Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hey, Spellfire Fans!

It was hot, and that hay was itchy!

Hello! Marc Dalesandro here. Yes, good old Gib Cram. That's me up above, on my very own Spellfire card, from the Chaos sticker-set expansion. 

I love Spellfire, the out-of-print and discontinued CCG once owned by TSR and canceled by Wizards of the Coast in 1997.

I'm destined to go down as a footnote in Spellfire history for two reasons: 
#1 - Being featured on the card above, and #2 - Being the guy who introduced one Hayden-William Courtland to the game. Yes, that's right - THE Hayden-William Courtland, who eventually rose to become one of the "Triumverate", the three-person Spellfire Council who ran the game from 2000-2005.

I created this blog to discuss and review Spellfire cards and strategies related to the Antigonish variant of the game. This is the alternate-rules variant of Spellfire created by Hayden and myself in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada sometime during the year 2000. I believe this variant is superior to "official" Spellfire (henceforth referred to as "standard") in every way.

Some cards that are near-useless in standard become fantastic in the Antigonish variant (henceforth referred to as TAV). Conversely, some cards that are sought-after in standard are useless in TAV.

The basic differences between standard Spellfire and TAV are as follows:

1 - There is usually only one round of combat per turn (I'll detail exceptions later).

2 - When an attacker wins a round of combat, a realm is automatically razed.

3 - When a defender wins a round of combat, the attacker cannot attack again, and the defender takes a spoils.

4 - Dungeon cards are shuffled into the regular deck, and can only be played when drawn, not placed into play at the start of the game as in Standard.

That's about it. No attacking three or four times a turn. Every champion is a Tithian! The exception is when a card says something like "If this champion wins a round of combat, it may attack a second time". In TAV, this means TWO realms can be razed, and TWO spoils of victory drawn, with these kinds of champions.

The other exception is if a card says "the battle ends with no victor, the attacking player may continue the attack with another champion". This works normally, as in Standard.

With this blog, I will be reviewing cards and evaluating how they "fit into" the metagame of TAV. I will also be getting into strategies for successfully winning TAV games. Hopefully sometime soon I will dive into analyzing my own "tournament deck", which won the 2000 Antigonish Spellfire Championship (which was a TAV tournament).

Welcome to everyone reading, stick around and please leave comments.

Next time: We start the card discussions off with "the Bard"...and no, not Shakespeare. 


  1. Marc,

    I enjoy this blog very much. Two years ago I was puttering around on E-Bay, up to no good as usual, and I found a starter set for what I considered to be a reasonable price. With minimal goading I was able to get a few friends on board with trying the game out, and it was a greater success than I had anticipated.

    However, I came to find out that the sets I had purchased were stripped of all the rare and chase cards, with a few exceptions. In an attempt to bring up the overall gameplay, I purchased a few extra bundles. What I ended up with was a Forgotten Realms deck that slaughtered every other deck I made, which I found to be weird because on the surface it looked like my Dark Sun deck with stacked with psionicists was the obvious superior. However, the Midnight / Adon combo proved too strong for everyone, so I left the cards with my roommate and departed for grad school.

    Now I am in my second year of grad school, and things have died down enough to start gaming again. One of my colleagues is a part of the crew that resurrected Spellfire with me, so I decided to purchase another bundle with a little more caution this time. I am excited to have a third round with what has been arguably my favorite game since I was a kid. Perhaps it's just the idea of having Raistlin square off against Drizzt, or maybe I'm just a rare nerd, but this time under no circumstances will I part with my collection again. Spellfire for all its flaws is still a blast to me, and I am giddy about the improved gameplay that we will finally be able to experience now that I have been able to procure entire sets instead of sets stripped of all the good cards.

    Kudos on keeping the game alive!

    Peter McCollum

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Peter. I'm always happy to hear from others who love playing Spellfire in all its forms. It's really too bad the game wasn't given a fair shake by the powers that be (powers that were?) in 1997. Keep playing and let me know if you give TAV a try.

      P.S. eBay is an excellent place to by Spellfire cards (although prices have now climbed for most of the really sought-after chases and rares). The only other place I buy cards is at, they have an excellent selection.