Fully Equipped – The Tackle Box

Jun 26, 2017

The Alachian Sea is home to many fisherman and fisherwomen. Any good fisherman will often have a Tackle Box, where their knowledge of baits, lures, hooks, and bobbers can all assist in allowing them to catch the biggest and best fish. Some of it is knowledge they gained through fishing, some is knowledge passed down to them by others they respect.

As we near Frostheart and the awesome new spoiled reboot of the Frost Ring Arena, we would like to pass on our Tackle Box of tools and knowledge used to build cohesive decks for PvE content. Hopefully these ideas and concepts can help everyone with their next deck build and lead them to more success in their adventures. It would be great to hear from everyone that reads this: what helped, what hindered, and what other tricks and tips you use? We’re going down to the water hole!

Common Knowledge: (The Fishing Pole)

For this knowledge sharing process – let’s start with a foundation on how decks are built in PvE. For the newest of new players, this will be easier to take in as a list. Some players will know all of this already, but here are some helpful basics for those that do not:

  • Deck size minimum is 60 cards. 60 cards exactly is optimal, most of the time.
  • Maximum 4 copies of a single card. Core cards to our strategy should be played at max copies.
  • Deck building restrictions and shard grids in the PvE campaign may limit our ability to play max copies of certain cards.
  • Resources in most decks should strive for making up 36% to 40% of the cards in a deck. In 60 cards deck, there are, generally, 24 resource cards. If we are playing a low curve, this can drop to about 20 resources safely. High curves may want more troops and abilities that act as resources.
  • The Curve of a deck looks at the baseline and modified cost of cards in our deck to see what percentage of cards we can play early vs. those we can play late. In PvE, generally we will want a good amount of cards we can play by turn 1 or turn 2, with the majority of all of our strong playable cards being not much higher than a 4 modified cost. (i.e. equipment or options in the deck which allow cards to be played by turn 4)

Uncommon Knowledge: (The Fish)

This list is a bit different, as it considers knowledge gained from a more unique understanding of PvE equipment, cards, and encounters:

  • Removal cards are needed for encounters that start with troops in play.
  • Combat tricks and interrupt cards are needed to deal with removal and blocks AI makes for encounters.
  • Deck recursion cards are needed to combat bury or crypt hate.
  • Enemy charge powers and passives should influence our deck building choices.
  • Equipment can modify the cost of cards we can use or can cheat troops into play.
  • Cards can become better substitutes for deck slots because they have an equipment slot that we can use for them.
  • Turn win timer, or clock knowledge. Knowing the turn that would be ideal to win by, based on the encounters we will face. When will the enemy get out of control?

The Tackle Box:

This is how we identify the cards we add to our deck and what purpose they serve. A single card can fit in several categories. We may also not find a need or reason to have every category represented by our deck list. There are a lot of independent factors to consider, but all should help give us the same reference point to assure we have all angles covered and can understand our path to wins. Here is the list we will expand on below, one that explains our played cards:

  1. The Idea
  2. The Engine
  3. The Juice
  4. The Safety
  5. The Cheat
  6. The Dig
  7. The Finisher

The Idea

In all of the Fully Equipped articles, we have always lead off with the idea. This will be our build around concept. It does not have to be a card, but for beginners we recommend making the central focus 1 card, one with equipment that can be played for a cost 4 or lower. We will want to have as close to max copies possible of that card, so shoot for 4 copies in the deck. This maximizes our chances to have the card in our hand and play it before the game ends.

For more advanced players and deck builders “the idea” may be around other things, like: A mercenary, campaign character, win condition, combo, or thematic (e.g., mages, ardent, robots, healing). This is our deck building goal, concept, and starting point.


The Engine

Some very powerful cards in HEX allow us to build around them for distinct bonuses for doing so. Engines are often thematic concepts or Ideas to build around. Often times, these cards will give us early access to their benefits, and they can either close games out by themselves, or they can buy us enough time until we get our Finishers in play.


