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Hex vs Magic

Part 1

12/23/2015

Just got a hold of Hex: Shards of Fate. While the core engine is very similar to Magic, the mechanics and card designs and deck archetypes are so much more daring, complex, fun. Count it as my review after a few hours of gameplay.

For the longest time, WotC has been half-assing, half-stepping the creative possibilities of Magic. Partly because of limitations of physical cards (e.g. tracking complexity), and partly dumbed down to cater to the masses and new players. Thus progress and innovations are stunted. (Just look at the bare-bones mechanics in Battle for Zendikar.)

On the other hand, even the Hex starter decks, archetypes, and tutorials are so much more complex, yet grokkable and fun. Given the choice of 8 decks, I chose the weirdest one (none of that human, dwarf, elf generic tropes for me). This deck’s strategy is to put Spider Eggs into your opponent’s deck. When he draws it or puts in his crypt (graveyard) from deck (Hex calls this bury, cf. mill), you get a 1/1 creature unblockable. Fill his deck with so many that you get a bunch of free creatures and overwhelm him.

This and many more ideas are simply not possible with Magic. There are so many taboos and restrictions that forbid Wizards from fresh ideas. Such as putting cards into opponents’ decks, upgrading cards with equipment and gems during deck construction–thus reusing and customizing the same card for different strategies, permanent effects from one-time cards (Hex calls them Actions, equivalent to Instants and Sorceries)–even across zones, multi-layered tracking, etc. I’ve only played a few hours, so probably more that I haven’t seen yet.

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