Wednesday, June 29, 2011

5 Best Cleric Spells

Okay, folks. Let's rundown my choices for the five best cleric spells. Please remember that all my "top five" and  "top three" lists are made with the specific needs of TAV decks in mind. 

#5 - Divine Intervention (Dragonlance, 81/100) 
After combat, during phase 5, this powerful spell allows you to return any one champion and ally from the discard pile. You can get a champion (including an avatar) and ally that died during the current turn or those who were discarded a few turns ago, or a mixture of each. This spell probably would exclude avatars if it were printed when they existed, but it doesn't because it wasn't! Because there are so many great champions that happen to succumb to instant-kill cheese in TAV, the ability to bring one back is huge. And to get a Dreaded Ghost or Loup-Garou back with it? Awesome spell.  

#4 - Intercession (Runes & Ruins, 48/100)  
There's really not a lot of explaining to do here. Intercession is a cleric spell that stops an event. Events are big in Spellfire. They're even bigger in TAV, a format in which 10 events in your deck is an absolute must. The cards that cancel events can be listed on your fingers. Therefore, intercession comes in at the #4 position on this list.

#3 - Mindkiller (The Underdark, 56/100)    

What? Mindkiller at #3? I can almost hear the howls of outrage. But yes, #3 is where Mindkiller fits. It's a tad overrated, because of its one glaring weakness - it can't eliminate Avatars for more than one turn. You might scoff, but when Istus is staring you in the face you'll regret not having card #2 on this list instead of a Mindkiller in your hand. Besides that one flaw, Mindkiller is great. The affected champion is off to the (almost) inaccessible Abyss, and as we all know "out of sight, out of mind"!

#2 - Mindshatter (The Underdark chase, 25/25)
Don't talk to me about Mindkiller! This is from the SAME SET and blows it out of the water. Look at this primo card. Primo, primo, primo. This is what I want to see in my hand when you slap down Istus or Iuz or the Living Wall. Once this baby hits the table, your vaunted champion isn't doing anything at all for a good long time - provided said champion isn't immune to offensive spells. Also provided the Mindshatter isn't countered with card #1 on this list.

#1 - Dispel (4th Edition, 400/500) 
There it is, the best cleric spell ever printed. The third edition version (which can only stop wizard and cleric spells) might have had a chance to make this list, that's how valuable "counterspells" (to borrow a term from Magic: The Gathering) are in Spellfire. The fact that the 4th edition version of Dispel also counters blood abilities and psionic powers puts this card over the top and secures its claim to the #1 spot on this list. Dispel needs to be in ANY deck with champions able to cast cleric spells, in any format, period.

Next time: Disaster strikes!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Standard Decks vs TAV Decks

I know I promised you the top 5 cleric spells, but let's save that for next time.

Sometimes people wonder if they can just use their standard Spellfire decks to play the Antigonish variant. The answer is yes, if you want to lose badly.

The two formats are pretty incompatible from a deck construction viewpoint. In Standard you want to load up on champions, since you are going to be attacking numerous times each turn, and you can't raise a realm unless your opponent is out of defenders. Since each champion (with rare exceptions) can only attack once per turn, you need to fill your deck with a good assortment of potential attackers.

In TAV, on the other hand, you only need to defeat ONE defender to raze the enemy realm. Therefore you can put less champions in, and instead load the deck with a wide assortment of instant-kill cheese. Even though you only need to win one round of combat, you only get one round per turn, so you have to make the most of it. Instant-kill cards give you the best bang for your buck, so to speak.

Now TAV decks are not great at all in Standard. Too few champions, for one thing. Also, the cheese doesn't work, because all you've done is beat one measly defender, which incidently doesn't get you a spoils with which to restock your hand. So a TAV deck dies a slow, painful death against a good Standard deck when playing by that format's rules.

That having been said, however, the average Standard deck gets completely defenestrated against a TAV deck when playing by TAV rules. There's just no answer for the firepower that can be brought to bear in one combat round. And all those extra champions in the Standard deck just end up clogging the pool with useless "chumps" (to borrow a term from Magic: The Gathering).

