1. #1

    Full review of every card in Griffin Bane

    This is a complete review of every card in Griffin Bane, one at a time, listed in the same order as they are HERE in case you want to sing along. The cards are rated from A+ down to D- (with a single F for my most hated card in the set).

    Please keep in mind that I havenít actually played with any of these cards yet- these are just my initial impressions based on seeing the cards on the spoiler list.

    Windborn Speed
    Not sure what this spell is even for. ALL creatures gain swift, including your opponentís. What this basically boils down to is that the player with more creatures will be able to remain in control by outmaneuvering the opponentís outnumbered blockers or focusing them down. It looks like the kind of card youíd have to build a deck around because things would get VERY messy after you play it and it could easily backfire on you. Too gimmicky for my tastes, but it could lead to some nasty combinations. C

    Wind Wall

    These kinds of cards suck. They always have and always will. Yes, itís cheap and low-requirement, but youíd rather play something more effective. At least it can stall semi-effectively against certain kinds of shooter-heavy decks. D

    Cheap Death

    This is pretty nasty. Unlike the weaksauce No Mercy for the Weak, this is black magic and can target a far wider range of creatures as well as being very splashable. With Necropolisí and Blackís massive emphasis on crippling enemy creatures, this could be a very potent removal, as well as an effective counter to weenie decks. Cheap is right. B+

    Flaying Darkness

    On the other hand, this is overpriced and under-effective. Only 2 damage for 3R puts it on par with Fire Blast and Ice Spikes, but itís too conditional (you generally cripple 1 creature at a time) and can even hit your creatures. Dead weight. D+

    Creeping Darkness

    Now THIS is the kind of darkness you need to fear! If you canít remove this ongoing spell youíll find it almost impossible to ever muster effective force to do anything. The randomness can be a bit of a nuisance, but I dread to think what will happen if you stack multiple copies and I think itís too cheap and easy to play. Ariana is going to love this. A

    Virulent Poison

    This isnít actually too bad, considering how cheap it is, but I donít see why the devs are trying to push poison so hard in Earth magic. Itís good as a combo with Putrid Dragon Breath, but the only deck I could see running it regularly would be Nergal. Poison just isnít enough of a strategy in its own right, no matter how many gimmicks they make for it, so this is of limited value. C+

    Contagious Poison

    Everything I said about Virulent Poison applies here EXCEPT the part about it being cheap- which was the only thing that made Virulent Poison playable. 3R is just too much to pay for this effect because you really WONíT be putting large numbers of poison counters on multiple creatures at once. Bad. D

    Natureís Revenge

    Are we seeing building-heavy decks dominating the landscape yet? No? Well why the hell would they waste a rare slot on this piece of rubbish? Its use is far too conditional, its cost is excessive and its effect is far too minor even when the enemy IS using buildings. Just destroy the building with Landslide and move on. D-

    Forked Firebolt

    Passable, but overpriced. For the same cost you could Fire Blast an entire line or Magma Burst a cross. OK, this can hit 2 different targets in different lines on different sides of the board, but it MUST have 2 separate targets to be legal to play. Would be decent in draft play, just a pity thereís no such thing. C-

    Collateral Damage

    EDIT: On rereading this card, I realised I'd TOTALLY misunderstood it (don't know how I managed to do that). It's actually a creature aura that lets you overkill enemy creatures without wasting the extra damage. Unfortunately, it's still not very GOOD. It's still 4R/4Ma to play and still doesn't give you any actual POWER. Sure, it punishes your opponent for chump blocking, but it's too expensive and suffers the usual drawbacks of auras, namely bad card economy. Not the absolute piece of garbage I initially mistook it for, but still a bad card. D+

    Ragefire

    Interesting, but dicey. Area Blast is a fickle ability, often capable of doing as much damage to your creatures as to your opponent, but permanent damage buffs are always good (itís one of the things that made The Strength of the Sea a no-brainer in every Water magic deck). Its usefulness is dependant largely on how many Fire creatures you can scrape together, which means itís an Inferno exclusive and most of their Fire creatures (the Tormentor line) already have Area Blast. Mind you, Hikyu loves it- 4 power Area Blast 3 Attack Anywhere hurts. The cost is a pain, though and at the moment it may just be too limited. C-

    Sunblaze

    A blatantly inferior replacement for Sunburst, this is completely useless to anyone playing in Open, but invaluable to Standard players, where Light has been gasping for some effective removal. Nothing much to say about it other than itís boring, but serviceable. B

    Blinding Light

    Interesting. This basically removes a creature from play while leaving it occupying a board space- it canít attack, move or block. In a way thatís better than outright killing it with Soulreaver, especially as it only has a 3Ma requirement. Of course unlike Soulreaver, Blinding Light can be dispelled or the creature can be bounced back to its owners hand and then youíre back to square one. Additionally, any passive abilities the creature has (like Hypnosis or Ambush) will still be in play. Still, I think this is going to see a fair bit of play- I donít think Light has a better way of immediately dealing with single large creature threats at the moment. A-

    Avenging Wings

    Hereís another crappy rare aura to join Collateral Damage. Auras have ALWAYS been at a disadvantage and need to be either really strong or really economical to be worth it and this is neither. While the effect is actually pretty potent, itís another card the opponent can circumvent simply by ignoring it and not attacking its target until they can remove it directly with a kill card. Itíd be nice to drop on a Hellfire Maniac, but thatís obviously impossible and while Zardoc can use it with Bloodscar Goblin (see below) thatís FAR too much investment for FAR too small an effect. Another complete waste of a rare. D-

    Relocation

    OK, this is getting ridiculous: Primal is already the school with the best utility and now itís starting to muscle in on other schoolsí specialisations as well! Previously an ability unique to Air, Relocation arguably doesÖ wellÖ relocation better than Air does. The ability to relocate two creatures for only 3 is rather potent, making a mockery of defensive formations to let you take a free shot at either the back line or the hero practically a will. The 4Ma is a little on the expensive side, but not prohibitively so. B

