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Deconstructing Highlander



Over the weekend, I participated in a streamer-sponsored Highlander tournament. Once a month, Cirouss, InfamousNeo, and MythicFishmom host a tournament for their subscribers. You only have to subscribe to one of the three streamers and you can participate in the tournament. For the month of November, the format was highlander and first place included an AA Living Totem, a primal pack, and four boosters.  Everyone in the top 8 walked away with something. First place having a huge payout (roughly 8000p) made the tournament tempting as the EV of just subbing to one streamer ($5) and treating the subscription like a tournament entry fee seemed reasonable.  By the time the tournament started, only 18 people had registered and the tournament seemed like an amazing deal overall.  This introduction is all just to say that if you have been hesitant to subscribe to your favorite streamer, this is a clear benefit to do so. The December tournament will be for the Master Theorycrafter AA and the format is tribal.

 

I have not played a highlander game of Hex before this tournament; the highlander format allows you only one copy of any given card, including Shards of Fate, but excluding basic resources.  Given my lack of experience, but extensive knowledge of standard constructed, I figured a good deck to base my deck on would either mono-sapphire servant (see Frey’s deck in this list) or diamond/sapphire servant (see Wurtil’s deck here).  Both of these decks have shown some power in constructed previously.  The biggest problem in highlander is the lack of consistency, so in constructing a deck, you want approximate substitutes to fill out your curve as well as having either filter or general card draw to overcome the highly variant nature of the format.  Given this, both sapphire and blood are strong base choices. I elected to go with a diamond-sapphire to combine variance reduction with removal/control as well as a few utility troops. I played maybe three games against the AI, fine tuned the deck a bit, and ended up with:

 

Hero: Wyatt, the Sapper

Sapphire Shard x13
Diamond Shard x12
Shards of Fate
Sapper’s Charge
Servant of Shathak
The Ancestor’s Chosen
Chaos Key
Thunderbird
Flock of Seagulls
Cerulean Mirror Knight
Peek
Time Ripple
Living Totem
Protectorate Defender
Soul Marble
Repel
Buccaneer
Cerulean Mentalist
Oracle Song
Counter Magic
Mesmerize
Spearcliff Cloud Knight
Princess Victoria
Solitary Exile
Inner Conflict
Secret Laboratory
Eldritch Dreamer
Splinter of Azathoth
Archmage Wrenlocke
Menacing Gralk
Mastery of Time
Yesterday
Angel of Dawn
Bird o’ Plenty
Judgement
Storm Colossus
Argus, Herald of Doom

 

The dream, of course, is to get a turn one Ancestor’s Chosen and ride it to victory, but there are plenty of other routes to get to where you need to; this is good given that the Ancestor’s Chosen drop on turn one will only happen 11.67% of the time.  An opening hand with Chosen, Servant, Thunderbird, Mirror Knight, Princess Victoria, Totem, Argus or Soul Marble enables early play or counter-play versus aggressive decks.  The deck has two modes based on your starting hand. If you get some of the above mentioned cards, you can play an aggressive, tempo build and aim to win early. If you do not get a few of the above, then you are likely to have much more early and midgame control and you play to have a dominating board position while dealing with their threats.

 

26 resources is likely a mistake here.  Given how little time I spent constructing the deck, I neglected to remember that I had a Shards of Fate in my deck and assumed that I just had 25.  So, if you are in a similar situation, you can cut a basic resource.  The cards worth cutting in the current build are: Shards of Fate, Flock of Seagulls, and Protectorate Defender. The defender is usually on the weak side unless you can give him support.  He carried his weight in my matches, however. A few worthy inclusions include: Droo’s, Kraken Guard Mariner, and Eternal Guardian. I caution against stacking your deck with too many late game bombs (Resurrection and King Gabriel as well), as you do not want too many of these cards early game.

On the battlefield, I saw two blood/sapphire, two blood/diamond, and a single ruby/wild.  Blood is clearly a strong choice, but the versatility of this deck allowed me to go 5-0 and pick up the grand prize.

Michael Allen is a competitive HexTCG player, co-host of the 2 Turns Ahead podcast, and founder and moderator of the Hex Subreddit.

2 Comments on Deconstructing Highlander

  1. Unless I am counting wrong, this list only has 59 cards? Also, no Ascetic Aspirant? I would’ve thought he’d be perfect in a highlander deck running Diamond. I know you probably gemmed the Eldritch Dreamer with the draw gem, but I was wondering what your gem choice was with the Protectorate Defender.

    • You’re right! I left out a Mesmerize. I didn’t expect to have a hand sufficient to make the Ascetic Aspirant useful as a threat, but you could persuade me otherwise.

      I never like the gem I put in the Protectorate Defender as it seems like it would rarely work out. It was really between Mind or Solidarity and I went with Mind to enable a hopeful early draw or two. There was a turn three that I immediately attacked with him, hit my opponent, did not draw, and then realized that I needed to play the second sapphire from my hand first to trigger the effect. That was a bit embarrassing.

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