The first Set of Hex primarily focuses on 4 of the 8 main races – the Humans, Orcs, Shin’hare and Dwarves. Each of these races has a specific theme or play style, which I’ve talked about before – Orcs focus on hard hitting speed and damage, Shin’hare focus on swarms and sacrifice effects and Dwarves focus on their interaction with artifiacts. Today though, I’m going to talk about the primary Human trait, the Inspire mechanic.
We’ve seen quite a lot of Inspire over the last few months, with 10 Inspire troops revealed and 2 other cards which interact directly with the Inspire mechanic, and I remember someone from CZE in an interview saying there are between 15 and 20 Inspire cards in the first Set, so we have a few left to see yet. If you don’t already know, Inspire is an effect that many Human troops have, which offer some bonus to subsequent troops you play if their cost is equal to or greater than the first troop. Of those cards we’ve seen so far, it seems Inspire can be broken down into 3 groups; cards that give stat boosts, cards which grant Keyword effects and cards that grant other effects. Lets take a look at each of these groups.
Of the 10 Inspire troops we’ve seen, 4 of them offer straight up stat boosts. The Kraken Guard Mariner offers a simple +1 Defence, and since it only has a cost of 1 he will essentially buff every subsequent troop (with a few exceptions where costs have been reduced to zero) allowing him to basically increase the defence of your entire deck. The pictured Ruby Pyromancer grants +1 Attack, a nice attack boost for your other troops, and still cheap enough to effect a large part of your deck. The Protectorate Clergyman combines the two, giving a +1ATT/+1DEF buff which basically pushes your following troops ahead of the curve while the Sword Trainer gives an attack buff equal to her own attack – the only variable Inspire effect we’ve seen so far.
The advantage these stat-boost type Inspire effects have over other Inspire cards is that their effects stack – if you have 2 copies of the Kraken Guard Mariner, your troops are going to get +2 Defence instead of just a +1. These means that having multiple copies of them in play is much more valuable than something which grants a keyword – even if you could have 2 copies of the Steadfast keyword, for example, it wouldn’t make any difference to how it functions.
The ability to stack these Inspire effects can lead to some very potent combinations. Lets say you have a Ruby Pyromancer in play, and then play a Sword Trainer. The next turn, you use Lionel Flynn’s Charge Power on the Sword Trainer which, combined with the buff from the Pyromancer puts the Trainer at 5 Attack. On the following turn you then play your Royal Falconer, who is buffed to a tasty 8 Attack (1 from the Pyromancer and 5 from the Trainer), and creates his two Falcons, who, combined with the Pyromancer buff they get thanks to their two cost and their own ability which grants them +ATT equal to their master’s value, are boosted to a mighty 10 Attack! Two troops with Flight and 10 attack are going to end a lot of games. Obviously you’d need the right pieces to fall into place at the right time to pull of this specific combo, but it wouldn’t be that uncommon in the right deck, and nicely highlights the power of stacking Inspire effects.
Keyword Inspire Effects
Another 4 Inspire troops are those that grant Keywords to the troops that follow them onto the battlefield. These kinds of Keyword effects are generally pretty potent, so the ability to grant them to other troops that might not ordinarily have them is a valuable one. The Shield Trainer (defensive counterpart to the Sword Trainer, perhaps?) grants the Steadfast keyword, and with a cost of only 2 has a pretty good range of troops to which it can be applied, allowing the bulk of your force to both attack and defend (Steadfast stops a troop from exhausting when it attacks.) Depending on your board state, this can let you put a great deal of pressure on your opponent. The Phoenix Guard Trainer (pictured above with the giant canary) grants Flight to other troops (though interestingly doesn’t have Flight herself.) Obviously this is incredibly useful if your opponent doesn’t have their own flying troops to block you, as you’re just going to be able to keep hammering through your damage. Combine that with the Shield Trainer and you’ll be able to block everything they throw back at you too!
The other two Keyword Inspire troops are interesting because they have names, and are therefore Unique troops. Lord Alexander, the Courageous grants the Speed keyword, allowing him and those he inspires to attack on the turn they enter the game – great for brining in some surprise damage that your opponent has little chance to prepare for. I’ve talked about the last Keyword troop before – Princess Victoria, who grants Lifedrain. She also has another trick up her sleeve besides her inspirational nature – if she’s in her opening hand, her cost drops to zero. Obviously this is great because you can play her for free, but it also means that every other troop you play is going to be inspired by her too (at the expense of the fact that she will never herself be inspired.)
