This is HexRysu, aka Ryan Sutherland, and I’ll be your resident warmonger for the latest HEX set, where finally the peace between Ardent and Underworld has fallen apart and war spreads across the lands of Entrath.
During the first four sets of Hex, we spent the majority of our time allowing players to get to know the eight main races of the Ardent and the Underworld. The Ardent are a noble band of mostly fantasy staples with our own Entrathian twist (Humans, Elves, Coyotle and Orcs). The Underworld are an underhanded group of creepy critters (Necrotic, Shin’hare, Vennen and Dwarves). However, when we first introduced these factions, they were in a time of uneasy peace. That peace has come to an end due to a few key developments that will be revealed as part of this set’s story. Now it is time for you, the players, to choose who you are allied with.
This set showcases the conflict between our two factions in a war that may just change the face of Entrath.
Welcome to Herofall!
Each of the factions is bringing with them a way to combat one another that represents the ideals of their faction. For the Ardent, this is represented with a new card called Valor:
As you can see, Valors are Basic Actions that give a troop +1/+1 and makes the troop Valorous. Valorous on its own has no effect. However, you’ll see many cards that refer to your Valorous troops. Some may look at this card and see it as a worse version of Bravery, but because you are getting these Valors as an additional benefit from doing other things like playing troops and other in-game activities, you’ll see that there are some very powerful things you can do with these innocuous little actions. Let’s take a look at how Valors will actually be generated in games:
Gust Mage is actually one of my favorite cards to draft or play in an Evo Sealed deck. At first blush, this troop is not going to get anyone very excited to play him. Even if you put the Valor that you get from him on him immediately, you’re getting a 1/2 Flight troop, and I’m never happy to play an Untamed Duskwing in my deck. However, where this guy truly shows his strength is his versatility. There will be games where you stack four valors on this guy and he becomes a win condition on his own. There are also some other Herofall mechanics that we have not yet been shown off where this guy really shines. But you’ll have to wait until next week to find out more about that.
Now, some of you are probably getting pretty excited about this Valor thing. Getting one at a time just isn’t enough. For those of you who want more, check this out:
Oakhenge Druid is a great way to fill out a curve. You can play him late and pass out your Valors as you see fit over the next few turns. One of the greatest strengths of Valor is that while you do have to pay 1 for each of them, they help fill in holes in your curve by allowing you to spend your resources effectively every turn that you have additional Valors to play.
Sometimes spending 1 resource to give a troop +1/+1 simply isn’t powerful enough. So how about every time you Valor up a troop, you get to kill off an opposing troop. One of the important thing about the Valors is that there are a whole slew of cards that actually give you additional benefits when playing them. If you’ve been slowly building up Valors in your hand over the game, Heart of Embers allows you to chain a bunch of them together and decimate your opponent’s board and health total in pretty quick fashion.
For the last of the Valor cards we will show off today, I present you with the Hero of Legend. The Hero allows you to charge into combat with any Valorous troops willing to take up the call. He’ll provide protection for all of them, including himself. No matter how your opponent blocks, you don’t have to fear your troops falling in battle.
Valors represent Ardent ideals because the Ardent are always looking to make the most out of their troops. To the Ardent races each life is valuable, so building up each and every troop is important to them. Ardent troops grow and improve themselves (and others) over time. We’ve seen this in the past with Ardent mechanics like Inspire, Prophecy, and Empower. We see it here again with Valor.
Where the Ardent is about taking something and making it greater for the coming war, the Underworld takes a very different approach. These races are willing to sacrifice anything as long as they win. For the races of the Underworld, a single life is a small price to pay if you can achieve victory in the end. We’ve seen this with Vennen’s Spider generation, the Dwarves’ robot production and perhaps most clearly in the Shin’hare’s rampant swarm and sacrifice mechanics.
In Herofall, we see the allegiance of these three callous strategies in the creation of the Underworld’s ultimate shock troop, the Dreadling.
An unholy fusion of fungus and machine, the Dreadling is another powerful card in a small package, but one much more in line with the Underworld’s sensibilities. Like Valors, Dreadlings add strength to your army, but unlike with the Ardent you’re only getting them for one turn. This might not seem like a lot of value at first, but when you begin swarming your opponent turn after turn with Dreadlings, you may change your mind.
