G’day Hexers! I’m back with another Clash pool to analyze, but before we dive in I’d like to talk about deck consistency.
Last time we explored consistency in regards to curve. This time I’d like to touch on consistency in relation to shards/thresholds. The more shards you pull from, the more varied your resource base becomes, which in turn decreases your odds of being able to play your cards when you’d normally want to (or sometimes even at all).
Obviously a single shard deck doesn’t have to worry about this problem, however the likelihood of opening a sealed pool with enough playable cards in a single shard is slim. There is a reason it’s called limited, after all. The format’s all about making due with limited options.
Due to this factor, you’ll find that the majority of decks in any given Clash tournament consist of 2 shards (offering a balance of choice and consistency), while only a minority go with 3 or more.
If we inspect the Clash that took place on the 11th of December we can see that, of the 103 players who entered, nobody built a single-shard deck. Out of those 103 players, 13 built a tri-shard deck, 1 poor soul didn’t save their deck (whoops!), and the remaining 89 players built a dual-shard deck.
The reason for this is simple but important—consistency and power. Consistency and power go hand in hand. What good is consistency without power? What good is power without consistency? The trick is finding a harmonious balance.
I mentioned above how it’s unlikely to open enough playable cards in a single shard for a viable deck. The keyword here is playable. Even if you had enough cards to go mono, it’s almost a certainty that you would be decreasing the overall power of your deck by forcing a mono-shard deck. This is why players will sacrifice some of that consistency in order to gain more power.
So if you should almost always aim for two shards, the next question is: When is it the right time to go tri-shard or more? This is honestly a question that you’d likely get a different answer to based on who you ask (different people have different playstyles, personalities etc). I can only answer this from my own perspective and experience.
Personally, I only explore the option of building a tri-shard deck when my deck is lacking power. When I say power, I don’t necessarily mean big, powerful troops (although they are nice to have), but more generally in terms of reliable win conditions or other options that give me advantage over my opponents. For every shard type I’m potentially adding, the power I require to deem it worthwhile goes up exponentially. Power and consistency should always be in balance. The less of one you have, the more you must have of the other.
Speaking of consistency, not all cards are created equal when it comes to shard identity. Some cards have multiple thresholds, and the more of those they have the harder your cards will be to play. It is important to pay attention to the actual threshold requirements of your first few shards. Are there several double threshold cards in each color? If so, then this is another factor that will generally steer me away from exploring a 3rd shard. However, if my thresholds for my first 2 shards are mostly singles, then I’m less hesitant.
Honestly, there are many variables to consider, and I cannot possibly cover all of them here without putting the majority of you to sleep, so for now let’s take a look at a tri-shard deck that managed a respectable 4-3 in the Clash on December 11th.
The question we must answer is: Was the sacrifice worth it? Or, did the lust for power claim another victim? Let’s dive deep and find out!
Once again, the first thing of note here is the curve of the deck. Sadly, just like in my previous article, this deck’s curve leaves much to be desired because of its mediocre early game options. Feel free to check out my previous article here if you’d like a refresher on the importance of a good curve or the BREAD system, which I’ll reference throughout.
When examining this deck, I feel like I can almost see into the mind of the player who built it—just look at those sexy bombs and high value cards in each shard! Decent threshold-fixing, too! It’s understandable how someone would be enticed by those.
The first step I’m going to take when analyzing this tri-shard deck is to separate each shards’ cards and pick out the best they have to offer. This is so we have an understanding of the power they each bring to the table. Once we understand each shards’ offerings, we then want to locate our primary shard (the shard that has the most playables or power) and see what pairs well with said primary. This will determine if a dual-shard deck is possible or if we should branch out into three.
First, let’s start with Diamond. We’ve got 1 removal action and 3 high power/value troops.
As for Sapphire, we have 1 removal action and 2 high power/value troops.
Finally, Blood has 2 removal actions and 1 sweet recursion action that stand out.
If we just take a look at this small sampling of cards then I’d say I like Diamond and Sapphire the most here. The Exalted Commander is a great card that also synergizes well with the other Diamond cards shown here, as they are all accompanied by some Candlekin buddies when they join the battle.
Sapphire brings 2 bomb cards: Alchemite, able to gain lots advantage over time while also being annoying to deal with, and Heartsworn Draxard, a huge must-answer unblockable troop that can quickly finish off a game which also happens to give some very nice card advantage.
As for Blood, both removal cards are really nice, but the Deathless Destiny will be tricky to play for the reduced cost. It is likely going to be unplayable until reaching 8 resources, which can be tricky in limited.
In order to determine if this tri-shard deck was warranted, we need to look at everything the pool has to offer to see what dual-shard decks are hidden within. We can then compare the decks, taking into account their power and consistency, to determine our best brew. Maybe we can even improve upon the tri-shard deck to fill in its weaknesses.
As I mentioned earlier, it is important to identify your primary shard. In this case, Diamond immediately calls out to me as I notice several playable cards, some of which I feel should have already been in the deck.