    Spell Block

    Now THIS could be what Counterspell should have been. While the wording is ambiguous as to what Ďcancelí means for the spell (does it stay in its caster's hand and just waste the resource or does it fizzle and go to the graveyard?) this is the only way short of Wasteland set to spells to actually PREVENT an opponent from playing an instant spell. OK, it locks you out of playing any as well until it expires, but if you build your deck properly that wonít be a problem. Depending on whether or not you can stack it, this card could well be great. B+

    Disintegration

    You know what I said earlier about Relocation muscling in on other schoolsí turf? Now THIS is getting ridiculous. Basically a radically superior version of Lightning Bolt, this trades an additional point of Ma requirement (trivial) for +2 damage (enough to push it over the ĎTainted Orc Lineí) and the ability to banish anything it kills (invaluable against the likes of Shi-no-Shi, Moon Phoenix and anything Necro was hoping to bring back). Primal is well on its way to being flat-out the best school in the game now. A

    Spirit Wave

    I hate this card with a searing loathing that defies description. Not because itís an especially bad card, but because itís another clumsily-designed card that will EXCLUSIVELY be abused by lame stall/OTK decks for their non-interactive 20-damage-in-one-attack kill. A bit overpriced for conventional use, the only heroes who will use this are Asalah and maybe Ėmaybe- Ammar. But really, we all know this is another poorly-judged release similar to Chain Casting, one solely of interest to people who arenít interested in interacting with their opponent in any way beyond seeing the ĎVictoryí screen. D-

    Aura of Frost

    Similar to Ragefire but MUCH better. While this is also likely to be exclusive to a single faction (in this case Sanctuary), there are a LOT more great Water-element creatures capable of taking advantage of the ability it gives and Frozen Touch is a MUCH better ability than Area Blast. Add in the fact that Aura of Frost is cheaper than Ragefire and any comparisons can be put to rest- in the right deck this will be deadly. A

    Ice Meteor

    This was unexpected. Water has been a bit lacking in heavy damage since Tsunami and Clashing Tides were removed from Standard and now they get this Fireball-on-steroids. 6R is a bit expensive as the spell isnít really in the same eschelon as the likes of Forked Lightning, Curse of the Netherworld, or Armageddon and the Ďdestroy any Fire creature hití clause is totally redundant (as the number of Fire creatures that can survive a 6-damage hit without the aid of something like The Might or Nature or Arcane Armor anyway is preciselyÖ zero) but the 5Ma requirement helps a bit and itíll still provide impressive shock and awe effect. B

    Foundry

    And here we see the start of the devsí attempt to really push their new faction-themed strategies; in this case, Academy Constructs. In theory I can see how this might help make Masfarís ability slightly less useless by using cheap constructs (such as the expendable Makeshift Golem, see below) to get him ahead on the resource curve before his stats get high enough to render his ability redundant anyway. In practice, I honestly canít see why youíd bother. You need to drop another point in Destiny anyway to play this and it really does very little considering how much tempo you lose (since the card only has any value early in the game). Try harder, devs. D+

    Elemental Nexus

    An alternative to Academyís first building, the Arcane Orb, the Elemental Nexus halves damage from the primary 4 elements but not from Light, Dark or Primal, in exchange for not having a Destiny requirement or the stupid Ďdestroyed if creature dies in combatí that the beginner buildings in Five Towers all had. Still, I just donít think itís any more worth using than Arcane Orb was. Make it a 1R card and weíll talk. C-

    Storm Terrace

    Remember me saying that Area Blast isnít a very good ability? I stand by that statement and the fact that Storm Terrace is restricted to constructs makes it even worse. If it was Focused Blast it might have some use, but since most constructs are melee itís really not much use. C-

    Barracks

    And here we see our first card related to the new Ďstackingí mechanic. Based on my rudimentary understanding of the mechanic (weak creatures ďstackĒ together on a square to make a formation that functions like a single big creature) this is actually a pretty good card. Cheap at 2R (albeit with a steep 4Mi requirement) this could be Havenís answer to Boneyard. While it doesnít trigger off angels, griffins or other non-humans, it can still give you a lot of free power, especially in a weenie deck. I like it. B+

    Garrison

    Continuing with the stacking theme for Haven, this looks designed to work almost exclusively with the Griffin Legionnaire and Griffin Crossbowman (see below). I think this limitation makes it less desirable than Barracks, although it could be potentially powerful if you CAN drop one of those two creatures on it. Less flexible, but may have its uses in a deck built around stacking; this may require you to wait for future cards to use it to its full potential. B-

    Recycling Chamber

    And here we go with Inferno Breeder stacking, their new, heavily-pushed theme. Clearly meant to be played in a dedicated Breeder deck, any value this card has is dependant solely on whether or not such a deck is at all viable. As it stands, this has to compete with not only Sacrificial Altar but also the next card on the list and I think itís somewhat lacking. C+

    Spawning Chamber

    If Iím interpreting ďincreasing stack sizeĒ correctly then this card is potentially HUGE for a breeder deck. +3 stacks at the end of your turn means if you can keep a stackable breeder there for a turn or 2 your opponent will rapidly be facing a major threat. Of course, this is again dependant on being able to get a stackable breeder onto it and Inferno might have a bit of trouble with that. I think it has more value than Recycling Chamber, though, despite the higher cost. B

    Vampire Ritual Altar

    This is the best kind of building; it has a clearly defined role, itís effective at what it does and most of all itís CHEAP. This is a massive boost for vampire decks, massively increasing the value of Death Lord and Vampire Connoisseur and Sveltana is going to love it. And at 1R/1Mi it honestly couldnít get any cheaper without being free. If you like vampires, this is your #1 card in the set. A+

    Elemental Spire

    Useless. Far too limited in its application (only affects spirits), far too conditional (only protects them from their own school) and far too expensive that considered. If you can find a use for this please let me know because Iíd be very surprised. D-