Let’s take a look at some of the Dreadling cards you’ll see in Herofall:
Skittering Darkness is a way to get a quick burst of damage early in a game that can also add to your force late in the game to help push through the last points of damage. I should add that the Underworld will also have a lot of uses for these troops beyond what’s on the surface. However once again, you may have to wait until more Herofall reveals over the coming weeks to see the full picture of what this card can do.
While some cards like Skittering Darkness give you a small burst of Dreadlings, cards like Living Factory give you an ongoing source of Dreadling generation that can allow you to push through more damage turn after turn.
Making Construction Plans and robot dinosaurs is a lot of hard work! In the world of Entrath (much like in the world of Ikea), oftentimes you have some pieces left over. Why not turn those extra bits and bolts into a Dreadling!
Then, once you’ve got enough used Dreadlings, make your little Technomancer into a massive 5/6. The Dread Technomancer is one of the most powerful of the new Dreadling creators as long as you can feed him a stream of artifacts to keep producing. This guy has a lot of power for just one resource.
Have you ever wished there was a Construction Plans: Eternal Guardian or a Construction Plans: Chaos Key? Or maybe a Construction Plans: Construction Plans War Hulk? Well, your wish is Tavish’s command. Every turn you’ll be able to find a new artifact from your deck and put it into play. While this guy doesn’t make Dreadlings on his own, he certainly knows how to put them to work.
In fact, since Dreadlings boast three relevant troop types, they work well with a whole slew of cards. Dreadlings can help you complete construction plans (real or Tavish’s) or trigger all of the Spider-Friend cards for Vennen. Being able to draw an extra card every turn through an Arachnomancer that has become a Living Factory is pretty fun. Heck, you may even be a noble Ardent Adventurer and bolster your liberated Dreadlings with your Greenpaw Emancipator.
One of thing that made the first four sets of Hex a cohesive unit was that we were oftentimes telling you to choose a single race to support. I knew going into the world of Herofall that we would start moving away from things like Vennen or Coyotle Allegiance. However, what you will see in this set is both Ardent and Underworld Allegiance. We are much more interested in making you choose which faction you’ll be allied with than making you choose between the different races of that faction. There will often be times where you have to decide between two different troops, and the deciding factor will come down which of those troops helps ensure that you are easily able to maintain your Ardent or Underworld Allegiance. You’ll find that in draft and sealed it will be much easier to keep your Allegiance turned on than it was when you were only looking for a single race.
Sometimes for the Ardent, the best laid plans are to just smoosh all the little bunnies that you can.
And sometimes the best laid plans are a deadly robo-shroom-spider.
One of the unique challenges we had when making the set was ensuring players could play their chosen faction in draft and sealed. This was not an easy feat, since each of the factions are spread across all five shards. Theoretically, if a player who wanted to play just Dwarves in Shards of Fate or just Elves in Armies of Myth, they could stay to just two shards. It is a different story for players to choose “Ardent” and have all of their key cards spread across five different shards.
In Herofall, you’ll see that factions are a bit more polarized to their favored shards. This means that Diamond (primarily) and Ruby (secondarily) will be the home of the Ardent. You’ll see a few fewer Blood Orcs on average in this set. The Underworld, on the other hand, will be centered in Blood primarily and Sapphire as its second favorite. There will be slightly fewer Diamond Necrotic in this set than there have been in the past. This leaves Wild as a neutral ground between the two shards (which is why it is the only shard that is home to both Valors and Dreadlings).
As I said, these are just a few of the mechanics in store for Herofall. Stay tuned in the coming days for more information about other mechanics, a slew of new cards, 20 new champions and, of course, the reveal of our new gems.
That wraps up my preview for the week. Stay tuned to this website as well as Twitch, Twitter and all of our friends at Fiveshards, Momcards and HexPrimal where you’ll be seeing teasers leading up to the release of Herofall!!!
Before I go, I figured I’d leave you with some of my favorite names from Herofall:
Mecha Filk Chimp
Again, I’ve included one of each shard, although I’ll admit I cheated a little. This time I also threw in an extra artifact and a prismatic card as well.
Also, one final sneak peek into the set: This will be the first HEX set to reprint a card from a previous set. I’ll be checking in the forums to see if anyone can guess which card got this great honor before it’s revealed next week.