Monday, September 4, 2017

Ancient Nights Full Set Review - Wind

As I come into the penultimate article in this series, with only one more to go, I am suddenly hit with the realization that spoiler season is really starting to wind down....


Diving right into it after a gut-wrenching joke, there isn't too many new things to talk about for wind. We got two spoiler articles for the color since this set supports both Gill and the new Wind Ruler, so we saw a lot more of green before the reveal than we did for other attributes. The largest chunk of these will be spells which, given the way Gill works, are what we want to see anyway. First up is Arrow Trap which follows in the same vein as Flying Drill in that its an anti-flying card. It has the disadvantage of only being able to hit attacking resonators, but deals double damage to fliers. 1200 is the real magic number, since virtually every meta relevant card with flying is 1200 or lower. The issue is that Gale Force has the same cost but flat-out destroys fliers and doesn't have to wait for them to attack to do it, making it superior in just about every way for removing fliers. What Arrow Trap has going for it is the ability to hit anything for 600, giving green some in-color removal against aggressive decks.

Faerur's Spell is, while not the most creative name, is actually my favorite card design so far. Cancel spells in Alice Cluster were really too powerful: Wall of Wind was an extremely cheap chant that, on top of being able to hit any card, punished the opponent for trying to play on-curve. Seal of Wind and Light cancelled things (again, anything) with no downside. Those two alone were too oppressive and flexible, and their existence alone kind of made Ancient Magic an obsolete mechanic on-release. We saw Millennia Bond as a more recent cancel spell that is only able to stop Chants, and Faerur's Spell is another step down that path. We're seeing that FoW has realized flexible cancels are pretty cancerous. Faerur has the benefit of still being able to cancel resonators, provided they have quickcast, but is unable to stop the large chant-speed spells like all of the Ancient Magic bombs, Final Battle, or anything that serves as a massive will dump. This kind of card design is what I like to see.

Speaking of expensive spells, we have Great Tornado. It's a total 7-cost, but you can rest a resonator to cheapen it by 1. This obviously sounds awful, since it doesn't have quickcast and forces you to give up attackers/blockers to use, but in an Elf deck you'll have more than enough tokens to use as fodder for this spell. At its cheapest its a 1-cost that will rest 6 of your tokens, but in exchange you will kill 2 non-magic stones. Keep in mind that this can hit J-Rulers. This is a great way to turn your field of weak tokens into some real advantage. As a side note, I like the "entity" card text as it solves a lot of issues we saw in Alice Cluster. We've gotten more Addition hate in recent sets, but having to side into addition-specific kill cards used to really suck, especially given how little of it there was. One of the most broken things about regalia was the lack of counterplay they had. This also future-proofs the cards against any other odd ball card type they may introduce in the future.


In terms of support for Gill, here are the big things we haven't already seen. Elemental Blast is a Spirit Magic, and since its a 1-cost you can essentially play it for free. It deals 400 damage to a resonator, and if you've already played another card it will deal 700 instead. Like Arrow Trap, this provides green some in-color removal. Lacking quickcast really hurts it, although being able to spring something like this on your opponent with all your stones tapped could potentially be a little too out there.

Wind Blade is another support card for Gill, but its an Elemental rather than a Spirit Magic, so you won't be playing it for cheaper. This is another in-color removal tool for green that scales up with the number of stones you have, a very in-theme card for green. My favorite thing about this is that it's an elemental with quickcast, so you can start building up your graveyard to fuel your spells later without having to force it with cards like Travelling Trader.

Wind Ferryman is the last noteworthy card Gill got. It's another first turn play for the deck that acts like a Percival, digging for Spirit Magic or Elemental and fueling the rest of your game.


As a whole, the Gill deck is looking pretty solid. It didn't get a heavy hitter or a Spirit Magic bomb in this set, but what it did get was a decent basis. Leaf Knight is a strong 2-drop that gives you another use for Elementals and can protect itself. Absolute Awareness allows you to turn the will from Gill's active skill into a whole magic stone. Spiritual Guidance isn't all that impressive, even with Gill allowing you to make it a 2-cost, since card drawing doesn't advance your gamestate, nor does life gain. It's still some good value for what you pay for it, and Gill's strongest suit is his card advantage engine. Gill himself can serve as a beater/finisher while his deck lacks one, and it has a solid engine between all the Elementals and the different Spirit Magics it has access to.


As for the Faerur deck, it definitely gives you more of a use for your Elves. He doesn't create tokens himself like Fiethsing does, but his ability to turn them into mana can accelerate your game plan incredibly fast, especially with cards like Spirit Caller Elf and Oberon, Lord of Elves, coupled with the mana dorks Elf has access to. With the ramping and swarming power that Elves has access to, I don't doubt that you'll be able to drop Faerur's Command a lot faster than your opponent would suspect. I've never been the biggest fan of elves, so I don't know what their exact card pool looks like nor the combos and potential they have, but Faerur looks like he's giving them a clear end game and a a path to get there. I feel that FoW finally hit the nail on the head this time, at least in some form or fashion.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ancient Nights Full Set Review - Fire

I'm back home from my brief vacation stint, and now I'm ready to dive back into this set. Today I'll take a look at the Fire cards, which were what I was waiting most anxiously for. Up front: I'm pretty biased here, as I was excited for getting a Dinosaur race and couldn't wait to see all the dinosaurs we'd get in the set. We got little to none.


So you may be wondering, why didn't we get any Dinosaur cards? Apparently because FoW wanted to support Beasts. Interestingly enough, the "Beast" race is full of dinosaurs and lizardmen. I don't know what to make of this anymore. This stuff is about a cluster too late, since most of the Beasts were in Alice Cluster, although it makes for a good Wanderer deck. Red is also trying to support four different races with this set; Dragon, Dragonoid, Dinosaur, and Beast. They're stretching themselves way too thin, but hopefully they'll just stick to these four and flesh them out over the course of the cluster.

The cards themselves aren't bad. Apprentice Beast Tamer is a little awkward to use, since it's a 3-drop that gives another card swiftness, so you'd be investing a ton of will into getting this guy and another card out. At the very least, he's a 4/4 buff to another card for a turn. For three will, though, that's really not that great.

Eruptiphant is more like it. He passively gives all your Beasts swiftness, including himself, which gives you a lot more flexibility, and will pump himself 1/1 every time another card attacks. That doesn't look like much, but it can help him skirt over some other on-curve resonators. He's a little weak for being a 3-drop, but he certainly has a place in a Beast-themed deck. As does Master of Faithful Beasts. Another 3-drop, but he'll let you search your deck for any Beast. That's a tad late in the game to start developing your hand, and we don't have that many Beasts right now, but he's one of those cards that can only get better.


