Welcome back everyone! I’m going to jump right into it since there are so many different things that we can do in HEX. It’s pretty amazing that we have all these different tournaments, but the one that I am the most excited for is the weekly HEX Clash sealed events with $1,000 worth of prizes up for grabs.
Sealed is an exceptionally fun format, and while there has been some content surrounding it and the other Limited formats previously, with cash and sweet Animated Alternate Art prizes on the line every single week, I want to share my insights into the format to help as many people as possible.
InfamousNeo made a nice video that helps talk about the basics of sealed, so I’m not going to rehash that again. instead, let’s look at a sealed pool and go over the possibilities for building a strong deck step by step. This is one of the most important skills to have in regards to sealed because you only have 20 minutes to register your pool, which is what you are going to use for the entirety of the swiss portion of the tournament. The first HEX Clash was just over 400 players and 10 rounds, so making sure you can evaluate a sealed pool accurately and quickly is important.
Here is a practice pool that I shared with the rest of my teammates as we were preparing for the HEX Clash.
The first thing I did when I opened this pool was sort by rarity and then quantity. Then I sorted by shard and went through and looked at all the removal. Then I glanced over each shard trying to eliminate the unplayable shards. Then I realized I had no idea how I wanted to build this pool. It felt like there were so many options and trying to pick a direction and/or eliminate options seemed a bit challenging.
Let’s take a look at the removal:
Ruby has a lot of removal. There are a couple copies of Explosive Interlude, which is a card I’m generally fine with playing, but I don’t really like playing two unless I have to. Blood has some decent removal, but also a bomb sweeper in Waltz of the Damned. Sapphire has a lot of quality cards, but no removal and only a few ways to interact. Diamond seems to be a bit above average on card quality and has a couple pieces of removal and the Wild has a handful of playable cards, but nothing to be excited about other than Rune Ear militia and three copies of Howling Plains Runner. Crackling Clash would be our only source removal.
Once I have the removal sorted out I will look at the bomb rares and uncommons that I happen to have. This will give me some potential directions that I can take the deck. In this pool, the ones that stick out are:
That is quite a few cards to list, and they are in all kinds of different directions. Right off the bat we can see that the Sacred Stance deck isn’t here, so that can be scratched off our list. But, just from looking at our removal and good cards, I can potentially see Diamond/Ruby, Wild/Ruby, Blood/Diamond, Blood/Ruby, and possibly Diamond/Sapphire or Blood/Sapphire!
This list was interesting because it combined all of the great removal that I had in Ruby with some awesome troops like Rune Ear Recruiter and Surging Wildfire along with the powerful champion ability from Grandfather Elk. We had a decent curve, but in playing the games something felt off.
A few things stood out from the couple games that I played with the Ruby/Wild deck:
First, this archetype is extremely draw dependent. Because our champion power is aggressively slanted, we want to end the game asap. We don’t really have many ways to generate card advantage and, even with something like Howling Plains Runner, the advantage we are generating is aimed at ending the game by continuing to attack. Because of this, we cannot afford to stumble. This is why I have chosen to play 18 shards with the deck.
The other thing that I noticed is that Explosive Interlude is not very good in these types of decks, and I would have rather had more two and three cost aggressive troops. Yes, there may be some large troops that we potentially want to remove from the field, but our champion power and the sheer size of our troops will usually invalidate that while Explosive Interlude ends up just sitting in our hand.
This was kind of unfortunate since we had two of them.
So, I began to test another deck. The raw quality of the Sapphire cards made me want to explore a strategy with them. I felt like Sapphire would probably be best combined with Blood for the sweeper.
I didn’t actually play any games with this deck because of the gauntlet format, but it was something I considered. Consult the Talon is arguably the best non-rare, non-legendary in the set, and whenever I have it in my pool I will look for a reason to play Sapphire. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this deck is as good as the build that I ultimately ended up on.
The last deck that I built out of this pool is the one that I think was the best, but not immediately obvious: Blood/Diamond Sockets!
When I noticed that I had seven socketed troops to go along with my Altar of Nulzann I wanted to see what a Blood/Diamond sockets deck looked like. Not only to we get to play off the socket synergy, we get to use our bombs, Elder of Lost Ages and Waltz of the Damned.
I have seen a lot of people use Marshal Josephina or Gorn of the Hell Pits with these decks, but I always end up going back to Ada the Apparitionist. I can see the appeal to Gorn’s champion ability with the number of troops who have Minor Blood Orb of Intimidation, but with the change from three to four charges for the ability, I feel like it’s too low impact for the cost and risk involved with the investment.
All of my hard work ended up paying off as I placed in the Top 8 of the very first HEX Clash! I had a great Diamond/Sapphire deck packed with a lot of fliers that featured two copies of Mystic Naturalist and a Llama Herder. Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of my deck because I was too focused on battling. In the Top 8, I drafted a Sapphire/Ruby control deck that fell a bit short in my quarterfinal match.
All in all, I had an absolute blast in the HEX Clash, and I look forward to battling a great Limited format for cash and great prizes every single week!
How would you have built the above sealed pool? What insights do you have into the sealed format? Please share with us in the forums.
With 20 years of TCG experience, Chris VanMeter brings a unique perspective to HEX. Favoring constructed decks that can either go under the competition or as far over it as possible, you can find Chris playing draft, sealed, and constructed on his Twitch channel and talking about his experiences endlessly via social media.