Take a look at this (very good) Standard deck.

The owner of that deck says it's basically undefeated in its current form. Now take a look at my last post detailing my Gib deck...or back a few posts to my Tournament deck list. Not to brag, but either of those TAV decks would absolutely destroy his deck. It would be all over in seven turns, maybe eight. 

But should I dare to play Standard against him with either of mine...I'd lose.

So which format is "superior"? Obviously I'd say TAV, but that's because I love a fast-paced, exciting game of Spellfire, where realms are razed easily and the spoils flow like wine...

Next time: The Top 5 cleric spells...for real this time!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Gibs Are Coming!

When I first started playing Spellfire, I was confronted by three rather oddly-named champions: Gib Evets, Gib Htimsen, and Gib Ekim.

It actually took me quite awhile to realize that "Gib" was "Big" backwards, and we were actually dealing with "Big Steve", "Big Nesmith", and "Big Mike" (names of TSR game designers who worked on Spellfire). Over the years, more Gibs have been printed, some of which are among the most powerful champions in the game.

Here's a shot of my current Gib deck, followed by a rundown of what's in it.   

Realms (12): Front Lines, Cormyr, Avanil, Temple of Elemental Evil, Ruins of Zhentil Keep, Tyr, Mithas, Ancient Kalidnay, Euripis, Menzoberranzan, Duchy of Tenh, Urik.                                                 

Champions (12): Gib Drawsemaj, Gib Aklem, Gib Lhadsemlo, Gib Reltub, Gib Sinned, Gib Hcivonad, Gib Irod, Gib Occav, Gib Thiaf, Gib Kcir, Gib Cram, Gatekeeper.

Wizard Spells (9): Disintegrate, Hold Person, Wish, Dissolution, Limited Wish, Estate Transference, Dispel Magic, Spell Turning, Reincarnate.

Magic Items (2): Star Gem of Martek: Clear Crystal, Wyrm of Earthwalking.      

Allies (9): Loup-Garou, Undead Dragonrider, Death Knight, Gnasher, The White Weird, Glass Golem, Skull Tumor, Hero Slayer.    

Events (10): Cataclysm, Good Fortune, Wine of Eternity, The Genie Bottle, Trapped, Deflection, Caravan, Caer Allison, Dodge, Coming of the Phoenix.

Dungeon: Undermountain.

Rule Card: Inverted Pyramid.

Tell me what you think!

Next time: The top 5 cleric spells.

P.S. Check this out for an awesome Gib-related story (start at the bottom of the page). Who IS this guy?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Top 3: Thieves

Here are my picks for the top three thieves in Spellfire. Note: I am not counting avatars like Mask, or the tiresome POL (Poor Oriental Lord), who is banned in TAV anyway.

#3 - Turin Deathstalker (Night Stalkers, 35/100)
Turin just edges out The Guildmaster for the #3 spot on this list. This undead dude can't be affected by unarmed combat cards, automatically discards allies of +4 or less (which makes him Loup-Garou-proof), and is immune to the powers of Forgotten Realms champions, which means he can go toe-to-toe with the Living Wall without becoming lunch. An all-around good champion who should be in any thief deck or undead deck.

#2 - Skulker (Dungeons, 40/100)
From the merely very good (Turin) to the excellent! The Skulker is a swimmer, which lets him attack any realm showing coastline. But his primo power is the ability to rifle through your opponent's discard pile during combat, pull out whatever allies, magical items, or artifacts he finds there, and use them all! With the amount of cheese flying around in the average TAV game, there is bound to be a ton of usable cards in enemy discard piles, especially later in 2-player games or just about anytime in multi-player. The Skulker often becomes a one-man (loosely speaking) realm-razing machine!                 

