1. #1

    Full Herald of the Void set review - card by card

    If there are any english-language fan sites out there that would like to host this series, please email me - psychobabbleswccg at gmail.com. I contacted a couple but haven't heard back, so I'm posting it here for now.

    With the full spoiler up, I thought it might be a good idea to do a complete card by card review. Every day for the next few days, I'll post up another batch of cards. I'll start today with heroes, neutral and haven creatures and move through the rest as I could be bothered.

    I'm going to be using the rating scale of a certain well known writer from another TCG, although my reviews will unfortunately be less punny:

    5.0: Format all-Star (pao, dark assassin). Probably would only include super-powerful neutral cards.
    4.0: Format staple (firebolt, insect swarm, broken bridge, wolf captain). The sort of card you always need to be keeping in mind, or creatures which are so powerful that they warp the meta.
    3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple (tainted orc, lilim, vampire knight, coral priestess, tithe collecter). These are standard, very powerful, creatures which almost always be included in decks that can play them, but aren't so powerful that they dictate the meta. Might also include some spells and fortunes, but probably they will be rated a straight 3 or 4 (or lower).
    3.0: Archetype staple (stone shield, time jump, dreamweaver, wasteland, wolf justicar). Cards which are really good in a particular decktype, but need some synergies to get there.
    2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Inner fire, goblin sharpshooter, plague zombie, centaur archer, demented, campfire). Cards you might put in your deck, but which aren't super exciting and which might get substituted for other options.
    2.0: Niche card (naga tactician, dispels, purity, tree of truth, cosmic realignment). Most "counter" cards fall in this category, or just cards which require a lot of work to go right.
    1.0: Bad card.

    Without further ado, and with thanks to momcards for the card images, here's the review:

    Heroes

    Alia, Caller of Faith (haven)



    Rating: 4

    The first thing to look at with heroes is their stats and Alia is middle of the road. 1/1/1 stats is baseline acceptible, although 2/0/1 or 2/1/0 would obviously be better, especially with the wolf captain change. The single point in magic is rarely going to be wasted, even in a creature/fortune deck (due to the power of radiant glory), but the 1 point in fortune is likely to be wasted if you want to build a might/magic deck which is a little bit awkward. She probably best lends herself to some sort of 4/1/3 or 4/1/4 deck which, in haven, probably means a retaliation synergy deck which isn't a bad thing as it's a strong archetype.

    Next up is her spell schools and right off the bat things get interesting. Light school is expected for haven heroes, and is good because it grants access to dispel and a cheap lane-stacking punisher (suburst). Fire, though, is completely unexpected and indicates that Ubisoft no longer sees spell schools as linked to particular factions anymore (which I have to admit is slightly disappointing from a flavour perspective and has lead to what I would suggest are some questionable design decisions). Anyway, firebolt is an excellent spell to splash for in virtually any deck and, along with the change to seigfried's passive, might have represented an attempt by the developers to push down the power level of dark assassin as more heroes being able to firebolt means that that powerful little 2-drop is going to stick around even less often. The combination of the two spell schools opens up some interesting synergies, with word of light working well with both firebolt and the new spell heat wave to take out many enemy creatures.

    Finally we get to her special ability, which is basically an admission by the developers that they messed up with Jezziel. While healing 3 damage from a creature isn't worth a card (which is the opportunity cost of using a hero's activated ability), the good half of divine intervention certainly can be worth a card or even multiple cards, particularly in the type of deck I see Alia working in. Prior to the expansion, seigfried retaliation was a decent deck type and it made good effect of his passive ability to increase the survivability of some very annoying to kill creatures like wolf praetorian and sun rider. Seigfried has now been nerfed to the point where I suspect he's effectively unusable, but I can see Alia's ability stepping into the gap and resetting (or even just threatening to) the health of a number of your already difficult-to kill creatures at a key time. The retaliation deck is essentially a combo deck which wants to grind out your opponent defensively in the early game and then get out a critical mass of creatures, drop a wolf justicar and truce of elrath to win the game out of nowhere. While Alia's ability is hugely expensive, and I suspect incorrect usage of it will often lose its controller the game, I can also see it being used once or twice per game to heal multiple creatures and establish that critical board position needed to make the follow up combo hit effective. I could be wrong, but I have high hopes for this hero.

    Dhamiria, Caller of Madness (inferno)



    Rating: 2

    As with all of the new heroes, her stats are 1/1/1. Decent, but unexciting. And again, while the single point of magic is rarely going to be wasted in a might/fortune deck (succubus and lilim), there's not much incentive to splash 1 fortune in a might/magic deck so that limits her utility somewhat. The current inferno deck type which uses the might/fortune combination is an agressive pseudo-combo belias deck which hits hard early and finishes off with fortunes like hall of torment and tower of obvlivion, but Belias' special ability is much better suited to that type of deck than Dhamiria's is. Which means you'd probably need to build an entirely new decktype around her.

    Moving to spell schools, we again see the breakdown of the concept of faction-alignment of spell schools as she has access to both fire and earth. Earth magic on an inferno hero makes zero flavour sense to me, and just seems completely random, but it does make for a pretty good combination for a controlling spell deck with both spell schools having a good variety of direct damage AOE spells. I'm not sure whether it's possible to build a magic/fortune combo deck along the lines of the Shaar OTK decks, without access to a game-winner like kat's grand finale, but that's the kind of option that this spell school combination opens up for inferno.

    As for her special ability.... ugh. This is not what you want to be doing with 6 resources. Yes, this is pretty good against OTK and combo decks. But there's a LOT of hate available against combo/OTK decks now, if they can even survive the latest nerfs, and doing this against any non-combo deck just seems awful. Spending 6 mana to not affect the board in any way and to take out one, or if you're very lucky, two cards which your opponent's haven't spent any resources on is pretty pathetic. Twist of fate hardly sees any play and this is just going to be twist of fate most of the time, for three times the cost. Put it this way. Instead of spending 6 resources to take out (likely) one card from your opponents hand, you could spend one resource to add a card to your own hand. If the average quality of cards in your deck is so low as to make that a good trade then there's something very wrong with your deckbuilding skills.

    Adar-Malik, Caller of Doom (necropolis)



    Rating: 3

    1/1/1 again and all of the above comments about that combination apply here, although there is slightly more incentive to splash 1 fortune in a necropolis might/magic deck given the power of mass grave. So it's actually plausible that you could build an effective might/magic deck with this hero. If you build a might/fortune deck, you're likely to be doing something along the lines of recurring banshee shenanigans with all of the discard/recur/sacrifice necropolis fortunes, which becomes very interesting when you take into account his special ability.

    And again with the faction-breaking spell school combination, this time it's dark and fire. Again, I feel like the developers have just randomly given these heroes fire magic as incidental hate against DA, but it's still nice to have. Dark is probably the second best spell school, and combining it with fire magic opens up the possibility of a pure controlling spell hero which aims to hit 6 magic for puppet master and armageddon, for the ultimate in creature-hate options. Realistically that's probably too expensive to work without stone shields to stall and earthquake/insect swarm to deal with early rushes (see: kal-azar), but it's a theoretical possibility.

    Which takes us to Adar's special ability, which is intruiging. The effect is of course ridiculously expensive, and if you're just using it to recur random vampire knights and lamasu's you're doing it wrong. Remember, the opportunity cost here is to draw a random card for 1 resource and a random card from your deck should be better than a vanilla creature in your graveyard. Where things become interesting is when you start cheating the effect, with things like ariana's lair and altar of the spider goddess. It's a very late-game proposition here, but if you're re-buying the come into play ability of a banshee or atropos then you can start getting insane value from the recursion. There is already a fringe deck built around the synergies of some of these fortunes, and while fleshbane or nergal are both good heroes for that deck, Adar is a potential option. If OTK decks do completely leave the meta with the latest round of nerfs, turning the game into complete creature-on-creature combat, then that deck type could be fairly well positioned as it just dominates creature strategies. Adar's ability just grants additional redundancy to your main strategy here, in case you don't draw one of your other recursion cards, so I could see this being viable despite the extreme cost.

