A look at Sapphire Wild turns with YungDingo

Hi. I’m YungDingo. I’ve been playing TCGs for the good majority of my life. Just a few months ago, I picked up Hex: Shards of Fate and immediately became hooked, especially when this S/W deck caught my eye. I’ve played a several variants of it, and recently top-4’d the last three Hex Bashes, placing first in the most recent one. I collaborate with another fellow Battleshopper content producer, ProfessorFrench, as part of the newly formed Team Prof. If you’re wondering how I was able to put up such results in a short amount of time, I’m pretty lucky. Don’t believe me? Watch this:

 

The Origin

During the month of December, players were in full brew/fine-tune mode trying to solve the new standard format. As with many new standard formats, players quickly discovered one of the format’s premiere aggro decks in the form of R/S Sockets. Two Bash competitors, TrueDuelist and AliEldrazi, decided to go a different direction by building around the powerful action Eyes of the Heart. Both players tried out the card in control decks with combo-esque finishes. TrueDuelist played a R/S deck utilizing Haraza the Incinerator’s champion power to give speed to Engorged Gobbler, whereas Ali decided to build incremental card advantage in his D/S deck using Nineveh to draw multiple cards each turn. Both players put up strong finishes with TrueDuelist going undefeated during the swiss portion of December 9th’s Bash.


Both decks had one thing in common: they failed to benefit from the additional charge clause of Eyes of the Heart because they played reactive control cards meant to be cast on the opponent’s turn. They do not fully utilize the entire text box of Eyes of the Heart, which practically challenges players to use resources during their turn to generate as many charges possible.

The potential for a strategy that involved Eyes of the Heart was definitely there, but it was unclear what kind of the shell would fit it best. At least it was until Catchman opened our eyes to a W/S tap out list featuring Eyes of the Heart with an 11th place finish in the January 6th Bash.


Why Tap Out?

As mentioned, Eyes of the Heart rewards you for getting to six resources as fast as possible and playing multiple cards during those extra turns. With an early game comprised of Palm of Granite, Acolyte of Shoku, and Tilling the Soil, the deck ensures that Eyes of the Heart will likely come down on turn four or five rather than on turn six. From there, playing resources during the extra turns (one of the things the deck does very well) now grants three charges instead of one. This means that ramping during the additional turn will often grant upwards of seven charges in a single turn, allowing Balthasar’s power to gain card advantage each turn. In addition, playing an uncontested Merry Caravan on turn three or four and following it up with an Eyes of the Heart leads to explosive turns where Merry Caravan can potentially generate several troops.

                           

Deck Tips:

There are a few particular interactions in this deck that are important to sequence correctly that aren’t immediately apparent.

  1. Always use the hero power before playing resources from your hand.

This might seem insignificant, but there is always a chance of drawing a Merry Caravan or Exalted Pathfinder that you may want to play before playing the resource.

  1. Whenever possible, wait until you can play a resource immediately after resolving a Merry Caravan or Exalted Pathfinder.

When playing against a deck with heavy interaction, it is important to get as much leverage out of each card when possible. By waiting until you can play a resource immediately after an Exalted Pathfinder, you are guaranteed to draw at least one card without your opponent being able to interact, since non-targeting effects don’t use the stack. Similarly, doing this with Merry Caravan ensures that you will get a one cost troop.

  1. Keep track of the number of Wild Shards left in the deck.

Games often go long when playing this deck, so you’ll get to see a lot of cards throughout the course of the game. Inevitably, Palm of Granite will be a late game draw. If there aren’t enough Wild Shards left in the deck when Palm of Granite resolves, the card will do effectively nothing. If this situation comes up, it is best to hold the Palm of Granite in hand, as it can provide two charges during an Eyes of the Heart turn and act as discard fodder against Primordial Cockatwice.

