Thursday, January 26, 2017

Vingolf 3 Spoilers - Grimm Cluster

Holy bajeezus readers, do we have some amazing cards here. Last week we got a glimpse of some of the Alice Cluster-inspired resonators, and today we got a peak at our old friends from Grimm Cluster. Grimm, as a cluster, was really all over the place and had some incredibly powerful cards that forever defined the game, and this spoiler article showed that these resonators will keep that sentiment alive and well. Let's dive right in to these sweet, sweet reveals:

Grimm, the titular character of the cluster, is first up to bat and boy oh boy, does he live up to his reputation. Every resonator you control and own are treated as Fairy Tales. Let me reiterate that: Every resonator in a non-field area is a Fairy Tale. Hand? Grave? Deck? All Fairy Tales. Remember Millium, who said you can play Fairy Tales of any attribute for light will? If this guy hits the field, you can play any resonator in the game using only light stones. Summoning from the Fairy Tale World can now search any 2 resonators in the game. The potential here is incredible. On top of that, if you're running Millium (which you will be), this guy basically becomes a small Millium during battle. He gets the Force 1 during attacking or blocking ability that J-Ruler Millium is rocking, although he doesn't get to keep the power-up. Still, combine that with all the other Force support and Pandora, and you've got some serious damage. A fun combo you can do with this guy is play Library of Alexandria and call "Fairy Tale", and now every resonator in your deck has swiftness. Scary.

Up next is the noticeably less amazing Lumia. 4/7 on a 2-drop isn't the best stat-wise, but on-enter she removes the top card of your deck face-down, and let's you play it as long as she's in play. This is basically a conditional on-enter draw 1 that you're jumping through way too many hoops to be able to actually use. If you're using J/Ruler Lumia, though, she removes 3 cards. Draw 3 is much more potent and noteworthy, especially since J-Lumia will let you play those cards even after this card bites the dust. She also doesn't have the once-per-turn restriction of her J-Ruler form, so the cards she removes are fair game at all times. I really wish she had more of a use in Alisaris, but only getting 1 removed card off of her on-enter is really weak. She's incredibly strong in her dedicated deck, but outside of that, not really.

They misspelled "Phantastic" in this card's name. Bahamut keeps the spirit of his old J/Ruler form alive without breaking the game in half again. He brings back that cancerous Incarnate mechanic, but at a steep Incarnate 3 cost, you won't be getting much hard value out of him, or rushing with him either. You can use Rukh Egg to mitigate the loss of advantage, but there aren't really any other on-death effects in red. You can eat Pricia to summon him to trigger her 500 burn, plus his 700 burn, for a surprise 1200 burst on the opponent. Other than that, though, you're going to take a real hit in advantage to play this guy, but I'd say it's worth it. 1000/1000 flier is pretty beefy, although sadly not as big as Gwiber. If you're playing Library of Alexandria and you call "Dragon," he can surprise the opponent with 1700+ damage out of nowhere. You can also run Draig, who you can search off of the Rukh Eggs you ate to play this guy, and have an automatic 3-cost reduction from the incarnate. If you manage to kill one other card (Say, use Guinevere on herself or something else before recovery?) you can play him for 1. If you've gone the Alexandria route, Draig will have swiftness too. Now we're up to 2900+ damage in one turn. You searched 2 Draigs because you ate 2 Eggs? Now we have 4100 damage from just this play, which can happen as early as turn 3. I'd say Red Aggro is back, baby.

Cain is as simple as they come. Tap him to burn the opponent for 200. If you're playing a burn deck, then he's good. Not much else to say. You can tap him for the burn damage then feed him to Bahamut to get a big body on board if you're into that.

Here we have a neat mechanic. That's it. She's a 5/5 3-drop, which is just terribly stats and value, but you can play her from your deck whenever you're searching through it for something. I really don't know how adding something to the chase while you're in the middle of resolving something else will work, so we'll have to wait on the judges on that one, but I doubt anyone will even be running her in the first place. 3 will is a lot for something that is going to do effectively nothing on your field. If this effect were on a card that actually did something it might be really cool, but paying 3 will for what is basically a 5/5 token is just poor value.

Little Red has me a bit torn. Getting 100/100 for each wind stone is pretty good value for a 1-drop, but she's just vanilla. At 4 stones she's a 7/7 for one will, which is incredible value, but no utility. Getting Swiftness for having a mono-wind stone is neat, but we're in a meta where utility and usefulness trump straight aggression. She's super potent in a deck with her J/Ruler form, who doubles her power boost. You'll be looking at a 5/5 on turn one, and at 4 stones, she'll be 11/11. That's some good value, especially with the Swiftness. She'll give Little Red decks in Wanderer some nice speed that just ramps up as the game goes on, but outside of that, she doesn't really offer much.

