Monday, August 22, 2016

Vampiric Hunger - Spoiler Impressions

"Vampiric Hunger" is a pretty accurate name for this starter deck, as I was left waiting for more after reading these spoilers. For a deck titled after vampires, it was pretty ballsy for FoW Inc. to only include 2 actual vampires, one of which is the Ruler. They went super Japanese with the theme this time, too.

The Ruler for this deck is Ally of the Black Moon, who flips into Eternal Vampire, Mikage Seijuro. He's not Dracula, like some might have been hoping for, but he'll have to do. His Judgment cost is pretty middle-of-the-road with BB1, and he packs the standard Energize all the Lapis Cluster Rulers have. His unique Ruler-side ability is, by paying 1 black will, he will burn 1 resonator for 100 damage and then add a blood counter to himself. The burn damage is negligible at best, and the only noteworthy things it will kill are Messenger Familiar and Kid Puss-in-boots, and Familiar definitely isn't something you want to proc without good reason. So he, more often than not, will amount to Pay 1 black: Put a counter on him.

But what do you do with these counters? Once you flip him, you get the option to remove them for... admittedly mediocre effects. A -100/-100 debuff to a resonator, a temporary +200/0 buff to himself, 200 life gain, or a +100/+100 counter on a Vampire resonator. He's got a respectable 900/900 body, on top of Imperishable and Flying, which are VERY strong keywords, but they really don't make up for his lack of payoff on counters.

All I can see when I look at this guy is an overly-nerfed Reflect/Refrain. You put counters on him with his Ruler side, then flip him and spend them on the J-Ruler side. Imperishable means he can kamikaze (or survive getting destroyed) and flip back, keeping his Judgment ability, and refill his counters. But 1 will is just way too much for adding a counter, especially since you need tons of them to do anything noteworthy.

Shara, Third Daughter of the Mikage, is really the only saving grave to her father's otherwise lackluster abilities, but that's only because her existence tells us there are at least 2 other cards meant to interact with him. She's 500/500 for 1 will, which is way above average, but at the cost of being unable to attack unless she has +100/+100 counters on her. This is were dear ole' daddy comes in, using his J-Ruler ability to put a 1/1 counter on her. However, if need be, she can add a counter herself (albeit for a lot more mana) and burn a resonator for 200 damage. She even adds an additional counter if Seijuro is your J/Ruler. I guess FoW is still trying to push Evolution Counters on us, and think reskinning it to look like an edgy loli will make it more attractive.

Power Absorption is a neat support card for the race. It's an instant for BB and deals 600 damage to a J/resonator, which is increased by 100 for each Vampire you control... which there are only 4 of in this Starter Deck. Good job FoW. So, realistically, you're looking at 600, maybe 700 damage from this, and afterwards you put a 1/1 counter on each Vampire you control. At least this card can kill off something problematic AND let Shara attack, and even pumps Seijuro to a 10/10. Still, its usefulness is going to depend on how many more Vampires we get, and how good they are.

Blood of the Mikage is another interesting inclusion here. It isn't an instant, but only costs 1 will and gives a J/resonator 800/800 and Precision, at the cost of having it die at the end of the turn. What's interesting is that it can target J-Rulers, so you can force Seijuro's Imperishable and get ready to throw more counters on him. That's really the only use, though. It's functionally similar to Blood Boil, but doesn't have Quickcast, so you can't use it to surprise trade with an attacker.

Oni Strike is what appears to be the Lapis Cluster version of Endless Night. They cost the same (BB1), and both destroy a resonator, but their secondary effects differ. Endless Night gives the field a blanket -200/-200, whereas Oni Strike deals 500 damage to the opponent, but only if you control an Oni. Wow, a brand new race, and specific support for it? That's so cool! Especially in a deck that's supposed to be based around Vampires...

