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Blood Cup Tournament Report from Champion Xantosch

Xantosch, the recent Blood Cup winner, details his deck choice, card choice, his rounds, and how he sees the metagame evolving.

Hi everybody!

I would like to share some thoughts about the Blood Cup, which I participated in the past weekend with much success as I went undefeated the whole tournament. I will comment about my deck choice, discuss briefly how the tournament went round for round, and give my humble opinion on the current/new metagame after Set 2 hit the table.

1. Deck choice

My Deck: “Lean Back” (this is a reference to the good ol’ Magic: The Gathering times where Blue/White Control gives you so much control that you just relax and deal with just every threat they have, hopefully!)

Shards: Diamond / Sapphire
Champion: Dimmid

4 Countermagic
4 Verdict of the Ancient Kings

This is the first line of defense/denial: just do not let the key actions/troops hit the ground. In my opinion, there is no way around of running the full set of four each in this deck.

4 Time Ripple
4 Buccaneer

This is the second line of defense: bounce/slow-down. This is so important, do not ever think about cutting these out. These cards just kick the opponent back a lot in their plan, it makes inspire troops worse, and gives you time to set up your defense.

4 Solitary Exile

The third line of defense. I really like this card; it is so flexible. Threats you could not counter/bounce any more can be handled just fine.

4 Angel of Dawn
4 Living Totem
3 Hopeheart Unicorn

This is your main army: Angel of Dawn is just huge in this deck; there is nothing better that can happen when this comes into play free, with resources open to counter, bounce, or whatever. A 4/4 flyer is something that for most decks is not easy to handle at all. Living Totems are not bad to draw early and they get better as you have more resources in play. Unicorns are solid early drops and help later on vs. Extinction, which was quite a popular card seen in tournament (find more on that on part three of this report).

4 Soul Marble

This is an MVP and your win condition; just the best card in this deck. The way you can play it (drop it early, use on end of opponent’s turn after checking if you have to counter anything) just fits perfectly in the deck’s theme. I used it about 4 out of 5 times as Soul Cavalry instead of Soul Armaments. Normally, you just do not have enough troops on board to justify the Armaments. More often than not, the Cavalry will be the first (and only?) creature on board, and you can start directly to regain life with your Champion’s Power, which is quit important against aggro decks. Another advantage for Cavalry: your opponents cannot get rid of it with spells like Time Ripple/Solitary Exile/Chaos Key and so on.

11 Diamond Shard
10 Sapphire Shard
4 Shard of Purpose

25 shards seems for me the right number. Soul Marble just wants that you drop a shard on every turn—and overall it lets you not get shard screwed too often.

Final thoughts: Every card in this deck has its reason and, in about 50% of the games I played during the tournament, I did not switch a single card from my reserves in. That may be because my reserves were not the best options (I just made the deck on the Friday before the tournament to be honest, and invested about 2 minutes in the reserves… 🙂 ). There is almost no “Damn! Why now?!” draw with it either, as you can use most (all?) of the cards early, mid, and late game (big advantage here, I do not see another deck in field that can say this. One last note about the reserves: Just make sure that you include 4 Cerulean Mirror Knights—the other cards are up to you. However, be aware that it is quite difficult to take out something from maindeck. 😉


2. The tournament (briefly round for round)

Round 1
Opponent: StarPhoenix
Champion: Poca, the Conflagrater
Deck: Mono-Ruby Aggro-Robot-Gore Feast with Forge of Cadoc x4
Result: 2:0

Game 1/2: He got some strong early drops with Turn 1 Construct Foreman on Hex Geode; but, well, Time Ripple/Buccaneer just kills this aggro dream completely, and that was exactly what happened. No problems, good match-up, as long as you get the bounce not too late of course.


