Fansite Card Roundup – Round 1/October 1

Hey all, so Hex is showing off more preview cards leading up to the big release of alpha next week. Since I’m essentially out of ideas, I’ll just do the leg work of showing off new cards.

First up is a Sapphire card released on Hex TCG Pro, perfect for your dwarf machinations.  Behold, the Gearsmith:

Gearsmith-215x300

Check out the Hex TCG Pro site for their write up on it, and to see what his equipment for PvE looks like. Personally, I think this is a key card for looking at building artifact based dwarf decks. Though a bit random, he can be a godsend if you are looking for artifacts? Why? For starters if you look at the top 3 cards and there are no artifacts, you can just put them on the bottom, getting you closer to the artifact you need. Secondly, you can get a free card draw (card advantage) plus lower the cost of whatever artifact you happen to draw (card efficiency). There are already some quite efficient/beastly artifacts out there.

I wouldn’t mind putting this guy out there early:

Okay, next card is up at The Hex Vault. This card, I’m not so sure about. It’s good for threshold fixing in dual + ruby decks. Plus one turn mana burst, at the expense of card advantage. Very ruby in flavor, behold, Crimson Clarity:

CrimsonClarity

Colin has a good write up about it, and I don’t have much to add. It seems okay.

With that, I’ll keep adding links as I come across them. Bye!

Hex: Shards of Fate Alpha is coming!

Okay, hey all. Not a major update, just posting to say I am alive. I don’t have much input at the moment. I think I burned myself coming up with the deck reviews before GenCon. It was great writing those because they were known elements with a distinct meta to analyze. Now for the moment, I’m just gonna sit back and lick my chops waiting for the Alpha – which is looking like it will be released October 8th! Well, they are going to stagger the release, so if you chipped in for a Grand King and up, then you’ll likely get in then. Those with lower pledges (myself included) will have to wait an undetermined amount of time.

Anyway, you can check out the announcement on the Hex Kickstarter page, or learn about how alpha will work on the Hex main site. Two links coming at you:

Bam! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cze/hex-mmo-trading-card-game/posts

Bam! Bam! http://hextcg.com/alpha-and-you/

Finally, have you guys seen this uncommon? How insane would this be for limited? Definitely a reason to at least splash Blue:

 Phoenix Guard Trainer

What Deck Should I Play? – Gen Con 2013 Special Edition – The Answer

Here we are, the final installment in the Gen Con deck series. We’ve gone over all 8 decks, examining their strengths and weaknesses. Now it’s time to look at them in comparison with each other, and make some conclusions on which decks are the best, and which are the worst.

When I examine decks, I try to evaluate them on three key competencies: consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Consistency deals whether your deck can overcome the random nature of the game and provide a consistent performance across games. Key factors for this competency are an appropriate resource base, card draw, and multiples of cards.

Efficiency deals with whether the cards in your deck are the most efficient they can be given the strategy of the deck. Key factors are whether the cards in your deck provide card advantage, are efficient for their resource cost (card value), and whether your cost curve is appropriate.

Effectiveness deals with how the makeup of your deck effectively works against other decks (can it win, can it beat the meta). Key factors include whether answers for format defining cards are included, does the deck have a strategy that will win games in the meta, are the cards included of sufficient card power.

Now, if you go back through the other articles you might notice that I brought up certain issues such as removal or card draw, and see how that can relate to the competencies above. I would like to say what follows is based on a careful evaluation of each of these factors for all the decks, but since I have had no time to test, I can only go off of my intuition (and a few test draws) to make my comparisons. In the end, I decided just to pair up each deck and see what I felt the win percentage would be for each combination. I then averaged the likely win percentages for each combination (assuming that you are equally likely to face any of the decks) to get an overall score. If you are interested, I can show you my work, but let’s just see what my final results were:

1 Ruby 66%
2 Diamond/Ruby 59%
3 Blood/Ruby 57%
4 Diamond 54%
5 Blood/Wild 50%
6 Sapphire F 44%
7 Blood 40%
8 Sapphire A 28%

So ultimately, I feel that mono Ruby is by far the strongest deck. It is the most aggressive, has burst damage and removal, and has I feel is the most consistent and efficient. The Diamond/Ruby and Blood/Ruby decks I also felt were very strong, with Diamond/Ruby being perhaps the most effective of the decks, but the way the resource bases are made seem to detract too much from consistency to make them the top. I also feel mono-Diamond can be a strong contender, but the more aggressive decks are likely to be the winners of the day.

