Saturday, October 29, 2011

10 Best Sticker Set Cards

The sticker sets were created by Spellfire fans after the game had been discontinued by Wizards of the Coast in 1997. Four sets were produced in all, named Millennium, Inquisition, Chaos, and Conquest. Because they were fan-designed, some of the cards were amazingly primo and some were amazingly crappy. They were all meant to be printed on sticker paper (which you can get at any office supply company) and stuck onto unwanted Spellfire cards such as 1st edition "blanks", Ravenloft commons, and Dragonlance commons.

This time I'm picking the 10 best cards from these sticker sets. Later on I'll take a trip through the worst of the bunch, as well. As always, my choices are based on the needs of the Antigonish variant, not Standard Spellfire.

Without further ado, lets go!

#10 - Kiri Allavesse (Inquisition, 29/99)
Kiri Allavesse is sort of like a poor man's Remnis. She can retrieve a used non-land card for you once a turn, but unlike the "dirty bird", she can do it only after she's razed a realm. Plus, you lose your spoils. She gets bonus points for the fact that she is a cleric able to cast wizard spells, reducing your need to add freaks like Bengoukee to your deck. Still, Kiri barely squeezes into this list at #10.

#9 - Realm (Conquest, 66/81)
This land is immune to the Rule of the Cosmos, so you can fill your deck with them. It can't be destroyed outside of phase 4, so no Disintegrates or Estate Transferences need apply. Realm does what it does quite stays on the board like glue and contributes to your 6-land win. I've got a deck filled with these. Realm is good enough for place #9 on this list.

#8 -Sacred Flame (Millennium, 37/99)
There is a lack of good cleric spells in the game, and this is the second-best cleric spell provided by the sticker sets. If only it could be used in combat, it might jump a few spots on this list. Unfortunately, Sacred Flame can only be used before (phase 3) or after (phase 5) combat. This limits its usefulness, but the ability to send any one card attached to a champion to the discard pile, regardless of its immunities, is still pretty awesome.

#7 - Bastion (Inquisition, 7/99)
This land can send any non-realm card to the void during phase zero. Sounds great, and it would be #1 or #2 on this list if it didn't have such large disadvantages. First of all, you have to also discard Bastion to the void. Secondly, you have to raze another realm in your formation at the same time. So you lose two unrazed realms, to get rid of one of your opponent's cards. Is this ever a good trade-off? Only in the most dire of situations. Because it is great as a last-ditch-effort card, I'll give Bastion the #7 position on this list.

#6 - Burned At The Stake (Chaos, 55/72)
Although there won't be tons of opportunities to use this nifty little event, when it does go off it's so sweet that it deserves spot #6 on the list. Just after Helm, Gib Reltub, Phridge, or some other loser champion casts a spell, you can slap this baby down. So long as the spellcasting champion isn't a wizard or cleric, Burned at the Stake will send them to the abyss, unless they want to discard three cards - at random, which probably isn't happening. Nice card!

#5 - Zakhata, the False God (Conquest, 63/81)
One of the best avatar-nuking cards in Spellfire. Zakhata comes into play with a level equal to the combined level of all avatars on the table, which, in a multi-player game, could give you a level 25+ false god. She also makes all avatars in play vanilla. If I were you, I'd find a place in my deck for this card, especially if you're plagued by avatars the way I am.

#4 - Domination (Conquest, 19/81)
This card is almost as good as Tyranthraxus, which is really saying something. Your opponent has a troublesome champion? Pow! He's yours. Only problem is, he becomes a useless, drooling idiot who can take no action. what? At least your enemy is deprived of his services. Plus you can still sacrifice him to bring out an avatar. Domination gains extra points from me for being a psionic power, which are notoriously difficult to counter.

#3 - Dispel Evil (Millennium, 43/95)
Okay, here we go with the top 3 sticker set cards! At #3 we find Dispel Evil. Why's it so great? Well there are some really powerful, pain-in-the-butt monsters floating around out there. Gib Lhadsemlo, for example. The Gorgon. Maybe even The Living Wall. This handy spell gets rid of them all, regardless of their immunities. Quick, reliable removal like this rates highly in my book.