Round 2
Opponent: Judgenaut
Champion: Zared Venomscorn
Deck: Sapphire/Blood/Wild Arborean Rootfather control
Result: 2:1

Game 1/2: We split the first two games. The game he won he had 2 8/8 flying/spellshielded 8/8 Rootfather on table (obviously I lost the counter war here!); Judgenaut held one back and the other attacked me. My only Angel, even with Soul Armaments, was not able to hold that flying King Kong off for a long time.
Game 3: Time was running out, as he seems to have a really bad internet connection (Judgenaut was seven minutes behind my play time in each game). My draw was really bad here, just too many shards. I had for some turns only shards in hand, where he was holding Rootfather for quite a while in hand, before finally drawing a card with its second ability.  Puuuh, glad to see that guy go back to the deck instead of on table where I could not handle him. I manage to win in the last extra turn, bringing him to -1 life with a big Living Totem; after some minor success with my weird anti control plan I had in reserves (3x Agent of M.O.L.E / 4x Chronic Madness). First and only time I used it, better forget about my idea right now after reading it 🙂


Round 3
Opponent: Errantsquire
Champion: Running Deer
Deck: Ruby/Wild control (lots of removal, big burn spells, did not see much of the deck)
Result: 2:0

Game 1/2: AoD hitting table on turn 2, I think in both games. Well that’s most time a 13%
chance that this might happen in a game (sorry to make this visible Errantsquire), and even having the counterspells to protect it is just “gg”. I concentrated my Angel luck on this round, as I rarely got it on board early this way, but well, if it happens, just lean back and enjoy.


Round 4
Opponent: waux
Champion: Wyatt the Sapper
Deck: Diamond/Sapphire Control (quit different than mine, more creature based, no Soul Marble, no Buccaneer, Exiles only in Reserves)
Result: 2:0

Game 1/2: Even he had much more troops, Soul Marble is just a huge advantage here, as
he hardly can overrun me and overall Marble just wins here big time.


Round 5
Opponent: zebuli
Champion: Poca, the Conflagrater
Deck: Ruby/Sapphire Gore Feast of Kog’Tepetl (4x Time Ripple/3 xCountermagic maindeck)
Result: 2:1

Game 1/2/3: Very close games, as his version was quite difficult to handle for me with his higher control part. “Free” Angels were bounced back to my hand before I could even
think about attacking with it and Countermagic makes it always more difficult. If I
remember correctly, it was Soul Marble again which saved the day in the games.


Round 6
Opponent: Noise
Champion: Poca, the Conflagrater
Deck: Ruby/Sapphire Gore feast
Result: 2:0

Game 1: Maindeck Heat wave surprised me in a Gore feast deck and crushed my early
“double Living Totem drop aggro dream” completely. I managed to come back and win it nevertheless.
Game 2: Not much I remember, but I think he was screwed here; at least I was not
in danger of losing the game..


Round 7
Opponent: Shinshire (was at 5:1 and got paired up)
Champion: Poca, the Conflagrater
Deck: Ruby/Sapphire Gore feast “control” (Heat Wave/some Time Ripple and Verdicts)
Result: 2:0

Game 1/2: In one game he had a bad draw, and when it comes to the pure control vs. control elements battle, I just win. Third Gore Feast deck in a row I had, you are
really dependent upon drawing early Time Ripple/Buccaneer to be in a good situation. But with them, it’s surely not a bad matchup.


Round 8:
Opponent: Dameneon (was at 6:1 and got paired up)
Champion: Warmaster Fuzzuko
Deck: Wild/Sapphire control/bounce with Wrathwood Master Moss
Result: 1:1 (Intentional Draw)

I was for sure in Top8 before this round, and so I just accepted his draw proposal. He seems also to be a nice guy that deserved it btw 🙂


Opponent: Kindmime
Champion: Poca, the Conflagrater
Deck: Blood/Ruby Monsuun, Shogun of Winda’jin Darkspire Gore Feast
Result: 2:0

Game 1/2: Soul Marble or better Soul Cavalry just ruining his day. These games went smoother than I expected, even though he had quite the luck with the 50% Darkspire effects. He just could not kill me before I started to regain life with Dimmids Power and Cavalry. Soul Marble makes for sure the difference in this matchup. Nice guy though 🙂


