A Guide to the Hex Champions
Welcome! Have a seat, and prepare to learn about the Champions in HEX: Shards of Fate. One of the more interesting parts of the gameplay in HEX is that you, the player, take the form of a Champion with their own set of unique abilities. This adds a whole other level of complexity to the game and to deckbuilding where there are extra levels of synergy. Having a well-powered Champion tailored to your specific deck will help you greatly.
Now with a total of 45 Champions to choose from (8 for each shard and 5 multi-shard Champions), and more promised for future blocks, the sheer grandiose level of customization available is truly mind-bending.
Unfortunately, some of the Champions are just about unplayable or usurped in power by other options, so, for the sake of keeping this article shorter than my Frost Arena walkthrough (which may have set new records for editor headaches), I’ll be concentrating solely on the Champions I feel you would actually want to be playing with rather than thinking “It’d be nice if I could get to 10 charges anytime this week so I can trigger this Power”.
I will start with a look at Limited-exclusive Champions and then move on to the Constructed powerhouses and synergies available.
Ozin is going to go into one deck type and one deck type only: Vennen. He will often be fighting with another Champion for your affections but there is one key where Ozin excels. Spiderlings are unblockable. This means that once you’ve triggered one egg in your opponent’s deck you can keep the pressure up to reach more and more, eventually hitting more Spiderlings and keeping the velocity of your deck up.
I’ve often said that the “Egg-laying” cards are simply over-costed versions of already existing cards. The fact that your opponent draws only one card a turn means that you’re unlikely to hit a Spiderling on any given turn, however when you start milling your opponent for a couple of cards a turn you get closer to your eggs and, more to the point, can end up winning the game via decking rather than just killing your opponent through damage. Ozin’s ability is also so cheap to use that you’ll often have this on 3 to 4 creatures before the end of the duel. That’s quite some threat there.
Ovo is the “thinking player’s” Champion. He’s the guy you want when you don’t want everything to be as it seems. He is especially powerful when teamed up with Shift cards and, thanks to his neat ability of giving cards with Shift their ability back once it’s been used, you can end up with a wall of Swiftstrike and Lethal troops that nothing can bash through thanks to Shadowblade Assassin and Deadeye Slicer.
Need a little more? Well he is also a hard counter to negative-effect spells such as Etherealize, Taint, Inflict Doubt, Cripple, Incubation Webs. Just in case you need any more persuading, you can use an Ethereal Caller to transform a troop in your graveyard into a Phantom and put it into play, revert the Phantom with Ovo, and you will get your original troop back into play nice and healthy, along with a 1/2 flier for the low, low cost of 3 resources.
Welcome to the Mother of Grind. Anana is a Champion you’ll have to put a little work into, like Ovo, however her strength lies more in the sheer value side of the game. Removal in Armies Limited is definitely at a premium and Anana makes it so that even if you lose a troop in battle or to an action the threats will keep on coming.
She, like Ovo, combines well with Ethereal Caller because the Caller doesn’t revert the troop, which is in the graveyard before transforming it so if it already had Anana’s stamp on it then when the Phantom dies it will trigger another Phantom once again and soon the sky will be full of small annoying stinging ghosts and your opponent will be out of resources.
Additionally the Phantom created by Ethereal Caller will have all the additional buffs that were given to the original troop, such as shifted powers. Nuts, huh? She is not a lady who will give immediate satisfaction, but in a long grinding game you’ll be very glad she’s on your side.
Zorzym of Korru
I am mentioning Zorzym as the alternative Vennen deck hero, however in my opinion Patriarch Ozin is more than likely your superior route unless you’ve managed to draft a ton of Lunacy in which case you need egg injection rather than mill. Aside from that minor issue, however, I’d prefer Ozin over Zorzym.
Carrac The Scavenger
Carrac is another value Champion. 2/2 Zombies aren’t exactly going to threaten anyone, but once they’ve had buffs thrown on them — now we’re talking. There are not as many permanent buffs in Armies of Myth as there were in Shards of Fate, such as Ruby Aura, but there are a couple of nice tricks and, as proven by the below pictures, both Carrac and Adana are not to be underestimated.
The Power Champions
These are the Champions who you’ll be seeing a lot of in both Constructed and Limited. They are the Champions who stand above the rest and they’ll be your common enemies unless something completely brand new turns up all of a sudden. Be aware of their power and their tricks, and be ready to counter what they are trying to do.