#2 - Kronos the Titan (Millennium, 62/99)
I've already written about this guy here, naming him the best monster champion ever printed. He can swim. He can earthwalk. He casts just about every sort of spell. Plus he shuts down all other monsters' special powers. Oh, and in case you forgot, he's level 11. Yeah, Kronos is pretty decent! In fact, only one card from the sticker sets can exceed his primo-ness...

#1 - Dispel Illusion (Inquisition, 83/99)
I've already written about this card here, naming it the best wizard spell of all time. Not only that, but it's the best sticker-set card, as well as my personal choice of the most powerful Spellfire card ever printed. It can be cast at any time, allowing you to stop one card - ANY card - from being played. It also keeps your opponent from playing that card again until his or her next turn. So that Menzo or Caer Alison they were about to use to win? No dice. The champion they were about to slap down? See you next turn. The counterspell you baited from their hand? Gone. The sixth realm? Not so fast! This card is incredible, and every deck that has wizard spellcasting needs one.

Well, I managed to do a top 10 sticker cards list without mentioning any of the three cards I designed or co-designed. Although The Forgotten Idol (Millennium, 34/99), Insanely Good Fortune (Millenium, 47/99), and Gib Cram (Chaos, 5/72) are decent cards and fun to play with (I hope), they just can't measure up to the awesomeness that is present in the top 10 cards above.

Next Time: Power cards! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

5 Best Avatars

They're huge, they have incredible powers, and they are sometimes a pain in the butt to get onto the table. Yes folks, its time to run down the 5 best Avatars in Spellfire! Let's do it.

#5 (Tie) - Bonemaster (Powers, 41/100)
He can't be rated higher, because of his very narrow usage conditions. But in the right deck - an undead deck, obviously - he can make your champions almost unstoppable. The Bonemaster is easy to get out (discard any old cleric), and grants your undead a laundry list of immunities, including offensive spells and events. Bam.                          

#5 (Tie) - Kiri (Powers, 79/100)
I've already written about this guy here. He's overrated, but in the right situation he can be a game-breaker. The ability to take away all special powers of all champions is primo. Unfortunately, it also affects your own champions. I've seen him used well, but not often. The fact that Kiri can be summoned by simply discarding a cleric gains him a few points. He's good enough to be rated #5 on this list.

#4 - Iuz (4th Edition, 488/500)
Point 1 - any undead deck can summon this dude, he's easy to get out (simply discard 10 levels of undead). Point 2 - he casts wizard spells. Point 3 - Once per turn, you can raze one of your own lands to force an opponent to raze or discard one of their lands. A useful ability if someone is getting a tad too close to having six unrazed. For sheer versatility, Iuz is hard to beat.

#3 - Istus (Powers, 42/100)
I've written about this primo card here, and I can hardly believe she is only #3 on this list. This Avatar has plagued me more than any other over the years, as several of my arch-enemies use her routinely in their decks. Her discard effect is truly devastating, and that's based on rueful experience. Istus is also a breeze to summon: just discard a cleric and she pops into existence. You can't really go wrong by adding her to a deck. But the next two Avatars are even better.

#2 - Gib Drawsemaj (Nightstalkers chase, 22/25)
I've written about this guy here, in my "favorite cards" post. He's huge (level 20) and has one of the best powers in the game. When he appears, he gains the powers of any two non-avatar champions in play. Words can't describe how crazy that ability is...would you like to take on a champion with the special powers of The Living Wall and Shayira, for example? I thought not. The only downside to Gib Drawsemaj is his rather onerous summoning condition. He can only appear just after you cause an opponent's realm to be discarded. Keep those Dissolutions, Disintegrates, and Estate Transferences handy.

#1 - Remnis (4th Edition, 481/500)
I've written about this guy already as well! Here is the link. Remnis is number one on this list, and it's not close. While the other avatars are great, the "dirty bird" is flat-out phenomenal. Retrieve your used Wish, Estate Transference, Mindshatter, or Dispel Illusion over and over. This avatar is the very definition of the words "primo" and "game breaker". And while he's not the easiest champion to summon - you have to discard 16 levels of flyers - once he hits the table you are automatically on the fast track to a win.