#1 - Gib Reltub (Night Stalkers chase, 20/25) 
Okay, let's go through this guy's abilities one at a time. Firstly, he's an earthwalker, meaning he is able to attack back realms and avoid front ones with movement restrictions. Secondly, he's immune to all events, so he won't be Slave Revolted or Trapped or Tyranthraxus-ized. Next, he ignores rule cards, which when combined with his immunity to events means it's nearly impossible to strip him of his spellcasting or other abilties. Lastly, he casts wizard spells, and any Wish spells cast by him can't be spell turned. They can still be dispelled, but...slap a Star Gem of Martek: Clear Crystal on him and he is an unstoppable, Wish-casting maniac! Gib Reltub is a staple in my Gib deck, and for me ranks as the #1 thief champion ever printed.

Next time: Take a look at my Gibs!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Psionicist Deck

Here's a rundown of what's in my psionicist deck:

Realms (13): Realm x7, Menzoberranzzan, Temple of Elemental Evil, Ruins of Iolonia, The Crystal Sphere, Ancient Kalidnay, Avanil.

Champions (12): Bansmareton (Avatar), T'Chaar, Phridge, Mistress of Destruction, Lazarus the Drow, Borys the Dragon, Shadair Mesker, Kronos the Titan, Highmaster Illithios, Lyr of the Mists, Minervan, Gith.

Wizard Spells (5): Dispel Magic, Spell Turning, Limited Wish, Hold Person, Wish.                        

Cleric Spells (3): Dispel, Intercession, Mindkiller.                      

Artifacts (2): Bando's Whitestone, Psychometron of Nerad.                

Ally (1): Loup-Garou.

Events (10): Labor of Legend, Slave Revolt, Good Fortune, The Genie Bottle, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Coming of the Phoenix, Caravan, Treasure Fleet, Cataclysm, Tyranthraxus.

Psionic Power cards: Psionic Disintegration, Domination, Drain Will, Banishment, Destroy Thought, Ultrablast, Inflict Pain, Magnify, Magic Draining Field.

Dungeon: Lair of Dregoth, the Undead Dragon-King.

Note: I do not run a Rule card in this deck.

That's it, tell me what you think.

Next time: The top 3 thieves.                             

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Top 3: Psionicists

Here's my list of the top three psionicists.

#3 - Gib Aklem (Night Stalkers chase, 23/25)
The fact that this guy is only #3 on the list shows what a powerhouse champion type the psionicist is. A staple in my Gib deck, Aklem is a great attacking champion. He's basically risk-free, since he grabs another champion to be his ally in combat. Here's how it works: attack with Aklem and, after your opponent blocks, you can grab another champion in his pool (or another opponent's pool, if you're playing multi-player) to use as an ally. If you lose, the champion/ally is discarded instead of Aklem, who calmly returns to your pool. You can even lose on purpose! You'll give up a spoils, but can rid yourself of a troublesome Jella, Hettman Tsurin, Gwenyth, or some other champion you don't particularly like your enemy having.

#2 - Lyr of the Mists (Powers, 23/100)
Lyr is a champion you hate to see hit the board - unless you're the one plunking her down. Every time she enters combat, a champion croaks. This primo power makes Lyr one of the most feared champions in the game. I have seen her singlehandedly scare off potential attackers, and I've seen her severely punish those brave enough to attack anyway. When you keep winning, you keep discarding champions. If Lyr loses, bring her back with a Coming of the Phoenix, a Resurrection, a Silver Hands, etc. The only foolproof way of protecting yourself against Lyr of the Mists? Keeping your champions safely in your hand. But you won't win many games that way.

 #1 - Highmaster Illithios (Dungeons chase 21/25)                    

He's my pick as the best psionicist ever printed, and I'm not even sure which of the two hideous monsters on the card he is! The Highmaster has a laundry list of immunities, he's level 10, and whenever a psionic power card is played, you get to draw a card. In a psionic deck he's going to allow you to gain a tremendous card advantage in a short period of time. And card advantage is everything. Prices on this card range from $65 at to near $100 on eBay, and no wonder! Whenever I have him in my pool, I feel confident I'm going to win the game. How many cards can you say that about?