Opponent: Homunculus
Champion: Gozzok
Deck: Diamond/Blood Lifegain/drain with Paladin of the Necropolis and lots of Darkspires
Result: 2:0

Game 1/2: I remember early Royal Den Mother in both games, which faced a prompt bounce on the bear pet. I think it was in second game, when just every threat he
played I countered, but it was at least in one game close. A Darkspire Tyrant wants to be attacked or at least to be killed, but what he does not like for sure is a Solitary Exile . I like this deck, I think we could squeeze even more out of it with some work.


Opponent: Kroan
Champion: Poca, the Conflagrater
Deck: Ruby/Sapphire Gore Feast with Storm Cloud (quite popular in Gore Feast deck, I counted about 10 of them running this) Result: 2:1

Game 1: He played first, my hand was Shard of Purpose, Time Ripple, 3x Bucaneer, Living Totem and Unicorn. I got greedy and decided to keep this hand. Big mistake as I should not have taken this gamble. I probably was just too confident after the Quarter and Semi Final. Got the second shard delayed one turn (had to discard), and the third one never showed up. Fail…

Game 2: He mulliganed to 3 (!) cards, just getting no shards at all before this. Crazy, never seen this before. I started with a massive triple Cerulean Mirror Knight beatdown (sided in for Living Totems as usual vs. Gore Feast), supported with a Buccaneer. I did not get a good hand/draw here for sure, but had such huge card advantage after the mulligans it was just too much to make it here a real game.

Game 3: When he played a second ruby on turn 2 I already knew that he was in shard trouble again most likely. And he was indeed not finding the Sapphire for a few more
turns. That was already to late, as double Soul Marble with Shard Flood on my side
getting me two Soul Cavalry. Some bounce tricks later after he tried to block them to death it was over.

Woooohoo, after a really strong performance of this deck I ended up to become Champion
of the Blood Cup. Feels quite good I have to say. 🙂 Also the deck convinced me, losing
only 3 games (!) the whole weekend with it on the tournament, with 20 wins on opposite.


3. Current Meta Game

Last, but not least, I’d share some of my thoughts about the current Meta Game after the Set 2 release. I think that the “old” archetypes are still dominant, with Gore Feast making about 30% of the field in tournament. Maindecking more control (Countermagic/Verdict) as well as Heating Wave instead of/in addition to Burn seems the way to go, and man, Cerulean Mirror Knight were just EVERYWHERE. So many decks running them in Maindeck; it is incredible. So, in my opinion, bounce (Time Ripple/Buccaneer) is stronger than removal here. An interesting “combo” deck I see is with Goremaster and Crackling Bolt/Crackling Sprout/Crackling Vortex . Check out the deck of Cirouss, this has potential. I heard
one Goremaster of his dealt OVER 9000 damage (well ok, it was way over 100, but still).
Probably there is too much control cards that can ruin the day (Time Ripple/Murder/Exiles…), but we will see.

Soul Marble: About 12 Decks maindecking it (around 10%), but normally not a full set, rather 1-2. I see this could be a meta game defining card. At least I am a huge fan of it in control decks. Astonishingly, the version I run was not popular at all, rather it was used in Blood/Diamond or in a Trishard human style deck.

Darkspires: That is, for sure now after Set2 hit the ground, a viable deck choice. Mono Blood, with Ruby, or with Diamond, there are several possibilities. The over-hyped Monsuun is in my opinion not really a Maindeck card. Too much bounce that makes it more often than not “just” a 3/3 with rage 2 without any other benefit. That was my first thought after the tournament and I checked how many decks were running Extinction maindeck. One third of all decks played it maindec;, how crazy is this? I counted 51 out of 151 decks, and not counting the ones that run it only in reserves. Still, for me, Monsuun remains a situational card. But better be prepared for mass removal more than ever. Hopeheart Unicorn is on opposite side of the meta and not popular at the moment; I only found it in eight decks (not counting reserves). I think that will change a bit.

