Competitive Standard Metagame Decklists

Introduction

So a common question I get is “What do you think about X deck?” or “What deck should I play?”.  While my normal articles try to identify the reasons a deck exists and go super deep on the tips and tricks, I felt like it might be useful for people to have a reference for the decks that are currently pretty good in a standard format.  For each deck, I’m going to provide a decklist I’d be comfortable registering for something like a Bash or Arcanum Vault, a quick overview/reserves guide.  The idea is that if you’re just in the market for a new deck, or want a gauntlet of decks to test against, here’s a reasonable snapshot and a few reasons why you might want to play each.

It’s worth noting that these decks are decks that I like.  I’ve played, tested and tweaked most of them.  If you want a list of decklists that won tournaments, I highly recommend HexPVPTools.

State of the Metagame (12/18/17)

Weeks 1-3 of the Season 8 Bash saw dominant performances by value and control decks.  Diamond Sapphire Control won all 3.  This week, our savvy Bash Competitors showed up with decks tuned to beat a control metagame.  24 players registered Haraza, a champion whose Speed Banner and explosive starts gives reactive players fits.  4 of those played Ardent, and whopping 19 of them played Ruby-Sapphire Sockets.  The result was the first balanced top-8 in Dead of Winter:  4 midrange and control decks alongside 4 aggressive decks.

Takeaways

  1. Ruby-Sapphire Haraza Sockets are the biggest control-killer we have in this format.  They’re explosive, resilient to dark heart, and can do a ton of damage from hand.  If you’re looking to play control, pack your Arcing Rusts and Stalking Quarries.
  2. There’s still a lot of room for innovation in this format.  JeffHoogland and Battleshopper’s ThufirHawat brought entirely new archetypes into the top 8 (Blood-Ruby Grind and Sapphire-Wild Portal)!
  3. The staples are still good:  A well-prepared, well-balanced and well-piloted mono-blood deck took down the tournament.
  4. Candles is an incredible competitive, inexpensive deck:  ChironTheMage made the top 8 with a deck you can buy for about $40.

Tiers

…seriously, who doesn’t love a good, mindless tier list?  I want to emphasize that I’m not putting any genuinely unplayable decks in these articles.  You can win a tournament with anything here.

A Tier (No truly awful matchups):  Mono-Blood, DS Control, RS Sockets, BD Verdict

B Tier (Some bad matchups, but also advantaged over some Tier 1 decks):  DW Momentum, RD Candles, DS Turbo-PA, SW Pathfinder

C Tier (Competitive but very few free wins.  All games are hard.):  BD Sockets, BR Aristocrats, RS Candle Control, Crow Reanimator, BS Bury

F Tier:  Boglam Jank.  I lied to you when I said I wasn’t putting any genuinely unplayable decks in here.

Decks

Aggressive

RD Candles

Overview:  An aggressive, synergy-based deck that floods the board with candles and crushes through your opponent.

Pros:  Aggressive draws.  Very robust to single-target removal because most of its cards make multiple candles.

Cons:  Board sweepers are really tough.  Because few of the troops have speed, you often don’t get value against decks that play a bunch of Massacres, From the Ashes or Scars of War.

RD Candles Decklist

DW Momentum

Overview:  The best curve-out deck in Hex:  play your stuff on curve, it all keeps getting bigger thanks to Momentum, and all of your cards are individually pretty great.

Pros:  Makes big troops and can also generate a lot of value from cards like Shamrock the Goldfather and Exalted Pathfinder.  High quality cards from top to bottom.

Cons:  Still doesn’t have speed, and there’s a window (during the ready step) where all of your troops are small.  So Massacre and Scars of War can still slow you down.  You’re not beating the big board wipes like From the Ashes.

DW Momentum Decklist

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BD Sockets

Overview:  A slower, grindier aggressive deck that can be challenging for control decks to interact with.  Relies on socket synergy and can generate both card advantage and tempo.

Pros:  Altar of Nulzann can run away with the game by drawing a card a turn (particularly with Cryptcurse Knight), and the socketed cards in this deck don’t die to Dark Heart of Nulzann.  It has explosive draws with Sentry of Nulzann, and can make arbitrarily huge troops using Animus of Nulzann.

Cons:  Vulnerable to targeted hate.  Arcing Rust and Stalking Quarry are absolute blowouts.  This deck can sometimes be a little bit slow against other aggressive decks, as it doesn’t quite have the consistently explosive early game that Candles and Momentum do.

