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Hexploration – Oh the Horror!

Mar 21, 2017

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Hexploration! We just had a Cosmic Crown Showdown a couple weekends ago, and your very own Ali Aintrazi top eighted the event! I went undefeated in the swiss portion, and I believe my deck was extremely well positioned for the metagame. I was favored in almost every matchup except the Dreadling matchups. So, my plan was to dodge that deck or get lucky against it. Luckily, I ended up dodging the matchup completely. I believe if the top eight had been constructed, I would’ve had a very good shot at winning the whole thing since the deck just crushes midrange decks. Instead, we drafted in the top eight. I made about two or three incorrect picks in hindsight and my deck would’ve been a lot better had I chosen a little differently. I ended up in Sapphire / Diamond and lost in the quarter finals. A Sapphire / Diamond deck took down the top eight.

I’m super thankful I could play in such an event, especially at home. Major kudos to everyone who made that possible! Today, I’d like to talk about the deck I played and what it does. This was the list I digitally sleeved up:

So, in testing, I began with Midrange Kagulichu. I was beating everything and even went on a win streak on stream without dropping a match. However, that caused people to start playing Kagulichu and have more card advantage or other ways to trump the midrange mirror. Then, the team I work with came up with the Horrors of War Kagulichu deck. I got steam rolled in the testing games where I played midrange Kagulichu and Jeff Hoogland played Horrors Kagulichu. After that, I was basically sold on the deck. The deck has an amazing endgame that no deck can recover from. How do you overcome having no hand and your resources completely depleted? You don’t—especially when your opponent is gaining multiple resources a turn after that or is beating you in the face with a Rotpaw Gang.

Let’s breakdown the deck card by card so everyone can understand what the deck tries to accomplish.

Deck Breakdown

Naive Lackey is great as a card that buys you time. Great card to gain you some health early by blocking and then can draw you into whatever else you need. Lackey also fuels Tilling the Soil and works favorably with Horrors of War since you sacrifice troops as the last part of Horrors of War’s resolution. That means if you Horrors for something like seven, you’ll discard your hand first and then draw a card when Lackey is sacrificed to Horrors of War.

Cottontail Explorer is one of the best cards, if not the best, in Kagulichu. It just enables so much. Early on, it ensures you hit your resources. Mid to late game it can “draw you cards” by finding Necropolis Coins or Monsagi Coins. On top of all that, it fuels Scrounge for Paw of Yazukan AND finds you a Rotpaw Gang that loves snacking on a spare Cottontail Explorer or Dreadling. Cottontail does it all—smooths out resources, draws you cards, fuels Scrounge, and finds your Rotpaw Gang bomb. The only thing it doesn’t find is Horrors of War, but that’s okay. It does literally everything else.

Paw is fantastic. It kills any annoying troop, constant, or artifact, and then comes with a body to boot. Think about it—Herofall is a three-resource action that kills any troop. For one more resource, Paw does that too on top of getting other things as well. It can even put pressure on your opponent because all of this is on a body. Heaven forbid you return an already Scrounged Paw of Yazukan to your hand with your champion power. This would allow you to Scrounge the Paw again and destroy two things your heart desires.

Rotpaw Gang is the finisher of choice for this deck, mostly because it works so well with Zorath’s Rectory, Cottontail Explorer, Horrors of War, and our champion Power. It’s very hard for opponents to overcome us destroying their resources. It’s even harder for them to overcome it when we have a 6/6 troop with Flight and Lifedrain on the battlefield.

Tilling the Soil closes the gap between the mid to late game. It allows us early to make our Horrors of War bigger, while in the mid to late game it makes our Horrors of War even larger while also replacing itself and insuring we don’t return a Dreadling back to our hand with our champion power.

Zorath’s Rectory is an amazing card! Zorath’s Rectory is what pushed this deck into the stratosphere. Without this card, I don’t think Horrors of War would be a top strategy. Socketing this bad boy with Major Wild Orb of Cultivation allows us to gain enough resources to where Horrors of War doesn’t really affect us. I’ve also killed plenty of people just with Zorath’s Rectory making a bunch of Dreadlings every turn. Sometimes, you don’t find the Rotpaw Gang and that’s okay. Zorath’s Rectory is still great at closing out games after a Horrors of War.