"The future is one of many possibilities." Well, maybe there's a future where this card could have been good. Four will is a lot for one card, especially something that isn't a boss monster or a game-winner. On top of that, she has a hard cost of four wind will. Let's compare her to the card that's most like her: Lucifer. Lucy is another 4-drop 9/9 card, but he costs BB2 (making him easier to splash/play) and will also get rid of a resonator on-enter. He doesn't target, so he can get around Barrier, but he also can't snipe key threats like this card card. Lucifer has flying, though, which is a very powerful keyword in this meta, as well as the potential for lifelink. Scheherazade, though, kind of functions as a double-edged sword of sorts. She only bounces, so you aren't actually getting rid of a threat, and in a meta of on-enter effects you're just fueling the opponent's plays. The bounced card at least goes on top of the opponent's deck, so you're effectively robbing them of a draw too. But for your entire Turn 4 play? The value just isn't there. She might have some use in a control deck if you go second, so you can energize her in on turn 3 to stall the opponent's turn 4. You can even play her on turn 2 if you used ramp and energize, which can really set the opponent back if you can follow it up with control, so she might not be 100% useless after all.

Here's the real meta breaker of the set. Abdul keeps to his roots of killing Enter abilities by stopping all on-enter abilities of your opponent's resonators. R.I.P. to Chimera and Hook decks, your advantage engine just got shut down. If you can get this guy on the field and protect him, the meta will bow to you. If you can find a way to quickcast him, you can become the ultimate troll by dropping him in response to your opponent playing a resonator with an enter ability. Get ready to open some salt mines.

Dracula is... well, not terribly good. 1000/1000 for a 4-drop is insane value, especially with flying, but I can't think of any deck that would need the rest of his effect. Granted, it'll become a lot more useful once Alice Cluster rotates out and we lose all our regalia for easy Imperishable access, but we'll also be losing Black Moonbeam, which is the biggest threat to a J-Ruler. It's good to note that having him out lets your J-Ruler skirt around Moonbeam since the Imperishable is a continuous effect he is applying. I just can't think of any J-Ruler that would need Imperishable badly enough to take a turn to play this guy, and hope he doesn't eat removal, before flipping. Even in a Vampire deck, where you can make use of this guy's race, Mikage already has built-in Imperishable. Maybe some of the Rulers we'll see in the next few sets will be able to make better use of this guy.

Here we have the ideal red aggro card. Snow White is an 8/8 for 3 will, which is standard, and has base Precision. She'll be vanilla otherwise, but there are definitely cards that give you worse value for your will. If you drop below 3000 life, she gets First Strike, so she can pick off virtually any threat on your opponent's board unscathed. If you drop below 2000, she gets more aggressive and gains Swiftness. Dropping into the danger zone of 1000 or less will give her a 4/4 buff. A 1200/1200 Swiftness monstrosity for only 3 will in the late game is nothing to scoff at. She's incredible in Yggdrasil decks, where you want to be low on life, and even more potent in Grimmia decks in Wanderer. Red aggro tends to fall off the longer the game drags on, and Snow White helps to remedy that by getting stronger as the game goes. Between her and Bahamut, red is looking to make a showing again.

That's it for this week's spoilers. Next week is going to focus on the Valhalla cards in the set, and the week afterwards the Vingolf actually gets released. If we see another 10 cards next week, we'll have seen 30 of the 55 resonators in the set, so almost half of them will be surprises when it actually drops. If your favorite Ruler hasn't shown up in these past two spoilers, fret not, you still have a pretty decent chance of seeing them in the set.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

ARG North Carolina State Championship Tournament Report

I just got back from the North Caroline ARG States, held at my locals Blue Ox Games. It was a long 9 hours, but I braved it all to bring you readers this wonderful tourney report. The deck I was using was:

J/Ruler: Acolyte of the Abyss // Alisaris, the Demon of Calamity

4x Keeper of the Past, Urthr
4x Keeper of the Present, Verdandi
4x Guinevere, the Jealous Queen
4x Rukh Egg
Acolyte of the Abyss4x Nyarlathotep, the Crimson Radiance
3x Time Traveling Emissary
2x Vell-Savarian Dragon

3x Flame King's Shout 
3x Demonflame
2x Lightning Strike
2x Barrier Seal
2x Orb of Disaster, Ifrit Glass
2x Deathscythe, the Life Reaper
1x Blazing Metropolis, Vell-Savaria

Magic Stones:
4x Disaster's Memoria
4x Magic Stone of Heat Ray
2x Fire Magic Stone

Side Board:
1x Demonflame
1x Lumia's Judgment
1x Interdimensional Escape
4x True Successor of Certo, Volga
4x Sanguine Arena
4x Torching the Timeline

Round 1: Vs. Valentina 2.0

Of course, out of all the people at the tournament, round 1 I would get matched up against one of my friends. He was using a Valentina 2.0 build we had put together after we realized we had the pieces lying around, and he'd been playing it for a week or so. In testing, Alisaris hadn't done too hot against her and I had been a little hesitant to take him since I thought she would be fairly popular. Still, it was either Alisaris or Wukong, and I was just there to have fun so I had decided on him before the event.