Here are the two Battle Arts we got in the set, and honestly they're not all that impressive. Vanish in Fire is a more expensive Dragon Breath, but only hits the opponent's cards, and hits things with flying. It has the added benefit of removing from the game anything it kills, but the fact that it's an expensive field wipe kind of kills it. Field wipes are only so useful, since not many decks flood the field with resonators. Most of the strong on-death cards were from Alice Cluster too, so the RFG clause doesn't add too much utility.

Flying Drill actually provides a ton of value. For only one will you can burn a flying card for 1000, and for three strength counters you can do another 1000 to a second flying card. It isn't as good as Gale Force, since it doesn't flat-out destroy the card, but it does provide Red a cheap way to deal a lot of damage at once. Flying seems to be the focus for Reiya Cluster's win condition resonators, and while strong cards like Gwiber won't die to it, you can count on one hand the number of Flying cards in New Frontiers that can survive a hit from this. Griffin is really the only notable card out of that group, so Flying Drill won't have to worry about not being able to kill its target very often, and being able to kill two of your opponent's heavy hitters for such a low cost is insanely good.


These were cards spoiled in the first article for Red, but they're still some of the best things we got from the set, and they've put the Strength Counter deck in a good place. The biggest thing I noticed in playing the raw starter deck was that pretty much all of the spells that needed Strength Counters used them in bulk, so you really only got one card out of a full stack of counters. Food Supply lets you refill your counters without having to make a Ruler recovery play, was well as giving you an option to refill counters after you flip Kirik, which is easily the deck's biggest weakness. High Speed is just an all-around good card: Cheap, remnant, and the swiftness component lets you get aggressive early or cheese a win late. The awakening gives you a way to use a low-number of counters, and it's a respectable amount of player damage for it to have remnant on it.

Dragon Call is your best turn 1 play. The fact that it can pull from three different races means your pool is huge, and it lets you set up whatever play you want to make later. Flute's Water Dragon is a Dragon (obviously), so if that's a deck build you want to look into, Dragon's Call ups the consistency like mad.

Overall, Red is in a nice place. The huge Beast focus on the cards in the set was a bit disappointing since they aren't actually all the great right now, but the starter deck was such a solid base that the couple good cards in the set were really all it needed. Despite the lack of Dinosaurs I'd have to say that I'm happy with Red, especially since it was in such a weak place for such a long time.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ancient Nights Full Set Review - Water

What up, you know who it is, its your boy, back at it again. Make sure to press smash crush that like button! -Obnoxious dubstep intro-

Another day, another article. We're gonna churn one of these bad boys out every. single. day. until I've done the whole set! That's a lie, I'll be gone this weekend so I definitely won't manage that. But forget about that, let's talk about some water cards! I'll be finishing up Pandora's stuff and giving my final thoughts on her, as well as washing my hands of all the Shaela stuff.


Here are the big three for Pandora's stuff that we haven't seen before. Obviously Pandora's Order is still a great card for the deck, but we've already seen it before so by effect it's boring and old new. First up to bat is Alternating Current Crystal (try saying that 3 times fast), and you'll notice it isn't a Golem. You could have made some cool plays with Pandora's Order or even just search for it with Sacred Temple, which I guess FoW thought would be too powerful? Who knows. It has no ATK value but packs a respectable 1000 DEF, so killing it with non-kill spell will be an ordeal. As long as its alive, all of your Golems will be mobilized, making it a good choice for early game when Pandora is still on her Ruler side or late game after she's been killed as a J-Ruler. It can also cheese a Golem in with its second effect, so you can make some fun plays by dropping an Atmos on your opponent's turn, or just accelerating your board by throwing down a big guy for cheap.

Speaking of big guys, we come to Magic Sound Warrior. He's a whopping 12/12, and since he's a Golem you can cheese him in with Sacred Temple and the aforementioned Alternating Current Crystal. His one effect will recover him whenever your opponent plays a chant, which is actually a trippy effect. You'd think it would only make him good for blocking, but it also pseudo-prevents your opponent from dropping removal or battle tricks on you during your turn. If he's already attacked, for the rest of your turn your opponent has to think "Do I want to play this card bad enough that I'd eat another 1200?" and that can definitely trip some people up. Obviously he'll be the first target for those kind of effects, but you can always just make more Golems. Magic Water Warrior is the last heavy hitter Pandora got. He's a pretty simple 9/9 flier, but the flying alone may warrant a few spots in her deck.

Overall, Pandora has a really solid deck. Most of her playmakers are a tad expensive, but her ability to cheese big resonators in is pretty unparalleled, and once she flips your opponent will have a hard time killing off your army. I'm a big fan of the Atmos spam strategy she seems to be pushing, and while the Mobilize mechanic isn't my favorite, there are plenty of ways around it. I don't know how competitive she'll end up being, but she'll certainly pack a wallop in casual matches. Plus, she naturally runs Light/Blue, which translates to Dawn of the Earth, which is just the best card ever, and gives you access to Barrier to keep the Atmos Pain Train going.


Here we have the most "noteworthy" of the previously unspoiled Water cards. Mega Thunderfish is actually really cool; 8/8 on a 3-drop body is standard, and he can spin another resonator when he dies. This makes him a scary blocker, since he can stop one attack and then remove a second. If it's raining, he'll set the opponent back a turn too. This makes using removal on him sub-optimal, which is always a good thing to look for in a card. If the weather is Thunderstorm, he beefs himself up and gets swiftness. We currently have no way to make thunderstorm weather, so I have no idea where FoW is going with this. I've seen some theories that Shaela's sealed ability will make thunderstorm, but I have very mixed feelings about that. Rain is already a mediocre mechanic, she doesn't need to compete with herself for two mechanics. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Spinning Aquasol is a graveyard version of Memory of Disappearance, and for as cheap as it is, that could lead to some neat gimmicky decks. The first thing that comes to mind is Amaterasu's Foresight, which is annoying enough with only 4 copies. It also synergizes well with just about any removal or disruption spell. Song of Sympathy is a nice callback to water's early Alice Cluster days of stealing resonators, although requiring two Mermaids and four water will is a very hefty price. But we're one step closer to a Wanderer deck where every card is dedicated to stealing your opponent's stuff, and I'm 100% ok with that.


Here are what I think may be the best cards water got this set. Seabed Investigation is like a cheaper Ancient Knowledge that can net you just as many cards if you control a Mermaid, although you're giving up quickcast in exchange for halving the cost. Shaela's Foresight is one of those choose X spells, but pretty much all of the options are good, and it gives you a choice of any 3 of them. Keez's Call is an amazing disruption card: Shuts down pretty much any on-enter effect, replaces itself, and only costs one will to play. You really can't ask for more.

