Playing Dead

Oct 23, 2017

Welcome to the start of previews for Dead of Winter! I’m HexPureforce, more commonly known as Corey Burkhart. I led the design for Dead of Winter, and I’ve been dying to show off the team’s efforts on this set.

Dead of Winter continues the storyline from Frostheart, with a focus on Lixil and Hogarth’s battle and its aftermath. Frostheart fractures and begins to wake things from the beyond. Meanwhile, the Twilight Host begin to judge those who have unbalanced the very fabric of the world. It may be winter, but things are really heating up! Let’s take a look at how this story plays out through some all new mechanics:

Light Versus Dark

The spirits of the Twilight Host play off the themes of light and darkness. They represent the extremes found in each of us… and they judge the world of Entrath accordingly. In Dead of Winter, the Twilight Host has their own mechanic, Verdict, which will force your opponents to make hard choices.

Whenever you Verdict, the game will choose one Light Verdict and one Dark Verdict to present to your opponent. They then have to choose which effect will happen. One will be good for the player playing with the Verdict cards, the other will be bad for the enemy player playing against the Verdict cards (One Light verdict and one Dark Verdict). The effects are as follows:

Light Verdicts:

  • Each opposing champion draws a card.
  • Each opposing champion summons a Phantom.
  • Each opposing champion summons a Daybreak.
  • Opposing troops get +1[ATK]/+1[DEF].
  • Each opposing champion puts a random troop from their crypt into their hand.

Dark Verdicts:

  • Discard a random card.
  • Sacrifice a troop you control.
  • Each opposing champion summons a Nightfall.
  • Troops you control get -1[ATK]/-1[DEF].
  • Sacrifice an artifact or constant you control.

For each of these Verdict effects, the HEX client intelligently chooses ones which are relevant to your game. For example, if your opponent makes you Verdict and you don’t have an artifact or constant in play, you will not be shown the Dark Verdict choice to sacrifice a constant. Similarly, if your opponent doesn’t control any troops, you won’t be able to give their troops +1[ATK]/+1[DEF]. The Twilight Host will have you choose a different sentence instead.

How do you Verdict, you ask? Here’s a sneak peek so you can judge for yourself:

In the Halls of Twilight

In the Halls of Twilight allows continual use of the Verdict mechanic. Not many cards will give you such a powerful output—most have a Verdict as part of other card effects. But a few, like the card shown here, represent the full force of the Twilight Host’s anger at Hogarth for unbalancing the world.

Momentous Events

Meanwhile, the battles in the Frost Ring Arena rage on, and each of our favorite teams are doing battle to chase the phantom promises Hogarth used to lure them there. Some of these teams are beginning to pull ahead, as expressed by our second new keyword—Momentum.

Jubilant Jouster

Momentum rewards you for playing resources. It says “When you play a resource, this gets +[ATK]/+[DEF] equal to the amount of Momentum this has until the start of your next turn. Then, its Momentum increases by 1.”

Thus, the first time you play a resource, Jubilant Jouster becomes a 2/2 troop until the start of your next turn. The second time you play a resource, Jubilant Jouster grows from a 1/1 to a 3/3! The Momentum keyword allows smaller troops to continue growing as the game progresses, as well as gives you something extra to do with your resources later in the game! In this case, it turns Jubilant Jouster into a really powerful threat with Crush who can’t be blocked freely by Candlekins or Phantoms. Momentum appears in Diamond, Ruby, and Wild, so be on the lookout for different combos you can unleash with this powerful new keyword.

Now You’re Thinking with Portals

When Frostheart shattered at the end of set 7, it wasn’t the only thing which broke. Energy lashed out and tore rifts in time and space across the Hyperborean Mountains. Now, portals to places unknown are opening around the Frost Ring Arena. What’s on the other side of those portals? That’s for you to find out!

Portal is a new keyword that appears on special portal cards. At the start of each of your turns, portals in your hand transform into a random card of the same rarity that you have the thresholds to play. Different kinds of portals have different rarities, so this can be quite powerful!

Here’s an example of a Portal Card:

Bleeding Heart

With Bleeding Heart, you will get a Portal on each of your turns. More often than not, you’ll want to play the card you get off of Bleeding Heart and not wait around for the best option to come out of the portal because you’ll get an amazing new portal again the next turn!