Honorable Mention - Sirrion (Powers, 45/100)
Best looking art on a Spellfire card, bar none. Once I was playing a game and the Magic: The Gathering players at the next table came over to check out the "cool-looking demon". Some of those people eventually became Spellfire fans, all because of Sirrion's majesty. True story!

Next time: The 5 best - and 5 worst - cards from the Spellfire sticker sets.   

Saturday, September 17, 2011

5 Best Fences

Yes folks, that's the Berlin Wall. And here we go with our list of the top five cards that keep your opponents at bay!

#5 - Wall of Fog (4th Edition, 371/500)    
Attacks on your realms are bad in Spellfire. They lead to realms being razed, and spoils being awarded to players other than you. It's even worse in a format like TAV, which promotes fast play and tons of instant-kill cards. A good strategy, then, is to avoid being attacked at all, especially in critical situations (like when you are within spitting distance of a sixth unrazed realm). Fences are cards that prevent attacks, therefore they are your friends. This one is a wizard spell, which means it has a drawback - it's easy to counter. It also stops you from attacking other players, which can be a problem if getting a spoils is a priority for you. Still, it's a decent card to play if you're close to winning and would rather not have to engage in combat.

#4 - Solid Fog (4th Edition, 133/500)                     
Solid Fog has got one big advantage over Wall of Fog - it's an event. As such, it's more difficult for your opponent to counter. And if he or she does stop it, that's one less precious counterspell in their hand, so it's a win-win situation. Also, since you will most likely only be using Solid Fog near the end of a game, the threat of a counter is less of a deterrent - go for the win, baby! Note that, as with Wall of Fog, using Solid Fog means you can't launch attacks of your own...unless you slap down a Calm, that is!

#3 - Mutiny (3rd edition, 168/400)
Mutiny resembles Solid Fog, except you can end a battle which has already started. Use it when you make a mistake and realize you are about to lose, or thin out your opponent's hand by making him waste cards in combat before you slap down the Mutiny. As with Solid Fog and Wall of Fog, you can't attack either, until your next turn. Our final two cards solve this little problem, which is why they are rated ahead of Mutiny.

#2 - Forbiddance (Artifacts chase, 11/20)
Our next card is Forbiddance. It stops attacks all right - on you. Enemies are free to attack each other to their heart's content. The only possible problem this might create is allowing another player who is also close to winning the game to try for a spoils. But if you're playing this card, you've most likely got the inside track to victory, so that shouldn't be a major drawback. Oh, and if you need to raze a realm yourself, go ahead. Forbiddance is an excellent fence.

#1 - Bronze Dragons (Dragonlance, 97/100)
Our #1 card is Bronze Dragons, which combines the "everyone can be attacked but you" goodness of Forbiddance with the difficult-to-counter nature of an event. The only problem is squeezing this card into one of your 10 event slots. But, in a deck dedicated to defense, Bronze Dragons is the Great Wall of fences!

Next time: The 5 best Avatars.

P.S. Any of you Magic: The Gathering players out there check out the new Innistrad set? Or, as I like to call it, RAVENLOFT. The plundering of Spellfire concepts by Wizards of the Coast continues...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

5 Best Allies

Let's take a look at the top 5 allies in Spellfire. As always, the list is based on the requirements of the Antigonish variant of the game.

#5 - Athasian Sloth (4th Edition, 230/500)
When the Athasian sloth is played, your champion gets a huge +8 level-up bonus, plus your opponent is forced to choose and discard two cards from his hand. Unlike our #4 pick below, it is not necessary for you to lose the round of combat to use the Sloth's power. This means you might also get a spoils, depending on how the rest of the combat goes. Card advantage for you, thinning out your opponent's hand, and a whopping +8 bonus for the duration of the combat round? Nice ally!

#4 - The Starving Artist (3rd Edition chase, 439/440)
This card is very popular among Standard Spellfire players, but not so hot for TAV (well, by "not so hot" I mean it's only the fourth best ally of all time). Card discard is just not such a big deal in a faster format with tons of instant-kill cheese. For the same reason Cold Cup of Calamity is overrated, the Starving Artist is overrated. That having been said, this is still an awesome ally. You do have to lose the battle for its power to go off, but if you get lucky it can cripple an opponent. That unlucky opponent (you get to pick if it's a multi-player game) has to get rid of all but two cards, and no-one gets a spoils for that combat round. The reason it's rated ahead of the sloth is that it can potentially discard many more of your opponent's cards.