As for Blood and Sapphire, there isn’t a whole lot that excites me that much in either, so let’s focus on Diamond. The Diamond cards that stand out to me are:
Note the number of 2 drops available. One of the weaknesses of the original deck was the lack of an early game, so we can immediately grab a bunch of these to smooth out our curve. We also gain another answer thanks to Emulate, a nice value card in Daybreak Diviner, and even some extra evasion and Verdict value thanks to an additional Lux Guard.
To truly tell if Diamond is worthy of being the primary shard, let’s remove the Blood and Sapphire completely and look at Diamond by itself. This will identify the number of playables we have with just Diamond, which in turn tells us the number of cards we need to pull from a secondary shard.
Not too shabby! We have a total of 15 playable cards (not including the resource). Already the curve is looking nice and, while there isn’t much removal on offer, there is some decent evasion, which is always important. There are also two bombs that stand out from the rest—Exalted Commander and Lyvaanth’s Skylancers.
With our primary shard now identified, let’s take a look at Sapphire and Blood. We need to try and find at least 8 playable cards here if we want to build a dual-shard deck.
Sapphire has 10 playable cards, even though some of them are a bit iffy. For example, we have no way to trigger the 1-shot effect on the Bluebell Dryad, which drastically decreases her usefulness to us. The Bounty of the Magus is also not the best since on the first use it merely replaces itself. However, we do have access to Alchemite and Theorize, which could potentially dig us through our deck.
Blood offers up 11 playable cards—plenty to choose from when pairing with our primary, and it’s overall a fairly decent selection on offer. However, many of these cards require double thresholds.
You know what? Wild also has enough playables, so let’s take a look at those too.
We have 9 playables from Wild, although the power offered here is not quite as good as the previous two shards. Wild does, however, have access to several troops which help with resources. These troops also pair well with Furiko, the most popular Wild champion.
To get a better idea of our options, our next step is to smash each of these together with our primary shard and then compare.
Remember BREAD. Our first pairing gives us the most Bombs, Removal, and Evasion (even if some of it is pseudo-removal). The highlights here are definitely the bombs and evasive threats on offer.
Sapphire brings 2 additional bombs to the table, the first of which is Alchemite. This slippery bugger can be very frustrating to deal with as its controller is able to send it back to their hand (at the cost of discarding 1 card) in response to unfavorable situations. This means targeted removal is often unreliable against it. Alchemite can also generate enormous advantage due to its card draw effect whenever it attacks. These 2 effects combined are what make this card worthy of being called a bomb.
The second bomb is none other than Heartsworn Draxard. A massive 6/6 Unblockable troop, Draxard also draws the player 3 cards when Deployed. If left unchecked, this big guys can quickly finish a game, especially if you’ve been chipping away at your opponent prior to him joining the battle.
Sapphire also brings some good synergy. One example here is Evaporate. This card is more powerful than it might seem thanks to the number of troops we have with Deploy effects. A best case scenario is using Evaporate to save one of our sexy bombs in response to removal. Better yet, most of our bombs have Deploy effects (The one that doesn’t can save himself!).
The majority of the good stuff here does come from Diamond, but Blood adds some very good removal as well as some decent late game options. There is one card that has some decent synergy that may not be immediately apparent, and that is the Bristlebarb Hag.
With the Bristlebarb Hag’s exhaust ability, you may sacrifice a troop you control to add +1+1 to your entire team. This works especially well with Candlelit Zealot and Lyvaanth’s Skylancers. It’s also an effect that can catch your opponent out if they forget to take into account this effect during combat.
I didn’t add this to the numbers above, but we technically gain a bit more evasion from Dark of Night thanks to the Nightfall it creates. We also have the ability to give Speed to Violet’s Attendant thanks to its Minor Socket which can be a very effective if an opposing champion leaves themselves unguarded.
The weakest option here. This is mainly because most of the good stuff comes from Diamond. Wild only offers up some extra help in regards to resources and access to Furiko.
To be fair though, Furiko does work well with evasive troops as well as those which spawn additional troops when being Deployed. Overall, the power level here isn’t quite good enough though, and the reliance on Furiko to gain some of that power back is likely too great.
All said and done, I still like Diamond paired with Sapphire the most, but I wouldn’t be shocked or anything if someone was to choose Diamond with Blood.
But Havoc, what about the tri-shard deck?!
Of course, tri-shard is still a viable option here. With a few adjustments to the initial list, I’m sure I can whip up something more to my liking…
*furious clicking for several minutes*
Compared to the original list, this one has an improved curve and fewer Blood cards splashed in there (helps with consistency). I’ve left in the most powerful options, but I have to say it… due to two of our Blood cards having a double threshold requirement, I’d give in to consistency over the slight increase in power and stick with a dual-shard deck. If only those cards required a single threshold…
What would you guys pick here? Would you go something else entirely? Feel free to let me know in the forums!
Thanks for reading,
Havoc has been playing HEX since the beginning, and there aren’t many days in a year where he doesn’t jump into a game. We can’t seem to get rid of this crazy aussie. He even managed to get himself and his dog Bella onto a card. He also has numerous achievements over the years, including 1st & 3rd in FiveShards Cup of Fate tournaments, 1st in a Pro Player tournament, and Several Bash & Clash Top 8’s.
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