Up first is Altean Judge Dredd. He limits your opponent to one attack per turn, and with a big 'ole 1000 booty, he'll usually be capable of blocking that attack without too much effort. This is a great side choice against aggro decks, or decks like Elves and Fairy Tales that like to go wide. Unfortunately, most of the meta-relevant bodies will either be flying (Gwiber, Chimeras) or will have enough power to kill him (Hook), so he won't last too long there. Against anything else, though, this dude makes the perfect bouncer to the club that is your life points.
Rachel is back, rocking a nice angel getup. She got revealed last night in the Alhama'at article, but she definitely deserves to be talked about here. She's got a nice body ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) as a 700/700 3-drop, especially with Flying. As an angel she's also searchable with Celestial Wing Seraph (and Arla, if you're into that). She shines best in a Light/Black hybrid deck since she has a darkness stone resonance that kills any 2-drop-or-less, with the added bonus of putting a mana counter on your J/Ruler if it has the mana keyword. She'll also grab a 1-drop demon from your graveyard when she enters, meaning she can make Celestial Wind Seraph a 3-for-1. Good stats, an on-enter ability, and a recurring kill ability? Marry me.
Shield of the Nephilim kind of suffers from not having Quickcast. Being limited to your turn only, and being unable to react to destruction, means it usually will just get responded to with a kill spell. You can awaken it for black to have something become Creature of Chaos for the turn, essentially letting one of your resonators ram into something without dying and instantly killing whatever it fought. It can't kill J-rulers, so this card is little more than an awkward, roundabout form of removal. It has some neat combo's between any resanator + this + blood covered war axe, especially in a Vampire deck if you use them on the Rezzard resonator from Vingolf 3. It's gimmicky, but that's all it really needs to be, right?
Here we have the 2-drop version of Tiny Alabaster Drake. He lacks flying, but has significantly better defense so he can survive more things. You can revive him with Ryula, and restand him with Dragon Power. I don't think the Dragonoid deck will do too much competitively, but having experienced Force beatdown fairly often, this thing has me shaking already.
The best thing about this card is the flavor text. Zero is literally erasing people that even come close to her, which makes me think (and hope) that we'll be seeing some Dark Zero again. The card itself isn't very good, being a whopping 4-cost and only destroying resonators after they've done their damage. It suffers from the same issues Glorius had, albeit being slightly more expensive but giving access to more removal.
Here we have a semi-free modal card. Memory to Memoria is either a chant-speed Thunder, or a chant-speed 400 burn to a resonator that refunds it's cost. Free cards are nice, and I bet this'll be wonderful in limited, but that's really all I can say about it.
Oooooooooh boy, Milest (the best Six Sage) is back and he's actually useful this time. He needed to redeem himself from the flimsy, relatively useless form he took as an Inheritance card in LEL. Packing 0 ATK and a sizable 800 DEF, his base stats aren't all that great for his 3 will cost (a hard 3 will, mind you). Then you read his effect and immediately don't care. Swiftness on a red resonator isn't surprising, and let's him steal games at later points by being surprise damage. 100 ATK for each fire stone isn't all that impressive, coming in at a base 300 ATK and slowly getting stronger. However, hitting his resonance effectively doubles his ATK and gives him Pierce for the turn (easily one of the strongest, if not the strongest, keyword in the game). The turn after you play him he'll be an 800/800, then go to 1000 ATK the following turn, and only scales up. With Pricia, who can cycle stones, you can trigger this effect twice in one turn, then restand him with her God's Art. This is easily my favorite card in the set.
Reincarnation is a gimmicky, yet lethal, finisher card. For a cost of 3 you banish any number of resonators, check the top X cards of your deck (where X is the number of resonators you banished), then put any resonators from those top cards into your field and mill the rest. In a tribal deck, with Library of Alexandria out, this can be a massive game-ending push. It reminds me of BFA Melgis, but in chant form.
Yet another gimmicky finisher. Rising Fire Strike is essentially a -2 to play (you lose this card and 1 card in your hand) but can absolutely demolish the opponent. This most benefits a deck like Elves, which goes super wide and regularly has fields of 8+ resonators. Discard something like Oberon and your whole field is getting a 400 ATK boost. Be a pro player and run Remote Control Golem just for this, to give them all a 1000 ATK boost. This card is going to be the ultimate BM and I can't wait to make a deck for it.
