Androod’s Academy of Cerulean #2 – Reserves

Hello again Androod here! Class is back in session here at the Academy of Cerulea, where we dive into game theory and more advanced play concepts. Today’s lesson is going to be about effective use of your reserves. A lot of players tend to treat their reserves as an afterthought when building a new deck, and I’m guilty of this myself on occasion. Reserves are just as important as your main deck, however, since they come into play in at least half of your matches. So let us take a look at how to sharpen our fifteen-card tool.

 

Making your main deck reservable

Making your deck able to be effectively reserved is the first step. Below you will see a reanimator deck I tinkered around with for a bit. The deck has a lot of synergy between the underworld races and gets to take advantage of two racial shards, both of which are very appealing. The problem is that this deck cannot make use of many reserves slots. It needs to keep racial counts high for two different races and Mistress of Bones and Machinations both rely on a high underworld count.

Not-Reservable Decklist

Champion: Blue Sparrow
3x Sapphire Shard
4x Exarch of the Egg
4x Zin’xith Silk
4x Scrios Limestone
4x Transmogrifade
4x Arcane Focus (Alternate Art)
4x Mistress of Bones
4x Skittergear Gang – Gems: 4x Major Blood Orb of Fleshcraft
4x Well of Cunning
2x Rotpaw Gang
4x Change Course
4x Ruinforge Rummager
4x Mordrom’s Gift – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity
3x Ghastly Exchange
4x Sapphire Ice
1x Blood Ice
1x Runeseeker
2x Malevolent Machinations
Reserves:
1x Psychic Ascension
2x Gemborn Prowler
3x Cheap Shot
2x Aegilus
2x Into the Unknown
4x Withering Gaze
1x Archive Dweller

These conditions mean our deck gets a very minor power boost from swapping out individual slots in reserves since they weaken the overall game plan of our deck. The ideal situation for reserves is taking out an F and replacing it with an A+ and that just simply isn’t possible with this configuration since we need so many cards just to make our deck function. For example we know Exarch of the Egg is bad against control decks but if we take it out our resources don’t work.

ResERVABLE Decklist

Champion: Blue Sparrow
7x Sapphire Shard
4x Exarch of the Egg
4x Zin’xith Silk
4x Transmogrifade
4x Arcane Focus (Alternate Art)
3x Mistress of Bones
4x Skittergear Gang – Gems: 4x Major Blood Orb of Fleshcraft
4x Well of Cunning
1x Casualty of War
2x Rotpaw Gang
4x Change Course
4x Ruinforge Rummager
4x Mordrom’s Gift – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity
4x Runebind
4x Sapphire Ice
1x Blood Ice
1x Eternal Seeker
1x Runeseeker
Reserves:
1x Psychic Ascension
4x Tribunal Magistrate
3x Cheap Shot
2x Aegilus
2x Into the Unknown
1x Archive Dweller
2x Gemborn Prowler

Above you see how we alleviate some of these issues. We have removed some of the need for a dense troop count. We have slightly reduced our deck’s solitaire power but have greatly increased its matchups in a diverse meta. This list acknowledges we may need to take out some of our troops in reserves by replacing the machinations with more consistently powered removal and having a Tribunal Magistrate to take the place of Exarch of the Egg in control matchups.

 

Having the correct number of cards

Sometimes when discovering a bad matchup the first response is “oh I’ll just throw four X in my reserves and it will be fine.” This is not an effective approach. When making a reserves plan for a new matchup you should first evaluate what cards you do not want from your main deck. For example, if you put six copies of cheap removal in your reserves because you think mono Ruby is a poor matchup, but you only have five cards from your main deck you really do not want the sixth slot is sort of going to waste. As we stated earlier, reserves ideally upgrade an F to an A+. Sure, you can probably find a sixth card to swap out if you have to, but it is likely upgrading a B to an A+ which probably isn’t worth the slot and can make you short a card somewhere else forcing you to leave in an F.

 

Something the Hex Heroes testing team does before every event is work together to come up with a reserving guide for every matchup we can think of writing down what comes in and what goes out. Doing this helps you identify matchups you have too many or too few slots and really helps optimize your slots. This isn’t something that needs to be elaborate and professional looking.

 

Recognizing you do not have as many slots that you want to spare for a matchup can also change the cards in your reserves. For example: Redlings can only spare so many slots for DS Control that do not deal damage to the opponent so we have to make sure those slots are punching the clock and working overtime when we bring them in. Culmination of Blood fits this description perfectly by having an immediate and powerful impact on the game.

 

CHANGE YOUR FREAKING SOCKETS

Sockets are easily my favorite aspect of deckbuilding in Hex. They take deck design a step further allowing cards to function differently across multiple archetypes. Much like main deck cards your main deck slots may not be ideal for the matchup. Far too often I see people neglect to consider changing them during reserves. Below are a few examples of how effective this can be.

 

1.) On the draw in a Redlings mirror? Change your underworld Crusaders from Speed to Gladiator 1. This has directly won me a number of games by correctly addressing that I am on defense by going second. My Crusaders are able to block the opponents Crusaders and Matriarchs more efficiently and most importantly they are able to survive opposing Lazgar’s Vengeance.

2.) Playing reanimator vs DS control? During testing for the CCS we had Hogarth as a reserves card for the DS control matchup. When Hogarth came in when changed Mordrom’s Gift from -1 cost to Speed to be able to catch the opponent off guard and transform our champion the same turn.

These changes and other similar ones can give you an edge in a matchup for absolutely zero slot investment in the reserves which is huge!

 

Identifying what matters

Are you just trying to survive till a key turn? Do you just need a little more tempo on the draw? Or do you just need to run them out of cards? Properly identifying what matters in a matchup is key to identifying what cards you include in your reserves to help you out. Let’s look at a few examples.

Redlings VS Mono Ruby

As the Redlings player I could look at cards like Herofall or Primordial Sabretooth to handle the large threats like Matriarch of Flame and Mama Yeti but those aren’t the cards that are deciding the game. This is a matchup where both sides are just looking to kill each other as fast as possible, preferably with little interaction. Matchups like this are typically decided by tempo and who gets out of the gate quicker which is a tall order for the player on the draw. By correctly identifying that our role in this matchup is to slow my opponent down and steal their tempo we find Runic Missile being an all star. This card removes every one cost troop in their deck as well as some of the twos and does all this for one resource. By allowing first turn interaction followed up by potentially free interaction on the following turns this card allows us to buy back huge amounts of tempo and swing the game in our favor.

BS Reanimator VS Sockets

                                    

As the Reanimator player your goal is typically to just get an Aeglius on the table and make sure it stays there. However the sockets deck put you in an interesting spot because they have a reasonable clock and have ways to remove a double Aeglius lock with Transmogrifade, Rune Bind, and Naagaan Lapidary which poses a problem for us. You could just bring in some ways to counteract their interaction like Verdict of the Ancient Kings but then you just die to their big troops while holding resources open. If we take a moment to analyze the matchup however we can see that the sockets deck needs a critical mass of stuff to be scary. It is easier for us to adjust our game plan to break up what they are doing instead of trying to defend ourselves. We adjust our play to focus on getting advantage with Eternal Seeker and bring cards like Chronodaemon and Into the Unknown to take them off their game plan. We take the role of the control deck and try and grind them out instead of trying to protect a cheesy victory.

In Conclusion

Constructing effective reserves is a key component for competitive success. Properly preparing for a meta can mean all the difference between tournament success and failure. If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section. Until next time class is dismissed!

-Mike Kletz (Androod)
@Androod27 on Twitter

 

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