If you have not already done so, please see the opening article on Quadrant Theory posted HERE. If instead you are just looking to see number ratings next to Shattered Destiny Blood cards then tally ho!
As a reference, the following grading scale is being used for each quadrant:
10 – This is the best possible card for this situation I could imagine
9 – Having this card in this situation will make me very likely to win the game by itself
8 – Having this card in this situation will definitely help me win the game
7 – This card will almost always be good in this situation (>90% of the time)
6 – This card will be good in this situation most of the time (>50% of the time)
5 – This card will be okay in this situation on average, but rarely will it be very good or very bad
4 – This card will be poor in this situation most of the time (>50% of the time)
3 – This card will almost always be poor in this situation (>90% of the time)
2 – This card is equivalent to a blank card in this situation
1 – Playing this card in this situation will actively cause me to lose the game
Let’s kick it off with the Commons…
Speed combined with Rage 1 is a huge flashing sign that you want to be setting up the Bonecracker to be attacking as much as possible. While he likely can still have a role in decks with a low Orc count, you really want to get that extra attack (and thus, extra Rage trigger) as much as possible. When you can trigger him, you are going to be fairly happy to see a Bonecracker in your opening hand as it is likely that he won’t be outclassed by turn 4 so he can get in the first swing—and once a Bonecracker starts gaining Rage triggers the opponent is less and less likely to be able to just dump a Boulder Brute or other 4/4 beastie that could otherwise block your 4-drop for days. When you don’t trigger Rage on turn 4, things get a little dicier, however. If the board has stalled, and both sides have dudes just sitting around, then Bonecracker is unlikely to be doing much about changing that situation. In Parity, if you have to leave him back on defense immediately, things are even worse as no one wants to pay Sky’le Griffin prices for a Rigid-Buffalo–level troop. The same downside rises to view in the Behind stage—Bonecracker (and indeed, most Rage troops) just doesn’t have the natural stats to be an efficient blocker, and that is a huge red flag in a game where you can’t always guarantee you will be the one attacking.
Because of the lack of 2-drops that have a real impact in this format, Burrow Bunny scores fairly well as a development card; it is actually a pretty strong play to put it underground on turn two then let it come down with its relevant 4-attack on turn four and threaten to start attacking right away. Let’s also talk real quick about some subtleties of the Burrow mechanic: first—being a hidden mechanic—it presents some unique challenges to pay against. If your opponent has burrowed a Burrow Bunny, you want to try and have a cheap fodder troop ready to block it two turns later—so you might feel obliged to keep back blockers. But if instead the opponent has burrowed something like a Tectonic Megahulk you need to be aggressive and try to kill them before their burrow troop comes down. We certainly need to keep this upside in mind when evaluating Burrow troops, but also we should recognize that there are certainly some costs associated with this plan—primarily that instead of playing an early troop that affects the board we have spent our early turn investing in a card with the later hopes that it will make a large enough impact to be worth our time. If Burrow Bunny is hitting for 4 and then trading with your opponent’s beefy troops (whether through blocking or you removing their smaller troops) then it is a good deal, but if it is just coming down and then trading with their two-drop that got to hit you a time or two while you waited, then you made a bad investment. I have a feeling that the most common case will be towards the latter, but neither case is extremely far from making the bunny just an average card that will be commonly on the cusp of playability.
I’ve probably spent too many words already on a perennial 23rd card, but do not discount the ability to just play this card as a 4-cost 4/1. Sometimes your hand will be Bunny and 4-drops and you will be happy to have the option to burrow, and sometimes your hand will be 2-drops and Bunny in which case you can curve up to the 4/1 option and still be moderately pleased.
Shocker, but quick-speed removal will score highly in most quadrants as a baseline. -2/-2 won’t kill everything, but it should take care of the quality utility troops (this includes Inspire) and it is a big enough decrease to act as a poor combat trick to take down bigger threats as needed. Toss in its inherent synergy with charge powers such as Zared, and you have what should be a quality card no matter how the format shakes out. It tends to be slightly better in development if you are the aggressor as trading your 3-cost card for their 3-cost card is only really advantageous if you already have even a slight lead on the board. Note that this only scores a bit lower in the “Behind” quadrant as you may not have the troops needed to help tag-team down the real threat if you are behind due to large troops.
So if you can’t figure it out immediately, Cunning Skullcaster is not a card for every deck. “Can’t block” is a BIG downside for the majority of limited decks because unless you are building your deck with an intense focus to do nothing but beatdown you will, inevitably, find yourself blocking at some point between starting a draft and holding high your 8 packs of gains. The key to Skullcaster is then to focus on what quadrants he is good in. In Development, a 3/1 is fine if your plan is to be the aggressor anyway as there are a number of follow up plays to keep Skullcaster attacking and therefore relevant. Likewise, if you are ahead then nobody cares if all your cards can’t block because your goal is to be turning everything sideways anyway.