As for the losers, I don’t think it is a surprise to anyone that the Sapphire artifact deck is the big loser. There just is not enough protection from troops to ensure that your final objective of building awesome doomsday machines will be met. The other Sapphire deck being all flyers has its appeal, but the troop size to cost ratio is just not efficient enough. The blood decks don’t have enough aggressive troops and rely on drawing key troops to carry the deck, so I feel they may be hurting in consistency and in effectiveness.

I would like at some point to test these decks and see what the actual match-ups are like. But, what do you think? Do you think my conclusions are wrong, do you feel that a certain deck is better? Cast your vote in the poll below. And for those who attend, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on how the actual decks played out, and how you liked the game! I hope you enjoyed this series, and if you did, please let me know!

What Deck Should I Play – Gen Con 2013 Special Edition – Sapphire (Flight)

Check out the other articles in this series: BloodBlood/WildDiamondDiamond/RubyRubyBlood/RubySapphire (Artifact)Sapphire (Flight)

The second deck I’ll be introducing today, and the final deck in this series, is the mono-Sapphire deck spoiled in last Friday’s Twitch Tv livestream. You can find the full list of spoiled decks here: http://hextcg.com/gen-con-decklists/ ,  or a copy of the deck built in the Hex TCG Browser database here: http://hex.tcgbrowser.com/#!/deck=165

Unlike the other artifact based Sapphire deck, this deck is based around the use of troops. Unlike the other troop decks, the majority of troops in this deck make use of a very nice keyword, Flight. Apart from a small smattering in other decks, hardly any other troops at Gen Con outside of this deck will have flight. Why is this important? Your troops can attack directly at opposing champions with impunity, while still giving you the ability to defend against theirs. You might call this a bit one-sided, and that might be a fair assumption. But let’s take a close look at what kind of troops you have.

Of the troops with Flight natively (Thunderbird, Phoenix Guard Scout, Flock of Seagulls, Cloud Titan), it appears you pay a 1 attack, 1 health, and 1 cost penalty on average for the benefits of flight. Two of the cards I would especially like to mention are Thunderbird and Flock of Seagulls. Thunderbird has the Rage keyword (which we discussed a bit in the Blood/Ruby deck) and combined with flight makes it a pretty vicious way of slowly but surely dishing out ever increasing amounts of damage. Unanswered, it can deal 20 damage on its own with just 5 attacks. Flock of Seagulls is one of the best blockers in the game. It doesn’t matter how large an opposing troop is, it can jump in front of it and stick around to block again.

Supporting your air crew is the constant: Air Superiority. Give every troop with flight +1/+1 will help put your troops back on curve for Attack/Health. It also works well with your champion charge power, which just happens to give a target troop flight. The action Sapphire Aura also boosts a troop by +1/+1 and grants flight, which results in an additional +1/+1.  As for actions, Stormcall can be useful in stalling your opponent one turn, allowing your massively pumped host of fliers to finish the game.

As for your ground crew, we have some interesting and impressive cards to supplement your fliers. The Ancestor’s Chosen has a way to pump your deck full of 1 cost, 2/2 flying Ancestral Specters that let you draw a card when they enter play. At 1 cost, the Ancestor’s Chosen can prove to be very effective in getting you lots of cheaply costed troops if played on the first turn. At 3 cost, the Buccaneer can return that expensive troop your opponent just played back to his hand increasing its cost, potentially making it to costly for them to play again until they draw a resource. With a 2/2 body he can also block and trade with your opponents troops, buying even more time for your fliers to finish off your opponent’s champion. Finally, Wizard of the Talon provides two troops for the price of one, and his Owl buddy can start pumping him into a strong and powerful finishing troop.