Game 1 went heavily in my favor. I got a good amount of RFG ramp going before he could get a good regalia arsenal built up, and staring down 4+ attackers with 1000 ATK each spelled doom. Game 2 I sided in to the Volga + Torching combo, siding out of Rukh Egg since I didn't need blockers (or too much searching to be honest) against a deck that only swings with a J-Ruler. I whittled him down with Emissary pinging Volga, and some attacks, over the course of a few turns and managed to hit exact game with a Torching burn.

Result: 2-0
Record: 1-0

Round 2: Vs. Lumia Hook

Looking around after Round 1, I saw quite a few of these builds scattered about. I was expecting a lot more Fox, but this was a nice surprise. I had seen the lists that topped in Tokyo, so I was a little familiar with the deck. Turn 1 Emissary meant I could immediately kill off Tamas or Sacred Elves, which slowed the deck down a ton. I focused mainly on hitting my RFG threshold as fast as possible, and had 1100 Urthrs and 1000 Verdandis swinging off a turn before they were able to drop Hook. Between Emissaries, Lightning Strikes, and Demonflames, I was able to kill off their mana dorks and keep them from ramping. Even when Hook came down it was too late, since my heavy hitters were already on the field.

Game 2 I sided into my fourth Demonflame and a couple Torching the Timelines, siding out Barrier Seal. It went similarly to game 1, where I killed off the Dorks and kept them going at my pace. It ended similarly.

Result: 2-0
Record: 2-0

Round 3: Vs. Sol

I got paired down this round, again matched up against one of my friends. He was using his Sol list we'd been working on since Legacy Lost dropped. Game 1 he had me worried, since my RFG engine was stalling and he dropped a World Flame Summon on a field of Guinevere (rested), Vell-Savarian Dragon, and Emissary, and hit one of my stones too. That set me back a lot, and he flipped Sol, got 10 counters, then dropped Rising to play a Catalyst Spirit and two Charlottes. With 6 cards in hand both of those Charlotte's were 1200/1200 with Barrier against basically everything in my deck. Fortunately, I was able to use Disaster's Memoria to hit 12 cards in RFG, flipped Alisaris, and used his God's Art to nuke everything. From there he just lost all steam, and I played another Keeper to seal the deal.

Game 2 I got my RFG engine going and just did what the deck was made to do. I don't remember too much about the specifics of this game, but I ended up taking it.

Result: 2-0
Record: 3-0

Round 4: Vs. Lumia Hook

This was very similar to the build I had faced Round 2, and I played against it similarly. Game 1 I played Emissary, killed off Tama and Sacred Elf, and ramped up before they could. Urthr and Verdandi beatdown, before they could get Hook going, took Game 1.

Game 2 I had a slower start, using my Emissaries and Demonflames/Lightning Strikes to try to kill their dorks, but a couple well-timed Wall of Winds and other answers kept them going, and I ran out of steam before I could stop Hook. They took Game 2.

Game 3 went similarly to Game 1. I was able to kill the dorks, get my RFG pile nice and big, and start swinging with my pumped up resonators. At one point they had a field of Hook, Melfee, Celestial Wing, and Lucifer. Alisaris' God's Art took care of that, but I made a pretty bad misplay the following turn with my attack order which could have won me the game. They ended their turn with Hook and Sacred Elf to my Urthr, at 10 life, so I recovered my cards and swung. They blocked with Elf, instead of Hook, which let me Lightning Strike her and have my attack go through for game.

Result: 2-1
Record: 4-0

Round 5: Vs. ???

I'm pretty sure this guy was playing Valentina 2.0, from what I had seen from walking around in the previous rounds, but we decided just to draw. I was tired, he was hungry, and we were guaranteed spots in Top 8 anyway.

Result: 1-1-1
Record: 4-0-1

From here we did the cut to Top 8, and when they posted standings, I was sitting happy in 1st Place. They did a deck check on all Top 8 participants, and since I was the only one of my friends who had made it, they all went and grabbed dinner while we waited for the Top 8 to start. I stayed behind, since I didn't want to be gone when the next round started, and my one friend (the Sol player) stayed behind and we played some games while the rest of the group got dinner and brought us food.

