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! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Luck of the Draw

Today's topic is the Good Fortune trio of events, which can make you feel very lucky, indeed!

1 - Good Fortune (4th Edition, 120/500)
This event is a staple of any Spellfire deck. The only acceptable reason not to run this card in one of your 10 event slots is that you don't own one. At any time, Good fortune lets you draw five cards. Since this happens at event speed, it can be used even before spells or powers take effect. Be warned, however: Good Fortune is always the target of event-countering cards, especially in a multi-player game. But if it goes off, you'll be feeling the luck of the Irish as you peruse your fat, fat hand.
2 - Unusually Good Fortune (Forgotten Realms chase, 11/25)
This event is even better than Good Fortune. When played on any player's event (except your own), it grants you three free cards. Not bad...and not many opponents will waste a Limited Wish or Intercession on this card. When played on Good Fortune, however, this event becomes truly brutal. The opponent who played Good Fortune draws no cards, and you get five instead. Talk about a counterspell! Now, with such a narrow effect, Unusually Good Fortune would be relegated to a Caravan Raiders-like level of uselessness, but that three-card draw first power makes it primo instead. I run one of these babies in my tournament deck, and I've never regretted it. As I always say, card advantage is everything in Spellfire.

3 - Insanely Good Fortune (Millenium, 47/99)
This brings us to the last member of this little triumverate, Insanely Good Fortune. This card is awesome, and not just because I co-created it for the Millenium sticker set (though that's definitely part of the reason I love it). Insanely Good Fortune can be used at any time to negate an opponent's helpful event (like the original Good Fortune, for example). Not a bad counter, as Spellfire players can always use another card that stops events. The second power rarely sees play, but when it does, it's a doozy. If an opponent plays Unusually Good Fortune, and you have Insanely Good Fortune in your hand, the effect is dramatic. The UGF is cancelled, and instead both players draw six cards. So far, so good...but then your opponent has to discard down to two cards, while you get to keep all six! You now have the fattest hand imaginable, and your opponent is about ready to pack it in and concede.

I have to admit that I've never seen the second power of the IGF go off. Have you? If so, tell me about it in the comments.

Next Time: The top 3 clerics.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Top 3: Wizards

Okay folks, here's my list of the top 3 wizard champions in Spellfire. As always, my picks are designed with the Antigonish variant rules in mind.

No avatars and no Gibs were considered for this list. No Bigby, either.

#3 - Manshoon of the Zhentarim (Runes & Ruins chase, 6/25)
This guy is a great attacking champion. Launch an attack with Manshoon and take your best shot at defeating your opponent's blocker. If you win, great - you've just razed a realm and gained yourself a spoils. If you lose, just discard one card from your hand and Manshoon returns to your pool. He can't be used again until your next turn, but technically he hasn't been defeated, which means your opponent doesn't get a spoils. Manshoon also cannot be discarded by a Drain Will or other targeted champion-killing card. Definitely a primo wizard (I use him in my tournament deck), and worthy of the #3 spot on this list, just edging out Maldraedior.

#2 - Ellorelloran (The Underdark, 93/100)
Rule cards are tough to get rid of. Besides Wish and the Genie Bottle, there are precious few cards that can remove them. Slapping down your own rule card works, but what if you don't have one, or its already been played? Ellorelloran is one solution. She's level 9, can cast cleric spells, and can destroy any rule card when she is played. Later in the game she can be discarded to destroy a second rule card. The fact that she is immune to psionic powers is just icing on the cake. A high-level, versatile wizard with a unique power (that can be used twice) and a useful immunity - add it all up, you've got the #2 wizard in Spellfire.

#1 - Prismal the Outrageous (3rd Edition chase, 431/440)
There's no question this guy looks silly. Kind of a cross between Ron Weasley and the Incredible Hulk. But in a game of Spellfire, Prismal is no joke. First off, he's able to cast cleric spells as well as wizard. Secondly, he's immune to offensive magic items, so Vorpal Blade and the Rod of Seven Parts are useless against him. Thirdly, he can attack any Forgotten Realms land (and take his allies with him) regardless of where the realm is in the formation or what movement restriction it has. Lastly, if you win with Prismal, you get TWO spoils. Yes, you read that correctly. Can you say "card advantage"? Prismal is the real deal, which is why he's nestled snugly into both my tournament deck and the #1 spot on this list.

