Wednesday, December 21, 2016

ARG Nationals

First things first, with the holiday season upon us my uploads will probably slow down a bit, what with visiting friends and family and all that. So, since I ended up missing yesterday's article, I'm going to be cutting back to a 1-per-week until things settle back down and we can get back into the rut. Luckily there isn't too much to report on, since spoiler season doesn't start up until a couple weeks into January and I've already gone over all of our local builds for the LEL decks. Today, though, I'll be talking about the ARG Nationals that recently concluded and the top decks.

The Top 16 ended up having 10 Lilias Petals, 4 Mikage, and 2 Dark Alice. The Fox flood, and the utter lack of Fiethsing decks, is interesting. It really speaks to the North American TCG climate that one deck got bandwagoned so hard immediately after release of a set and 1 ARG win in Atlanta. Bandwagoners will bandwagon, I suppose, especially a deck like Fox. It has an extremely good matchup against Fiethsing, being just as fast (if not faster) at chugging out huge resonators, while simultaneously packing a nice control package to deal with Gwibers. If you'll notice, all 16 decks of the Top 16 are anti-Fiethsing decks, or decks with a strong matchup against her.

J/Ruler: Lilias Petal, Agent of Salvation // The Nine-Tailed Fox

Main Deck (40):
4x Tama, Familiar of Holy Wind
3x Change the World, Orb of Illusion
4x Red Riding Hood
3x The Monkey Trapped in Life
4x Heaven Bound Pheasant
2x Wind-Secluded Refuge
Lilias Petal, Agent of Salvation3x Dance of the Shadows
3x The Last Drop
2x Lilias Petal’s Assistant
3x Lapis’ Dark Storm
1x Messenger of Lilias Petal
3x Fruit of Yggdrasil
1x Arthur, the Dead Lord of Vengeance
2x Blessing of Yggdrasil
1x Heavenly Gust
1x Keen Sense

Stone Deck (10):
4x Killing Stone
4x Magic Stone of Black Silence
1x Magic Stone of Deep Wood
1x Sorrowful Necromancy’s Memoria

Side Deck (15):
4x Griphon, Racing Across Darkness
3x Ammit, Beast of Gluttony
3x The Manticore
1x Keen Sense
1x Wind-Secluded Refuge
2x Black Moonbeam
1x Heavenly Gust

Here's the list for First Place. It's a fairly standard Chimera-turbo build with a couple spicy techs. Change the World is there for recovering the Nine-Tailed Fox so you can recycle Killing Stone with his tap ability and then call it out by tapping for stone. Once you've gone through your whole stone deck (which is very easy with Griphon + Red Riding Hood) that combo is basically "Call a Killing Stone every turn" which is important for a deck looking to make as many Chimeras as possible. Rocking 4 Pheasants seems like a lot to me, but since he's using Lapis' Dark Storm, this seems to be a build looking to do a lot of discard/hand control, so the flock of birds makes sense. Dance of Shadows is there for re-using Chimeras once the opponent has dealt with them, letting you summon 2 of them in one turn if need be. Fruit of Yggdrasil is interesting to me, but it replaces itself in your hand and makes great Chimera fodder, while also being a target for Last Drop. Dark Arthur kind of single-handedly shuts down the Fiethsing match-up while also letting you re-add him to hand if you eat him to make a Chimera.

All-in-all, nothing incredibly special about this deck. The side board is dominated by the Chimeras, and he just sides in more copies of certain main-decked cards for certain match-ups. I don't really get the one Deep Wood Stone, since there's no water anywhere in the deck, but I guess he wanted another green source instead of a second Sorrowful Necromancy?

J/Ruler: Girl in Twilight Garb // Dark Alice, Maiden of Slaughter

Main Deck (40):
2x Schrödinger, the Fallen Black Cat
3x Seal of Wind and Light
3x Artemis, the God’s Bow
2x Deathscythe, the Life Reaper
3x Laevateinn, the Demon Sword
Dark Alice, Maiden of Slaughter4x Space-Time Anomoly
4x Soulhunt
3x Lapis’ Dark Storm
2x Magic Rebound
2x Valentina’s Reach
3x The Nameless Mist
3x The Scorn of Dark Alice
3x Charlotte’s Water Transformation Magic
2x Wind-Secluded Refuge
1x Heavenly Gust

Stone Deck (10):
4x Ruler’s Memoria
3x Magic Stone of Dark Depth
3x Magic Stone of Black Silence

Side Deck (15):
2x The Prison in Lunar Lake
3x Riza, First of the Dead
3x Melder, Last of the Dead
1x Magic Rebound
2x Horn of Sacred Beasts
2x Heavenly Gust
1x Charlotte’s Water Transformation Magic
1x Artemis, the God’s Bow

Second place was a Dark Alice deck which, as has spread pretty rapidly throughout the community by now, only lost because he was issued a Game Loss for accidentally shuffling a Charlotte's Water Transformation Magic into his Stone Deck. It really sucks to go that far only to lose because of something like that, but at least it's a nice meme.

The deck itself is interesting in the fact that there are absolutely 0 resonators. The main deck is exclusively 40 chants/regalia. This leaves room for a LOT of control, but also tunnel visions Alice as the win condition. He mains two Wind-Secluded Refuges to protect against Moonbeam, and Laevateinn/Schrodinger to give her Imperishable against other removal, plus Heavenly Gust to remove Deathscythes that might get in the way. With the huge amount of discard he's packing, the opponent will find it hard (if not impossible) to chain removal and get rid of Alice. Once their resources are drained, the deck uses the tried-and-true method of all Dark Alice decks and flips for beatdown against a topdecking opponent. I'm honestly surprised Dark Alice hadn't seen more tops before this, due to her God's Art totally shutting down Fiethsing decks, which used to be the top dog. She dies to Shackles of Ice, but that's what the Heavenly Gusts are for.