Well, given my attitude towards her in my Beginner’s Guide there wasn’t really anywhere else to start, was there? Cressida has been pulling up trees in both Constructed and Limited and even with the banning of Titania’s Majesty, something that I fully support, two decks powered by Cressida made the top 8 of a high prestige community tournament recently. So, although she’s been knocked down a peg or two, Cressida is still right at the top of the tree of Champions.
W/R Eye of Creation (Credit: Fierock)
- 4 x Howling Brave
- 2 x Puck, Dream Bringer
- 3 x Periwinkle
- 2 x Droo’s Colossal Walker
- 4 x Eternal Sage
- 4 x Crocosaur
- 1 x Balthasar
- 4 x Arborean Rootfather (Destruction/Ferocity)
- 1 x Syyn, Etherdrake Nomad
- 1 x Eternal Guardian
- 1 x Walking Calamity
- 4 x Chlorophyllia
- 4 x Eye of Creation
- 14 x Wild Shard
- 7 x Ruby Shard
- 4 x Shard of Savagery
- 4 x Turbulence
- 2 x Heat Wave
- 2 x Nature’s Reigns
- 3 x Carnasaurus
- 2 x Succulent Cluckadon
- 2 x Heart of Wrathwood
This deck should probably just be called “Five is a good number”. The deck is pretty much entirely built around hitting 5 mana on turn 3. Thanks to Cressida’s ability to get that free mana on turn 3, all it needs is one of the 10 ways to accelerate by turn 2 and then the fun begins.
Turn 3 troops that are 8/8 which can’t be Murdered. Turn 3 troops at 5/5 which can turn into 8/8s every turn, which also can’t be Murdered. Turn 3 troops at 5/6 which punch out 2 creatures when they come into play, and thus make aggro and tempo decks cry. Or if you’re feeling really saucy, a turn 3 double of any of those, thanks to the power of Periwinkle.
Without a doubt in my mind, in terms of raw power, this is the most powerful deck currently going in the format and it’s pretty much all thanks to Cressida. Without that pretty much guaranteed boost, the deck would be nowhere near as consistent.
In Limited, the idea is the same — drop a huge fatty on turn 3 which puts your opponent behind and lean on them. For me, this has worked particularly well in Sealed.
The Card Drawers
These two guys are control deck favourites. They both serve a very similar purpose. Control decks in HEX like going one-for-one (i.e. using a card to deal with an opponent’s card) and then re-filling their hand in order to deal with any follow up threats and grind the win overall.
One of the most common Blood control archetypes is Blood/Diamond control and one of my major gripes with many builds has always been the lack of card draw in the deck. Kranok as well as the Vampires, providing the Lifedrain to offset the additional cost of 2 life for your card, does mitigate this somewhat and may be the best option for Blood/Diamond, but there are a huge number of options available, which we’ll go through soon.
Kranok is also a viable Champion for Mono-Blood Control and, in fact, is more likely to be the default hero for that strategy.
Wyatt is one of two Champions used in Mono-Sapphire builds, however, with the introduction of Reese the Crustcrawler, many Mono-Sapphire builds have gone away from Wyatt and towards abusing Reese more.
That doesn’t seem like a very powerful ability does it? A 1/1 which can’t attack isn’t really going to set the world on fire. Could potentially be useful as a road block against aggro, but the real reason that this guy has been seen outside of Robot aggro is Reese the Crustcrawler. Once Reese surfaces, Bertram’s ability changes to read: “Create a Robot and put it into play”. This can be anything from Murdertron to the mighty Tectonic Megahulk, and the Armies of Myth set has only made the possibilities for Reese more frightening.
Before this synergy, Mono-Sapphire decks were pretty much all about the standard one-for-one exchange and trying to redeem value with cards such as Eldritch Dreamer. With Reese on board, suddenly they had a weapon of overwhelming power to be able to use for next to no resources which allows them to keep up resources for Countermagic and Verdict of the Ancient Kings, which was one of the few weaknesses of the deck before due to the fact it often had to decide whether to deploy a threat or “hold up” Countermagic. With Reese you no longer have to make that decision. You tunnel him on turn 2 and then all hell breaks loose a couple of turns later. Against aggro you can use Bertram as a roadblock, and against control you just wait for Reese to resolve and then begin the spam.