    War Banner

    Strong card (permanent mass buffs always are) but worth the 5R/5Mi cost? No, probably not. Yeah, this might be nice to throw into something like a Deleb demon deck or to stack with a Crusader Sergeant, but seriously, itís just too expensive to really be practical. A pity. C-

    Fountain of Rejuvenation

    The alternative to Kabuki Dojo. On the one hand, itís cheaper, has a lower Destiny requrement and returns the creature directly to your hand instead of putting it back in your deck. On the other hand, it only saves creatures from deaths by combat damage which is a pretty serious drawback. I think I prefer the Dojo, especially as Sanctuary donít exactly have a hard time getting cards from their deck when necessary. C+

    Darkwater Pool

    Not as good as it looks. There are quite a few ĎSpyí creatures in this set, but getting them to hit the opponent from such an obvious position is harder than it may seem. The stall effect can be pretty annoying, but you arenít likely to actually get that many uses out of it. Also, it can just be useless if they only have creatures in their hand. Finally, 3R/3D is a bit too much. C-

    Bloodpact Crucible

    Like Vampire Ritual Altar, this is what a good building looks like, for much the same reasons. Deploy a Bloodthirst creature directly on it and you get a free headstart with the Enrage counters (since it obviously canít attack on the turn you play it). Considering the way Bloodthirst feeds itself (unlike Enrage) a 1-counter lead can make a big difference. The 3Mi requirement is no problem and at only 1R thereís really no reason NOT to use it if you make a Bloodthirst-focused deck. A-

    Makeshift Golem

    This bugger was born to die, ideally on a Foundry. Seriously, thatís pretty much all it exists for. Itíll be a staple in any theoretical Construct decks, but that depends on Construct decks becoming a viable option and, as much as the devs have been pushing it with this set, I just donít think thatís going to be the case. And the Makeshift Golem is utterly worthless for anything else, so thatís all she wrote. C-

    Djinn Warden

    While the wording on this sexy blue lady is ambiguous, I think she only protects your Prime creatures from enemy hexes, not instant spells. Thatís a lot less useful, but at least sheís still a 2/1/6 flier for 3. Academy actually have quite a lot of Prime creatures and she also protects herself, so she can keep your creatures safe from the likes of popular cards Enthrall, Cursed Bound (BOND!) and Wither (as well as less popular cards like Lightning Curse or Earth Bound) so she has some value in the current meta. Not a bad card, all things considered. B+

    Generator Titan

    Another huge construct to bolster the theoretical Masfar Construct deck. This basically turn all your constructs into Hellfire Bloaters (with the advantage that they donít damage other constructs) as long as it remains in play and is a pretty beefy 4/4/8 with Shockwave 3 itself. However not only is it still basically an inferior creature to the cheaper and more flexible Surging Titan, itís still prone to the same thing that makes all but the best 6R creatures a liability- Soulreaver/Banshee. Like all beefy creatures itís powerful if you can keep it in play but dead weight if you canít. C+

    Masterpiece Titan

    Now this one is just clumsy. Iíll say it again: Surging Titan. There, now you have no reason to play Masterpiece Titan. The Come Into Play effect is absolutely nothing to write home about and itís in every other way a massively inferior creature (aside from -1 Mi requirement). C-

    Dervish Diva

    Only 2 power for 5R? No thank you. Yes, sheís hard to get past with 3 retaliation, 7 HP and Range Reflect 2 and her requirements are low, but youíre paying 5R for that. Not even nearly worth the resource investment. D+

    Griffin Legionnaire

    First actual stacking creature. Since it replaces itself in your hand as soon as you play it, it actually allows you to include 4 copies in your deck without substantially increasing the amount of dead draws you get on average. Its stats are lousy for its cost, but that depends on how well stacking works- if I understand this correctly, a 4-stack counts as a 4/8/16 creature, which is pretty nasty. While itís good to drop on a Garrison, it may actually be better on something that lets you take advantage of that high retaliation, like Watchtower. Potentially good with Truce of Elrath and Charity. Have to wait and see how this pans out. B

    Benevolent Angel

    Not entirely as good as it appears at first glance since it also prevents you from targeting your own humans, but unless you build your deck with a lot of auras or are playing Charity thatís not that much of a problem. Like the Djinn Warden sheís a cheap body who can really provide some good protection but since she protects against a lot more stuff she doesnít protect herself in exchange and may draw a lot of fire. Still, a good card to include in human-heavy decks. B+

    Angel Commander

    Now THIS is a good beefy creature. It comes with its own private Path of the Ancestors which makes it EXREMELY hard for the opponent to negate before you get at least one attack off with it and as a formidable 4/3/8 flier for 5, thatís quite good value. Additionally, that one turn it buys you may be all the time you need to drop an Elrathís Protection on it and really mess with magic-heavy players- the main criticism of Elrathís Protection was that any creature youíd really want to protect with it would die before youíd have the resources to cast the Protection on it on the same turn you play it. With the Commander thatís not a problem. This could be a powerful new staple card for Haven. A

    Griffin Crossbowman

    Most of the things I said about Griffin Legionnaire apply to the Crossbowman, with a few exceptions; it has no retaliation so lacks any of those options. On the other hand itís a shooter so itís safer and is also cheaper, meaning you can start getting it out (and filtering the rest of them out of your deck) sooner. Like the Legionnaire I think we need to wait and see how stacking works in the meta, but I think this maybe a hair better. B

    Devout Priest

    Itís no War Oliphant, but 1/1/7 for 3 isnít too bad as an early blocker. Its ability functions like a minor version of Djinn Warden for humans which can be pretty handy in the right circumstances. This may actually be the first really playable Heal creature, especially if you drop a pair next to each other to sustain themselves. B+

    Angel Protector

    Massively nerfed from the first revealed version (which destroyed ALL enemy ongoing spells) but this is still an essential card for Haven decks. While its requirements are steep enough to keep efficient dispelling solely within the hands of magic decks, it finally gives Haven an affordable way to remove enemy ongoing spells OTHER than Cleansing Light (which, given Havenís own predeliction for ongoing spells, wasnít the most desirable option anyway). As a 3/2/7 flier for 4 itís a pretty decent body as well, although the 3 Ma really IS a bit much. Still a highly valued addition to Haven decks. A-

