The New-TCG-Player’s Guide to Hex TCG

Hello! I’m Gage “HyenaNipples” Lawhon, and in the following pages, I am going to guide you into the world of trading card games (TCGs).  I suspect if you are reading this, you are interested in Hex: Shards of Fate, but you have never played a trading card game before.  Well- don’t worry! In the ten minutes or so that you spend reading this article, you will will learn everything you need to play the game.

When it comes to trading card games, and Hex in particular, the most important thing is that you never let anyone tell you that trading card games are complicated. TCGs are actually incredibly simplistic games in terms of actual play, and the complication is mostly created by experienced players who dig deeply into the loose soil of game study.  Yes, you might look around Hex websites and see Tolkien’s Moria; an intricate system of tunneling logic and shafts of theorycraft; but really… it’s just a big, fancy hole in the ground.

Anyone can dig a hole. This guide is your shovel.

‘Card game’ is probably the first thing that stands out to you when you hear ‘trading card game.’  If you immediately think of something like Hearts, Spades, or anything else that isn’t a form of poker- then you actually aren’t that far off from understanding Hex: Shards of Fate.  Many of the foundational elements of those games are present in Hex TCG.

For example, you have the deck: a stack of cards from which cards are drawn; and you have your hand: the smaller number of cards you hold and actually play into the game.

Guide Note: Click on pictures to see them at full size! This will make card text readable!

TraditionalcardgameHex TCG is almost identical- the only difference is that, instead of one communal deck to draw from, each player has their own, private deck to draw from.  Generally, you do not draw from your opponent’s deck, and they generally never draw from yours.  So your hand is populated entirely with cards from your own deck, and that is usually how it will remain every game, all game.

TradingCardGameEasy right?  So what do you do with your hand and cards? What is the game that we are playing? You need to open your imaginative mind for this one: you and your opponent are both wizard generals.  Yes, wizard generals. And for whatever reason, you HATE each other.  Seriously, that other one is a total jerk.  He/she eats your food out of the fridge (it had your name on it!) and he/she is just that special kind of passively annoying which slowly gnaws at you until you explode. You are positive the world will be a better place after your opponent dies a horrible death, and the start of each ‘game’ is the moment you decide that the jerk across from you is going to die- right now.

Art by Biffno

Art by Biffno

To accomplish your justifiable homicide, you summon up magical soldiers and cast magical spells of terrible power.  Unfortunately, that other jerk is a wizard general, too.  They also have magical soldiers and spells of terrible power; and frankly, they kind of like life and would rather kill you instead.  Thus, conflict is born.

Okay, let’s move on to suits.  I’m sure you are familiar with the traditional card game suits: clubs, diamonds, spades, and hearts. Well, Hex TCG has suits, too (of a sort.)  This is where we begin to diverge from those card games your grandparents love and start to venture into new territory.

The four traditional suits, (clubs,diamonds,spades, hearts), are simply four different varieties of an identical set of values.  Hex TCG suits are sets of cards that work entirely different ways. In Hex TCG you also have four suits:

Mangled Zombie

The first, and most important suit, is Troops.  These are the soldiers you use to attack your opponent. Their main goal is to walk over and punch your opponent right in the food-chewer, and to do it enough times to end his/her food-chewing days forever.



The second suit is Actions.  These are your spells that you cast to help your troops, kill your opponents troops, and/or do other useful things during the battle.  These come in two flavors, Basic and Quick actions, but we will talk about that minor complication later.


spiritsThird suit: Constants.  These are cards that, instead of having an effect and vanishing, persist on the table.  They provide blanket boons or curses to troops, help or harm one or more players, or add new forces and rules to the battle.



Finally, the fourth suit: Resources.  These represent the magical energy at your disposal as a wizard general. The more resources you have, the more powerful troops you can summon and the more powerful spells you can cast.  Or perhaps you can cast a greater number of weaker spells. It’s up to you.


If you are now worried that this is sounding a lot more complicated than I advertised, well, hold on.  The thing that makes this all simple is that all the cards tell you what they do. It’s written right on them. So once you know the differences between the suits, you can get every other piece of information right on the card itself.  Let’s take a look at the beginning of an example game to cement everything we’ve already covered while getting to the final minor specifics.