One very noteworthy card is Aquamarine, Panda Diplomat. I love cards like these that encourage the blending of weird deck combinations. I'm hoping someone will come up with a neat Mermaid/Gem hybrid deck and make good use of this. Mermaid tribal seems to be a pretty self-contained deck anyway, so it has splashing potential.

As a whole, though, I'm severely disappointed in the rain mechanic. Most, if not all, of the cards only get minor stat boosts while its raining or get a basic keyword, but they're almost all costed to where they're under-performing cards if it isn't raining. Very few, if any, have real effects or play making potential. Shaela herself does virtually nothing except make your deck average vanilla beats instead of sub-par vanilla beats. None of the rain effects are really worth mentioning, and even the set gave us mostly Mermaid tribal, which doesn't have any noteworthy effects to speak of. The card design here seems to be "Take normal cards, make them bad, then require rain to make them normal again" as opposed to the "Take normal cards, require rain to make them good" that it should have been. Water has a good selection of bouncing/return-to-deck effects and a couple of beaters they can use, so it by no means has performance issues, but I'm sure you'd be hard pressed to find a more boring and droll deck to play. That's water's real crime this cluster: There isn't anything exciting about it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ancient Nights Full Set Review - Light

Howdy y'all, now that we've gotten the full set list for Ancient Nights, its time to dig in and start reviewing. I'll be taking this color-by-color since we got some juicy stuff, and I'll be taking a look at the Light stuff to kick us off.

A Rock-Hard Strategy


First up is the Pandora support. I'll only touch on a bit of her here, since half of her deck falls under Water, and she isn't nearly waifu enough to make me restructure this article plan to accommodate her. She looked like an interesting Ruler during her initial spoiler article as a more modern take on Machina's Machines, focused more on tempo and keeping her resources going rather than an OTK. It was obvious from the get-go that her limiting factor would be her Golems, and the few we initially saw weren't terrible, but weren't necessarily impressive either. The resonators themselves didn't get much better in the full set, but her range of support certainly did.

Conjure Constructs spawns three Golems, giving you 1-card access to satisfying her Judgment requirements. As the spell costs a total of 3, you're essentially getting three 1-cost resonators, and their stats are certainly in line with that. There's no sacrificing performance for convenience here, which is always nice to see in a deck like this that has such an over-reliance on field presence. Sacred Temple of Light operates under the same principles, being a non-resonator that can convert itself into field presence for Pandora. It's a bit more expensive, being a total 4 cost, and only fetches you one resonator. Normally this is pretty bad value, but it's a very powerful tutoring effect on turn 4, and your opponent won't be able to stop the resonator from hitting the field with basic cancel cards. Obviously your target will be Gear Atmos, being the only Golem above a 4-cost (aside from those two water guys I can't talk about yet, because this is a Light article) that is worth grabbing. If your opponent doesn't have an answer set up, this play could spell doom for them right there. 

For the same price as Conjure Constructs, Pandora also has access to Summon Magic Warriors to help fill her field up. There are some obvious pros and cons here: You'll be getting one less card than you would with Conjure, you're limited to what you happen to see in the top 7, etc. But on the flip side, you're getting real units instead of tokens, and real cards (potentially) have effects. You can also grab one 5-cost card, and cheesing one of those bad boys in on turn three can definitely swing the game in your favor.


Outside of the direct support, Pandora got some generic spells you can have fun with. Light of Transmigration, on top of being the most kawaii card in the game, works like Dream of Juliet, or Lumia Simulator 2017 for you newer players. It doesn't have quickcast, so you'll be hard pressed to make real plays with it, but it can certainly enable some shenanigans in the right decks. The only real Golem target is Atmos, to spam creature destruction, but I feel that it's real potential can be found elsewhere. There's also Reduction, a sort-of Charlotte's Bear Magic for Light. It costs 1 more, doesn't wipe abilities, and doesn't have remnant. Clearly FoW learned that Bear Magic was way too easy resonator interruption, but as long as that's in rotation I don't see Reduction getting too much use.



This is what everyone really came here for, isn't it? To see what toys GloriousPandaMasterRace ended up with? Well, sadly, we've already seen the best of it. Gem Beast is basically a vanilla 2-drop that gives you a gem on-death, which loses out to basically any other means of making a Gem in terms of value. Jewel Bullet  might have been neat if it were quickcast, but using a Gem just to deal 800 damage is pretty mediocre. Profitable Transactions, though, is pretty aptly named. It lets you convert gems into actual advantage, lets you use all of its effects if you want to, and is as cheap to play as it possibly can be. I kind of question how good this card actually is, given it takes resources to generate gems and this thing can burn through them pretty quickly. If we see ways to destroy Gems get popular, this card definitely provides a way to squeeze value out of them if the opponent tries to get rid of them. I guess only time will tell on that front.


Moving on to the new resonators, we see Jeweler of Sasasu Palace, and I just don't see why you'd ever use her. Maybe, like Profitable Transactions, if the opponent has plenty of ways to destroy your gems she would be good, letting you swap the targeted one for a fresh one. But with those stats and for her cost? She doesn't even generate a gem, just change the color of one. There are plenty of cards that let you make a new one for cheaper. And going deeper down this rabbit hole takes us to Panda Acrobat. If I saw a 5-cost resonator whose only effect was "On enter, rest target resonator" I would probably laugh and keep looking for good cards. Panda Acrobat isn't that card, though. He actually uses up a Gem in order to trigger that effect. I can't even say that he'd be strong in draft, since he doesn't have any way to capitalize on the rested resonator.

Wing Rider Panda is a solid idea, but that's really it. If you gave me a vanilla 6/12 four-drop that had flying, I'd probably throw it in the pile with Panda Acrobat. But this guy requires you to have a blue Gem to get flying? Too much work. Even his variant form isn't much better, although it sports more ATK, which is what you want out of a flier. It suffers the same problem as most of the Light and Water start decks: It's a vanilla card gated behind the latest mechanic.


That certainly isn't to say the Panda deck is bad. The last spoiler article we saw gave us some real goodies for the deck: Discovery is an amazing, cheap way to generate Gems and advantage. Gem Blade Emerald may be vanilla, but she gives you a big tempo swing by basically playing herself for free. Shin-Shin and Rei-Rei are going to be your win condition, building up a stockpile of light Gems to flood the board with multiple copies of these guys. Have you ever seen a field of four 1000/1000 beaters on turn five? You probably don't want to. The Gem mechanic has a lot of potential, and as long as we get more cards like these three and less like the former resonators, I have no doubts that it'll be a powerful mechanic.