Changes Over Time:

This deck has required a lot of tuning throughout the last few weeks. From the initial list, the first changes to the deck were the inclusion of Eternal Seeker over Brosi-Buk, Mischief Master and Dreamcall in the maindeck. The reasoning for this was that our matchups where Brosi-Buk and Dreamcall are good are already favorable matchups, and Eternal Seeker helps clean up board stalls against “go-wide” decks, such as R/D Candles. There were also some minor tweaks in the reserves, most of which were experimental.

With this configuration, it seemed that aggressive decks and blood-based midrange decks were proving to be problematic. Keeping that in mind, the addition of Dread End, Dark Heart of Nulzann and an additional Eternal Seeker in the reserves made the aggressive matchups a lot more favorable than they previously were.

This is the list that I played in the last Bash. It felt very solid against the vast majority of the metagame, however, there was still a bit of a problem with the Mono-Blood matchup. Moving into the next Bash, I am planning on adding a couple of Dreamcalls in the reserves instead of a Warpsteel Shardsworn and a Grove Warden. Dreamcalls give us card advantage in the sense that it provides extra cards to discard to Primordial Cockatwice and Demented Whispers, as both of those cards can be extremely devastating to deal with going into the mid to late game.

 

Matchups/Reserving:

Updated Reserves

3x Warpsteel Shardsworn
3x Brosi-Buk, Mischief Master
3x Dark Heart of Nulzann
2x Dread End
2x Rotting Chompknight
1x Eternal Seeker
2x Dread End

Mono-Blood Midrange:

While far from unwinnable, Mono-Blood can prove to be a tricky matchup. There are two problematic scenarios that we can find ourselves in against the Blood-based decks:

  1. A Vampire Prince and/or Bride of the Damned played on curve.
  2. Primordial Cockatwice and/or Demented Whispers played on curve.

In order to deal with the early threats from the blood decks, reserving to have early removal can be quite effective. If the Blood opponent does not play an early threat, the dead removal can be discarded to Primordial Cockatwice/Demented Whispers.

Reserving Recommendations:

In- 3x Dark Heart of Nulzann

     3x Brosi-Buk, Mischief Master

     2x Dreamcall

Out- 3x Acolyte of Shoku

        2x Exalted Pathfinder

        3x Tilling the Soil

Dark Heart of Nulzann is a necessary removal spell against early threats such as Bride of the Damned and Vampire Prince, while also being a reasonable 4/4 body. Brosi-Buk, Mischief Master does a couple of key things in the matchup. It forces our opponent to discard their removal spells, and refills our hand. Dreamcalls are an effective tool against Blood for the reason mentioned earlier; it provides us with discard fodder and occasionally a randomly generated card that is potentially useful. Cutting our ramp spells against the blood is fine because of how long the games are going to last. We want to become less of a ramp deck and more of a control deck, since ramp spells are not live top-decks in the late game. Finally, we trim a couple of Exalted Pathfinder to make us less susceptible to Herofall.

D/S Control:

Control tends to be a favored matchup for ramp decks, and this case is no different. Having four copies of Merry Caravan in the maindeck is usually enough to steal game one from the Sapphire based control decks, as they typically have a hard time removing the powerful constant. It gets harder for us post reserves, however, as the control decks gets to become more board clear and constant removal oriented. Outside of the combination of Clash of Steel plus Dark Heart of Nulzann, it is still challenging for control to keep up on card advantage. Having Sapphire in the ramp deck gives us Runebind, which essentially nullifies interrupts out of the control deck.

Reserving Recommendations:

In- 3x Brosi-Buk, Mischief Master

Out – 3x Tilling the Soil

Similar to the reason we bring it in against Blood decks, Brosi-Buk is a good way to pull back ahead on card advantage in the late game. Ramp, again, is not necessary in the games that go very long. There is an argument to be made that Tilling the Soil draws a card in the late game, but most of the removal out of D/S Control is void-based, so it can actually be tricky to meet the scrounge requirement. Acolyte of Shoku stays in over Tilling the Soil in this matchup because of its ability to make dreadlings and chip away at the opponent’s life total during the late game.