For further reasoning on why “Can’t block” is sub-optimal, think about how to grade a card in the Behind stage when it can’t get in front of an attacker. At least a shard would have given you a charge…
I’ll preface this rating with the assumption that you get a couple other Darkspire cards in the draft, but I don’t think that is a huge leap to make as—especially by the third pack—players will know if they want Darkspire or not. Darkspire Punisher is just such a great value play that it is hard to find situations where it won’t be worth the resources you pour into it. For Development, whether you need an attacker or a blocker he is gold on turn 3 as few decks want to risk either the open 2-for-1 if you get to chain into another Punisher after a trade or into the random discard effect. In Parity he has some flexibility because you can send him in freely as an attacker if you want to try and trigger the random discard or you can just sit back and wait for the opponent to try and strike a trade to gain some value. He isn’t the best card ever to topdeck while you’re Behind, but you will be happy more often than not.
|Feeding the Young Ones|
I will be rating Feeding assuming that you aren’t trying to draft tribal shin’hare, which means you likely might have 2-3 shin’hare at a maximum in your deck otherwise to trigger off this. Realistically, we are probably looking at 2 and maybe 3 damage off Feeding, so it is more intended to kill off utility/evasion troops than big threats.
The only advantage to having this card in your opening hand is knowing that you will eventually be able to kill a 2-defense troop that otherwise you might have traded with, but otherwise it is not really a card I am hoping to see in my initial seven. It actually is a perfectly fine action to play in Parity, as killing their evasive or utility troop while clogging up the board even more will normally be a positive move for you. From Behind it actually can be stronger than you might think, as providing two chump blockers while still being able to protect card advantage can buy you the time needed to come back. There will likely be comparisons between this card and Terrible Transfer (since both will be viewed as default 2-3 damage actions for 5 cost with a small upside), but I think that this card is much better than Transfer in the behind case as chump blockers will normally aid you more than the 2-3 health from a Terrible Transfer would.
Alternatively, if you end up with a Bucktooth Roshi and push tribal shin’hare or something crazy like that, this card becomes a straight up kill spell with upside and should be valued as one of the best commons you could draft. Such is the reasoning that we have guidelines instead of hard rules around here…
Giant Mosquito is efficient at the things it does—it just does not do enough of what those things are to matter in the course of an average game of limited. A two-point evasive health swing should be a good deal for paying only two resources, but it is pretty much only in race situations in which both the health loss by your opponent and the health gain by yourself matter, leaving the Mosquito as a poor one-dimensional card when you are either in the aggressor or controller position. It can still be serviceable in development as a two-drop that can either trade with their early one-defense troops or plink away for a few point of damage, and it serves a similar role in parity. However it is just so rarely what you actually want to be doing when the game is outside of those situations that, barring some interesting buffs from a Noble Citizenry or the like, you are better off keeping the skeeter in your reserves.
One big thing you might just totally overlook when evaluating Grave Nibbler: he can just be a 2/2 for two if that is all you need. We often forget that sometimes just being on the play and having a 2/2 come down when we have gas to back it up wins a lot of games, and Grave Nibbler can easily fill that role when called upon to do so. But then how good is the tunneling on ol’ Nibbler? The ability triggers off any troop, but if I have a Nibbler and a kill spell, I am likely just running the 2/2 out there and bashing them in the face with it instead of waiting until turn 7 before getting my damage investment back (since you miss 2 turns of attacking with the Nibbler if you tunnel it). Maybe tunneling is fine if I have Nibbler and a clear sacrifice outlet I am wanting to use early, but I imagine that the common case in aggressive decks on turn 2 will be to just run out the Nibbler. Still, that is a good baseline (we have trouble getting enough 2/2s for two in our decks as it is) so having the flexibility to make the tunneling choice when it is appropriate is gravy for Development. In Parity, Nibbler is way better than normal 2/2s which are pretty much always immediately outclassed. Sure, it will take a few turns to get your 4/4, but you likely have both the turns available and have the bodies to toss out in favor of creating a 4/4. When Ahead, you are almost always just slamming down the 2/2 unless you have a great reason otherwise, as just winning now will often be the key. When behind we find that Nibbler is fine in some cases due to being just a cheap troop that will let you play it and something else in the same turn—while in other cases it just won’t do anything, but all that adds up to a fairly average grading.
|Killblade of the Milky Eye|
Killblade is so great because it is so good in the places that matter most in a game of HEX, and all for a single resource. Few cards are as great to see in your opening hand, as being a relevant one-drop is something not many other cards can claim; by casting it turn 1 you free up your next turns to play other cards. It sounds simple but the beauty of curving out makes it highly relevant in almost every game. It likely won’t be doing much besides maintaining parity in a stalled boardstate—but by the same token it also reduces your opponent’s options for breaking open that same boardstate. As a 1/1, it isn’t going to be highly effective when you are ahead, and Lethal does not synergize amazingly with pump cards (because if you are bigger than your opponent’s troop, why do you need lethal in the first place?). While obviously flight troops pose a problem for the Killblade, he is so good in your average Behind boardstate that he still doesn’t get knocked down hard in my grading for it. We also factor in cost when we are behind, and being a single resource means we can easily play a second troop the same turn we topdeck Killblade when we are behind, and that is not inconsequential to turning a game around.