The side deck isn't anything too special. Lunar Lakes are there for on-enter decks, namely Lilias Petal since it shuts down Chimera's hard, and Riza/Melder are an additional win condition, I assumed against decks that are packing a ton of J-ruler removal or don't care too much about their hand.

J/Ruler: Lilias Petal, Agent of Salvation // The Nine-Tailed Fox

Main Deck (41):
3x Sacred Elf
4x The Monkey Trapped in Life
4x Tama, Familiar of Holy Wind
2x The Executioner
4x Red Riding Hood
3x Lilias Petal’s Assistant
The Nine-Tailed Fox4x Messenger of Lilias Petal
1x Keep of the Past, Urthr
1x Arthur, the Dead Lord of Vengeance
2x Heaven Bound Pheasant
2x Keen Sense
2x Wind-Secluded Refuge
3x Dance of the Shadows
1x The Last Drop
4x Change the World, Orb of Illusion
1x Wall of Wind

Stone Deck (10):
4x Killing Stone
4x Magic Stone of Black Silence
1x Magic Stone of Blasting Waves
1x Sorrowful Necromancy’s Memoria

Side Deck (15):
3x Griphon, Racing Across Darkness
3x Ammit, Beast of Gluttony
2x The Manticore
1x Keen Sense
2x Black Moonbeam
2x Heavenly Gust
2x Deathscythe, the Life Reaper

Here's the Third place deck. The deck itself has a few tweaks that sets it apart from the first place list. Sacred Elf for ramp (though ramping towards what I don't know), the inclusion of Executioner, 4 of Lilias Petal's Messenger (I assume to compensate for no Blessings of Yggdrasil), and a sole Urthr. Rather than the phantom Magic Stone of Deep Wood the first place guy ran, this deck used Blasting Waves, which it made use of with Urthr. That's a pretty spicy tech in my opinion, since it can kill off other Chimera with relative easy since your own Chimeras provide tons of fuel. Outside of that, though, the deck is pretty similar to the first place deck, aiming to be a Chimera Turbo engine and just overwhelming the opponent with aggression, albeit with a little more field control (Urthr and Executioner) and less hand control.

With Fox being 10/16 of the top decks, and being 3/4 of the Top 4, it's clearly a contender for the top deck of the format. What remains to be seen is if Blazer, or Final Forfeit + Moonbeam, will be a strong enough counter to him or if he just works too fast and hits too hard with the Chimeras to really be countered like that. The Dance of Shadow tech, which seems to be popular, is a good built-in counter to Lunar Lake and Sorrowful Necromancy's Memoria clears out Charlotte's Bear Magic and Space-Times from graveyards to keep the Chimera's safe. It will be interesting to see what people come up with to counter this card, or if they'll just decide to bandwagon him and try to out-Chimera opponents rather than deal with them with other decks. Also, shout-out to GrinningRemnant for compiling these lists and stats. It made my life a lot easier!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Builds for Legacy Lost - Part 2

Here we are, back at it again with some deck builds. Today's article will delve into the decks my friends and I made for Valentina and Sol. It's a pretty self-explanatory article, so let's go ahead and dive right in to the meat:

J/Ruler: Invading Demon of Water, Valentina // Valentina, Release Terror

4x Alice's Little Scout
Invading Demon of Water, Valentina3x Illusion Wizard
3x Illusory Projection
3x Moojdart, Lady of Illusions
2x Nightmare, the Ashen Dream
2x Titania, Prideful Queen

4x Fishing
4x Plot of Water and Darkness
4x Space-Time Anomaly
2x Valentina's Reach
2x Separation of Body and Soul
2x Fated Reunion
2x The Scorn of Dark Alice
2x Magic Rebound
1x Black Moonbeam

4x Remains of Attoractia
4x Magic Stone of Dark Depths
1x Water Magic Stone
1x Darkness Magic Stone

The original build my friend went with was a sort of "Apostles Valentina" that ran more Titania and had Adombrali and Messenger Familiar. The idea was to have more weenies in the form of Scout and Messenger to Incarnate for Adombrali, which searches for Titania, who would have a lot of targets to rest in the form of tokens. This deck ran way too many high-cost resonators, though, and not nearly enough token generation. After a couple playtesting games with it, we shifted it to its current form.

Fishing and Scout provide a good number of options for Turn 1 plays, which the previous iteration lacked. The reduced number of Titania and Moojdart meant unplayable cards wouldn't flood your hand early, and a few more control spells/spells in general means Valentina's Ruler ability will trigger more often, and gives the deck a little more reactive play options. The good amount of floaters/token generators in this deck means you'll always have fodder for her J-Ruler ability, for Titania's cost reduction, and an army for Moojdart to make big. We took Muul out of the original deck because it felt clunky, but we're thinking about putting it back in. I want to put the Messenger Familiars back in and see how the Apostle engine works with more token generation. Playing Valentina, Puppet Monarch would have good synergy with the J-Ruler effect too.

