The most accessible format for new Hex players, Rock is a common and uncommon only constructed format. Below, we’ll review some of the dominant archetypes and give a brief description of what the decks are trying to do and how to stop them.
The most consistent deck in the format, this Constant based deck relies on slightly RNG-based card advantage from troops and actions with Verdict. These lists run Sunrise Spectre, Vesper, and Sunset Shade as early game threats that can grow huge and end the game quickly when paired with chained Spirits and Verdicts from Gleaming Edict. Some lists elect to run Twilight Eclipse and more removal for opposing Orchi-Keros and Umbral Guards, while others run Daybreak Diviner and Eventide Ender. While the core of the deck is fixed, there are several flex slots that change the speed and consistency of the deck. Recently, we’ve seen a move away from Lux Guard to Eventide Ender as a three-for-one that can help recover after your opponent destroys your Constants.
Prior to the ban of Choir of Lumos, this was the best deck in the format. Post-ban, these lists are still very strong, but a little less explosive. Much like the Standard list, these decks rely on early Illuminate cards like Acolyte of Flame and Runic Candescence to flood the board and utilize Cassia Goldenlight and Wings of Wax to pump and grant evasion to their now huge Candle-bros. Wrath of the Elements, Flame Barrage, and Flamelick help control opposing troops, while large threats like Lyvaanth’s Skylancers can rebuild after a destroyed board state. The quick action speed of Wax Dawn is probably the best thing the deck has going for it, as it can pump a team to lethal unexpectedly or present two speedy Candlekin at end step.
While a smaller percentage of the recent metagame, the Wildfire deck is, at its’ heart, a R/W aggro deck with a sort-of combo finish. With several smaller Momentum creatures, this deck pushes in early damage and attempts to finish, even through blockers, with Surging Wildfire’s direct damage ability. Mesa Wildspeaker and Palm of Granite ensure a steady stream of resources for our Momentum strategy and to trigger Runic for our pump spells. Another version of this deck exists with Mama Yeti and more aggressive creatures that aren’t reliant on Momentum.
These lists vary quite a bit, but the overall strategy involves synergy between Deathcry triggers and sacrifice effects. Takahiro allows you to gain quite a bit of life while propelling through your deck for Iremaws and Death’s Head Riders with Scrounge active. Post-board Constant destruction can disrupt opposing Adoni players and a well-timed Misery can keep a Candles player off of critical mass.
S/W Arcane Soil – While certainly the coolest list, this deck can be somewhat weak to its’ own inconsistency. With Adoni and Candles being so aggressive and fast, sometimes this strategy doesn’t have enough time to set up a lethal hero power plus Arcane Soil alpha attack. Personally, I think this deck is very close to being excellent. A good cantrip or a card like Peek could put the deck over the top.
R/S Sockets – While the nerf of Haraza and the loss of Animus of Nulzann definitely hurts the Sockets archetype, Senty and Altar of Nulzann are very powerful effects. This Affinity-like deck can overwhelm the board quickly. The sheer number of sockets allows the deck to change drastically depending on what the decks expected match-ups may be.
While the format is relatively healthy and the games are definitely interesting, I can’t help but wonder what the format would be like without Wax Dawn and Gleaming Edict. I imagine Verdict decks would return to a more Twilight Eclipse based build, while Candles would be good, but a little less explosive.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you battling with your favorite Rock deck in the next Fight Night!