Overall, Pandas are in a good place. They don't have a ton of super viable options right now, but they do have a solid game plan and a way to turn that into victory, which is an excellent start. Since we're supposed to see support for them for the rest of the cluster, I can only hope we get more variants that focus on different attributes of Gems. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Reiya Cluster Starter Decks - My Thoughts

Howdy ya'll, long time no speak. I've been off the grid for a while, but now that we've seen all the starters for the new cluster, I figured I'd crawl out from the wood works to give my prestigious 2-cents on the matter. In this article, I'll aim to look at each deck in the context of the overall game as well as how they'll perform pitted against each other in a vacuum.

Light - Panda Power

Taegrus Pearlshine, Lord of the Mountain, -insert Game of Thrones joke/reference here-, Ruler for the light starter deck. FoW Inc has made it clear that each deck gets its own unique theme/mechanic, and the focus of the light deck is gems. Shiny, magical, valuable gems. I'm not 100% sure how they interact with other cards in the game, and how/if they can be destroyed, but to my understanding they're some sort of in-game entity that just... exist. Kind of like an energize token. Taegrus obviously doesn't have enough of them, as you can tell by his art, so the goal of his deck is to mine more. Pretty much all of his slaves resonators work to that goal by creating gems of different attributes. Taegrus doesn't have the best stats, being the weakest of all the starter deck Rulers, and can consume your gems for a stat buff or to gain flying. Honestly this is a Ruler that will probably need to wait for his sealed ability, since he isn't too magnificent on his own. Apparently he spent too much time working on his outfit and not enough on his effects.

Most of the cards in his deck are pretty basic. The humans create gems and the Panda Pals use those to get minor effects. The cards featured in the deck are your basic vanilla monsters that gain keywords (Precision, Flying, and Swiftness) depending on what attributes of gems you have. They're really nothing too special, but the big beater of the deck, Diamond, can give Barrier to cards and gives your field a blanket buff each time you get a gem. You might have some trouble getting him to stick, but once he's on the field, you can keep him alive with his Barrier effect, and a couple gem-generating effects can let him get out of hand fast. The deck has a spell that can RFG a resonator for the cost of two gems, but it only works at chant speed so it doesn't have too much utility. The true power of the deck lies in the Jewel Sword and Jewel Shield cards, which will give your monster a slight buff, create a gem, then give them a larger buff based on the attributes of your gems. These are a great way to reach for a little more damage to close out the game, as well as generate more gems.

Among the starter decks, this one feels a little lacking. Its only form of removal is chant-speed and consumes two gems, so you can't react to your opponents big beaters very well. Diamond, the big resonator of the deck, doesn't have flying so it'll be easier to block. The deck seems to want to play a wide game, with a handful of resonators that Diamond can buff, and it can make a surprisingly long reach for game with the Jewel Sword spell. Taegrus himself is the weakest stat-wise of all the Rulers, and consumes gems to gain effects/stats that some of the others have passively.

Looking at the bigger picture, I really like the gem mechanic. It leaves room for FoW to print cards that require different attributes to work. We could see something that gains increasing effects based on the number of attributes among your gems, encouraging a deck that can generate all colors of gems. We could see some cards that want X number of a certain attribute, leading to decks that tunnel vision one color of gem. Or maybe a card that needs a certain number of gems in general, so a gem turbo build could emerge. There's a ton of potential here that I'm excited to see.

Fire - Dinosaurs Dragons Dragonoids

I'm gonna be honest, I have a huge bias for this deck. Dinosaurs are hands-down my most favorite theme in any card game I've played, and I was overjoyed when I heard FoW was introducing them this cluster. I'm a little sad they're nothing more than a side-race so far, but I have hope. The red deck focuses on "Strength counters", which it uses like Mana counters to help cast its spells and use resonator abilities. The Ruler, Kirik Rerik, starts with ten of them and can replenish the stash by tapping or flipping. 
The deck has a lot of synergy with itself. One card straight-up gives you a few counters, while there are two resonators that recover your resonator so you don't have to give up calling a stone in order to refuel your counters. There are a couple of basic starter deck cards (the pig and the dinosaur) that do generic beatdown/minor burn effects which likely won't see any real play, but there are worse things to fill space with. Good stand-alone, beatdown cards are nice in a starter deck-only format. The Ruler has a support card in the form of Kirk's Partner, a 3-drop resonator with flying that also gives your J-Ruler flying and lets you recycle one of the spells. It has mediocre stats for a 3-drop, but the +1 and giving flying to your J-Ruler almost make it worth it. The big beater resonator is a 1500/1500 monster that can't do anything unless you feed two strength counters to it, but those are easy enough to replenish, and it hits hard. The chants are the real stars of this deck, all being very low in cost but requiring a huge investment of your strength counters. There's a quickcast stat booster (1000/1000 ain't no joke), a quickcast burn removal, and a blanket burn that only works at chant speed.

In a SD-only format, this deck looks like it can steam roll. The chants are cheap enough that you can use them early, and provide a form of removal on the opponent's turn that allows you to answer anything problematic. It has spot removal and mass-removal, as well as a massive steroid to reach for game. The amount of flying the deck has access to means other starters will be hard-pressed to deal with your threats.

Looking at the cluster going forward, a good chunk of this deck looks good. The Battle Arts chants are strong, Kirik himself is impactful, and the Strength Counter mechanic looks to allow red to be aggressive early by giving you an alternative cost mechanic to play strong cards and effects.

Water - Make it Rain

Obvious joke out of the way, the water deck focuses on the new weather mechanic, creating a "rain" state that your cards benefit off of. Honestly, the deck looks like its the weakest of the five from a mechanics point of view. Most of the cards in it get a minor stat boost while its raining, and overall the deck feels full of cards with very decent effects that are locked behind an artificial pacing mechanic. The Ruler only makes it rain during your turn, and can search out a card called "Weather Change: Rain" that can turn the weather into rain during the opponent's turn, allowing your weak cards to become normal cards and "surprise" the opponent. Unfortunately, this card becomes obsolete if/when you flip, since Shaela's J-Ruler side makes it rain all the time. At the cost of invalidating a card she's supposed to have synergy with, you'd think Shaela's J-Ruler form would bring a lot to the party. Unfortunately, she let's you draw a card on enter and that's it. From there, she's a moderately beefy non-flier that gives you a permanent rain state.
The big beaters in the deck are The White Whale, a 3-drop with inflated stats that can't attack or block unless it's raining, and Wave Rider Mermaid, who becomes a 12/12 flier that can rest resonators on your opponent's turn while its raining. Cleansing Rain is a quickcast chant that bounces a resonator, or puts it on top of the deck if it's raining. Stormbolt is a modal chant with three different options, allowing you to pick all three if its raining. The fact that it prevents the damage a J/resonator would deal but ISN'T quickcast honestly confuses me.