BD Sockets Decklist

Champion: Bishop Elijah
8x Diamond Shard
5x Blood Shard
4x Animus of Nulzann – Gems: 4x Major Diamond of Hope
4x Altar of Nulzann
3x Emsee, Etcher of Nulzann – Gems: 3x Major Diamond of the Seraph
2x Shard of Retribution
3x Cryptcurse Knight – Gems: 3x Minor Blood Orb of Frenzy
1x Soulspeaker Revenant – Gems: 1x Major Diamond of the Seraph
4x Grim Skull Tactician – Gems: 4x Minor Diamond of Protection
2x Decree of Banishing
4x Withering Gaze
4x Sentry of Nulzann
1x Spiritbound Vicar – Gems: 1x Minor Diamond of Fate
3x Strangle
1x Wakuna Lookout – Gems: 1x Minor Diamond of Fate
4x Well of Retribution
4x Blood Ice
1x Nefarious Corruptor – Gems: 1x Major Blood Orb of Fleshcraft
1x Dragonspeaker Daliah – Gems: 1x Major Blood Orb of Fleshcraft
1x Duskwing Scout – Gems: 1x Minor Diamond of Fate
Reserves:
1x Dark Heart of Nulzann
2x Diamond’s Favor
2x Herofall
1x Totemic Elder
3x Cheap Shot
2x Stalking Quarry
1x Dragonspeaker Daliah
1x Arcing Light
2x Winter’s Grasp

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RS Sockets

Overview:  A sockets deck that’s slightly more tempo-oriented than the BD version.  A couple of neat things here – the can socket Animus with Major Gem of Clarity to make it faster, and Quenchinator with Charges to enable a bunch of speed troops on turn 4 with Haraza’s champion power.

Pros:  Because of speed banner, this deck lines up reasonably well against control decks; it can push damage from hand and is a bit more resilient to traditional board wipes.  Doesn’t grind as hard as BD, but is more explosive.

Cons:  Somewhat inconsistent.  Vulnerable to the targeted hate that most sockets decks are.  Can be a bit slow against other aggressive decks.

RS Sockets Decklist

Champion: Haraza the Incinerator
6x Ruby Shard
6x Sapphire Shard
4x Well of Innovation
4x Animus of Nulzann – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity
4x Emsee, Etcher of Nulzann – Gems: 4x Major Ruby of Twinstrike
4x Altar of Nulzann
3x Shard of Innovation
1x Blamsmith – Gems: 1x Minor Ruby of Zeal
3x Consult the Talon
4x Warpsteel Shardsworn – Gems: 4x Minor Sapphire of Wit
4x Sentry of Nulzann
1x Scrios Forgefist – Gems: 1x Minor Ruby of the Arena
4x Runebind
3x Ruby Ice
4x Heartsworn Caller – Gems: 3x Minor Ruby of the Arena, 1x Minor Ruby of Zeal
2x Quenchinator – Gems: 1x Major Ruby of Galvanism
1x Jinglejinx Witch – Gems: 1x Major Ruby of Galvanism
1x Riftwarp Badger – Gems: 1x Major Ruby of Galvanism
1x Firesoul Gemsworn – Gems: 1x Major Ruby of Zeal
Reserves:
2x Halt
4x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
1x Stifling Sting
2x Vandalize
4x Return to Cinder
2x Arcing Rust

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BR Aristocrats

Overview:  An Aggro/Combo deck built around the Deathcry mechanic.  This deck strings together a lot of deathcries, often culminating in a big turn where you drain the opponent for a ton of life thanks to Blightbark Burster.  I wrote an article on it here.

Pros:  Deck has a lot of reach – it can kill opponents who are at extremely high health.  It also can do big, explosive things with Boltwing Phoenix, Nightbloom, Lady Violet Blightbark and Doomed Guardian.  This deck tends to line up well against control decks and slower decks that can’t gain life.  Isabella the Cursed has one of the most powerful champion powers in the game.

Cons:  Resource base of the deck is a bit inconsistent, and it’s vulnerable to void removal.  It can also occasionally get run over by the faster decks here.

BR Aristocrats

Midrange

Mono-Blood

Overview:  All the good blood cards make a very good deck.  Bride of the Damned and powerful interaction like Herofall, Primordial Cockatwice and Massacre make this deck very consistent.  Vampire Princes and Thought Collectors generate value and help you win by damage as you disrupt slower opponents.

Pros:  Great resource base, extremely strong against troop-based decks because of blood’s superb removal.  Bride of the Damned can take over any game after the 5th turn.  This deck is always in it: it has aggressive draws, plenty of disruption, and a powerful mid->late game.

Cons:  Due to a lack of filtering, its draws can be somewhat inconsistent.  Sometimes you draw troops vs. a deck that’s more aggressive than you, or removal vs. a deck not playing troops.  Against Troop-free decks, it can be tough to have enough cards in the reserves to swap out your bad removal.