Next time: My psionicist deck revealed! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top 3: Regents

Here are my picks for the top 3 regent champions.

#3 - Gib Cram (Chaos, 5/72)
Yes, that's me in the picture. And yes, this is one of the three cards I designed that made it into the sticker sets (The Forgotten Idol and, with Hayden, Insanely Good Fortune being the other two). But that's not why Gib Cram makes the list. His phenomenal power makes him the #3 regent champion in the game. Movement restrictions? He laughs at movement restrictions. He can't be killed by the Scarlet Brotherhood. He's not discarded by Raurin. He can't be poisoned by The Spiderfell. He attacks Iolonia, The Lost City, and Zhentil Keep with impunity! And takes all his allies along for the ride. AND passes the power to ignore movement restrictions and land powers to all your other champions! He's a handsome devil, as well...

#2 - The Noble Outlaw (Birthright, 91/100)
I declare him to OUTLAWWW!!! *ahem* Excuse me. The Noble Outlaw has an amazing power, which to my mind puts him over the top for spot #2 on this list, ahead of Gib Cram. In the Antigonish Variant, spoils are easier to get than in standard. This guy messes with your opponents' ability to collect spoils. Therefore, he can be a game-breaker. He's also level 10, and his ability to use unarmed combat cards can make him handy as a last-ditch attacker or defender. But mostly, you want him nestled deep in your pool, dishing out punishment to your opponent in 2-player by denying him spoils, and providing one of the greatest incentives ever to NOT attack you in multiplayer games.  

#1 - Rhuobhe Manslayer (Birthright chase, 14/25) 
This guy is a real beast. He heads up my regent & thief deck, and does a smashing job of it, too. One of the greatest attacking champions in the game, Rhuobhe can imitate the power of any champion in any pool when he is pushed forward into combat. He can steal two cards before combat if there is an Istus in play. He can nuke two realms if Iuz is lurking in someone's pool. He can be Lyr of the mists and destroy a champion. If Cram is out, he can ignore movement restrictions. He can be immune to all cards played against him, if Shayira is around. The possibilities are endless. For those reasons (and maybe because he has the toughest name to spell in the game) Rhuobhe Manslayer is the #1 regent ever printed.

Next Time: Top 3 Psionicists.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Top 3: Heroes

Here are my picks for the top three heroes for Spellfire TAV.

#3 - Helm (4th Edition, 255/500)

Personally, I prefer the art on the older Helm (Forgotten Realms, 89/100), but...hey wait a minute. It's my blog, right? Let's try this again.

There. As I was saying, Helm is pretty awesome. He casts both wizard and cleric spells, and can be discarded to stop an event. A very versatile card which, when combined with Star Gem of Martek: Clear Crystal, creates a spell-casting maniac who can anchor your entire pool. He can be brought back with Coming of the Phoenix or Resurrection to stop multiple events. He can even attack or defend in a pinch, with allies, unarmed combat cards, and spells at his disposal. A great all-around card for any format.

#2 - Ethereal Champion (4th Edition chase, 508/520)

Ethereal Champion (or as I call him, "Cyric's daddy") is my pick for second-best hero. He'd be first, if the card at #1 wasn't so doggone amazing. The Ethereal Champion is immune to all offensive cards, the special powers of opposing champions, can cast both wizard and cleric spells, and allows you to flip your pool over and mix it up a la Cyric. That's a real laundry list of powers. In 2011, this guy can go for up to $100 on eBay. I traded mine to an unscrupulous scallywag for much less value back in 2002. If you've got him, folks, hang onto him. Great card in any format, despite apparently being a pile of mist.