All-in-all, the deck has a cute gimmick while you're sitting on your Ruler, letting you cards get slightly stronger during your turn and including a card that lets you surprise the opponent by making rain during their turn to momentarily buff your cards when they try to make plays. When you flip into your J-Ruler, the deck looks like it'll become a stagnant vanilla beatdown without any true plays to make or mechanics to master. The rain buffs are very minuscule and are hardly worth discussing, although the mechanic itself isn't awful. If there was a little more variance in the rain-vs-non-rain power, the deck would be cool. Instead of having a 5/5 vanilla 2-drop that becomes 7/7 during your turn, it would have been neat to see a 4/4 vanilla 2-drop that becomes 8/8 while it rains, or something like that. Make them legitimately weaker while there isn't rain, and reasonably stronger while it is raining. Your deck would have a very weak early game that you would need to play around with using Weather Change (or bluffing it), and when you're able to flip, your deck's power is permanently unlocked.

This gives me hope for the support in the real set. Starter decks generally only give you a small taste of the mechanics, so maybe we'll get cards with worthwhile rain effects in the set itself. The weather mechanic certainly has potential, and there are a number of directions FoW could take it. In an SD-only format, the deck isn't in too bad of a place either. As boring and vanilla as it is, Cleansing Rain and Wave Rider Mermaid offer strong stall options to keep the opponent's resonators from getting out of hand. Wave Rider and White Whale are huge beaters, with the Mermaid gaining flying and the ability to remove flying blockers.

Wind - Ancient Magic, but not really

Gill is the Ruler for the green deck and, surprisingly, plays a lot like Alhama'at did. Spirit Magic is obviously an allusion to Ancient Magic, but unlike the Luminaries where you build up your mana counters to blow on one big spell, this deck plays more like Gill Alhama'at where you'd want to use your counters slowly to play a lot of smaller spells over the course of the game. This Gill only gives you one extra mana per turn, but that allows you to play your Spirit Magics for free, or just above your curve. You also need Elementals in your grave to generate this extra will, so you need a constant flow of dead resonators to keep the engine going.

The deck itself flows fairly well. There are a handful of cards that dump Elementals into your grave to get your engine started, although the large Elf component of the deck seems a tad out of place. Cecil Letoliel is your big resonator bomb, who goes from a 5 drop to a 2 drop depending on how many Elementals you've dumped into the grave, and he buffs all the Elementals you have on your field. This is a bit counter intuitive, since you want your Elementals in the grave and not in play, but later on in the game you should have more than enough fuel in your graveyard to last you the rest of the game.

In a closed format of only starter decks, this one really falls flat. It has the only cancel spell in the five decks, but it has no actual removal or flying cards, while the heavy hitters in the other decks are all fliers. This means you're kind of left high and dry if the opponent manages to play something with flying. Gill has Barrier, so he's immune to any destruction or debuffs the other decks could throw at him, but aside from generating his one extra will a turn, he's a vanilla 11/11, as is most of the rest of the deck. A huge chunk of the resources in the deck are devoted to either being an Elemental, or getting one to the grave, while the only Spirit Magic cards in the deck are a cancel, a 6/6 buff, and a cantrip. The deck works well, it just doesn't really work towards anything, nor can it interact very much with the other decks.

Looking at the big picture, Spirit Magic obviously has the potential to be a strong mechanic. Free will is always good. It just needs some Elementals that are good as stand-alone cards, and a chant or two that is worth ramping into. 

Darkness - The Tits-ular Character

Here we have Reiya, the girl the cluster is named after, and the fourth daughter of Mikage that we were all waiting for last cluster to salvage the Vampire theme. Looks like she just abandoned her family, and I honestly don't blame her. Her sisters never really amounted to much. Like her father, Reiya focuses on stacking counters, although she operates more like Kirik in how she spends them. Unlike Strength Counters, Mystery Counters aren't nearly as easy to generate, although the cards that use them don't demand quite as many counters in order to go off.
The darkness deck is overall slower than the red one at making counters. Reiya only starts with one, only gets one for flipping or tapping, her stone only gives one, and the only main deck source of mystery counters has to die in order to get one. You definitely have to use your counters sparingly in this deck, but the cards that use them are very impactful. Reiya is a Stoning to Death for just one counter, there is a 1-cost chant that, for two mystery counters, can force your opponent to discard two cards. If your first stone is Reiya's special stone, you can force your opponent to start the game with only 3 cards in hand. Sword of the Half Moon costs two will and two mystery counters to give something -6/-6 and return to your hand, and Sword of the New Moon costs one will and one counter to become another Stoning to Death.

The resonators in the deck largely focus on a vanilla beatdown strategy, as with pretty much every other starter deck, and Grimm is your heavy hitter. For a 4-drop, he gives you 9/9 in stats, flying, and lets you recycle a resonator on-enter. He also has a built-in gravity effect that hits all of your opponent's cards, scaling with the number of Fairy Tales you control. It strays from the Vampire motif of the deck, but since Reiya doesn't really need Vampires like Mikage, you have a ton of leeway here. Grimm is a very impactful card, and can use his effect to clear out weenie blockers, or get over a flying blocker that would otherwise kill him.

This is certainly a deck that forces you to think the game all the way through. If you blow all of your mystery counters early you're screwed, but if you use them to strategically eliminate your opponent's pivotal plays, you'll have the game in the bag. It's certainly one of the stronger starter decks, especially in an SD-only format, right up there with the red deck. Hopefully we'll get more consistent ways to generate mystery counters later on, but that's really all Reiya wants. Including something like Flute's Pet Dragon to allow her to call a stone AND generate a mystery counter every turn is going to be a must-include, unless the new set brings a better option.

And that's all she wrote, folks! Long story short, I'm super excited for this cluster. The starter decks, while they may not be the best, are definitely on a more even playing field than some in the past, and their core mechanics are all very solid and leave plenty of room to improve on in the coming sets. And since FoW has confirmed fewer Rulers/themes, and larger set sizes, on top of continued support for these decks throughout the cluster, I have very high hopes for them. If anything, their sealed abilities alone will be able to fill in most of the holes they seem to have.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Destiny - My Hopes for Destiny 2

This is bit of a break from the norm for me on here, but the Age of Triumph update and the Destiny 2 Announcement really has me hyped. Today I want to do a fairly in-depth rundown of everything I'm hoping to see change going into Year 4 and the next base game. Tl;dr, this is a lot of stuff.