There are special troops associated with portals. These “Entities” have come sniffing from the beyond, drawn by Frostheart’s fracturing. While they’re on Entrath, they’ll be showing us what it’s like to transform matter each turn into something new, bizarre, and possibly even useful.

The Returning Cast

As I said before, your favorite teams from last set are here to stay! Each of our major teams are returning with their keywords from Frostheart, and that includes some of Hogarth’s icy sculptures which showcase flora and fauna from across the Hyperborean Mountains.

Snow PuffinBrittle Snow Puffin

The Frostform keyword, which allows you to play your troops for cheaper, will return in Dead of Winter in plenty of exciting new troops and combinations.

Also featured on the Snow Puffin is Fateweave! It’s back and in a big way, as the ability to Seek Fortune will prove to be quite potent when paired with Momentum cards. Fateweaving will also have some fun new cards, and will be a major player in Diamond, Sapphire, and Wild.

Skylance Captain

The Merry Caravan aren’t the only ones with Momentum on their side. As the tournament rages back and forth, different teams take the upper hand… at least for a while. The Luminaries have Momentum as well, and their trusty candles are back in action too! Skylance captain is an exceptionally powerful troop that has flight, can scale in size as you play resources, AND builds you an army of growing Candlekin to support it from below! You can expect to see many more ways to utilize Illuminate, Candlekin, and the Luminary team in Dead of Winter.


The Pack are back, and they are ready to crack some skulls! Of course, all that violence builds a powerful thirst for ferociously fruity Feralfuel! The Fuelmaster is preparing other gnolls and jack-hatted orcs for battle with its rage-filled flavors, and I for one don’t want to be in their way. With a fully fueled Gladiator army, who would?

Changeling Cuties

The Merry Caravan continues their eternal party in our latest set. The Caravan is still about transforming their cards into different ones and seeing what can happen! Changeling Cuties has one of the more powerful payoffs you can get for transforming your cards—draw so you can party on and transform things all over again!

Putrid Porker

Blightbark are back in town, and they’re not slowing down. They’re still all about Deathcries, but you’ll find that they also care about the Plant and Undead troop traits in Dead of Winter. Be on the lookout as those things will matter, and be on the lookout too for the Putrid Porker. It’s large and in charge, and it will bring something back if it happens to fall.

Demented Whispers

Oops is that an Escalation card? Yup, they’re back again! We’ve cleaned up the templating on them once more (going full circle at this point). They now simply say “Escalation.” With Escalation, cards increase all their bold numbers by the starting value. Thus, in the case of Demented Whispers (showcasing the creepy Cult of the Nameless City), you’ll bury three enemy cards and cause them to discard a card. Once Escalated, they’ll bury six cards and discard two cards! These will be a cycle, so look out for these potent Escalation actions in our upcoming set.

The Chaostouched, of course, are still focused on burying their opponent, and they’re going to be doing it with vigor in Dead of Winter! Demented Whispers is one of our most potent bury cards in the set since, once you’ve escalated it some, playing Demented Whispers can take out your opponent’s entire hand as well as a good portion of their deck if left unchecked.

Runic PassionRune of Passion

Last, but certainly not least, the Runes and their dwarven excavators are back!

Runic Passion is one of my favorite Runic cards because it’s a call back to a card effect we’ve printed a few times—Impulse. Adding Runic to this kind of effect is extremely potent, since you’re getting the potential to draw four cards for three resources! Once you add in the fact that Runic Passion has Runic, meaning you don’t even need to play all four of the cards in the same turn, you will see that it is pretty easy to avoid the discarding side-effect as well. Runic Passion is one of the many Runic cards you’ll see in the set, as we’ve gone a little bit bigger and better with this keyword than we did in Frostheart.

Wintery Mix

This is just the very beginning of what Dead of Winter has to offer, so stay tuned. We’ll be spoiling cards here every day from until release! Keep checking back here at to see what’s new and what’s coming! I’ll leave you with the following card names to look forward to:

  • Bottled Lightning
  • Quui the Runemother
  • Cruel Sentence
  • Drop of Wax
  • Dyna-Dummy
  • High Joltage
  • Off the Chain
  • Ready to Rumble
  • Robogoyle
  • Sour Grum’puss
  • Yetigeddon

See you in the battlegrounds, and I’ll be back Wednesday with the champion article preview!

~HEXPureforce | Corey Burkhart

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