    Zardoc, Caller of Valor (stronghold)



    Rating: 3.5

    Zardoc of course has the same stats as the others. Unlike the other factions mentioned so far, Stronghold might/fortune decks can quite happily avoid investing any points in magic, so that's a strike against him. On the plus side, might/magic stronghold decks will often put a point into fortune for sacrifical altar or blood shaman's hut, so I would suggest that he's most likely to be used in that style of deck.

    Also, of course, he has a normal (earth) and a very abnormal (light) spell school, and again I find the bizzare flavour-break here somewhat off putting. However, it's a really good combination of spell schools and one that is completely unique in the game to date. Both schools have a good array of direct damage and utility spells, and sunburst's ability to punish lane stacking nicely complements earth magic's inability to do so. This combination seems powerful enough that it could probably support Zardoc as a decent hero on its own.

    As for his ability, you don't want to use it often but it can set up some spectacular blowouts. Can you imagine combining this with a double striker? Even the threat of this being activated makes all of your opponent's deployment decisions difficult, and it gives you some almost guaranteed late game reach if you just need to get one of your guys to an open lane to finish off your opponent. This is exactly what you want in a 6-cost ability, something which always forces your opponent to respect it and which can decisively turn the tide of a creature battle or just end the game sometimes. All in all, I have high hopes for Zardoc and could see him with, say, 4/4/1 as a potential strong new stronghold archetype.

    Noburu, Caller of Twilight (sanctuary)



    Rating: 2

    You know the deal, 1/1/1. It's virtually impossible to build a sanctuary deck without splashing into magic, so she can support a might/fortune deck with no issues, but sanctuary gives you no incentive to splash 1 fortune so that's a little awkward (it's a shame that ponder, er, hall of fortune, requires level 2 fortune).
    There's no good sanctuary might/fortune deck that I'm aware of, so she'll require a new archetype to be built to be effective I would suggest. Perhaps a tempo deck with frozen maze and avalanche and the like; I can't really see it, but it's possible I guess.

    Noburu has another unique and flavour-destroying spell school combination, with access to light and dark magic (seriously guys? i know flavour isn't everything, but this is just bizzare). The spell schools don't work fantastically well together. Dark magic doesn't have any good direct damage (I don't think this combination is going to make despair viable), so it can't be used to finish off creatures damaged by the low-powered light magic spells. And without being able to realistically kill anything of much value (unlike fire or earth), light magic doesn't provide good AOE to complement the single-target nature of dark magic. Both of the schools have some great individual spells, but they don't work together particularly well imo.

    As for her ability.... meh. Outmaneuver on a stick is nice, and it'll sometimes win the game for you, but it's very, very rare that this will net you more than one card's worth of value which is what you're looking for in these very expensive hero abilities. Nothing about this hero screams playability to me, and I don't think the overall package quite works well enough to make for a viable hero option. Ishuma is almost strictly better I'm afraid.

    Creatures

    Neutral

    Dark Wood Treant



    Rating: 2.5

    Right off the bat we have a spicy little number. The most obvious use for this is as a pseudo stone-shield for combo and control decks. Assuming such decks can still exist in Herald, it does a decent job as a stall card. It will probably save you as much as a stone shield would, sometimes more, the difference being that your opponent gets to interract with it using creature removal/damage spells (which are typically blanked by control/combo decks) instead of dispels. I can imagine it seeing some play in those kind of decks, particularly those without access to earth magic, so it's worth keeping in mind in that respect.

    The other way to use it is to take advantage of its towering ability to protect shooters. This is normally going to be a worse use, you set yourself up for strategies which punish lane stacking (eg. broken bridge) and as a creature it just doesn't do all that much. Perhaps a deck like Ariana could take advantage of both halves of the card, either using it to stall while setting up a board wipe, or to protect its powerful shooters/flyers like archlichs in the later game. All in all an interesting card which I imagine will see some play.

    Greater Earth Elemental



    Rating: 1

    Yeah it's fat, but you can get a lot of fat bodies for 7 resources. The biggest threat to the playability of 7-drops isn't earthquake, it's town portal, soul reaver, puppet master, banshee, broken bridge etc. etc. so the "protection" here is basically irrelevant. If you're really in the market for a 7 resource creature, you can do worse (maybe) but he isn't going to convince me that anyone should be in the market for one in the first place.

    Lesser Water Elemental



    Rating: 1

    This has one purpose, which is to conclusively demonstrate that the cost of becoming a neutral creature, as opposed to a faction specific one, is almost exactly one resource (except Pao/Dark assassin. Because rarity). Succubus and neophite lich are good cards. This is not.

    Magic peddler



    Rating: 2

    As we'll get to later on in the review, most of the unique spells are powerful enough that it actually might be worth running this guy sometimes. The dark magic one, particularly, is so amazing that using a couple of resources to dig for it (and stalling an attacker a little bit) could actually be worthwhile. Having said that, few decks have enough space in them to run a card like bard despite the huge power of atropos, so perhaps he can't make the cut, but I wouldn't rule it out.

    Serpentfly



    Rating: 1

    Hooray, a neutral one drop. Oh, nevermind, it's awful. Move along.

    Void-Keeper



    Rating: 2

    a 2/1/5 shooter for 4 (and with a sometimes-annoying fortune requirement too) fails the vanilla test pretty badly, especially considering that many of the best creatures in the game cost 4 (archlich, tainted orc, lilim). So can his special ability make up for the loss of 3-4 stats from comparably costed creatures? Well, not really. Having creatures be exiled instead of going to the graveyard is only relevant against haven resurrection (rarely played), a couple of newer cards which have incidental graveyard recursion and some more dedicated necropolis recursion strategies. The existence of the latter style of deck means that he's nice to have around as a bullet for that strategy, but bullets don't tend to be very good cards to put in your deck (especially with no sideboard), and he's easy enough to remove that you almost certainly wouldn't do so even if such strategies do become part of the metagame.

    Haven

    Wolf Guard



    Rating: 1

    The fact that this not only has 0 base attack but can also never attack, even in a retaliation deck that swaps retaliation and attack power with Truce of Elrath, takes it from "possible niche role-player" to "unplayable junk". I mean, it is sort of an answer to dark assassin, but haven's not short of cheap answers to that card (elite praetorian, wolf captain, sunburst and even firebolt now) and so I'm fairly certain that you never want to play this card. even in a haven stall/combo deck you're probably better off with the neutral dark wood treant thanks to the extra 2 health points. That 2 points of retaliation damage isn't going to actually take out very much.

    Griffin Battle Priest



    Rating: 2.5

    The stats on this epic are obviously underwhelming and unlike the last haven epic, they can't grow to something more acceptible. BUt you're not playing this priest for her attacking power, it's obviously her text that's of interest. Heal 2 is meh, especially on a 4-toughness creature as the mechanic forces you to bunch up and then she just gets taken out by fireball. Devoted Sister doesn't see play for a reason, and this is barely more threatening than that card. What is interesting is her ability to heal your hero, something no other permanent in the game has been able to do to date. With so little healing effects in the game, anything which can increase your hero's life total is worth a second look. If left unchecked, that heal over time is going to make it very difficult for a lot of decks to win especially given the inherent resilience of haven's creatures. But this ability doesn't directly win you the game, unlike caller of the voide for example, and having her out on the field is probably going to actively make it harder for you to win the game because she's inherently such a weak creature. There already exists another weak creature with a very powerful "over time" effect - blind brother - and he sees virtually no play, I suspect it's going to be the same with the battle priest, but the effect is so unique and potentially powerful that I could be wrong.