Quick math before we start grading: In a 10 Blood Shard / 7 Other Shard deck, what is the first turn in which you are even 50% likely to have drawn 4 of your Blood Shards? The answer is turn 8, which means realistically you are not going to be drawing the extra card in games where the effect still matters in a two-shard deck. For the sake of this rating, we’ll assume it is still being used in a two-shard deck and you are just interested in the base effect—for a Mono Blood deck its rating goes much higher. In development, it can potentially be okay because you can use it as a quick-speed kill spell on turn 2 against any one-defense troops. The caveat there being your opponent may not run many if any one-toughness troops, so you could also be left staring at a card that you just can’t play early in the game. You can probably find some position to make it worth a card in a Parity situation, whether that is combining the +3 attack with one of your troops to kill an important troop of the opponents or by outright killing a utility troop or flier. It is certainly a situational card, but it has a lot of potential different situations in which is can be decent. It starts to shine if you can abuse the +3 attack portion of the card to just slam a door shut if you are ahead; put one on a Wailing Banshee or the like and you suddenly have an extremely potent clock that the opponent must deal with. Finally, it is likely to be a poor draw when you are behind, but it does have the saving graces that it outright kills some common threats in the format and that it is very cheap (which again, means you can deploy multiple cards in one turn). Overall, I would probably be okay with a single Thirst as a 23rd card in most decks, but I would be much happier knowing that it could come in as a reserve card when presented with threats it can take down. It certainly goes up in value if you are, for instance, an aggressive Mono-Blood deck, but I am not sure that is a road worth going down…
So how often are you happy casting Lethal Weapons on turn 3? Turn 4? Nope, in all but the strangest examples you are going to struggle to get your full card back in Development with this one. About the only place you can make a case for Lethal Weapons in ground-clogged board stalls where you can turn a couple now-chumps or Worker-Bot–level dudes into some trading potential, but even those states where you come out ahead on the exchange will be rare. Maybe if your deck had 6+ swiftstrikers you could start to make a case that Lethal Weapons will be better than an average HEX card in the Parity phase, but that is a lot of caveats to get through for a single card. When you are ahead, it is basically going to be a blank card that you can’t use unless you fall back into another game state, and when you are behind you might not even have the troop to cast it on, let alone be able to use it without generating card disadvantage. There are certainly situations that this card could be a useful reserve option (aforementioned swiftstrikers en masse, or a Blood deck that can pump out Worker Bots or the like matched up against a big troop Wild deck) but it shouldn’t be viewed as a normally maindeck card.
Mazat Spearman, Like Cottontail Ronin, is an interesting discussion point when viewed from the Quadrant Theory point of view. While his overall rating is not very high, the Spearman is extremely strong in the development portion of the game (as he can quickly work himself into decent stats while fitting into the normally ignored one-drop slot). If you build your deck in an aggressive manner to take advantage of this fact, you can overcome his Parity and Behind ratings by not being in those situations as often. You should know if you want a Mazat Spearman or not, for a more midrangey deck you will be going more by the weighted rating, which means you have to pay attention to the fact that you might have a 0/1 as an actual card you need to cast in Parity and Behind board states—but if you are drafting an aggressive Blood deck then you can happily be the only person scooping up the Spearman and trying to take advantage of his strong opening hand potential.
|Neophyte of Xarlox|
Does a 1/4 for four interest you? What if it could mill a single card a turn? And it even likely gains you about a third of a health each time it does so too! (Considering you are facing an average 17 troop deck) On their own, none of those things are particularly enticing and put together there is nothing really special about how all of these things come together to make you want to slam Neophyte into every Blood deck. Sure, you might occasionally run into a mill deck or have some triple Paladin of the Necropolis deck that wants to get those health triggers but those decks will be the exception when we are looking to create the rule. Neophyte just isn’t big enough by the time you would want to play it in Development to make a big impact, and it never is big enough to help you take out the opponent when you are Ahead. It is just okay in the other stages thanks to having the magic 4-butt, yet that alone will rarely be enough to make you pull Xarlox’s number 1 fan off the bench.
No one ever gets excited by a Rotting Buffalo, but also very rarely do people actively lose a game because they played him. In development, his stats are unexciting but acceptable for a 3-cost troop—especially if you are defending against a horde of 2/2s. After that, he is rarely the card you are slamming down with a giant “deal with it” smile on your face, but he is just decent enough at attacking and blocking in most situations to be passable. If Shards of Fate was any indication, Shattered Destiny drafts should be deep enough that you don’t often have to start a Rotting Buffalo in your deck if you don’t want to, but in matchups where defensive development matters he almost always finds himself being just average enough to make the cut.
First, a quick aside for this cycle of “Charge” commons—especially in aggressive decks you need to be mindful if you have these cards in your deck and hold back shards as appropriate. I doubt you can make any hard and fast rules about this, as you still want your charges for your champion power and you need to be aware of what cost your deck tops out at, but you still just need to try and factor all this in when you are deciding whether to drop your shard after turn 5 or so.
That all being said, this Ritualist is a solid beatdown card that really shines when you can land it on turn 3. It has two glaring issues however—first being that it can be hard to work with in the middle of the game if you have deployed all your shards already, and the second that it really doesn’t play defense well. Still, in Parity and to a lesser extent the other non-Behind stages you are attacking with the Ritualist every chance you get. Three attack chunks will very quickly take out an opponent and shards outside of Blood have reduced ways of trading profitably with 1-defense troops now that we have fewer packs of Shards of Fate floating around.