J/Ruler: Sol, Hierophant of the Helio Star // Sol, Dark Commander of Steam

4x Prokaryotic Being
Sol, Hierophant of the Helio Star4x True Successor of Certo, Volga
4x Runic Commander Demon, Akiot
2x Twin-Headed Dragon
2x Captain Hook, the Pirate

4x Rune of Sol
4x Ancient Knowledge
4x Sympathy of Fire and Water
4x Ancient Heartfelt Fire
4x Steam Explosion
2x Ancient Barrier
1x World Flame Summoning
1x Rising from the Depths

4x Magic Stone of Vaporization
4x Magic Stone of Hearth's Core
2x Fire Magic Stone

Here' Sol, the big man himself. There are a lot of options available to this guy, so nailing down one deck was hard. We knew we wanted to main deck at least 2 separate win conditions, so he could play differently depending on the match-up. Volga + Steam Explosion was the obvious first choice, which left the rest of the deck open to adding 1 or 2 more possible victory combo's. Volga will likely come out, though, given how easy he is to answer in most commonly played decks. He ends up eating a space-time or destruction spell and dying more often than not.

Twin-Headed Dragon is a good midrange play, giving you decent board control and locking down things like mana dorks to stall the opponent out and giving you a good tempo swing. He's also a Rising target, if you choose to go that end-game route. Hook is there for the same reason. The massive amount of chants, namely Sympathy and Heartfelt, provide a huge chunk of ramp to get your big spells out faster. Thanks to Rune of Sol, costly and situational spells like Rising and World Flame Summoning can be run as 1-of's and still be reliably seen. World Flame provides a good answer to a variety of things thanks to its utility, and Ancient Barrier slows down most, if not all, of the control and negation that opponents could throw at you.

This weekend we're probably going to be messing with this guy the most. Going B/U/R, and more of a burn route, is something we've considered. The synergy between Shadow of Lapis and Conjure Time Bomb, allowing you to potentially put 2000 damage on board on your first turn is astounding. Throw in an Invitation of Disaster and you've got game then and there. I want to tamper with Rachel's Smile in the deck too, being a good setup card for a big play. Prokaryotic Being (who we lovingly call Muk) is probably our favorite card in the deck so far, being able to hit stupidly high numbers. The trick in finding the right build is going to be finding Sol's niche; A role where he isn't just playing Mercurius' or Mars' deck with new cards.

And there they are! Those are the decks we're working with locally. This set had certainly given us a lot of tinker with, and most of the new Rulers have plenty of different variants you can work with. The coming weeks will definitely bring us some changes to these builds, and once the first few tournament results started surfacing using the new cards, I'm sure we'll see these multiple builds converging to one or two optimized ones.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Builds for Legacy Lost - Part 1

Welcome back folks. With this past weekend being the official release of Legacy Lost, my friends and I cracked open a box and set out to get some working builds for these swanky new Rulers. Spoiler alert: Our box was simply awful. From our pre-release the previous weekend we collectively opened Sol and a Full Art Valentina. From our box, we opened Sol and a Full Art Valentina. So triggered. Luckily though our LGS also opened a few boxes and pulled the remaining Rulers that we needed. Among the four of us we had all 5 Rulers claimed, where I took Glorius and Lilias as the only person doubling down. I figured I'd share our builds on here, since the community as a whole still seems to be in the stage of figuring out how to optimize these guys, plus I need content.


J/Ruler: Glorius, Masked Crusader // Faria, Ruler of Divine Beasts

Glorius, Masked Crusader4x Divine Beast of Attoractia
4x Shining Kirin
4x Tama, Familiar of Holy Wind
4x Sacred Elf
4x Beast of Holy Light
4x Sacred Beast of Wind
3x Invisible Flame
3x Pricia, Beast Queen in Hiding
3x Amaterasu, Guide of Light
1x Sacred Komainu

2x Laevateinn, the Demon Sword
2x Faria's Summon
2x Seal of Wind and Light

4x Pricia's Memoria
4x Magic Stone of Gusting Skies
2x Magic Stone of Heat Ray

This list went through a LOT of revisions over the course of the weekend, and it's going to be subject to plenty more in the following weeks. The original draft of the deck didn't have Tama's or Sacred Elves, and ran slightly different ratios of the other cards. From the get-go, it was obvious that this deck had pacing issues. Prior to the Elves and Familiars the deck lacked a turn 1 play, and given how it's primarily an aggro deck, a slow start meant a bad start. You had to get a Divine Beast or Pricia out the turn before you did Judgment, so they could swing the following turn with an Inheritance buff. Putting them out early, though, meant letting them sit there and eat removal without protection. The deck curved out around 4-5 mana once you flip, and it definitely felt like the deck was starved for mana, thus I introduced Sacred Elves.

A couple of games after that, while the deck felt like it had more early mana, it still died out if the game went on for too long since only Shining Kirin replaces itself when used, so Faria ran out of steam pretty quick. Amaterasu was also near useless, since I didn't have a wide board to revive her with. I added in Tama's to see if he could let me keep up in advantage, while providing a good rest target for Amaterasu, and tweaked the ratio's to what they are now. I also added in the Invisible Flames, since blocker removal seemed pretty imperative to what the deck was trying to do. I contemplated Rachel, since she's a more efficient form of removal, but her UU hard cast cost meant I would HAVE to use Faria's free Inheritance to play her most of the time, which I didn't want to risk.

In the future, I plan on testing out how Ratatoskr works. Running him will give me a solid Turn 1 play, a good target for Amaterasu's revival, and he'll let me quickcast my resonators instead of letting them eat removal for a turn before they become useful. The Heat Rays might become Blasting Waves, for a consistent Turn 1 Green source, and I may swap Sacred Elves for Wind Sprites so I can have Turn 2/3 access to Beast of Holy Light for protection. Sacred Komainu will also come out in favor of a 4th Amaterasu, and I will probably test out Artemis Bows in combination with Invisible Flame.

