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One Year of FiveShards

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“Mike, let’s start a tournament.”

In October of 2014, a void became apparent in the Hex constructed scene. September saw the conclusion of the first and final season of the HexTCGPro Challenge Series which was until that point the de facto high-level Hex tournament. HexTechs—a team of early streamers who created a website for Hex content—held a then-irregular “HexTechs Open” series, but the monthly community gathering and metagame update was missed.

Of course, Set 1: Shards of Fate had been around for quite some time, so very few surprises remained at that moment. Yet, Shattered Destiny was slated for release in only a month. Things were sure to pick up then.

“Mike, let’s start a tournament.”

Activity in the Skype Chat for “The Collective” (then consisting of Canathan, Eljer, Enyma, Fujisama, Future, GPrime (hi!), Hapson, Kroan, non0ns3nse, Pentachills, Piecetinker, and Zubrin) was unfocused; with no major tournament to prepare for, there just wasn’t much to focus on. But there was one thing that was repeated ad nauseum for weeks:

“Mike, let’s start a tournament.”

Nik “Pentachills” Podrasky wanted to fill that void in competitive Hex—but he needed help. Michael “Zubrin” Allen was his target. And so he whipped Zubrin into action the only way he knew how:

“Mike, let’s start a tournament.”

Repetition.

Lots of it.

Eventually Zubrin was worn down (and, indeed, beginning to like the idea.) But he didn’t want to do anything half-way. A tournament series needed the support of a proper website to succeed, and so the planning began. What sort of content would such a site need? Where can we find contributors? What should we call it?

At that point, half of The Collective was involved in coming up with names for this loosely-defined project. HexUniversity, ShardScholar, and ShardScribe were among Zubrin’s favourites being, as he was, Hex’s infamous “Infernal Professor” and “enemy of fun”. At one point I suggested the name FiveShards. Seemed catchy. Allowed for its own identity and didn’t seem as elitist as the academia-themed names suggested before. Unfortunately, it seemed to get lost in the flood of suggestions—many of which were, at that point, joke suggestions revolving around a word that rhymes with “Hex.”

Then, a few days later, Pentachills had a suggestion: “How about FiveShards?”

Wish I’d thought of that. 😉

So we had a name, and the Pentachills/Zubrin duo began working on the details of the tournament series which they’d be in charge of running. I had some experience from helping John Tatta host the HexTCGPro Challenge Series before, but that short stint made me realize I’d rather participate than administrate. And so, I distanced myself from the tournament itself and decided to do whatever else I could to strengthen the website around the Shard Cup.

The initial concept behind “FiveShards” included a network of services offered to the Hex community. These five “shards” were to be the Shard Cup, HexPromos, the 2TurnsAhead Podcast (adopted from HexTCGPro), the FiveShards store, and our home page with articles and news about Hex. HexPrice has since joined the fold and with HexPromos taking the back seat, and just this month we introduced HexMeta—but the loose “FiveShards family” concept has remained regardless of how many pieces it contained.

When it came to content, we started by inviting team members to write for the site. Then, we filled our ranks with well-known community members and refugees from the now-defunct HexTCGPro.com. Instead of assigning writers with content to cover, we let them take charge and write about what they cared about. This led to interesting results, such as KingGabriel’s role-played in-character PVE deck series and the Player Spotlight interviews of tournament winners. In this, the home page grew to be almost a collection of personal Hex blogs, which I think is part of its charm and personality.

It was an interesting first year, to say the least. In December 2014, we were featured on HexTCG.com for the first time with the Season 1 Blood Cup announcement. January saw the official opening of the FiveShards store where we help site contributors unload their extra cards. When Hex Entertainment publicly unveiled the Frost Ring PVE arena in February, we hosted an experimental liveblog of the event—our all-time most popular post to this day. In April, our editorial staff expanded for the first time as GaiusMarcus joined me in the trenches (and later, BossHoss as the third editor.) BlackRoger was crowned as the first Fate Cup champion in May, with the largest prize pool in any Hex tournament to date thanks to FiveShards friend and sponsor Colin. May also brought the first visual overhaul of FiveShards.com. Then, GenCon came by in the summer and many of us interacted with Hex players in person for the first time as FiveShards. I can’t express how uplifting it was to see so many passionate Hex fans travel so far to celebrate their love of the game and to be a part of that myself. Of course, meeting many of the Hex developers including Cory Jones himself was an experience in itself.

Hanging out with Cirouss, Wurtil, Illtree, and JadiimJedi at the back of the HexTCG Lan (photo courtesy of HexTCG).

Hanging out with Cirouss, Wurtil, Illtree, and JadiimJedi at the back of the HexTCG Lan (photo courtesy of HexTCG on Twitter).

The community has been a big part of FiveShards’ growth. Our site logo was contributed by a reader in our early days. Tournament sponsors have included guilds, competitive teams, individual players, and even a friend of an author to help spread word about his new fantasy novel. Community suggestions have helped to improve the presentation of the main site as well as our family of additional projects. And of course, it’s been a more gratifying experience the more people we’ve had to share it with.

But with all the growth and eventfulness, we’ve also seen many contributors fade off over the months. Providing regular content is certainly a lot of work and, above all, takes away from precious Hex time. However, for everyone who’s gone, a new member has joined to take their place. My gratitude is with all of our writers and developers, past and present, for helping us remain an integral part of the Hex community.

Change is afoot in other areas of FiveShards as well. After Season 2 of the Shard Cup, we’re likely to see a change in format to encourage people to focus on the official Hex Invitational Tournament and qualifiers. Pentachills, Zubrin, Tecnophi, and JadiimJedi have yet to reveal their plans for this, but I do know how much they care about ensuring there’s always fun and intense Hex competition for those among us who crave it.