It is interesting to compare the Wrangler to the Rotting Buffalo from earlier. The slightly lower defense means that it isn’t quite a good during development (as the Buffalo can both attack and block better in a number of common scenarios), so really the question is whether discarding a card to get two Battle Hoppers makes the Wrangler better or worse. In Parity, if your deck has an Onslaught or other global pump ability that makes just having bodies on the table a strength, then it is very much an upside ability. However, your average deck will normally just be discarding your 7th shard to turn it into a poor-man’s pay as you go Shroomtank—not exactly breaking open board states. It will have some application when behind, as the potential to trade plus make some chump blocks to buy you another turn makes the Wrangler a common “out” that you might need to draw to chain into your more effective cards. All in all, I would likely take a Wrangler over the Buffalo in most cases in a draft, but the Buffalo is more likely to be boarded in if my deck is decent and just needs some more early game defense against an opposing aggressive deck.
First, a quick preface about uncommons. We should expect a bit more variance in the rating of the uncommons in each of the shards, as while commons need to make up the bulk of your deck and make sure you can play a game of HEX every time you draft, uncommons can be very specific in their focus to encourage more divergent playstyles and archetypes (both draft archetypes and constructed). Rare and Legendaries will be even more so, so don’t be surprised when some of the largest and smallest ratings come from these groups.
The problem with the Warlord’s special ability is that the big problem for your two-drops normally isn’t opposing two-drops, but rather the larger troops that follow them up and simply outclass the stats of a 2/2. Still, a 3/2 for three isn’t anything to mock as it certainly fits right in with what we would have expected anyway for the cost; so, really, the special ability is more just gravy than the meat of why we would play Warlord. Considering that decks that want to be attacking with Blood troops immediately will be pleased to fill themselves out with a 3/2 for three, making it such that your two drop won’t immediately trade with theirs is a fine thing for Development. Not so much in any other stage though, as once the game progresses and larger troops come down the chances of Battlecry Warlord giving a game winning swing to your 2/2s becomes less and less.
|Born to Die|
So, you’ve cast Born to Die on turn 2—are you happy? Probably not, you haven’t affected the board in any real way, and unless you have drafted some combo while having the other pieces in your hand, you might not get much of anything out of an opening hand Born to Die. In Parity, Born to Die has the small chance of being relevant if your opponent is on a low health total—such that just outright sacrificing your team to deal the final 4-5 points of damage could kill them. Likewise, when you are ahead, a Born to Die represents a potentially significant amount of damage that could be dealt to finish off an opponent. And, naturally as a card that doesn’t directly impact the board, when you are behind Born to Die is just a big blank. You need a VERY strong reason to play Born to Die, with only being an aggressive Shin’hare swarm deck coming to mind as a good reason to do so (and even then, you need to be sure your deck can truly be aggressive and not dependent upon Onslaught effects to deal all the damage at once—Born to Die can probably deal the final 10 in a Shin’hare deck but you need to make sure you can actually deal the first 10 too…)
If you have seen any Orcs, Brood Missionary jumps into the 6 and 7 rating in most of these categories as a board-effecting 2-for-1 for a reasonable cost is crazy good. His ability to go around the best parts of the best common Darkspire Orcs makes this even more valuable (as the Missionary will simply steal the Darkspire clan instead of killing the first part of a chain). For the rating I will give here, however, I will assume that you normally will see only a couple Orcs during your 3 rounds of draft. With 2 shards sporting playable Orcs, that will likely be an acceptable average to start with.
For Development, a 2/4 for 4 is normally on par as it is, so adding even just a little extra potential makes it a fine play during the early phase of the game. In Parity, a 2/4 isn’t going to break anything and, barring some fresh bomb from your opponent, it likely isn’t an Orc that is the problem in a parity state anyway. While behind, a 2/4 is just slightly below the stats you would want to stabilize any board, but the potential removal ability bumps it up just a notch for an average of all cases you would expect.
It is incredibly hard to rate these double socketed cards, as they are potentially over 50 different cards in one! So, I am going to try and stick with rating them in a best case scenario if one is available, trying to stick to 2 shards but acknowledging potent 3 shard combinations if available. For Cockatwice, that means being BD to capitalize upon the sick synergy between lethal and swiftstrike. The second gem could be rage or lifedrain, but I’m not sure either makes a huge difference in how I would rate the card that every flavor text wants to be on.
As a five drop, Cockatwice is limited in how it can be utilized in Development. Knowledge that you have a Cockatwice isn’t worthless though, since it gives you incentive to kill opposing Swiftstrikers or save tricks to back him up. Still, a fairly average card in Development. In Parity, things don’t get much better—it comes down and can either take the role of Moat in preventing the opponent from even trying to attack or it can start attacking with knowledge that until they quadruple block it they are going to likely lose on the exchange. When ahead, it provides enough pressure and is hard enough to deal with that it certainly will induces groans from the opponent. And when behind, few things immediately stabilize the board like a lethal/swiftstrike death machine that says “Win this turn on the ground or stop attacking right now”.