Nine-Tailed Fox/Chimeras

J/Ruler: Lilias Petal, Agent of Salvation // The Nine-Tailed Fox

4x Red Riding Hood
Lilias Petal, Agent of Salvation4x Tama, Familiar of Holy Wind
4x The Executioner
3x Riza, First of the Dead
3x Melder, Last of the Dead
2x Lilias Petal's Assistant
2x Monkey Trapped in Life

4x Space-Time Anomaly
4x Artemis, the God's Bow
3x Nameless Mist
3x Charlotte's Water Transformation Magic
2x Curse of the Kyuubi
1x Horn of the Sacred Beasts
1x Deathscythe, the Life Reaper

4x Killing Stone
3x Magic Stone of Dark Depths
3x Magic Stone of Deep Wood

Side Deck:
1x Ammit, Beast of Gluttony
2x The Manticore
2x Griphon, Racing Across Darkness

My original theory-build for this guy had Alice's Castling, to turn Manticore and Griphon into Captain Hook and Izanagi, respectively. In original testing the deck functioned way better than any of us expected it to, being a lot faster and stronger than we imagined. As inconsistent as the Castling engine was, in addition to the fact that I didn't use it once, it didn't affect the deck in the slightest. Granted, the deck was fundamentally stronger than anything else we were testing, so results were definitely skewed. I finally took the engine out (after forgetting 2-3 times since I was mostly testing Faria) in favor of the 2 Monkeys, 3 Riza, and 3 Melder. The deck works even better. We pitted it against our builds for Lumia, Sol, and Valentina, and honestly there was no competition.

The deck judgments as early as turn 2. My rule of thumb was judgment the turn after I saw a Killing Stone, provided I had Chimera material. With all the 1-drops, though, sitting on 1 stone was easy. With Energize, you could play a Monkey turn 1 and then Red Riding Hood the next, while keeping one stone, then making Griphon and propelling up to 3 mana. You don't lose a beat with this deck no matter when you judgment. Reactively making Chimeras to deal with anything you don't like, usually at the end phase so they have pseudo-swiftness, means you don't lose any tempo. The slew of control spells let's you stay afloat if you don't see a Killing Stone for a while, and the Stealth engine gives you an alternate win condition and a way to stay in the game until you hit a Killing Stone.

My favorite play was having 2 resonators, eating them to make a Chimera, and while the effect is on the chase, flipping a Riza since the field is temporarily empty. It turned 2 weenies into 3+ massive bodies at a moment's notice. The stupid amount of ramp Griphon gives you makes Curse of the Kyuubi deadly, and the Space-Time + Bear Magic + Artemis Bow package gives you easy removal. The deck is fast, flexible, and has answers to just about everything. I've seen a lot of Chimera spam decks, but just as many control-based builds, and I think I'll be sticking with the control core. Lilias, while strong, has some obvious side board cards that can completely destroy him, so a more prepared list makes sense to me.


This will be the last deck for this article; I'll put up the Valentina and Sol lists this Thursday/Friday. I'm including this one today because it's really more of a half-list, since we never actually tested it. My friend who got the Lumia section of the box couldn't stick around to test much, due to this week being exam weeks for Universities, and he hadn't really prepared a list for her beforehand. Not to mention she kind of got the worst support in the set. This was a list we conjured up once we were satisfied with everything else, and honestly, Lumia is one of the more difficult brews if only because she is so open-ended without very many good ends.

J/Ruler: Lumia, the Fated Rebirth // Lumia, Saint of the Crimson Lotus

4x Guinevere, the Jealous Queen
Lumia, the Fated Rebirth
4x Rukh Egg
4x Lancelot, Knight of Matt Damon
4x Nyarlathotep, the Crimson Radiance
3x Azathoth, Hunter of Reality
3x The Seven Dwarves
2x Hector de Maris, the Acolyte of Matt Damon

4x Dance of Shadows
4x Meeting of Light and Fire
3x Crimson Ray
3x Blood Boil
2x Lumia's Judgment

4x Awakened Magic Stone, The Earth
4x Magic Stone of Scorched Bales
2x Magic Stone of Heat Ray

So yeah, a little unconventional. The big idea is to get Azathoth into the grave via Guinevere (possibly Soul Hunt too, depending on whatever edits we make) and then cast Dance of Shadows to bring him back. You'll blink him with Lumia's Ruler skill, which will free him from Dance's effect, reset him Limit counters, and recover him to block the following turn and proc his effect. The key here is to abuse rulings and the fact that there is a priority sequence after when "At the end of the turn" effects trigger. You'll use Dance of Shadows in this priority sequence, so when it says "Remove it from the game at the end of turn", it won't happen until the end of the next turn. This gives Azathoth pseudo-swiftness going into your turn, since he was played at the end of the opponent's turn, allowing you to attack with him, thus resting him and making him a legal target for Lumia's Ruler ability.

The Seven Dwarves are a really strong target for her blink ability too, since they're immune to damage so long as they have counters, and you can just blink them to reset their counters if they ever get low. Lancelot is just a solid aggro resonator, and you can pump him with Blood Boil or Hector. Blinking him with Lumia's ability at the end of turn will save him from dying to Blood Boil, and once you've judgmented Lumia, you can blink Hector to get a 400 pump each turn.