Disagree with my choices? Let me know in the comments.

Next time: When luck shines on you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Turn, Turn, Turn!

Today let's look at two cards that provide you with one of the most valuable things in any collectible card game - another turn.

1 - The Caravan (4th Edition - 131/500)
This event is ubiquitous - it's part of just about every Spellfire deck in existence. There's good reason for that: as I said in the intro, the power to take another turn puts you on the fast track to victory every time you are able to use it. Caravan is an event, which means it's relatively difficult to stop. You can play it only between turns, which means either before your turn begins or just after it ends in a two-player game. In a multi-player game, you can play the Caravan in between any two players' turns to sneak in a turn of your own. In TAV, two turns could easily equal two quick spoils! Be warned, however, that opponents love to cancel Caravan, by discarding Helm or using Limited Wish, Intercession, EDT, etc. I find it's safer to toss off a decoy event first, or else make sure you have a few counterspells in your hand just to be sure. 

One last point...there is a card made to specifically counter the Caravan: it's an event called Caravan Raiders (Powers, 38/100). But very few people run it in their deck. There are just too many great events to waste one of your 10 precious slots on such a narrowly-focused card.

2 - Ancient Kalidnay (Artifacts, 92/100)         
Our second card is Ancient Kalidnay, which is a realm that can be voluntarily razed to give you an extra turn. Now, razing your own realms isn't usually a great idea, but the key word in that sentence is "usually". In this case, razing Kalidnay lets you slap down another realm, attack again, and get another spoils (possibly yet another realm). It also gives you three more cards in your hand. Definitely worth it, though not as clear-cut awesome as the Caravan. On the plus side, very few cards can prevent the extra turn given by Ancient Kalidnay, compared to the relatively-more-easily-countered Caravan event.

For best results, make sure BOTH cards are in your deck. I know I do!

Next Time: The 3 best Wizard champions in the game.                        

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

5 Best Wizard Spells

Here are my picks for the top 5 Spellfire wizard spells. Please note that all choices were made with the particularities of the Antigonish variant in mind.

#5 - Hold Person (Ravenloft, 49/100)
Here's a way to win a level-up war in a hurry! A card that reduces the opposing champion to zero, no matter what their current level? That's primo. Hold Person is best played late in the combat round, when you can be reasonably confident that your enemy is running out of ammunition. Then...BAM, he's back to level zero. No fun, at least not for him! And when he loses, you've just won yourself a spoils (and razed a realm, if you were the attacker).

#4 - Takhisis's Abyssal Gateway (Dragonlance chase, 13/25)
Much better than Mindkiller, because it can put an avatar into the Abyss just as easily as a regular champion. "The gate" gets rid of an unwanted enemy champion in a hurry. And it's a lot tougher to get back into play from the Abyss than it is from the discard pile. For being an almost essential champion-removal tool, Takhisis's Abyssal Gateway grabs the #4 spot on this list.

#3 - Estate Transference (3rd Edition chase, 437/440)       
Disintegrate and Cataclysm are fine and dandy, as far as land-destruction cards go, but to really eliminate a realm from play, nothing beats Estate Transference. Unlike the aforementioned cards, Estate Transference puts the tageted realm directly into the Abyss (it's sort of the "Takhisis's Abyssal Gateway" of land destruction cards). Slight downside in that, if the spell is countered by Spell Turning or Reflection, the caster is put into the Abyss instead, but that's not enough to lower Estate Transference's #3 position.
#2 - Wish (4th Edition, 384/500)
As I mentioned last month in my post on this card, Wish is pretty well the ultimate wizard spell. So why is it at #2 instead of #1? Blame those crazy Spellfire sticker sets! Aside from that, Wish is everything you want in a badass wizard spell. It destroys any card except realms, regardless of immunities. When you want something gone, Wish does the job better than any other card in the game.
#1 - Dispel Illusion (Inquisition, 83/99)
As mentioned in my previous posting on this card, Dispel Illusion is the most powerful Spellfire card ever printed. It has to be #1 on this list. It can "roll back time", making sure that a played card wasn't played after all. The person who tried to play it can't do so until their next turn. Many times, stopping a Caer Allison or a Menzoberranzan can mean the difference between winning and losing a game. The fact that you can also stop events, champions, or any one of a dozen nasty pieces of cheese with this card is just icing on the cake. When all is said and done, you won't find a better wizard spell (or a better card of any type) in the game.