Champion: Bertram Cragraven
- 4 x Cerulean Mirror-Knight
- 4 x Storm Cloud
- 4 x Buccaneer
- 3 x Reese the Crustcrawler
- 4 x Countermagic
- 3 x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
- 4 x Time Ripple
- 4 x Peek
- 4 x Arcane Focus
- 2 x Mastery of Time
- 3 x Crackling Vortex
- 21 x Sapphire Shard
This type of deck has recently fallen a little out of favour due to the predominance of Blood and Mono-Ruby in the environment, as well as Crocosaur being in every deck which can fit him in at the moment, as well as there simply being other control options now. However Countermagic is probably the best answer in the game right now to the Eye of Creation decks, so certainly don’t rule this deck out as a contender and Bertram will be playing a part.
Blood and Diamond’s Options
All the upcoming Champions fall under the same heading. “Something a Blood/Diamond control deck would like”. There’s never really been a huge consensus on the best Champion for the job. First off, let’s have a look at an example deck list.
Blood Diamond Control (Credit: DarkShadowNL)
Champion: Zared Venomscorn
- 4x Living Totem
- 4x Vampire Princess
- 4x Vampire King
- 4x Angel of Dawn
- 2x Hopeheart Unicorn
- 4x Soul Marble
- 4x Solitary Exile
- 4x Martyr
- 3x Murder
- 3x Extinction
- 2x Starsphere
- 4x Shard of Retribution
- 9x Blood Shard
- 9x Diamond Shard
- 2x Sorrow
- 3x Frost Wizard
- 2x Withering Touch
- 3x Cerebral Domination
- 3x Exarch of the Egg
- 2x Phenteo the Blood Priest
This is a very nice list and overall a decent place for us to begin to see what the deck wants to do. It’s overall a “power” deck. All its cards are very good and the deck is flexible in such a way that, in the 75 cards between main-deck and reserves, it can answer anything — but the idea is to find the best Champion.
So what are our options? We’ve already discussed Kranok, so let’s have a look at the rest of the unlikely crew.
The Champions usually fall into one of two categories: Health gain, in the case of Dimmid and Gozzog, or control, with the principal architect there being Zared.
Zared has been the favourite son of Blood Control for many months, however a few people have begun to look the other way now. In Shards of Fate, Set 1, there were a lot of troops with 1 health which Zared preyed upon, however now those cards are not seeing much in the way of play and the meta-game has moved on. The Ruby decks are too fast to rely on Zared and he kills pretty much nothing else in any deck in the format, and he’s ghastly against cards like Soul Marble. He’s still very good — a permanent de-buff is nothing to sneeze at — however we may be wanting to look elsewhere.
Rutherford Banks came out of left-field a bit but the more I think about it, the more he makes sense. Syyn, Etherdrake Nomad and Uruunaz are big time investments in resources, and getting two bites of the cherry at them is definitely something to think about. I would only play him as my Champion if I were playing these fat-end troops and, as you can see by the build above, some builds have left it alone.
Gozzog and Dimmi both try the same thing. It’s unlikely you’re ever going to kill anyone with Gozzog, but his ability is annoying and will often be good for 5 health points in a game which may be all you need. Dimmi is more about turning on a Soul Marble, or getting a free Angel of Dawn, and getting a bit chunk of Lifedrain out of it to get way ahead on life. Out of the 2 I prefer Dimmi and he’s been a fairly stable Champion in the archetype for a while alongside Zared, with his only disadvantage being that he requires double threshold to activate, which is always a downer in a 2-shard deck.
With the current builds of Blood/Diamond I would lean towards Kranok as my Champion, but all the Champions have their up-sides and I wouldn’t blame anyone for playing any of them. That’s one of the reasons why Blood/Diamond is so hard to build correctly.
Bunoshi the Ruthless
This little bunny means one of 2 things: Shin’hare or Darkspire, and if I were you I’d be worried about Darkspire. The Darkspire sacrifice deck is a card advantage machine which is capable of some truly ridiculous combos, and Bunoshi’s ability to deliberately sacrifice one of your own creatures is actually almost as, if not more, relevant than the ability to permanently buff a troop.
Darkspire Midrange (Credit Chimera)
Champion: Bunoshi the Ruthless
- 4 x Darkspire Priestess
- 3 x Minion of Yakuzan
- 2 x Giant Corpse Fly
- 4 x Vampire Princess
- 3 x Darkspire Punisher
- 2 x Monsuun, Shogun of Winda’jin
- 2 x Vampire King
- 2 x Darkspire Tyrant
- 1 x Uruunaz
- 4 x Extinction
- 3 x Murder
- 3 x Rot Cast
- 4 x Inquisition
- 3 x Starsphere
- 21 x Blood Shard
- 2 x Sorrow
- 2 x Withering Touch
- 2 x Vampire King
- 4 x Drowned Shrine of Ulthar
- 2 x Chaos Key
- 3 x Xentoth’s Inquisitor
The amount of synergy in this deck is mind-blowing. From cards which simply won’t die to Minions, which become doubly annoying when buffed, to the potential to make huge flying troops, to the sheer terror of a huge turn using Monsuun or Extinction to get a massive number of Darkspire triggers. This is a beautifully designed deck and could be a serious contender in the new meta-game.