However, as you might have noticed, all of these troops tend to lack health for their cost. Your troops will almost always be outclassed (apart from their flying/unblockable nature), so blocking will almost always in you losing a troop. Removal is non-existent, though you do have Countermagic to potentially stop a dangerous card coming into play. Your troops also tend to have lower attack values, so in a race for damage, you might be on the losing end. Finally, apart from the spirits, there are no other ways to draw cards.

In summary, this deck’s strengths are:

  • Flight!
  • Boosts to fliers
  • Cheap 1 cost fliers

(okay so its kind of 1 note)

As for weaknesses:

  • No removal
  • Low attack/health troops
  • Lack of card draw

So that’s it, the last deck! Come back tomorrow, and I will do a round-up, with my predictions for what the most likely strong performers, and weak performers will be. See you then.

What Deck Should I Play – Gen Con 2013 Special Edition – Sapphire (Artifact) Deck

Check out the other articles in this series: BloodBlood/WildDiamond,Diamond/RubyRubyBlood/RubySapphire (Artifact)Sapphire (Flight)

Here we are, nearing the home stretch. Today we will be looking at the final two decks available for play at Gen Con this week. First up is the initially spoiled mono-Sapphire artifact deck. As always you can see all 8 of the spoiled deck lists here:  http://hextcg.com/gen-con-decklists/

I have also created the deck on Hex TCG Browser so it’s a bit easier on the eyes, so check it out here: http://hex.tcgbrowser.com/#!/deck=165

Okay, so when you first give the deck a once over, you might notice that this deck runs much lighter on troops than other decks, with only 17 troops in total. It is, however, the only deck running artifacts, and quite a large number of them: 25! (Some of these are artifact troops, but we’ll ignore that for now).  As you might have guessed from this fact and the naming, this deck has a core theme revolving around artifacts. Which in a way, is nice for variety reasons and for certain gameplay reasons as well, namely that no other deck besides this one has a way to deal with opposing artifacts.

So let’s get into the details on how this deck works. Unlike the other decks where the troops are designed to do most of the fighting, this deck is focused on building mega-structures to blow apart opposing champions. So what fun cards might these be, you ask? How about a floating orb of total destruction, which just so happens to have the type indicator of “Doomsday Device”. Yes, Argus, Herald of Doom is available to you to start voiding every troop, constant, and artifact in sight. This is the most powerful removal card available at Gen Con and the only one that can affect something other than troops, which perhaps justifies its massive cost. The other main source of damage you will have at your disposal is the Volcannon. You’ll need to have some of your minions in play to activate it, but when you have enough you can lob multiple cannon volleys over opposing troops’ heads right into the champion.

Both the Volcannon and Argus are going to be your key cards for dealing damage, but in order to get them into play and make effective use of them, you’ll need a support team of helpful bots and dwarves to setup the necessary infrastructure.  One of these key support cards is the Technical Genius, who with three health will be there to run interference between your champion and enemy troops, but also allow you to lay down your infrastructure faster by lowering the cost of artifacts by 1 cost.  You also have Researcher Adept and Research Librarian to help fill your hand with more cards.

Finally, since your deck tends to work much better if you have lots of artifacts, there is one grand construction available that can help spit out one or more new artifacts each turn. Construction Plans: Inspiration Engine requires that you have dwarves and artifact troops around to build, but once ready you can start pumping out potentially very powerful artifacts (randomly) each turn. You have Worker Bot Factor at your disposal to start making worker bots, helped along by the charge bot + your hero charge power to potentially start pumping worker bots fast and early. Dwarven Turbine will allow you to get double usage out of many of your artifacts for the low price of 1 cost, so it’s nice to have this set down as well.

