Welcome back to Hex Essentials. This week we will be looking at Blood in set 2. After writing the first article, we realized that there were not as many contructed staples in Shattered Destiny as there were in Shard of Fate—so we will be continuing the series by combining both set 1 and 2 together for the remainder of the shards.
For anyone who missed our first part of this series (found here), the goal of Hex Essentials is to inform players what cards are centerpieces of any constructed player’s collection in preparation for set 3: Armies of Myth. We also discuss “sleepers” as cards that could potentially be powerful in future sets.
Compared to Shards of Fate, there aren’t very many strong troops that exist here. Most of the Blood troops in Shattered Destiny have an aggressive feel and tend to be more at home in draft. However, there are some troops that still have some aspect of control, and we believed these to be the strongest:
It can be traumatic when Darkspire Punisher randomly discards the only card you still needed in your hand. While not immediately triggering a discard on play like Giant Corpse Fly, at least Punisher doesn’t allow your opponent to decide which card they need the least. We’re definitely not saying this card is the best in the set but there really is no reason that you shouldn’t at least have a playset of them (especially if new Darkspire cards pop up in Set 3). As for Darkspire Tyrant, his role is more of the icing on the cake rather than the engine that keeps Darkspire-centric decks going.
Monsuun might have been somewhat overshadowed by Reese, as tunnelers go, but he still has quite a bit of potential. Funktion ran the two of them alongside one another during the Sapphire Cup and felt like the deck was quite strong but that he wasn’t piloting it optimally. We do expect Monsuun to get slightly weaker with the onset of Armies of Myth given that there should be a lower proportion of viable tunnelers; it will be less likely that Monsuun is ever a surprise. However, the ability to revive troops killed while Monsuun is burrowed should still have a place in the decks tuned to take proper advantage of it.
We felt like this was a particularly strong card during the period of time where Gore Feast was exceptionally dominant. The utility which this guy offered by being able to to both kill one of their dudes and have an additional blocker of your own was quite strong. Ambusher didn’t see a ton of play after the Gore Feast dynasty ended and looking forward that probably won’t change drastically. So why is he on the list? Well besides the fact that we just really like the card, if early aggression becomes dominant it might be the type of tool which mid-range decks rely on to keep from falling behind.
We imagine that in most metas this one is primarily reserves material. However, 1-cost hand disruption is nothing to scoff at; being able to throw your opponent off of an otherwise very strong opening hand is a good place to be. Furthermore, Withering Touch is a great way to play around interrupts in a control vs. control matchup.
Early in the Shattered Destiny meta it felt like there was a window where a lot of folks were trying to make Gortezuma happen. He never really caught on—at least not for us—but with Armies of Myth’s Allegiance or even Prophecy mechanics it is very possible that this particular orc high cleric gets taken off the bench and put back onto the field.
Despite its potential to two-shot any opponent the Killipede has largely been outclassed. While it can easily turn around a troop-centric match, there has just been too much tempo/removal being played lately for this bug to really do what it does best. Don’t expect it to make much more of an impact in the foreseeable future but it still has potential to shine in PVE modes—so if that is your thing you might want to look for an opportunity to pick this creepy crawly up.
This zombie bunny just never found the right home, but it isn’t too hard to imagine a shift where this suddenly becomes a staple for some new archetype. As Xentoth’s Inquisitor has shown us, a troop that can return to play when killed is a poweful weapon when combined with the right tools.
Even without his additional rules text he could be in a pretty healthy reserves spot vs early game aggression. The extra damage/health-gain perk is what moves him into a strong sleeper position. There is no doubt that it is a fun build-around ability and the combo potential has Funktion on the edge of his seat.
With recent spoilers (i.e. Exarch of the Egg) vennen & spiders seem like they could be a thing. Note that if you play the Bishop during your first main phase, any spiders that connect will immediately draw you a card in the subsequent combat so he at least can make an impact and possibly replace himself the turn he enters play. Even with that in mind though, Xartaxis probably falls more on the fun side than the playable side. Funktion wants “Death & Xartaxis” deck to be a thing so badly.
Funktion’s final say: For blood, set 2 has offered a number of troops with a lot of potential but very few that made a dramatic impact. There were a few more that we felt were on the fringe of being included for this article but didn’t quite make it (I’m looking at you Rise Again and Subtle Striker). Just like everyone else out there I’m pretty eager to see how Armies of Myth shakes things up and whether any of my personal favorites from Shattered Destiny finally get their chance to shine.
Piecetinker’s final say: Compared to Shards of Fate, Shattered Destiny Blood does not have a glut of strong troops or removal. Although Monsuun and Gortezuma look great on paper, we have yet to see these troops become staples over set 1 troops such as Vampire King or Xentoth’s Inquisitor. As Funktion said, Rise Again and Subtle Striker are definitely strong candidates, but there are just other cards in Blood that you would rather see right now.