I’ve been anxiously awaiting the formalized announcement of Hex’s new Immortal format. With Scars of War’s release not only will we have the first time Hex has seen cards rotate out of Constructed Standard but we’ll also see the birth of this “All-Star” format. Existing socketable cards will be given access to gems which they might not have ever had access to and the once dominant Titania’s Majesty will return to the ring with its heavyweight-world-champion-belt in tow. With the exception made to the aforementioned 300 pound gorilla we can expect this new format to, at least initially, resemble our current one. With five sets worth of cards currently available many ones which used to be boogeymen of a format have taken a back seat and no longer see play. However, Immortal will be giving old cards new context so it is worthwhile (and perhaps entertaining) for diligent deckbuilders to take a look at decks of olde to see whether any former staples still have any glimmer left in them.
Today I’ll be revisiting the Shards of Fate constructed meta to see what we were all up to OVER THREE YEARS AGO!
In the absolute earliest days of the game players were able to wield a rather broken version of escalation and believe it or not Eternal Youth and Demented Demolisher were by far the most powerful cards available. Not to mention that the Prime Ruby of Destruction (the only item currently banned in Immortal) saw a brief iteration where it could instead do damage to a random troop, if that wasn’t enough this even went through spellshield! which in conjunction with Xentoth’s Inquisitor was quite the power house. We’re going to skip ahead just slightly though and start off with good ole’ Blood Diamond. I was having a hard time finding any articles but I dug through the vaults to find this piece that even predates beta!
Shards of Fate : Blood Diamond http://www.thehexvault.com/blog/2013/12/06/deck-of-the-week-blood-diamond-midrange/
Obviously it isn’t very relevant to our efforts now, Angel of Dawn and Vampire King weren’t even in the client yet, but I wanted to have a reference for each deck in this series and surprisingly this was the best I could find. This is a deck that I piloted quite a bit and there would have actually been a decent likelihood that I ran something similar in the 100k had I qualified. Without access to tournament data prior to Shattered Destiny, this is the closest approximation of what I recall running during the Shards of Fate season specifically:
|Blood Diamond – Champion: Kranok|
|4x Angel of Dawn|
3x Giant Corpse Fly
4x Living Totem
4x Vampire King
4x Xentoth’s Inquisitor (-atk gem)
1x Pact of Pain
1x Solitary Exile
3x Soul Marble
There were some other notable cards that also entered the list from time to time which included: Uruunaz, Relentless Corruption and Blinding Light. Additionally, there were Sapphire variants that eschewed the backbreaking Soul Marble in favor of Mirror Knights and permission.
While the addition of four more sets (soon to be five) eventually caused decks like this to give way to more powerful ones we still see similar shells exist currently. Vampire King and Extinction both pair particularly well with one another against troop-based strategies. Angel of Dawn can still play a role in aggressive Diamond decks to apply early game pressure as well as offering control decks a threat which allows them to hold back permission as it enters the field. Incremental cards like Pact of Pain and Soul Marble might also see play in the new format within midrange or grindy control shells. Living Totem (one of my all-time favorite cards) on the other hand fell by the wayside once more efficient threats entered the card pool, there may still be a moment for it to appear as a one of in Rutherford Banks style decks as a card that is occasionally necessary for the toolbox. Finally, Xentoth’s Inquisitor is a reliable answer to some threats particularly those of the vampire variety and more importantly as more gems are added to the game there might be even more reason for this vennen to re-enter your hand yet again.
The other Shards of Fate deck which I’m going to talk about is one which was surrounded by a fair bit of controversy back in the day. Hex’s first set of cards was out for quite some time before we saw the release of Shattered Destiny and it is no surprise that eventually the constructed format became somewhat ‘solved.’ With it being around for so long it might not also be a surprise that the masses got pretty restless and began clamoring for bans primarily targeted at Angel of Dawn (which had a buggy past), Cerulean Mirror Knight and most significantly Gore Feast of Kog’Tepetl. It wasn’t until two sets later that Hex would see its first ban, but in the meantime R/S Gorefeast remained one of the boogeymen of the game’s first constructed season. It packed an efficient card advantage driven package in the form of Cerulean Mirror Knight / Cerulean Mentalist / Poca, The Conflagrater which combined with Gore Feast allowed it to end games abruptly while also retaining a fair bit of reach. Future wrote a particularly good primer on the deck during the later stages of its Shards of Fate lifespan.
Shards of Fate : R/S Feast – http://fiveshards.com/future-tech-come-join-the-feast/
Shattered Destiny brought with it Storm Cloud and Crackling Bolt which were immediate inclusions into the deck but as the new format evolved this deck eventually fell out of favor. Despite the calls for bans during its heyday, Gore Feast never came back into the limelight as Hex continued to grow. However, Mirror Knight continued to see play as the game evolved and there could definitely be room for it in Immortal albeit in a very different style of deck. I can picture Mirror Knight fitting into a combo oriented deck that quickly churns through a number of cheap troops in order to fuel some sort of win condition. Additionally for the Sapphire shield bearer, the upcoming set brings Illusory Form which will undoubtedly enable shenanigans but whether the two-drop is involved has yet to be seen. Worth noting, the alternate art version of ‘CMK’ remained one of the priciest cards in Hex for quite some time, fetching over $60 regularly. Bringing it back to the deck, R/S Feast was primarily a tempo deck that relied on using its opponent’s clunky draws against them. Tempo has come back into the constructed meta in the form of Morgan McBombus centered decks. With Scars of War adding Deny to the permission suite, it isn’t unthinkable that tempo could re-emerge given the correct Quick speed early game threats.
As we travel further along the timeline the boogeyman decks of the past will become more and more relevant to the new Immortal format. Something to keep in mind though is that it is likely that the designs will at some point add cards to the pool that were meant to specifically be played with sets which have rotated out of Standard and that time might come sooner rather than later. Although, in this series, I am talking about the history of cards which have already had their time to shine, keep an eye out for cards which might not yet been given the attention they deserve.