Agree or disagree with my top 5? Let me know in the comments.

Next Time: An extra turn is a priceless thing!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The TAV Dictionary

Over 10 years of sitting around Spellfire: TAV tables has produced a bunch of slang terms and nicknames. Here's a few!

Cheese – an instant-kill card. Any card that immediately defeats/discards a
              champion, or has the potential to immediately defeat or discard a
              champion. The Loup-Garou is a dirty piece of cheese.

Champion-killer – any card that places a champion into the discard pile or
                          into the Abyss.

Chump – a champion who is useless in the current situation, especially a
             defender. He attacked with the Living Wall, and all I had in my pool              were chumps like Minervan and Helm.

Counterspell – any card that stops another card from being played or taking
                     effect, or one that interferes with its intended effect.

Cut the cheese - stop an instant-kill card.

Decoy – a card that is played in hopes of attracting a counterspell, so that
            another more important or more effective card may be played safely.

Fat hand – a hand full of useful cards.

Fence – any card that makes it difficult to attack a player’s formation. Her deck
            was filled with fences like Solid Fog, Forbiddance, and Wall of Fog.

Graveyard – discard pile.

Land – a realm.

Land destruction – any card that causes a realm to be razed, discarded, or
                          placed into the Abyss.

Level-up war – any battle between champions decided by total levels, as
                      opposed to instant-kill cards.

Oaf – a champion who is of high level, but does not have a useful power in the
         current situation.

Primo – excellent.

Standard – the official Spellfire rules.

TAV – the Antigonish variant of Spellfire.

Vanilla – any card with no special power, or one that has had its special power
             removed. I wanted to attack him with Tako, but Kiri had made him

If you have more of these from your Spellfire group, tell me in the comments!

Next Time: Top 5 Wizard Spells.           

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Noble Cheese

Now here's a card made for the Antigonish variant if I ever saw one! I guarantee that if four players are sitting around a table playing TAV, there is one Noble Djinni (3rd edition, 84/100) in each person's deck. You've got to have this card on hand, if you want to be competitive in the format.

Noble Djinni is a +4 ally, but that's not why anyone would use it. Let's also ignore the card's first power. It's okay in its own right - your opponent is prevented from playing flyers once battle begins (basically what this means is that only non-flying allies can be used). But the real fun comes from the Djinni's second power. "All opposing flyers already in the battle are discarded." Well, that means if a White Weird or a Foulwing is in play, they are tossed. Good, but...wait a minute! What if the opposing champion is itself a flyer?!

Yes, that's right. If an opponent attacks you with a flying champion like Ting Ling or Apocalypse or just about any dragon, and you slap down the Noble Djinni, the champion is instantly discarded. Since you get a spoils when an attacker is discarded during combat...BAM. Also, in TAV that opponent cannot attack you again until his or her next turn.  

Not many champions are immune to ally powers, so the Djinni is almost universally effective. It's not a flyer itself, so rule cards and/or events that prevent flyers don't stop you from slapping it down. And *everybody* uses flyers - they are some of the best champions in the game. These facts taken together make the Noble Djinni the very definition of primo, instant-kill cheese.

All-in-all, this is one genie you really don't want to let out of the bottle!

Next Time: Gib Cram's TAV dictionary!     

