Herofall has a very smooth launch and I am stuck at work on a night shift counting the hours until I can rush home to start building decks that have been floating around in my head since the full spoiler was released. I expect day one will yield a fair share of new and exciting deck ideas. It is important that I try to get a head start on the competition. Cautiously optimistic. Three days remain.
Stuck at work yet again, but this time I am working a double. We are incredibly busy, therefore I have no time to even think about Hex, even though I desperately want to. All of my co-workers have given me sad excuses as to why they cannot trade a shift with me, so I can get some time to test. Not-so-cautiously optimistic. Two days remain.
The clock strikes three and I am filled with joy in the knowledge that I can devote an entire night of testing before the big day. I have narrowed down to either a Kagulichu build or a mono-Blood Vampires build. Hours are flying by. I am onto a solid shell for a deck I am comfortable submitting, but something is missing from the recipe that I cannot quite put my finger on. Roughly twelve cards are still up in the air for what I believe is the final deck. I am combing through all the Blood cards from every angle when it hit me like a ton of bricks. Xentoth’s Malice can sacrifice Dreadlings (being a spider among fifty other shared troop types) to have a consistent card advantage/health gain engine. I have already been favoring Bloodspinner Zorath in conjunction with Gallows Ghasts’ Speed/Intimidation gems as a finisher to a slow-grindy-control strategy.
I start moving cards around frantically until I feel I have list of 75 I can run past my friend Ducklett. We quickly get to work running the deck past the gauntlet of known deck archetypes and new ones we are expecting to surface. Obviously, with the hour of judgment drawing dangerously near, we do not have the luxury of complete confidence of all the expected matchups, but this is by far the closest we have gotten. Ducklett likes the strategy and adopts it as well and manages to borrow enough cards in time for us both to submit this deck in the morning. One day… er, realistically about two and a half hours remain.
|Champion: Bloodspinner Zorath|
After my best attempt at rest, I am eagerly awaiting for the clock to make it to the top of the hour. The tournament commences and it’s time to battle.
Round 1: Dreaming Fox S/B Control
A long drawn out match is taxing on your decision making skills. I am actually thankful because this gives the cogs and wheels in my brain a jump start to what will be a trying day. I am informed from a friend we are one of, if not the last, matches still in progress. Ultimately, my opponent is not able to keep up with the card advantage Xentoth’s Malice provides. Giant Corpse Fly savagely rips the last card out of my opponent’s hand. The way is clear for GG (heh) to come in clean up in one fell swoop. 2-0
Round 2: Kagulichu B/W Midrange
This matchup feels oddly familiar to the one before in terms of how the games play out. The key difference being my opponent has much more access to constant hate that proves to be a slog to power through. He also presents more must-answer threats, thankfully Herofall comes in handy here. One of the key things that is hard to decipher in this match-up is how important it is to play around my opponent’s own Herofall, seeing that my threats are not nearly as diverse. Steal Intel out of the reserves proves to be the most important card in the match up and ultimately gives me the edge here. 2-0
Round 3: Renner B/W Ramp
This was an interesting list from the opponent. Puck’s Daydream fueled by the power of Dread Harvest to ramp into big threats seemed to be the main strategy here. This also provides plenty of scrounge synergy in Paw of Yazukan and other value cards. Felt similar to the last opponent’s deck as threats are concerned, but a more aggressive take. Why the opponent chose to pair this strategy with the champion Renner I was unable to discern, but I expect the game plan is pretty focused for the first several turns of their game, allowing Renner to provide extra card advantage when they have dumped their hand into play. 2-0
Round 4: Rutherford Banks W/D Big Stuff
Crocosaur feels like the key card in the matchup here. With careful and patient play on Extinction, this feels like a great matchup. Steal Intel again comes out of the reserves to heavily disrupt my opponent’s gameplan and force them to deal with their own threats. Along the same vein, Uruunaz is very important here as well. I am a big fan of my opponent’s deck in the previous meta where going over the top of the opposition’s Rune Ear Hierophants is key, but times have changed, and I think this deck needs a new take to keep up with the format now. Feeling great so far. The deck is performing even better than expected. 2-0
Round 5: Urgnock R Aggro (Match in full on Five Shards stream from NicoSharp’s perspective)
Game one’s turn two, turn three, and turn four Vampires proves to be too much lifedrain for my opponent’s hyper-aggressive strategy to deal with. Game two goes about as expected: got completely smashed. In game three, I catch a huge amount of luck when Nico keeps a one shard hand that doesn’t pay off. I am not nearly as familiar with his deck as he is, but I do believe he makes the correct decision upon further consideration. An early GG comes down to beat his face in over a two turn clock. I nearly throw away the game by swinging in with the Princess when it does not affect the two-turn clock I have presented. 2-1
Round 6: Marshal Josephina DS Aggro (Match in full on JeffHoogland’s YouTube channel)
Atrocious matchup. Jeff has a very well tuned deck that also matches up very well against my own. He has what feels like an endless supply of less-than-four-of sticky troops alongside Valiant Escort shenanigans. This also drastically reduces the upside of the new set’s namesake card Herofall. I am left with no point in the game for the ability to turn the corner because Ardent Crusader either puts more threats into play after death or the Adjudicator fills his hand whenever it gets low. My only real out seems to revolve around getting very lucky with GG, but this feels to be a bit of a pipe dream considering the many low-cost ways Diamond and Sapphire have to answering the big dumb zombie. Big props to Jeff and company for coming to the tournament with arguably the best deck. 0-2
Round 7: Marshal Josephina DR Aggro
I am doing my best to ignore the fact this is another win-and-in for top 8, but I am far from perfect. An audible groan when I saw my opponent’s champion prompts my dog to howl back in reply. I quickly realize that this matchup somehow feels worse than Jeff’s version. The opponent is running multiple Ozawa’s Wish to return his Ardent Crusaders with swiftstrike. I manage to trade games with them and it’s down to one last game to decide the match. Since Ozawa’s Wish feels like the key card here, I wait patiently for the right window to Steal Intel his Ardent Crusader and eventually out-value my opponent to death. Onto top 8!
Ultimately, I am very satisfied with the power level of the deck I chose and it’s performance. It is always difficult to approach a brand new constructed meta with little preparation or data. I believe this list has the power to be a tier one deck, but time will tell how that plays out. A severe lack of ways to exile threats is a massive downside after considering the top performing decks on the day, but still a solid strategy if you enjoy grinding your opponents into submission. Oh, and it’s also nice when a big-daddy zombie can come in and randomly steal games.
After a couple of practice drafts, I feel I am as ready as I will ever be for this draft. I wish I could have just a little more time to prepare, but I am still confident in my drafting chops on the whole. Without further ado, here is the draft in it’s entirety:
Words cannot describe all the emotions that have run through me in the past 48 hours. I am incredibly grateful to have taken home the crown. This goes to show that relatively good play with a string of luck are enough to take down a major tournament.
I want to thank Hex Entertainment for the fantastic tournament and desire to grow the competitive tournament scene for the game. A special “thank you” is also in order for my friend Pentachills who stubbornly insisted I try this game until I finally did and instantly fell in love six months ago.
Paul White is the inaugural Cosmic Crown Champion, co-host of the Going Infinite podcast, and proud twitch lurker.