At the beginning of your game, you draw seven cards from your own deck.  This is your opening hand.  Ideally, you will have some cards from each “suit” in your hand. Below is a simplified version of what you will see at the beginning of a game of Hex TCG.

Hex Start


I know the cards are a bit small to read right now, so there will be a larger version of your hand shortly.  For the moment,  let’s go over the things that are new in the above picture that I have yet to mention.  Please turn your attention to the cards which are labeled ‘You’ and ‘That Jerk’.  These cards are known as Champions, and they effectively represent you on the battlefield.  So in this example, you are a cool elf wizard dude, and your opponent is a wicked-hot orc sorceress.  In the bottom-right of those card, you can see your Champion’s life total.  When yours reaches 0, you die. If your opponent’s reaches 0, they die. The explanation on how exactly you do damage and such is coming soon, but for now, you understand what you need to do to win: reduce your opponent’s life to 0.

Let’s take a closer look at your hand and see these “suits’ that we spoke of in their natural habitat.  If you are worried that the cards look too alike, well, they just go ahead and tell you what each card is- right on the card!  Super easy!




Let’s talk about the resources first.  These are what give you the magical power you need to do things in the game.  You use them by playing them onto the top of the table.  Once there, they disappear into your resource pool which regenerates at the beginning of each of your turns.  They also give you something called a Threshold, which we will discuss in a moment.

Each turn, you can play one resource from your hand. So if you play a second resource on your second turn, you will have two total resources to use that turn.  Then a third when you play the third resource on your third turn, and so on.  But if you don’t have a fourth resource on your fourth turn, your original three.resources still regenerate and you’ll have three to spend.

Well, let’s look at your non-resource cards and see how we go about spending those resources- and learn a bit more about what exactly we are buying.




This is one of your troop cards. In the top-left, you can see the two pieces of information we are concerned with now.  The large number is this card’s cost, so we would need to pay two resources to summon the Sensei of the Milky Eye to the battle.  The small green dot below that number is the Threshold Requirement.  To explain quickly: in Hex TCG, wizard generals can only cast spells of certain colors so long as they have some magical resources of that same color.  That single green dot tells us that this troop will only fight for a wizard general who has played at least one green-color resource.

What does it mean to ‘play’ a card? This means that you move the card from your hand to the game table.  This is the act of putting the card into play.

We can’t play the Sensei on our first turn because he costs two resources. We can, however, play our Shin’hare Militia and thus start building our army.  By playing our resource, we gain one resource to use this turn, and we know that this resource will regenerate for us next turn.  Also, we gain one green threshold.




As you can see, we’ve added our single green resource, and then we use it right away to summon our Shin’hare Militia troop.  So we have played and spent our resource, and the general rule for troops is that they cannot attack on the turn they are summoned. This is commonly referred to as ‘summoning sickness.’  With nothing else to do, we end our turn so our opponent may have theirs.




Our opponent goes about the turn in the same way we did.  Though he/she also was able to draw a card, and we will, too, on our next turn.  The rule is that you draw one card at the beginning of your turn, however, there is a certain advantage to going first, so this is balanced by not giving that first card draw to the player going first.

Our opponent is finished, so let’s begin our second turn.  First, we draw our card and, oh! an interesting new troop! Let’s play it! And don’t forget our second turn resource!




So we spend one of our two resources on the (1) cost troop, Petulant Wyldebeast.  Unlike our Shin’hare MIlitia, Petulant Wyldebeast has some special card text.  Remember how I said the rules for every card is written on every card?  Well, this is exactly what I mean.  Unlike our Shin’hare Militia troop, this Wyldebeast here has the word ‘Speed’ on it. This means that this troop is allowed to attack on the turn that it is played.




So our angry wyldebeast is ready to go, so let’s attack our enemy!  Our opponent’s troop has some special combat text, too.  The Savage Raider cannot block, so that means there is nothing stopping our troop from walking up and punching the enemy right in the face.  By looking at the bottom-left of your troop card, you can see how much damage the wyldebeast does in combat. In this case, it is 3 damage, so we subtract that from our opponent’s life total. Nice!