#3 - The Dreaded Ghost (4th Edition, 246/500)
I've already written about the Dreaded Ghost here. It's uber primo, since it gives you a gigantic +9 bonus in combat, and instantly drains 9 levels off the enemy champion (except a cleric). In most cases, that's effectively a +18 ally. And if the nine missing levels cause your opponent's champion to drop below zero? He's instantly discarded and you get a spoils. There's a reason why these babies are going for $20 currently on eBay. Awesome card, but the next two are even better!

#2 - Loup-Garou (4th Edition, 236/500)         
I've previously written about this nasty customer here. One of the best cards in the game, this guy ends combat immediately nine times out of ten. Magic items are not big in TAV, being that there are only about five I'd even consider putting in a deck. The odds that your opponent is going to have one attached to his champion or in his hand aren't good. Which means the Loup-Garou is basically an instant-kill, realm razing, spoils-granting machine! But he's not the best ally in the game, because that ally is...

#1 - Thought-Eater (Artifacts, 99/100)
That's right, folks. The only ally so powerful, they depowered it for the 4th Edition printing! He lost his ability to affect magical items, but even the 4th Edition version would be on this list. The original Artifacts Thought Eater shown above is a beast in every sense of the word. While he does have a slight downside (reducing your champion's level by 2 when he is played), even that's not too bad when playing the Antigonish variant, which is full of instant-kill cards. You actually want a lower level, so you can get off more cards before your opponent gets to play. The powers of the Thought Eater are ridiculous. Every magic item, ally, or spell played by the opposing champion has no special power (level only). The opposing champion loses the ability to cast spells altogther. And the opposing champion's special power (including all immunities) no longer functions. Turn out the lights, this battle is OVER.

Honorable Mention - Intellect Devourer (4th Edition, 213/500)
This guy didn't quite make the list, but he can be an awesome ally at times. The Intellect Devourer automatically destroys opposing champions of level 5 or less, which makes him ideal for removing Erellikas, Julios, Living Scrolls, Crawling Claws, and other annoying, low-base-level champions that seem to proliferate in Spellfire:TAV games. Slap him down, take your spoils, move on...nice and neat!

Next time: Fences!                      

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Going Psycho

The Psychometron of Nerad (Powers chase, 3/20) is one of the most powerful artifacts in the game. It has two main powers, the first of which is merely okay. The Dark Sun champion to which it is attached gains immunity to psionics. Not bad, but not a power you will use every game.

The Psychometron's second ability is much more primo. If the attached champion is discarded, the Psychometron psionically destroys one other champion anywhere in play - including the champion that just won the fight! This won't work on champions who are immune to psionics, but just about anyone else is toast.

Often, players will have certain champions that they never block with. They don't want Hettman Tsurin or Gwenyth the Bard or Helm involved in a potentially fatal combat, because those champions are far better sitting in the pool where they are able to use their special powers to mess up your game. With the Psychometron attached, any Dark Sun champion becomes Lyr of the Mists! Even better than Lyr, since she can only target champions in pools, while the Psychometron can nuke any champion in play, anywhere.

It becomes a dilemma for your opponent: attempt to win the combat round, thereby losing a champion to the Psychometron, or just roll over and let the realm get razed, giving up a spoils and creating the same problem next turn.

One last interesting fact about the Psychometron: it doesn't matter how the attached champion is discarded, the effect still happens. So if your opponent gets the bright idea to target your champion with a Death Spell or something still get to take a long look at all their champions before deciding which one heads off to the graveyard with yours.

Next time: The 5 best allies!             

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Top 3: Monsters

Let's take a look at my picks for the top 3 monsters in Spellfire. Please note that (as always) my choices are based on the particular requirements of the Antigonish variant of the game. No Gibs or Avatars were considered.