    Channeling Breeder

    Oof. IF Inferno Breeder stack decks work out, this thing is the hammer. +4 power to any breeder stack of 4 or more (translation: any one that survived a turn on a Spawning Chamber) means your little meat-blobs will soon be feasting on your opponentís dead flesh. But I have to wonder whether Inferno really has enough ways to get breeder stacks big enough for this to actually be meaningful. On its own merits itís not the worst creature (3/2/6 for 4) but if its ability isnít working for you itís a waste of space. Because of its sheer destructive potential, though, Iím feeling generous. B

    Osmotic Breeder

    Same stats as the Channeling, but this one generates breeder tokens whenever a spell is cast. Unfortunately, these tokens are assigned randomly, which can make it flakey. Still, if the opponent cant remove it quickly it may give you quite a bit of free stuff. And free is always good. B

    Darkflame Fanatic

    Sounds awesome, yeah? Sadly, no. For one thing, Dark isnít even Infernoís secondary school (itís their trinary)- Primal is. For another, itís conditionally only useful against magic decks NOT running Fire and Dark themselves. Worst of all, with these flaws, it has only the same stats as a Succubus with a higher cost and a higher Ma requirement. The reason Caller of the Void is good is because its damage is unconditional, constant and unavoidable. Darkflame Fanatic is none of these and dies just as easily. D+

    Breeder Matron

    Big Mama. A minimum of 1/2/8 for 5, this is worthless if you donít have a lot of breeders or breeder stacks out but can actually get pretty big if you can (it has a maximum potential size of 8/2/8). The low requirements are nice and itís basically a no-brainer as the main damage-dealer for a Breeder deck, but as expected this is dependant on whether a Breeder deck works or whether it just gets wiped off the board, leaving the Matron an overcosted dead weight. B-

    Hatching Breeder

    Actually not a bad substitute for Succubus (itís a Melee Shooter and lacks Immune to Retaliation but is otherwise identical) this has the advantage that it replaces itself with a token automatically when it dies. This isnít that bad actually as it means youíll be left with something on the board even after an Armageddon and if you put it on Recycling Chamber or Spawning Chamber itís even better. Probably THE staple creature of the hypothetical Breeder deck. B+

    Spellhungry Breeder

    Ugh. This is Infernoís only directly stackable breeder, which youíd think would make it the core of the Breeder deck. But I just donít like it. For one thing, itís a rare, so itíll be a pain to get the 4 copies you need to make it even worth using. Another thing is that while it gets bigger every time your opponent plays a spell, it also HURTS you. Thatís not a minor drawback; if you take 1 damage PER STACK you may end up dying FAR sooner than you expected just from watching the opponent Fire Bolt your other breeders. Also, against non-magic decks itís basically fodder anyway. This thing just doesnít appeal to me, which considerably hurts the appeal of the Inferno Breeder deck. D+

    Spider Guard

    Probably my favourite common from the set. If Vampire Ritual Altar excited Sveltana players, this will have them rubbing their hands together with glee. 3 Mi requirement so she can bring it back for less than its resource cost: check. The traditional vampire abilities of Life Drain and Immune to Retaliation: check. 6 HP and the first vampire smaller than a Death Lord to have ANY retaliation: check. Crippling: check. Vampire decks still lack a decent mid-sized (read: 3 power) vampire to fill the gap between Vampire Knight and Vampire Lord, but with this little beauty and the Altar, the Death Lordís ability to let your vampires attack twice per turn if they hit a weak target may well make up for it. A+

    Venom Soldier

    The Necropolis stackable. This thing has 1 major advantage over the other stackable creatures- itís a 1-drop. Combined with Infect, this means it can actually do meaningful damage to even the biggest creatures and if you stack a few of them you can inflict devastating pain with a single attack. Not really that much to say about this other than that, regardless of stacking, itís an excellent choice for your 1-drop slot. B+

    Lich Tactician

    This guy works wonderfully with the aforementioned Venom Soldier. The theme for Necropolis this set is skeleton hordes and this melee shooter is an excellent addition to it. A 2/1/5 shooter for 3 isnít the best value so heís only any use in a dedicated skeleton horde deck, but will certainly be a staple there. I think these decks have a much better chance of succeeding than breeders or Haven soldiers. B+

    Bone Setter

    Unfortunately, unlike the Tactician, this guy blows. Heís just too expensive at 5R and his stats donít match his cost, a measly 2/2/7 without Immune to Retaliation. With +1 power he might squeak by, but not as he is. D+

    Rabid Dog

    Ah, I see that weíve gone back to neutral creatures as Ďcrappy version of creature any other faction has easy access to better version ofí. Complete dead weight; not even Crag Hack would use this piece of rubbish (whatís the point of 3 retaliation on a 2 HP creature with neither Preemptive Strike or even Retribution?). D-

    Sellsword Thug

    Oh joy, itís the sequel to Rogue Mercenary. Except who the hell wanted a sequel to Rogue Mercenary? So is it any better? No, itís rubbish. Ignore it. D-

    Mercenary Archer

    Does your faction have a 2Mi shooter creature? Use that instead. The only thing you can say about it is that itís better than Rogue Mercenary itself- which still doesnít stop it from getting the lowest possible score. D-

    Raya, Chosen of the Waves

    OK, now weíre getting into the REAL neutral cards. This version of Raya is a lot less elaborate than her Sanctuary version from Forgotten Wars, with just a long list of basic abilities. So what are we really paying for when the chips are down? A considerably better version of Shanriya Priestess- she has Fortune Ward, +1 power, +1 HP and 1 less Magic requirement as well as being water aligned rather than Sanctuary. Not spectacular, but Shanriya Priestess is a great creature all the same and Raya is just awesome. Unlike the absurdly overpriced Anael, Raya is cheap enough that youíll want her in ANY deck with Water magic access-and you should put her there. A+