Again, this is just a theory-craft build. It works well in our heads, but we're planning on testing it out this weekend and seeing for sure how viable it is. If nothing else, it's definitely a fun idea that I encourage everyone else to try their hand at. Lumia is definitely one of the most flexible Rulers in the set, and she's just waiting for something to make her amazing.

There you have it! Three decks down, two to go. I'll put up the Valentina and Sol lists this Thursday, and report any changes we make to these decks over the weekend in the following week. I hope everyone is having as much fun testing these new cards as we are!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Look at the LEL Rulers

It's that time of the week again, eh? This weekend is the official release of Legacy Lost and I'm about as hype as I can be. I've been spending my time thinking of deck brews and helping my friends with their own. Since the set isn't actually out yet there hasn't been much testing going on, but that's certainly changing this weekend and I'll be working to bring some of my personal brews to you guys as soon as I finalize them. In the mean time, I figured I'd do an article taking a look at all the new Rulers we got in this set now that all their support has been revealed. Since I already went over my first impressions on these cards in their respective spoiler articles, this is going to be less of an analysis on them individually and more of how their overall deck/support fares, along with any updated thoughts due to support revealed after I reviewed them.

Glorius, Masked Crusader Faria, Ruler of Divine Beasts

First up is Glorius/Faria. We didn't get any revolutionary Inheritance cards revealed this set that make her totally bonkers, but that's ok. We did get Amaterasu who is just as good, and an incredible target for Glorius' Ruler ability. There's also Sacred Komainu, which turns Faria's second ability into somewhat of a win condition by letting you drop a huge power pump for free. The Inheritance deck's game plan/win condition seems to be hyper aggressive, looking to get one or two good resonators on board (like Divine Beast of Attoractia) and flipping Faria relatively early, then abusing her second ability to get multiple ATK boosts during battle. This strategy naturally lends itself to Pricia, Beast Queen in Hiding to give you more bang for your buck, as well as cards like Shining Kirin that cantrip themselves so you don't run out of cards. There are also a couple Inheritance cards that serve as blocker removal, letting your big strikes hit their mark more consistently.

The biggest weakness this deck will have is the same all aggressive decks share, being a lack of control options and inherent advantage engine. Kirin is really the only card that replaces itself once used, so it's very easy to run out of steam and stall out. Against a control deck, which seem to be too popular, that can spell defeat. Likewise, Faria is susceptible to Black Moonbeam, and losing her and her free Inheritance effect can slow the deck to a near-halt.

While Faria might not be dethroning Fiethsing as the queen of the meta anytime soon, she's a very solid aggressive ruler, which is something the game was lacking lately. She has built-in utility with her Inheritance focus, so her usefulness scales with stronger Inheritance cards, and her God's Art stops almost everything aside from Moonbeam. If/when she finally does die, at least Glorius' ability lets you filter out Inheritance cards you can no longer use.

Invading Demon of Water, Valentina Valentina, Released Terror

Valentina is a really strong idea, but suffers from a couple glaring design flaws. Her front side lends itself to a control playstyle while her J-Ruler side wants a more aggressive, wide-board style of play, and her support reflects this. Half of it is control, mostly in the form of discard and some resonator removal, while the other half focuses on token spam. This creates a rather large disconnect in what her deck is trying to do, where half of the support are token-creating floaters and the other half try to gimp the opponent somehow. The biggest issue here, though, is that all of her support is over-costed and under-powered for what they do simply because they were meant to be played with her. A huge chunk of her resonators are 1 or 2 cost more than what they should be because it's assuming you're playing Valentina (and have flipped her) so it will cost 1 less.

Cards like Illusion WizardNightmare, and even Moojdart are all victims of this. The problem being Moojdart herself, who gives a 200/200 buff to all Water resonators and a separate one to all Darkness resonators, for a grand total of +400/+400 to all Water/Darkness resonators. This means your tokens will be 800/800, Illusion Wizard will be 900/900, and Nightmare will be 600/600. This puts them at a little stronger than what their cost allows for (their post-reduction cost, mind you), but the whole deck is built around "These cards are bad, but they're really good if you have Moojdart out and have flipped Valentina!" which, in my opinion, is a pretty bad game plan. Granted, her natural play style at least lends itself to supporting this strategy. Her front side increases the removal power of your control cards, letting you spend the first few turns just stalling out the opponent before you get enough magic stones to flip Valentina safely, who then reduces the cost of most of your cards, letting you swarm the board with ease.

This is remarkably similar to what Mikage tries to accomplish, however. His Ruler side is dedicated to stopping weak/cheap plays the opponent makes while building up power for an aggressive flip. Valentina's real challenge will be trying to establish herself in a meta where Mikage is the tried-and-true method of control, but I don't think that will be too hard for her. Her front side gives most of her control cards enough reach to be able to hit something that, previously, was just beyond what they could kill. Space-Time Anomaly becomes a -700/-700, which lets it hit every 2-drop and a lot of 3-drop, whereas -500/-500 couldn't kill much on its own. A 1-card answer to any 2-drop is actually really important, and she let's Endless Night become a near-guaranteed 2-for-1 since, on top of the -200 DEF it gives to the field, it will give an extra -300 DEF to one card. Take, for example, the Fiethsing matchup. Endless Night on a Gwiber would kill it, nuke the Tokens and weenies, but Guinevere would still be alive. With Valentina, that Endless Night kills Guinevere, hurting their engine even more. Double Space-Time can kill a Gwiber, too, which is convenient. 