#3 (tie) - Iuz the Evil (3rd Edition, 167/400)
There are a lot of great monsters in Spellfire. And while the champion type has its downsides (no unique playable card, many cards that target monsters specifically), the top-end monsters can still get the job done. The fact that Iuz is only tied for #3 on this lists shows the power of these champions. When Iuz attacks and you defend in a TAV game, you either lose, which results in one of your realms being razed, or you win, which results in one of your realms being razed (or discarded). Not the best of choices. Awesome champion that just edges out T'chaar and Tako for a share of the #3 spot.

#3 (tie) - The Gorgon (Birthright, 64/100)          
This guy is immune to allies and events. Most cheese bounces off him uselessly. He can also cast wizard spells and use blood abilities. He's level 10, so he's well positioned to win a level-up war. The Gorgon is vulnerable to spells, but because of his own casting ability he is able to defend himself with Spell Turning, Retarget, and Dispel Magic. It all adds up to an awesome monster, tied with Iuz for third best in Spellfire.
#2 (tie) - Headless Horseman (Ravenloft, 88/100)                                
I've already written about the Horseman here. He's pure awesomeness, especially when combined with cheese that lets him win without using his power (and being discarded). He ties for #2 monster in the game.   
#2 (tie) - Living Wall (Powers, 58/100)
Yes, that's right, the mighty Living Wall (which I've already written about here) is only tied for #2 on this list. I can almost hear the howls of protest from all you Spellfire players out there. But hear me out: while the Wall is tough to kill, it's not invincible. Events kill it but good, for example. And some of the best cheesy allies, like the Loup-Garou, are effective against it. Then there's that whole Tyvorg thing...

All that having been said, the Living Wall is still solidly entrenched in the #2 position. There's only one monster in the game that could beat it for #1...

#1 - Kronos the Titan (Millenium, 62/99) 
 ...and it's this guy. Kronos the Titan, from the Millenium sticker set. Where do we start? He's level 11. He earthwalks and swims. He can cast wizard spells, cleric spells, and use psionic power cards. AND he's able to shut down every other monster champion on the board, all at once.

He makes the Headless Horseman useless. He reduces the Living Wall to a vanilla joke. He can even mess with Gib Lhadsemlo. When it comes to monsters, Kronos is definitely top dog.

Honorable Mention - Living Scroll (3rd Edition chase, 408/420)
Here we go with our first-ever honorable mention! The Living Scroll is one of the best defensive champions in the game. Wait until a hero or cleric attacks your formation and BAM! slap this baby down and watch your opponent's champion go straight to the discard pile. Pick up a spoils and smile. When attacking, it's not nearly as good, because your opponent will most likely have other champion types at his disposal. If one is a wizard or monster, the Scroll needn't bother attacking at all. In rare cases, however, the Living Scroll can actually be a decent attacker, gaining you a quick spoils and razing a realm unopposed if your opponent has only heroes and/or clerics in his pool and hand. Nice champion, not quite good enough to make the top 3 monster list, but good enough for an honorable mention.

Next time: Going psycho!                  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dangerous Realms

Let's take a look at a few of the more perilous realms in Spellfire.

Raurin (4th Edition, 11/500)
Attack it and you die, one way or another. At least if you win the battle, you get a spoils. Hopefully it's a champion to replace the one who just croaked. On second thought, anyone got a Cataclysm?

The Forest Ridge (Artifacts, 95/100)

Same thing here, except this time the card is explicit as to why your champion dies. Apparently feral halflings eat him. Pity they wait until after the realm is razed. If they ate the attacking champion before he successfully razed the realm and gained a spoils, they'd actually be useful. Oh well, the Forest Ridge is an excellent land, in any case. Anyone got a Disintegrate?

Falkovnia (Night Stalkers, 5/100)
This realm is far better in Standard than it is in the Antigonish variant. In a Standard game you can have many champions attacking Falkovnia during one turn, all of which would die. In TAV it's going to be one champion most of the time. But this land is still just as good as the two above. No feral halflings this time; it's poison that does in your victorious champion. Nice reward for winning a battle - an agonizing death due to poison. Anyone got an Estate Transference?