Separate but Equal: PvE and PvP

This really needs to happen. PvP consistently drags down the PvE experience due to the need to balance guns and perks. The whole point of the PvE experience, and one of the highlights of the game, is how powerful it makes you feel and how unique the battle mechanics work instead of being a mundane FPS. Supers, melees/grenades, and exotic armors/weapons all allow for a ton of neat mechanics to be introduced to the game, but are held back by the fact that they could (and would) break PvP in half. Take the Cauterize nerf for example: The perk just feels hobbled in PvE, and I can't save my bacon with it now nearly as well as I could before. I get that it was strong in PvP, but this just goes to illustrate my point. Crucible and Patrol are almost different games, and I feel that Bungie needs to start treating them as such.

The downside to this? Cross-play. In the game right now, you can hop into the Crucible with whatever guns you've been grinding for in PvE and go to town. If you needed an entirely new loadout, even if you're max light and have every raid weapon available, you'd need to start from the very beginning again, and that would just discourage people from playing. I'm a huge fan of a CoD-style rank-up-to-unlock-guns model for the Crucible, where Bungie has a roster of pre-created guns that the Crucible allows. Ranking up in Crucible would allow you access to higher tiered guns and armor sets. Of course, hopping over from PvE means you'd be starting from the bottom and playing against people who have everything available. There would need to be some conversion from PvE to PvP, maybe having beaten a Raid will give you access to a certain tier of Crucible weapons. Or maybe Crucible weapons can still drop in the overworld, like any regular weapon, and finding them gives you access to them in the Crucible. Bungie, as a multi-million dollar company, could certain flesh this out a lot better than I ever could.


I made a reddit post about this already here. The rundown is that exotics really don't feel exotic at all, since a good majority of them never actually see use and even more give bland "upgrades" like "Have another grenade" or "Have another punch." Or even "Run slightly faster." As mentioned above, they can't get but so gimmicky/cool since that would break PvP, but since this article is assuming Bungie separates the two as per above, exotics have a lot more freedom. I also assume that since Destiny 1's engine is so awful, they can't reasonably put some of their ideas into practice. Again, we'll be making the assumption the new engine isn't garbage.

Exotics are what we grind for. They're the pinnacle of rarity, the cream of the crop, and their use needs to reflect that. We need some crazy perks like "your character can stick to walls" or "all your melee attacks are on fire and deal way more damage." Things you can base entire builds around. I go into a lot more detail in the reddit post, but it boils down to the fact that exotics need to be way crazier and be in much lower supply. Three of Coins, while a necessary evil in the current game due to the huge number of exotics, needs to die. It devalues what exotics actually are, and we need more things like Outbreak Prime, Sleeper Simulant, Exotic Swords, Khvostov, and Black Spindle. Exotics we find by doing what we're supposed to do: Explore!

Engram Rarities

This isn't a HUGE issue, but it kind of bugs me. What's the point of anything other than an exotic engram? We don't even see whites anymore, greens are auto-decrypted, blues are just for farming cryptarch rank (which only gives you more blues), and even legendaries don't really serve a purpose anymore. I hope Destiny 2 will rejuvenate the rarities and give them all a place in the end-game. As mentioned above, I feel Three of Coins should cause legendaries to drop, which would follow the same rules that current exotic engrams follow where they decrypt at or above your current light level.

Weapon Perks and Perk Trees

Honestly, the way weapons work now is just awful. You run around doing activities, namely Crucible (which is the only place legendary weapons can reliably drop), and HOPE you get good randomly-generated perks on that weapon. Just one node off from your perfect roll? Sucks. Gotta try again, and you aren't any closer to it than when you started. I want to be able to forge weapons. What's the Gunsmith there for if not that?

The idea I have in mind is that you can bring him a gun you get from a drop. It could totally suck, but it might have one perk you want. The Gunsmith would dismantle the weapon (not giving you any weapon parts or glimmer), and hold on to that one node. Do this with a ton of weapons, and then ask him to forge a gun using selected perk nodes you've scavenged. It's still a little RNG, but it's much less all-or-nothing, and a little grind is always healthy for a game. The Gunsmith could have a variety of weapon frames to pick from, and you could mix-and-match your perks as you please.

On the note of perks, they all need an overhaul. Forget crap like "Slight boost to range, add 2 bullets to your magazine size" vs "Reduced stability, slight boost to range". That's vague and most of the time doesn't matter anyway. If you're forging your own guns, we need perks like "Increased clip size by X" or "Increased stability by X", where each gun frame has base stats that can be altered by the perks you choose. The Scout Rifle frame you like has 5 perk slots? Maybe you want to throw in 5 "Increased stability" perks since you really like stable guns. Maybe you don't give a bother about stability and throw in 5 "Increased clip size" perks. Who cares if you can't hit anything if you have 100 bullets pre-loaded, right? That's what we need.

Elemental Damage

In the same vain as the perks, I think Bungie needs to take a good look at how elemental damage fits into the game. If I asked you right now why I needed elemental guns, what would you say? They serve two purposes, currently: 1) Break like-element shields, and 2) Do more damage during like-element burn modifiers. But you don't actually need a gun with the same element as a shield to break it (except in a few cases), so you can easily get away without a "proper" elemental lineup (which isn't even a thing). Right now it's really just "What burn is on this week?" This severely hinders future game design.

What if Bungie introduced a new element? Only the guns in whatever expansion that is would have those elements. Do the enemies here have that elemental shield? Looks like every other element just got the boot. Even if only 1 or 2 enemy types had that shield type, it probably wouldn't even be worth it to get those elemental weapons for the element alone.

What I feel the game needs is elemental properties. Instead of "Solar Damage kills red shields quicker, and does more damage when we say it does", we should have "Solar Damage applies dot effects to enemies" or "briefly sets affected areas on fire". Things inherent to the damage type itself. I know void already kind of does this, since killing an Exploder Shank with a void Titan punch causes them not to explode. Have enemies shot/affected by void damage momentarily have their abilities disabled. This would make having void weapons imperative against things like Hobgoblins, since they couldn't go invincible if you keep them under fire. This would also allow Bungie to introduce new elements as they please, since they would all have intrinsic use.

Make leveling up mean something

In vanilla Destiny, it was "Reach level 20, then reach level 30 with gear." Taken King dropped and revamped this system, where "Level" became tied to your XP and "Light Level" became tied to the average of your gear stats. A much better system, sure, but why even have level? The only real purpose it served was "You must be X level to wear this armor", which could just as easily be accomplished with something like "You must have X amount of light to wear this armor." Level isn't a real indicator of anything, since enemies are scaled using Light Level and we're given a "recommended light level" to go against them. In Destiny 2, I hope Bungie either abolishes Level altogether, or gives a meaning to it.