Mono-Blood Decklist

Champion: Bar’dak the Butcher
18x Blood Shard
4x Herofall
4x Dark Heart of Nulzann – Gems: 4x Minor Blood Orb of Tombs, 4x Major Blood Orb of Fleshcraft
4x Vampire Prince
2x Withering Gaze
1x Vampire Queen
4x Strangle
4x Necropolis Coins
4x Bride of the Damned
3x Journey Into Nightmare
2x Massacre
2x Primordial Cockatwice
4x Blood Ice
4x Zeddek’s Judgment
Reserves:
1x Casualty of War
2x Primordial Cockatwice
2x Massacre
2x Withering Gaze
2x Cheap Shot
1x Waltz of the Damned
3x Stalking Quarry
2x Disruptor Drone

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SW Pathfinder

Overview:  These midrange decks are looking to curve out with powerful cards.  They try to keep the board relatively stable until 4 resources, then play a powerful card on turn 4 (Dark Heart of Nulzann, Pippit Hustler, Exalted Pathfinder) and try to snowball from there.  These decks come in a couple of flavors:  We’ll look at a few here.  Some utilize Portal cards, others combo-off with Furiko, others grind out long games with Timophy the Turtle.  But they share a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses.  Our author ThufirHawat has gone 5-2 or better for the last 3 Bashes with this style of deck, and is looking to post a deep dive on it soon.

Pros:  Exalted Pathfinder, Play a Shard, Hold up Runebind is one of the most powerful things you can do in this format.  With Lady Avalanche or Palm of Granite, you can do this on turn 4 with this deck.

Cons: This deck can get run over by decks that get under it.  It’s not packing a lot of ways to stabilize a board that’s out of control, relying instead on tricks and sneaky 2-for-1s to stabilize before protecting a dark heart or a pathfinder to victory.

WS Furiko Decklist

Champion: Furiko
6x Sapphire Shard
6x Wild Shard
4x Dark Heart of Nulzann – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity, 3x Minor Sapphire of Wit
4x Arcane Soil
4x Well of Instinct
4x Warpsteel Shardsworn – Gems: 4x Minor Wild Orb of Blossoms
4x Deny
4x Pippit Hustler
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Heart’s Whisper
4x Wild Ice
4x Runebind
4x Palm of Granite
4x Exalted Pathfinder
Reserves:
3x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
4x Dread End
4x Dreamcall
2x Blightbush
2x Eternal Seeker

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Control

DS Control

Overview:  The staple control deck of the format since I built it a year ago.  Does everything well – draws cards, interacts early, and plays the most powerful end-game finisher in the format:  Psychic Ascension.  If you want a deck that will be in every single game, this is the deck for you.

Pros:  Very consistent, can play from ahead or behind.  Had access to excellent board stabilization in Clash of Steel, Sunlit Sentence, and 4/6 Dark Heart of Nulzann for 4 resources.  Silver Talon Adjudicator is good against both aggressive and Control decks, as it will either buy you time or draw you cards.

Cons:  None.  This was the best deck before Frostheart.  It was the best deck before Lazgar’s Vengeance was banned.  A different Diamond-Sapphire deck was the best deck briefly.  It won the first 2 Bashes for Dead of Winter.  If it has a weakness, it’s that it is possible for other decks to be greedier than it is.

DS Control Decklist

Champion: Calilac
7x Sapphire Shard
3x Diamond Shard
4x Silver Talon Adjudicator
4x Dark Heart of Nulzann – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity, 4x Minor Diamond of Protection
4x Well of Purpose
3x Eldurathan’s Glory
2x Psychic Ascension
2x Clash of Steel
4x Heart’s Whisper
4x Guidance
4x Diamond Ice
4x Weave into Nothing
2x Into the Unknown
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Runebind
2x Wax Sacrament
3x Winter’s Grasp
Reserves:
3x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
1x Clash of Steel
2x Scouring Light
3x Confounding Ire
1x Hogarth the Mad
4x Robogoyle
1x Sunlit Sentence

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BD Verdict

Overview:  A verdict-based grindy deck that’s extremely powerful vs. troop-based decks.  I also wrote an article on it. I have an adjusted decklist to deal with the current standard metagame below.

Pros:  Absolutely terrific vs. troop-based decks, and can establish powerful constant-based win conditions against control decks.  Once it can control its verdicts with Twilight Justice, can generally run its opponent out of resources.

Cons: Can be a bit slow to get out of the gates, and doesn’t have the best filtering. Vulnerable to big constant-wipes like Scouring Light and Grove Warden.

BD Verdict Decklist

RS Candle Control

Overview:  A control deck based on casting quick spells and eventually burning your opponent out with Candlelight, Stifling Sting and candles from Candlelight.

Pros:  Scars of War gives this deck game against aggressive decks without speed/reach.  Candlelight, if it resolves, can absolutely take over games and also attacks on an axis that most control decks are ill-prepared to defend:  their life.  Also gets to play Primordial Sabertooth, which is just an incredible card.

