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ArcaneAzmadi
06-10-2013, 05:47 AM
OK, unlike my earlier (somewhat amateurish) review and rating of the spell schools (which is in the general card balancing subforum) this is my rating of the new expansion only. This rating will NOT be of the factions' power overall after getting the new cards, only of which factions got the best stuff. Spells will be considered based on which faction can best use them. This is based on the old Inquest magazine's expansion set review articles for Magic, where they'd list the top 10, honourable mention, worst card and rate the colours by the amount of cool stuff they got. So, without further ado:

5: Inferno.
Herald is a pretty good expansion overall so 5th place doesn't mean Inferno didn't get some sweet stuff, but sadly it still has to be relegated to last place. Most of the cards they got were more "interesting" than powerful. Dhamiria is not the strongest of the new heroes, although she does open up the possibilities of an unusual Inferno control deck with her Fire/Earth magic access and hand-shredding ability. They got some neat creatures like Lurker in the Dark and Void Arbiter, a brutal new bruiser in Ur-Khrag Enforcer (4 damage Sweep attack and a jaw-dropping 5 retaliate on a 5-drop creature) and some creatures with interesting abilities like Hellfire Maniac and Chaos Seer, but few cards that are likely to become instant deck staples. They DID get one of the best fortunes in the set in Void Rift (think Garant's Purge affecting cards in play instead of their deck), Chamber of Dementia provides a much more cost-effective alternative to Halls of Madness and the new unique Fire spell The Forbidden Flame is going to be the new gold standard in board sweeping, but ultimately they just lack the "oomph" to push them off bottom spot.

4. Sanctuary.
Like Inferno, Sanctuary got a lot of "interesting" cards rather than OMFG4COPIESINDECKNAO ones. Unfortunately their hero was not one of them; Noboru is arguably the weakest of the 5 new heroes. Dark access for Sanctuary is appealing, but there's not much synergy with Light. Their creature list, again like Inferno, is more interesting than jaw-dropping with some nice new tricks such as Venerable Kappa, Kabuki Tei and Stream Singer. They did get one "wow" creature though- although difficult to use effectively, the Unmei-Kami ("fate goddess" for those who don't speak Japanese) is even worse to get hit by than the Naga Tactician, as well as being immune to fortunes herself. Similarly, their fortune selection is interesting, with Hall of Fortune and Scrying Pool giving them some good deck control, but the real prize is Battle Trance, the first card in the game that lets you get ANY card out of your deck, for a mere 2R/2D. As far as their spell access goes, the new Light and Water uniques are handy for them and like all Wind users they're going to lap up Lightning Strike, but the real find for Sanctuary players is the innocuous little water spell Ice Splinters, allowing you to turn all your Outmaneuver creatures into mini-nukes. Sanctuary got a good deal from this expansion, but the other factions simply got more.

3. Haven.
In the middle spot is Haven, which is pretty impressive under the circumstances. More than any other faction, Haven got the even mix of cards that are outright terrible (including the worst card in the set) and awesome (with several sure to become deck staples in the future). Firstly, their new hero Alia is either the best or the second best in the expansion. Her ability is useful, if not game-breaking, but the real big deal comes from her spell access. Fire is AWESOME on her, especially combined with Light, giving her superb board control. Haven got some extremely useful creatures, including Griffin Mounted Spearman, Griffin Knight and Immaculate Glory (the last 2 being PARTICULAR hosers against the current rush of FotM Necro decks) and a few other decent ones such as Angel of Mercy and Griffin Battle Priest. Their fortunes, on the other hand, are terrible, with only Sister's Tent being worth a glance. But 2 of the new Light spells give them a considerable boost, especially the cheap and nasty Resolute Stand (half a Wolf Justicar for only 2R/2Ma) which gives Truce of Elrath retribution decks a big kick in the pants (which they need after the nerfing of Siegfried). On the other hand, if you can find a use for Lightspeed, let me know.