    Hikyu, Chosen of the Flames

    Ooh, and I thought Ragefire was dicey. Area Blast on ALL your creatures is incredibly dangerous, even if itís only 2 rather than 3 like Ragefire. His secondary ability is pretty handy, but not overwhelming. Unfortunately, unlike the Inferno Hikyu (who, let me remind you, was already on the lower tier of the Forgotten Wars unique creatures) the Chosen version is neither ranged nor has Attack Anywhere, meaning heís about as subtle as a hammer. If you can capitalise on the carnage your creatures will wreak when he hits the table you may do a lot, but heís very expensive and not terribly flexible so may end up nothing more than a novelty. C+

    Hasafah, Chosen of the Shadows

    No. No, no, no, no, a thousand times NO. This guy is insanely OP. Itís incredible the way the devs can obliviously design flashy but impractically overpriced cards like Anael, Chosen of the Light and Hikyu, Chosen of the Flames, then can immediately turn around and create something so overpowered in the same cycle of creatures by simply omitting all the flaws that made Anael and Hikyu undesirable. Hasafah is cheap, tough and has the all-important ability of Dark Ward (why donít ALL the Chosen have ward of their own school?) which protects him from Soulreavers, Banshees, Enthralls and most of the nasty death cards that make creatures far more expensive than him (which subsequently need it far more) dead wight. He trades in the Crippling and Focused Blast abilities of his Academy version for Ėget this- the ability to clone anything he kills! Even if he only has 2 power, the fact that he has 7 HP and Dark Ward means itís WORTH the risk of dropping an Icy Weapon or other substantial buff on him to let him kill more stuff. Being Dark aligned means you can slip him into Noboru or Mukao (see below) Sanctuary decks to line up targets for him to shoot down with ease. This guy is nauseatingly OP and I hope he gets nerfed before release or heís going to single-handedly win a LOT of games. A+

    Kabuki Seductress

    Not quite a mini-Raya (the old one) since she can only Ďseduceí a creature on the same row sheís deployed on. Still, this bypasses one of the big problems with dropping a blocker in front of an enemy creature- they always get to hit you first, making it hard to win the damage race. As a melee shooter with decent stats for a modest cost, this serpentine skank could become a staple creature. As an added bonus, sheís a Spy, so sheíll synergise with the other cards Sanctuary got for Spy-related fun. B+

    Kabuki Sentry

    Succubus/Neophyte Lich/Arcane Sharpshooter for Sanctuary. Boring as mud but these creatures have always done sterling service in the 2-drop slot and this guy will be no different, at least in Standard where Sayama Stalker isnt an option. B

    Kabuki Infiltrator

    Potentially extrordinarily powerful. I can see a nasty combo developing with this guy, any other cheap Sanctuary creature (Silver Bowl Spirit?) and a copy of Truce and Iím sure I donít have to spell it out. While heís restricted to Sanctuary fortunes only (so you canít retrieve Broken Bridge) the idea of being able to spam Battle Trance or Honor Binds Us is enough to give me chills. May take some effort to make him work, but if he does heíll be an engine. B+

    Blessed Lake Spirit

    I like my sexy water spirits like Unmei Kami and Mizu Kami and this classy lady looks like she could have some very nice uses. Able to soak up an entire Armageddon without flinching, she may prove very strong in the meta as a counter to board wipe. While sheís regrettably easy to remove due to being a 4 HP melee, sheís also dirt-cheap at 2R and you can possibly combo her with either Kabuki Dojo or the aforementioned Fountain of Rejuvenation to extend her usable life. Possibly one of the most powerful tools Sanctuary got in this set. A-

    Kabuki Propagandist

    This guy is sick. He can really slow your opponent down, like a one-sided Week of Austerity which doesnít give your opponent the option of simply sucking up the damage. Plus you can stack Ďem. Decks without adequate direct removal will really suffer against this guy. A

    Bloodscar Ritualist

    Ah, the first of Strongholdís increasingly goofily-named ĎBlood<noun>í creatures. This one is pretty good actually and I think Kelthor and Matewa are going to like it- slightly under the stat curve, but it lets your Enrage/Bloodthirst creatures use their accumulated power without losing all of it (or even increasing it if you use Matewaís ability. Plus you can stack it. Main drawback apart from the mediocre stats is that it lacks either ability itself and is a melee, so it takes up a frontline slot. B

    Bloodscar Goblin

    NO idea what this piece of dreck is for. Unlike the Hellfire Maniac this guy is squishy as a pavlova and as well as lacking the recoil damage effect, doesnít even have a point of retaliation. I guess he can be used to lock a creature down for a turn to prevent it from moving, but this is a really poor use of a card and heís well under the resource curve. Stronghold just donít have the tools to try and capitalise on gimmicks like this. D+

    Bloodclaw Shaman

    This thing is made for snowballing; if you can get it up to 3 Bloodthirst counters (not actually that difficult) it gets Bloodthirst 2, which can really do some work. While the starting power of 1 is a bit bothersome, the rest of the stats (3 retaliation and a formidable 6 HP) are good for 3R. A good alternative to Dreamwalker. B+

    Bloodsnake Shaman

    Pretty potent 4 drop. With Bloodthirstís ability feed itself, this guy helps even more by putting out free damage whenever he gets a counter. While HP is a bit on the low side, heíll do good damage if used right. B+

    Bloodtiger Warrior

    Badly overcosted for his power. If heís even getting CLOSE to 3 Enrage counters your opponent will simply not double stack the lane against him, making his ability pretty pointless. And you need more than a 3/2/7 with Bloodthirst 1 to be worth 5R. C-

    Bloodhydra Shaman

    Ah, sexy female orcs. While sheís badly overpriced and under-statted, Attack Anywhere is a very powerful ability when youíre trying to chain Bloodthirst procs together. A big improvement on the Bloodtiger Warrior at least, but the cost really is a pain and may edge her out of viability. C