At least they included an Oni in the Starter Deck for us, right? But he costs a whopping 5 to play, and has no inherent protection or keyword skills. What he does do is search out an Addition and put it into your hand. Yeah, hand, NOT into play. For at expensive as he is, and for what little he does, that's kind of terrible value. Especially since the addition, Castle of Oni, costs a whopping 3 mana to play. It gives all your Darkness J/resonators +200/+200, and can banish itself to add a card from your grave to your hand. This is an incredibly slow and expensive combo. If you're playing 5-cost resonators, those things had better win you the game (Behemoth) or give you some insane value (Celestial Wing Seraph). This guy does neither. What's worse is that he's the ONLY Oni in the deck, so if you want the full value out of Oni's Strike, you have to play it after you play this guy. In a deck without ramp.

Honestly, Oni could be a really cool race with some neat tribal support, but I hope to god they get nothing. That sounds bad, but this set already has to support Cthulhu's and Vampires, and with only about 10 total darkness cards left in the set and having only seen 1 Vampire Resonator and 2 Cthulhu's, the rest of that support needs to be devoted to those races. Splitting it even further into Oni will leave players with a bunch of half-made decks.

And here we have hot garbage the rest of the deck. Sorry, HALF of the deck... and they're Fairy Tales. Seriously? Fairy Tales already have a dedicated Starter Deck, they do NOT need half of another, especially since they're siphoning off support from every other color in the set, too. These cards don't even have synergy with the majority of the other Fairy Tales, or even this deck for that matter. Heaven Bound Pheasant's 400/300 stats are abysmal for being a 2-cost, even with flying and forcing a discard upon death. Black has much better and more efficient discard outlets. Monkey Trapped in Life is only useful in Wanderer Cthulhu decks as another recyclable Incarnation target. Hellhound at least has the advantage of triggering both of them and turning him 1-for-1 effect into a +1, but that's terribly inefficient and cloggy. It's a cute Starter Deck-tier combo and nothing more, but when other "cute Starter Deck combo's" have Millium ramping to impossible numbers and Feithsing spamming the field with free 5/5 creatures, the Faithful Hellhound isn't looking so faithful anymore. He also directly contradicts what Momotaro is trying to do, with his effect needing 3 or more other resonators for a mediocre pump, which also isn't in line with what Darkness as a color tries to do. This deck is just all over the place.

It's neat that these cards represent the Momotaro tale from Japanese Mythology, though. It's a story that follows a young boy, born from the core of a Peach, as he adventures to slay the evil Oni King. Along the way, he befriends a Pheasant, Dog, and Monkey, and together they beat the demon. Honestly, calling this deck "Vampiric Hunger" is borderline false advertising, since 28 of the 40 main deck cards are all themed after this one tale. 

So, overall, I'm terribly disappointed. Vampire's at least have some potential, if Seijuro's other 2 daughters are actually in the set and do some interesting stuff. But all the Vampire support so far has just been crap-tier burn, making it a worse Red deck. Hopefully we get some neat toys that make these cards pretty useful, but until then, I'll have to remain disappointed. We're 2-2 on Starter Decks right now, where the Light and Winds decks are pretty god-tier and the Water and Darkness decks are little more than colorful cardboard. Hopefully the Fire deck next week with at least give FoW Inc. a position record for this cluster.


  1. Pretty much my opinions. I might argue Blue is slightly superior as it has that promise of the one good card like Invitation to Fire. Something on par with that. Black has the promise of... putting in forms, praying and waiting 9 months to see what the rest of the cluster brings. I'm not expecting another Machines that gets quality, quality, quality, glut, I'm expecting Revival Zombies, dropped like a hit turd for something else.

    1. The water deck at least has a coherent playstyle. None of the Ancient Magics are very strong, but they don't need to be. The idea of the water deck is to flip Mercurius ASAP, and swing in with 1000 Flying each turn. You won't have many magic stones, but you have essentially 12 free will with her Mana keyword, and all her Ancient Magics are relatively low cost, and focus on removing problematic blockers. It isn't the best strategy, but at least it's coherent. Black is just... "Hey, here's a preview of a bunch of stuff. Kthxbye"