Strangle is the best removal action we’ve had since Herofall. Strangle is great at protecting our health total and allows us to get to the late game without having to worry about getting overrun by early troops. This is very important since we lost Extinction and getting swarmed is a real possibility now. Strangle stops all that. It’s also great in combat, allowing you to block any troop in combat and then shrink it to kill it while your troop lives. While it may not come up often in this deck, Strangle is also a great counter to Crocosaur. It turns out a 1/2 troop that battles isn’t nearly as good as a 5/6 troop. Who woulda thunk?

Herofall is best removal action in the game in my opinion. Killing Underworld Crusader, Ardent Crusader, Rune Ear Hierophant, and even annoying troops like Heart of Embers is huge. Never having to deal with them again is even better! You don’t want to be killing Underworld Crusader repeatedly anyway. Your opponent drawing cards isn’t the best plan when you’re trying to deplete them of cards and resources.

These are some of the best resources to ever hit HEX. They allow you to play extra resources without flooding out and losing since you can just replace these coins with their ability. On top of that, you’ll also get another ability depending on which one you use. They are fantastic ways to reduce variance. I love these coins, and I’m excited for all of them. I’ll miss fewer resources early and not flood as much late? Sign me up!

Let’s move on to the Reserves for the deck.

Reserves Breakdown

Misery was a nod to Dreadlings. It was a last minute addition to deal with that archetype since it can be pretty rough for the deck.

Cheap Shot is to insure we don’t get swarmed early by hyper aggressive decks. It even gives us a one drop to boot!

Gaze is great against any deck packing interrupts, or is otherwise heavily action based. It also happens to be insane against Winter Moon decks since they aren’t able to just champion power the card you Withering Gaze since it goes into your deck.

Dark Heart of Nulzann helps with pesky constants and artifacts. I wanted an option that destroyed multiple artifacts and constants, was a win condition, and had applications in other matchups. Dark Heart was perfect for the job. It also played beautifully with Zorath’s Rectory.

Waltz was another trump card for midrange decks and troops you wouldn’t be able to get rid of normally with just Strangle or Herofall, like Rotpaw Gang or Elder of Lost Ages. It was also great for Crusaders since it gives you the Deathcry trigger.

Chomposaur is solid removal action for constants and artifacts attached to a body. I love this card, and if I’m in Wild I’ll always play at least one.

Speaking of value on a stick, Gemborn Prowler helps thwart annoying Crusaders which do things when they die. Prowler was great at stopping those shenanigans!

Now that we’ve over all the cards in the deck, let’s give out some hints and tips!

Strategy Guide

  • I will mulligan an opening hand with no Zorath’s Rectory or Cottontail Explorer. You really want one of those in your opener, especially in the blind.
  • Even if you don’t have Rectory, try and setup for it in case you draw it. That means playing those Coins early.
  • If you are under no or light pressure, then just build up your resources for a big Horrors of War. No reason to play it for two or three if it won’t deplete all your opponent’s resources—especially if they don’t have a very fast clock on you.
  • An early Horrors is what you want against an aggressive deck. Something as simple as Horrors of War on one or two can set them back big time.
  • I never take out more than one Horrors of War or one Zorath’s Rectory. The deck is too focused on the plan to take them all out. If you do, you become a much worse deck running things like Naive Lackey and Tilling the Soil.
  • My go to cards to cut were some number of Naive Lackey or Tilling the Soil, whichever was worse in the given matchup.

Guitar Solo

Well, that’s it folks! Hopefully next time I can take down the top eight of the tournament. I’m going to have to get a little better at drafting! I’m super excited for HEX, and I can’t wait to brew up some more decks by myself and with the team. Again, I want to give credit where credit is due. Jeff Hoogland, Chris Van Meter, Hallowed Ace, Androod, Mat Bimonte, and Kent Ketter all helped with the deck, even though half of them weren’t even qualified for personal reasons. So, this wasn’t a deck I came up with by myself. You have them to blame as well for this grindy and deliciously annoying strategy!

Much love and thank you for reading. See you in HEX and hopefully on my streams!

Ali Aintrazi
@Alieldrazi on Twitter
My Twitch Channel


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