Orcs can fly. And trust me when I tell you that there’s nothing more terrifying than an 8-foot-tall ball of muscle and rage screaming as it flies directly at your face with its axe.
My previous Hex decks — Human Inspire, Orc Rage, Shin’hare Swarm, Mine’s Bigger — were built as pure top-tier constructed decks. But now that Hex is in beta and our card collections have been wiped, most of us can’t afford to build those pie-in-the-sky decks comprised of only the very best (aka most-expensive) cards.
This is a deck that I recently built in a draft tournament. Draft tournaments are an absolute blast and I want to help you do well in them. So I’ll be sharing my unconventional decks with you as I build them. Hopefully it’ll give you new insight into card values and let you try out some new decks while drafting. This was the first deck that took me 6-0 to first place in a tournament, and I hope it does well for you too!
The Flying Orc Circus Deck
Set: Shards of Fate
Format: Draft Tournament
We go for a nice mid-range victory here by sending evasive and power-scaling troops at the enemy’s face every turn. It’s a little slow early on, using those turns to set up defenders and small grunts. But once four resources are on the table, we’re ready to roll over the enemy’s defenses and punch through for a win.
The Card List
2x Determined Zombie
1x Giant Corpse Fly
2x Throat Cutter
1x Splinter of Azathoth
3x Mazat Ranger
2x Shadowgrove Witch
1x Corrupt Harvester
1x Mistborn Wendigo
1x Monkey of the Nine Tails
1x Headless Executioner
1x Zombie Vulture
There are so many 1-health troops this guy can remove by himself, and I took him mostly as insurance against enemy flyers. He gobbled up something valuable, like a Thunderbird, about 50% of the games, and still discouraged attackers/defenders fairly well in the rest. I almost went with the Champion that gives flying, but most of my heavy-hitters were already evasive, so it didn’t even seem worth it. The control Zared provides is brilliant.
The dual-threshold requirement for this WMD makes it inherently risky for anything outside of a mono Sapphire deck, but its power is worth it. For two mana, you put your opponent on a short clock. You will win in 6 turns if they cannot kill this minion. At the very least, it baits out removal, and I even had it trade with an enemy Thunderbird twice, buying me time and leaving the skies clear for my second-act orcs.
I was never excited to draft this guy, but he was a decent clog for the ground troops, shutting down early aggression from orc and shin’hare decks. You can grab him very very late in the draft and get decent value. Besides, there isn’t much else worth casting on turn 2 here.
A staple, even in constructed Sapphire decks. Low threshold cost made this an even easier sell. I had to grab this early in the pack, but the combo of body to trade and tempo hit with the bounce is well worth it.
This one never really worked out for me. The double threshold cost makes it tricky and the payoff isn’t as high as Thunderbird. I got most value out of it late-game when I wanted to save mana for a Countermagic. The discard is even more powerful then, when the opponent has less cards to choose from.
This was the unexpected MVP of this team. I drafted my first one for my constructed deck with very little intention of playing him. But he’s a solid attacker on his own, thanks to Rage, if you can keep the board clear. More importantly, though, is that he gives Rage to our already-high-damage Mazat Rangers, without needing to attack with them.
I never got to play this card, but it really does seem ideal in this deck. More tempo control and a great flyer for defense or offense. The threshold requirement is rough, so you need to draw it late.
3x Mazat Ranger
This is the heart and soul of the Flying Orc Circus. They throw axes! They die easily! They fly through the air, courtesy of the Sapphire of the Sky gem! Combining Blood with Sapphire gives access to some incredible high-damage, low-health flyers. With this gem, Mazat Ranger is a Zombie Vulture for one less resource and one less threshold requirement that benefits from orc synergy. When Throat Cutter is on the floor, Mazat Ranger deals 18 damage in 3 turns. That’s a very short time window for lethal. Oh, and we’ve got three of them!
This one never really worked out for me. Like Determined Zombie, it’s a decent clog for the ground but the ability is so unreliable. I’d be happy to replace this with more evasive aggression if I could, but it worked well as a deterrent sitting at home too.
The king of aggression duels. This guy will keep you afloat while both teams swing at each other’s face. His passive is another form of evasion, like flying, and his stats are decent for blocking, if needed.
Be smarter than me and always remember to use his ability before the damage phase. Twice I hit Spacebar one too many times and missed out on 4 damage. This guy also gets the flight gem — remember, you can only have 4 of a gem in your deck so don’t value this as highly if you already have 4 Mazat Rangers. His flexibility is what’s so valuable. He can hit harder than a Zombie Vulture if you need it to, but it can also sit back and take out low-health flyers safely as well.
I love bodies that come with utility effects. Filling the board with bodies every turn is often all it takes to win in draft, where decks re unoptimized and situational Actions are easily rendered useless. I drafted him as a pseudo-removal to transform any enemy unit that got out of control, but never had to use him that way. I was able to usually use him on a Buccaneer or Determined Zombie to just boost up my defender stats.
You can draft this guy so late, and you absolutely should. It’s a big beefy body on the ground that’ll force them constantly chump block or trade some heavy-hitters with. With your flyers sneaking through every turn, they can’t afford to let this beef through as well. We already have enough blockers, so we weren’t going to leave him back home anyways.
It looks weak in this deck compared to the Mazat Ranger, but it’s still a terrific flyer — and the real key is that we’re trying to overpower them with our evasive heavy hitters. Our first couple will get chewed up by removal or blockers, but there’s no way they’ll be able to deal with a new high-damage flyer every single turn. Eventually, we’ll wear down their defenses, and all it takes is one of these to stay alive for us to set our win condition.
1x Time Ripple
A solid Action that’s mostly valuable because it can target any card, not just troops. Save it for the pesky Constants or Artifacts if you can, or use it on troops when you need to keep the Rage stacks piling up.
This is part of why we need Time Ripple as a solution for Artifacts. Murder is a great card that helps keep the board clear for your orcs. Pure and simple.
The dual-threshold again makes me nervous, but I never really ran into a problem with it. And it’s incredibly useful to sit on once you have one or two flyers on the board. You’ve got the board in a winning state and that point, and you have the perfect tool to keep it from changing.
This card was amazingly useful for me, considering how low it’s typically valued. Like Countermagic, it becomes relevant right after you get the board in a good state, with one or two undefended flyers on your side of the board. Ignore the health hit on this card, and just focus on its ability to remove threats to your flyers from their hand. Especially useful against Diamond with their pesky Repel cards.
I did not expect this deck to go undefeated in the tournament, but looking at the card list now it makes some sense. It’s very singular in its focus: put deadly flyers on the board and then keep them alive or replace them quicker than your opponent can kill them. I don’t think this deck will play out as well if someone is actively drafting an orc aggro deck, but if you see something like the Throat Cutter slip to you, count it as a sign. Like every deck in draft tournaments, you can’t force it.
But when you see the right cards for this, give it a try. I don’t think my opponents were expecting this much aggression from two control-heavy resource types (Sapphire and Blood), and it was a lot of fun to play. Good luck!