#1 - Gib Kcir (Runes & Runes chase, 16/25)

I do still have a Gib Kcir, and you can bet it's not going anywhere soon. A staple in my tournament deck, this guy is phenomenally primo. (By the way, even though it says "her" on the card, and despite the glitter and eye-makeup, I have no doubt Gib Kcir is a dude. I mean come on...the name is 'Big Rick' backwards. Ever heard of a female named Rick?) The thing that puts Kcir into the discussion as one of the greatest Spellfire hero champions is its ability to destroy any one card in play - except a realm - sending it straight to the Abyss. The thing that makes this card the best hero of all for TAV is its ability to automatically raze a realm. That's right, in the Antigonish variant once combat is initiated, if Kcir is used to destroy the defending champion, then POOF! there goes the realm, and a spoils granted to the attacking player. There's no beating that kind of power, combined with his already uber abilities in Standard, not to mention an immunity to events which could remove him from play, such as Slave Revolt, Tyranthraxus, Trapped, and Curse of the Azure Bonds. Gib Kcir, you gender-confused peeping Tom, take a bow!

Next time: My top 3 regents.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Five Of My Favorite Cards

I was going to call this "My Top 10 All Time Favorite Cards", but I just couldn't narrow it down. So here's five of my favorites. I'll probably post more at a later date.

#5 - Roundhouse (Millennium, 96/99)                                   
There are cards you use as an attacker - like instant-kills and other types of cheese. Then there are response cards. Sure, you can use them when attacking, but they are better used as payback after you weather your opponent's best card. Roundhouse is my favorite of this type. You enter combat, your opponent plays first, probably using a low-level defender plus a dirty piece of cheese like Noble Djinni. But surprise! You have a Dodge or an Airship or some other way to escape death. Now it's your turn to play. So you slap this beauty down. Roll the dice - it could be a +18 bonus. Your opponent begins to cry piteously as he realizes he is on the losing end of a level-up war he wasn't expecting. Good stuff. I also like Roundhouse because the photo features my pal Hayden destroying my other pal Matt with a sweet kick to the face. It's win-win!

#4 - Gib Drawsemaj (Night Stalkers chase, 22/25)

What an avatar! He only appears after you discard one of your opponent's lands, and when he does he gets the powers of any two non-avatar champions already in play. He could be Iuz and Lord Robilar. Or maybe the Headless Horseman and Lyr of the Mists! Mayor Charles Oliver O'Kane and Princess Amber? The possibilities are endless. Not to mention his awesome level of 20. Primo card.

#3 - Caer Allison (Forgotten Realms, 3/100)
At number three is Caer Allison, an event that usually wins you the game when played. There is another use for it - to save your champions if your only land is discarded...but I've seen it used that way about four times in 15 years. What it's usually used for is to give you a 6th and final realm, and victory. I love hiding this in my hand and tossing off a few "decoy" events to see if I can lure out an Intercession or Limited Wish. Or maybe to see if Helm or Delsenora can be teased into sacrificing themselves. Slave Revolt and Cataclysm are two great events for this purpose. Once a few event counters have been wasted by my opponents, I'll toss down the Caer Allison and hope for the best. Fun!

#2 - Dissolution (Dungeons chase, 4/25)

I love this card. I recently got another one on eBay - money well spent. There's nothing worse than having a Temple of Elemental Evil or a Menzoberranzzan sitting in your hand, taking up space uselessly because some clod at the table already has it down. You can raze it, but it's still there, mocking you. Well, my friend, Dissolution is your answer. It removes the offending realm and places it neatly into the discard pile. Best use of Dissolution? Nuking your opponent's razed Menzo, then slapping yours down moments later for the win. Sweet!

#1 - Enter Darkness Together (Dungeons chase, 10/25)

I pulled this beauty from a pack back in '97 and wouldn't dream of ever parting with it. What a card! So much fun. It works on both spells and events, and 99% of the time stops them cold. Maybe someone out there somewhere would consider ripping up a common spell...maybe. But no one is tearing up their Wish, their Estate Transference, their Mindkiller, or their Caer Allison. It's just not happening. Personally, I have seen one card torn up - a Caravan. My opponent won that game - but at what cost!! Yes, the card affectionately known as "EDT" to Spellfire players worldwide is my favorite card. Anyone got one for sale, cheap? :)                                          

Next Time: Three Awesome Heroes.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

5 Underrated Cards

Here's my list of the top 5 underrated Spellfire cards for the TAV format.

