Here we have Lapis in all of his would-be glory. His Ruler side greets us with a whopping 8 cost Judgment, 6 of that being reducible by your opponent having cards removed from the game. He's rocking the standard double-color energize and the standard single ability Rulers are allotted. Once per turn, during your turn only, you can target one non-magic stone your opponent controls and have it be RFG'd instead of going to the graveyard this turn. I dislike virtually everything about this ability. For one, it doesn't actively do anything to help you or your deck. Lumia can re-use enter effects (at all stages of the game), Fiethsing generates free resonators, and the Luminaries have their whole Mana thing. Those all actively propel their decks' early and mid games and give you a leg up during the first few turns. Lapis? He has negative synergy with how you should be playing the game. Obviously you'd want to start working towards his judgment as soon as you can, so you'll want to run some low-cost kill spells like Unseen Pressure or Dark Purge. The only things your opponent will be playing in the early game will be Mana Dorks, Guineveres, or Tamas. All things you'll want to kill at the end of the opponent's turn, since they come live as soon as your turn starts. You played a Sacred Elf? Let me Dark Purge that at your End Phase so you can't Wall of Wind me or get any free mana. Oh wait, I can't do that because Lapis' Ruler ability only works on my turn, and I need those RFG cards. I'll just Unseen Pressure your Guinevere at the start of my turn then, and hit her with Gill's ability then. Oh, you used her in response to Lapis' ability? That's cool I guess. I got nothing out of this exchange. And I won't even mention that Laevateinn can be a free out to this too.
Granted, you can use the ability before you'd go in for the kill to make sure the resonators get RFG'd, but you're still having to wait until your turn to do it. Their Guins will, no matter what, be able to dodge him. Elves can still make the mana and Wall of Wind your kill spell. You aren't actually gaining anything by using him as your Ruler, whereas Mikage can start investing in his judgment using spare will, or Valentina can let you go 2-for-1 with your kill spells. This guy is basically demanding to be used as a control Ruler, yet is 100% outclassed by the other control Rulers we already have.
But surely his J-Ruler side will make up for that? Assuming you can get the necessary RFG cards, of course. The first thing you see when you flip him is that he does nothing but use cards in your opponent's RFG zone. So, unlike Alisaris, if you fall behind and have to judgment for a higher-than-minimum cost you're just SOL. You can give him one of four keywords (Swiftness, Precision, First Strike, or Flying) by putting one of your opponent's RFG'd cards on the bottom of their deck. The only truly relevant one of those is Flying (and Swiftness, in some situations), but given that he's a 1000 beater who will likely be coming into the game (very) late after you kill most of your opponent's cards, that may not even matter. Once Alice rotates out and he's one of the only J-Rulers with access to Swiftness it may matter, but with as late in the game as he'll probably come out, waiting that one turn probably won't hurt you.
His next ability lets you essentially play one card from your opponent's RFG zone each turn. He's like a reverse-Lumia, except you have to build up to it and he can't refill his resources. And it's still dependent on what the opponent is running/using. It's a nice nod to his original God's Art though, being able to play your opponent's stuff. His final ability lets you pay two will and spend 2 of your opponent's RFG'd cards in order to kill a resonator. He has a built-in Stoning to Death, which is nice, but it will rapidly deplete your RFG resources if you're not careful.
Here we have Lapis' stone, the Red/Black Shock Rock. It's unique effect is that on-enter your opponent RFG's the top card of their deck. A neat little way to give Lapis' engine a nudge, but you can't really count on this every game to be a consistent source of removing. It certainly helps, though.
Valentina's back (again), this time rocking out Shion's corpse that she stored after shanking her back on Attoractia. She's a Twelve Apostle again, back to serving Lapis after striking out on her own didn't work. A 900/900 for four will isn't awful, but you could definitely do better. Anything she deals damage to gets RFG'd, and she'll remove a 2-cost or less resonator on-enter. You can spend one RFG'd card to give her Swiftness or Precision, and you can spend 3 to give her 500/500 (Shion's God's Art, anyone?). Honestly, she's underwhelming. She comes out at the same time in the game a Captain Hook or a Charlotte can come out, and comparing her to those two, she doesn't look so good. You can kill a 2-drop, sure, but what kind of value is that? Abdul totally shuts that ability down, anyway. She offers a way to consistently RFG cards, but that depends entirely on how long she's able to survive.
Here's a neat little guy that lets you try to get your RFG engine going sooner. A 2-drop with 600 attack certainly isn't bad, but 500 defense puts him below the standard 6/6 power curve 2-drops tend to have. And he's even restricted with a 2-color cost too. He will RFG the top card of the opponent's deck whenever he deals damage to them, but with only 500 defense? He dies too easily. One Space-Time, a Demonflame or Lightning Strike, and he's done. He should have had Swiftness instead of First Strike so you can at least get some immediate value out of him.
I really don't like this card. As much of a struggle as it is to get those RFG cards, and he uses one to deal 400 to the opponent? As a 3-cost unit? That gets shut down by Abdul? He just doesn't have anything going for him. Maybe if he had a second, reusable ability, preferably one that help you turbo RFG. But as-is he's just kind of filler.
Here's a cute card. It's a 4-cost Addition, none of that cost being void will, that forces the opponent to 1-for-1 with you whenever one of your resonators dies. That's cool for like a token-spam kamikaze type of deck, maybe with Fiethsing or the Vingolf Kaguya, but for this deck? No thanks. And since the opponent banishes, if they have more than 1 resonator you can't even try to use Lapis' Ruler ability to benefit off of this. As expensive as it is, and giving you no real RFG accrual, I just don't see this having a place in the deck.
Here we have the final card of the spoiler. It's a resonator kill spell for total cost 3 at instant speed, which is fairly standard. Endless Night, Oni Strike, and Plot of Water and Darkness are all similar. Those cards, though, all have secondary effects. This card will remove the target from the game, sure, but realistically that has no functional difference. No big resonators have an on-death effect that RFGing them can get around, and you certainly won't use this on a Rukh Egg or Monkey Trapped in Life. Lacking the secondary effect, this card just feels like a functionally worse version of the previously mentioned cards. It helps with Lapis' judgment cost and helps you get more of your opponent's cards RFG'd, sure, but this has almost negative synergy with Lapis himself. Using this much will on a kill spell that doesn't even need Lapis to RFG, his Ruler ability just feels even more useless.
As an added bonus, here's the Pre-Release Promo for Return of the Dragon Emperor. This got posted a while ago on the main site, but I figured I'd throw it in here since this is the Red/Black article. He has the same cost as Valentina, but is rocking 100/100 more in stats and has Flying/Swiftness, a potent combo. At the end of your turn you have to spend 1 of your opponent's RFG cards or banish it, and you can pay 6 will to play it from your graveyard. The keyword combination is extremely powerful, allowing for some easy kills from out of nowhere, and being able to use him from your graveyard (and dodging negate spells) is very powerful since it means you'll always have a live beater. Consuming your RFG cards like that, though, can become very expensive very fast. The thing I don't like is that between him and Valentina, this deck is looking like it's aiming for a very high cost curve, and I'm not a fan of that.
That's it for this week. I was super hyped to see these cards, but honestly I feel let down. The deck feels like a more control-oriented Alisaris, except its RFG engine is way slower and depends almost entirely on the opponent and what/how they're playing. What the deck does, and how it's trying to do it, seem very out of sync. To me, it feels like the Lumia of this set: Very incoherent, low-powered support, but without the benefit Lumia had of being generic and having a splashable Ruler ability. I really hope the rest of the Red/Black stuff can redeem these cards.