Personally I think that the perfect Cockatwice utilizes the Flight gem in addition to Swiftstrike, and I think that the combination is powerful enough to splash for if you are BD, BS, or even DS and not hyper-aggressive. Suddenly instead of being a card that halts all ground based attacks it is a card that halts all attacks from your opponent period until they find a way to kill your ‘twice. While Ruby and Wild offer some interesting gems that can turn it into a decent aggressive troop (Blood Rage + Ruby Unblockable except by same shard) or a sure thing ground killer (Spellshield + anything) none of them offer the same game breaking ability of swiftstrike.
|Mentor of the Grave|
While being a five-drop, the one nice thing about Mentor of the Grave in your opening hand is that you know that an even trade can be good for you to provide more targets for your eventual Call of the Grave you will get from the Mentor. Mentor’s stats are good enough that it would score fine in Parity and Ahead anyway, and so the tacked on ability is just gravy. And when behind, getting a two-for one from a troop that might also just stabilize the board from its size alone makes it quite strong. You are going to have to struggle to find times when Mentor underperforms if you can make it to 5 resources; which, gauging by the speed of current HEX sets, shouldn’t be a huge problem for this format.
Next time you play HEX, stop to count how many troops you have in your graveyard on Turns 2-5. I would wager that only in some crazy games do you have even two troops by Turn 5, but most frequently even fewer. Therefore, the only saving grace to having a Necrophage Sensei in your opening hand is that you will at least know that you want to be making trades to try and get something out of your card. Even as a 2/2, Necrophage Sensei isn’t going to impress anyone if it is coming down in Parity or even when behind. You need to be very specifically building your deck to do something that takes advantage of the Sensei to make it effective (use Nin on yourself for example), but even in those cases you are likely getting minimal benefit for a 3 round draft if Sensei is the only card that can benefit from it.
|Paladin of the Necropolis|
I’ll be honest, I’ve enjoyed casting a lot of Cavern Commandos in Shards of Fate draft, and not just for the dwarf synergy but just for the 1/4 body. So tack on two relevant abilities that synergize and you have a card I am going to probably fall in love with. In development, a 1/4 is just an immediate stop sign at the 3 cost slot, and add in how it can even be a more aggressive card thanks to its ability and it gets great. In Parity, it can sit around as a utility troop and synergize with any other health gaining abilities you may have to slowly grind a big advantage for yourself. And any amount of lifedrain on a cost-efficient body is awesome to have when you are behind. Paladin is quite a studly card to play by itself, but be aware of the synergies it provides as once you have drafted it you are opening yourself up to having some card valuations change as you want to scoop up more and more lifedrain.
Ignore the tunneling and ignore Ambusher getting bigger while tunneled. Those are the gravy add-ons to this sweet piece of meat. A 4-cost 2/1 isn’t a great deal, but giving something permanent -2/-2 on top of that is already an even better card than Sniper of Gawaine was, as even just a small decrease like that can neuter the 2/4 flight clan or the myriad 4/4s running amok in the format. Toss in how easily splashable Ambusher can be and you have a card that shouldn’t be going around the table very far. But one of the big reasons Ambusher scores so well in our Quadrants is thanks to how good it is when you are behind. Few other cards can just straight up two-for-one and get you back into the game the way Ambusher can, and for cheaper than other options like Sniper have historically been to boot.
Coming back to the tunneling, you aren’t likely to both have Ambusher tunneled and have a Shin’hare of yours die, but even if those things don’t happen you are normally pleased with the resource discount you can get if you didn’t have a turn 2 play anyway. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much of an attack buff for Ambusher to neutralize pretty much any threat in the game.
So here’s the thing—Withering Touch isn’t really that terrible of a card in the very early turns of the game. You normally will at least hit something and get your card worth of value. The problem even then is that you don’t get a whole lot of extra information (is the rest of what he is holding troops or shards?) and you aren’t getting ahead in the resource exchange (as you spent 1 resource and a card while your opponent lost zero resources and a card—not a huge deal in limited where your turn 1 resource doesn’t get used much anyway but a cost all the same). Where we find the big holes with Withering Touch is how abysmal it is after those first few turns when you are most likely to both have the spare resource and your opponent is most likely to have a spare action, artifact, or constant sitting around. Topdecking a Withering Touch on turn 8 when both players have no hand is a terrible feeling, as you have pretty much no way of turning that into a card worth of advantage anymore as it turns into a total blank the farther the game progresses. It is those downsides and the length of the average game of HEX limited that make discard actions like this so poor of a choice for the limited spaces you have in your deck to make an impact.
BLOOD RARES AND LEGENDARIES
|Circle of Ruination|
So let’s get this straight—you spend your two resources and your entire turn 2 (when you otherwise could be creating pressure or generating blockers) to drop the Circle, and then barring some extra charge gains from another source you can eat one random card on turn 4 or two random cards on turn 6? Not exactly a spicy deal all by itself, especially considering they might not even have many good cards left to hit by the time to are able to fire off a Circle for 2+ cards. But wait, it gets even crazier as you might just draw Circle later than turn 2, in which case you may never even get enough charges to trade for a single card (which, again, your opponent might not even have by this stage of the game). Stay away unless you have a very specific problem in mind and know what you are doing.