#5 - Cannon Ball (Dungeons, 60/100)

It's an artifact that attaches to realms. Weird! Cards that destroy holdings do nothing, because it's not a holding. How many cards target artifacts? You willing to waste a Wish on this thing? Yet if you let it hang around, attached to your opponent's front land, it's trouble. The Cannon Ball can fire into your pool if you attack the realm. Your attacking champion is safe, but your others? How many champions are immune to artifacts? This card is all kinds of primo, yet it's an afterthought to most players.

#4 - Star Gem of Martek - Clear Crystal (Runes and Ruins, 77/100)
Slap this on a spellcasting champion, and cast away! Wishes, Estate Transferences, Mindkillers, whatever you want. Not many cards target magical items, so you'll probably get to enjoy counterspell-free spellcasting for awhile. And if you have a few counters in your hand, feel free to toss them at your opponent knowing they can't themselves be countered. Not easily, anyway. One last bonus to the Star Gem of Martek: Clear Crystal - if it's in your hand, you are Loup-Garou proof!

#3 - Wrath of the Immortals (4th Edition, 157/500)
There are a bunch of events that do similar things: Takhisis's Mirror of Life Trapping, Wine of Eternity, Trapped, etc. But Wrath of the Immortals is best. It removes the enemy champion's powers, reduces it to level 1, AND forces it to be used first to attack or defend. In TAV, that's basically a free realm raze during your next attack. And your opponent using a level 1 vanilla as his or her attacker is pretty much a guaranteed loss as well. No doubt about it, Wrath is a primo event, though other events of lesser quality seem to get all of the hype.

#2 - Shayira (4th Edition, 286/500)
I don't have to explain much about this pick, do I? Shayira is level 3, which means her player will usually get to play first in battle. She is also immune to the special powers of all cards played against her in combat. Get that? Cheese doesn't work on her. No Loup-Garou, Intellect Devourer, Dreaded Ghost, Hold Person, Unnerving Aura, Death Spell, Mindkiller, etc etc. This is one awesome card. Yet she's continually dismissed and passed over in favor of flashier champions. Life isn't fair, I tells ya.

#1 - The Genie Bottle (3rd Edition chase, 436/440)
This awesome event can cancel a just-cast spell like Wish. It can cancel a limited- or unlimited-duration spell, like Forbiddance or Symbol of Pain. It destroys all holdings in play. It removes all rule cards from play. The Genie Bottle itself can't be countered (Calm still works, though). Is there anything this wrecking-ball CAN'T do? This card is phenomenal. Yet many players ignore it in favor of junk like Cold Cup of Calamity. Let's put it this way: I own five of these, and each and every one of them is in a deck. It's just that good. It's also the most underrated card in Spellfire: TAV.

Next Time: My 5 favorite Spellfire Cards!                        

Thursday, June 16, 2011

5 Overrated Cards

Here's a rundown of my top five overrated Spellfire cards. Please note that some of these cards are good, even great, in Standard. But for the TAV format, they just don't merit their hype.

#5 - Elminster's Intuition (Dungeons chase, 6/25)

Sounds great, right? Name a card in your opponent's draw pile, search for it, and send it directly to the Abyss. Two problems: first, if you don't find it (either because it's not in the deck at all, or because it's in the opponent's hand or discard pile) you're sending your front realm to the Abyss instead. Ouch. So if you don't know your opponent's deck well, this is a very risky card to play. Secondly, this is the TAV format we're talking about. No one card is that valuable. You're not crippling anyone by removing one card from their draw pile. It's just not devastating in 90% of decks to remove one card.
So this dangerous, risky, and underpowered card is going to take up one of your precious ten event slots? Not in my deck.

