With alpha only a couple of weeks away and the stream of news once again reduced to a trickle, things have slowed down in anticipation of the flurry of activity to come – the calm before the storm, if you will. Updates here on Casual Hex will likely remain slow until alpha hits, but with that still being due in a couple of weeks, and with a whole slew of information due in next Friday’s update, things won’t be quiet for long. But anyway, based on this weekend’s revealed cards, today I’m going to talk about robots, and robot related activities.
I’ve talked about artifacts before and touched on robots a little, but today the focus is going to be robots and the dwarves that directly interact with them. First up, the newly revealed Slaughtergear!
Slaughtergear is super interesting for a few reasons. For starters I just love the whole concept of the “character”, a robot factory that gained sentience and then went insane after the dwarves stuck too many hexing gems into it (you can see quite a few of the gems glowing brightly in the picture – which is also great.) Maybe Slaughtergear is now driven by the same alien intelligence of the Necrotic? Secondly, Slaughtergear is actually referenced in the equipment of a couple of other cards we’ve seen so far; one of them was revealed along with Slaughtergear but one of them has been known for a while. the Worker Bot Factory.
Why is this interesting? Well, before now a lot of people had assumed that the cards created by these equipment effects were tokens, cards that could only be acquired through that specific effect. If Slaughtergear is actually a proper card, it implies that the other cards similarly created also exist as PvP cards. The oft mentioned Te’talca, for example, has a piece of equipment that creates a card called The Gore Feast of Kog’tepetl when she transforms. Can we expect to see an actual obtainable card for that? It’s seeming increasingly likely!
As for Slaughtergear’s actual effect, at first glance it seems an obvious win condition for Dwarf (or even just Robot) specific decks, with its ability to turn any artifact into a War Hulk. Give it a little more thought, though, and unfortunately Slaughtergear may not fulfil all your hopes and dreams for a robot army as it might first appear to. Basically, it’s a very slow card. Assuming no resource acceleration, you aren’t going to be able to play it until at least turn 6, leaving you with no more resources, which means turn 7 before you can even start transforming cards into Walk Hulks. The transformation effect also exhausts the target, which means you’re going to end up with a bunch of exhausted Walk Hulks standing around for a turn unable to do anything. So basically, barring any resources acceleration in your deck, it’s going to be at least turn 8 before you can start sending in your new army of stompy robots to get some damage done. This might not sound so bad (and it isn’t really, especially for a slower deck), but it also means that Slaughtergear is also just sitting there for at least 2 turns, giving your opponent plenty of opportunity to throw down some removal.
That’s not to say that Slaughtergear is useless. Its mighty 6 defence offers it protection from most small damage-based removal spells like Burn and battle effects like Te’telca’s, and if you are able to keep it going for long enough to get things started then it likely will win you the game – the ability to turn lowly robots like the Worker Bot or the Charge Bot, or even things like the Sapper’s Charge, into a 5/5 with Crush is undeniably powerful. As long as you have some way to protect it from stuff like Murder, Slaughtergear can, and will, end games. Just stay away from that chestplate equipment – even for an common, it’s worthless.
Elite Battle Tech is an odd card, and I’m honestly having a tough time deciding whether or not he’s any good. His effect can be useful as you can use it after the opponent’s ready step to exhaust their biggest troops (or all of their troops, if you have enough robots around) to stall or completely stop their attack, and he comes with 2 free Worker Bots which means he can always use it at least once a turn. You could also use it during your own turn to neutralise any blockers, though this is probably less useful in a Dwarf deck.
The Battle Tech himself is essentially useless for combat, as is typical for Dwarves, and his low defence means that the types of deck he will be best against – aggro decks – will likely have an immediate counter to hand. And he’s not exactly cheap either, with a cost of 6. Hrm. Yeah. Definitely a tough call, this guy. Any opponent worth their salt is going to get rid of this guy straight away, unless it doesn’t effect their strategy in which case he’s probably useless. I guess the same caveat as Slaughtergear applies here – he can be great, if you can protect him.
PvE may be a different story though – we don’t know how prevalent removal will be amongst AI decks, and the equipment gives him some interesting buffs – the gloves letting you exhaust small guys in order to generate more Worker Bots, and the helmet letting you exhaust huge troops to create yourself a Slaughtergear for free. I guess he’s also decent fodder for creating more bodies for a Volcannon, but there are probably better options for that. I guess my final analysis of this guy is a resounding “maybe.” Drop a comment below if you have any thoughts.
Lets change things up a bit and take a quick-fire look at a few other robots!
Pterobot – I really like this card and it has the potential to be very powerful, especially for a common. In the right deck you could get its cost down to 1 or 2 very quickly, and a 3ATT/4DEF troop with Flight is pretty great for that cost! Don’t forget that any artifacts work for this, not just troop artifacts!
Droo’s Unstoppable Walker – An absolute beast of a machine, an 8/8 with Crush certainly seems to live up to its name, until you realise that it actually stops by itself pretty quickly – it doesn’t automatically ready itself once you’ve used it! You can ready it manually by paying 8 health, but this is a pretty steep cost, and one you’ll only want to be paying if it’s a guaranteed win. That said, combine it with a Dwarven Turbine, and this thing really is unstoppable.
Heavy Welding Bot – Not a bad piece of hardware, 4ATT/5DEF is nothing to sneer at as long as you have some cost 1 artifacts in your graveyard to justify the cost. Getting a free Charge Bot or a Sapper’s Charge back from the dead is a pretty nice perk. If you don’t have any 1 cost artifacts in your deck you’ll be better off going with something else though.
Aggressive War Hulk – Cousin to the regular War Hulks created by Slaughtergear, the Aggressive War Hulk starts at a lower base (3ATT/3DEF) but can get a +1ATT buff by spending 2 resources. This means that if you have a lot of extra resources (or a bunch of Hex Engines) you can make this guy pretty powerful. Just don’t forget that his defence will stay at 3 before you dump all your resources onto him.
Dwarf/artifact decks are beginning to get quite a lot of handy tools at their disposal to pull off some very interesting stuff. With alpha dropping in a couple of weeks, and every player getting 4 copies of each card for the duration of alpha, I imagine we’ll see pretty quickly just what these guys are capable of!
Time for another look at some of the cool stuff the rest of the Hex community has been putting out there!
– John Tatta over at Hex TCG Pro has started a series of articles on deck building, one covering mid-range decks and one on a Ruby Control deck. Both well worth the read, especially if you’re looking to learn more about specific deck strategies.
– The Threshold Podcast continues with weekly episodes, and released their 8th podcast a few days ago. It’s very well produced and very entertaining, so if you’re looking for a Hex-related podcast to get you through the day, look no further.
That’s all for today! Check back next time, when I reveal where the moon really came from!