First, imagine if the text block was a total blank here. A 6/3 for five isn’t terrible by itself to start, and even is likely very good in Parity where it can trade up with virtually anything and the Ahead stage when you can threaten smacking the opponent with a huge chunk of damage. Now, even if you have zero other Darkspire cards, Tyrant will at least give you a card or some free damage when it dies. So while it may not be a total beast in your opening hand (you can’t have a hand with nothing but five-drops in a normal format), a solid body combined with innate card-advantage will be a big helper both when the game gets grindy or when you need to put together a comeback. Granted, in the Behind stage sometimes your Tyrant will trade with something and deal damage when you needed to draw some cards (with the inverse of course that sometimes when Ahead you will draw a card instead of outright killing the opponent), but considering we have a decent baseline body for the price we pay in the first place we still can consider Darkspire Tyrant a solid deal.
What’s the worst case we get with Dishonorable Death? Besides it costing five and potentially being stuck if we fill our hand with other expensive cards, likely the worst and most common case is that we will kill something dead with no further effects. You might be spoiled from Murder, but Point-Click-Dead is something you never want to take for granted. Especially because sometimes (and most often in Development or Parity before the opponent can empty their hand) you will hit one or more cards in their hand. Considering we likely killed something of a decent cost in the first place (or it wouldn’t have been a threat worth using Dishonorable Death upon), if we get a discard trigger it should be a very relevant one—and very relevant two-for-ones are like turning off on easy street towards victory.
|Fury of the Mountain God|
As with all these Major/Minor rares, trying to powergame the “strictly best” gem combination will frequently result in going Wild for Spellshield to turn these large troops into game winning bombs. Fury has some unique problems and advantages for our Quadrants though thanks to his cost-reduction ability. It normally would be very hard to rate an 8 cost card so highly in the development quadrant, but there are few cards I would rather have in my opening hand as most games I should be able to sneak in 2-4 hits and bring Fury into a very reasonable casting cost that should result in taking over the game. Drawing Fury in Parity might be a bit more awkward though, as being an 8-cost means that in a stalled out board you might have to make unfavorable attacks in order to get Fury into the range where you can play him—but having something like the –X/-0 gem means that even if you stay in Parity for a couple turns and cast him as a 7 or 8 he is probably going to be very game changing. Fury is big-time death for the opponent if you are ahead, as you will be getting the cost reduction which means you will be slamming the door on any comeback attempts they might have. But lordy, if you are behind and topdeck a Fury of the Mountain God you are not feeling good, as that 8 cost will likely stare you in the face as you have no options to lower it and likely not enough resources to actually cast it.
If it isn’t obvious from the descriptions, Fury of the Mountain God’s Quadrant rating is what I would consider the classic example of what defines an aggressive deck bomb – he is great early and closes the game when you are ahead, and those are the primary game states you care about when your plan is to run over the opponent before they can do much about it.
|Gift of the Yazukan|
When InfamousNeo or Pentachills take a Gift of the Yazukan, feel free to cheer them on and enjoy the occasional zombie Shin’hare draft deck. When you need to win a draft to sell off the proceeds for your HEX Secret Santa, don’t go down that same path. Gift has an incredible amount of restrictions to even make it able to digitally move onto the chain. You have to have three Shin’hare in play (not something I have done a ton of and not felt like I was winning with anyway), you have to have a Shin’hare worth a darn in the graveyard (this does happen sometimes, and Shattered Destiny has a bunch of viable Shin’hare troop options to go with), and if all those stars line up you need to want to trade those three Shin’hare you have in play for the one in the graveyard with a sizeable buff. We are talking about some straight up card disadvantage here, and then a Bun’jitsu “Eggs meet Basket” approach to our troops that just doesn’t always pan out how you want it to. Gift might make some constructed waves, but don’t expect more than grins and giggles from it in Limited.
|Gortezuma, High Cleric|
Gortezume might break our four quadrants just as well as he breaks the fourth wall. Average Rating and Weighted Rating might mean less to Gortezuma than any other card on this list. If your deck is aggressive (or you take an early Gortezuma and want to be aggressive) then he is one of the best cards you can have in your opening hand or the Ahead stage. When you play Gortezuma on turn 2, he is going to be ahead of the curve when attacking for a significant amount of time and all it really takes is a single trick or removal action to get him through and your opponent below 10 health and suddenly the game might as well be over. A Gortezuma drawn in Parity is only useful if the opponent is low on health to begin with (otherwise the whole “can’t block” plagues Blood again), but there really is a monumental difference between an early Gortezuma that is a 5/3 or bigger when he becomes invincible and a fresh 2/3 Gortezuma getting in his first invincible attack. When Ahead, you likely have time to build up Gortezuma to the point where eventually he will just overtake the game by himself. However, if you are building a controlling deck that wants to grind out wins and needs powerful cards to get it out of the Behind stage should things come to that then you don’t want to touch Gortezuma with a 10′ pole.
The slightly high Development score we will give to Izydor is based upon the knowledge that having him in your opening hand will likely lead you towards making trades more often to try and both clear the board for the zombies to do work and to make those targets available in the first place (I mean, Izyn’t it the worst when you can’t use Izy?) In Parity, few cards come down with as much force as the crooked nosed one. Your opponent needs to deal immediately or you are going to create a huge amount of Attack/Defense and having two troops with lethal allows you to treat one or both as essentially unblockable until the opponent can find some way to deal with your 3/3. Izydor falls a bit in the ahead and behind stages, simply because his ability is so cost ineffective that you end up simply relying upon his base stats in most of those cases, and a 3/3 for 4 is just average as best when the game is leaning heavily in one direction.
