HEX: Shards of Fate. By now you’ve probably read tons of articles on the game. You know the gist. It’s a Digital TCG, in the same vein as Magic: the Gathering, only radically different once you get under the hood. Being digital brings a whole new level of things they can do with the simple card game mechanics. Things that would be incredibly difficult, if not downright impossible, to do for a traditional, in-person, card game. And with their third set of PVP cards coming out today called Armies of Myth, the game embraces its digital heritage to the fullest.
First off, a little background on me. My name is Matt Miller, and I was the former Lead Designer for City of Heroes (known back then as Positron). I had a column here on MMORPG after CoH folded for a little while, and in June of 2013, I became a “Grand King” backer for the Hex Kickstarter and started playing under the pseudonym of “DeckOfManyThings”. I’ve played Hex since the Nov. 2013 Alpha client and currently write in-depth strategy articles on the game at www.Fiveshards.com along with a host of other awesome and talented card slingers.
But enough about my pedigree. You want to know what tricks Armies of Myth is bringing to the genre of Digital TCGs. Well, first off this set focuses on four races who only had a smattering of cards in Sets 1 and 2: the spider-like Vennen, the Elves, the Coyotle (a race of anthropomorphic coyote), and the Necrotic, who are human corpses used as vessels for entities living within alien gemstones (creepy!). Each of these races gets a new mechanic, and many of these take serious advantage of the fact that the game is digital.
First we’ll talk about the Vennen. Their new schtick are cards called “Banes”. These are cards that are put into your opponent’s deck and when they draw them, bad things happen. Primarily in Armies of Myth, the Vennen are seeding their opponent’s decks with Spiderling Eggs, which hatch into unblockable spiders when the opponent draws them from their deck. (Don’t worry, the opponent still gets to draw his normal card or discard when they draw a Bane card, they don’t get screwed out of getting whatever they were supposed to get that turn.) Now in a non-digital game this mechanic is fairly easy to replicate... if you can convince your opponent to sleeve your Egg cards with their deck sleeves so they couldn’t tell where your cards were!
The Elves don’t get a keyword to themselves, but they get a couple key cards to perform some resource acceleration (gaining more resources per turn than a player normally would). Cards like the Ageless Troubadour can enable you to get more resources than you can even spend per turn, as they give you an additional resource for every elf you have in play (and remember, Ageless Troubadour counts as an elf himself, so you’re at least getting 1 extra resource a turn). Their other mechanic involves cards that cost 5 or more resources to play. Periwinkle is an elf mage that will copy any card you play that costs 5 or more. This means that if it’s a Troop, and additional copy is created and put into play, and if it’s an Action, then you get an additional version of it that you can target onto something else if you so desire.
The Coyotle are a race that has a lot of Native American/Aboriginal influence in their design, and they get to lay claim to a mechanic called “Prophecy”. Again we have an “only works in digital” ability, where when you play a card with a Prophecy ability it applies bonuses to the next card in your deck that meets a certain criteria. For example, the Brightmoon Brave has the Prophecy ability of “When this comes into play the next troop in your deck gains +1/+1”. You as a player have no idea WHAT troop just got the bonus, only that the next one in your deck will be slightly stronger.
Finally the Necrotic have an ability called Shift. The Shift keyword is coupled with another ability on the Troop, like Speed or Swiftstrike or a myriad of other abilities. The troop that has this Shift ability has that additional ability as well, but for the cost of 1 resource, they can erase that ability from themselves and shift it onto another troop you control. This is super handy when you want to create a “death star” troop with lots of amazing abilities shifted off of other Necrotic troops. While this ability is another that could be replicated in the physical world, it’s just a lot easier to have the card erase its ability and the new ability appear on the target troop.
The last new keyword of the set is called Allegiance. This keyword allows you to perform an action or gain a benefit if you have troops of the same race that the Allegiance calls for. You need this race either in play or... in your hand. And you don’t need to reveal it from your hand to your opponent either. All they know is that you have the race in question, and not what card triggered it. For example the Coyotle have a card called Sacred Seekers. It has the ability “Coyotle Allegiance: When this enters play, draw a card.” If I was holding another coyotle in my hand, I would get the benefit of drawing a card when I play Sacred Seekers.
Additionally, there is also a new ability that didn’t get a keyword, but it’s one that appears on only a couple cards: Brown Fox Scout, Dreamsmoke Mystic, and Augur of Sirion. These cards allow you to see the top card of your deck and manipulate it. Your opponent does not get to see this card, and in the case of Brown Fox Scout, the ability only works if the Scout himself is the top card, so your opponent can’t even know you have this ability running. If Brown Fox Scout is the top card of your deck you can play him as if he was in your hand. Incredibly powerful and again something that only works digitally!
I hope you enjoyed this quick run down of the new mechanics to be found in Hex: Shards of Fate’s new expansion, Armies of Myth. The new card set is scheduled to launch today, so it’s the perfect time to jump in. If you haven’t tried the game, I highly recommend it. It does things no one has ever tried to do in the digital TCG space and succeeds in spades. See you at the digital tables!