2. Stronghold.
Just barely missing out on the top spot is Stronghold. If Alia isn't the best hero in the set, it's only because Zardoc is. Light and Earth access is not quite as powerful as her Light and Fire, but his ability is easily the best of the five new heroes- Swift AND Charge on a big Stronghold creature (especially a Cyclops) can single-handedly win a game. Stronghold got the best selection of creatures overall (one more than everyone else, to make up for getting one less fortune) with several that are going to be new deck staples. War Oliphant is an insane 2/2/7 critter for a mere 3R/3Mi, Blackskull Crusher is going DIRECTLY into every 5-might deck and they got two new creatures with Swift to complement Zardoc's ability, including the nasty Blackskull Shredder, which is almost as good as a Pao despite being only an uncommon. Blackskull Spellsmasher finally gives Stronghold decks a way to deal with ongoing spells (particularly good against stall decks who think Stone Shield will protect them) and the Bloodfrenzied Wyvern makes an interesting top-level creature for Kelthor decks (it gains Enrage counters when you KILL creatures rather than lose them). Unfortunately, their reduced number of fortunes means none of the 3 they got are any good. Stampede is another potential direct damage spell, but is generally too pricey to play; Orc Armory is cost efficient, but redundant unless you LOVE Blackskull Warlords; and Blood of My Tribe is too awkward to really be any use, despite its 0R cost- the one deck that might really be able to make the most of it (Kelthor) doesn't need it. The new Earth unique spell seems to have been tailored for Stronghold, but is a bit expensive, although Shaar especially benefits from the new Fire unique and Lightning Strike. Unfortunately, for all the sweet stuff Stronghold got, they can't quite topple the number 1...

1. Necropolis.
I honestly don't know why Ubisoft felt it was necessary to give Necropolis such a big boost, but that's life I guess- or possibly, "that's death". My positioning of them here may seem a bit odd since they didn't get any single card that really screams "OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY PRINTED THIS!", but it was the overall package they got which propelled them this high. Firstly, Adar-Malik, who trades Nergal's and Ariana's Earth access for Fire magic instead. A decent trade, especially with The Forbidden Flame. His ability is potentially nightmarish if you build a creature cycle deck around him, constantly reusing Banshees, Atropos and the new Decay spitter in the late game until you literally can't lose, but that requires considerable amounts of stall power. Fortunately, stall power is NOT something Necropolis is short on here. Hangman Tree is the best of the "wall" creatures (strangely NOT anchored despite being, you know, a tree), Soul-Consuming Lich is a NIGHTMARE in decks with lots of creature sweeping, not only surviving Insect Swarm but thriving off it, Living Nightmare can be really hard for small creatures to get past while also being both tougher and nastier than Inferno's Lurker and cheaper than Stronghold's overpriced Blackskull Cyclops and they REALLY shouldn't have released Untamed Wraith, a 2/2/5 incorporeal magic flyer for only 3R/3Mi/1Ma, giving them yet ANOTHER cheap, tough nasty flyer to go with Lammasu and Vampire Knight. Darkwood Hermit is an interesting addition to Venom decks, but the real pick is the aforementioned Decay Spitter, the plague equivalent to the old Moonsilk Spitter. In a cycle deck, this thing is just insane, killing off enemies all over the board for a very reasonable price of 4R/4Mi. The new fortunes were the weak side of things for Necropolis, with Consume Minions being too limited in use to include in a deck and Rite of Necromantic Restoration just being crap. Early Grave can function as a sort of pseudo-deck search card for cycle decks, but is slightly too pricey to be practical (the 3 destiny requirement kills it). However, Seria's Last Order is amazing. Despite being pretty much a more expensive version of an old Magic card called Shallow Grave, its effect is far greater in DoC and it's won me several games single-handedly, like a non-unique version of Kat's Grand Finale. Finally, the new Dark and Primal spells made for some interesting toys- The Silent Death just gives Ariana decks even MORE creature control, Cursed Chains on a Weakness'd creature is going to annoy the hell out of any player who can't get rid of it and Fate Twister and The Gate to Nowhere are just irritating. Necropolis, already a strong faction, got the biggest overall buff of the five factions and are clearly now the new FotM.