    Bloodshark Warrior

    Eh. Barely passable body (2/1/5 melee for 3), his ability is pretty meh because itís pretty hard to actually get 3 Bloodthirst counters to stay on him- it should ideally be only 2 at most. Thereís a lot of competition on the Stronghold front line and this guy just doesnít really offer enough. C

    Bloodmask Shaman

    Interesting ability, but as always itís pretty hard to actually get 3 Enrage counters to stick onto your guys unless you donít feel like attacking (which kind of invalidates the point). Useless for either Kelthor or Matewa as he prevents them from using their abilities on your creatures. Stats-wise heís badly under the curve so heís pretty conditional and honestly not up to much. C-

    Fiery Sunrise

    Run 4 copies in stack-themed decks. Donít put any copies in any other decks. Simple. B-

    A Tear in the Veil

    Not really sure this is necessary, but it wouldnít hurt to put a copy or two in a spell-heavy deck just as insurance against Magic Resist or Ward creatures. Itís a pure counter-card, like Rise of the Nethermancer and Month of the Spider Queen and its use will be dependant on the meta. B

    Solder

    ANOTHER construct-focused card for Academy. Resource cost is appreciably low, but 3 Destiny is a touch on the high side. Good for recovering your heavy hitters like Sentinel of the Ages or Rushing Titan when they get Soulreavered (as they undoubtably will) but the amount of tempo youíre losing trying to cling to these creatures will hurt you. Seriously, I just donít think the Construct-focused deck is going to work. C

    Titan Workforce

    OK, now this is just going over the top. Maybe this will be enough to make the Construct deck viable, but if Iím being perfectly honest, I hope not. Itís horribly undercosted (shouldnít be less than 5R, 4D) and combined with how there are almost NO cards capable of efficiently (and permanently) removing ongoing fortunes it may single-handedly bump construct decks from useless to potentially overpowered. This isnít a good thing; ďlynchpinĒ cards are bad for the health of the game, especially when theyíre unique. I donít like this card, no sir, but I have to admit that IF you can make a viable construct deck, this card will make it win. Unless your opponent happens to be able to get rid of it, in which case you lose. B+

    Reserves

    Overpriced. If you donít have at least 3 stacks going at once this isn't worth playing. As usual with these stack-themed cards, its value is almost completely dependant on whether pure stack decks turn out to be viable, because you wonít be playing this in a deck with only a splash of stack cards. Worst of all, Undead Reinforcements (see below) makes this card look like a bad joke. D+

    Hall of Memories.

    Ouch. Just ouch. As soon as you hit the fairly easy 4/0/2 requirements (turn 3 if youíre Cassandra or Siegfreid) you can drop any angel ranging from Benevolent Angel all the way up to a Celestial for FREE, the only cost being one of your (expendable) weenie humans. Thatís powerful. I like this card, it has a strong theme and is useful and reasonably priced while not being deck-defining like some of the other unique fortunes from this set. A

    Empowered Spell

    Ugh, just what we needed; another card to be solely abused by creatures stall OTK lamers. Why do the devs keep putting this crap out? Are they trying to ENCOURAGE these boring, non-interactive, uncreative, mindless decks? Seriously, this card is worthless for anything other than creatureless Dhamiria stall; its requirements are too high to be played in a normal deck and the fact that it buffs your opponentís spells as well means it can backfire on you unless you donít care about enemy removal because you donít play any creatures. Since in my opinon creatureless OTK decks are the slime that ruins this game, this is easily my least favourite card in the set. Stop printing this crap, Ubisoft; or at least give us an efficient way to remove ongoing fortunes which is freely accessible to decks OTHER than Haven and OTK itself! F

    Soulfueled Pyre

    This is much more fun- calculated carnage available for a moderate price. Being able to burn a Maniac to take out a big enemy creature is a good deal already; being able to do it MULTIPLE times is awesome. While there might be a shortage of Maniac creatures to actually go with it, being able to take out even 2 or 3 creatures can make this card worth your while. Plus best art in the set! DAT A$$!!! A

    Reanimation

    Just plain underpowered, I think. 2 skeletons tokens for 2 with 2/0/2 requirements is pretty basic and probably not worth it. It can be good to play on the 2nd turn to set up a Lich Tactician on the 3rd, but I think Iíd sooner play a normal creature (e.g Neophyte Lich) instead. Still, assuming it plays like I would assume it does, it does at least let you chump block 2 lanes at once with a single card. C-

    Dance of the Dead

    Considerably better value. A stack of five skeletons tokens for the cost of 3 and a creature (as if Necropolis have trouble coming up with expendable weenies) is considerably more potent and the fact that it has the same requirements as Reanimation makes it perfectly playable. Pretty good bang for your buck. B

    Undead Reinforcements

    Now this card is symbolic of everything wrong with DoCís card design and balance team: itís practically speaking exactly the same as the Haven fortune Reserves only massively superior in every way, costing 1/3 of the resources and having NO requirements to play. Oh whatís that you say, Undead Reinforcements only buffs Skeleton stacks while Reserves buffs ALL friendly stacks? Yeah, Iím just going to give you 2 seconds to work out how meaningless that it. HINT: Each faction can only use their own stacks and ALL Necro stacks are skeletons! If youíre playing skeleton horde, this card is a no-brainer- include 4 copies immediately. B+

    Bone to Bone

    Oof. I think this has to be the best answer to a boardwipe spell in the game. Feel free to flood the board with creatures because when your opponent drops an Armageddon, wellÖ theyíd better have another one or youíre getting an instant army. Of course, they just might have another one and then youíre back at square one, but this is still a better card than Altar of Eternal Servitude. 4R is a bit on the pricey side so I wouldnít play it unless I was gaining at LEAST 3 lots of stacks from it, but the low requirements (again 2/0/2, just like Reanimation and Dance of the Dead) make it surprisingly easy to play. B+

