Welcome to the first week of previews for Doombringer!
I’m HEX Rysu, aka Ryan Sutherland, lead designer of Doombringer, and I’m excited to walk you through all the new keywords of the set! And as if that weren’t enough, today I will guide you through some of the changes that will come to the remains of the competitors of the Frost Ring Arena tournament.
At the end of the Frostheart storyline, we saw the fracturing of the giant sentient sapphire which let off a torrent of magic that ripped across the Hyperborean mountains, distorting reality and opening great rifts to other dimensions. This allowed the odd Entities to wander into the tournament, as we saw in Dead of Winter. While strange and powerful, the Entities were not malicious, but instead were otherworldly beings of pure chaotic energy that poured through from these Frostheart spawned portals.
In Doombringer, something more sinister has taken control of those portals. They’ve harnessed those portals and used them to invade Entrath. They’ve come to Entrath with one purpose, to destroy all sentient life
They’ve come to bring…
The Enders are an alien race that assimilate other sentient races and utilize their strengths of their enemies to further strengthen themselves. Because Doombringer is all about the invasion of these Enders, which are fusions of two different beings, it made sense for us to reflect this in Doombringer, HEX’s first Prismatic themed set.
The Enders are not just about their massive size, they’re also bringing massive numbers as they invade the Frost Ring Arena. The Annihilix was one of the first of the Enders through the massive Worldscar, the culmination of all the combined Portals that serve as an entry point for the Enders into Entrath.
As we continue through our preview season, you’ll see that these Enders have begun assimilating all manner of monsters and men, gaining their powers and mastering the birds in the skies and the beasts in the sea. Not to mention the overwhelming strength from the Trolls…
To the blood sucking hunger of the Lamprax…
However, the true power of the Enders comes from combining the strengths of one troop together with the strengths of another troop.
This is where the first keyword power of the set comes in, Fusion. And, I think I can say this without any amount of hesitation, that it is one my favorite mechanics that we’ve put into HEX thus far.
Fusion works different from almost any power we’ve created since HEX’s inception. In fact, it has far more in common with Sockets than it does with keywords like Shift or Mobilize.
During deckbuilding, players can take two troops with Fusion and combine them into one troop… permanently!
The new troop will have all the combined cost, thresholds, attack, defense, and powers of the two combined troops. Crazy awesome, right? Words don’t quite do it justice, so I think it may be easier to show you than try to explain exactly how this works:
Once you’ve fused the troop, you can put your new creation directly into your deck, whether it’s for Standard, Frost Ring Arena, or Limited events. Of course, when it comes to limited you will have to have drafted or opened both halves of your Fusion cards to build your new troop.
The Fusion troops shown here are just the beginning. Doombringer brings over 100 new troops through Fusion that aren’t available through opening packs. Stay tuned as spoiler season continues to start figuring out all the new combinations that will be available.
The five teams of the Frost Ring tournament are returning for Doombringer, but this time they’ll be a little different. In Frostheart and Dead of Winter, Brosi’s Merry Caravan was all about transforming troops into enormous squirrels or graceful butterflies. This time, Brosi is all about going big and getting loud with their new power, Rowdy.
Rowdy powers trigger every time you play a card with cost higher than the Rowdy card’s cost. Then, the Rowdy troop gets its cost increased.
Let’s look at Shenanigator as an example.
Once Shenanigator is in play, when you play a card with cost 4 or more, he’ll trigger, drawing you a card and increasing his cost to 4. Then, you’ll be challenged to go over the top of that and play something with cost 5 or more… which will net you another card and push his cost up even higher! Each of the Rowdy cards end up being their own little mini game of seeing how many times you can cause them to trigger that delicious extra value. Of course, you can always revert them and start over from the beginning as well. This mechanic is perfect for the Merry Caravan as who loves games more than they do? Plus, it feels like a party that just keeps going.
Rowdy gives you big pay offs for curving out. The higher costs you can reach, the greater your rewards! Luckily, the Caravan’s leprechauns have also been working on a Rowdy card that allows you to reach all new heights:
Chasing the Rainbow amps your ramp by letting you turn every high cost card into yet another resource. Of course, after you’ve ramped up with all your huge troops and effects, what are you going to do with all those resources? Well, the Rainbow has a built-in answer for you:
If your deck starts spinning its wheels and isn’t giving you any new threats, the Leprechauns are happy to oblige… for a price. But really, can you put a price tag on an endless stream of Golden 10/10s?