#4 - Bigby the Great (Runes & Ruins, 28/100)

What? Bigby overrated? I can almost hear the howls of protest. But he is. That doesn't mean he's not a great champion. But Bigby's not a game-breaking card by himself - despite the reputation he seems to have accumulated over the years. Yes, he gives you a free spell turning each turn cycle (use it on anyone's turn but your own). But he's also a huge freaking target with absolutely no immunities when sitting in the pool. Have fun using up all your counters trying to keep this big galoot alive. What a resource hog. And if your opponent isn't running spells (I, for example, have a monster deck, a hero deck, and a thief/regent deck, all with no spells whatsoever), Bigby is a useless wizard taking up champion points in your deck. For being useful only sometimes, and for attracting champion-killing cards like a magnet, Bigby is #4 on this list.

#3 - Creeping Doom (Forgotten Realms, 28/100)

Creeping Doom is not a bad card by any means, but it pales in comparison to other cards that do more. Razing a realm is decent, but placing one in the discard pile or Abyss is so much better. That's why Creeping Doom is overshadowed by Disintegrate, Psionic Disintegration, Estate Transference, and Dissolution. The fact that a holding makes a realm immune to Creeping Doom decreases its worth even more. The biggest indictment of this card I can think of is that I have about 10 decks and Creeping Doom is in none of them. There are just too many better spells.

#2 - Kiri, Avatar of Kiri-Jolith 

Kiri makes this list at #2 because he is just as likely to wreck your game as your opponent's. A deck has to be specially constructed in order for Kiri to be your avatar. As soon as he appears, every champion - including your own - loses its powers. Depending on who is in your deck, this could range from inconvenient to devastating. Sure, your opponents' champions also lose their powers, but at worst this levels the playing field. Plus Kiri has no immunities whatsoever, making him extremely vulnerable to spells. The card would be better if it had some great special power, and was immune to its own power-stripping effect. As it is, Kiri's average at best, yet many Spellfire players still think he's awesome. I enjoy watching them play him against me, only to discover that their Gib Lhadsemlo is now a big, vanilla oaf.              

#1 - Cold Cup of Calamity (Forgotten Realms chase, 2/25)

Here it is, folks, the most overrated card in TAV. Cold Cup of Calamity is an overpriced, overhyped card in all formats, but it's especially useless in the Antigonish Variant. For a similar reason as Elminster's Intuition: it's not like there is a shortage of great cards in a typical deck. So, once during a game, you can take a look at an opponent's hand and discard it down to 5. Good for eliminating a realm or a champion or two. Any great events are going to be used by the opponent before you can get rid of them, while allies and magical items are not going to be game-breakers. You might get rid of a bit of cheese, but I've never seen Cold Cup decide a game. What usually happens is that it sits in your hand for turns on end as you frantically wonder "Do I use it now? No? How 'bout now?!" Meanwhile, one of your event slots is taken up forever by this cardboard clunker. For being great in approximately one out of every five games you draw it in, Cold Cup of Calamity wins the award for most overrated Spellfire card.
Next Time: Five underrated cards for TAV.

Gib, Gib Trouble!

Yes, my choice of the best Gib is Gib Irod (Night Stalkers chase, 21/25). She just edges out Gib Lhadsemlo, who is also primo.

Both Lhadsemlo and Irod have a laundry list of immunities. But what puts Irod over the top is her card-drawing ability. When in combat, her controller can discard up to three cards and draw replacements. With TAV being a fast format filled with instant-kill cheese, the odds of drawing said cheese are quite good. Given that you have three chances, the odds get even better.

Irod is also immune to the powers of allies (such as the Loup-Garou) and harmful events (Trapped, Takhisis' Mirror, Wine of Eternity, etc). As well, the Wish spell does nothing to her. Did I mention that she casts both wizard and cleric spells? And she's level 13? Primo.

Why anyone wouldn't run a Gib Irod in their deck is one of life's great mysteries. This card rocks, in both Standard and TAV.

Next time: 5 overrated cards (for TAV).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Tournament Deck

Well guys, here it is, the long-promised rundown of my TAV tournament deck. Yes, the deck that went through 7 other quality TAV decks to win the inaugural 2000 tourney in the place where it all began, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, and crown me Spellfire Champion!

