Watch/Ban List Updates 4/02/18

Apr 2, 2018

Hey all, Corey Burkhart here! Welcome to the April Ban/Watch List update. Today we will be adding cards as usual, but I’m also going to take a moment to talk about our Ban/Watch List philosophy. We will be changing how we use the Ban/Watch List going forward in an effort to give you the greatest amount of foresight and transparency into our process. Here are the details:

The Goals of the Updated Watch List

In the past, we’ve been fairly conservative with the number of cards that end up on the Watch List. This was in part because we didn’t want to spook players or make them feel like they shouldn’t invest in a cool new deck. However, we got a lot of feedback from you saying that the Watch List was a bit too narrow. It wasn’t providing the transparency we wanted when we originally decided to commit to this process.

Therefore, we will be adding many more cards to the Watch List moving forward. Please don’t take this as a sign that there will be a ton of bans incoming. We still intend to be very conservative with that option. Rather, our new Watch List philosophy is designed to let you follow what we are doing internally a bit more closely. We follow the cards currently defining the metagame very closely, and we’ve decided that our previous approach didn’t give you any insight into that process. We want you to see what we see.

As such, our new Watch List will be the cards that most affect deckbuilding and the outcomes of games. These will be the defining players in either specific archetypes or the format’s current metagame. When we update this list, we will provide commentary on these cards as well as their potential problem areas. As time progresses, new cards will be added to the Watch List and old cards will potentially be removed.

The New Standard Watch List

The following cards are on the Watch List for Standard constructed:

  • Exalted Pathfinder
  • Bride of the Damned
  • Wax Sacrament
  • Eternal Seeker
  • Mordrom’s Gift

I’ll cover each of these in detail below, but I want to reiterate that, while these cards may be some of the cards currently defining the metagame, they’re not all problems. We’re just trying to give players the information we track regarding impactful and influential cards. It doesn’t mean that these cards are all bad for the health of the game, nor that they will be banned. Rather, it lets you know that we’re aware of how they’re currently being used. Come May, it’s possible some of these cards will be removed from this list as the meta shifts.

Exalted Pathfinder

Pathfinder might be the most defining Momentum card printed. This card becomes a powerhouse in situations where you’re functionally “comboing” with the Pathfinder by playing three or more resources in a turn. Because Momentum scales upwards as you play more resources, it also allows you to create giant swings on a single turn. We’re less concerned with the midrange, grindy nature of the Pathfinder rather than the added consistency it adds to Momentum decks. By drawing multiple cards, Pathfinder allows Momentum deck to potentially combo off multiple turns in a row. For this reason, we’re adding Exalted Pathfinder to the watch list for Standard.

Bride of the Damned

Bride of the Damned is the most defining card among the 5x threshold cycle. Her ability to steal your opponent’s troops which die in the shard that is best at straight up destroying troops makes her the iconic card of any Blood midrange or control strategy. Her power is unmatched when it comes to the ability to swap control over the warzone, and she punishes the most common type of card played in Standard, troops. Bride is on this list simply because of her power level and the level of frustration that she can elicit from opponents.

Wax Sacrament

Wax Sacrament is the most innocuous card on this list. In terms of absolute power level (where we look at the impact a card has, regardless of its cost) it’s the lowest on this list. However, the ability to generate great extra cards from your resources is not something we’ve done much of in HEX, and in a deck as linear as the illuminate strategy, Wax Sacrament is high on the list of cards you want to draw to enable your best hands. Wax Sacrament is not breaking any doors down by itself, but it is a tool that has the potential to push decks over the top. It’s not as powerful as say, Choir of Lumos, but if we were to ever touch a card from the Candle deck in Standard, we’d still want to allow the deck to be powerful, just less redundant because of its linear nature. As such, Wax Sacrament is added to the Watch List for Standard.

Eternal Seeker

Eternal Seeker is one of the most ubiquitous cards in Standard right now. Most control decks will use this as a top end finisher due to both its stats and its deploy power being exceptionally potent. At seven resources it has a severe cost to try and play, but you’re rewarded handsomely for your efforts if you succeed. Eternal Seeker is one of the cards that can be frustrating for players because they don’t have ways to interact with its power directly. Rather, one of the best ways to combat it is knowledge of the format, which puts extra burden on new players. When building your deck, the existence of this card asks you to utilize cards of different costs, which is not something you will usually think about. Where most other cards will ask you to “Play troops with three or more defense to avoid Return to Cinder, play troops with three or more attack to avoid Meek, etc.,” Eternal Seeker asks you to look at the cost, which isn’t something we do a lot of.

Mordrom's Gift

Mordrom’s Gift is powerful because it allows you to bypass the cost of strong cards like the Eternal Seeker described above. The combination of getting the best troop from your crypt and giving it the best Major gem in your deck makes for a really scary combination. When you also look at the plethora of powerful troops available, I think it’s no surprise that Mordrom’s Gift has made our updated Watch List. This card allows for plenty of powerful things and brings with it many midrange and combo-style decks which can be very difficult to adapt to.

As you may have noticed, most of the cards on this list made it for their combo potential instead of their raw card powers. The synergies that these cards have with the other most commonly played cards is what puts them onto our Watch List, not just what they do alone. I want to reiterate again that this is not the end of the line for these cards. As the meta shifts, it’s entirely possible these cards won’t be on the Watch List come May. However, these are the cards currently grabbing our attention and we’re watching closely to see if players have the tools to adapt in the Standard metagame.

Immortal and Rock

Immortal and Rock we have no changes for at this time. We’re watching both formats right now and will make similar adjustments to their Watch Lists as we see fit.

Finally, you can find the full Ban/Watch List here.

Thanks for reading everyone, and I’ll see you in the battlegrounds!

HexPureforce | Corey Burkhart

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