While it is fun to build up cool machines, this deck does struggle with not having many effective battle-ready troops. In particular, your dwarves need to stick around to keep the engines running, so you have to rely a bit on having worker bots to jump in front of massive troops. You will very likely be taking lots of damage in the early game.  While Argus is a pretty great tool of removal, the amount of early game removal you have is limited to your Sapper’s Charges, which (thanks to a balance change) you can use on your opponents turn now. However, at 2 damage for 3 cost, it’s still not the best. It will also be a challenge to set up your board perfectly, and small mistakes will be punished harshly by your opponent.

  • So overall, the strengths of this deck are:
  • Not as affected by opposing removal
  • Finishers that are hard to deal with

Decent card draw and was to ramp artifacts

As for weaknesses:

  • Not many ways to deal with early troops
  • Highly susceptible to rush damage
  • Difficult to play

So that finishes this deck, click the following link to check out the other mono-Sapphire deck I’ll review today.

What Deck Should I Play – Gen Con 2013 Special Edition – Blood/Ruby Deck

Check out the other articles in this series: BloodBlood/WildDiamond,Diamond/RubyRubyBlood/RubySapphire (Artifact)Sapphire (Flight)

On to deck number 2, the Blood/Ruby deck. For all the deck lists check the Hex official site here: http://hextcg.com/gen-con-decklists/

For the Hex TCG Browser version (witch is probably easier to read) you can find this deck here: http://hex.tcgbrowser.com/#!/deck=157

So this is another theme deck, which you can actually see in play via Friday’s Twitch live stream, and you may or may not know it is based on Orcs! I have already discussed a different orc deck I made based on earlier spoiled cards, and the way the deck runs is fairly similar… however they have balanced some of the older cards so it’s not quite the same. To summarize it quickly though, Orcs are aggressive and long to fight and die in glorious battle. This deck is yet another aggressive deck made available for Gen Con, but relies on some new keywords you haven’t seen in the other decks.

The first of these keywords is Speed, which allows your troops to attack the turn they enter play. I have seen some people debate as to whether speed is a useful keyword or not, but in a deck that is designed to front load damage as much as possible, I would argue that Speed is in fact very useful. Cards that immediately impact the game state can be effective in that your opponent won’t likely have enough resources or troops to respond appropriately, allowing you to get value from the card. You can actually see in the final game of the Twitch stream how a troop with speed allowed its owner to win a game. In this orc deck Furious Taskmaster has the ability to make every single troop in your deck have Speed, and plays a key role in starting your deck’s engine.

The other keyword that drives this deck is Rage, which boosts your troops attack stat permanently each time it attacks. The ability to continually drive up your troops attack and dish out more and more pain can keep you winning a damage arms race. Throat Cutter (which is a re-skin of a previously spoiled card Claw of the Mountain God) gives all troops in play Rage 1, which if left unchecked means even your 1 cost Savage raiders can be deadly monsters. Endbringer, a newly spoiled troop, does the same thing but better and with an efficient attack and body. In especially tight match-ups he could give himself and all other troops you have Rage 4 all by himself.

The final card works as a powerful way to create card advantage, while also being an efficiently costed troop on his own: Zoltog. Once he hits the field, your opponent will need to take him out right away or start having to block and making trades with troops, otherwise Zoltog will just produce more orcs who in the next turn can produce more orcs, until you have a horde of orcs that would impress even Sauron. With 4 attack and 4 health however, many of the decks at Gen Con will have trouble removing him from the game.

A weakness of this deck is its somewhat sub-par actions. Burn is okay for early removal, and Ruby Aura could be a decent combat trick in certain situations, but the other decks out there have better options available to them. While the champion charge power will allow you to possibly draw 1 or 2 cards in a game, you are trading off health and you have no other way to draw cards. Finally, as is the situation with the other dual shard decks at Gen Con, there is a chance you could be mana starved for 1 shard and never be able to curve out efficiently.