For those of you who are fans of the Locke’s group of extreme sports loving gnolls, the Pack is coming back for Doombringer as well. The Pack’s Feralfuel energy drink is returning with an all new flavor which also pushes them into a new shard… but you’ll have to wait a few more days for the reveal of that. For now, we have not one but two new keywords for fans of the Pack. First up, let’s look at Rabid.
Rabid is a ONE-SHOT ability that triggers when a troop attacks.
Let’s start off with one of Locke’s pets that he’s given a few alterations to:
What’s better than a giant dinosaur? How about a giant cyborg dinosaur that can’t die the first time it attacks? Rabid allows us to give powerful effects to the Pack for the simple price of attacking your opponent.
When the tournament started, the Pack showed they were masters of combat with Gladiator providing key buffs on both attack and defense. However, the Pack is beginning to show the true animals they are, and their tactics are much more aggressive than they were in the past.
Maybe it’s something in that Feralfuel…
The Brewer is making a new batch for the Pack, apparently by steeping the drink with a bunch of raging gnolls?
Bruiseberry Brewer is a great way to rebuild your hand after an aggressive start, especially if you can empty your hand out by turn four. Of course, you have to be careful because his Rabid ability is not optional, so the Brewer is not for the deck that can’t empty its hand in a hurry. This brewer also introduces us to Feral, the pack’s other new power:
A troop with Feral can’t be blocked except by two or more troops.
Feral allows the Brewer to attack with much more impunity. Unless your opponent can get two troops in front of it, the Brewer will be free to attack over and over again.
One of the best parts of telling the story of each of these factions is being able to see them evolve and grow into new abilities. Each of the five main teams of the Frostheart chapter: Blightbark Court, Cult of the Nameless City, The Luminaries, the Merry Caravan and Locke’s Pack will all be returning, but they’ll all be a little different. In fact, except for the Merry Caravan which already dabbled in Diamond during Frostheart, each of the teams will be shifting shards slightly. While we aren’t revealing which shards all the teams are adding right now, I can reveal that Blightbark is adding a splash of Diamond to their identity, as Violet has been harnessing the spirits of Blightbark to work for her along with a new Power…
Blightbark Courier is one of Violet Blightbark’s new pets and it comes with both Flight and Rebirth.
Rebirth is a One-Shot Deathcry power that puts the troop from the crypt into play.
This means that Rebirth is a reimagining of the One-Shot power we’ve seen on cards like Elder of Lost Ages and Forlorn Soldier in the past. The one difference is that Rebirth is dependent on the troop being in your crypt when it triggers, meaning that Lord Blightbark won’t trigger your troop’s Rebirth abilities.
Of course, ghostly birds aren’t the only thing that are hard to kill off in the kingdom of Blightbark. Lord Blightbark has been growing some new weeds that seem to be equally difficult to exterminate:
The Rootworm is another troop with Rebirth that works amazingly well with the Deathcry troops of Frostheart as well as other troops with Rebirth. This guy grows fatter and fatter every turn as well as letting you draw a card off the corpses of your troops. Of course, Rootworms aren’t too attached to whatever team they’re on and are just as happy devouring Battle Hoppers or Dreadlings alike.
If spirits and plants aren’t your favorite, then how about ancient Vampires who’ve been awoken from their eternal slumber?
The patriarch of Violet’s bloodline, Dragomir has awoken and isn’t about to be returned to his slumber quietly. Dragomir allows you to turn all your other troop’s rebirths into removal. Combine this plus a huge resilient Lifedraining Flier and you’ve got one of the most terrifying troops in Doombringer.
Now, I know those who are fans of Lixil, Hogarth, the Cult of the Nameless City, or the Luminaries are probably wondering where their factions fit into what’s happening, but for now we are keeping tight lid on the fate of those characters and factions. The Cult is certainly still lurking nearby; however, it seems they’ve found new ways of preying upon the minds of the others at the Frost Ring:
As for the others… well, no one has heard from Lixil since she was thrown into a portal by Void Star, for reasons that are still unknown Hogarth hasn’t been seen since his run in with the Twilight spirits deep in the catacombs below the Arena, and the Luminaries are reeling from the death of Lyvaanth. I’m sure you’ll see more of the Luminaries this week, but it remains to seen how the dragon’s death will affect them.
One of the things that’s most important when heading into a new set is foreseeing where the problem areas of the set might be. When we realized that Doombringer would be our first prismatic focused set, we knew we might face a challenge when it came to building a draft environment with ten different shard pairings of cards.