R/D Candles:

Surprisingly, R/D Candles is not a bad matchup for the deck. Candles has virtually no way of interacting with our game plan outside of Wrath of Elements. Provided that we don’t get aggroed out before turn four, resolving a Merry Caravan usually provides us enough chump blockers until we can void all of the candles with Eternal Seeker.

Reserving Recommendations:

In- 2x Warpsteel Shardsword

     1x Eternal Seeker

     2x Dread End

Out- 4x Eyes of the Heart

        1x Exalted Pathfinder

Warpsteel Shardsworn is a good way to be able to survive until the mid game. It is essentially three to four chump blockers when socketed with the Minor Wild Orb of Blossoms. Dread End Eternal Seeker are key cards to have, as they are the only way we can wipe the opponent’s board. Eyes of the Heart is very irrelevant in this matchup as there is nothing benefinical we can do with an extra turn aside from using it as a “ramp spell” to play an Eternal Seeker. Oftentimes, Eyes of the Heart will be rotting in our hand by the time the game is over. Exalted Pathfinder also isn’t stellar in this matchup. Nine times out of ten we would prefer that it be a Merry Caravan, as having one body to block with is far inferior to making a troop every turn.

Mono-Ruby or R/B Aggro:

Although this isn’t a very large part of the current metagame, it is undoubtedly our worst matchup. It is very likely to go an entire Bash without seeing an aggro deck, as D/S and Blood decks are very good against this low to the ground aggressive decks. But, the ability of the Mono-Ruby deck to deal direct damage and only need two to three troops to end the game makes it a very difficult deck to beat.

Reserving Recommendations:

In- 2x Warpsteel Shardsworn

     3x Dark Heart of Nulzann

Out- 4x Eyes of the Heart

        1x Exalted Pathfinder

Something to note is that Dark Heart of Nulzaan is great against Mono-Ruby, but mediocre against Candles because Mono-Ruby only relies on a few troops to end the game, as opposed to having to go wide. This is also why Dread End is not great in this matchup, but is a silver bullet against candles. For the same reason as in the Candles matchup, Eyes of the Heart and Exalted Pathfinders I kind of “do-nothings” when your goal is to survive to the mid/late game. Overall, this is a matchup we’re hoping to dodge.

W/R Ramp:

This matchup is generally about who draws more late game bombs, except with one key difference: we have Runebind and they do not. Runebind effectively permanently counters opposing Wildlifes for a single resource, causing a huge tempo swing back into our favor. Runic Avalanche is a very good card against us, however. It allows the W/R Ramp deck is gas back up in the attrition battle while creating a giant body. However, this usually ends up not mattering because of the card advantage we get from Eyes of the Heart.

Reserving Recommendations:

In- 2x Rotting Chompknight

     1x Eternal Seeker

Out- 3x Pippit Hustler

Rotting Chompknight is a very solid card in this matchup since they not only have Merry Caravans of their own, but also because Runic Avalanche becomes a mysterious rune after it resolves. Both of those can be problematic if not dealt with. Additionally, this opens up a neat interaction where Chompknight can destroy a troop or action that has been Runebound. Eternal Seeker is extra insurance against opposing Wildlifes, as the games will go long, and Wildlifes will be for six or seven. Pippit Hustler tends to be lackluster in this matchup, since we don’t want to be turning Merry Caravan or Mysterious Runes into a something potentially better. It is far less risky to have clean answers to the constants. Also, Pippit Hustler is not equipped to deal with the “go-wide” strategy that often takes place in the Ramp mirror.

Takeaway:

Sapphire Wild Turns is in a prime spot to dominate in the current standard, where there are more “durdle” strategies than anything else. Not only is it one of the most competitive Hex deck I’ve ever played, but it is also, by far, the most fun. If you love taking extra turns, building up unbeatable card advantage and killing your opponent in an explosive fashion, this is likely the deck for you.

 

And as always, come join us in our discord to tell us what we got right and what we got wrong. So join our discord by clicking here!

 

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