    Griffin Knight



    Rating: 2.5

    And at last we get the dreaded final piece in the "protection" trifecta. This is a seriously powerful hoser against necropolis decks, which rely on a plethora of strong, cheap, flyers to defend in the mid game. It also does some work against haven and, to a lesser extent, stronghold (ranaar harpy, blackskull goblin rider) while being almost dead against sanctuary and inferno. Like all of the other guards, though, having this out can make it actively harder for you to win the game just due to how weak of a creature it is. While the high HP is nice, 1 attack on a 3-resource creature isn't going to win you many games and stacking up on too many guards could see you with a deck that's annoying to attack against, but so un-threatening that you lose anyway. As with the 2-cost guards though, the key is to turn them into a threat with the retaliation combo (wolf justicar/truce of elrath) and this guy will quite possibly slot into that style of deck. It isn't an auto-include 4x by any means, but I can see it doing some work and it will certainly be nice to have as a meta option against necropolis decks in particular.

    Chosen of Elrath



    Rating: 1

    Well, the thing this guy has going for it is that he's hard to kill. But haven has lots of creatures which are hard to kill, at some point you have to worry about putting too many "hard to kill but not threatening" creatures in your deck, because you still need to find a way to actually win the game. 2 attack on a 4-cost creature doesn't cut it, and I'm unconvinced that the potential synergies are there to make this work in any type of deck.

    Angel of Mercy



    Rating: 2

    The value here cannot be ignored. A cantripping creature which re-buys one of your early drops has some merit. The problem is that a 2/4 for 4 resources is not worth a card, not even close. And two things compound the problems with this card too. First the fact that the return is random is very disappointing, because you're just as likely to hit a tithe collector as that early wolf captain. The second issue is that due to the fact that everyone can draw 2 cards per turn, you're far more likely to end games of MMDOC while you're resource constrained, not card constrained (ie you still have enough stuff in your hand to use up all your mana every turn). In a really long, grindy game, the angel can be sweet because she lets you use up resources that you otherwise would waste. But given how weak her stats are, she's more in gravedigger than crypt angel territory.

    Griffin Mounted Spearman



    Rating: 2.5

    Swift is a mean ability, it can punish all sorts of deployments and this spearman essentially blanks any creature of 2 or less health that your opponent might deploy. It also obviously works well in concert with a spread out board position of archers and back-line flyers, to double up and take down enemies wherever they are. Board position is where I see this guy being much weaker in practice than he is in theory, though. Haven loves its melee cratures, from guards, to wolf captains to lingering tithe collectors, their melee line tends to get pretty clogged up. However, the mounted spearman will only work really well if the melee line is relatively clear, otherwise there just won't be very good places for him to move around and take advantage of his special ability. In addition, deployment movement can have its own costs, eg. setting yourself up for an AOE or single line spell. Perhaps he'll be able to work in a deck that was built with a lot of flyers and archers, along with perhaps some additional synergies like bless, but I think it will take a bit of effort to make him good.

    Griffin Marksman



    Rating: 2

    At last a creature with > 2 attack! He's also at the most exciting casting cost for vanilla creatures, with some of the best-statted creatures in the game costing 4. Does he live up to the lofty standards set by he likes lilim and tainted orc? well, not really. Haven creatures frequently trade off a point or two of attack/defence in favour of a bit more retaliation which is unfortunate - I'd much rather have 2 extra health here than his 2 additional retaliation points compared to lilim. He's not terrible by any means, but I can't see him sneaking his way into a deck over other 4-cost options such as warrior seraph.

    Immaculate glory



    Rating: 3

    Now this is a serious 5-drop. Dark ward and counter-immunity are both great incentives to put a few more resources into a creature than you might normally be willing to, as it reduces the number of ways your opponent can punish you for making such a huge investment into a creature. His stats are decent, too, if somewhat unexciting. I like how his steep 2-magic requirement was balanced by a lower-than-curve might cost, so that shouldn't hold him back, the only question is whether a haven deck exists that plays both might and magic and doesn't just want to end the game before it gets around to casting 5 resource creatures.

    Stronghold

    Kitten Warrior



    Rating: 1

    One of the most obvious things this game needs more of is good one drops. Doing so would be an important way to balance out the current disadvantage with going second. Unfortunately kitten warrior is "cute" not "good", and not actually cute either. The idea is that this is sacrifical fodder for your enrage creatures, you run it into a creature with at least one retaliation point, but whereas goblin warchanter is a great 1-drop to help you build up enrage counters, this is a one shot wonder that's not worth spending a card on. Getting enrage counters incidentally from sacrificing a creature with altar of sacrifice or a pao dying or something is nice, but it's not an effect that's worth spending a full card on.

    Bramble Beast



    Rating: 2

    This is an interesting creature. It's similar to the new neutral creature, dark wood treant, except that it trades 2 health for 2 retaliation and magic resistance. The concept of the card is basically a "stone shield on legs", ie a way to soak up some damage and stall until you do something big later in the game. The trouble with the bramble beast is that the anchored keyword, while nice against town portal, will actively work against it if your opponent isn't stacking lanes. Being able to simply dodge this guy and ignore it means that it's frequently going to soak up less than 5 health, whereas dark wood treant will almost always soak up at least 7. I think the disadvantage here outweighs the slight advantage, and it's probably a worse card than treant, although it does cost one resource less so it is pretty close.

    Blackskull Centaur



    Rating: 3

    This guy does some work. Swift is an extremely powerful keyword, and particularly on a creature which is immune to retaliation. While 3 health is a serious knock against it (pao, insect swarm, sunburst), it synergises wonderfully with other stronghold melee creatures like tainted orc. This is probably slightly higher on the power curve than the quite-similar hellfire cerebus (which sees some play), it's slightly better because it can more easily move around to hide behind a melee creature, thereby avoiding death-by-pao.

    War Oliphant



    Rating: 4

    WOW! This has got to be vying for title of this set's "wolf captain", although at common it will no doubt inspire less rage-posting than a chase epic. This wouldn't look out of place much higher up the rarity tree, though, dark assassin shows that a highly-pushed vanilla creature can get be an epic on stats alone, and this little beast's stats are seriously pushed. It's the only 3-drop in the game with 7 health and is almost just better than lamasu, which is already one of the better 3 drops in the game (ditto Kappa). 7 health is a material difference to 6, DA + all sorts of things kills 6 health, a 3-attack creature in the ranged line kills 6 health, 2 insect swarms kill 6 health. 7 really is a big number. Another highly-pushed new 3-drop, untamed wrath, can be almost as annoying to kill but this is NOW one of the best 3 drops in the game, it demands respect.

    Blackskull Spellsmasher



    Rating: 2.5

    Dispel on a stick is very interesting, especially given that most stronghold heroes don't actually have access to any dispels. His body is weak enough that you only play this if you want a dispel, and right now I don't think there's enough decks playing ongoing spells that you really need to do so, but it's certainly great to have this in the card pool and it could do some work if the effect is needed.

    Blackskull Shredder



    Rating: 3

    I wasn't all that impressed when I first saw this guy, but after seeing him in action my initial scepticism was clearly unjustified. He's pretty close to extra copies of pao, and pao is already one of the best creatures in the game. Swift gives him a huge amount of additional play after the turn he comes down, and while he does die a little too easily, he's certainly more survivable than pao!