It could go into stats, like giving your character more armor, health, or even letting your weapons/super scale. You know, basic RPG leveling up. The issue with this is that you'd be locking yourself out of certain builds by permanently putting points into certain stats, and I don't know if Bungie would want to do that. It would certainly add more dynamics to your character.


This is something I've heard everyone talking about. Give our NPCs more personality, more meaning. The change from vanilla Destiny to Taken King was drastic, and not just because of Cayde. Eris and even Ikora got more fleshed out and we have a much better idea of their personalities and character. But Destiny has a nasty case of "1 NPC follows you for the whole DLC"-syndrome. Dark Below? Eris was the one talking to you through every story mission. House of Wolves gave us Petra and Variks (who were the first real personalities we'd gotten), and while Taken King was dominated by Cayde, we got a ton of banter between him and the rest of the cast. The Taken War: [Planet] missions were all lead by different Vanguard heads, too, which was nice. Rise of Iron traded off between Saladin and Shiro, but both were fairly void of real personality and weren't up to the standards Taken King had set. For Destiny 2, I sincerely hope we get more of a focus on a variety of NPCs, and that they all get very well fleshed out.


You knew this was going to be here. I didn't want to write about it since its so obvious, but Bungie should definitely put the grimoire in-game. Or at least do a better job of introducing more of the larger story into the actual story. The Oryx portrayed in the main Taken King story absolutely pales in comparison to the Oryx dictated onto the pages of the Book of Sorrow. I read the Rise of Iron grimoires and had to re-read them again, because they almost felt like they contradicted the dialogue and story presented in the actual DLC (seriously, I hate the Rise of Iron storyline SO MUCH). And tons of players don't even know this information is out there.

Classes and Subclasses

This is the last bit I want to touch on, but also what I feel the most strongly about. Classes (Titan, Hunter, Warlock) are defined almost entirely by their supers, and really only by a few. In any true end-game activity, you won't see a Titan with anything but a Bubble. Warlocks are pretty much always rocking self-res, and Hunters are locked into Nightstalker aside from the few times Golden Gun is worth it. Outside of that, though, the classes don't play differently. There's a bit of leeway here, since you can't actually make "Pull the trigger, shoot the thing" feel different from class to class, but there are a lot more to characters than the guns they use. You also have to take into account that since most things are matchmaking, you can't force roles too much or else you could end up with 3 hyper-support players that can't actually deal damage and thus can't clear a strike. But there's still a ton of wiggle room here.

In-game, Titans are always told to "be the wall" and things like that. Warlocks are mystic bookworms that delve into the understanding of the unknown. Hunters are sly and sneaky. I've never felt any of that while playing the game. If I'm a Titan, make me an actual wall; make me tanky as all get-out, and let me wade through waves of enemies while my teammates do their thing. The sheer variety of supers doesn't help narrow down roles either: Titans have an AoE slam and chuck Hammers. They must be add clear, right? Wait, what's this bubble doing there then? Warlocks have a huge AoE bomb and Palpatine mode? Are... are they add clear too? Hunters take out a knife and kill things... so add clear? And get a shiny gun to kill 4 things? This arrow is cool though. The point is that there's no overarching theme or purpose to any of the sub-classes. Sunbreaker, Stormcaller, and Bladedancer are basically just clones of each other, and Strikes/Voidwalker are similar enough. Each class only has one "unique" subclass which, incidentally, tends to be their most-used ones. The problem is that when you're making a character, you aren't choosing what class you want, you're choosing what super you want.

My friends and I have talked about this, and we've come up with some good identities for each class. Titans are the "support", Warlocks are flashy, mystic, AoE wave clear, and Hunters are sneaky single-target damage. Titans could have taunts, pulling aggro away from the rest of the team, and expand on the idea of the bubble. Give them a ton of abilities that take pressure off the rest of the team while simultaneously beefing them up and giving them more survivability to deal with that aggro. Warlocks keep their magician theme, casting large spells and dealing with waves and waves of enemies. Hunters, never wanting to be seen, stay far away from the action and zero in on specific targets. I've got entire subclasses and abilities fleshed out for these, but that's for another time.

Another aspect of this would be class-specific guns. Guns are what you most use in the game, and having weapons only your class can use definitely helps flesh out and identity for you. Give Warlocks things like Flamethrowers, Chain Lightning Guns, things mimicking actual magic. Let Titans have Hammers, Shields, even Mini-Guns, things reminiscent of of their hands-on, punch-everything nature as well as their supposed unrivaled physical strength. Hunters can have Rail Guns, super-snipers that have ungodly range and power, or guns that lay traps, synergizing with their play style of staying out of the action. All these factors, and more, can all go into class creation in Destiny 2 and really make you think about what role you want to play.

That's all for now. I'm sure a lot of these won't be met, at least not in the way I want them to, but Bungie will probably fix just as many things that I haven't even thought of. Destiny 1 has been hampered by a sketchy, drama-laced release and a terribly, restrictive game engine. Even if half of these things aren't addressed, Destiny 2 is poised to be a much better and grander game than what we're used to, and I have absolutely no doubt that it will deliver. Bungie is a team of well-versed game designers who know what they're doing. For as bad as Destiny 1 started out, it's already come this far. I can't wait to see what Destiny 2 brings and where it goes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3 Most Forgotten Straight-Edges

Welcome back nerds and nerdettes, it's time for another opinion piece. Today I'll be discussing the forgotten Straight Edges of this format. I call them Straight Edges because they aren't quite Rulers, at least in the competitive sense. These are the Rulers that had promise or potential, but just didn't make a splash in the meta, or fell short in one or more areas. I'll only be addressing Lapis Cluster cards, since Alice was pretty hit and miss, and we're almost rid of those sets anyway.

Lunya, the Wolf Girl

Lunya, the Wolf GirlOne of the flagship cards of the cluster, Lunya is the starter deck Ruler for the red deck. The deck itself isn't bad, although it's one of the least competitive of the available decks, and I believe it's the only one that hasn't seen competitive play in some form or fashion. Mikage and Fiethsing were both top-tier Rulers (Fieth still is), Mercurius saw some rogue tops early in the CFC days, and the Fairy Tale core from Millium has seen one or two rogue tops in mono-light decks. Lunya, to my knowledge, is the only of these decks whose Ruler or core hasn't seen play at a major event. But why is that?

Lunya's design is based around aggro. On top of the standard Energize + Judgment that all Lapis Rulers have, her unique effect allows you to ping a resonator for 100 damage whenever one attack with one of your resonators. This is one of the only Ruler effects that encourages aggression, especially early aggression, and I personally like the way it plays off of red's theme in a unique way. It combo's with Demonflame very well, but there really aren't too many effects in the game that need things to be damaged. Unfortunately, the Ruler herself can't generate advantage without having attacking resonators, and resonator-reliant strategies always tend to die to meta/control decks.