    Army of the Dead

    Now this thing is just plain overpowered. Cheap and fairly easy to meet the requirements (4R, 2Mi, 3D), it gives you 2 free skeletons every turn until destroyed. What really makes it OP as opposed to simply ďvery strongĒ is the fact that there are still almost NO truly efficient ways of removing ongoing fortunes for any faction except Haven (Tree of Truth), unlike ongoing spells like the uniques from Herald of the Void. You are almost ALWAYS going to have an endless stream of skeletons to wear your opponent down or chump block their creatures. A+

    Spoils of War

    Whoa, didnít see this coming! A card for mercenary-themed decks? Wow, might this even make Rogue Mercenary, Sellsword Thug and Mercenary Archer playableÖ? Short answer: no. The fact that the stupid card costs 3 (and has a 3D requirement) means you wonít be able to get it out and start snowballing off it fast enough and even if you do, the creatures it affects are still basically garbage. Cute idea, but a total waste of a card, as are the new creatures it affects. D

    Writ of Fate

    Well, itís certainly a cheap way of dealing with big unique threats like Shi-no-Shi, Anael, Chosen of the Light and Raya (either version). Sending them back into the deck is a gamble- maybe your opponent wonít draw them again until the end of the game, maybe theyíll redraw them next turn, either way they still have to replay them. Unfortunately, this makes it a poor option against creatures like Zefiria, Chosen of the Winds and Atropos since they have powerful Come Into Play effects you donít WANT your opponent to get again. Additionally, the card is just too limited in its use, being essentially a dead card if your opponent doesnít actually PLAY any unique creatures. The 3D requirement on such a 1-dimensional card is also a bit of a nuisance. Not really usable. C-

    Golden Horseshoe

    Simple question: how many of you play 3/3/3 decks? Yeah, didníít think so. Mind you, if you do, youíll love this card- 3 cards for 3R with no drawbacks other than the awful requirements is the best value in the game. Unfortunately, I think itís just too limited. C+

    Blackmail

    Another card for the theoretical Sanctuary Spy deck, which basically turns all your spies into Naga Tacticians. Cheap and permanent with low requirements, this can really snowball your game if you can get a few hits off and even give you a bit of an edge in the late game (Sanctuary have some quite high-cost tricks available to them). Still, its value is largely theoretical and youíre going to need a fair bit of Outmaneuver to get any real use from it. Another ďwait and seeĒ card. B

    What Lies Below

    Garbage. NEVER give your opponent a choice if you can avoid it because they will always minimise their losses. The card wouldnít be bad if it was cheaper, but 3R and 3D for a poorly-aimed Town Portal that you donít have to option of using defensively on your own creatures (and canít even open up a gap for you to attack through since it doesnít trigger until your opponentís turn) is worthless. Truce made this thing redundant before it was even conceptualised. D-

    Dark Lotus Pond

    Do you know how long Jesterís Cap spent on Inquest magazineís list of the top 10 Magic cards? Literally years. This thing is like Jesterís Cap only better. Banish any 4 cards from your opponentís deck, INCLUDING the ones theyíre currently holding and force your opponent to redraw their hand? How much would you pay? Only 4R and 3D. Iím just going to come right out and say it: best card in the set. A+

    Bloodscar Totem

    Unlike most of the other unique fortunes in the set, this time Iím not that impressed. OK, in theory this can give you a DEVASTATING attack that can 1-turn finish your opponent by sacrificing a single heavily-loaded Bloodthirst creature to buff up several others- but that means losing a heavily-buffed creature without actually USING its own tokens so youíre required to have multiple other Bloodthirst creatures in position to capitalise. This is way too conditional and really makes this a ďwin moreĒ card, not really much use when youíre behind. Itís not entirely BAD since on the occasions when it does work it could be a game-winner, but itís not nearly as strong as the other unique fortunes and wouldnít even necessarily be a must-have for a Bloodthirst deck. B-

    Nahla

    After Heart of Nightmares came out with Crimson Apprentice I tried several times to find the right Academy hero to build a Beastmen deck around, with mixed success. I neednít have bothered. The devs werenít at all subtle about Nahla, who basically screams ďUSE ME IN A BEASTMEN DECKĒ with that narrow but potentially LUDICROUSLY powerful ability- like a combination of Aliaís ability and Week of the Elder Races for only 3R. Her spell schools are the classic Garant setup, providing excellent creature control and utility from Fire and Primal (oddly unique to Academy) and her stats are the standard 1/1/1. Might make Beastmen decks viable, but promises to be a lot of fun either way. Also, itís nice to see another belly dancer heroine join Asalah on the stage. B+

    Slava

    A new style of hero for the game now that the devs have basically abandoned the idea of releasing heroes in matching sets (Seekers, Champions, Lords, Invokers, Callers etc). And to be completely blunt, I donít like it. These new heroes gain a 3rd spell school without the drawback of starting with 0 might like the Invokers do, in exchange for having no ability and only 1/1/1 stats. Slava has the unique combination of Light, Fire and Air magic, so whether heís usable or not rests solely on how well you can combo those 3 schools with Havenís cards. Personally, I donít see the appeal. Iíd rather just play Cassandra or Alia. C

    Jezebeth

    Now this is MUCH more interesting than Slava. No, not because sheís another scantily-clab succubus in a spike-topped bikini, but because unlike Slava and Mother Namtaru, Ashaís Nightmare (see below) she actually brings something completely new to Inferno- Water magic access. Previously Water was one of their 2 forbidden schools together with Light, but now you can access all of its tricks and buffs for your demons. She also has the potent combination of Dark and Fire, giving her a lot of killing power, if not a huge amount of utility. While sheís still a pretty boring character from a gameplay perspective, she opens up new options for deckbuilding which make her appealing. B+

    Mother Namtaru, Ashaís Nightmare

    Again, not impressed. In fact, even more unimpressed than usual. Mother Namtaru isnít some nobody like Slava, sheís supposed to be the avatar of a god of death, a living symbol of power to the Necromancers of Necropolis and her ďevolvedĒ form is just a vanilla hero with 1 different spell school than her Invoker form? She doesnít even bring anything new to Necropolis since several other heroes have acess to her schools in different combinations (and lacking Dark isn't a good thing). A wasted opportunity. D+