    Bloodfrenzied Wyvern



    Rating: 2.5

    It would be a lot easier to get excited about this 5-drop if stronghold didn't already have a few other good options in a slot that you don't really want to be playing too many creatures in (including the next creature on the list - blackskull crusher). While both blackskull clan warlord and blackskull crusher have one less health, the difference between 7 and 8 is nowhere near as big as that between 6 and 7. In the end, he's (almost) always going to be weaker on attack than the warlord, and easier to kill than crusher, so he probably won't find a place but he can do some SERIOUS work in finishing off your opponent in combination with an insect swarm, and can get out of hand quite easily. It's probably worth trying him out in a Kelthor deck, if he finds a home it's going to be there.

    Blackskull Crusher



    Rating: 4

    I don't think it's going out on a limb too much to suggest that this is the best non-unique 5 drop in the game. The only card which could probably challenge it is naga tide master/pearl priestess, but I honestly don't think it's all that close. "Enemy spell ward" is a shockingly powerful keyword, it's not too far off "indestructible" in MTG-parlance, except even indestructible creatures can be dealt with with toughness modifiers in that game. MTG has never printed an "indestructible hexproof" creature (sigarda is somewhat close, but dies to wraths), and that is almost how powerful enemy spell ward is. Unless an edict effect is printed in this game, this guy cannot be killed outside of combat damage, nergal poisoning or a couple of fortunes (one of which is unique, the other of which is a bounce). And he's not super-easy to deal with in combat either, his stats are respectable and you should be able to back him up with tricks to punish attempted blockers. The only thing keeping me from giving crusher a "5" rating is his cost, 5-drops are very much at the top of the curve, but there's almost no ways for your opponent to easily answer him (pao + double inner fire???) and I believe he will shape the metagame in the months to come.

    Blackskull cyclops



    Rating: 2

    Well this is a huge letdown after reviewing blackskull crusher. From a 5-drop which is immune to everything other than combat damage, we get a 6-drop which is immune to (some) combat damage. Combat damage is much easier to play around than spell damage though (because you have a good amount of information about it before deployment), and so it's much more powerful to be immune to spell than combat damage. This guy's really weak for a 6-drop and given the plethora of good strongold 5-drop options, I'd skip right past this guy, epic rarity or no.
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  2. #2
    Inferno creatures

    Lurker in the Dark



    Rating: 3

    This is a spicy little number indeed. While you're never going to be deploying it on turn 2, the low cost is nice as it allows you to play this guy and a cheaper threat in the same turn, letting you both gum up the board with an annoying defensive creature and a different attacker. I feel like fear 3 is pretty powerful, it stops a lot of different creatures from attacking you and adds a dimension to inferno which is sorely lacking. The lurker's stats overall are probably a bit too weak for it to revive the flagging inferno faction's fortunes single-handedly, but it helps.

    Chaos Lacerator



    Rating: 2

    Ugh. There's two things I don't like about this card (and the inferno faction in general). First of all it dies to insect swarm, like far too many inferno creatures. Secondly, it's main purpose is part of a hand destruction theme which is fundamentally weak in a game where all heroes can draw 2 cards per turn at will. I'd much rather have a creature on the battlefield than take out a random card from your opponents hand in exchange for effectively sacrificing your creature. Give this guy 4 health and we might be talking, but at 3 it's just too weak to be worth playing imo. Being magic is nice, in combination with week of the wild spirits, but apart from that I'd rather be playing the (pretty weak) demented in this slot.

    Hellfire bloater



    Rating: 2

    As as general rule, cards which give your opponent choices are bad (it's commonly referred to as a "punisher" mechanic). Giving your opponent the choice of what a card does means that they will chose the least damaging option for themselves, so choice cards can only be good if either choice is worth playing the card for. With hellfire bloater, your opponent can either attack and take 4 damage or move away and take none. If they move away, they can either use a card to remove the bloater, or ignore it and perhaps back up their lane with a > 4 HP creature. Basically, hellfire bloater is never reliably going to do 4 damage when you want it to, unless you use additional card to kill it yourself, and 2 for 1-ing yourself is rarely a winning strategy. Now perhaps you can find some synergies with week of the dead, but that's not generally a good card for inferno, so I doubt that'll get there. It could also help you set up some more effective AOEs with Damira or something, which could be a good niche use, but it does put you down extra cards and I doubt it'll be used much, if at all.

    Chaos Seer



    Rating: 2.5

    And here we continue with the "dies to insect swarm" theme. Pseudo-cosmic realignment on a stick might be an interesting card if there were any OTK/stall decks left in the meta, but right now I don't think there are. Still, this is a powerful bullet against those strategies if they do arise again, and it's at least not completely dead in other matchups unlike realignment. What's nice is that the seer's effect ALWAYS triggers at least once, even if your opponent removes it, so it is an effective counter. Still, outside of that application her stats are far to weak to be considered a good card, especially as she's not even a magic shooter, so I wouldn't recommend playing it unless you need to meta against OTK decks.

    Hellfire Slave



    Rating: 2.5

    Hellfire slave has a full three fewer primary stats than either lilim or tainted orc, so while those are among the best 4-drops in the game, this guy is a long way off that mark. Someone might try to convince me that the extra retaliation damage makes up for that, but on a 4-HP 4-drop, I'm not buying it. It's too easy to deal with this guy in one hit for the retaliation to matter. The extra 1 base attack compared to lilim is relevant, because 4 (or 4+2) kills a lot more things than 3, but lilim can get up to 4 with week of the wild spirits anyway. There aren't many good inferno 4-drops, so it might see some play, but that's only due to a lack of good options not any inherent strength in the card.

    Void Arbiter



    Rating: 3.5

    Finally, a card to get excited about and one which might enable an entire new archetype - inferno control. I've previously mentioned how annoying it is that a major theme of the inferno faction, discard, is inherently weak due to the ability of opposing heroes to draw 2 cards per turn. Well, void arbiter shuts that down and incidentally blanks a whole lot of other events and fortunes to boot. Being symmetrical is somehwat annoying, but if you build your deck to be full of late game cards then the quality of your single draw should be better than your opponent's draw, allowing you to win in the long game. I'm not convinced the deck type will work, but something like Dhamira with earth/fire board control spells and expensive "attack anywhere" demons to lock down the board once you've established parity, with void arbiter to stop your opponent drawing out of it could be an actual thing. Also, it's interesting to note that playing cosmic realignment while you have void arbiter out is... mean. It's probably not viable given the 4-fortune requirement, but a full hand discard followed by a limitation on subsequent drawing might be nice if you can establish board parity.

    Hellfire Maniac



    Rating: 2.5

    Hellfire maniac actually does what you want hellfire bloater to do - 4 damage, to something. I'm not convinced that spending 5 to do 4 damage is exactly where you want to be, especially given that inferno heroes frequently have access to fireball, but it's not out of the question because he does have some upside and can just be played as a body if necessary. I'm not 100% sure how the beserk works with multiple creatures in a lane. I assume that both are forced to attack simultaenously, if that's correct then he's potentially quite good if somewhat expensive. I gotta say though that that art is so.... random. That side-stomach mouth looks completely impractical!