Because of the high number of prismatic cards in Doombringer it is entirely possible that you’d open ten different prismatic cards that are all completely different. This can be extremely overwhelming when drafting, especially when trying to read signals you’re being sent. It seems we found ourselves with a little bit of a challenge.
How do we alleviate the daunting nature of a fully prismatic set?
On one hand, we could have made sure the set only had certain shard pairs, like the way that Armies of Myth and Primal Dawn were constructed. During Armies of Myth we only included five pairs of shards:
Meanwhile, the following set had the other five pairs. This allowed the shard pairings to be more digestible in a draft format. However, when splitting the shards this way, we really end up with five main shard pairs and five secondary shard pairs. Basically, the ones that come out first end up getting their own draft format, while the second shard pairs must share a draft format. Plus, the first pairs spend more time in Standard. It’s an answer, but it’s not ideal.
Then we had an idea… what if we built packs the same way that Armies of Myth and Primal Dawn built packs, but this time it was all in one set. What does this mean? Well, imagine if Doombringer were built with Doombringer A packs and Doombringer B packs. “A Packs” would include the same shard pairs as Armies of Myth, while “B Packs” would include the same shards as Primal Dawn. This solution allowed us to do the same trick as the Armies of Myth chapter while also releasing all the cards together in one set.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, it means when you draft Doombringer, your first pack will be populated with just five shard combos and your second pack will have a different five combos. The final pack will be a normal pack of Doombringer, meaning it will have all ten shard combinations since, unless your draft is going tremendously awry, you should be settled into your shards by this point.
So what shards will you see in the first set? Well, that’s where our digital nature truly shines. The answer is that it will change from draft to draft. You could sit down at your first draft and get the following combinations:
Which means your second pack would have:
Or, maybe you’ll get the exact shard pairs as Armies of Myth followed by Primal Dawn. Or, maybe you’ll get the same pairs in the opposite order. All told, there’s a total of twelve different ways the pairs can shake out. This means every draft can go very differently depending on the order that the shards show up for you.
Single sharded cards will have even distribution throughout all the packs. This method is simply to make the dual shard cards more manageable so drafters will have a more pleasurable experience. The system will, however, also apply to cards that lean towards one shard combination without being specifically dual shard.
For example, this Merry Elephant:
In our system, this Merry Elephant is considered a Wild-Sapphire card, even though her inherent thresholds are just Wild. In addition, special resources in the pack will also be defined by this same definition. If, for example, we were reprinting Shard of Retribution, it would only appear in the Blood-Diamond packs (or the third pack with everything).
Part of Doombringer’s draft format design will likely force more players to utilize more than two shards, since if you’re specifically drafting a two-shard strategy, you’ll have a whole pack without prismatic cards in your two chosen shards. However, after many drafts, I can say that this format does not make this strategy hopeless. I’ve seen many players find ways to creatively build decks with just two shards.
I know this is a lot of information, but that’s because we wanted to make an experience with Doombringer that is wholly unique. Honestly this section is full of information you don’t need to have to enjoy the set, but as always we want players to know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes whenever possible.
As a final note, other limited formats will not use this structure, since in those situations you are opening multiple packs at the same time. Furthermore, in case it’s not clear, packs you buy from the store will still pull from every card in the set. Well, other than the Fused cards of course.
One final thing to touch on before I go is that, with the release of Doombringer, we’ll be once again updating the Frost Ring Arena. We’ve listened to your feedback and we’ll be toning down the difficulty of some of the fights while also adding in a handful of new encounters, bosses, and of course brand-new cards and equipment to collect.
To give you a little taste, one of the things we did was cross-reference performance metrics in the Frost Ring Arena with player feedback to determine which decks were producing frustrating experiences for players. We are toning down those fights—specifically Hogarth, Archon of Nulzann, and Burly Botanist, among others—to bring them in line with other encounters within the Frost Ring. These changes will include both passive and deck modifications for a smoother, more enjoyable challenge.
That’s all for today, but Doombringer is right around the corner. Make sure to check back on HEXTCG.com over the next few weeks as we continue to reveal the outcome of the invasion of the Enders and the fate of various groups at the Frost Ring.
Of course, once again, it wouldn’t be preview season without a few of my favorite names from Doombringer:
Yeti or Not
Totem of Void Star
Oinkers the Party Pig
See you on the Battlefield~
Ryan Sutherland | HexRysu
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