Those of you who make a point of keeping up with the fan site community, or who follow me on twitter and have seen all the retweets, have no doubt noticed that a great many sites have been granted some exclusive card previews which have been appearing over the last couple of days. We’ve seen some great cards in these previews, and I’m very happy to say that Casual Hex have been granted our own exclusive! So, without further ado, here he is – Hop’hiro, Samurai!
Hop’hiro, Samurai appears humble enough at first glance – a 1ATT/1DEF Troop for 1 resource, but as you might have guessed from the fact that he’s a rare, there’s more here than meets the eye. First of all, he has the ability to sacrifice another troop in order to give another troop -1ATT – a nice little trick to have up your sleeve if you have some extra Battle Hoppers sitting around and need to take the teeth out of an enemy attack. The first block of text on the card is definitely more interesting though – after a couple of sacrifices, he transforms into Hop’hiro, Elite Samurai!
Now we’re talking! This guy is clearly much more powerful now, fuelled as he is by the blood of his sacrificed comrades. Upgraded to 2ATT/2DEF, his ability has also received a nice boost – it now causes -1ATT/-1DEF. This not only allows you to soften up your opponents bigger troops, but you can finish off their pesky 1DEF troops altogether. This is a pretty useful ability to have, as there are quite a few 1 defence troops that you might otherwise have trouble dealing with – Flock of Seagulls for example, or the Warlock Inquisitor. Both rendered completely inert for the low low cost of a Battle Hopper. Also, is it just me or are the spikes on his armour getting bigger…?
The fun doesn’t stop there though – Hop’hiro still hasn’t reached his peak! A couple more sacrifices and he transforms once again, into Hop’hiro, Samurai Warlord!
Yeah, those spikes are definitely getting bigger. Hop’hiro’s final form, a mighty Samurai Warlord, positively crackles with power. He’s been boosted to 3ATT/3DEF, which makes him one of the strongest Shin’hare we’ve seen so far, and his new ability reinforces that idea – sacrifice a troop, spend a resource, and he can just flat out destroy another troop. This is obviously going to cause your opponent a lot of problems, especially if you have a lot of sacrifice fodder sitting around, and the 3DEF puts him out of range of most common damage-based removal.
As you can see, Hop’hiro has some great potential, and the best part is he fits almost perfectly with other Shin’hare cards that become more powerful with sacrifices – sacrifice a card to the Blood Cauldron Ritualist and both him and the Shin’hare Eulogist will be buffed up, and Hop’hiro gets one of his Bushido counters. Hideous Conversion and Necessary Sacrifice also have great synergy with this guy if you find that his own sacrifice ability isn’t needed at that moment.
Obviously the biggest weakness of this guy is that in his earlier forms there is a wide range of removal that will take him straight out, and given his ability to utterly decimate your opponent’s troops in his final stage he’s going to make a pretty tempting target. Luckily, due to his fantastically low cost, it’s quite easy to keep him in your hand and wait for a chance to upgrade him in a single go. All you’d need is a handful of old reliable Battle Hoppers and something with a free sacrifice ability – the aforementioned Hideous Conversion would work just fine – and you could play him and upgrade him in a single turn, for just 1 resource.
Hop’hiro is going to be great in Constructed formats – I could easily see a deck that revolves around upgrading this guy on turn 4 or 5, blitzing the entire enemy line and then just smacking your foe to death while his defences lay in ruins before they even have a chance to react (note to self: make a deck that does that.) Things are a little more murky in Draft, though. If you’re already into a Shin’hare deck that has a lot of expendable troops then Hop’hiro will definitely be a nice addition, but if he is in your first pack, picking him with the hopes of forcing your way into a Shin’hare deck might be a bit of a gamble. Still, a good deal of the cards that work well with Hop’hiro are common or uncommon, so it might be a gamble that pays off.
Hop’hiro also has some pretty nice PvE equipment. As you’ve no doubt noticed, Hop’hiro is a Unique troop, which means you can only have one of them in play at once. The Whispering Blade equipment means that having another copy of him in your hand isn’t a dead card – you can discard him for a mighty +4ATT/+4DEF buff. This can become especially handy if your opponent is trying to pick him off with some trivial damage trick like a Bombsmith, or if you’ve already obliterated all their defenders and want to make one final push for the win.
The Scroll Case Of The Red Sign is the Legendary piece of equipment, and is something else altogether – if Hop’hiro connects with an enemy Champion, all other Shin’hare you control get +1ATT/+1DEF. This is obviously going to make your army of little rabbits become a lot more formidable after just a couple of attacks, especially if you have a lot of them on the board. The obvious issue here is that you’ll probably have sacrificed most of your fodder so the number of troops you’ll have left over to gain this benefit will be small, but that just makes the effect all the more important – helping you get the most out of those troops you haven’t dropped onto the butcher’s block.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I love this card. I’m a huge fan of cards that transform and Hop’hiro is the perfect example of the mechanic, with an incredible, game-changing payoff at the end. On top of that, both his method of transformation and the flavour text on the Samurai Warlord offer another horrifying glimpse into Shin’hare culture – a society in which peasants are bred and then killed in droves just to make their warriors more powerful. Chilling!
As I said, a whole load of other exclusive previews have been published by other Hex websites, so here’s a quick run down of the ones so far – there are a lot of great cards here, so make sure to check them out!
There are still a few more exclusive previews to be revealed, so be sure to keep an eye on those sites and the general Hex community to stay up to date! Alpha is due less than a week from now, and you wouldn’t want to fall behind! (Update: I’ve added the new previews, along with a competition in which you can win some free booster packs, here!)
That’s all for today. Many thanks to Cryptozoic for giving me this exclusive – as you can see, there are many great Hex websites out there, so the support shown to my humble little corner of the community is greatly appreciated! Check back next time, when I reveal how to stop the NSA from accessing your email via the fillings in your teeth!