Top 8: Vs. Valentina 2.0

Game 1 they flipped Valentina at 3 mana. I flipped Alisaris at 4, then used his God's Art, which was just enough to hit lethal on Val, and I had a Deathscythe in play so she was dead and gone. He did a Pricia's God Art to try to stay in the game, but I broke through that with Emissary + Demonflame and Urthr burn, so he just scooped.

Game 2 he flipped Valentina but forgot to reveal the Seven Kings on her trigger, so he was swinging with a 700/700 vanilla with regalia pumps. Unfortunately, he had Apollo, so I couldn't block any of it. I got him down to 10, and had two Lightning Strikes in hand (I had grabbed one and a demonflame off of Ifrit Glass before upkeep), and attempted to burn for game. He negated one with Seal of Wind and Light, and since I didn't have a flying blocker, he swung for lethal the next turn. I should have grabbed Vell-Savaria Dragon instead of Demonflame off of the Ifrit Glass, since I had 2 open will after playing both Lightning Strikes, and could have had a blocker to survive with. Lessons for next time.

Game 3 he kept killing my Deathscythe so I couldn't kill Valentina. He flipped her into my field of Alisaris and 2 Verdandis, swung at a Verdandi, and stole her with Deathscythe. I had 2 cards in my grave aside from Deathscythe the next turn, so I swung at Valentina with Verdandi, which he blocked with my stolen Verdandi, who died and gave me 3 cards in grave to remove for Deathscythe. That plus an Alisaris God's Art killed Valentina again, and the rest of the game went similarly to Game 1.

Result: 2-1
Record: 5-0-1

Top 4: Vs. Lumia Hook

This was the same guy from Round 2. Nothing spectacular happened this round. I played Emissary turn 1, killed off Tamas and Sacred Elves, and got big Keepers to swing before he could get Hook going. Game 2 I had a much slower start and he played an Arthur. I tried to kill him with my God's Art, but he had sided in Amaterasu's Foresight and prevented all my damage, which sealed the deal for that game. Game 3 I got a very fast start with multiple Emissaries, and I Flame King's Shouted in a Vell-Savaria Dragon. He didn't have a cancel for it, so it took out his dork and I got 4 more RFG cards. I made another FKS play later in the game that killed a Tsukuyomi Noble and gave me a tempo swing that I rode to victory.

Result: 2-1
Record: 6-0-1 

Finals: Vs. Lumia Hook

This was the Lumia Hook player from Round 4. By this point I was really tired, having been there for going on 10 hours, and my opponent had a long drive home. We agreed to split the prizes and just call it a night. They wanted the playmat that said Champion on it, and I was told I had to concede to them in order to do all this, so I guess I technically lost here. It didn't really matter to me either way since I still got a playmat, a bag, and a ton of Legacy Lost packs. I ended up pulling Lumia, Valentina, and a Full Art Sol, as well as a Full Art Melfee and Mikage's 2nd Daughter, among a total of 9 full art cards. I was a happy camper, to say the least.

All-in-all I did way better than expected. I thought I'd be seeing a ton of Fox decks, which is what led to the main boarded Barrier Seals, but I didn't face a single one over the course of the day. Those things got sided out just about every game. I entered just to mess around and have fun, because there was no way Alisaris was going to do well against the meta, and ended up going basically undefeated. Nyarlathotep didn't do too much for me throughout the day either, so I'm going to mess around with the deck to see how I can improve it. It has a great matchup against Valentina 2.0 and Lumia Hook, and almost no one knew how they were supposed to play against it or what to side in. I didn't touch my side board the whole day except for the extra Demonflame against the Lumia matchup, which I guess is a good thing, since I just threw it together since I had no idea what to run. Alisaris served me well, though, and I'm looking forward to the community's reaction at seeing an Alisaris deck at finals of an event.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Vingolf 3 Spoiler #3

Welcome back nerds and nerdettes. I was dying of fever last week so I didn't get a chance to upload an article, but I only missed the stones spoiler, so that's no real skin off my bones. But because I have no life and have nothing to do on a Thursday night, and I'm super hype about this article, I went ahead and decided to write this. Welcome to my 100% uncut first impressions of these amazing cards.