    Necropolis creatures

    Hangman Tree



    Rating: 2.5

    Moar fog on a stick! Walls, walls for everyone! This is quite probably the strongest in the cycle (which so far includes dark wood treant and bramble beast). The cost is right, the stats are good and regeneration is excellent, as it gives you the option of moving it out of the line of fire for a turn or two to rebuild, and also gives it an annoying amount of resilience if you use AOE spells as early board control. Speaking of AOE, that one innocuous point of retaliation damage here synergises superbly well with AOEs, particularly insect swarm, as even one point of damage will put some annoying creatures such as ranaar harpy, imperial griffin and juggernaut into swarm range. This won't quite be a staple card, seeing as only a particular brand of control deck will want to play it, but it looks like a really good option for stalling ariana and possibly nergal decks.

    Namtaru Channeler



    Rating: 2

    A good rule with card evaluation is that cards which are good on their own are better than cards which are only good with other cards. A second good general rule is that synergistic combos usually only work if either half of the combo is good on its own, but they just happen to be awesome when they come together. It is possible for a synergy-based strategy to be strong enough that you might play it even if it doesn't do much outside of the combo, but when you're in that territory you pretty much want to be winning the game on the spot when it does come together (wolf justicar + truce of elrath basically falls into the latter category).

    Anyway, that's a long winded way of saying that I don't think Namtaru Channeler is very good. There aren't very many playable ongoing spells in this game. Global enchantments like mass regeneration, don't add to your board presence and don't do enough to be worth a card. Most individual auras simply open their controller up to being 2-for-1ed when their opponent deals with their creature on the following turn (note that bless somewhat breaks this rule as you'll usually be able to trade it for a card on the turn you play it, which makes it playable). Walls are generally bad because your opponent can easily play around them. Debuff auras are bad because their absolute best case is that your opponent's creature is still able to block and force you to waste more resources to deal with it. There are actually two new ongoing spells that are playable, but both of them are unique so they aren't particularly relevant for the present analysis. So on the one hand we have a bunch of cards which synergise with Namtaru Channeler but which aren't really playable without her. And Namtaru Channel is certainly not playable on its own, a 1/5 melee for 3 doesn't exactly stack up to the wolf captains of this world even if she does have a point of infect. And even if you do pull off the synergy move, the payoff just isn't there. If a mass of ongoing spells turned her into something truly terrifying, like each added an extra health as well as attack, or additional points of infect damage or something then we might be getting somewhere, but as it is... nope.

    Untamed wrath



    Rating: 4

    Really Ubi? You actually thought necro needed another amazing 3-drop? It's already got 2 of the better ones in the game, in vampire knight and lamasu, this is just ridiculous. And it's even got the magic creature sub-type, so it gets the boost from week of the wild spirits to go along with most of the rest of the threats in your deck. This isn't the only reason that necropolis seems to be making up 75%+ of the online metagame post-expansion, but it's a big part of it. It's super annoying to kill outside of opposing magic creatures, hits pretty hard, is a flyer... it's got it all. This guy, along with all of the other hugely powerful necropolis flyers, makes specific anti-flyer bullets like grounded and father sky wrath start to look attractive, that's the sign of a hugely powerful creature.


    Skeleton Archer



    Rating: 2.5

    This isn't actually a bad creature. Those stats would put skeleton archer among the best 3-drops in basically all of the other factions, the problem here is that necropolis just has too many better options. If you're trying to build a week of the tamed spirits necropolis deck for some reason, then this probably makes the cut, other than that you're probably looking elsewhere.

    Soul-Consuming Lich



    Rating: 3

    One of the most frustrating things with the necro faction is the ability of a number of their creatures to break the symmetry of AOE damage spells by being able to survive them and rebuild their health with life drain. While this lich isn't quite as terrifying as archlich in that respect, its survivability in the face of AOE damage spells is pretty terrifying. Not every deck is going to want this, as it is pretty weak on the attack, but more controlling versions of nergal/ariana should seriously look at it, particularly if they're experimenting with week of the tamed spirits.

    Decay Spitter



    Rating: 3.5

    Its difficult to overstate the strength of a good enters the battlefield ability on a creature that's even half decent. The value you get from simply casting this is almost worth a card on its own, and then you get a free body on top of it. This is the very definition of a "2 for 1", and add shenanigans like atropos or other recursion and things start getting out of hand. The only thing holding decay spitter back from being an auto-4x include is the fact that his ability isn't optional. If you play this when your opponent's board is empty (or untargetable due to path of the ancestors or something) then you're going to have to target your own creature, unless the spitter is your only creature in play. If/when that happens, its absolutely miserable, but outside of that this is a simply awesome 4-drop.

    Dark Wood Hermit



    Rating: 2

    As I've already said, cards which are good on their own are better than cards which are only good in combination with other cards. While a number of the other infect creatures are playable, or at least borderline so, the benefit you get from unlocking the combo here just isn't big enough to justify playing such a weak creature (it doesn't even have infect itself!). Perhaps if it said "whenever an opponent's creature gets an infect counter, place another one on it" it would be awesome/broken with nergal, but as-is, I think you have better things to be doing with 4 resources.

    Living Nightmare



    Rating: 2.5

    Most inferno heroes have difficulty punishing lane-stacking by opponent's creatures. This is because they don't have access to light magic for sunburst, only their new hero has access to fire magic (fireball) and few want to play fortunes for broken bridge, though there are exceptions to that. This creatures is an excellent blocker for those heroes, allowing them to come down against an enemy formation which otherwise might be difficult to take down without sacrificing a creature as a chump blocker. He is very expensive though, and an incorporeal creature like vengeful spectre will usually be able to get the job done, but I wouldn't entirely discount the possibility of this nightmare being considered as a finisher for some necropolis decks.

    Stronghold Creatures

    Stream Singer



    Rating: 2

    This is an interesting soft-counter to stall/combo/OTK decks, as it gives all sanctuary heroes access to a temporary cancel of stone shield and altar of shadows. Obviously you want to be winning the game the turn you cast this, but that's not a hard thing to imagine. The trouble with stream singer is that she's just so narrow. Against just about any of the other possible targets (bless, weakness, hall of torment), stream singer is pretty miserable. Just delaying those type of effects for an additional turn isn't worth a card. Stream Singer also doesn't do anything against wasteland naming creature, which is unfortunate in the type of decks that are likely to think about wanting her effect. This is a nice option to have, and certainly something to think about if OTK/stall decks become an issue, but she's strictly a narrow meta option and obviously not worth playing for her stats, which are way under par (she's not even magic!).

    Waterfall Guardians



    Rating: 2

    THe final entry in "everyone gets a wall" cycle (I'm counting hellfire bloater), this is also one of the weaker ones. It's better than bramble beast, because at least the creature(s) you pop it down in front of is going to have to deal with it, and can't just walk away and ignore it if that's the better option. So is saving 5 damage and maybe doing one or two points of retaliation damage worth a full card? Not really in my book, especially as you could use dark wood treant to save a much more meaningful 7 damage for one additional resource. The potential synergy with ishuma is kind of nice, and perhaps there is a late game sanctuary control deck out there that wants a card like this, but I don't see it at the moment.

    Okane no Okane



    Rating: 2

    When I first saw this I thought "Woot, another sanctuary 2-drop that doesn't die to insect swarm!" Then I actually read the card and realised it's a 3-drop. sigh. This is seriously under the curve stats wise (see: neophyte lich, succubus) so is only playable if the resource text is good. Which it is, kind of. Shutting down tithe collector and gold pile sounds nice until you realise that they have already had their impact by the time this guy comes down. So what this attacks is degenerate combo strategies which aim to generate infini-resources by chaining together fortunes. But those decks got massively nerfed in the last couple of updates and I don't think they exist anymore. If they do, then this sort of answers them (although the same decks will just be able to use broken bridge before they "go off" a lot of the time). If you don't want to meta against those decks though, skip past this oddly worded fellow.