Rapidash used extreme speed. It's super effective. I wanted this card last set, and I'm honestly surprised they gave it to us. This gives Faria Inheritance decks a very fun toy to play with, as well as being one of the only ways to give your J-Ruler Swiftness post-Alice Cluster rotating out. It's simple, it's effective, I like.
600/600 for a 2-drop, pretty standard stats. The only ability is resonance with a fire magic stone, and it will deal 200 damage to your opponent. Honestly, there are plenty of better burn options if you're looking for a burn deck.
Apprentice Wererabbit is probably going to be boss-tier in limited. 100/300 for a 1-drop aren't the best stats, but whenever she resonates with a water stone, she becomes 400/600 with Flying. Play her turn 1, then start swinging in every turn after that. Water aggro really isn't a thing (yet?), but she does a good job of making me want it to be.
Apparently Charlotte got tired of turning things into bears and decided to go with the flow (Heh, water pun) of this set and start turning things into dragons. This is essentially the opposite of Bear Magic: Where bear weakened the opponent's resonator, this one strengthens yours. It can still be used to wipe abilities, and will still weaken anything that's already bigger than 800/800, but I can't imagine you'd run into too many of those that you wouldn't prefer to use Bear Magic on. This let's you turn your own weenies into Flying beater. Tokens are the first thing that come to mind, especially Fantasy tokens. With a Moojdart on the field, you can use this to turn any token into your very own Gwiber-on-demand, which sounds pretty dope.
In general, ATK reduction effects tend to be pretty weak unless they're tacked onto something else. This guy, sadly, isn't. He'll probably shine in a limited format, though.
Here's yet another depiction of emo Kaguya still refusing to get over the sudden death of her beloved mother-figure. Her big "decision" is apparently just what she wants to wear, since this card opens her closet and lets you pick which Treasury Item to put into your field. It's a neat way to turbo into some of the more expensive ones, and can be relatively consistent given the number of "look at the top X cards of your deck" effects the Kaguya deck has gotten this set.
More Inheritance! Aww yiss. Divine Bird of Attoractia isn't nearly as divine as the Divine Beast was, but he's ok. In hand he let's you pay a green for a drop-and-draw effect, so he can dodge stuff like Scorn. He's a reverse Tama, so he replaces himself when he dies rather than when he enters. You can throw him down as a chump blocker and get the same result as just using his Inheritance, so I bet he'll find a place in a few decks. He functions similarly to Upstart Goblin, for those of you well versed in Yugioh. Using a spare green will to cycle through your deck isn't bad at all.
I don't see what's so heavenly about this guy. For the cost of attacking, he can transfer his stats to another J/resonator you control. Helpful for stacking power onto something with Pierce or Flying, or to keep it safe from death-by-power-reduction. You can use Pricia's Call to Action to give him Swiftness and immediately pump something if you really feel like it. In limited he'll definitely be able to steal games.
A slightly worse Moonbeam Butterfly that is slightly more flexible. You can pay 3 will to check the top two cards of your deck and play a 2-drop. It just scales up from there, whereas Moonbeam Butterfly will let you pay 3 to get any two-drop from your deck. Research has the advantage in that it can play anything, not just resonators and additions, but also forces you to play it. This means the card can be cancelled or negated, where Moonbeam Butterfly slips it right into your field.
Here we have something very simple. Wind Clad Elf is a two drop that makes a token on-enter. She's the elf version of Illusion Wizard, except she's cheaper. With all the indirect support tokens have gotten in this set, she definitely has a place in a Fiethsing deck.
"Great" is a strong word for this guy. A 200/200 one-turn buff for a hard -1 isn't a good tradeoff. He combo's with the 1-for-1 Red/Black Addition we got spoiled with the Gill Lapis support, and stuff like Monkey Trapped in Life will help keep you from losing too much advantage. I suspect he'll be pretty good in limited, being a spammable form of removal.
