Hexploration – Kagu x Winter Moon

Apr 11, 2017

Welcome back to another edition of Hexploration! I hope you’ve been enjoying the HEX Clashes and everything else HEX has to offer. Today I’m going to talk about the decks I’ve been playing on the ladder and crushing people with. The first one is a Kagulichu variant that has been performing exceptionally well for me. The other one is still a work in progress, but I think I’m finally getting Locket of Reflection and Winter Moon to work out—and yes, it is as sweet as it sounds. So, today, I’m going to give you both my Kagu lists and the Wintermoon deck I’ve been working on. Strap in folks, it’s going to be a fun ride!

This is the deck I’ve been playing the most and doing well with the most.

Rune Ear Hierophant socketed with Major Wild Orb of Cultivation and Minor Blood Orb of Frenzy
Underworld Crusader socketed with Minor Wild Orb of Vigil

Champion: Kagulichu

Kagulichu midrange! Nothing we haven’t seen before but this type of deck can be built many ways and can adapt to the meta easily for the most part. I believe this list to be very strong with where things are settling.

What does the deck do?

Kagulichu is the deck people think about when the word midrange is uttered. It’s the traditional way to run your opponent out of troops and actions since almost everything in the deck can generate some sort of value. The deck tries to keep the board clear with its removal and then just drops a threat that will take over the game as time goes on.

The Early/Mid Game

  • Strangle / Herofall: These are both great ways to keep the board clear so you can get into the mid game where you really shine. Herofall will deal with annoying troops and ensure your opponent won’t draw them again. Against some decks, a Herofall will insure you never see that troop ever again. This means after a Herofall or two, your opponent will have fewer threats and is more likely to draw shards. Great news for our deck.
  • Rune Ear Hierophant: Rune Ear is the iconic three cost troop that people expect out of Kagulichu. In this build, our Rune Ear Hierophant will gain us a bunch of resources very quickly while growing out of control as the game is played out. Rune Ear will get you to the late game while your opponent is still stuck in in the early-mid game.
  • Underworld Crusader: Another iconic three cost troop that is expected from Kagulichu. Underworld Crusader is amazing at offense and defense thanks to the Minor Wild Orb of Vigil. When Crusader dies, it will generate more value for you too. So, if it trades with an opponent’s troop you’re getting a three for one, which means you’re trading one card for three cards. Where can I sign up?
  • Bride of the Damned: Bride is a three-cost troop, but you don’t always play it on turn three. Sometimes it’s better to hold it until you can kill a and steal a troop that turn—especially against Herofall decks. Bride is an amazing card that you can play fine in the early game but which also transitions extremely well into the mid and late game.
  • Phenteo the Brood Priest: Readying with Phenteo two or three times will usually spell game over for your opponent, since the Terrorantulas he makes are extremely swingy. This is another card that is very good on turn three and still decent later.

Late Game

  • Yazukan: Yazukan is a card that will win you the game if left alone, even for just one turn. Replaying your powerful troops is more than enough to close a game out. If they couldn’t deal with your Yazukan, they’re not going to be able to deal with the troops he gets back.
  • Rotpaw Gang: This is the ultimate late game for this deck. A 6/6 Flight Lifedrain troop is almost impossible to race. Even if Rotpaw gets Herofalled, you can still sacrifice a Cottontail Explorer or Battle Hopper to just put it back into play. This is great new addition to Kagulichu.
  • Tomb Swap: This card also works well late game because it will rebuy a huge Rune Ear that died early, a Bride of the Damned that will start getting you your opponent’s troops, a Yazukan that will take over the game, or even a previously scrounged Paw of Yazukan or Death’s Head Rider that you’ll be able to scrounge again and get two troops out of your opponent.

Another benefit to this deck is that it rarely has shard issues. It runs 27 shards so that we don’t get shard screwed often, alongside Cottontail Explorer which will find us shards and Rune Ear Hierophant which will ramp us. You might think that because we run so many cards that generate resources that we would flood out a lot, but the deck also has eight coins to help prevent that. So, Cottontail Explorer not only finds us shards but fuels Scrounge, fuels Tomb Swap, finds Rotpaw Gang, and draws us cards because of the Coins! That is a huge selling point. Tired of getting shard screwed and flooded? This deck is a lot less prone to that than others!