Overall I like the diversity of the decks that exists.

For me the current Tier 1 decks are:

Diamond/Sapphire Gore Feast
Ruby/Blood Darkspire (with or without Gorefeast)
Diamond/Sapphire Control (hehe I have to say that!)

Close to Tier1:

Diamond/Blood Control
Sapphire/Wild Control
Mono Sapphire Control (I fear and hate that deck)


So that was it from my side. I hope you enjoyed reading it 🙂 Thanks again for the organization of this tournament and the great streaming along the whole weekend. Amazing, what the HEX community can do with a lot of passion from a couple of
people involved. Thumbs up!

Hex name: Xantosch
Twitch name: Dashgoor

9 Comments on Blood Cup Tournament Report from Champion Xantosch

  1. AUStarwars (Sunspear in game) // December 23, 2014 at 8:42 am // Reply

    Do you feel that the limited time to get cards from the new set may have affected the meta big time? Seems like there is more to Shattered Destiny than is shown so far but card availability is currently an issue..thoughts?

    Congrats on the win and thanks for the involved write up, I really Enjoyed it

    • Hey Scott,

      I both wanted to say hi and answer your question. You may not remember, but I was part of the Binghamton crew back in the day, first playing wowminis then Wowtcg after minis were canceled. Harry, my wife, and I all traveled down to AU for a charity wowtcg event a few years ago (around scourgewar I believe) and my wife ended up taking down the tournament that weekend. So, it’s neat to see you in the hex community.

      I think you have a valid point about the timing of the tournament. We partly planned it for that weekend intentionally to help jumpstart the meta, but it is also going to be incomplete due to it being so early. As I said on the podcast a few weeks ago, certain cards that may be very good won’t be played with their full potential until they are widely distributed. I think Forge of Cadoc has room in the meta in a non-dwarf deck (or even dwarves/robots), but you need 4 of them to justify them. Having four for the Blood cup would have been expensive/prohibitive for many deckbuilders.

      For many players, the two things to rely on would be 1) aggro (it’s always safe in a new meta), and 2) the old meta. I think we saw a healthy mix of both with some innovation that may not have been rewarded quite yet. I doubt the meta is far from settled; hell, we (the community) were discovering new tier 1 decks in set 1 even after six months of play. However, I think this was a great opening tournament to see how people are thinking about the set thus far.

      • Hey sub run I thought u looked familiar. Yeah I’m stuck here. Still upset about wow daily but hey move on I guess

        I knew the answer to my question on a macro level, the author was so thorough in his analysis was curious what he felt may have been missing. The dwarves are a good call

        • Also don’t take my timing comments as a diss at all I think it’s awesome what u guys are doing. I’m new to your site and it’s great!

          • Every time I load up Hearthstone I ger disappointed by it being a poor facade of a good game. It has its place, but it just never does enough to keep my interest and just presents a poor image of a better game.

            And no worries, I took your question as exactly as you intended it in regards to how we can interpret the results in context of the long run set 2 meta. Since our next tournament is set 2 only, I think the hextechs open on 1/17 is our next decent glimpse jnto how things are shaping up.

  2. Thanks for the reply, appreciate it.

    Yes we may see more Set2 cards definitly, at least I don’t expect that many of us already have a playset of the good legendaries. Nevertheless, Set1 will domate for sure also in future, I see Set2 in most decks only as addition.

  3. For me the current Tier 1 decks are:

    Diamond/Sapphire Gore Feast
    Ruby/Blood Darkspire (with or without Gorefeast)
    Diamond/Sapphire Control (hehe I have to say that!)

    By Diamond/Sapphire Gore Feast, I am assuming you meant Ruby/Sapphire?5

  4. Congrats on the victory! I’m looking forward to playing in future events so the insight on the metagame www great.

  5. Good read! Well-written article.

    Congrats on the championship.

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