You may notice a few newer (sticker set) cards in the deck. Obviously they weren't part of the action back in 2000, but truthfully I don't remember what cards were in their places, and there is no documentation or deck list.

I should mention that this deck had its genesis in the late 90s, when I played Spellfire in Sydney, Nova Scotia with a bunch of guys with names like Manny, Lindsay, Ian, and Clint. Later, in Antigonish, it was a crew including Scott, Chris, Dale, Rob, Paul, and (of course) Hayden.

This deck is about 15 years old, in its various incarnations. It's not unbeaten by any means, but it wins more matches than any deck I've ever seen in person (Please remember that these are TAV matches. The deck is probably useless for Standard, which I do not play).

Here's the card rundown.

Realms (13): Ancient Kalidnay, Sea of Dust, Nibenay, Solamnia, Ruins of Zhentil Keep, Avanil, Picque Moi, Temple of Elemental Evil, The Desolation, The Shadowlands, The Ruins of Iolonia, Menzoberranzan, Mithas.

Champions (14): Manshoon, Delsenora, Korgunard, Lyr, Earth Elemental, Prismal the Outrageous, Helm, Headless Horseman, Erellika, Zakhata, Living Scroll, Cyric, Living Wall.

Wizard Spells (11): Unnerving Aura, Dispel Illusion, Dissolution, Disintegrate, Spell Turning, Hold Person, Limited Wish, Wish, Takhisis' Abyssal Gateway, Dispel Magic, Estate Transference.

Cleric Spells (3): Mindkiller, Intercession, Dispel.

Magic Items (1): Star Gem of Martek: Clear Crystal.

Allies (3): Noble Djinni, Loup-Garou, The Dreaded Ghost.

Events (10): Map of Life, Tyranthraxus, Good Fortune, Unusually Good Fortune, Caravan, Genie Bottle, Caer Allison, Coming of the Phoenix, Pit Trap, Enter Darkness Together.

Dungeon: The Azure Tower of Onad the Fallen.

Note: I do not run a Rule Card or an Avatar in this particular deck.

Well there you have it. I should mention that anyone looking to buy these cards (or any Spellfire singles) should check out Troll & Toad. They have become *the* Spellfire singles retailer on the web.

Comments welcome on my deck. But if you think you can do better in TAV...we should play! :)

Next Time: The best Gib? (no, it's not Cram...) ;)

You'll Flip for Mithas!

This might be a short blog entry, because Mithas (Dragonlance, 1/100) is so obviously great. One of the most primo realms in Spellfire, no matter what format you play.

Why? Well, if it is razed, Mithas rebuilds automatically at the start of your next turn. You get it back free, and can still play another land that turn, or discard three cards and flip another razed realm that turn.

When combined with cards like Menzoberranzzan, Caer Allison, Korgunard the Avangion, Spirit of the Land, and Arms of the Shield Lands, Mithas can be part of a strategy that allows you to win games by playing or rebuilding 4, 5, or possibly all 6 reams in one turn!

In TAV, where its easier to raze realms when attacking, Mithas can be a great front land. Let's say Gib Lhadsemlo is heading to your formation. You could waste cards trying to beat him (unlikely), but with Mithas up front you can just let it go. It gets razed, and your opponent gets a spoils, but at least no lasting damage is done. At the beginning of your next turn Mithas unflips and (provided no other opponent has razed another of your lands) you are back where you started. Play a realm and you're even ahead of where you were last turn, even though you had one of your realms razed.

The flaw with this realm is that Mithas allows opponents to attack it after it has been razed. Not much of a problem in a two-player duel, but in multi-player you might find your front land under seige.

The only other downside to Mithas is that just about everyone runs it in their deck. This becomes even more of a problem in a multi-player game. Once it's down somewhere on the table, Mithas will need to be removed using a valuable land-destruction spell like Disintegrate or Dissolution, or attacked once each by a combination of two players.

But if you're the one who gets Mithas down first, your opponents might just flip you off! :)

Next Time: My tournament deck.