Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Curse of the Frozen Casket - Spoiler #4 Impressions

Another day, another spoiler article. Thankfully, we finally got to see some Darkness cards (Seriously, they doubled down on Light and Wind before we got a single Darkness), and they're quite interesting. As promised, Cthulhu's are making their big return to the game, like a lot of other Grimm races. Thankfully, FoW Inc decided to drop that cancerous Incarnate mechanic for something aesthetically in theme with these new Cthulhu's.

For our Ruler, we have Umr At-Twil. It's a weird name, but all of these Eldritch Horrors brandish similarly unpronounceable names, so its nothing new. Speaking of the source material, Umr at-Twil (spelled quite a few different ways) is one of the avatars of Yog-Sothoth in the story "Through the Gates of the Silver Key." And look at that, his art and flavor text are all about his keys, and he Judgments into Yog-Sothoth. Neato. His Ruler side is pretty bland, only sporting Judgment and Energize, making him significantly less useful than most of the other Rulers we've seen who have re-usable Ruler-side abilities. What sets him apart, however, is his flexible Judgment cost of BX. When he Judgments, he flips into a 1500/1500 monstrosity that gets a "Limit Counter" for each of the X will you spent to flip him +1. "Limit" is the new mechanic they're introducing for Cthulhu's, where the cards enter with a certain amount of Limit Counters, which are removed through attacking, blocking, or their own effects, and then have some sort of negative effect once their counters reach zero. From a lore perspective, this is supposed to represent how the Cthulhu's were sealed into human bodies, and their Limit Counters represent them unleashing their Eldritch powers, which they can only do for so long before reverting to their human state.

Yog-Sothoth's Limit is flexible, letting him enter with a minimum of 1 counter (if you paid 0 for the X cost and Judgmented for Black) and upwards of 11 or more counters. In addition to the standard effect of removing counters when he attacks or blocks, Yog will also remove one counter at the end of each of your turns, then destroy every resonator on the field with total cost equal to the number of Limit Counters on him. At the start of either turn, if he has no Limit Counters, you lose 500 life and he returns to his Ruler side. This means he'll be losing 2 counters each turn (one from attacking/blocking, one from his effect), so he'll burn through them fairly quickly. A Judgment for 7 means he'll be on the field for 3 turns, give or take. That's a lot of cost for not staying on the field that long, but that's also basically 3 turns of nuking your opponent's field for free. The downside, of course, is that he also hits your own field, but with such a high Judgment cost, its not like you'll be playing much else during your turn anyway.

Despite this, he actually has some pretty good flexibility, and a decent amount of pressure just from existing. While he only nukes the cards with cost exactly equaling his counters, that still gives you some wiggle room. Most of the power cards in the current format are 2-3 cost resonators (Lancelot, Pricia, Tsukuyomi Noble, Urthur, etc.) so flipping him with 3 counters kills off some of the stronger units, and then the opponent will have to go into their turn knowing that if they play anything size 2, it'll just die. Likewise for the R/R Stealth deck, Melder is 5 and Riza is 4, giving you a staggered nuked to deal with them, too. Granted this is a 2-turn "combo," but in a meta where tons of low-cost units are dominant, you can flip him cheaply and often for some serious damage.

These two cards help with some of the issues Yog faces. The Gate of the Silver Key is a 1-cost Addition, making it really cost-effective to use with him. In fact, it fully refunds itself, as it reduces your Judgment costs by 1. So that mana you would have used to Judgment, but used to play this? It's still kind of there. Having multiples of these out is just rude. Two of them means you can flip for 1 Black and enter the field with 3 Limit Counters. That's mad value. Granted, there's a lot more Addition destruction running around now, so it's a prime target to get sniped (But hey, you only spent 1 will on it), but it has an answer to that... kind of? You can pay an absurd amount of will and banish it to force the opponent to discard a card, which is a good response if the opponent targets it with destruction, but when will you realistically have the available will, in this deck especially?

But if we're talking about absurd costs, let's move on to Azathoth. This bad boy costs BB6, but hits the field with a whopping 2000/2000 (Suck it, Remote Control Golem!) and 6 Limit Counters. If he would be destroyed, you can just remove a counter from him instead. Whenever he attacks, you destroy a J/resonator, which is HUGE. Cheap and easy J-Ruler destruction? It won't even matter if they give it Imperishable or otherwise dodge this effect, it's absolutely free for you to use and will make your opponent blow resources. Unfortunately, it's a mandatory effect and isn't opponent-only, so he'll have to kill your stuff if the opponent's board is empty. And while his extremely high cost will often dodge Yog's field nuke, he'll deal 2000 damage to you and destroy himself if he ever hits 0 Limit Counters at the end of either turn. If you manage to get him and Yog out together, though, it's basically GG. Azathoth can kill any high-cost cards and leave Yog to play cleanup on the lower-cost units, and together they're 3500 damage the opponent has to deal with.

Here we have out obligatory removal spells. Black lost a good chunk of their hard field removal when Grimm rotated out, so with Lapis essentially being Grimm 2.0, we're getting a taste of that again. It's no Stoning to Death (yet), but these cards are pretty neat. An Encounter with Cthulhu has that scrumptious Quickcast, and forces each player to banish a non-Cthulhu resonator. Oh, you don't have any resonators/only have Cthulhu's? Looks like you're in the clear. Dropping this on an opponent during their turn can get rid of a pesky resonator that may be over Yog's nuking capabilities, or is untargetable/immune to destruction.

Resonance of Madness is a little less flexible. It costs 1 less, but doesn't have Quickcast, and forces you to banish one of your resonators. This means this card is almost always going to be a 2-for-1 to destroy a resonator. While Encounter skirts around Barrier and the like, it loses a lot of steam if the opponent has more than 1 resonator and you NEED to kill a specific one. Targeted destruction is always useful to have around, and while 2-for-1's are bad, there are ways to mitigate it. Cards like Rukh Egg, Messenger Familiar, Alice's Little Scout, etc. all replace themselves when they die, and it provides an easy way to kill off Cthulhu's who have used up all their Limit Counters, before they can backfire on you.

And here we have the reprints... wait, that's not right. Creature from Chaos is essentially a better Shadow Assassin. He has less defense (200 vs 500), but costs 1 less and has the ability to destroy J-Rulers with his effect. That's HUGE, and what's more, it doesn't even target! GG to Barrier and Wind-Secluded Refuge. If you have that much of a hard-on for field nukes, you can even slap Blood-Covered War Axe on this guy and kill everything when it attacks. Then there's The Nameless Mist, which is a counterpart to Scorn of Dark Alice (It even has a sexy floating face for the art! Does this company know no shame!?) but instead of Resonators, it hits... non-resonators. I wasn't a fan of this card, looking at how boring it was to just alter the effect of one card slightly then slap it on another card, but Mist actually has a strong niche. Against heavy control decks, that run minimal resonators and tons of control/negate/discard spells, this card works wonders. Sniping a Dark Storm means you keep your hand and get to keep Cthulu-ing; sniping a negation card means you can make your plays uninterrupted; sniping Black Moonbeam means Yog can go on nuking like WW2 America. 

Sadly, this was the smallest spoiler so far, only revealing 7 total cards. With only 2 Cthulhu's shown it's hard to tell what's coming for Black, but hopefully that means FoW Inc. is saving a good chunk of cards for the next spoiler that all work together. Fingers crossed the next article spoils something Red!

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