I have been waiting for Arla (and all the Seven Kings, for that matter) to get proper resonator forms for a very long time, and I must say, these do not disappoint. As a 4-cost Angel, Arla can be cheesed with Celestial Wing Seraph, and since he gives Barrier to everything with Flying, he instantly grants her protection. Apollo + this guy means any J-Ruler has immediate protection from Moonbeam. His second effect is an Artemis Bow for attackers, rather than blockers, which is a change that kind of hurts a bit. You can't use him to remove a blocker, but you can use him to supplement a block. He doubles Artemis Bow's kill range, too. His second ability lets you pop Additions or Regalia, rather than Artemis Bow's 2nd effect of killing standby cards. In my opinion, a very welcomed change. Stealth isn't nearly as prominent this cluster, but Addition and Regalia destruction is always welcomed. His 3rd effect is fairly costly, but is a copy-paste of Artemis Bow's last effect of outright killing anything with flying. As the game goes on and you get more will at your disposal, that effect only gets stronger. I love everything about this card.

Faria has a lot going for her here. A 2-drop 600/600 is standard, and she has Zero's clause of being immune to damage while battling. Her second ability covers anything that doesn't fall into the blanket of her first ability. She's a beater that's here to stay, which is something Light hasn't had a lot of. Unfortunately, I can't think of a deck that would need/want her off the top of my head, but I'm positive something will come up. With aggro falling out of the limelight thanks to things like Charlotte's Bear Magic and a heavy spell meta, something like Faria is just what the deck needs.

Melgis ascribes to the "keep it simple, stupid" school of card text. He attacks the turn he is played, and players can't gain life. Unfortunately, with only 400 defense, he's going to be dying a lot since Artemis Bow and Space-Time Anomaly are commonly played cards. Once Alice Cluster rotates out, though, he'll be one of the few Swiftness resonators in the game, and those cards won't be there to plague him. Without an oppressing effect like Lancelot, though, I really question how impactful he'll be.

First off, HNNNNNNNNNNNNNG. Second off, I love everything about this card. Swiftness and Flying while Sylvia is your J/Ruler, and since she's a 3-cost, you can play her the turn you Judgment and recover your 3 stones. She's also a strong Turn 4 play, when you're waiting to Judgment, by putting 2 fliers into the field for only 4 mana. You can even do that on turn 3 with a Sacred Elf. She just works so well in her deck.

Pricia is... interesting. She's 100/100, or 200/200 with Precision if you're using her J/Ruler. Calling a wind magic stone gives her 200/200, so plopping her out early and she can get very big very fast. She's a beast, so she benefits from Ratatoskr and Pricia's Call to Action, but other than that there isn't much to talk about. Almost no one will let her survive long enough to get big, and if you don't play her early, you won't be getting much power on her. 

I see the Tree and Melgis conspired together. For 4 will, you can play the biggest mana dork you've ever seen. There's one from Vingolf 2 that taps for 2 green and only costs 3, but she doesn't have the booty that this tree has. 1200 DEF makes it a LOT harder to kill, so your will is more protected. Unfortunately, I don't know of any deck that is willing to invest 4 will into one dork, since at that point you've either already ramped to what you needed to, or you just aren't getting there. The Tree deck itself has a ton of will at its disposal, since it never flips, so it won't have much of a need for this card.

Kaguya isn't going to give you much value, but by golly is she going to try. Tapping for a free token is pretty sweet, even if she has abysmal stats. As mentioned in the spoiler article itself, you can use this in the new Valentina deck and let the tokens fuel her J-Ruler's effect. You can also use something like Sprint of the Beast Lady to pump all those little tokens up. If you're using the Green Dragon Ruler from this Vingolf, all those rabbits will be mana dorks. You're getting a free resonator every turn, so even if it isn't the strongest or most useful card, there are a plethora of ways to make use of it.

I really wanted to like this card, but she's just so gosh darn... over-costed. She only loses 1 void cost if you're using the OG Valentina, but on a card as expensive as this, that really doesn't mean much. She has the old Shion effect of tap + discard to bounce a card, and provides a new way of stealing resonators, albeit at a cost of discard three. I think her race got misprinted here: It should have been Oni. She just costs far too much, with little built-in value and no protection, and in a meta with Bear Magic, that just won't fly.

Oh boy, Rezzard finally gets his time to shine. And he's a Vampire! So he can benefit from all of the Mikage support. Luckily he's adopted Deathscythe's effect, so anything he damages that dies will come right back to you at the end of the turn. Toss on Blood Covered War Axe (which already has synergy in a Vampire build with the 2nd Daughter) and go to town. Demonflame will be your friend here (which is also conveniently ran in Mikage) to snipe off things you ping. Your undead army will die if he dies, but there are ways around that. You can use the same ruling abuse as with Izanagi to make the steals permanent. If you have OG Rezzard as your J/Ruler, he'll also gain lifelink, although I doubt you'll be doing that often. Honestly, this guy could bump Mikage back into relevancy if his effect ends up being good enough. Being able to steal Chimera's with his ability is a huge plus.