Looks like Rachel set a pattern. Eligos is a 4-cost, a little more expensive than Rachel, but can grab a Demon with 3 cost or less, so she has a bit more leeway with her targets. Unfortunately, there aren't many good Demons, but simple tribal support like this always gets better with Wanderer and future cards.
An Ancient Magic that mass-destroys cards, scaling with the number of Dragons and Dragonoids you control. It can hit J-Rulers, which is a very nice perk.
Suicide Bombing is cool, I guess? This dude gives himself and another resonator -400 DEF, so he's going to die, and hopefully so will the other target. You can circumvent this by buffing him for the turn, and he seems to work well with the March Hare revealed in the Light/Dark preview article. This whole theme just reminds me of those weird Tea Party counter things back in Alice Cluster that were supposed to work with Valkyrie Alice.
Another card from the Alhama'at preview. Viola is a little weak for her stats, but she has a will sink ability that let's her get pretty big on top of gaining flying. She's also an Inheritance card that gives Imperishable, and is free if you're playing Gill Alhama'at. A little buff to Faria decks once Alice Cluster rotates, a good will sink for finishing long games, and a good way to keep Alhama'at safe while you're trying to double-flip him. Plus I just adore her art.
Remember how Memory to Memoria paid for itself? So does this card. It's a 1-cost discard that will put a mana counter on your J/ruler, provided it has the Mana keyword. It's Ancient Magic, so using a Mana counter to play it means it was free. Or using a regular stone to play it means you just did a little bit of ramping.
Here we have a cute little Dragon! Aww, it's a 500/500 for three will. But wait, in a Red/Green deck, this thing will become a 1000/1000 with Flying and Swiftness every turn. That's actually pretty good! It doubles down on Pricia's Ruler resonances, so they might go to waste sometimes, but that's ok. 1000 ATK is just too good to pass up. Unfortunately there isn't a reliable way to trigger this on the opponent's turn, so it's significantly weaker and more vulnerable after you attack with it.
It's good for limited I guess?
I'm not too sure what this card is trying to accomplish. Gill Lapis is all about needing your opponent's cards RFG'd, not your own. They enter the field rested, and get RFG'd at the end of the turn. It doesn't have quickcast, so you can't use it at the end of your opponent's turn to try to get a cheesy OTK off. It's good in Wanderer for Cthulhus I suppose, giving you a massive reserve of incarnate fodder.
Pay 4 to kill one thing at chant speed? No thanks? It's an Ancient Magic, which helps I guess. This seems to really only be useful in limited, which it's probably pretty powerful in, but in constructed there's infinite better options.
Remember Scion of Ancient Lore? That really bad 3-drop Vampire from Alice Cluster that drained 400 life from the opponent? Here he is again, apparently. This card costs one more, has 100 more ATK and DEF, and has Flying. Limited Hero, Constructed Zero.
This guy has a neat little battle trick. He'll slightly weaken any blocker or attacker, giving him just enough reach to kill slightly stronger attackers or survive equal-power blockers. He can even clear the blocker if your opponent is dumb enough to block with a 200/200 card for whatever reason.
This guy's useful for resonance shenanigans, and for helping Pricia hit the requirements for her God's Art.
A good will sink in a limited format. Just like the real Poison Ivy, though, there's not much else to her.
This card's race kills it. It isn't a Spirit, so Almerius can't abuse it, and it isn't a Dragonoid, so Ryula can't abuse it.
Here's a neat bit of ramp for Kaguya. It counts as a Treasury Item, and you can play it for free by resting The First Moon, another Treasury Item. I doubt she needs the extra Treasury Item that badly, especially one prone to removal like this, but it's still a cool idea. If you have two or three in hand, it's a neat way to ramp the amount of Treasury Items you have out of nowhere.
A more expensive Tama with a large booty. It's a Treasury Item for Kaguya, but and there are quite a few cards in her deck that can cheese in 3-cost Treasury Items, so this may actually have a place in the deck.
Another resonator that's also a Treasury Item. This one has Barrier and a respectable DEF stat. Hard to remove, helps ramp Kaguya, it kind of does all it needs to while not actually doing anything at all.