THE OTHER STUFF:
There was some decent Neutral stuff in this set, but no Deathseeker or Dark Assassin. Dark Woods Treant is a great stall creature, 0/0/7 with Towering for only 3R/2Mi. Magic Peddlar is a spell version of the Wandering Bard which may be useful with the powerful new unique spells. Forgotten Cave is a nice alternative to Stone of Knowledge for people who don't want to go beyond 2 Destiny. The most powerful new Neutral card is probably Altar of Wishes- not great on its own, but fantastic if you set it up with a "put a card on top of your deck" card like Blood Shaman Hut, Altar of Destruction or -most notably- Battle Trance. Unfortunately most of the rest of the cards are ones that either look cool but are ultimately impractical (Greater Earth Elemental, Void Keeper, Gold Mine, Higher Learning) or just plain crap (Lesser Water Elemental, Turncoats, Revised Tactics). The real toys were with the factions this time.

THE TOP 5 CARDS:

5: Blackskull Shredder.
This little bugger nearly got edged out by Decay Spitter and Untamed Wraith, but just managed to slip in by dint of how nasty its combination of abilities and stats is. Like a Pao Deathseeker who's decided he's not quite tired of life yet, the Shredder can hit the board running, bing in 2 damage to anything in front of him, then run away to safety, only to dash in again next turn. His 4 HP lets him laugh at single Fire Bolts or Earthquakes and makes him safe from Insect Swarms (and, incidentally, Pao Deathseekers) and you get all this for a mere 4R/4Mi. That's the kind of card efficiency money can't buy.

4: The Strength of the Sea
How does complete fortune immunity sound to you? Good, huh? How about a nice +1 damage bonus to all your creatures, hmm? Sounds sweet. How much would you pay? 5R/5Ma? 6R/6Ma? Put that chequebook away boy, this water spell will set you back a measly 3R/3Ma. And the combos! You can use Broken Bridge on a row with your creatures in it, then have them stampede through the open gap. I haven't tried it with Throne of Renewal yet, but if that works it's just plain IMPOLITE (although that will force you to replay the spell next turn, of course). This thing is a lot of fun and is a complete hoser against certain decks. Even if they don't use fortunes, the +1 damage is worth it on its own.

3: Battle Trance.
2R/2D. ANY card from your deck. That's the kind of deck control most players can only dream of. Cheaper and easier to slip into a deck than Observatory, Call to Duty or Arcane Academy, the Battle Trance's main drawback is that it's Sanctuary-exclusive. Sure, you don't get the card right now, but if you need it THAT badly you can just use 1R and your hero action to draw it- you're only paying the same total cast as you would for the other search cards anyway and you'd also have to use another hero action on the extra Destiny upgrade as well. Besides, there are things you can do with putting it on top of your deck- perhaps most notably the OTHER really good 2R/2D fortune from this set, Altar of Wishes. Like to play that card right now for free?

2: The Forbidden Flame.
Armageddon is obsolete. There, I said it. For only 4R/3Ma, The Forbidden Flame does a MINIMUM of 6 damage to everything on the board, and it has theoretically NO limit to its maximum damage. Practically speaking, it's more like to be 8 or 10 than 20 or 30, but the sheer cost effectiveness makes this the best creature sweeper in the game. The only real drawback is that it's unique, but that's what Arcane Academy and Magic Peddlar are for. Besides, this isn't really the kind of spell you need to cast more than once.

1: Blackskull Crusher.
Enemy spell ward. On a 5R/5Mi 3/2/7 creature, that is HUGE. This card is a dagger pointing right at the heart of spell control decks. One of the best 5-drop creatures in the entire game, the Crusher demands your respect. It's just a pity (or possibly a huge relief) that Stronghold don't have a hero with Water magic access, because The Strength of the Sea would make this thing almost completely unstoppable. Drop The Might of Nature into play, put Sylvanna's Embrace on him and watch the enemy weep.