Kagu usually struggles with decks that are hyper aggressive or with decks that have a better late game (draw a bunch more cards). Even then, Kagulichu will give those decks a run for their money. Things like From The Ashes, a well-timed Lazgar’s Vengeance, or a speedy troop on turns one, two, three, and four is not what Kagu wants to see. Some decks with Lanupaw’s Sight will also be good against Kagu. So, if you want to counter this deck, those are some great options!

Before I move on from Kagulichu, I want to briefly cover one other variant. I made top eight in the last Cosmic Crown Showdown with a Horrors of War Kagulichu deck. I just want to give the people that got the deck an update to it before we move on to Winter Moon.

Champion: Kagulichu

This deck, like the previous Kagulichu, tries to kill everything. You really want to keep hands with either Cottontail Explorer or Zorath’s Rectory. This deck has an end game that no deck can realistically recover from. A huge Horrors of War will deplete your opponent of all the cards in their hand and all their resources while allowing you to recover with Zorath’s Rectory. Horrors of War or Rotpaw Gang is the way you’ll want to close the game out. You can also close it out with Zorath’s Rectory and an army of Dreadlings, though it is a bit slower to kill them that way. Everything else in the deck is there to buy you time.

This is a super grindy deck. I like it, but I’ve had better success with the first Kagu list. That being said, the first Kagu list has an extremely hard time beating this one.

Okay, I just wanted to give an update on that deck. The other deck I really enjoying playing is Wintermoon!

Champion: Winter Moon

BAM! The Locket of Reflections deck. I’ve been trying to just make it Sapphire / Wild but it hasn’t been enough. I’ve been testing just with Winter Moon recently since the charge power works so well with Locket of Reflection. That could be a mistake and I should probably branch out a little more but I do believe Winter Moon has the best chance to abuse this card.

Adding the Diamond to the deck has really helped. Originally, I had Silver Talon Adjudicator and some removal for the Diamond portion but I decided to try Starlight Pathfinder instead. We still get to keep the health gain from Silver Talon in Harvest Moon and keep the draw as well with Lanupaw’s Sight. Sure, we must build it ourselves, but I felt like it was better overall since we didn’t have to rely on having less health or our opponent having fewer cards. Overall, this also reduced the curve of the deck.

I was originally running four Arcane Focus and four Change Course and then just two of some of the other actions. I found that just making everything twos except Locket made Locket overall much stronger. We just had to find other cards that did similar things to make it really work. For example, we have a bunch of removal in the deck even though they are all diversified.

Transmogrifade, Chastise, Decree of Banishing, Bring to Justice, Sweep Away, and Holy Reprisal are great removal to play twice. They all do similar things, but by running two copies of each we can fully abuse Locket of Reflections. We also have cards that deal with a wide board in Clash of Steel and Dread End. Since those cards don’t do anything if you copy them with Locket of Reflection, I’ve opted to just run one copy of each. Just like with removal, this “two of” rule is also true for the card advantage in the deck.

Everything else in the deck is pretty straight forward. The only card that might stand out is Holy Reprisal. Holy Reprisal is a card that is removal that also buys us some time with health gain. I really like it since it shores up the deck’s roughest matchup in Dreadlings. It gains you a bunch of health against that deck and usually buys you enough time so you can do it again. Sapphire’s Favor is another card I added expressly for the Dreadling matchup, but I’ve left that one in the reserves.

The deck takes a while to close out the game since you just have two Pathfinders and Psychic Ascension to finish off your opponent. Against the grindier decks or decks that steal your Psychic Ascension, I bring in two Azure Fang Decrees for inevitably in burying them out and for random wins with spiders.

This deck is very fun, but still a work in progress. I just thought I’d share it with you guys and see what you think!

The best deck of these three is the first Kagulichu deck, but the most fun I’ve had by far has been with the Winter Moon list. Winter Moon and Sapphire in general took a hit with the Scars of War rotation. No replacement for Oracle Song was disappointing and the loss of Peek also hurt the archetype. To be fair, it also takes a minute for Sapphire control decks to get built since they depend on beating the metagame (which is still being established at the moment). You can’t do that if you don’t know what’s being played yet.

Well folks, that’s all I got for you today. Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you in HEX!

Ali Aintrazi
@Alieldrazi on Twitter
My Twitch Channel

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