Say hello to a control player’s wet dream. Winter Moon is the Champion that keeps on giving. Combined with the Coyote synergy, mainly from Indigo Dreamwalker, Thunderfield Elder, and Thunderfield Seer, Winter Moon will allow you to constantly keep powering up the cards in your deck and re-use them over and over again. Then, of course, there’s the all-powerful Windsinger to also consider.
If you’re a Countermagic player, you’ll always be drawing to 4 Countermagics, because they’ll keep being shuffled into your deck and now they’re even better as they will have “Draw a card” permanently stamped on them.
The list of options that you have when playing Winter Moon are incredible. They’re pretty much all based around control, mind you, but the variations are extremely interesting. Options such as a classic “fog” style deck using Lullaby and Shard Ward as ways of stopping your opponent from damaging you in combat and then shuffling the “deal no damage” cards back in — eventually winning either through some unanswerable threat like an Arborean Rootfather with Flight and Spellshield socketed, which will probably cost 1 by the time this deck’s done shuffling, or through your opponent quitting in disgust.
You could also try a “quick” style deck using Brown Fox Scout and Countermagics and Time Ripples galore to make sure you’re playing the Mono-Sapphire game but possibly even better. Tempo control is always possible as well — I mean, who doesn’t want their Crocosaurs to keep coming back with “Draw a card” stamped on them?
The problem with infinite diversity, however, is the fact that it comes in infinite combinations and, as of yet, no one has really been able to nail down a super good list. I, personally, believe people are just trying too hard to do too much and a more simple approach may be better. We will see when the meta-game develops.
The 2 Champions I’ll leave you with today are the two you’ll see for the shortest time, because if you see them, the game isn’t going to last very long.
Poca, The Conflagrator
So, you want strategy with these two? Smash, Kill, Obliterate! Wham! Wham! Wham! That’s what these two do.
Poca is usually seen more in the Sapphire/Ruby Inspire Aggro decks, which also pack Gore-Feast on many an occasion, as her ability means that a Gore-Feast often only requires 1 or 2 other troops in play to be a full on lethal attack. Even if it isn’t, the fact that Poca’s Blaze Elemental will trigger both Cerulean Mentalist and Cerulean Mirror-Knight for much in the way of cards drawn means that she’s the perfect Champion for that deck.
If you’re just wanting to murder, death, kill, smash, bang, wallop your opponent as fast as possible, Urgnock’s your Orc, and I’ll leave you with possibly the strongest deck in Constructed at the moment. Take a look at the reserves as well as the main deck. This is a work of art.
Mono-Ruby Sunsoul Aggro (Credit – Mind)
- 4 x Unmerciful Tormentor
- 4 x Ridge Raider
- 4 x Quash Ridge Tusker
- 4 x Fierce Warlord
- 4 x Psychotic Anarchist
- 4 x Deadeye Ripper
- 2 x Sunsoul Phoenix
- 4 x Scorch
- 4 x Burn
- 3 x Crushing Blow
- 4 x Crackling Bolt
- 19 x Ruby Shard
- 4 x Heat Wave
- 4 x Skewer
- 2 x Total Meltdown
- 3 x Mindpyre (Run home crying to mama, Mr. Control deck)
- 2 x Sunsoul Phoenix
Sunsoul Phoenix is a card I’ve loved from the moment it’s been printed. Such power — and the classic “Phoenix” ability to put itself back into play means that you can recover from being wiped out. In addition, the Phoenix can come out FAST. Really fast, we’re talking potentially turn 2 fast here.
With Urgnock powering up Quash Ridge Tuskers as usual (I swear I never get tired of that), this deck’s speed is currently unmatched. While many are being enchanted by “cool things”, this deck is just saying “I’m going to kill you turn 4 and it’s going to be pretty rough stopping me”. Urgnock’s permanent buff is what gives this deck that little extra push and that’s what you’re looking for your Champion to do no matter what deck you’re playing.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of the current Champions in HEX: Shards of Fate. If you’ve got any cool ideas about what to do with the Champions, feel free to post them in the comments below and I’ll look at them as soon as I can.
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