Welcome to the Year in Review for the HEX TCG. 2014 brought us many things for HEX. After the successful Kickstarter the year before and the launch of the Alpha (which included all the players from the Kickstarter) we were already in full swing when 2014 started. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at how HEX progressed throughout the year.
In January we got more cards added to the Alpha client. This may come as a surprise to new players, but the Alpha client did not launch with every Set 1 card integrated yet. While Alpha players were treated to 4 of every card, the metagame kept shifting as new cards were being introduced.
This month also brought us Sealed Deck tournaments, the first form of limited we had in HEX. Since this awarded packs as prizes, we got our first look at the Pack Opening UI (hi, Kismet!) as well.
Finally, January brought the HEXTCGPro.com Challenge Series community tournaments. If you want to follow along with the metagame for Set 1 and how it shook out in serious competition, you can see the archives of the Top 8 decklists month by month over on their forums.
In February of this year, we continued to see bug fixes and cards added. We got the final piece of the Triumverate in Lord Adam, the Powerful, and a modification to the chain where activating non-targeted powers used the chain again. (It did, then it didn’t, now it does again. It was a weird time in HEX.) Two cards were removed from the client: Persecute and Field of Poppies, and have yet to make it back into the game.
Cory Jones also did a Q&A for the HEX players over on his blog. It’s a little dated, but that’s the idea of this retrospective; to see how much has changed over the past year when it comes to HEX.
We also got a confirmation of a change to how Mercenaries would work. Originally it was stated that Mercs would be bound to the player, untradable. After further review (and much feedback from the players), the Hex Development team reversed their stance on this and Mercs would be a tradeable commodity when the game launched.
Deck sleeves! This may not mean much, but this was really the first time Kickstarter backers could start to differentiate their levels from one another. Deck sleeves are an amazing addition to the game and really help the game feel more like a traditional table-top game while at the same time delivering personalization to decks.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this month also started Booster Drafts as a limited tournament type. I know a large chunk of the Kickstarter tiers got a year’s worth (or lifetime) of Booster Drafts so they were foaming at the mouth for this content to finally make it into the client.
Finally, four of the more staple constructed cards in the game (Angel of Dawn, Vampire King, Cerulean Mirror Knight, and Gore Feast of Kot’Tepetl) made their appearance in the client. And thus the metagame would never be the same.
As April rolled in the Slacker Backer option ended. Slacker Backer was a way to fund the game and get some packs and perks for people who missed the Kickstarter. In this month we got to see a HUGE amount of card balancing happen, stats on dozens of cards got adjusted and we knew then that the Alpha was nearing its end.
We also got Swiss tournaments implemented into the game, as well as prize payouts for the tournaments that ran.
Finally, near the end of April, Closed Beta began. Alpha accounts were wiped out of everything they were granted, and everyone started with only their Kickstarter rewards.
When Closed Beta began tournaments were not active for the first couple weeks. This was agonizing as the most efficient way to open packs was in a tournament environment. Finally, in mid-May, Drafts were activated and players got a taste of the purest form of HEX on a level playingfield.
Closed Beta was also when Wizards of the Coast levied their lawsuit against HEX on various grounds. I won’t go into that here, as there are plenty of other places you can find information on the on-going lawsuit. Suffice it to say that the lawsuit was a major event in HEX’s 2014, so I would be remiss to not mention it.
June saw the game celebrate 1 year since the successful Kickstarter, and we got special “Birthday Princess Cory” sleeves as a reward. In addition, players who were in the Alpha got special “Alpha Player” sleeves this month as well.
The Auction House finally went live and we were excited to finally acquire cards through a means other than opening packs or drafts. There were some hiccups with the original Auction House, but nothing catastrophic.
Finally, June saw the start of the 128 man tournaments. They wanted some serious testing on these so they were free, with prizes, for the first couple weeks. Then without fanfare they switched over to a paid prize structure and player interest in them dropped dramatically. The 128 man tournaments used to fire off regularly, now they barely break the 16 minimum players needed, and sometimes don’t fire at all.
July got us some news from Hex Entertainment that Christe Golden’s novel, the Accidental Knight was completed and ready for editing. In addition, we got to see the first glimpses of the tutorial during one of the weekly Kickstarter updates.
Hex also wanted to try their hand at running an “unlimited” tournament for as many players as were logged in. It would be a completely free constructed tournament, with bonus prizes if you ended up matched up with a Dev.
