One of the things that sets Hex apart from physical TCGs is the ability to alter cards and have those changes tracked by the game – something you wouldn’t be able to with physical cards without drawing on them or something. One of the features that best highlights this is gems and sockets – cards with sockets can have gems fitted into them to grant them extra power or abilities, and this was a frequently mentioned feature during the kickstarter. I often see people in the Hex community confused as to how these gems work, so today I’m going to cover the basics of what we know about gems and then look at a few examples.
What Are Gems And Sockets?
Some cards have sockets into which one of a number of gems can be inserted. Just like the cards themselves, the gems are divided into the 5 shards, and are further divided into Minor and Major gems.
Lady Cassandra here is a good example of a socketed card. You can see the socket itself on the right side of the card, highlighted by the yellow circle, and the SOCKETABLE MAJOR text indicates that she can take either a Minor or a Major gem – some cards have SOCKETABLE MINOR, and those can only take Minor gems. There are currently 20 Gems that we know of, 4 for each shard, and because she has a Major socket, Lady Cassandra can use any of them.
As you can see from the list above, gems have a broad range of different effects, and this makes socketed cards potentially very valuable. You could give them a gem that amplifies a strength they already have or helps balance out a weakness, one that gives them an extra, unexpected power or one that synergizes well with the rest of your deck.
So, what’s the catch? Well for starters, just like cards themselves, you are limited to 4 of any given gem per deck. This means that if you have 8 cards with sockets in your deck, you’re going to need to choose at least 2 different types of gems to give them. You aren’t forced to give each copy of a card the same gem, however – if you had 4 Lady Cassandras in your deck, you could give each one of them a different gem.
Secondly, when you add a gem to a socket, you will require at least one threshold of that type before the gem’s effect would become active. What this means is that if you put the Major Ruby gem that gives +1ATT and Swift Strike into Lady Cassandra’s socket, you will need to have played at least one Ruby resource before she will gain that +1ATT and Swift Strike – if you play her without that threshold, she will only have her default abilities, and won’t gain the extras until you play that first Ruby resource. On the other hand, if you were to give her a Diamond gem, there would be no additional threshold required to activate her gem – she already needs 2 Diamond threshold so you will already have the required Diamond to activate her gem once she’s in play.
Where Do I Get These Gems?
Gems are freely available in Hex in the same way as resources. You will automatically have access to as many copies of all the currently known gems as you need, and you will choose which socketed cards get what gems while you are building your deck. Of course, when building your deck you’re going to want to make sure you have access to the shards of the gems you are socketing, either by only using gems of the shards making up your deck, or through having cards that grant threshold.
In the future it’s entirely possible that in addition to the freely available gems, new types of limited gems will be added that can only be gotten out of the treasure chests that come with each booster pack, offering more unusual abilities at the expense of actually having to collect them first. This is just speculation though – it’s equally as possible that all gems will always be freely available. We’ll have to wait and see on that count.
So, that’s all you need to know about sockets and gems, now lets take a look at some examples!
First up we have the Boulder Brute, a nice simple example in that he doesn’t have any extra abilities, and can only take Minor Gems. Both of the Wild Gems are fairly obvious with this guy, making him either a 4ATT/4DEF for a cost of 4, or a 5ATT/5DEF for a cost of 5. Not bad, but also not very interesting – we can do better than that! Giving this guy the first Minor Blood Gem (+2ATT, Cannot Block) turns this guy into a 6ATT/4DEF power house – who needs to block when you’re attacking all the time?
If you’re running a Wild/Ruby deck, the second Ruby gem might help this guy out quite considerably (For a cost of 1 resource, get +1ATT this turn.) Helpful if you find yourself starved for troops that turn, or simply have some resources left over before attacking – you can dump them into the Boulder Brute to pump his attack to a mightily high value and crush your puny opponent!
The Warlock Inquisitor is a more interesting chap. He can take Major gems, and also has the ability to return to your hand instead of your graveyard when he dies, albeit at a higher cost. So, what gems work well with this guy? Well, there are quite a few possibilities! One of the Major Wild gems let you force an enemy troop to battle him when he enters play – this lets the Warlock Inquisitor double as a quasi-removal effect as well as a troop. All you need to do is target a troop with 3 defence or less, and he’s gone! Of course, with only 1 defence himself odds are the Warlock will be destroyed too, but since he goes straight back to your hand you can just play him again – or, if this isn’t the first time you’ve played him and you’ve managed to buff his defence, he might survive anyway!
The first Major Diamond gem (gain health equal to his cost when he enters play) works well with the Warlock too – his ever increasing cost as he is destroyed and returned to your hand means that each time you play him you’re going to be gaining more and more health each subsequent turn he enters battle. The first Major Blood gem (deal damage to each opposing Champion equal to his ATT when he enters play) is also great on this guy – each time he enters play he’ll do an additional 3 (or more, if you’ve buffed him previously) damage to each enemy Champion. Great for a card that constantly returns to your hand. Really though, a case could be made for any of the gems that give an On Play effect.
The Master Theorycraft is another card that works well with the first Major Blood gem, especially if you’re in a game that has multiple opposing Champions, as each instance of damage is going to generate you a Warbot. The Minor Sapphire gem that grants Flight could also work well here if you wanted to make sure he could reliably deal damage without the risk of having to fight an enemy troop – if the opponent has no flying troops of their own to block with, 3 damage and a free Warbot every turn is a pretty sweet deal.
If you’re running a Ruby/Blood deck, the Minor Blood gem that forces the opponent to discard a card when the Theorycrafter damages their Champion is a pretty nice double-whammy – you get a free Warbot and they are forced to drop something from their hand. If you have some way of reliably getting the Theorycrafter past opposing blockers then this effect could quite quickly tip the scales heavily in your favour.
We’ve only seen a handful of cards that have sockets so far, and as you can see they provide a great deal of versatility in the way they modify troops. It’s unknown just how many socketed cards there are in Set 1, or what Cryptozoic’s plans for the future of gems are, but the possibilities may well be endless. Hopefully you’ve found this brief guide helpful, but if there’s something you’re still unclear on or you think there’s something I’ve missed, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to clarify things!
That’s all for today! Check back later, when I reveal what really happened to the dinosaurs!