The last card for the night is none other than Machina. He's rocking water and darkness costs, but he's still a void resonator. 600/600 is weak for his cost, but it's better than his other resonator incarnation. Rather than searching for any void card, though, he's limited to the top of your deck. On-enter, reveal it, and if it's a Machine, it comes into your field for the turn before bouncing back to your hand. Obviously this is risky, since that top card might not be a Machine. However, if it is, you have a huge tempo swing on your hands. Judgmenting Machina and putting 1, 2, or even 3 of these guys into play can be fatal. Two of them means you can potentially get 2 more free machines, for a total of 5, making March of the Machines free. Putting just one of these guys down, and getting a Machine off of his effect, means Remote-Control Beast then becomes a free drop. Its worth noting that there is no restriction on what he can put into play, so Leginus is a valid target, but so is Remote Control Golem. You could use Shion as a Ruler instead of Machina, to ensure you have a Machine on top, and if you combine that with Fairy Tale Library, Alexandria, whatever you rip off the top will have swiftness. Can you imagine a surprise Golem with swiftness? 

That's it for this week's spoilers. While a good chunk of them were rather disappointing, there were just as many that got me hyped. Fingers crossed these aren't the only Alice Cluster cards, too, because I need a new Alisaris resonator in my life. Jordan plz.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Vingolf 3 Spoilers! - Preview 1

Boy oh boy, Vingolf spoilers! Either I haven't been keeping up with news like I should, or this spoiler article was unexpected. In the end, what really matters is that Jordan dropped some dope new cards for us to fawn over, and I can honestly say they're very fawn-over-able.


First off: Full Art! Hnnnnnnng. Second off, we have real Force of Will art this time! I know a lot of people were hyped about this set breaking the chain of awful Vingolfs, but I think these cards actually confirmed that. The art styles for Valkyria Chronicles and Engage Knights were just bad, since they were more or less ripped straight from source material. The theme/lore for this set is just as good as the pictures, too. If you're a fan of Marvel Comics, and are familiar with the Secret Wars storyline, then you've got a pretty good handle on what this box is about. For you unfortunate souls who aren't as familiar with it, Secret Wars depicted an all-powered being transporting every hero in the Marvel universe to his own planet and pitting them against each other in a massive war. What we have here are the Dragon Rulers, protectors of the Magic Stones, recruiting all of the Rulers for a similar purpose.

The card itself is amazing, even by regular set standards. Traditionally, Vingolf Rulers are kind of just bad (save for Vlad Tepes, for better or for worse), but you can tell Force of Will went the extra mile in designing these dragons. They're all basically cut-and-paste of the same template, but with each of their colors' main traits spliced in to give them individuality. Guardian of the Light Magic Stones is rocking out a 5-cost Judgment, which is shared among all 5 Rulers, as well as Energize. Resonance is a new keyword introduced with this set, which requires the listed card (in this case, Light Magic Stone) to enter your field in order to trigger the ability. What we essentially have here are Rulers that trigger abilities when you call a stone each turn, which is perfect for cards that are supposed to be the guardians of their respective stones. The Light Dragon's resonance will give one of your resonators +200/+200 for the turn when you call a stone, which isn't incredibly strong on its own, but will allow some of your weaker cards to trade off (or even beat) stronger monsters in battle. The first thing that comes to mind is Wendy and her Fairy Tale OTK combo. This guy is a strong mono-light Ruler, so you can easily keep the 10-mono-stone lineup that she requires. Call for stone, pump her to a 600/700, and start swinging off. She makes a little power go a long way, making her perfect for this guy.

Once he judgments, not only does he become even more of an absolute badass, but he makes sure everyone else on the field knows it. 1000/1200 is just above the standard stat level for J-Rulers this cluster, but with a 5-cost judgment, those may be a little low. Flying is always a strong keyword, but he's really packing the punch with his enter ability, which wipes the board of everything other than stones and J-Rulers. Additions, Resonators, Regalia... all of it! Take note that this doesn't discriminate, so it will nuke your own cards too, but you won't be flipping him unless you're in a bad spot. The opponent will have to play conservatively for the whole game out of fear of getting board wiped by a judgment.