    Naga Yokujin



    Rating: 2.5

    There's a bit of a difference in this game between 4 and 5 health, but not as much as going from 3 to 4. Many things which can deal with a 4 toughness creature will also deal with a 5 toughness creature, although the extra point will often require some additional work to take down. Still, for this cost I'd much rather have a Kappa, and probably also a shanria guard. Still, if you're trying to build a sanctuary deck that's not so dependent on week of the wild spirits (which might be smart given that many of your necromantic opponents will also be liking that event at the moment) this is a decent option, although stronghold ranged lines do tend to get a bit clogged up with all of the outmaneuver creatures.

    Shinje Warrior



    Rating: 3.5

    This guy's pretty nice. His stats are the same as Shanria guard, which is generally playable, but he has a lot more utility as he acts as a good defensive creature in a faction short of single-creature defensive options (kappa being the other exception). When you drop this guy down in front of an enemy formation they've always got a difficult decision to make, especially if the line has two creatures with < 4 natural attack, and even putting him on an empty row forces your opponent to think long and hard about what they want to do. I really like him, I think he fits into the sanctuary theme perfectly and in a week of wild-spirits deck is actually quite strong.

    Venerable Kappa



    Rating: 2.5

    Focussing on stats alone, sanctuary has a dearth of creatures which can block so it's possible that Venerable Kappa wins a spot simply as slightly more expensive (and damaging) additional copies of his less venerable cousin.
    So he's at least in discussion as an option before you move to his text. "Enemy spell ward" is a super, super powerful keyword because most spells aim to interract with creatures in some way. That's not the case with fortunes. Many just accelerate resources, draw cards, mess with opponent's hands etc. But there are some that interract with your creatures, most notably broken bridge, altar of shadows (I'm pretty sure venerable kappa isn't affected by this) and throne of renewal. This makes Venerable Kappa exceptionally strong against fortune-based stall decks. So being decent against every deck, and awesome against one archetype, means he's got to be in consideration for sanctuary decks, his popularity will wax and wane with the popularity of the decks that he's awesome against.

    Unmei-Kami



    Rating: 3

    I don't think I've mentioned yet that, by and large, I really like what Ubi have done with creature rarities in the latest set. There's no creatures at rare/epic which are just flat out more powerful than other options, instead they showcase interesting new mechanics or do things no other cards before them have done. They've really done well on this aspect of the design. And this baby's special ability is completely unique and so.... SPICY that I could actually have seen it at epic rarity. But first of all, her stats. Her Attack/hp is only decent for a 4-cost creature, but being magic helps make up for some fairly lackluster base stats. What's very interesting is her unique combination of might/magic/fortune requirements, which are obviously designed to work with her special ability, but will probably make it hard for her to find a home. I'm not quite sure what kind of deck is going to even be able to cast her. Anyway, that special ability. Putting fortune ward, which was just discussed, to one side this ability is potentially awesome.... but probably pretty bad. First of all it's going to just completely whiff a lot of the time that you trigger it, perhaps most of the time. Because if you play this, your opponent is going to do their damndest to make sure you don't get to cast a free card out of it and there's lots of ways they can do this - cast anything you can cast before she hits, block her, kill her, bounce her etc. Or if there's nothing in hand that you can play with your current stats, they just ignore her. Just like naga tactician, I think the games where you actually get a hit in with her and have it be meaningful are going to be few and far between. Sometimes you'll get lucky with an outmaneuver at the right time, but most of the time you won't. Which is a shame, because it's such a potentially sweet ability.


    Kabuki Tei



    Rating: 2.5

    This guy is pretty obviously designed to try to help out takana, both because of his fortune cost and because he's another creature to take advantage of Takan's passive pump. Even outside of Takana, though, he stands a chance of being played (despite pretty horrible stats) simply because honor is an awesome keyword and there's only one other sub-5 cost honor creature. His special bounce ability seems more cute than good, but it's pure upside and will sometimes be relevant. The fact that he has one less attack than wanizame means you always max out on that guy before playing any copies of this, but sometimes you will want to play more than 4 wanizame's and now you can.
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  3. #3
    Spells

    Dark Magic

    Intimidation

    Cost: 2r, 2ma

    Text: Until your next turn: Creatures with no adjacent friendly creature cannot attack.

    Rating: 1

    This card is awful, just awful. Realistic best case scenario, you get a sort of half-fog effect out of this, as your opponent is forced to reposition or deploy a couple of creatures to enable them to attack. Realistic worse case scenario is it does literally nothing as your opponent just deploys a pao to turn on all their other creatures and goes on as normal. I mean the magical christmasland here is that you play it, your opponent bunches up all of their creatures in a way that lets you favourably AOE them to oblivion the next turn, but we don't live in magical christmasland here. Don't play this card.

    Cursed Chains

    Cost: 3r, 3ma

    Text: Enchant creature. Permanent : At the beginning of enchanted creature's controller's turn, deal 1 damage to their Hero.

    Rating: 1

    When I saw this card's title and cost I got excited and thought we might actually get a usable pacifism effect in this game (although it would be "enchanted creature can't attack or move), which would have been a perfectly fair and awesome card. Instead, we get the bad half of pillory of the sleepless, for an insanely high price. I mean what does this card even do? If you're losing, your opponent ignores it and keeps attacking. If you're winning, your opponent throws it in front of one of your creatures as a suicide blocker so it doesn't actually do any damage. It's like really, really bad removal that only sort of works if you're in a winning situation, by forcing your opponent to chump block. And it can be dispelled, or week of the dead, or town portalled. Yay.


    The Silent Death (unique)

    Cost: 4r, 4ma

    Text: Enchant Creature. Permanent: At the beginning of your turn, destroy enchanted creature and return The Silent Death to your hand.

    Rating: 4

    Rating unique cards is hard. I mean this is awesome, incredibly, amazingly, awesome. But unique cards are meant to be that, because they're, well, unique and so balanced by the fact that you only get to see them once per game. Unless you're atropos and ubisoft forgot to print the "non-unique" text on all its graveyard incursion, which they now have for fortune and spell recursion cards. stupid recurring atropos. Anyhow.

    The worst case scenario with this card is that your opponent dispels it on their turn, which isn't great. But everything other than that is just awesome. Maybe they use a kill or bounce spell on their own creature to stop it recurring, so they 2 for 1 themselves. But maybe they can't remove it so you just blank every creature they topdeck for the rest of the game. It's pretty much the perfect card to allow a spell control deck to close out the game even though their opponent is drawing two cards per turn. What's surprising about this is how fair it actually is. It's miserable as a turn 4 play when you're under a lot of pressure. The enchanted creature still gets an extra attack in, and whether that's on a hero or one of your creatures, that's not what you usually want at that stage of the game with a spell control hero. This is really only good as a late game card, when you can throw a strong blocker that doens't mind taking a hit like vampire knight, soul-consuming lich or hangman tree in front of the enchanted creature. It is an incredible late-game card though, and an auto-include in most decks that can cast it.


    Minor Recall

    Cost: 3r, 3ma

    Text: Return target ongoing spell or fortune to its owner's hand.

    Rating: 2

    This card is very narrow, but I'm extremely glad that it exists as it fills a gaping hole in the arsenal of spell control heroes. There's not that many ongoing fortunes that you want to bounce, but if it allows you to get in a lethal hit through an altar of shadows, or develop your board through a wasteland or stop yourself from dying to a hall of torment, it can be pretty good. It does nothing against resource denial fortunes (prison or pillage), nor a wasteland naming spell (which OTK decks will do to you if you're threatening to spoil their day with a stone shield), but this is a very nice spell to have in the card pool.


