Now that we have a good understanding of Hex and the tools behind us, let's turn our attention back to our deck and ways to improve it.
Shards and how to Swing them
One of the biggest mistakes players make in deck construction with their decks is an incorrect ratio of shards to actual cards. Too few shards means you will often find yourself with starting hands containing only 1 or 2 shards. Too many shards and you may find yourself drawing shards late in the game when you really need more cards to help save yourself!
A standard deck contains 24 shards, divided up as a ratio between the types of shards you have. For example, if you have exactly 50% blood cards and 50% wild cards in your deck, then a distribution of 12 wild shards and 12 blood shards is a standard setup.
There are exceptions to this rule. Don't forget that each card has different threshold totals that can make things more difficult to play. Playing something like Starving Lich probably won't cut it in a deck that only has 12 blood shards. There are a few ways to quickly and easily see the distribution of cards in your deck.
In the deck editor, you may have noticed a series of buttons located on the divider between your collection and deck.
These buttons will allow you to change the view of cards in your deck. Try clicking the button on the far right that looks like 3 overlapping squares. This will shift your deck into a nested view. Next, click the first button that looks like two arrows in opposite directions. Afterwards, select "Shard". This will overlap your cards and sort them by shard to give you a general idea of the ratio of cards in your deck.
In my screenshot, you'll see that i have a small handful more of blood cards then wild cards. Thus, assuming I had an equal amount of thresholds on each card, I'd probably want to change my distribution of cards from 12 blood shards and 12 wild shards to perhaps 13 blood shards and 11 wild shards. However, there is another way to view your deck's threshold splits. Click the second tab directly underneath your character's portrait.
Here you can see a handy breakdown of your cards by shard type, as well as the average threshold cost of each. Notice in my screenshot, my deck currently has an average wild threshold of 1.3. This means several of my cards require 2 wild threshold. This is worth considering when deciding on the balance of shards to include in my deck. In the end, I decided on a slightly higher distribution of wild shards to blood shards to ensure I reliably get the 2 wild threshold I need.
Getting ahead of the Curve
The next important concept to tackle in deck construction is what is known as curve. Curve references the flow of your deck and playing cards efficiently at appropriate times. In an ideal world, you play a 1-cost troop on your first turn, a 2-cost troop on your second turn, and a 3-cost troop on your third turn. This is known as "curving out". However, as you've probably seen by now, such scenarios are exceedingly rare.
Curve is extremely important in deck construction. A deck with a bunch of 1 and 2 cost cards will find they lack power in the end of the game, while decks consisting of tons of 5 and 6 cost cards will find they are vulnerable to early attacks and rushes. In most cases, decks look to have a bellshaped curve. Look at your deck now. Click the up and down arrows and pick "cost" this time. This will sort your deck by cost.
Note the bell-shaped curve in my deck. I have a few 1 and 2 cost troops to play in the beginning of the game, a large majority of 3 cost troops to ensure i have a mid-game presence, and a handful of 4-6 cost troops to give myself some power to end games later in the match. This is a fairly typical deck curve.
There are exceptions of course. A heavily aggressive orc deck seeking to rush his opponent down probably does not want many expensive cards, and may have many more 1 and 2 cost cards in their deck to ensure they have a strong early-game presence. A slower vennen deck probably has many more 4+ cost cards and relies on their powerful cheap removal cards to deal with the early game.
In most cases though, a good rule of thumb for a beginner is to focus on creating a bellshaped curve like the one i have created in my screenshot above. This will ensure you have a good distribution of cards.
Finally - the last piece of deckbuilding is synergy. Synergy is the way your cards interact with each other in the deck. This can be card modifiers, card interactions, or even champion abilities. An example of an obvious one is the shin'hare:
The Bucktooth Commander becomes more valuable in a deck full of shin'hare troops, but otherwise is lackluster in a deck that contains none. These types of synergies are the most basic and obvious of synergies in a deck. When designing your deck, you should consider what sort of theme you want to go for. While some decks can simply throw their best cards into a deck and call it a day, these decks are not terribly efficient. While it may work on some encounters, the lack of synergy will have trouble overcoming challenging encounters down the road.
Another type of synergy to consider are synergies where card interactions are involved. For example, take a look at the Devoted Emissary.
At first glance, the Devoted Emissary doesn't seem particularly impressive, and has a significant drawback - you must return a troop you control into your hand. This doesn't seem particularly useful until you start to consider what sorts of cards you can return. Imagine you had played a Buccaneer last turn. Playing a devoted emissary and returning the buccaneer to your hand is an example of interactive synergy. You've turned the weakness of the devoted emissary into a strength.
It might be hard to find interactive synergies by simply looking at cards. Many interactive synergies are found through experimentation and many even by accident. Keep a lookout during play for opportunities and remember them.
Putting it all Together
So when you consider Shard Distribution, Curve, and Synergy altogether, you should start to think of the type of deck you want to make for your situation.
- Aggro - A type of deck that wants to win as fast as possible with as many troops as it can put onto the field at a time.
- Midrange - A type of deck that focuses on playing excellent 3 and 4 cost troops to try and outclass opponents in the mid-game.
- Control - This type of deck seeks to neutralize or kill opponents troops with a large amount of removal spells like Kill, while building up into the late game where they can play devastating high cost troops to win the game with.
- Tribal - A type of deck that utilizes multiple troops of a certain type or faction. Shin'hare decks utilizing the many shin'hare boosting cards are an example.
- Combo - A more advanced style of deck, this type of deck relies on the key interaction between two or three cards to generate a victory.
Consider the strengths of the race/class you have picked and what types of shard grids you have available to yourself when designing your deck. Finally, don't be afraid to reach out to others in the game for suggestions on cards to add to your deck. The Hex forums are a great place to start if you'd like advice on your deck.