[Note: the Princess Victoria card we’ve seen doesn’t have the Unique tag, but the general assumption is that this was an error and that the final card will have it, in the same way all other named characters do.]
While stacking these keywords has no value in the way that the stat boosts do, there are lots of potent combinations you can achieve with these effects. Combining the Shield Trainer’s Steadfast with Princess Victoria’s Lifedrain means that your troops will be able to attack, gain you some health, and then block and gain you even more health in the opponent’s following turn – great for cancelling out any damage they deal. The combination of Flight and Speed is obviously powerful, especially if given to a high-damage troop – being able to fly straight over all the enemy defenders and attack for high damage on the turn you played the troop could win games easily.
Other Inspire Abilities
The two remaining Inspire troops belong to the Sapphire shard and give more specialised buffs to your troops. The Cerulean Mirror Knight, pictured above, gives those troops he inspires an ability that lets you draw a card whenever that troop lands a hit on the enemy Champion. This is a pretty great ability, and in the right deck can result in you getting a huge amount of card advantage, though the Mirror Knight himself doesn’t benefit from it which might result in you being a little conservative when sending him into battle.
The Cerulean Grand Strategist actually gives troops an exhaust ability, allowing a troop to exhaust itself in order to exhaust an opponent troop with less attack. This can be useful in getting pesky chump blockers out of the way, but the value of it is ultimately questionable – do you really want to exhaust one of your own troops in order to stop a weaker enemy troop from blocking? In a lot of cases, it will probably be more beneficial just to attack and let them either sacrifice that troop in a block or let the damage through. I guess the ability this guy grants is for those fringe cases.
Obviously these two are a little more specialised than the other Inspire troops, though the Mirror Knight’s ability can probably fit quite comfortably in a lot of decks. Especially if combined with the Phoenix Guard Trainer, this could result in some great extra card pull. Of course, since neither of those cards gain the benefit of their own abilities, it might be a little slow to get that particular combination to an effective point.
The final 2 cards aren’t Inspire troops themselves, but do interact directly with the Inspire mechanic, and if you’ve watched the Hex streams released during the kickstarter you’re probably aware of both of them; the Legionnaire Of Gawaine and the Blessing the Fallen. The Legionnaire, when he enters play, deals damage to each enemy troop and Champion equal to the number of times he was Inspired. If you’re playing on curve and all your troops have survived, you’ll probably have 4 Inspire troops out, which means 4 damage to every enemy troop – enough to comfortably destroy almost every troop in the game at this point, especially those you’re likely to be seeing on turn 5. And, so Inspired, he’s likely to have a bunch of buffs on top of his already solid 4ATT/4DEF base – if the resulting lack of defenders isn’t enough to win the game on that turn, it will probably be enough for a next turn win. This guy was extremely popular at GenCon, where he featured in the Inspire-themed deck.
As I mentioned, you may remember the Blessing the Fallen from the Twitch stream in which it failed to work properly – lets hope it works when Alpha hits, because it has an impressive effect; it allows troops in your graveyard to continue to Inspire newly played troops as though they were still in play! The obvious combo with the Legionnaire is a big one, allowing you to push through that huge damage spike regardless of whether your troops have been taking a beating or not, but is also just generally great for Inspire decks. If you’ve been forced by your opponent to discard some cards, or they’ve milled a bunch of your deck into your graveyard, this might actually become beneficial to you when all those Inspire troops continue buffing your survivors.
So, that’s what we know of Inspire so far. I’m reasonably sure there are still a few Inspire reveals yet to go – I wonder what they’ll be! Will we see troops that Inspire Crush, or Swiftstrike? Buffs larger than the +1 the current troops offer? Crazy new abilities? Who knows!
Alpha is a little over a week away and excitement is starting to build. In yesterday’s weekly update, Crypto dropped a huge Alpha knowledge bomb telling us what to expect when it launches, specifically on how the username we pick relates to the game. Though, judging by the reaction on the forum, this is already going to change, so don’t worry too much if you don’t like the sound of it! Also featured in yesterday’s update were the traditional two card reveals – including a lot of players’ worst nightmare – resource destruction!
With alpha so close to launch, it’s entirely possible that this might be the last post before we’re all playing the game, unless I’m struck by a sudden bout of Inspiration (see what I did there?) Regardless, if you want to stay informed of updates, you can always enter your email address in the subscription box at the side of the site, or follow me on Twitter!
That’s all for now! Check back next time, when I reveal what the real deal is with those black spots you sometimes see floating in front of your eyes!