So what will FiveShards look like in another year? In five? Ten? I really can’t say for sure, but I do know this: we all love Hex, and wherever Hex needs us is where we’ll be.

I’ve got a little reward for our loyal readers, and those who stuck around through my little self-indulgent retrospective: Tell us in the comments what you’d like to see from FiveShards in the future and—in one week from this posting—I’ll randomly choose three winners to receive ten packs of each Sets 1, 2, and 3. Good luck and, as always, thanks for reading FiveShards.

FiveShards Managing Editor and Co-Founder. Relentless drafter and occasional panelist of the 2TurnsAhead podcast. Plays cards with Hex team "Rated-Hex".

18 Comments on One Year of FiveShards

  1. Fiveshards covers a pretty wide variety of topics (deck builds, current meta, upcoming tournaments, explanations of basic and advanced strategy, info on current events, etc), so honestly I’m not sure what I’d want to see in the future specifically. When PVE comes out, there’s gonna be LOADS to talk about- articles covering specific dungeons would be nice I suppose, but honestly everyone is almost certainly going to be compiling information on those anyways. Maybe a comparison of the 1-1-1/2-2-1/3-3-3/presumed 4-4-3 sealed meta once the last one exists? Other than that I cannot think of a topic I would want you to cover that you probably haven’t ALREADY thought of/done, honestly. Heck, I’m surprised you haven’t started running out of stuff to print. Just keep doing what you’re doing, I suppose. ^^;

    IGN: Legan

  2. More shout casting.

    More Wurtil.

    More Hacky

    IGN Sinkhole

  3. Advice for experienced players of other games (especially if it’s for ‘you play a lot of TCGs but not much magic’) that doesn’t just read “here’s the rules in Magic terms” or “here’s a beginner strategy article in Magic terms” (which I’ve seen a lot of on other sites and/or for other games.)

    KyudenBayushi in-game

  4. I’m a bit of a hybrid Free To Play player. I kickstarted the game, bought VIP a while back, and made a few random purchases of plat, cards (from here and hexprimal), etc. However, I still don’t put a ton of money into the game and try to do the best that I can to get a great return on my investment and make some plat/gold back without having to spend more. Ok, i guess that doesn’t make me a F2P player, but i still like to think of myself as one for whatever reason (not sure why).

    Anyway, my point being is that for future FiveShards content, I’d love to see more articles on how to get the most bang for our buck. Are there any secrets out there in the auction house that, even if made public, will still be viable? For example, I know there’s a card I can bank on dropping low every Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, only to rise again on the weekend so I can sell it to make a profit. Are there some cards that we should buy up now in anticipation of them getting better with Set 4/PVE (Hopeheart Unicorn, right, Zubrin)?

    I know there have been some articles in the past, but I’d love to see more along the lines of something like this.

    Thanks for the great year, and here’s to many more!

    IGN: pjvedder

  5. more constructed meta talks in video form…hack..maybe also game vods like channelfireball makes

    ign Metronomy

  6. I would like to see more shoutcasting, even if they’re not sponsored by FiveShards. It would help broaden the reach of the game as well as increase the hype.

    IGN Lawton

  7. I really don’t know what else to expect from you guys, so I’ll just say keep it up. You do a great service to the community! I do think pjvedder has a decent idea, but there are already resources available to answer those sort of questions.

    I suppose I could make one suggestion though which is in the same vein: perhaps maybe an article or series outlining cards that are worth holding on to based on perceived future value. I know that’s a really hard thing to predict, but you guys have some heavy artillery in the field of analysis. I dunno, chew on it. I just feel as a non-KS backer I need a way to keep a solid footing in the world of HEX. Basically there are many cards that turned out to be duds on the market which seem to accumulate in the ol’ collection, but may have potential for strong future tech. I’m curious what light the perspective of strong HEX minds as yourselves could shed on such a topic.

    I kinda had to dig for that suggestion, but it really is something that I’m always wondering about…

    IGN VirulentFilth

  8. I’d love to see more strategy content and for the site to act as a portal for newer players to learn more about the game and to get better at the game.

  9. More spoilers of set 4! In all seriousness I love the site, especially the podcast. Maybe once PVE and set 4 roll around there could be room for more audio/video content. Keep up the good work!

  10. I would like to see more AH predictions (especially AA CMKs :P)

    IGN: Zebuli

  11. FS is awesome! I actually spent an hour trying to think of what could I possibly want from this project in the future – and couldn’t think of anything even remotely as great as anything that is going on here.

    Keep up the good work! We need more tourneys, more meta analysis from Wurtil, and more cool projects utilizing datafeed from hex api.

    As a suggestion I’d like to propose a trading/selling place for all users made on the top of your store but knowing it’s policy and overall meaning for this site I think this feature is unlikely.

    Anyways, happy birthday 5S!

    IGN Noise

    • oooh, how about an article series about the Lore of HEX? I know Penta is very passionate about this and looking at questions that were presented at the recent Gameforge Lore Quiz there’s a lot of interesting Lore details that are not known to the average player like me.

  12. My suggestion for a future series of articles is a role-play adventure log of a player’s champion as they quest throughout Entrath when PvE launches.

    IGN: Duzran

  13. I would really like more constructed deck analysis. Like for instance using the info from hexmeta and summarizing them in a nice format, or even going deeper into the matter, like discussing the matchups for some of the top decks.

    IGN: ValueCity

  14. The contest is now closed. Congratulations Flair, Peseto, and Duzran! You’ll be receiving packs via in-game mail shortly.

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