Lilias Petal, Agent of Salvation The Nine-Tailed Fox

Harking back to Faria, Lilias Petal is another Ruler who is strong but whose overall usefulness rides on their direct support. For Faria it was the quality of Inheritance cards, but for Lilias it's the strength of the Chimeras he can summon. Thankfully we got some decent, and flexible, Chimeras in this set and more have been all but confirmed for future sets. Unlike Faria, though, Lilias can't function as a stand-alone body, although that can be seen as both a strength and a weakness. He can't battle and can't be destroyed, making him immune to even the dreaded Black Moonbeam, as well as almost every other form of removal. Barring Blazer, or a Final Forfeit + removal, once he's on the field, he's there to stay. Unfortunately, if he picks up too much steam in the meta, those cards will likely see a surge in play to deal with him.

The best part about the Chimeras is that they can be summoned from your side deck, so you don't have to worry about drawing into them and them being dead in your hand, as well as letting you run 1-ofs for niche or situational plays and not worrying about them taking up room. The down side to this, though, is that most of your main deck is going to be composed of fodder for your Chimera, so were Lilias to die or your Chimeras be made obsolete (*cough* Charlotte's Bear Magic *cough*), your deck won't be able to function well on its own. Building him means you'll need some strong main-decked win conditions such as the Riza-Melder Stealth combo. Lilias' absolute biggest weakness, though, is the fact that you have to have Killing Stone to do anything, and there are very few ways to get it out of the stone deck aside from praying to RNGesus. 

Being Black/Green, though, puts Lilias in the perfect position for this play style. He has most of the negation, ramp, and destruction in the game available to him due to his colors, letting him take on a much more control-heavy play style and baiting/negating any answers the opponent may have to his large creatures, then cheesing them in for cheap and bashing face. The three Chimeras he currently has give him resonator spot-removal, hand control, Addition/regalia destruction, and massive ramp, all at the drop of a hat.

Lumia, the Fated Rebirth Lumia, Saint of the Crimson Lotus

Honestly, Lumia is the Ruler I've paid the least attention to this spoiler season, although she's likely got the most potential out of any of these new cards. She's a Light/Fire card, which are the two weakest colors at the moment, so her pool of tools is pretty limited compared to what everyone else has to work with. A strong Lumia deck will likely be 3-colored, but keeping strictly to her two colors isn't impossible, given the neat tools she got in this set. You can theoretically run any combination of colors with her, as long as there are strong "When this card enters your field" effects you can abuse.

Her J-Ruler "as you enter" effect is incredibly powerful too. Removing a Nyarlathotep gives her Imperishable and a Lifelink effect, and due to the way Rulers work with the new rulings combined with the wording of her effect, she'll keep that effect no matter what. She died? She'll re-flip with the Imperishable and Lifelink, even if you don't remove another Nyarla. That alone is pretty powerful, since aside from Deathscythe, there's no way to truly get rid of her.

Most of her support isn't anything to bat an eye at. You have Blessed Knight which is a vastly over-costed 4/4, but becomes spammable removal when combined with Lumia's blink effects. Fairy of Recurrence is a flying chump blocker that you can abuse for +2 or +3. Nyarlathotep herself is an incredible card, giving you a huge swing in momentum, and the Red/Light Pact Spell is a Pot of Greed with burn/life gain.

Just looking at this set, Lumia really got the short end of the stick support-wise. However, the sky's the limit when it comes to her actual usefulness since she works with virtually any color that has an effect she can abuse. As we get more effects like that, she only grows in utility. Lumia is one of those cards that might not be immediately good, but she's just waiting for that one card (or for someone to find that one combo) to break her and make her Tier 0.

Sol, Hierophant of the Helio Star Sol, Dark Commander of Steam

Rounding out the lineup we have Mercurius Mars Sol. This guy basically made Mars obsolete, and Mercurius is only really still relevant because she has Flying. Sol has innate access to every Ancient Magic in the game (aside from the 2 Darkness ones), meaning he can play Mars' or Mercurius' decks exactly the same they can, but can naturally splash the other's colors, not to mention all the Red/Blue spells we got in this set. Rune of Sol searches any Ancient Magic, Sympathy of Fire and Water gives him speedy ramp without needing to flip, and Steam Explosion, in combination with Volga, can OTK the opponent with only the Mana counters you get from starting the game and Judgmenting.

Ancient Barrier is another strong support card this guy got, which severely hampers any deck except his own. Good luck cancelling his spells when you have to pay double the will to do it. At least his familiar, Akiot doesn't have the utility that the other two Familiars have. That, combined with Sol not gaining a keyword and coming in as a 500/500 unless you remove Akiot, at least helps to make Mars and Mercurius look enticing. The sheer amount of flexibility this guy has with his play style will definitely let him see play. At the absolute worst, he's Mercurius that can search Rising from the Depths without having to splash colors. At best, he can run 1 of every Ancient Magic and search whatever he needs/wants for the situation. A good Sol player, with a well-built Sol deck, will easily have 2-3 different win conditions in his deck that you'll be forced to play around simultaneously.  

Monday, December 5, 2016

My Top 5 Cards from LEL

Now that pre-release weekend has come and gone, and the entirety of Legacy Lost has been spoiled, deck brews and builds are popping up like rabbits in spring. In between theory crafting sessions of my own, I bring you my list of what I consider the Top 5 cards of this set. I will preface this by saying that this isn't a prediction of which 5 cards will be impacting the meta the most, or which are the best 5 cards of the set. Rather, I'm ranking these based on originality, creativity, and personal preference. These will be cards that I find have interesting and unique card design, while maintaining a healthy impact on the game, or cards that I just find cool.