Cons: Tough matchup against decks with speed or that can deploy a lot of troops fast.  This deck relies on 1-for-1ing and taking advantage of playing almost entirely at quick speed.  It has no way to recover life, so you have to be extremely careful about the damage you take.

DS Turbo-PA

Overview:  Play out a lot of elementals, play a lot of 1-cost actions, eventually play Psychic Ascension and run your opponent out of the game with a whole board full of 1-cost troops.

Pros:  You’re going to be shocked, but the deck that plays entirely 1-cost actions is extremely resource-efficient.  It also casts the best late-game finisher the fastest, in Psychic Ascension.

Cons:  Often has to use its troops as chump blockers against decks that play larger troops.  Because it does not play a lot of hard removal, nor troops that actually stabilize the board, it can get run over.  Its draws where it gets to cast Consult the Talons are very powerful, but when it misses on that card the deck can feel anemic.

BS Bury

Overview:  The bury deck in the format!  ProfessorYana wrote an article about it!  Bury cards out of your opponent’s deck and profit while destroying their troops.

Pros:  A lot of decks are not prepared to defend their library against this deck’s savage attacks.  Less aggressive decks often fail to close out the game before this deck can run them out of cards.  It also gets to play a whole bunch of perfectly solid interaction like Herofall.

Cons:  Robogoyle.  This deck can’t beat a Robogoyle that’s backed up with pressure.  Generally, working your way through the opponent’s Robogoyles takes long enough that you lose.  Happily, sometimes people don’t play Robogoyle, so that’s great.

BS Bury Decklist

Champion: Yarna of Lost Voices
1x Sapphire Shard
6x Blood Shard
3x Casualty of War
4x Herofall
4x Dark Heart of Nulzann – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity, 4x Minor Sapphire of Lunacy
4x Well of Cunning
4x Massacre
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Blood Ice
2x Nameless Truths
4x Cult of the Nameless City
3x Demented Destiny
4x Nameless Draught
4x Demented Whispers
4x Howling Madness
3x Emerging Blasphem
2x Nameless Devourer
Reserves:
1x Casualty of War
3x Cheap Shot
4x Runebind
2x Archive Dweller
2x Disruptor Drone
1x Demented Destiny
2x Nameless Devourer

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Combo/Control

BS Crow Reanimator

Overview:  This is a unique Reanimator/Combo deck that generates a lot of value from putting large troops into the crypt and bringing them back with Mordrom’s Gift.  I wrote an article on last season’s version of this, and it hasn’t changed too much in terms of the big picture.  This version features the ability to make actually infinite crowbones with speed.

Pros:  This deck grinds value extremely hard.  It does big, powerful things, and its individual card quality is superb.  Given time, this deck will typically out-grind even the grindiest control decks thanks to Crowbones buying back Mordroms Gifts, and the ability to play multiple Primordial Cockatwices.

Cons:  It can have trouble interacting with aggressive decks, and frequently has opening hands that just involve nothing to do before turn 3.  It does have post-board interaction for these decks, however, and a reanimated Aegilus can be a real barrier

BS Crow Reanimator

Champion: Blue Sparrow
2x Blood Shard
8x Sapphire Shard
4x Change Course
2x Crowbones – Gems: 2x Minor Blood Orb of Frenzy
4x Well of Cunning
2x Necropolis Coins
3x Coralcove Witch
2x Cheap Shot
4x Heart’s Whisper
4x Dreamcall
4x Mordrom’s Gift – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity
4x Eternal Seeker
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Blood Ice
4x Runebind
2x Primordial Cockatwice
3x Sorcerous Sculpting – Gems: 3x Major Sapphire of Sorcery
Reserves:
3x Halt
4x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
2x Cheap Shot
2x Aegilus
2x Primordial Cockatwice
2x Archive Dweller

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Nonsense

5-shard Boglam Jank

Overview:  This deck wins by spending its first 3 turns fateweaving Boglam the Mad Marsh, Glyph of Speed and Communion of Wax to the top of their deck.  On turn 4, they cast communion of wax (with double damage gem) to put Boglam into play, use Glyph of Speed on it, and summon 10 Dementia Daisies.  They use their hero power, play a resource, a bury your top 20 cards.  The next turn, they attack you for another 10 damage, put 10 more Dementia Daises into play, and bury your top 40 cards.  You lose.  Jank wins.

Pros: If your opponent doesn’t have interaction, this deck is going to ruin them.

Cons:  Does your opponent have blockers?  Removal?  Clash of Steel?  You probably can never win.

Boglam Decklist

Champion: Lady Avalanche
13x Wild Shard
13x Sapphire Shard
1x Communion of Wax
1x Glyph of Ferocity
4x Ayotochi Coins
4x Blood Ice
4x Diamond Ice
4x Ruby Ice
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Wild Ice
4x Rift Core
4x Broomball
Reserves:
4x Robogoyle
4x Gargalith
4x Hap’ie the High Hero

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