So in summary, the strengths of this deck are:

  • Troops with immediate impact (Speed)
  • Troops that get larger and meaner (Rage)
  • Insanely powerful finishing troops

It’s weaknesses are:

  • Removal
  • Resource Base
  • Card Draw

So that is it for today, if you haven’t seen my other article released today on the Ruby deck, please check it out. Otherwise, I will be back tomorrow where I go over the two remaining Sapphire decks. See you tomorrow!

What Deck Should I Play? – Gen Con 2013 Special Edition – Ruby Deck

Check out the other articles in this series: BloodBlood/WildDiamond, Diamond/RubyRubyBlood/Ruby, Sapphire (Artifact)Sapphire (Flight)

Okay, we are back from the weekend. On Friday we had new updates and a Twitch stream! Unbeknownst to most of us, the Twitch Stream introduced two other decks making a total of 8 decks you can play at GenCon. I had a nice timetable down, but now there’s two more decks I have to evaluate! So today and tomorrow I will be doing double articles. Today, in addition to the Ruby deck, I’ll be looking at the Blood/Ruby deck as well.  The two new decks have been added on the original deck spoiler page on the Hex official site, so if you haven’t seen them check it out here: http://hextcg.com/gen-con-decklists/

So for the first of today’s decks I am going to discuss the Mono-Ruby deck that takes aggression to the next level. Let’s first look at the deck list, as always I’ve made a deck on Hex TCG Browser, which you can find here: http://hex.tcgbrowser.com/#!/deck=156

Ruby decks like this one are aggressive and designed to front load damage through high attack, low cost troops; then use direct damage actions to finish off the opposing champion’s health. As you can see in the card list there are seven 1-cost troops, ten 2-cost troops, and four 3-cost troops, with the majority being high attack and low health.

This deck works best when you are sending in troops for attack without being blocked. You will want to make efficient use of your direct removal actions like Burn or Ragefire and the troop Bombsmith to deal with early blockers. Your 3 cost Veteran Gladiator can also neutralize the most troublesome blockers on your opponent’s side.

The trick to being effective with this deck is keeping pressure up on the opposing champion’s life total. Ruby Pyromancer and Poca’s charge power in combination work well to do this, since the Blaze Elemental gets boosted attack to deal 4 health on turn 3. This is also where Emberspire Witch plays an integral role in your decks overall strategy. Certain Blood and Diamond decks rely on recovering health through life gain or life drain effects. The Witch’s ability allows her to nullify that strategy completely. Of particular note is that the mono-Diamond deck has no way to destroy her except by blocking or using Repel, so as long as you don’t attack or block when they have 4 open resources, you can stop them from healing indefinitely. Her Swiftstrike keyword also makes it difficult or awkward for your opponent to deal with, so you have better chance of dealing damage with her.

As a final way to pour on the last necessary amounts of damage, you have direct damage actions that can put your opponent on a countdown, Inferno being one of the best tools at your disposal. It does deal damage to you as well, but if your deck has been doing its job correctly the card should be the final nail in your opponent’s coffin. Ragefire which has the ability to Escalate to double its effectiveness each time it is played means that you can also provide some unexpected burst damage if you draw multiple copies.

The negatives of this deck are the same with any type of all-in aggressive front-loading strategy: if you lose gas or the upper hand too early, there is almost no way for you to recover from a disadvantageous state. To start, it has very few ways to deal with high health troops, and you are very unlikely to draw direct removal that can eliminate a 3 health or higher troop. You might have to do unfavorable trades using two of your cards to get one of theirs. There is absolutely no card draw in this deck. Finally, I feel that this deck is perhaps running too many resources than it needs, so you might have some risk of resource flood and not enough playable troops to curve out.

So overall, the strengths:

  • Plentiful and aggressive troops
  • Good direct damage options
  • Ability to shut down certain decks completely

The weaknesses are:

  • Card draw
  • Removal
  • Resource flood

If you want to stick with me, feel free to click this link to jump to today’s other article.