Faria's Summon

Starting us off is Faria's Summon. It's a pretty standard effect, search your deck for a resonator and add it to your hand. Torrent let's you recover a magic stone, essentially making this a 1-cost cast, which can help to play the resonator you just searched. This adds a ton of consistency to a lot of decks, especially those reliant on seeing one or two specific resonators in order to function. Huanglong/Four Sacred Beast decks are the first to come to mind, although this card was obviously designed to work with the new Inheritance cards. Any deck that wants to run a low resonator count, maybe run all spells with a couple of bombs to drop once you have a lot of protection, can benefit from this too.

Charlotte, Wielder of the Sacred Spirit

Charlotte, Wielder of the Sacred Spirit. This is one of those cards that can single-handedly spawn its own deck, having a powerful effect on its own but also benefiting from a support network. According to game rulings, effects of cards have their costs associated with their source cards, making her Barrier ability incredibly strong. For example, if Lancelot has 1000 ATK and swings, the game sees his burn effect as having a cost of 2, since Lancelot himself has total cost 2. Cards without costs, such as J/Ruler abilities, are treated as having cost 0. When playing Charlotte with her Ruler self, flipping and then playing this resonator will net you a 1000/1000 beater that is immune to anything that is 5-cost or less. Very few, if any, cards in the game can deal with her at that point. Since discard isn't nearly as prominent as it was last cluster, she isn't at too much of a risk of dying.

Given her incredible synergy with her Ruler form, you can start a deck out with just those two and then take it anywhere. Charlotte could be her own self-contained engine/win condition, and you could devote the rest of your deck to some other strategy and have two ways to kill the opponent, or you could load it up with protection and draw to make sure resonator Charlotte is an unkillable behemoth.

Amaterasu, Guide of Light

Amaterasu just has way too much synergy with too many things. Being an Inheritance card she was obviously designed to go in the Inheritance deck, and she's an incredible discard target for Glorius' Ruler effect. She can bring herself back from the graveyard, meaning she's still a live and playable card even after she leaves your hand. Lifelink on an 800/800 body is nothing to scoff at either, and while her Inheritance ability is pretty vanilla and costly, Faria can make that free. Then, once you've used her for her pump, you can just bring her back. Mad value.

The deck that can probably make the best use of her, though, is Fiethsing Turbo. Discard her with Guinevere and she's still live, and only takes 2 tokens/weenies to come back. She's no Gwiber, sure, but value is value. She essentially makes Guinevere a +2, just like Deathscythe, and can make use of the otherwise dead tokens that sit there.

Ammit, Beast of Gluttony Griphon, Racing Across Darkness The Manticore The Nine-Tailed Fox

This isn't one card, but they're so intertwined that they might as well be. I'm putting the Nine-Tailed Fox and his Chimera engine at #2 because of how flexible it is. The Fox can't battle and can't be destroyed (suck it Black Moonbeam), and his only purpose is to convert your resonators into Chimeras. The biggest thing here, though, is that he can play them from outside of the game. In a tournament setting, that means your side deck, but that's still huge. You have a toolbox of massive creatures, each will a powerful situational ability, that you don't have to dedicate deck space to. That means you won't have dead draws of big, unplayable creatures early on. Of course, this means the Fox's usefulness is directly tied to how good the Chimeras are, but they definitely didn't disappoint.

Ammit is an anti-resonator card. 1500/1500 is a massive body, bigger than even Gwiber, and nukes problematic cards on-enter, then gives you life. The Fox's ability lets you bring it out at instant speed, making him a Stoning to Death with a huge body and some life gain attached. The Manticore is much weaker, at 900/900, but has Flying, and comes with a discard effect. Since control decks don't tend to field many resonators, but hoard a lot of strong spells, the Manticore will be your go-to guy over Ammit in those match-ups. Unlike Scorn or Nameless Mist, he can hit any card, and you get to look at the opponent's entire hand to boot. You can also opt to destroy a regalia or addition instead, in case the opponent has something extra troublesome on the field. Griphon is the glue that holds the deck together. Since the Fox requires you to banish a magic stone to make a Chimera, you can easily find yourself falling behind if you spam him too much, but Griphon lets you keep up (or even get ahead) in the stone game while packing a massive 1200/1200 flying body. If you use Red Riding Hood as one of his materials you won't lose a single stone and will instead get a net +2 ramp ahead of your opponent. That's insane!

Curse of the Kyuubi

My #1 spot goes to Curse of the Kyuubi. It's very reminiscent of Stories Told in 1001 Nights, a card from Grimm Cluster that would remove a resonator from the game, then send all copies of it with it. Curse does the same thing but for spells, which is arguably better. Stories was one of my favorite cards from Grimm just because of how impactful it was, and how much it punished decks that relied on 1 or 2 broken cards (cough cough Lancelot cough cough) to carry them. Being able to do the same thing to spells is such a power play, especially if its a card like Charlotte's Transformation Magic or Space-Time Anomaly that have remnant, letting you essentially remove 8 cards from the opponent's deck. Using it on cancel spells, like Seal of Wind and Light, will let you play a lot more aggressively without having to worry about the opponent's answers as much. Granted, you will end up having to pay a lot of will to ensure this card goes off properly, but if you time it right you can win the game off of this card alone. It only has a big impact in the hands of an experienced and calculating player, who knows exactly what to hit and when, and more often than not you're going to see people misuse this and then complain when it didn't win them the game. Cards like this, which have a high skill ceiling to use properly and require precise judgment, are some of my favorite in any game.

