Common Knowledge

Jun 14, 2017

Hey there! This is HEX Rysu, aka Ryan Sutherland, once again, and this time I’m here to tell you about some of the subtle changes we’re making to the way our sets are designed. For many of you, this won’t be a huge change. In fact, most of those who don’t read this article may never notice that this is a change for the entirety of Frostheart’s lifespan. To fully explain the changes, our story takes us back to the beginning of Frostheart’s design life and the problem posed by commons.

A Common Problem

One of the challenges of designing sets for HEX is that we want to fill as many of our common slots with cards that interact with all the new mechanics. For Frostheart, this means more cards with Illuminate, Gladiator, Runic, etc. However, commons have many masters to serve alongside introducing basic versions of these mechanics to players. Here’s a few of the other roles that commons have:

  • Reduce complexity of the average pack through textless troops and troops with just a single keyword power.
  • Have simple actions that also reduce complexity.
  • Give a home to socketed troops, as most of the changes to a card happen when new gems are introduced rather than to the body those gems live on.
  • Provide players with narrow reserves cards with effects like reversion and artifact or constant destruction.
  • Help with things that are universal and help to define shard identity, like shard fixing in Diamond or troop recursion in Blood.

In the past, it’s proven difficult to have cards that serve both masters effectively. For example, Rust and Ruin from Herofall checks off both the ‘being a narrow reserves card’ and ‘being a card that supports the mechanics of the set’ boxes at first glance… but is that really the case?

The question that I had to ask myself was whether or not Rust and Ruin accomplishes these goals. If my opponent has artifacts or constants I’ll certainly bring this in, although I’d be happier to have Nature Reigns. Meanwhile, if I’m simply a Wild Dreadling deck, running the card before knowing whether or not my opponent has constants and artifacts is a very risky proposition. As a result, this card doesn’t serve either role to full effectiveness. But, because there are only so many slots at common, this card was printed to serve both roles.

When I began working on Frostheart, I started looking for a way to allow these commons to exist without burdening cards that are trying to do work towards the goals of the set. The solution I found was to create a subgroup of commons that can exist from set to set, which carry the weight of all the points I outlined earlier and allow each set’s unique commons to carry more complexity and power than they would otherwise. This subgroup is what we refer to as Core Commons.

Core Commons will be a mix of reprints and new cards in the set that will carry over from set to set as needed. However, because we want most of the cards players open to be cards that are unique to each set, these cards will only make up four of the twelve common slots in each pack. Here’s an example of the difference between a pack of Scars of War and a pack of Frostheart:

Scars of War Pack:

  • 1x Rare or Legendary
  • 4x Uncommons
  • 12x Commons

Frostheart Packs:

  • 1x Rare or Legendary
  • 4x Uncommons
  • 8x Frostheart Commons
  • 4x Frostheart Core Commons

These commons will carry over for at least the chapter that they are created in. This means when we release Set 8 it will look like this:

Set 8 Packs:

  • 1x Rare or Legendary
  • 4x Uncommons
  • 8x Set 8 Commons
  • 4x Frostheart Core Commons

These changes will mean you’ll see some of the same cards in both Frostheart and Set 8. This has some implications for drafting. For example, if you don’t pick up the reserves card you need in your Set 8 packs, you can pick them up in Frostheart. However, don’t put them off for too long, because Core Commons are only half as likely as any other card to show up in each pack.

Core Power

So, what are some Core Commons that will be in Frostheart?

Here’s a few of the reprints you’ll see:

Effigy of NulzannCall the GraveShardcall
Razor’s EdgeMindcallerHorned Giraffe

These cards do a great job of showing some of those concepts I listed earlier. We have textless troops, socketed troops, and troops with simple abilities alongside actions that are both simple and which help round out abilities that should be a part of every format of HEX. Note that often these cards will have more context based on the sets that they are in. For example, Effigy of Nulzann’s power, like most common socketed troops, depends more on what gems are available than what its own textbox is. Meanwhile, cards like Shardcall and Call the Grave are more powerful in this set thanks to Runes (which Shardcall triggers) and Call the Grave’s synergy (it works extremely well with troops with Deathcry powers).

Aside from some reprints, this batch of Core Commons will also introduce a good number of brand new cards to HEX. However, unlike the cards from Frostheart, these cards are themed around general Entrath lore as opposed to the specific Frost Ring Arena storyline. This means you’ll still see members of the Ardent and the Underworld allied cards appearing in these commons.

War BruteMonsagi DeadeyeDuskwing Scout
Xamahuac SlayerChaostongueMesa Wildspeaker

These cards help to both build off the Ardent and Underworld troops of the first six sets of HEX, while also giving our latest set a lot of flexibility through access to basic effects. This is great because it avoids crowding out designs that are important to Frostheart as a whole.

Treat MachineCannibalizeRenew
FirepowerBlast OffBoonberries

New actions allow us to create clean versions of cards that we’ve done in the past, but which were a bit more complex. Compare Cannibalize to cards like Haunting Cry or Blood’s Favor, both of which shouldn’t exist set after set due to their set specific mechanics and complexity. New actions also allow us to put jetpacks on shin’hare.

While I can’t guarantee that each of these commons will be around forever, the goal was to make commons that could and would be brought back as necessary. This means that even as we enter Sets 9 and 10, we will keep as many of these staples around as we can, hopefully changing only a handful of them as we need new tools for our toolbox. For those paying attention—yes, this means that Fateweave (featured on Renew) is planned to be an ongoing keyword for HEX.

To the Core

All in all, there will be 75 Core Commons in Frostheart, which alongside the other 240 cards puts the set at 315. This makes Frostheart the largest set we’ve launched since our first set, Shards of Fate. However, it also means future sets will be slightly smaller when it comes to unique cards, because there will be fewer new cards required to create a balanced format.

As I said at the beginning of this article, this is a pretty big change on the back end to how we create sets and how packs are generated, but for most players the impact is minimal. You probably won’t notice until you start seeing some of the same cards in Set 8 that show up in Frostheart. This change means that Limited will have a wider variety of cards to play with, and all commons unique to the set will be much more focused on the new and exciting themes of that set.

That’s it for today, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse at some of our upcoming commons along with some of the decisions that go into creating a set. Stay tuned for more spoilers here and on social media, and, if you want to debate which is cuter—the shin’hare with a jetpack or the Boonberries—make sure to visit our forums below.

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