I'm excited about this guy not just because of what he does, but because we finally have a good, generic Fire Ruler. Melgis dies too easily, Alisaris and Mars are gimmicky, Sylvia is too linear, and Lunya dies to double bow. This guy is honestly really similar to Lunya, but with a couple changes that make him a bit more solid card. He has the exact same template as the Light Dragon, with the 5-cost judgment, energize, and resonance effects. Rather than beefing your own cards up by 200, though, his resonance instead deals 200 to something. This makes Demonflame live just by calling a stone, and on early turns, lets you kill off weak things like Tama or Elf tokens for doing nothing. Flipping him gives you a Lunya-on-crack ability, where he burns every resonator your opponent controls for 1000 damage. Holy cow. On top of that, anything that dies after he deals it damage gets RFG'd instead of going to the grave, so he really screws over Monkey Trapped in Life, Red Riding Hood, Rukh Egg, Messenger Familiar, Alice's Little Scout, etc (*cough* Fox decks *cough*), and basically just outclasses Lunya. For 1 more judgment cost you're getting 200 more DEF, 200 more damage on the burn, AND burning multiple targets instead of one. You lose Swiftness, sure, but Laevateinn is just begging to be used with this guy. Tap it for the increased damage, and he can take out Gwibers and Titanias just for flipping. Red control is looking preeeetty viable.


I guess after Jordan got asked "Is Shion really dead?" in stream every week for 3 months, something like this was bound to happen. Water Guardian's resonance effect lets you look at the top card of your deck and either keep it there or put it on the bottom. Obviously its not as good as Shion's "always look at the top card of your deck," but at least he doesn't need Hydromonica to get rid of it if you don't like it. This adds a ton of consistency to water decks, which were already pretty consistent to begin with. Flipping him gives you a mini Rising from the Depths, but only for your opponent's field. Mass blocker removal is pretty good, although for the cost of his judgment, you could just play Rachel's Smile and get the same results. Although Smile doesn't have an 1100/1100 body, so I guess there's that.


This guy breaks the pattern a little bit, but in a good way. His resonance effect is 100% non-GMO FDA-certified bonkers: Calling a stone turns a resonator into a mana dork. You don't think that's good? Do you think a turn 3 Celestial Wing Seraph is good? Or maybe Turn 2 Lucifer? How about Turn 3 Huanglong with all his colors? This essentially lets you call 2 stones a turn, as long as the resonator you make a dork has been on the field for more than a turn. Turn 1 play something like a Tama, pass. Turn 2 call a stone, turn Tama into a mana producer. You have 3 open will, 4 if you went second and have Energize. What kind of nonsense is that? And if you played a real mana dork, you'll have even more. When you flip, everything passively gets that ability, even during your opponent's turn now, and he gives you 2 Elf tokens just because. Flipping this guy essentially ramps you 2 will, at minimum. You already had 2 resonators on board? Well now you have 4 open will. Absolutely insane. He doesn't wipe the board like the other Dragons do when they flip, but he'll let you play something like Red Boy, which does the same thing.


I'd like to say we saved the best for last, but then I'd be a liar. The Darkness Dragon is honestly the worst of the bunch. His resonance is a -100/-100 to one card, which can be a J/resonator unlike any of the other dragons, but that's just so... meh. The Fire Dragon burns for 200, the Light Dragon pumps for 200, so why can't this guy debuff for -200? Likewise, his J-Ruler forces the opponent to banish 2 on-flip, but that's not doing too much in the current state of the game. It'll probably snipe some lower-tier decks, sure, but Fiethsing turbo and Fox will have plenty of fodder to feed to it and go on with their day. He let's Space-Time be a -600/-600, but Valentina already does that better. Heck, Dark Alice is already a form of mass-removal that gets around Barrier, and she can also counter Fox and put a permanent -200/-200 on the field. This guy is just outclassed by most other Darkness Rulers, and seeing how great the other four Dragons are, I just feel bad for this guy.

That's it for the first round of spoilers. I honestly wasn't expecting them to dump all the Rulers on us at once, but given how similar they are, I guess it makes sense. This has me really interested in seeing what the new Special Stones in this set are, and I can't wait to see how they've adapted our favorite Rulers into resonators! This is the first time I've been genuinely excited for a Vingolf and I love it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ascension Campaign Review

'Sup nerds. First off, terribly sorry about not getting an article up last week. I cut back to 1 per week during the off-season of spoilers since there isn't too much to talk about, but I ended up visiting a lot of friends in the period between Christmas and New Years and never had the chance to sit down and pound an article out. Meanwhile my butthurt was steadily growing as I was seeing images, articles, and videos emerge of people getting their Ascension Campaign cards in the mail while mine was nowhere to be seen.

Acolyte of the AbyssThat is, until yesterday. My overall opinion of this event was pretty contingent upon me actually receiving my card, otherwise my rage would likely know no bounds. I have played Alisaris since his release, through thick and thin, and had toppled some local meta sheep with him. I was proud. If anyone deserved that upgrade it was me. Me. I was being patient since things like this (like with the Quest Clear cards) usually sweet from West to East, but some people in my area had already gotten their cards towards the end of last week, so I was getting salty. Thankfully I opened my mailbox to that glorious red envelope and all was well.