Do you guys agree with this list? What cards do you think deserve a spot on a list like this? It will definitely be interesting to see how the meta changes in the next month or two as these cards see play.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Why Seven Luminaries is Six too Many

Since spoiler season is over, and my local pre-release isn't until later this weekend, I'm in an interesting spot of not having anything to immediately report on. Instead, I'll take this time to discuss/rant about a little aspect of this cluster's card design that has rubbed me the wrong way since its release: The Seven Luminaries.

Mercurius, Wizard of the Water Star Mars, Fortuneteller of the Fire Star Sol, Hierophant of the Helio Star

So far, we've seen three of the seven: Mercurius, Mars, and Sol (pictured above, respectively). The main theme of the Seven Luminaries is the use of the Mana keyword and Mana counters, which can be used to produce extra will to play Ancient Magic spells. The Luminaries each have a familiar resonator, which can be removed from the game from your hand as you Judgment to give them more Mana counters. With Mercurius and Mars, they each have a signature spell that you'll be spending most/all of your Mana counters to play. While we haven't seen all of Sol's cards, he seems to just be a more flexible Mars. The only difference each Ruler has is the color of will their Mana counters can make, and the benefit they get from removing their familiar. Mercurius gets Flying, Mars gets First Strike, and Sol gets a stat boost.

That being said, each deck plays very differently. Mercurius is a build-up, using ponder and search cards to grab certain combo pieces before flipping for a huge tempo swing with her Ancient Magic. Mars is a rush deck, aiming to get the opponent to 2000 life as fast as possible so you can flip and burn them for the remaining 2000 with his Ancient Magic. Sol seems to encourage less of a"huge turn" and more of spending and gaining Mana counters a lot over the course of the game, and playing higher-cost spells for cheap with them. However, these different play styles seem to be thanks to the Ancient Magic spells, rather than due to the traits of the individual rulers. The spells do a good job of representing their colors, but the Rulers themselves are only as good as the tools they're given, and Force of Will seems to be pretty hesitant about giving them too many tools. The idea behind making different J/Rulers is to encourage various play styles and decks, yet here we are with 3 near-identical Rulers whose only differences are artificial. The only reason Mars and Mercurius play differently is because the game basically says "You can only play this one card if you're playing Mercurius." So, instead, I propose this:

First off, shout out to the guys on the reddit who made the card editor app. You can find it here if you want to check it out for yourself. Here is a redesigned Mercurius, keeping everything about her card the same except for the attribute, which I removed. Imagine, rather than the 3 Luminaries we currently have (and however more we're going to get), Mercurius was the only one. She produces void will with her mana counters, rather than water or any other specific attribute, and we keep our current pool of Ancient Magic cards. You could splash any color into her deck and have a working skeleton. Want to use Rising from the Depths? Make a water deck, throw some strong water resonators in there. You'd still need magic stones to make the water will to play the blue Ancient Magic cards, but all the void costs would be paid with your mana counters (and some of the spells would be re-costed in accordance with this). You could go Red/Blue to play two different kinds of Ancient Magic, or Red/Green, depending on what a Green Ancient Magic would do. Any combination of colors would be available to you. The amount of deck variants we'd see with Mercurius would be amazing, and she'd only require the absolute minimum amount of support each set to feel refreshed.

That would free up two Ruler slots (Mars and Sol), plus a potential 4 more from not printing the other Seven Luminaries, that could go to other Rulers that would create different play styles or deck variants. Since Ancient Magic is just an identifier on a card, they could be printed for the rest of the cluster, meant to be splashed into decks of their color, but still usable by Mercurius variants. A card like this has the potential to be so flexible without actually be broken. Rulers that don't need Ancient Magics wouldn't have to compete with her for a spot in your deck.

The way the Luminaries are designed now, though, just doesn't sit well with me. They clearly are designed to work towards their respective Ancient Magics, but that just feels like a crappier, less consistent version of a God's Art. You have Rulers that basically say "This card let's you play X card, if you removed Y card when you performed judgment." What if Mercurius instead read:

Here, the Rising from the Depths effect is built-in to the card, and the same would be for Mars. This removes the inconsistency of needing 2 additional combo pieces (The familiar and the Ancient Magic) just to play a card. In exchange for losing the Mana counter mechanic, these new Luminary cards could have built-in cost reduction on this God's Art. For example, maybe Mercurius would let you pay 1 less for each card in your hand, keeping in-theme with water's drawing mechanics. Or maybe the cost is decreased by you having more cards in your hand than the opponent does. There are plenty of ways to spin this while removing all the unnecessary combo pieces the cards currently have.

The argument here is that "These are powerful effects, they're meant to need combo pieces and be a little inconsistent to compensate for how impactful they are," which is a fair argument. However, that reminds me of Exodia from Yu-Gi-Oh, which is an insanely powerful effect (Instant-win), but very inconsistent. Obviously the combo's here aren't on that scale, but it's the same idea. You're looking at a deck that will properly go off every few games, and probably get steam rolled every other game. Now, Mercurius has seen some competitive success, but that's really only thanks to Captain Hook putting the opponent behind enough to win from sheer momentum. Mars hasn't seen nearly as much play, and for good reason. From a card design standpoint, a hit-or-miss deck isn't very well designed and will put people off from playing it. I respect the idea of a deck based around making one huge tempo play, but I feel that it could have been executed much better. I'm really not looking forward to seeing four more of these cards, either.