    Mukao

    Now THIS is rather more interesting. A pretty basic hero with an interesting twist, Mukao is the 2nd Sanctuary hero to have Dark access (after Noboru) but pairs it with the more suitable Water rather than the awkward Light. His ability is unique in that itís basically an enhanced version of the normal Ď1: draw a cardí ability that every hero has- for 1 additional resource he can look at your hand as well, basically giving him infinite Pillars of Foresight, excellent for setting up Dark Lotus Pond. Mukao isnít mind-blowing, but he looks like being an excellent new option for Sanctuary players who found Noboru a bit too clunky. B+

    Toghrul

    Well, just like Nahla, they werenít being very subtle with Toghrul. This is ďthe Bloodthirst deck guyĒ. The combination of Earth and Fire magic is unique on a Stronghold hero (other than Shaar), but itís his ability to generate Enrage tokens for free (well, for 3R actually, but you know what I mean) that gives him his punch. If all your creatures are Bloodthirsters, thatís an effective +1/+1 per turn, which remains if you donít attack with them afterwards and with Bloodthirstís tendancy to feed itself that can really hook a battery up to a Bloodthirst deck. With his damage spells to back him up, I can really see this guy doing some work. B+

    Grounding Squall

    Last and quite possibly least, this Air spell got mysteriously placed out of order. Simple, limited, but efficient within its niche, its value will be meta-determined, but it can be an easy way to temporarily remove annoying fliers ranging from Lingering Ghost up to Shi-no-Shi. I have a soft spot for 1-drop spells than can be easily splashed so Iíd like to give this the benefit of the doubt, but of course its value is somewhat too conditional (itís verging on useless against Sanctuary, for example). C+
    Share this post

  2. #2
    npavcec's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Croatia
    Posts
    960
    Nice review. I agree with 99%. Will see how the actual play shows..
    Share this post

  3. #3
    Originally Posted by npavcec Go to original post
    Nice review. I agree with 99%. Will see how the actual play shows..
    Considering the set is exactly 100 cards, does that mean you disagree with me on precisely 1 card? Which one?
    Share this post

  4. #4
    Thank you for this great review.

    But I have to point out that creature relocation was in prime school since the first base set (teleport)
    Share this post

  5. #5
    I don't like early reviews, hardly any cards have even seen play and the meta has yet to even respond to the new cards. While some are obviously bad/good, pointing them out isn't particularly helpful.

    Until 1 - 2 week has passed, I am withholding judgement and therefore disagree with 100% of your review on principle.

    PS: inferno has no OTK capability atm, why are you complaining about OTK with Empowered Spell when its an Inferno fortune? It's a double-edged sword and not that great sure, but OTK is pretty irrelevant. You gave it an F because you don't like OTK? Do you give Fs to cards you simply don't like? Why do you title this a review, then back pedal and say this is a first impressions?
    Share this post

  6. #6
    Originally Posted by bwwuuuhhhh Go to original post
    I don't like early reviews, hardly any cards have even seen play and the meta has yet to even respond to the new cards. While some are obviously bad/good, pointing them out isn't particularly helpful.

    Until 1 - 2 week has passed, I am withholding judgement and therefore disagree with 100% of your review on principle.

    PS: inferno has no OTK capability atm, why are you complaining about OTK with Empowered Spell when its an Inferno fortune? It's a double-edged sword and not that great sure, but OTK is pretty irrelevant. You gave it an F because you don't like OTK? Do you give Fs to cards you simply don't like? Why do you title this a review, then back pedal and say this is a first impressions?
    Eh, I guess I misspoke. It's not OTK as such that bothers me, it's the friggin' stall decks; I just tend to call them 'OTK' as force of habit. And man do I HATE Dhamiria stall decks! You've never met one? Lucky you.
    Share this post

  7. #7
    Nice review, I enjoyed reading it (the line about Sellsword Thug made laugh so hard) and agree about many of the points you made.
    I don't see what's so great about Relocation and think that the new Hikyu (while expensive) can be very strong.

    My thoughts on some of the new cards:

    Osmotic Breeder ( a melee-shooter with 3 dmg and 6hp and decent ability) can be a very decent 4 drop for Inferno in standard (even outside breeder decks) which currently only has Lashing Lilim and Maniac Taskmaster which are not amazing (and Hellfire Slave which almost isn't played and Void Arbiter which has very limited use).

    What are the possibilities of using Windborn Speed in a Sanctury magic deck with lots of Hypnotize creatures ?

    Which Academy hero is best suited for Construct decks ? It seem like it can be Masfar but I think that Hakeem with Co9 for their high requirements and IS for board clearing.

    Can Contagious Poison make Plague Bearers playable (combo'd with Putrid Dragon's Breath) ?

    Which is better: Forked Fireball or Fire Blast ?
    Share this post

  8. #8
    Skimmed through it, kind of a Spikeish analysis. Some cards are there for flavour and I like 'em. D:

    'OP' cards get boring after a while.
    Share this post

  9. #9
    Awesome review, you have some serious writing skills! Very fun and informative read, thanks.
    Share this post

  10. #10
    Nice to read and i agree with most parts. But why is everyone rating "Creeping Darkness" that high with Arianna? The GB Meta has not evolved yet but i already had and still have trouble against rushy decks. Against such opponents this card is way to slow do help you getting board control or to kill anything. And the other problem would be: What to cut from the deck? My current Vamprianna is at 62 cards, far away from being optimized, and still not stronger (or maybe much weaker) than her old plain control version. Including that card would make the deck even worse. "Maybe" in Open with some kind of stall strategy it could bring something to the table, but not in Standard with 80% of top-tier decks being rush.

    The counterpart: Cheap death. VERY strong if utilized right with crippling and the new vampire building. And even without it.... killing any Skirmisher right away after they entered the battlefield for the same cost makes me happy.
    Share this post

Page 1 of 4 123 ... Last ►►