Honourable Mention: Seria's Last Order.
Bam. That's the sound of a player hitting the floor after I pulled a Ghost Dragon out of my graveyard and finished them off with it. Pricey at 5R/4Mi/4D, the Order turns EVERY creature in your graveyard into a Pao Deathseeker. With creatures that have "come into play" effects like Decay Spitter and Banshee it's horrifying and its sheer versatility cannot be understated. While not as powerful as Kat's Grand Finale (since Necropolis simply doesn't have the same kind of huge creature selection to draw from), there's one thing that earns it the honourable mention: it's not unique. Ouch. Did someone say "Asha Uses All"? How many times exactly do you want to be hit by my creatures?

Worst Card: Wolf Guard.
The "wall" creatures are somewhat hit and miss, but this one is a DEFINITE "miss". It's fair enough that it has 0 attack, it's a "wall" after all, but why does it have to have "Cannot attack"? It's not LITERALLY a wall, it's a guy with a wolf and now it doesn't even have a niche use in retaliation decks. If it at least had Preemptive Strike rather than Retribution it might be worth something, but it doesn't so it isn't. This thing blows.

So that's my list. It's a bit random and I'm not entirely certain about my top 5 (a bit rushed) but I think it's OK. Why not tell me what you think? Unless you're going to call me a know-nothing scrub, in which case you can bugger off.

Daefon
06-11-2013, 05:28 PM
Nice writeup and fun read. I'll take the liberty to disagree with you on a couple of points you said though:
- In my opinion, Waterfall guardians is the best wall, not Hangman Tree. I find that the hypnotized skill on that card just makes it do something other walls can only dream of: control the board.
- I have been playing alot with the Blackskull Shtredder and it is an amazing and very fun to play with card. It suffers from extreme bad cost placement for Stronghold decks, having to compete with Tainted Orc, Cyclops Brawler, Blackskull Vulture Rider and Blackskull Spellsmasher, all of which are also very good cards. But in no way is it better than the Decay Spitter. Decay Spitter is like a low cost, low might requirement banshee. And it's 5 health combined with crippling 2 makes it very tough to kill as well. I expect Necro decks to play 3-4 copies of this in a creature heavy meta (like now).

On a personal note, my favourite card from this set has to be Lightning Strike. At first glance, the card may seem expensive with a resource cost of 3, but the beautiful thing about it is it only requires 2 magic, making it an easy include for any hero that has access to air and starts with at least 1 point in magic. 4 damage is good enough to outright kill alot of creatures, but more often, creatures have 5-6 health wich allows you to bring their health down to 1 hit of on of your creatures.

Bazaltovy
06-11-2013, 08:31 PM
Daefon: you're mixing up the abilities of Decay Spitter and Moonsilk Spinner. ;)

Daefon
06-11-2013, 10:03 PM
oh yeah, you're right :-(. Just re-read the Spitter and he has Infect, not crippling. Still, it makes little difference as to the value of the card. It's still 2 poison counters when it comes into play plus a good body to be there as a threat to the opponent.

ArcaneAzmadi
06-12-2013, 07:27 AM
It was a tough choice, to be honest. Yo'ure probably right. However, in my mind the power of Decay Spitter isn't completely self-contained- it's so powerful because Necro are so good at recycling it over and over again. I should know; I used the strategy to drive my opponents mad. I didn't think to compare the Shredder to other 4-cost choices for Stronghold, but I do think it actually compares fairly favourably; in the current meta I find its quick attack to be incredibly useful as things like Tainted Orcs have a tendancy to be either blocked out by overefficient 5-toughness critters like Plague Zombie or Lammasu or simply killed by Death Seal or Soulreaver before they can do anything. Swift is also incredibly powerful. But yeah, the list was REALLY hard to compile, so I'm willing to accept that it's pretty random.

Psychobabble.au
06-12-2013, 07:45 AM
So far, I've done creatures and spells in my set review. Here's my current top 5 of each type. It's kind of hard to compare cards of different types, but I think at least one particular event deserves to be RIGHT up there in any list of most powerful cards in the set. Also, I wouldn't count any unique cards in any top 5 list - being unique severly limits the impact that they'll have on the game overall.

