As we all know, the core of Hex is based heavily on Magic: The Gathering, and one of the things commonly found in Magic is the concept of card cycles. Of course, there are a number of different kinds of cycle, but typically a card cycle refers to a collection of cards that share some theme, and have 1 card in each of the primary colours (or Shards, in the case of Hex) over the course of a single Set, or an entire block. With only a single incomplete set currently available to us, there are still a number of cycles which can be found. Today we’re going to look at some of those cycles.
The first cycle we’re going to look at is probably the most well known and therefore the most obvious – the Escalation cards. They’re all rare cards and each feature the same mechanic – a doubling of power each time the card is played. They all have pretty powerful effects, too (with the possible exception of Relentless Corruption – it’s pretty tough to judge that one and it isn’t in the alpha yet.)
Crash of Beasts and Ragefire are both undeniably powerful. Ragefire regularly wins games in the current alpha, and while Crash of Beasts is currently bugged, its power is obvious – the Rhinoceros is a 3ATT/3DEF with Crush, so getting just one for 3 resources is a pretty good deal. Once you start playing multiple copies, it’s likely things will quite quickly swing your way. Eternal Youth is also proving to be a pretty useful card – while it won’t directly help you win games, it can easily put your health total out of range of all but the most aggressive decks, giving you time to solidify whatever your actual win condition is. Chronic Madness is obviously situational: it’s not going to work in every deck, but in Mill decks it’s essential, and also has great synergy with a lot of other cards that work in Mill decks, like Sabotage.
What’s interesting about this cycle is that is that it’s very specific to Hex – the Escalation effect wouldn’t really work in a physical TCG, especially with Relentless Corruption’s effect of taking cards from an opponents deck.
The next cycle is another one that wouldn’t work in a physical TCG – the Major Gems cycle! Obviously there are a bunch of cards that have socketable gems, so this might seem like a less obvious cycle, but a quick check will reveal that each shard only has a single card with a Major Socket, and all 5 of those cards are Rare (we’re obviously not including PvE cards here – who knows what other stuff PvE is going to do!)
So. this cycle is the Battle Beetle, the Eldritch Dream, the Master Theorycrafter, the Protectorate Defender and Xentoth’s Inquisitor. Besides the obvious flexibility and power of the cards themselves, the abilities these cards have are all designed to specifically take advantage of the Major gems – as I talked about last time, the Major Gems all have effects which trigger either when the troop enters play, or when it damages an opposing Champion.
The relationship here should be fairly obvious – the Protectorate Defender and Xentoth’s Inquisitor both have effects which let them enter play multiple times, while the Battle Beetle, Eldritch Dream and Master Theorycrafter all have abilities which make dealing damage to the enemy a lot easier. You can expect to see a lot of these cards during your time with Hex, certainly for the first set – they’re already proving extremely popular in the alpha!
Next up, the Aura cards. The Aura cards are named for the shard to which they belong, are all Quick Actions and all give a permanent power boost along with a Shard-thematic ability (Keywords in all cases except for Blood.) There’s Wild Aura, which gives Crush, Ruby Aura, which gives Swiftstrike, Sapphire Aura for Flight, Diamond Aura for Steadfast and Blood Aura, which gives its target the rather unusual ability of voiding any cards it damages instead of sending them to the graveyard.
Unlike the previous cycles, these cards are all Common. Interestingly, they also all have different costs, from 1 to 5 resources. These cards are all useful both as combat tricks and as general boosts for your troops, making them a great way to keep your opponent on their toes – imagine giving a troop with 1 defence Swiftstrike after your opponent has decided to make a cheap trade, or giving your nice giant Mushwocky Crush, stopping him from being easily chump-blocked. Being Commons, you’ll likely see a lot more of these in Draft than you will in Constructed.
There are a couple of other cycles in Set 1 which relate to transforming cards, though these are a little harder to talk about since many of these cards haven’t been officially revealed yet – they aren’t in the alpha and we don’t have proper cards images for them. In general though, one of the cycles are the Incantation cards. We’ve already seen the Incantation of Fear, a constant which transforms into the Nightmare as cards enter graveyards. Based on what info we have, it seems there will be Incantations for the other 4 shards too, which will transform based performing actions thematic to that shard. These cards will be great ways to get relatively powerful troops for performing pretty common actions.
The other cycle is that of transforming troops – troops which transform into more powerful versions of themselves over the course of the game. We’ve seen a few members of this cycle already – Hop’hiro, Samurai and the Ascetic Aspirant (it’s possible that Te’talca is included in this cycle too, but since she only has 1 transformation I think that Ruby will also have another transforming card for this cycle, which transforms twice like the others.) Time will tell what effects the other transforming cards have (you can probably find out from the datamined card lists going around) but based on the Blood and Diamond ones they’ll likely be very potent. However, given the prevalence of removal currently in the game, it remains to be seen how useful they’ll actually be.
Not all cycles are confined to a single set – some of them span an entire block. The Dragons would appear to be a good example of this. Set 1 has Jadiim and Uruunaz, the Wild and Blood dragons, and we already know that Set 2 will contain at least 1 Dragon, Zeedu the Sapphire Dragon. Thanks to a PvE card from the Kickstarter, Wrath of Zakiir, we already know that there’s also a Ruby Dragon, so it stands to reason that at some point a Diamond Dragon will be revealed, thus completing the first cycle of Dragons. I’m not sure whether or not Cryptozoic have confirmed the distribution of the Dragons yet, but my guess is we’ll get 2 more in Set 2 and the final Dragon in Set 3.
Are there any more Set 1 cards which are secretly part of a block-wide cycle? It’s pretty hard to say at this point. What do you think? Are there any cards you’ve seen that you’ll think will have cousins in Sets 2 or 3? Are there any cycles you think I’ve missed? Feel free to comment below!
That’s all for now! Check back next time, when I’ll teach you how to banish those demons which cause that high pitch noise you hear sometimes!