Today we are going to take a look at an archetype that we have not seen a lot of this season – midrange. Midrange decks are defined by their access to both aggressive and controlling elements, allowing them to interact with the faster decks they need to slow down while still pressuring the slower, more controlling, decks. Midrange decks are some of the most fun to play in my experience, because they allow you to pivot roles based on your position in a given game and what matchup you are playing.
Hexer “Icecon” recently made top 8 of two HEX Bash events with a Blood-Wild Deathcry deck that is of the midrange variety:
This deck leans on the power of a few different cards to advance it’s game plan. The first pair of these are the powerful two drops:
Lord Blightbark is a potent enabler for any deck with Deathcry in it. He turns Deathcry troops from resilient threats into ones that generate value when they enter (as well as leave) play. Blightbark allows us to create large board states from very little very quickly. He is a must answer threat for control decks and aggressive decks alike when played early.
Emperor’s Lackey may not seem like an enabler at first glance, but having a quick speed, on demand, sacrifice outlet is very powerful in a deck full of troops that trigger effects when they die. Lackey is especially impressive when playing against cards like Transmogrifade and Clash of Steel which would normally transform or void troops with Deathcry effects. Even ignoring all of these strengths, Lackey’s 4/4 stats make it a brick wall for aggressive decks to try and attack through.
The third enabler for the deck is a bit larger than the first two:
In addition to generating value with Deathcry troops every single turn, Grounds Creeper also has very reasonable stats. The fact that Creeper has five points of defense means that it can keep Crusaders at bay, while also being able to live through Lazgar’s Vengeance.
With the enablers covered, let’s talk about the troops they’re pushing; the strongest of them are a pair of potent three drops:
Rune Ear Hierophant has always been a powerhouse HEX card, and this gem rotation is no exception. Socketed with Major Blood Orb of Fleshcraft and Minor Wild Orb of Blossoms Rune Ear Hierophant generates not just one, but two new threats when it dies. This is especially powerful against aggressive decks that are interested in using cheap removal to clear a path for their attackers. When we play Lord Blightbark on turn two and curve into a Rune Ear Hierophant on turn three, we generate seven attack across three bodies right away, with Rune Ear immediately threatening another five attack across two more bodies if it is killed.
Promiscuous Succubus is what is often described as a “high ceiling, low floor” card. This means that when Succubus is doing powerful things, it is very strong. But, when it is awkward, it ends up being close to unplayable. Thankfully, between Lord Blightbark, Emperor’s Lackey, and Takahiro’s champion power, we have a lot of ways to mitigate that awkwardness.
Beyond BW Deathcry’s powerful three drops is a pair of solid “value” troops that are good against the more aggressive decks that are popular in the format right now:
Naive Lackey is never an ace, but the floor for him is also high. Often able to block something in combat and then replace itself with a new card, Lackey will rarely disappoint. He provides a cheap body that we don’t mind throwing away to Takahiro’s champion power on turn three, while also being able to keep an opposing Escape Goat at bay.
Blightbush is everything an aggressive deck does not want to play against. Not only does it play to the board early, but the fact that it creates two new blockers when it dies means your opponent will not be able to clear it out of the way to keep attacking. When coupled with the Deathcry gems on Rune Ear Hierophant, we often end up with a pile of small troops. Because of this, we play two different cards that allow us to close a game quickly with these tiny troops:
Woken Drokkatar is the more powerful of these two cards but is also more difficult to play consistently. Commander PROMPT can always be played when we have four resources. Meanwhile, the speed at which we can play Drokkatar will vary based on how quickly we can have troops enter play.
Finally, we round out the main deck with a smattering of interactive cards for different matchups:
Withering Gaze and Culmination in Blood give the deck the tools it needs to interact with decks like Diamond Sapphire Control game one, while Herofall provides spot removal that is useful for killing Mama Yetis and Dark Heart of Nulzanns alike.
The last thing worth mentioning in the main deck is the resource base. While we find the usual suspects of Wild Ice and Necropolis Coins, this archetype gets a huge leg up over other two shard combinations due to Monsagi Lily Pad. The consistency gained from having access to two non-slow dual shards is very important for playing all of our cards on time.
One of the most important things to have a grasp on when playing a midrange deck like Blood-Wild Deathcry is role assessment. How we want to play out a given game will often vary based on not only the matchup we are playing, but how our draw lines up in that game. Occasionally we will curve Lord Blightbark into Rune Ear Hierophant, into Blightbush, into Grounds Creeper and have a very large board very quickly. Other games we will play an Emperor’s Lackey on turn two to brick wall the Ruby deck, and then spend our third turn playing another two drop and killing one of their troops.
We are often the aggressor in this matchup. Their end game of Psychic Ascension is better than almost anything we can put together, so we want to try and end the game before they can play it. The most important balance against the control deck is figuring out when we are supposed to play into cards like Clash of Steel and Eldurathan’s Glory and when we can afford to hold back. Sometimes we can afford to pace our rate of play, other times we will need to play out threats and make them have it.
Post reserves we get access to two more copies of Withering Gaze. Not only can these provide valuable information about what to play around when, but Gaze can often punch a hole in their interrupts to let us resolve something powerful like Culmination of Blood. Naive Lackey is an easy cut because, outside of sacrificing to Dark Heart, it doesn’t do much in this matchup.
Against the Ruby aggressive decks we often take a controlling role. We want to gum up the board with as many threats as possible to make triggering Lazgar’s Vengeance difficult. The longer the game lasts in this matchup the more we tend to be favored, so play conservatively and make the game go long. Occasionally we will have a more aggressive draw on the play and race the Ruby deck, but this is far from the norm.
Post reserves we improve our control plan a good deal by bringing in a bunch of efficient removal. Cheap Shot is often a two for one that lets us play defense while still pressuring the opponent.
The Redlings matchup plays out similarly to the Mono Ruby matchup, only their aggressive starts tend to be a bit slower which gives us more time to set up. We want to prioritize growing the Rune Ear Heirophants to 5/5s as quickly as possible – not only so they can survive Lazgar’s Vengeance, but also so they can profitably block Underworld Crusader.
Because they have slightly larger troops, we bring in the extra Herofall as opposed to the last Cheap Shot.
This matchup is very much a race until it isn’t. What I mean when I say that is: If we can keep Empress of Ice off the table, the game plan is to attack as much as possible as fast as possible; if Empress is able to stick around, then the whole game slows to a crawl. It is important to keep resources open for Herofall to kill their Empresses before they lock us out of the game.
Occasionally we can use Grounds Creeper and Emperor’s Lackey to generate additional troops to win through an Empress, but more often than not, if the deck’s namesake is staying in play we are losing.
Post board we gain access to Noxious Glory which is an absolute ace in the matchup, as well as some additional pieces of spot removal to help keep Empress of Ice in check.
If you want to see Blood-Wild Deathcry in action, check out my stream archive below.
If you are looking for a competitive midrange deck in HEX’s current constructed format, then this is the deck for you. Blood-Wild Deathcry has the resilience needed to compete with Lazgar’s Vengeance thanks to its Deathcry troops and the tools needed to interact with the more controlling decks thanks to Withering Gaze and Culmination of Blood.
Have a question about this archetype that I did not cover in the article above? Let me know by leaving a comment in the forum!
Thanks for reading,
Jeff is a professional gamer who enjoys the competitive aspects of HEX: Shards of Fate. Constructed is his preferred format and he is always looking for that new piece of technology to give him a leg up on the competition.
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