The Juice

There are several cards in HEX that allow us to power our Engine cards mentioned above. These may be cards that draw us cards in a particular way, allow us to put troops into play, ramp up our resources, or simply trigger our desired combos earlier. Juice can support decks without clearly identified engines, either by helping the initial Idea develop, or by enabling an early Finisher. Mercenary charge powers and passives often fill this role.


The Safety

We are nearing an age of PvE content where aggressive troops and tricks alone may not get us wins. Sometimes, key removal or utility troops are necessary to help us survive until we can close out for a win. The Safety is our removal card and survival card needs. For PvE, the best cards for this slot are cards that are dual purpose, those which can also give us another benefit, utility, or work towards our strategy. Mercenary charge powers and passives often fill this role.


The Cheat

There are few cards in the game which, when powered by equipment, can cheat their way into play for little or no resources. These cards are incredibly powerful build around cards, and they can often be our Finisher, central Idea, or deck building concept.


  • Ethereal Healer (Feet equipment for a 5% chance to come into play from any zone when we gain health.)
  • Spirit of Retribution (Feet equipment for the ability to come into play from hand when an opposing troop attacks.)
  • Piranha Swarm (Feet equipment for a 10% chance to come into play from deck or hand when an opposing troop is dealt damage.)
  • There are also several campaign classes that can get a “cheat into play” through talents.

The Dig

Some cards are crucial to our win strategy, and if that is the case, we need ways to get to those cards as quickly and early as possible. The Dig is generally card draw, but it can also be other ways to take specific cards out of our deck and get them into play or into our hands. A Dig could even be a self-bury mechanic followed by crypt recursion.


The Finisher

The Finisher is a single card that can end the game when it is played, or the turn after it is played. This is a card that is being built up to, or being dug for by The Dig, the entire game. There are some finishers that sit in play early on and build up in power over time.


The Deck:

With our Tackle Box exposed – What might a deck look like with “the idea” to set out and beat Hogarth, Elite Master of the Arena in the updated Frost Ring Arena? Here is a list we threw together, and it has already had two out of two flawless old Arena test runs:

Champion: Takahiro


Spirit Strike Scarf – Head Equipment for Spirit of Retribution
Recruiter’s Ring – Trinket Equipment for Underworld Recruiter
Sneaky Garmet – Chest Equipment for Sneakblade of the Milky Eye
Kit Catchers – Gloves Equipment for Fertile Engorger
Spectral Ambush Boots – Feet Equipment for Spirit of Retribution
Certificate of Receipt – Weapon Equipment for Contract Killing

Deckbuilding discussion

How many cards from the above deck list fall into the categories discussed above? How many cards fall into multiple categories?

Use these tools. Become the master. Destroy the content. Then teach new apprentices… Daniel-san.

Finally, I want to end with a call for players to check out CoachFliperon. CoachFliperon is a talented PvE deck builder and content creator who is working on community driven content to help new and old players alike create better decks geared for success in PvE. Please help support his collaborative project here if you know of great cards for PvE or equipment that are missing from the list.

These articles are for new players and the free-to-play community, so I’d love to hear from you! Was the article helpful? What card/equipment would you like to see featured and explored in a future Fully Equipped article? Is there a campaign class you can’t figure out, or an encounter you want to smack with budget cards?

Until next time, if you want to do the job right, you better show up Fully Equipped!


Nicosharp has been playing TCG’s for over 20 years and has been a gamer for over 30. His passion in gaming has been heavily shaped through min/max’ing and optimizing builds throughout popular RPG’s, RTS’s, and MOBA’s. HEX – PVE now offers that desired sandbox in a TCG. But don’t let his passion for HEX PvE fool you; he also dives heavily into Limited play where he can put his deck building strategies to the test.

Got any questions? Want to chat with other players? Then discuss this article in our Forums! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or enjoy regular streams on our official Twitch channel.