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Principles of TAV

I know I promised you "a noble piece of cheese"...and it's coming. But first I thought I'd mention that the full, complete, and official Antigonish variant rules will be posted here within the next few weeks (working on them as we speak). Before then, let's go over the guiding principles of TAV. The philosophical tenets that provide the underpinnings of the format, distilled down to their most concentrated essence. There are only four:

Principle 1 - Speed, For Lack Of A Better Word, Is Good.   
Starting off by paraphrasing Gordon Gekko! TAV is a format that embraces speed. Spellfire games shouldn't take hours to complete. Unlike some who bellyache about "speed cards", TAV players embrace them. What other format actually sought to quicken the game?! Toss down that Menzo, use a Caravan, slap down a Caer Allison, WIN. Sweet. Your opponents don't like it? Let them do something about it!
Principle 2 - A Spellfire Deck Consists Of 55 (or 56) Cards.
Use a dungeon if you wish, but don't bother me with alternate deck sizes. They just slow down the game, and see Principle 1.

Principle 3 - There Are Only Two Banned Cards. 
And their names are Poor Oriental Lord and Wealthy Oriental Vassal. Consider yourselves lucky to even see those cards named on this blog. I like to pretend that they don't exist.

Principle 4 - "One Attack To Launch, And In The Darkness Raze Them!"
...Or not, but in that case you discard your champion and give up a spoils. :)

And with that Tolkien allusion, I'm out for now.

Next time: The cheese arrives.                        

Saturday, July 9, 2011

5 Best Dragons

Okay, let's run down the five best dragon champions for Spellfire: TAV! Please note that I have excluded dragon avatars from this list.

#5 - Glimmer, the Brass Dragon (Draconomicon chase, 16/25)
Glimmer is a flyer and an earthwalker, a pretty rare combination (I can't think of another Spellfire champion who has both abilities off the top of my head...are there any?). If Glimmer wins a battle, you can return one magic item or artifact from your discard pile and attach it directly to him - and that's on top of the instantly-playable spoil you will also be collecting. A neat little power, and one that gives Glimmer the edge over Dregoth, Sparkle, and the other dragon champions all clawing at the #5 position on this list.

#4 - Sleet (Draconomicon, 39/100)
Non-flying allies can't be played against him, which rules out Noble Djinni, Athasian Sloth, Loup-Garou, and the Dreaded Ghost (among others). Sleet is himself a flyer, so he can hit back realms and avoid movement restrictions up front. If killed by any cheese (Vorpal Blade, Use Poison, etc.), Sleet is not discarded, returning to his pool instead. These abilities make him a fantastic TAV champion. His downsides include being a monster (vulnerable to events & spells that specifically target monsters), being unable to cast spells, and being of relatively high level, which allows your enemies to play first when opposing him in combat. Still, a very solid dragon champion.             

#3 - Lareth, King of Justice (Draconomicon, 31/100)
A dragon who can cast wizard spells, prevents all other dragons in play from casting wizard spells, and doesn't have to ask Midnight, Goddess of Magic's permission to do anything? And this dragon is also immune to every single offensive card in the game? Sounds like the #3 champion on this list to me.

#2 - Borys the Dragon (4th Edition, 268/500)

Borys is rated higher than Lareth because of his versatility. He can cast wizard and cleric spells, as well as use psionic powers. He's a flyer. And (since he is in direct competition with Lareth for this #2 position) Borys is also immune to Midnight, Goddess of Magic's spellcasting ban, since he's a monster and she can only affect wizards. Borys (like Lareth) is also immune to psionic power cards such as Inflict Pain and Drain Will. All things being equal, I say Borys's extreme versatility is worth more in your pool than Lareth's immunity to all offensive cards. He gets the #2 spot.

#1 - T'chaar, Dragon of Flame (Draconomicon chase, 1/25)
Unlike spots 4-3 and 3-2, there was never really any doubt in my mind as to which dragon champion would be #1. T'chaar is one of the best attacking champions in Spellfire, period. In TAV, where you only get one attack per turn in most cases, the Dragon of Flame is even more awesome. T'chaar is a flyer, and he can use any offensive card. Doesn't matter if it's an unarmed combat card, a thief skill, a psionic power, blood ability, or spell. If it's offensive, he can use it. This gives you an incredible amount of choice as to which cards to hammer your opponent with during battle. As for T'chaar's "downside" (defensive cards are doubled in level against him)...well, that's not much of a downside at all.

Next time: A noble piece of cheese.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Mighty Hettman!