    Fate Twister

    Cost: 4r, 3ma, 2f

    Text: Look at opponent's hand and choose a non-unique fortune card from it. You can play this fortune for free. If you don't, put that card into opponent's graveyard.

    Rating: 2

    First of all, I'm confused as to why this card isn't rare like Spell Twister. Cycles are typically of the same rarity. But anyway. This card is ok. The thing about fortunes, generally, is that they're powerful because they chain together well. One wasteland/altar of shadows/throne of renewal is ok, but 3 in a row is amazing. There's not too many (non-unique) fortunes that just completely turn a game around on their own in the way that an AOE damage spell, or puppet master or whatever can do. Half the time you're going to cast this, hit a campfire and /facepalm. I mean, sure, hitting a wasteland or broken bridge or something is nice, but it's rarely going to put you in a winning from a losing position. Spell twister is a powerful bullet against big magic strategies, I'm less convinced the same is true of fate twister, although it is nice to see the cycle completed.


    The Gate to Nowhere (unique)

    Cost: 4r, 4ma

    Text: Enchant row. Permanent: When an enemy creature from enchanted row attacks, banish it after the attack.

    Rating: 2.5

    This is probably the weakest of the new epic/unique spells, but that doesn't mean it's a particularly bad card. Like all "wall" spells, it suffers from the disadvantage of being very easy to play around and doing nothing if your opponent can dispel it. Given that this wall sticks around, though, and has a one-sided and very powerful effect it's certainly a head above most other spells of its type. Most of the time this will cause your opponent to move away from the ehcnahted row and then deter your opponent from ever deploying in that row, except perhaps to chump block any attackers you have there. That's not a bad effect, it essentially saves you a little damage and then provides a pseudo-protection ability to creatures you deploy in that row. That effect is barely worth a card though, most of the time, so I wold suggest that unless you have some way to move your opponent's creatures around into the enchanted row, repeatedly, you probably don't want to be playing this.

    Light spells

    Resolute Stand

    Cost: 2r, 3ma

    Text: Permanent: All friendly creatures gain + 1 retaliation.

    Rating: 2

    This is sort of an ok card. The fact that the effect is permanent and global cannot be ignored, but I can't really see you wanting to play this even in a dedicated retaliation deck. Best case, you play this on the turns before you drop truce of elrath and then your truce punches that little bit harder, this is kind of like extra copies of wolf justicar in that situation. But unlike justicar, this isn't a decent card even if you don't have the elrath out. It does very, very little without that synergy, and for that reason is probably a bit too narrow to be playable.

    Lightspeed

    Cost: 2r, 1m

    Text: Enchant creature. Permanent: Enchanted creature gains preemptive Strike.

    Rating: 1

    The only nice thing about this card is its cost, having it only cost 1 magic makes it possible for a lot of decks to splash this. Not that you would want to, as putting this on a creature just opens yourself up for an easy 2 for 1 and it doesn't do ANYTHING until your opponent's turn, so they'll always get a chance to respond to it. Ok, I lie, it's theoretically possible to combine this with firey rage to give your opponent's bloodlust in which case they'll have to suicide them into your massive retaliation blocker first but.... yeah, that's not realistically going to happen. 3 card combos need to be much better than that to be playable.


    The Light of Tomorrow (unique)

    Cost: 4r, 4ma

    Text: Permanent: At the beginning of your turn, take a non-unique creature card at random from your graveyard and put it into your hand.

    Rating: 3.5

    This is a serious card advantage engine, in fact outside of various engines that recur atropos, I can't think of a better one. Sure, some opponents will just dispel it and you're never happy when that happens, and it is very slow, but if you can stabilise and get this online then I'm not sure how you ever lose that game. You're now drawing three cards per turn, one of which is always a creature - if you can't engineer a victory out of that, then you need to take a serious look at the card quality in your deck! The one limiting factor is that if you're playing too many defensive creatures with low attack values, you might end up just clogging up the board but never being able to punch through. So you do want to be playing this in a deck with some late game bombs that will be able to win you the game through a clogged opponent's board.


    Earth spells

    Earth Bound

    Cost: 1r, 1ma

    Text: Enchant creature. Permanent: Enchanted creature gains Anchored. (Creatures with Anchored cannot move, change controller, be relocated, or returned to hand).

    Rating: 1

    Despite containing 3 of the best spells in the game, the earth magic school is pretty terrible overall because "bad auras" are a central theme of the school. This spell fits nicely in that theme, as it's a truly bad aura. Protecting your own creature from town portal/broken bridge at the expense of both a card and making it unable to move out of the way of a strong opposing blocker is nothing to get excited about. Making an opponent's creature unable to move is kind of ok as pseudo potential removal that still allows the creature to get in a hit on your blocker (so half the time you're just going to end up 2 for 1ing yourself and your opponent keeps their creature). Yeah... no.

    Sylvanna's Embrace

    Cost: 2r, 3ma

    Text: Enchant creature. Permanent: Enchanted creature gains Regenerate 1 and has its health increased by 2.

    Rating: 1

    And, continuing the theme. I'll say it again, auras are playable if they can come down and immediately get you a card's worth of value (see: bless). This does not, and you are miserable if you play this on a creature only to have it soul reavered.

    The Might of Nature (unique)

    Cost: 4r, 4ma

    Text: Permanent: All friendly melee creatures receive half damage, rounded down.

    Rating: 3.5

    Finally a playable spell! Yes, this is really expensive and doesn't affect the board immediately, but the effect is absolutely bananas. ALL damage is halved, that goes for combat damage, enemy spell damage and YOUR OWN spell damage. You want your creature base to be fairly melee heavy to go in on this, but combine this with cards like blackskull crusher, soul-consuming lich or wolf praetorian and you have yourself a creature that's just never going to die.

    Air spells

    Lightning Strike

    Cost: 3r, 2ma

    Text: Deal 4 damage to target creature.

    Rating: 3.5

    The prevalence of high-toughness necropolis creatures in the current meta is probably hurting this card's playability, but it has a huge amount of inherent power. This can do something no other card in the game could do (barring synergy cards like fervour and surprise attack) - kill a 4 health creature with a single card for less than 4 resources. So many relevant creatures have 4 health, it's an extremely important number in the game. Having regard to its low magic requirement, this is obviously a pushed card and I expect it to ultimately become a staple spell.


    Wind Gust

    Cost: 3r, 3ma

    Text: Relocate target enemy creature, then deal 1 damage to it and to every adjacent creature.

    Rating: 1

    Like so many air spells, this effect is nice but just not worth a card. This is a miserable spell to cast when you're behind and your opponent is beating you down with a bunch of tough creatures. It's huge cost also makes it prohibitive to combine this with an additional AOE spell. This will only be decent if you already have a decent board position and are able to relocate an enemy creature to kill them and possibly get some additional value from the splash damage, but that's incredibly situational and just not worth putting this card in your deck.

    The Song of the Lost

    Cost: 4r, 4ma

    Text: Relocate target enemy creature. You can repeat this as many times as you want. You can choose a new target each time.

    Rating: 3

    "As many times as you want" has to be some of the most exciting text on a TCG card (it's right up there with "double"). You always know you're in for something awesome when you see it. And this can be pretty awesome. At its worst, this spell allows you to "outmaneuver" every one of your opponent's creatures. You should be able to engineer some value out of that effect alone, although like the actual keyword it will require you to have some sort of board position. And then there's the upside potential, of setting up some nasty AOEs or a potential combo with Ice Splinters to effect a one-side wrath. This will usually require some work to make it good, but it can be a very powerful effect in the right spot and will rarely be completely dead.

