In a few days, we will forever say goodbye to Armies of Myth and Primal Dawn in Standard and welcome the Hex TCG’s eighth set, Dead of Winter. This is as exciting time as any for Enthrath’s card slingers as everyone races to figure out all the fun new cards and decks that will shape the new meta. Join me as I try to guess what the most impactful cards will be while I also highlight some of the fun ones I’m looking forward to messing around with.
Eyes of the Heart
– Some cards’ prospects are hard to evaluate due to how niche they are, but that’s not really the case for Eyes of the Heart
and the universally-desired nature of taking extra turns. Mastery of Time
proved to us already that taking extra turns could be abused both in tempo and combo control decks. And we haven’t even mentioned the ridiculous charge generation text that’s attached to the card. If you have Frostshaper Gorkrog as your champion, you will generate 3 charges every time you play Deathseeker
. Assuming a sacrifice outlet and the Scrounge 4 ability that’s around 20 charges you can generate on your free turn alone!
Shamrock, The Goldfather
– You’ll feel like a true boss playing this card as it sits calmly generating free resources for you and beating down your opponent as early as turn 3. For Immortal fans, Starsphere
could provide some truly nasty setups that’ll leave your opponent in agony. While Diamond/Wild has fallen slightly out of favor in Standard in the last few months, Shamrock’s interaction with Momentum, Fateweave, and ramp will represent an offer deckbuilders just can’t refuse.
– This is the most I’ve been excited for a card in quite a while, and anyone familiar with this type of effect from other games might feel the same way. R/S has long represented the ‘actions matter’ archetype but we’ve never really had a quality payoff for playing many in a single turn (Sunsoul Phoenix
perhaps being the exception). This time we can really go all in on the archetype as the rewards more than justify the risk. The ideal way to set this up seems to be Runic cards heading into a turn where you’ll be able to activate the Speed banner of Haraza the Incinerator_
and going for a one turn kill
and other backup to protect the combo. For a riskier approach you could make use of Mindcall
and theoretically have as many as 4 Spellstorm Titan
out as early as turn 1!
– Heading into the new Standard meta, R/D Haraza decks look to be one of the strongest archetypes around due to only a few of their integral pieces rotating out. Instead of trying to beat the Valor and Socket variations of this archetype, could we perhaps take a more Illuminate-focused approach (as some of the decks were starting to lean towards anyways) and use Pureflame Protector
boosted Candlekin to undercut them and beat them to the punch? It’s not the most meta-breaking approach, but we don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.
– Players are going to be faced with a rather nasty choice as early as turn two, and it could have game deciding implications. If you choose to give them a lazy Mama Yeti
, you might already miss the days of getting beat on by an early Emperor’s Lackey
since at least a Strangle
dealt with that monstrosity. If you think letting them mill 10 cards is the easy choice, pray to Kismet that your opponent doesn’t follow up with a Culmination of Blood
. Either way, this makes B/S mill decks even scarier than before and pushes them to top tier status if they weren’t already there.
– While Lixil, Heartsworn
is the more flashy and potentially powerful card in a long game, Heartsworn Mordrom
seems like it might have more of an impact in your average game. It’s ability to immediately (assuming you have gained an extra charge in a turn prior) swing the board state in your favor by, for example taking your opponent’s Crusader, will give aggressive decks plenty to think about.
Palm of Granite
was a mainstay in many of the Wild decks that stomped the meta. The climate has changed now with ramp payoff cards like Crocosaur
having rotated out, so can a more expensive version like Palm of Granite
still be relevant? It depends on how the rules are interpreted (judge please!). Lady Avalanche allows you to play an extra resource when you activate its champion ability, but will it still be valid if you’ve already played an additional resource that turn (through Palm of Granite
)? If it does work, then you can ramp up to 5 shards that turn (which would mean big things if you play a Mightsinger of Ages
on two). It sounds so good, that I honestly doubt this is possible.
Brink of Madness
– At first sight this may seem to be missing board impact and represent card disadvantage but both of those could prove to be untrue if you manage to snag a playset out of your opponent with hopefully one of the cards still being in your opponent’s hand. This is the first time we’ve had such an easy way to truly remove all copies of any card from the game since other attempts like Curse of Oblivion
still annoyingly left a copy in the crypt which left room for Winter Moon_
or reanimator decks to exploit. This is likely not going to be enough to warrant a maindeck slot, but its mere existence in the reserves might push deck brewers to consider whether they really need 4 copies of any given card in their deck or whether 3 will do. It also puts combo decks that rely on just one key piece on notice.
– Discard and mill are two of the most disruptive things in TCGs and they’ve been conveniently grouped into one neat Escalate package here for us to torment our opponents with. Even if it’s likely not going to be as good as people hope it will, it’s still a card you should be prepared to face.
– Arbiter of Twilight
is a badass card that’s respectable even outside of the Verdict archetype but if there’s one card that’s going to push players towards Verdict it’s Umbral Guard
and its insane ability to stack up damage. Adoni-Zeddek is a champion that allows you to Verdict and Zeddek’s Judgment
potentially allows you to Verdict twice at 0 cost. You can socket Umbral Guard
in a way that it gets +2 attack and if you manage to line this all up that would be 12 damage on a single turn just from the triggers. It’s likely not a top tier strategy, but definitely something for fans of the Rock format to think about.
– These artifact cards that multiply themselves (eg. Pocket Army
) have become a sort of a trend, but they never seem to be able to become a relevant part of the meta. I’m hoping Replipopper
4000 can break that streak and make its mark. Ideally we want to be getting a keyword that allows it to connect at least once, so anything from Flight to Lethal to Crush to Swiftstrike could help that happen. The fact that you don’t need to commit any further resources to get this one card combo going means you could instead help it reach the distance and protect your roboarmy.
– Being able to change the game’s core rules is at the heart of what makes TCGs so great, and Nameless Pact
does just that. A mill deck will have plenty of fodder to throw at this thing, and it can serve as an extra resource when your life total starts going down. This can more than double your life total in certain cases and that might just be enough to warrant a space in your deck.
– This card allows for an endless source of actions since every time you play a Rune card it generates another Rune card for you, which keeps the loop going. This won’t result in something impressive like what Psychic Ascension
allows, but the thought of spending an afternoon abusing the PvE with this sounds enticing.
Timophy the Turtle
– Timmmaaayyy is all sorts of wacky, but he does provide a few puzzles begging to be solved. The first is what’s the easiest way to get four copies of a card with the same name and the second is ways to abuse the card copying aspect that he grants upon attacking. If anyone figures this out and builds a competent deck in the process, they’re a true Ninja Turtle.
– As our spoiler of this card
alluded to, there’s a lot of hidden layers to making this card work as optimally as possible. Trying to find all the different ways to abuse this card is going to be quite the journey for all the formats its legal in, and will likely result in completely different decks in Standard, Immortal, and PvE.
– Portals honestly sound like a lot of fun, and Greater Quazarus
looks like the ideal way to enjoy the random hilarity that it offers. A casual format where player decks are just stacked with Legendary Portals and shards sounds like a blast.
Hope you’re looking forward to Dead of Winter as much as I am. Let me know if there is a card you’re particularly excited about.