Dead of Winter is here, and with it has come a fairly strong shakeup to our Standard constructed format. Today we are going to take a look at an archetype that existed before Dead of Winter released, but was never entirely competitive. With the introduction of a number of tools in our newest set, Diamond-Ruby Candles likely has the power to go from a fringe deck to a top competitor. Let’s take a look at a decklist shall we?
At its core this is a synergy based deck that is looking to generate an army of candles as quickly as possible to snuff out our opponents. We do this in a few different ways, but the most powerful of these is an unchecked Scion of Lyvaanth:
Scion turns every other card we play into additional Illuminate trigger, meaning we can go from no board to a massive army of wax in minimal time. Scion is especially potent when combined with other cards that create Candlekin:
Runic Candescence is fantastic paired with Scion. This is because, thanks to Runic, we “play” Runic Candescence twice, allowing it to Illuminate a total of four times. While the first Light the Votives is not very impressive, the second and third flood the board with candles for us. While Acolyte of Flame might not be terribly impressive on the surface, it provides us with an Illuminate trigger, while also providing us with an additional body for chump blocking or going wide.
Wax Dawn is more expensive than the other options in terms of resources, but it also allows for the biggest blowouts. The fact that Wax Dawn is quick speed makes it powerful. It means that any time we are making “bad” attacks into our opponent’s bigger board, they have to think twice before making a “free” block. Wax Dawn is also excellent at making two surprise candles during our opponent’s end step so we can start our next turn with more candles to grow to lethal amounts before we attack.
Past these cards, we have two other cards which Illuminate to let us go over the top of our opponents, both figuratively and literally:
Choir of Lumos is our “surprise I win” card. Not only does it make all of our candles +3/+3 larger, but it often does so for very little resources. I have yet to lose a game where I play multiple Choir of Lumos on the same turn in the midgame and slam in with candles that are 7/7 or larger. Wings of Wax is out best tool for letting us go literally over a stalled board. It is often easy to end the game the turn we play out this powerful constant.
One of the things I like most about this Candles deck is that in addition to having some fairly aggressive draws, it also gets to play some quality interaction:
These are probably the two most efficient and powerful pieces of removal in HEX’s current Standard format. So much of our deck is actions that Flame Barrage often reads “Kill target troop” before long, while Wrath of Elements is just an incredibly flexible card. Not only does it just cost a single resource, but it can also remove any card on the board that is giving us trouble given we have enough Candlekin.
We round out the non-resources in our main deck with a couple of cards that help add a bit of consistency:
Guidance is a card that most Diamond decks want. It is an extra resource when we need one and an action when we need it. It also provides a proactive one cost action that we can use to trigger our Scion of Lyvaanth. Speaking of things that trigger Scion of Lyvaanth, Shardcall is included in our deck largely because it does just this. Think of Shardcall as a slow shard that is technically a non-resource which lets Scion Illuminate. Past the synergy with Scion, Shardcall also gives us the ability to retrigger Runic on demand after we play out Runic Candescence.
The one thing worth mentioning in our resource base is this wonderful card from Dead of Winter:
This card does absolutely everything we want in this deck. It slices, it dices, it Illuminates, it triggers Scion of Lyvaanth. Wax Sacrament is easily the most value any HEX deck has ever gotten out of a resource.
Diamond Ruby Candles is what I often like to refer to as a “brunch” deck. By this I mean it falls in between the two different traditional TCG archetypes of aggro and midrange. Personally, I enjoy decks that fall into this in-between state because it means that the deck will often take on different roles in different matchups depending on what the opponent is doing.
Against dedicated control decks we are always the aggressor. The end game of Psychic Ascension is more powerful than what we can put forward, so our goal is to close the game out before our opponent can play their powerful action. The key to this match up is generally striking a balance between not over extending into Clash of Steel, while also keeping your board wide enough to be insulted against Dark Heart of Nulzann.
Post reserves we trim some of our less impactful removal and Illuminate cards for Arcing Rust and stronger win conditions. Candlelight not only provides reach and a method for killing 4/6 Dark Hearts, but also allows us to grind a bit better as a game goes long. Yetigeddon is a fantastic way to steal games that could otherwise be out of reach with a swarm of angry Declans… err, Baby Yetis.
Another matchup where we want to be as aggressive as possible. Instead of playing around Clash of Steel though, we need to be playing around Massacre by growing our candles sooner rather than later. Our reserves plan against the Blood based decks will vary some depending on what exactly the composition of their deck looks like. Against more constants based decks we want our Scouring Lights, while against the Vampire based lists we want to keep more of our spot removal in. In general, Candlelight will be good against most Blood variants as the game goes long.
This is a matchup where our role is going to vary based on how our opponent’s draw lines up into our own. Against the smaller Momentum builds, we tend to assume a more controlling role, while against the bigger Momentum builds we want to build bigger faster to get our candles out of range of Eldurathan’s Glory.
Arcing Light is our “getcha” card post reserves. It turns attacks that are more than lethal into something largely unimpressive that we can clean up with blockers.
This is a matchup where we often assume a more controlling role. We want to use our candles to blunt our opponent’s initial onslaught and generally stay fairly defensive until we can kill them outright with a single attack or two.
If you want to see this variation of the Diamond-Ruby Candles deck in action, check out this video archive from one of my twitch streams:
While the goal of this column is to talk about the specifics of optimal decks without budget constraints, occasionally one of these decks is still fairly competitive when stripped down a bit. If you would like a competitive variation of this archetype without breaking the bank I would recommend the following decklist:
Overall I like this Diamond-Ruby Candles deck a lot. Not only can it offer some explosive draws, but it can also play from behind a bit with its quality spot removal. If you are looking for a deck that is flexible, powerful, and aggressive then this is likely the decklist for you!
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.
Got any questions? Want to chat with other players? Then discuss this article in our Forums! You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, our YouTube channel, or enjoy regular streams on our official Twitch channel.