    Water spells

    Ice Shell

    Cost: 1r, 2ma

    Text: Enchant creature. Permanent: Enchanted creature gains anchored. Prevent all damage dealt to enchanted creature. When damage is prevented in this way, destroy Ice Shell.

    Rating: 2

    "Stricly better than earth bound" is faint praise, but is about the nicest thing I'd say about this card. I mean, this isn't completely awful. It will sometimes be worth a card to protect your guy from a hit, and giving the creature anchored shuts down some common ways in which you can get blown out for putting an aura on your creature. The fact that this isn't a permanent effect is actually kind of nice too, because anchored can be a double-edged sword. I can't really see you wanting to play this, but if you have a particular target that you want to protect from damage to get you some longer term advantage (blind brother? fate sealer?) then you might think about running this.

    Ice Splinters

    Cost: 3r, 3ma

    Text: Enchant row. Permanent: Whenever a creature is deployed, moves into, or is relocated to enchanted row, deal 2 damage to it.

    Rating: 2

    Ubisoft have clearly realised that "one shot" enchant row effects aren't really worth printing, because they've printed a number of permanent effects which are much more attractive. Like other similar cards, this effect is symmetrical which hurts a bit and i'm also not actually sure that it does anything which is also not exactly a factor in its favour. It's clearly a synergy card, you're not going to play this just for the deployment deterrent effect, you want to be able to use outmaneuver or air spells or something to move enemy creatures into the enchanted row, and perhaps finish them off with a creature you had previously stacked there. So it feels like a "build around me" card, but I'm not convinced the payoff is there. Perhaps someone can make it work though, and there is some inherent potential power here as a repeatable source of damage.

    The Strength of the Sea

    Cost: 3r, 3ma

    Text: Permanent: All friendly creatures gain +1 attack and Fortune Ward.

    Rating: 3.5

    When thinking about whether you want to include this card in your deck, you should probably evaluate it just by the anthem effect (+1 attack). And I think it warrants a slot for that alone most of the time, a permanent and global buff such as that can be seriously powerful. And the global fortune ward buff is just going to push this card over the edge in some matchups. It turns it into an incredibly powerful silver bullet against all sorts of fortune control strategies (altar of shadows, throne of renewal, broken bridge etc.) - when that comes up, this card's going to be awesome, and even if it doesn't, it's pretty good especially for just 3 resources.


    Fire spells


    Heat Wave

    Cost: 1r, 1ma

    Text: Deal 1 damage to all creatures.

    Rating: 2.5

    When I did my old review of the spell schools I said that what fire really needed was a cheap pyroclasm effect. Ideally, that spell would cost 2 or 3 and do 2 damage to every creature. Heat wave sort of fills this gap, but I think the 1 damage ping is just not big enough, enough of the time, for this to be good though. It is very cheap though, and does have some potential particularly if you combine it with cards like Hail Storm or immolation to constantly whittle your opponent's creatures down, I'm just doubtful you're going to be able to survive while all that whittling is going on though. Perhaps the best use of this is with Dhamira to combine it with insect swarm and earthquake, it could have some potential there.

    Fiery Rage

    Cost: 2r, 2ma

    Text: Enchant creature. Permanent: Enchanted creature gains +1 attack and Berserk. (At the beginning of their action phase, creatures with Berserk automatically attack the first valid enemy target in front of them.)

    Rating: 2

    I'm not a huge fan of this card. It's really miserable if you're trying to use it as a removal spell (by beserking an opposing creature), and it's not too great if you're using it as a buff, as beserk is going to set you up for some unfavourable combat sitautions and the +1 buff just isn't big enough to be consistently worth it. This does cost one less than bless, but did it really need to be worth both on the magnitude of the buff and with an additional drawback? If this had been +2 with beserk, or +1 without it then it would be quite strong but still balanced I feel.

    The Forbidden Flame

    Cost: 4r, 3m

    Text: Deal damage to every creature equal to double your magic level.

    Rating: 4

    This is obviously incredibly powerful spell and it's an auto-include in any deck that's able to cast it. It's easily the most powerful wrath in the game, being a double insect-swarm for just one extra cost at a minimum, and with potential upside beyond that if needed. Don't forget that you can only play this once, though, and be sure to play it for maximum value. It's going to be at its absolute best when you've managed to get your opponent to commit to the board to win a creature combat battle then you play this to clear their army and play out a threat or two after it. Don't be afraid to use it to just save you from a bad situation early if you need to, but always try to maneuver it so you can follow it up with something on the empty board.
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  4. #4
    [Reserved x3 - this could be long!]
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  5. #5
    Thanks for this, waiting for inferno cards!
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  6. #6
    I like your ideas but I have to disagree with your analyzes on what you speculate Ubisoft is doing in regards to Hero spells linked to a particular factions. If you read any of the stories on each of the heroes you would see that these group of heroes are working outside the norm of their fellow faction heroes. To me this merely looks like the Ubisoft has decide that these and potential only these heroes will have spell schools outside of the norm. Making this the real reason to invest in the herald of the void.

    And as for Ubisoft given fire school to heroes as a way to deal with DA is far from the potential I see. For one necro certainly did not do need it as mass grave easily dealt with them. The same could be said for anyone who had light spells. Earthquake for any hero who had earth spells and slow for any hero that had used prime.

    Just my two cents!
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  7. #7
    Great idea, and lots of good work.
    IMO, your initial rating descriptions/definitions are painting you into a corner, though.
    (Keep in mind, I am not thinking about solely top-tier level play, here)

    If you are defining something as strong as Campfire (which should be an auto-include in almost EVERY deck that goes to 3 Fortune, since it does nothing but help you and thin out your deck) as a 2.5, there's no way something as niche and questionable as a Darkwood Treant should be anywhere near the same rating as a Campfire or Inner Fire).

    Seriously, if you are defining something as strong as Naga Tactician as a 2.0, then 90% of the cards in this game are going to be 1.0's....
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  8. #8
    Yes, I am thinking solely from top level play, as in the perspective of "having access to all the cards and playing optimised decks".

    Originally Posted by reapersaurus Go to original post
    Seriously, if you are defining something as strong as Naga Tactician as a 2.0, then 90% of the cards in this game are going to be 1.0's....
    pretty much. only a narrow range of cards get played, the majority are filler. it is the way of things. Naga tactician saw about zero high level play pre-herald, 2.0 is exactly where it should sit in the power rankings imo.
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  9. #9
    Just notice, Adar-Malik with Seria's Last Order, Seria's Legion, Ariana's lair and Atropos can use banshee 19 times in one game. And i didnt count another unpopular fortunes like Graveyard and Altar of Eternal Servitude.
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  10. #10
    Added Haven creatures to the initial post.

    @MT...
    Forgot to reply to you before. First of all, firebolt is way better for necro to kill DA than mass grave seeing as mass grave is a 1 for 2 (you lose an extra card by putting it back on your library) but but firebolt is a clean 1 for 1. Slow is also a poor answer, because there's any number of ways that using it can result in you getting blown out (dispel, bounce your creature, outmaneuver etc.) and earthquake is indeed nice (although more expensive), but its symmetrical nature limits the number of decks you want it in. Firebolt is the single cleanest answer to DA possible, no questions asked.

    And I can accept that Ubisoft may have concocted some backstory to make this all work, but they had set up some strongly defined faction boundaries in the first two sets and its disappointing to see them broken down so quickly here. MTG's designer say that one of their biggest regrets was printing the "planar chaos" set where the colour pie got broken down, because it irrevocably crosses some of the lines that give your game its core identity. idk, it just feels wrong to me, especially so early in the game's life-cycle. Surely they haven't run out of hero design space already...
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