Bias aside, I have wanted to do a full review of this campaign since it started, but I wanted to see it all the way through first. The idea of it was amazing, and is as close to patching a game as we can get without mass errata's, which come with their own set of issues. Force of Will decided to take some under-appreciated Rulers and give them a little push in the right direction, either because they were initially just poorly designed, over-costed, or simply out-classed. Regardless of the reason, these were some positively received changes to some lackluster cards. Alisaris saw his Judgment cost reduced significantly, his God's Art made cheaper, and made Vell-Savaria actually playable. Fairy Alice also got a Judgment discount and God's Art reduction, but also a slight power boost from 900/900 to 1100/1100. Pricia is the only one not to get a Judgment reduction, but that's forgivable since she didn't have an absurdly high base cost like the other two. Her Ruler ability, however, was changed from giving one Beast/Sacred Beast 100/100 for the turn to giving all Beasts/Four Sacred Beasts 100/100 for the turn. Her God's Art remained the same, but her base power was bumped from 800/800 to 1000/1000, similar to Alice. Additionally, all three were given Energize.

Pricia, Friend to the AnimalsThese aren't massive changes on their own, but I don't think they were meant to be. It seems like the campaign was less "Make these guys strong/competitive" and more "These guys don't see too much play because we released them over-nerfed" and was a step to fix that. Both Alice and Alisaris are high-cost Judgment Rulers who use certain mechanics to reduce those costs. Upon release these costs were simply way too steep for them to see competitive play, and Alice was just outclassed by Reflect/Refrain as the Ruler for a Fairy deck. Their God's Art cost reduction follows this same line of thinking, since both cards support "Judgment for game" type of play styles. Alisaris, after ramping up to his (previously) 12 RFG'd cards, would flip and then God's Art to nuke the opponent's field, paving the way for your now-Swiftness resonators to swing for game. Likewise, Alice would flip to recover all your Fairies for a second wave of attacks. Giving them cheaper God's Arts on top of their cheaper Judgments means this style of play is now more efficient and less will-hungry. Alisaris in particular went from needing 6 will to Flip -> God's Art to only 4, which puts him just under the curve of when power plays start to happen in this game.

Pricia seems to have gotten the short end of the stick here, although that's likely because she wasn't as bad off as these two were upon release. Like Alice, she suffered from Reflect/Refrain doing her job better in her own deck as his filter skill let you get rid of clunky Four Sacred Beast cards. Changing her Ruler ability from targeted to blanket, though, is a very welcomed improvement. That's a jump from a 100 power boost to a 400, 500, or even greater of a boost distributed across the field that you can pump unused will into at the start of the turn. The power increase is just a standardization so she can bump heads with the Lapis Cluster Rulers, and jump to 1200/1200 with a Wind resonator. She did, however, get a typing change. Her original race was Seven Kings, but now she's Human/Beast, so she benefits from Pricia's Call to Action and other similar support cards. 

Alice, the Ally of FairiesWhile the cards themselves had players excited, the means of getting them went from sketchy to slightly less sketchy. The use of specific "ascension materials" drummed up a lot of secondary market action, which a lot of people would say is a good thing, but as unexpected a sudden demand shift like that lead to some insane prices and a pretty bad shortage in some places. While Alisaris needed Ouroboros, Phoenix, and Attoractia (none of which were widely-played cards), Pricia needed the likes of Huanglong and Alice needed Bedivere, both of which were fairly pricey (by this game's standards) before the campaign began. Beyond this, the first few days of the campaign were full of confusion and worry. The form wasn't working properly for a while, and it took the company a couple days to address that, and the mailing address they gave wasn't in a format that the American Postal Service readily supported, leading to some people having to guess how to break the address up and producing funky-looking addresses. That, combined with the general confusion of international shipping, had a lot of players' packages end their journey before they could even arrive.

As of yet, though, I haven't heard of too many people not getting their cards, but that could just be because we're still in the time frame of reasonably getting them. In the coming weeks it will definitely be interesting to see how many complaints of "I didn't get mine!" we'll see emerge. That being said, I feel that Force of Will handled this very well for it being the first of its kind. Not only is it the game's first Ascension Campaign, but I don't think any other TCG has attempted something similar to it. It's natural for there to be a few kinks in the process, and I trust FoW to patch those holes if/when they do the next campaign. Now that we know how to properly format the address, and FoW got the kinks out of the printing form, I suspect any future campaigns will go a lot smoother. My only wish is that they change up the material requirements, since six SRs and three Rs for one Ruler was a bit high, and the Rulers that required the more popular SR cards ended up with the short end of the stick.