The Show Must Go On!
With the lovable BurgleBurgle out this week and next, I am pleased to take the (temporary) pleasure and time to keep the series rolling! It’s also my birthday as of the time I’m writing this, and I’m giving you all a gift? I’m too kind. Next week, ThufirHawat will be taking on the role of BurgleBurgle, and we’re ready to keep the weekly metagame series alive and well. With champion changes and a new Bash format in play, let’s see what happened last weekend in the world of tournament Hex!
Twice the Bash, Twice the Fun!
As promised, Hex provided us with twice the opportunity to play constructed Hex during the weekend with a brand new format for the Hex Bash! What does this mean for tournament players? Let’s look at the positives:
- Players in different time-zones now have a reasonable opportunity to play tournament Hex without destroying their sleep schedule – no more 8am Bashes for west-coast USA-based players like myself!
- More forgiveness for trying new things. The flatter payouts are more forgiving to players that don’t consistently top 8 Bashes. This means the potential for trying different decks is higher, and the format sees some new life.
- More plat = easier entry into events and building more decks. While the cash prizes were nice for folks that always did great, winning platinum gives the potential to pay for future Bashes, later decks, drafts, and more. The changes to the Bash payouts are a net positive for all but the absolute upper echelon of players; this is a good thing for the health of the constructed tournament scene.
Onto the Results!
Given the new capped 4-round tournament structure, I’ll be focusing in on the top 16-ish decks, give or take a few, depending on the tournament’s attendance. This gives the following rough breakdown:
- 4 players with undefeated records
- ~12-16 players with 3-1 records
This week, we saw a combined 8 undefeated decks and 28 decks finishing with 1 loss. The combined breakdown of archetypes is as follows – decks with only 1 result are considered ‘Other’:
Gotta love that (kind of) new format smell. The combined champion changes and the new Bash format proved successful in the first tournament weekend, with multiple archetypes having strong showings. Unsurprisingly, Candles, Diamond-Wild Momentum, and Sapphire-Wild Sugar Rush were the top 3 archetypes, but no longer did these decks completely dominate. Many other archetypes existed and flourished in this new world of Standard. I was particularly impressed by Bar’dak the Butcher placing 5 decks into the 3-1 or better standings, and with 3 different styles of play! Control, Midrange, and Aggro were all represented, and Bar’dak is showing its flexible muscles in this new world of Standard. Two of these decks, in particular, struck my fancy; we’ll discuss those in a bit.
Rhiannon of Flame came out of the woodwork this weekend, showing that with the right format tweaks, Aggro-centric decks that don’t include the word ‘Illuminate’ can make waves. 3 Blood-Ruby Rhiannon Aggro decks made the 3-1 cut this weekend, including a 4-0 performance by Lavigne. I’m excited to see where this archetype goes as the format continues to shift in the coming weeks. Flame On!
Going beyond individual Champions, it’s great to see some fresh life in the styles of decks seen this weekend. Aggro, Midrange, Control, and Combo decks were all represented in the top finishers, showing that a little change goes a long way. I’m thrilled to see some new variety in the Standard metagame, and this weekend’s results should further motivate players to innovate and try new things moving forward.
As alluded to above, several new decks made waves this weekend, and, because I’ve seen my fair share of Candles, Momentum, and Sugar Rush decks, let’s see a few of the awesome innovations that the tournaments this weekend saw come to life.
Lavigne’s Blood-Ruby Rhiannon Aggro
Rinse. Lather. Repeat…or should I say, Bolt, Lather, Repeat! While several Rhiannon decks showed up this weekend, I liked this particular iteration the most. Utilizing the power of Boltwing Phoenix alongside sacrifice and reanimation effects, Lavigne decided to have his cake, eat it…and then have more cake. A constant swath of damage to opposing troops, while still allowing flexibility in attack strategies, gives this deck a ton of play, while being dangerously consistent – every non-resource maindeck card is a 4-of!
Rhiannon of Flame
I really like the potential of this deck, combining board-wipes with a highly aggressive curve and great recursion.
Fahrenheit 451 – Khendral’s Blood-Ruby Bar’dak and Piecetinker’s Blood-Sapphire Bar’dak
Who said banned books were a bad thing? Mysteres de l’angoisse (Literally: Secrets of the Anguished, or in lore, Secrets of the Flayed Man) has been quietly kept on the library shelves, seeing fringe performance, at best…until this week! Khendral and Piecetinker each brought sweet variants of Bar’dak the Butcher decks utilizing Mysteres de l’angoisse – one is a more purely control variant, the other a combo-control variant. Let’s start with Khendral’s control-focused take:
Bar’dak the Butcher
2x Mysteres de l’angoisse
1x Mysteres de l’angoisse
Khendral passed on Bride of the Damned, focusing more on a deck that provides lines of play during the early, mid, and late-games, while becoming a card-selection powerhouse with Mysteres online. It seems Khendral was ready for any creature-oriented deck that came their way, packing a whopping 19 pieces of removal (not including Dark Heart of Nulzann)! Demented Whispers is a strong inclusion for the control decks that one may face with this deck, and gives a reserves toolbox that allows the pilot to shift between removal and hand disruption, depending on the matchup. Mysteres seems like a fantastic way to make the most of a transformative, toolbox-style package, and Khendral made the most of it. Nice.
Piecetinker, on the other hand, was clearly trying to find a way into my heart. Playing a Yana-approved, top-4 Doombringer card in Voice of D’endrrah, alongside my favorite Chaostouched troop in The Librarian, I couldn’t pass this deck up this week. Add to it our favorite banned book? Sold. Let’s take a look at the list:
Bar’dak the Butcher
2x Mysteres de l’angoisse
3x Blight Knight
1x Journey Into Nightmare
I personally feel that this deck is harder to play than Khendral’s variant, but has a much more rewarding and powerful payoff. Oh, and the deck plays 4 copies of Zip Zapper. ZIP. ZAPPER. Standard all-star Zip Zapper, as I will now always refer to it, gives the escalation cards Piecetinker included a ton of extra firepower, and forces the opponent to remove it (I would hate having to spend removal on Zip Zapper…let’s be honest), which means more opportunities to stick powerful threats like Voice of D’endrrah and Dark Heart of Nulzann and keep them around for awhile. If we look closer, though, we see a potential for a combo-esque finish in Voice of D’endrrah and The Librarian. With The Librarian’s best friend Library Curator making all Chaostouched unblockable, it stands to reason that discarding a lot of cards to Voice of D’endrrah can end the game in a flash. With card advantage outlets in The Librarian, Bounty of the Magus, extra card draw afforded by Voice of D’endrrah, and the great selection granted by Mysteres, the deck seems surprisingly consistent and resilient to both ground and air-based threats. This is an awesome take on Blood-Sapphire control, and this is a candidate for my favorite Doombringer-era Standard deck thus-far.
In an neat twist of fate, Khendral and Piecetinker squared off against each other during the Bash! Khendral took the set, 2-0, likely because they seemed a bit better suited to face a control-style deck with a maindeck duo of Demented Whispers and Zeddek’s Judgment. I’m anxiously awaiting the innovations each player makes to their respective decks – hats off to each of you!
It’s great to see some fresh air breathed into the Standard metagame, and with a new format and tournament structure, I, for one, am way more excited to brew and play tournament Hex again! It seems that, regardless of your style of play, there’s a deck out there ready to be played to success. Good luck, have fun, and may the top decks be ever in your favor.
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