You probably have thought of it already, but do be very aware of reversion effects when playing with/against Izydor. Turning those zombies back into something potentially even scarier is a very real possibility with both Wild and Diamond having multiple ways (some even common) to revert in Destiny/Destiny/Fate drafts.
|Minion of Yazukan|
Minion is likely going to find some home in constructed, but in Limited he just doesn’t do enough to justify taking that precious slot in your deck. Unless your deck is using some permanent buffs to power up the Minion, you aren’t going to be casting him on turn 1 as your opponent can just take the hit from a 1/1 for a long time before they ever need to worry about blocking, and the game will likely be over before they have to worry about him trading with a real troop. If you choose instead to burrow the Minion, he will at least come up as a 2/1—but on turn 4 that just won’t cut it as your opponent will likely have 3 or 4 defense troops by that time and now you are back to waiting on the Minion to come down on turn 6 as a 3/1, which still isn’t impressive and he still hasn’t done anything to be worth a card or your important 2-drop slot. Factor in how absolutely dreadful “Can’t block” is when you are behind and you have a card to steer very clear of when building your limited decks.
Not totally factored into this rating is just how synergistic Minion can be with a number of the other Shin’hare cards such as Blood Cauldron Ritualist. One of the biggest knocks on it in parity is that if your opponent can just take the hit a couple times they can delay how long they have to actually worry about dealing with a 4/1 or larger attacker that keeps coming back. If you can sacrifice Minion for value and get the bonus of pushing his stats larger it can be a great deal.
|Monsuun, Shogun of Winda’jin|
3/3 for three with Rage 2. You can stop right there, that’s one of the sweetest cards you’ll find anyway as it kills by itself in 3 turns unmolested and is still an efficient blocker if that is what you need. Then you get a ton of text that allows you to play some interesting subgames with the opponent and generate some card advantage before you start having Monsuun attack in. I imagine in most opening hands on the play you won’t want to get too greedy with Monsuun and will just be using him to drop down on turn 3 and start hacking away at the opponents health, while in other cases you start to get into “It Depends” territory for whether you need an efficient blocker, a sturdy attacker, or a Rise Again engine to allow you to start making trades with the opponent knowing that in just a few turns you will get everything back. As Monsuun is a Legendary, people likely won’t play around him unless they’ve seen him already so you should have a fairly easy time generating at least a card or two off Monsuun before you consider that his body is likely relevant at every point of the game. Even when you are Behind, while you likely aren’t going to be Tunneling at that point you at least get a cheap yet efficient troop that can trade with a great deal of opposing troops.
Rise Again is a card I love, but it also happens to be a card that just doesn’t grade out well when you try and apply it to the Quadrants. Unlike a random 4/4 for 5, Rise doesn’t always come down perfectly at the top of your curve and even if you have a target you likely aren’t getting a large cost advantage when you do try to cast it on time. Where it really shines is in big drawn out games with removal flying where you very clearly can find some troop in a graveyard somewhere that will make a difference—and in those games Rise is going to feel like an MVP because it will result in you returning the most relevant card in the matchup back into it. Where people might falter is those games where you can’t close the game with your aggro deck because instead of having a dumb vanilla troop for 5 cost you have a Rise with very few (or no) good targets until the game shifts back into a different state. Or the game where you fall behind and instead of a beefy troop you have to return a 2/2 with little upside and just get run over because of it.
Be wary, because as a 1) Rare, 2) Fun card, and 3) Card that is good in one of the most common states of the game people will likely take Rise Again quite high—but you are probably better off in the long run letting it slip some number of picks and just taking more consistent beef if you can in the early portions of your draft.
*Preface time again—Starving Lich is ONLY for Mono-Blood decks. I would rate it a 2 straight across the quadrants if you are trying to cast it in any dual shard deck because you just aren’t going to even get to play it in an average game of HEX. Quintuple Blood is just too hard for even 11/6 split decks to hit reliably before the final turns of the game. That all being out of the way, I have the space so I might as well espouse a bit on the Lich if you do go Mono-Blood.
For development, he is actually pretty sweet despite the quintuple threshold—in mono-blood you can fairly reliably count on being able to cast both him and another card on turn 5, and he is very solidly going to trade with something worth more than his cost. In Parity he has enough attack that the opponent can’t ignore his assault due to lifedrain, and with lethal he can continue to build up a ground defense at worst. When ahead he is a speedy 2 points of damage that also allows you to cast another card in the same turn easily – and while not a door-slamming kill the opponent that certainly contributes towards winning the game while you can. And behind his combination of Lifedrain and Lethal means that he will frequently (even a 1-cost) be one of the cards you are praying to topdeck to keep you in the game.
With Subtle Striker, the key is to remember that you are paying primarily for the two-drop to have in your deck to ensure opening on one of them, but Striker helps keep himself employed by having an ability that is impressively annoying as the game progresses. At this point, you are probably very used to having your charge power available to you. Killing that X/1 with Zared, making your Worker Bot to power out a quick Pterobot, and drawing your Wyatt card are all second nature—until Striker here works his finesse to prevent you from doing so. If Striker comes down early, hits for 4 damage then sits around the rest of the game and essentially “trades” with your opponent’s champion activation then that is probably a fine scenario to be in. It also isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility, as most opponents will hesitate to spend premium resources to take out a simple 2/2 unless their plan revolves around their champion power. Where Striker falls back to earth is when the game is being decided already by the troops in play and the likelihood of champion powers being the deciding factor diminishes due to the lack of remaining turns. While it is nice to be able to play Striker and something else when you are behind and need to pull back into the game, it isn’t like his ability is probably going to do anything extra for you.