When a troop attacks, the effort of the action causes it to become exhausted.  This is represented by turning the card on its side.  When a card is exhausted, it is heavily limited in terms of the actions it can take.  For example: an exhausted troop cannot block an attack. But a card eventually becomes ‘un-exhausted’ or ‘rested’ at the beginning of your next turn. Still, that is after your opponent’s turn…

This is why we did not attack with the Shin’hare Militia, too. We want that troop to be ready to defend us on our opponent’s turn.

Whoops! It looks like the Petulant Wyldebeast has some more special text! What does it say?




It says that at the end of the turn, it gets shuffled back into your deck in the hopes that it will one day return in power.  Well shucks, I guess we lose our new troop, but at least it did some damage.  If our wyldebeast does come back later this game, it will be twice as strong!  For now, let’s end our turn and allow the opponent to take theirs.




Our opponent’s turn looks a lot like ours; however, his/her new troop, Rage Howler, does not have speed.  It could potentially have Speed if your opponent had an extra resource to pay for its special ability- but your opponent does not have this resource, and thus, Rage Howler does not have Speed. This means it cannot attack this turn, but the Savage Raider can!  But we can block it with our Shin’hare Militia troop! Combat begins!

Fact: Blocking does not exhaust a troop!

Combat is the simple matter of comparing attack values with defense values:




As you can see, our two troops are going to kill each other in a draw.  Let’s see if we can do something to change that.  Did you notice how we only spent one of our two resources during our second turn?  Well, now we can use that one we saved to play an action- specifically, a quick action.  Quick Actions are spells that may be played at almost any time, even during your opponent’s turn, even while in the midst of combat!






With the aid of the spell, Wild Growth, our Shin’hare Militia slaughters the Savage Raider and survives the exchange.  The Savage Raider is killed and is thus discarded; meanwhile, our Wild Growth spell is spent and is also discarded. The Shin’hare Militia remains in play.




At the end of our opponent’s turn, our troop’s strength bonus vanishes.  Thus we begin our third turn fresh.

I think that is about as far as we need to go.  That should give you an idea of how the game is played.  There are a few foundational rules, like how you play cards and how combat works; and then there is the text on each card that tells you all the rest.  All of that wasn’t so bad, was it?

There is much more to learn, of course, but we covered all the essential basics. You are ready to take up Hex TCG and play some games.  But we did gloss over some information that would be useful to any new player- let’s cover that stuff now.


The Two Varieties of Actions

Blinding LightBloodAura

There are two types of actions in Hex TCG.  The Quick Action can be used at almost any time, but the Basic Action can only be cast during the non-combat portions of your own turn.



In the gameplay demo, I did not show any cards from the Constants group.  A constant sits on the table and effects the game in some way- it is like an Action except that it does not vanish immediately after use.

ConstantExampleThe Pact of Pain constant stays on the table and gives your opponent a new ability.  At any time he/she is able, your opponent can pay two resources, lose two life, and then draw a card.  That is what is written on Pact of Pain, and this ability will be usable by your opponent so long as Pact of Pain remains in play.  There are many Constants, so you’ll have to discover them and read what they each do!


The Five Colors

The practice game featured two of the colors in Hex TCG, but there are five in total- plus a category of ‘colorless’ cards which can be played with any color resource.


Colorless Cards

There are two varieties of colorless cards in Hex TCG: Champions and Artifacts.




These cards represent you on the battlefield.  Each one has an ability called a charge ability.  These can be used in the game when you have fully charged them, and you charge them by playing resources or any other cards that say “charge your champion.”  You can use these abilities once per turn, even if you have enough charges to use it multiple times.



I spoke of the four ‘suits’ of Hex TCG: Troops, Actions, Constants, and Resources.  However, there is a sort of fifth suit called Artifacts. The reason I did not mention them before is because they come in two varieties, and one variety is simply a Troop card, and the other variety is simply a Constant.  You can tell the difference easily enough because the Troop Artifacts will say it right on the card.



And that’s everything!  You are ready to play! Upon beginning the game, you will be given a complete deck to play with.  This will give you a capable deck to use as you become used to rules and flow of the game. As you become more comfortable, you can design your own, custom decks!

If you would like to continue reading about more advanced Hex TCG concepts, there are many more articles on this website!  You can learn more about some of the specific card abilities in the Keywords section, and you can ease into some of the more advanced fundamentals of gameplay.

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