Nyarlathotep, the True False LegendWhen you flip her is when she really loses her luster. 1200/800 aren't the worst stats, and exemplifies red's aggressive nature with an ATK-heavy stat distribution, and she has the flagship keyword of red, i.e. Swiftness. The downside to this is that she can die to double Artemis Bow, or Bow + Space-Time, which most 1000 DEF Rulers are just outside the range of. She also has the Limit keyword, so she won't remain on the field consistently. Her main effect is that she deals 800 damage to a resonator on-flip, and herein lies the problem. While she doesn't have to burn herself (and thus kill herself) if there isn't anything on the field, the ability is basically a worse Sylvia. The 'ole red dragon deals a whopping 1000 damage on enter, can hit J-Rulers with her burn, and recovers three stones whenever her damage kills something. Compare that to Lunya's meager 800 burn, with no extra benefits, and you see the mediocrity.

So how could we have remedied this? What would it take to push her into the light of the meta? Well, as far as her Ruler ability goes, I'm not sure we need too much improvement. She's a bit of a lackluster Mikage, and while you don't have to pay for her burn, it's much less flexible. Maybe if her burn was 200, or even 300 (although that's pushing it a bit), to be able to kill off most chump blockers and mana dorks. If red had more effects that synergized with having damaged cards, like Demonflame, then she'd be stronger. Her J-Ruler side needs a bit of an overhaul, though. The idea is to flip her, burn something, then swing in (letting her Limit counters drop), flip back to a Ruler, then flip again to burn something else. It's a cute strategy, but not a terribly viable one, especially for a whopping 4 judgment cost (well above curve for the rest of the Rulers in this cluster). If she had a more impactful flip, like Melgis 2.0, then she'd be a lot stronger. Or a much cheaper judgment and only Limit 1, to immediately flip back. As she stands now, though, she just doesn't pack enough of a punch to really make a dent in the meta. The absolute lack of Cthulhu support doesn't help either.

Umr at-Tawil, Master of 1000 Keys

Speaking of Cthulhus, here's another testament to their lack of coherent support (and love). Umr at-Tawil (or Yog-Sothoth, if you're into pronouncing words) was the darkness Ruler from Curse of the Frozen Casket. Poor Cthulhu's got very little support this cluster, and even less of that was coherent, but that's an article for another day. Yog suffers from an acute condition of what I call "being bad."

As a Ruler, he has literally nothing to offer. He judgments for BX, has energize for black, and... that's it. He doesn't have a unique Ruler ability, meaning you get no utility out of him during the early turns or after he dies post-flip. I suppose the X cost in his judgment is supposed to be what's "unique" about him, but... well, maybe his J-Ruler side makes up for it?

Umr at-Tawil, Master of 1000 KeysHe enters the field with X+1 Limit counters, so your total judgment cost equates to how many counters he gets. At the end of your turn you nuke all resonators on the field whose total cost is equal to the number of Limit counters on him, then you remove 1 counter. At the beginning of any turn, if you have no Limit counters on Yog, you lose 500 life and then flip back. He's a fairly decent field nuke, but the fact that he only hits one cost per turn makes him slow, and he has to wait until the end of the turn to get his nuke off. Attacking or blocking reduces his Limit count, so manipulating them gets a tad awkward. And since most decks don't run staggered costs, you won't really be getting much utility out of most of his counters.

So how would we make him playable? Easy: Give the man a Ruler skill. There's tons of potential here, since he's a generic kind of Ruler. An effect that puts Limit counters on him, and lets him invest in his judgment, would be cool. Or maybe a Cthulhu-related effect, to give that race some much needed love. Maybe put an "Encounter with Cthulhu"-type effect on his Ruler side. His J-Ruler side honestly doesn't need too much of a change. Maybe if he killed every resonator with cost equal to or less than the number of counters on him. I don't think a field nuke every turn, for both players, would be too terrible. Maybe if he had an effect that scaled off of the number of things he killed, like how the Vingolf 3 Lapis worked. Like Lunya, he just doesn't pack enough of a punch.

The Monkey King Born from Stone

The big man himself, Wukong. He had a lot going for him, and he's definitely one of the strongest J-Rulers in the game in terms of potential ATK and DEF. Being able to search for Flying Clouds is a strong Ruler ability, making for a good will sink in the early/mid game. A total judgment cost of 4 is steep, but in a deck that tends to run ramp, it's not too bad. He can make it substantially cheaper by having his two minions in play, but we'll talk about them later.

Great Sky Sage, Sun WukongAs a J-Ruler, Wukong hits like a truck. A minimum of 1800/1800 with Flying, and the ability to immediately field all of the clouds you searched, makes him a total Behemoth. Unfortunately, his only other ability just searches for his two minions and adds them to your hand. It's not terribly useful. There isn't too much to say about him either, since he's more or less a meathead. Wukong's power comes from hitting hard and hitting fast, rather than generating plusses or controlling your opponent.

So how do we improve him? The most obvious answer: Kill the minions. Wukong has a huge reliance on Sha Wujing and Zhu Bajie, which honestly isn't great card design. His usefulness, and power level, are directly reliant on how strong those two cards are. It's hard enough to get one solid card designed, but making one that relies on two other cards being well-designed is just asking for trouble. And wouldn't you know it, they're pretty bad. Sha Wujing (aka Orochimaru) gives Wukong +200/+200, Precision, and makes your opponent's chants cost 1 more will. He's seen some play in Lumia decks recently, as a countermeasure to counter spells, but that's really more a testament to player innovation than his card design. Zhu Bajie (aka Gannondorf) makes additions and regalia cost one more, and gives Wukong +200/+200 and Swiftness. This may see some play against the new Kaguya deck if she picks up steam, but other than that... meh. Both of these guys' jobs can be done way better with regalia, since they're very costly 3-will investments. It's not feasible to play both of them before Judgment, and have them survive. Searching them doesn't do much other than put 2 cards in your hand. If they were Inheritance cards, or 2-drops, or had actual advantage-generating abilities then they might have been good. Currently, though, the majority of Wukong's utility is focused around having them (with no actual way to play them for cheap), and unless he gets some other support cards, I don't expect him to see any play.

That's it so far. I wanted to include the newest Millium on here, but it's a little too early to complain about him, and I'm also just lazy and wanted to cut this at 3 Rulers. Jordan has hinted at another Ascension Campaign, so maybe some of these guys will get the Alisaris treatment. Fingers crossed, right?