Killipede is one of those cards that defines what a “Bomb” is when someone asks the question. When you drop Killipede on turn 4, the opponent better answer it immediately. They aren’t attacking into it the next turn as it will eat something, and they likely aren’t blocking it the next for that same fear – but after that they are suddenly on a clock to keep making sacrifices to their newfound insect lord or find themselves staring at the defeat screen. I can’t imagine the monster that doesn’t see Killipede in their opening hand and start pumping the fist, as though the game isn’t automatically won you are going to be presenting a very difficult to deal with angle of attack for the opponent to deal with.
The slight downside to Killipede in Parity is that the opponent might have enough troops to toss everything on the Killipede and just trade their best troop for it. When that is the bad scenario for playing Killipede, you know things are going well. Strangely when Ahead, Killipede doesn’t help much as his Toxify mechanic makes him his own man when it comes to killing fools—you might have the opponent on 5 but Killipede still wants to take them down his way rather than just old-fashioned stats to remove the full 20 health. Finally, when Behind the only downside to Killipede is that he doesn’t immediately stop a swarm or flight attackers from continuing to beat you. If the opponent is instead winning with just a handful of troops or a single big troop then Killipede can either trade with the biggest thing or threaten to eat their army slowly and let you creep back into the game.
|Xartaxis, Bishop of the Azure Fang|
Value-wise, you get a 4/4 and a 2/1 for your 5 resources and a card. That likely should be all you need to know about Xartaxis and you would walk out of here wanting to slam him everytime you saw one come your way. In terms of our Development Quadrant, that is so powerful for a five drop that we are even able to look past the normally expensive cost and be quite happy with having Xartaxis in our opening hand as making multiple, relevant bodies is what Development often boils down to. In Parity, the biggest problem is that Xartaxis likely will be “just a 4/4” as the 2/1 Spiderspawn will likely be outclassed by whatever random bodies are lying around in your opponent’s Limited deck. That isn’t to say that he’s not good, as a 4/4 often is just the right size to exert its will upon any board state, but just that you aren’t getting any insane value out of the exchange when you play him there.
Things get interesting past that. If you are Ahead when you play Xartaxis, you likely then present a nice Sophie’s choice to the opponent of starting to take 4 to the face or starting to let you draw cards with the Spiderspawn—both of which likely will very quickly translate into victory for the Xartaxis wielding player. When Behind, few cards shine from your deck the way a Xartaxis can. One of the defining aspects of cards in this stage is that you pull a Yu-Gi-Oh heart of the cards moment out when things are desperate and put cards like Xartaxis into your mind as “gotta draw this or I’m dead.” The 4/4 will stabilize most assaults, and having the extra body to chump block often means that even swarms won’t be immediately killing you when you drop the Sapphire Bishop.
|Gront the Infinite|
It should be very apparent to everybody that Gront is at least a low-level bomb—you will play this card and somewhere in the world your opponent is going to shrug their shoulders and say “Can’t beat that card.” As a 6-drop Gront is not normally a part of the Development phase, but his presence in your hand will likely influence how you attack and block throughout the phase (as you know that 1-defense troops are worth less than other cards, and you can make trades appropriately). In Parity, few cards are better than a Gront—he is going to destroy most board states within two turns and the opponent shortly thereafter. While ahead he isn’t the greatest card, but just being a 5/5 that prevents all 1-defense troops from the opponent from living means he can still close games by himself. And when behind, your opponent can either kill Gront outright or they will have probably just one more attack they can make before he swings the game completely around with his ability. You can’t ask for much more from your HEX cards (well, you can ask, but they probably aren’t giving much more than what they have already!)
Top 5 Blood Commons:
1) Crackling Rot – 6.65
2) Killblade of the Milky Eye – 6
3) Darkspire Punisher – 5.95
4) Tormented Ritualist – 5.5
5) Grave Nibbler – 5.4
Crackling Rot, while not killing everything, remains as one of the premium commons in Shattered Destiny. Killblade and the Punisher are just below it as cheap troops with powerful abilities that affect the game, but after that the drop-off is fairly significant to cards like Tormented Ritualist and Grave Nibbler that normally are just filler. It likely is fairly obvious from this list that Blood decks are going to lean a bit aggressive with the multitude of cheap troops that made this list, but the power of cards like Rot and Killblade certainly lend themselves to Blood having the flexibility to play multiple roles in the format.
Average Blood Common – 4.77
Weighted Average Blood Common – 4.72
An Average score and a Weighted Average score don’t tell the entire story, but they do give insight into the overall power level of a shard. Blood is likely a little weak in the commons section, with more than a few clunkers and (more importantly and not told entirely by this metric) a load of cards that are focused on being used primarily in aggressive builds. The key to Blood will be identifying if no one else is focusing on taking those aggressive cards—there aren’t enough for multiple players to fight over them and the premium cards of the shard at the same time.