Hettman Tsurin (4th Edition, 257/500). The name strikes fear into Spellfire players everywhere. Though he's only a level 2 hero, Hettman attracts more champion-killing cards than just about anyone else. What's all the fuss about? It's about his primo power. So long as Hettman doesn't attack during your turn, he allows you to randomly draw a card from an opponent's hand and discard it.

In a two-player game, this can quickly result in card advantage being attained by Hettman's owner. In a multi-player game, Hettman can terrorize the entire table, especially since several players will potentially have him in their deck. Once he dies, someone else will slap him out, leading to multiple turns of Hettman picking away at your best cards.

Also, just by having this guy in your pool your other champions are shielded somewhat from cards like Trapped, Mindshatter, and Death Spell. Those cards will probabaly be directed at Hettman instead of other targets. It's up to you whether you invest the time and spells to protect Hettman from the champion-wrecking cards he attracts like a magnet. If you do, he can become a resource hog as you constantly strive to keep the little bugger breathing. If not, he's likely done his job anyway by stealing a card or two before he croaks.

In TAV, Hettman is even better, since you are going to be attacking only once per turn, and if you're desperate enough to use Hettman Tsurin as your one attacker...let's just say things probably aren't going well.

Mr. Tsurin would be even better if he had some sort of immunity. With protection against either events or offensive spells, he would morph from an annoying pest into a primo beast.

Next time: The Top 5 Dragons in Spellfire.                          

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Two More Overrated Cards

Now when I say "overrated", I mean just that. Re-target (4th Edition, 389/500) and Deflection (Artifacts, 54/100) are in no way bad cards. But they do tend to get way too much press among Spellfire fans.

Of the two, Re-target is clearly better. The ability to redirect any offensive or defensive spell can be primo, especially when said spell does not need to be specifically targeting you. Deflection has a more restrictive usage, in that you can only target events that are specifically aimed at you. Then again, events by and large are tougher to counter than cleric or wizard spells, so there is an argument to be made for Deflection's worth.

What it boils down to for me is this: in the Antigonish variant, you're going to be exposed to a ton of instant-kill and realm-destroying cards. Everyone has Cataclysm and Disintegrate, Wish and Ancient Curse. The problem with the cards above, as opposed to alternatives like Calm and Dispel, is that they are too restrictive for TAV. Deflection, for example, will sit uselessly in your hand as a Slave Revolt or Bribery hits the table (those events don't specifically target one player). It can't stop a Caravan and has no effect on Black Bess.

Similarly, Re-target can't help against a Black Tentacles or a Forbiddance.

I'd rather put the more general cards Dispel Magic, Dispel, Intercession, and Calm into my deck. I get nearly the same effect (minus the neat "hit 'em with their own pimp" stuff)...but without having to worry about nightmare scenarios - like when someone slaps down The Avatar and I've got a Deflection instead of a Calm in my undead deck. Whoops!

Next Time: Touch my hand again and you DIE!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When Disaster Strikes!

Cataclysm (3rd Edition, 99/400) is an event that you need in just about every deck. I have one deck (heroes) with no events, but that's more of a gimmick  that I use to make a deck-construction point. In a serious game, you should have a Cataclysm in one of your 10 event slots.

Cataclysm has three distinct, separate uses.

1) It keeps your opponent from getting too close to having six unrazed realms. This is self-explanatory I would think.

2) It can be used to remove from play a land that you yourself have in your hand, allowing you to place it into your formation. Because the Rule of the Cosmos forbids two of the same realm from being in play simultaneously, and razing it doesn't get around this, the Cataclysm comes in handy.

3) It can be used to remove a land with a particularly onerous movement restriction or other power. Don't like the look of that Raurin out front in your opponent's formation? POW! All gone.

Events are as a rule harder to stop than spells, so Cataclysm has a leg up on cards like Disintegrate and Raze. Cataclysm works on lands that are razed or unrazed, which puts it ahead of Dissolution and Creeping Doom. Estate Transference is arguably better, since it places the enemy realm in the more inaccessible Abyss instead of the easier-to-retrieve-it-from Discard pile, but Estate Transference can also be Dispelled easier.

For my money, the best way to cause your opponent to feel the wrath of a natural disaster is still Cataclysm.

Next Time: Retarget and Deflection...overrated cards?