If Milest is my favorite card in this set, this one is a close second. Pricia's Leap let's you turn one J/resonator into Yamata Dragon for the turn, letting it stay recovered to block the next turn. This thing can end games out of nowhere, especially if you have a flier or a beefy J/resonator. Using it on Pricia will let her trigger her on-attack effect X many times, and if you use her stone effect, that will just refund the X cost entirely. How obnoxious is that!?
I honestly think I'd rather just use Rachel's Smile. Rain of Light let's you get off multiple attacks/blocks with your own cards, which may clinch the game in a limited format, but it just doesn't seem too economic in constructed. I mean, in order to recover your own stuff they'll have to already have attacked or blocked, which means the opponent's cards should have already attacked or blocked too, so you're losing utility. It's a little more flexible than Rachel's Smile, but still an overall inefficient game ender.
This is a very interesting card. Say, for example, you have 5 Fire/Wind dual stones. You have 1000 damage you can distribute in packets of 200, to up to 5 different targets. It's a very flexible and economic field wipe. I like.
Another Lapis support card, packing the same effect as Valentina. That's good. It'll also deal damage that scales with the number of Vampires you control on-enter, making it a strong choice for both the Lapis deck and a Mikage deck. A+ design right here.
Oh boy, this is just waiting to be broken. Treat all magic stones you control as all 5 basic stones, and turn every stone into Ruler's Memoria. I'm not too worried about this getting out of hand in the competitive scene, since a 2-drop Addition that doesn't give any immediate value likely won't see the light of day there. Letting your stones trigger every resonance ability, and letting you play stuff like Riza, Melder, and Lunar Lake in any deck sounds just gimmicky enough to work.
More Spirit support. The Inheritance is nice I guess, although a bit counter intuitive since you want Spirits in the grave to abuse Almerius. She also doesn't yield any on-field value, which is one of the biggest weaknesses of the Inheritance cards from LEL. I wonder if a Faria Spirit deck would work?
The Blue/Light pact spell. It's honestly only good if you have Pandora out, to roll 2 dice instead of the measly one. This has the potential to rip almost any resonator out of your deck, given a high enough roll, but the high cost and lack of quickcast really hurts it.
The Light/Dark pact spell. It keeps in theme with the other cards, giving you power and draining power from the opponent, but honestly it doesn't do it in a very useful way. Mikage decks are most likely to make use of it, for the free 5 +100/+100 counters. I wish we had seen the Fourth Daughter this set though.
The Red/Black pact spell. It lacks quickcast, but can nuke their field provided they have low-cost resonators, as well as giving you a selective hand destruction effect. It RFGs the card from hand, too, so you can potentially get 2 RFGs off this card in tandem with Lapis' Ruler effect.
This card might have been good if it didn't cost so much. As a 4-drop, though, it gives no actual advantage. It's stats will make it very strong in limited, though, on top of the ability to manipulate the deck.
I think they were going for a Cheshire Cat theme here. The stats are abyssmal for a 2-drop, but Barrier means it isn't going anywhere and it has a Tama on-enter effect. Blocking with her means you'll gain life from the attacker, and the opponent can't stop it without blanket effects. Almerius can re-use her, but I doubt she'll be very useful outside of limited.
Alhama'at's Magic Stone. The name is simple and thematic, and it has the standard shock rock abilities. It's unique trait, though, turns it into Ruler's Memoria if you remove a mana counter from your J-Ruler. While it's a bit restricted, I still don't like seeing Ruler's Memoria back in the game, especially as support for what FoW wants to make the strongest Ruler in the set. I do respect that all the mana-counter-adding cards in this set limit themselves to Rulers with the Mana ability to avoid abuse.
And that's all! We're officially done with Return of the Dragon Emperor spoilers, and with Pre-releases happening this weekend and the set coming out the next, I'm pumped. This set, as a whole, seems a lot better designed than LEL was. Most of the cards (and Rulers) are a lot more flexible and less xenophobic in their strategies. There's also plenty more mono-colored cards, so limited play isn't going to suck as bad (seriously, the LEL sneak was awful) and there are more cards that can be thrown into older/future decks. I'm excited to see how the meta will change, since at least 3/5 of the Rulers here are insanely powerful and have cool strategies.