Top 5 creatures:

1. Untamed wrath
2. Blackskull Crusher
3. Decay Spitter
4. War Oliphant
5. Void Arbiter

Hon Mention: Shinje warrior

Top 5 spells (aka. all the non-uniques really suck):

1. The Silent Death
2. The Forbidden Flame
3. The Might of Nature
4. The Light of Tomorrow
5. The Strength of the Sea

Hon Mention: The Song of the Lost

ArcaneAzmadi
06-12-2013, 02:10 PM
So far, I've done creatures and spells in my set review. Here's my current top 5 of each type. It's kind of hard to compare cards of different types, but I think at least one particular event deserves to be RIGHT up there in any list of most powerful cards in the set. Also, I wouldn't count any unique cards in any top 5 list - being unique severly limits the impact that they'll have on the game overall.

Top 5 creatures:

1. Untamed wrath
2. Blackskull Crusher
3. Decay Spitter
4. War Oliphant
5. Void Arbiter

Hon Mention: Shinje warrior

Top 5 spells (aka. all the non-uniques really suck):

1. The Silent Death
2. The Forbidden Flame
3. The Might of Nature
4. The Light of Tomorrow
5. The Strength of the Sea

Hon Mention: The Song of the Lost

What did you think of my faction tier rating? And would you agree with me on my selection for Worst Card? Seriously, even Serpentfly is better than Wolf Guard.

Kurgen007
06-12-2013, 07:42 PM
Very nice review, cannot say I agree with all of it, but a well written post.
I have do really disagree with you on one card that you called crap though, and that is Revised Tactics. IMO this is one of the most useful fortunes in the set. It is neutral so anyone can use it, a cantrip for one resource, but most of all it allows you to carry sideboard cards in your deck and get rid of them if you do not run up against what they counter. You are getting a huge card advantage by thinning out your deck. Best used with one of the basic champions (2 starting Fortune). Even if you are up against the what those cards are for (ie in my stronghold deck I have grounded and fathers sky wrath to counter most Necro decks) It is always useful to thin out your 1 or 2 drop creatures or tutors if you are using them.

Psychobabble.au
06-13-2013, 12:26 AM
What did you think of my faction tier rating? And would you agree with me on my selection for Worst Card? Seriously, even Serpentfly is better than Wolf Guard.

It's kind of meaningless to rate factions, the game is more about heroes than factions. For eg. I think nergal is pretty bad (and people will slowly wake up to this fact), but ariana is potentially very strong (hint: soul reaver, banshee/puppet master don't care about health points). Nergal (possibly fleshbane) is clearly the best pure creature deck right now, but there will always be a best creature deck, and I don't think it's the strongest archetype. Also, look at inferno. I think brainless xorm/garant rush is in a terrible place, but people have been having sucess with dhamira control. For stronghold, I think a base midrange creature strategy is too weak to nergal/fleshbane creatires to be competitive, but OTK dominates most nergal. If pushed, I'd probably rate the factions from worst to best - haven, sanctuary, inferno, stronhold, necro - but it's really difficult to say.

Also wolf guard is certainly not the worst card in the set. It's a fine wall, 2 retal and 5 health for 2 mana can be worth it in the right deck. One of the new non-unique spells probably takes that title, perhaps earth bound or wind gust or something.

Daefon
06-13-2013, 07:27 AM
I agree with Kurgen about Revised Tactics, it's a 1 drop, which is something this game is definitely lacking and can filter out your situational cards.

As for the worst card, I think I would go for Consume Minions. Just by it's very presence, a creature could have prevented you 2-3 dmg by soaking an attack. And if you really need a creature in your graveyard for something, Necro has more useful cards to bring them there, like Rite of Necromantic Transfer, or just attack them to their death and don't suffer the additional card loss. Honorable mention for worst card goes to Intimidation.

As for your faction ranking, it's clear Necro and Stronghold got the best cards this set. As to how the rank the others is more difficult, but like Psychobabble, I think I would rank Inferno 3rd because this set made a new playstyle viable for them.

Isharoth
06-13-2013, 01:26 PM
Best card: decay spitter, this card is rediculous.

Battle trance doesn't impress me, it's card disadvantage for a start.

Wind gust is ok if you are using ice splinters.