’s Grasp let’s us often trade up on tempo making it easier to break serve. On the play less is more and we want to simply execute our primary game plan. Against Ruby aggressive decks I like to switch our Brighthammer Adepts from Fateweave to Blightblossom gems post reserves as well so they can block twice in the early game.

Against more controlling decks my go to trim is Palm of Granite. While this card enables some explosive starts, it is not a threat on its own to help us grind through removal. In addition to Brosi-Buck we also have Merry Caravan to bring in to help us grind people out. If you expect Darkheart or constants bring in the Chompknights as well – again cutting the Jousters to make additional space. If our opponent is heavy on Blood removal I again like switching Brighthammer Adepts to Blightblossom.

Gameplay Videos

If you want to see an iteration of the ramp version of momentum in action check out this archive:

If you would like to see an iteration of the aggressive version of momentum in action check out this archive:

Wrapping Up

While it is still pretty early in this standard format, I would be surprised if these momentum decks do not have staying power. They are doing something that is objectively powerful and also a lot of fun! They have a lot of sequencing decisions, while also offering avenues for winning games that go longer. If you are looking for something aggressive to play in standard with Dead of Winter’s release I would highly recommend giving one of these momentum decks a try.

Jeff is a professional gamer who enjoys the competitive aspects of HEX: Shards of Fate. Constructed is his preferred format and he is always looking for that new piece of technology to give him a leg up on the competition.


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