This was the first time we got a real glimpse as to how shaky HEX’s servers might be. After around 500 people signed up for the tournament, anyone else looking to join got to stare at a spinning blue wheel for upwards of an hour. HEX employees were not even able to get into the tournament, so the time kept getting pushed later and later in the day. In the end, the tournament was abandoned and players were compensated with tickets into 8-man and scheduled Constructed tournaments. To this day, HEX has yet to successfully execute an unlimited player tournament.
Finally, near the end of July, we got word that Set 2: Shattered Destiny was aiming for release after Open Beta and “before September” and that the Arena PVE would follow “hot on the heels”.
August began with a 24 hour Charity stream on Twitch.tv. Cirouss and Infam0usne0 played Hex in its various formats while interviewing employees of HEX Entertainment and Cryptozoic. Tons of information on Shattered Destiny was revealed, and we were still under the illusion that it was releasing within the month.
GenCon happened in August as well, and HEX players got their first taste of Set 2 in drafts and premade constructed decks at computers set up by Cryptozoic. We were treated to seeing the new UI in action as well, and many people showed irritation that the resources moved to the other side of the screen, but the game felt and played a lot smoother.
Many clandestine photos were taken of Set 2 cards over the GenCon weekend, and it became clear that not all the Set 2 cards were in the client yet. This set off alarms in many players’ head that Set 2 would not make the “by September” date, something we were not officially told until the final Friday update of the month.
September saw the hiring of CM_Phenteo to take over community management, and also our first in-depth preview of the initial PVE offering: Arena. Although it was a lore-based article, it got the community talking about PVE in a positive light, knowing that it was immenent and that they would soon be reaping gold from defeating AI gladiators one after the other.
We also got HEX T-shirts for sale on Amazon. At GenCon there were posters that were sold with codes for special sleeves, and it was said that they wanted these to be sold online as well. Selling shirts via Amazon was the trial run. It was quickly found out that Amazon didn’t offer international shipping, and it was always the goal of selling the posters online that they would be available to players beyond North America. So with that they have gone back to the drawing board and as of the time of this article, we have yet to see them available for sale.
On the last day of the month the “new UI” that was sneak peeked at GenCon was finally released in the “King Gabriel” patch, one of the largest and most far reaching patches the game had. Many card bugs were fixed (but unfortunately many were introduced as well).
Still no Shattered Destiny.
This month we also started getting some legitimate Shattered Destiny previews with regularity as well. HEX officially recognized streamers of the game with their Daily Streaming schedule, as well as many streamers getting partnered with Twitch, which was huge for the game.
Finally, the need for beta keys was removed as a restriction to play. This “Soft Open Beta” (or whatever you call it) is still in effect. The game isn’t in Open Beta, but it’s not in Closed Beta either.
Still no Shattered Destiny.
November got us super excited for the end of 2014. Cory Jones did a day-long Ask Me Anything on the HEX forums. We got a TON of information out of this, and it was the topic of discussion for weeks afterwards.
Two things of interest that came out of that was that Set 2 was planned for release in November and then Arena PVE would be out in December. Near the end of November we got word that Set 2 had a release date of November 32nd (or December 2nd in the real world). This was close enough for everyone and the Set 2 hype was in full swing with many streamers and fan sites getting preview cards to show off and discuss.
Also we got the final release of Christe Golden’s novel, The Accidental Knight. Those who wanted to know more about the world of Entrath and the story behind HEX now had a definitive place to go.
Shortly before December 2nd we got word that Shattered Destiny would be delayed one more week. This was a disappointment because it was mentioned that this delay would cause a delay of the Arena PVE as well, and it would no longer be coming in 2014.
Set 2 launched with another set of tweaks to the client UI: the Chain was now in the middle of the screen, duplicate cards stacked on top of one another, and the resources were moved back to the left side! We got new champions and the morning of Set 2’s release we got a full spoiler of cards available in the set; Shattered Destiny theorycrafting could now begin in full swing.
The initial weekend of Shattered Destiny’s launch saw players play in special release events that earned them Alternate Art cards and used an “all set 2” format. The 2/2/2 format for drafts was fun, but in the end missing Set 1 cards in the mix made it a very different game.
With the release weekend over, we got a small hotfix before the holidays and a promise of more information on the PVE Arena at the beginning of January. Much breath is being held in anticipation of 2015 kicking off with a bang, but players should look at this past year and see that delays are inevitable and commonplace when it comes to HEX.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store. Cory’s Q&A had some tidbits on what they are trying to get done in the first half of the year, so I recommend giving that a once over as a preview of what we can expect in the next six months!
What was your favorite event from 2014? Leave a comment on this article letting me know what the best thing about HEX that happened in 2014 in your eyes was.