The Spiderfell (Birthright, 3/100)
Okay, now we're giving the attacker a sporting chance. He's not going to instantly croak, instead a card is drawn and discarded. If the last digit of the card number is equal to or greater than the champion's base level, he's toast. And it's poison again! This time presumably delivered via giant spider. One more salient point: this all happens before the defending player blocks, so you get to wait and see if the attacker kicks the bucket before deciding which champion to risk in battle. At least no spoils is given up by the croaking champion. Anyone got a Creeping Doom?

The Scarlet Brotherhood (3rd Edition,135/400)
Well, this is different. As long as this realm is unrazed at the start of your turn you can voluntarily raze it to discard one champion in any pool. Nice! The only downside is that you have to keep the Scarlet Brotherhood from being razed through everyone else's turn, because you can't use it when you first put it down during your phase 2. The good news is almost no champions are immune to realm powers, so you can even nuke Gib Lhadsemlo and his ilk. Anyone got a Raze?

Furyondy (4th Edition, 16/500)
Finally, we have Furyondy. What a primo land. When you first play it, you get to discard any wizard in play. You can kill Bigby, Gib Irod, Midnight, Titania, anyone, since no wizard in Spellfire is immune to realm powers. Personally, I like using Furyondy to nuke Bigby, because he annoys me. Slap this realm down, and your opponents will be yelling "anyone got a Dispel Illusion?" :)

Next Time: The Top 3 Monsters.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Top 3: Clerics

Today I unveil my choices for the top three clerics in Spellfire. As always, my picks are based on the TAV format requirements. No avatars or gibs were considered.

#3 (Tie) - Delsenora (1st Edition chase, 10/25)
Upon further review, we have a tie at #3. Delsenora's ability to cancel an event as she is discarded is so powerful that she simply has to be on this top 3 list. Delsenora's effect can be a literal game-changer. She can stop an opponent's Caer Allison, Caravan, or Good Fortune, potentially crippling their hand or stopping a game-winning play. She can also safeguard your own interests by stopping an enemy Calm, Cataclysm, or Ambush. Events are so powerful (and important) in this game that any card able to mess with them has to be respected and planned for. Just having Delsenora in your pool can make other players wary and nervous about playing events. Their hesitation is your gain!
#3 (Tie) - Shayira (4th Edition, 286/500)
Just edging out Tyvorg, Ting Ling, and a few others we have Shayira, whom I have already written about here. The ability to ignore the special powers of all cards played against her in combat is just primo. She can't be killed by cheese, so must either be nuked in her pool by cards like Finger of Death and Drain Will, or beat in a level-up war. The downside to Shayira is her low level. Ordinarily, a level 3 champion is great for getting your own instant-kill cards off before your opponent does, but since Shayira is immune to them anyway a higher level would have made her even better. Oh, well. She's still good enough to take #3 on this list.
#2 -  Goldmoon (Artifacts, 83/100)
Now this is a powerhouse champion! Once per turn, at any time, she can grab a cleric spell from an opponent's discard pile and cast it. What an awesome ability! So, your enemy is pleased with himself after casting that Mindshatter, Creeping Doom, or Mindkiller? Wait until Goldmoon grabs it and beats him over the head with it. In a multi-player game, this champion is even better. Each turn there is likely to be a card to take out of an opponent's graveyard and cast. Another great use of Goldmoon is to wait until someone casts something you don't like, then instantly grab a Dispel from a player's discard pile. If it's an event you don't like, check around for an Intercession! See how great this champion is? Be warned, however, that Goldmoon has no immunities and attracts champion-killing cards like a magnet. 
#1 -  The Arch-Druid (4th Edition, 285/500)
So how can a cleric champion be better than Goldmoon? Well, if the Arch-Druid is around, Goldmoon won't be doing anything at all except taking up table space. This guy can neutralize all other clerics on the board, at the same time. Unless it's something you want to go off (like maybe a Creeping Doom against an enemy who is dangerously close to six realms), no cleric in play will be casting spells until the Druid is gone. Amazingly, his second power is also primo: he stops all avatars from being played while he's on the table. Note that he doesn't get rid of avatars already in play, so the best thing to do is slap down your own avatar, *then* play the Arch-Druid. If only this guy had some immunities, he'd be the best champion in the game! As it is he easily grabs the #1 spot on this list, and it's not close.

Disagree with my picks? Tell me how I messed up in the comments.

Next Time: Instant-kill realms!