Monday, November 8, 2021

Gib Cram!

Who is that handsome devil?

Let's take a look at the only card that features an image of me - Gib Cram. I designed this card for the Chaos sticker set, and my aim was threefold:

1) To make another useful Regent champion. Regents were introduced for the Birthright expansion set in May, 1996, but even though subsequent sets such as 4th Edition and Dungeons included the champion type, there still weren't many playable regents compared to heroes, wizards, etc. I really enjoy using blood abilities, so I made sure Gib Cram was a regent.

2) To make a champion who couldn't be defeated by "the usual suspect" realms such as The Scarlet Brotherhood, Raurin, etc, and shared this ability with the other champions owned by the same player. I have to admit, though, that there is a typo on the card, which is totally my fault. I meant Cram to say "This player's champions and attached cards ignore the special powers and abilities of realms and realm champions". As written, it's ambiguous whether movement restrictions still affect Cram and other champions owned by that player, but I meant them to have no effect whatsoever. So, for example, I meant Cram's owner to be able to attack Ruins of Zhentil Keep with any champion type, and not have to discard a card when attacking White Plume Mountain.

3) To get my picture on a Spellfire card. Mission accomplished!

Personally, I think Gib Cram is one of the most useful champions in the game. Once you slap him down, your champions (whether in pool or in combat) can't be destroyed by Furyondy or eaten by the feral halflings of The Forest Ridge. You can attack realms that would otherwise be off-limits, like Ruins of Iolonia or The Bright Desert. Plus you get to grace your pool with the suavest regent known to exist! It's win-win.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Examining my best deck, part 4: allies, magic Items, and dungeon

 

My tournament deck contains two magic items, four allies, and one dungeon. Let's take a look:

 Bell of Might (Forgotten Realms chase 18/25)

There's not much to say about this one. The ability to duplicate another player's event is beyond primo. I can use this to get another turn when someone plays Caravan, destroy a realm of my choosing when someone plays Cataclysm, or draw 5 cards when someone plays Good Fortune. If you own one of these babies, it has to be in your best deck.

Amulet of Spell Protection (Artifacts chase 17/20)

The Amulet of Spell Protection offers two excellent powers in one convenient magic item. First, it makes the attached champion immune to offensive spells. Second, it can be discarded from its player's pool to prevent the effects of any one spell. The Amulet can stop a Wish, a Dispel, a Forbiddance, or a Mindshatter. The uses for this card are almost infinite.

The Azure Tower of Onad The Fallen (Dungeons 24/100)

There's not really any need to explain why I think this is the best Dungeon card in Spellfire, is there? It prevents anyone from canceling my Good Fortune, Caravan, or Treasure Fleet. And it stops any smartass with a Bell of Might from copying my Catacylsm, Wrath of the Immortals, or Ancient Curse.

Loup-Garou (Ravenloft 79/100)

A true classic, still great after all these years. Look, this is one of the best pieces of instant-kill cheese in the game. In combat, I slap this baby down and very often the opponent is toast. Who carries around a ton of magic items in their hand? You have to pick your time to use it, but when the time is right the Loup-Garou ends combat in a hurry.

Assassins (3rd Edition 252/400)

The ultimate "I lose, you pay" card, Assassins can turn a loss into...less of a loss. While you still get beat, your opponent loses his or her best champion on the board. In multiplayer Spellfire (the best kind), you get to pick any champion in play, even one owned by a player not even in combat. Fantastic card.

Athasian Sloth (4th edition 230/500)

When played, this monstrosity forces the opposing player to immediately discard two cards. This can cripple someone, depending on what's in their hand. It also adds a huge +8 to your champion. A brutal ally that belongs in anyone's best deck.

The Dreaded Ghost (4th edition 246/500)

Finally, we have another of the best allies in Spellfire. The Dreaded Ghost can kill the opposing champion instantly, by draining off 9 levels from it. The Ghost also gives a +9 itself, which means it functionally acts as a +18 ally. Even if the opposing champ survives the drain effect, the level-up war is effectively over. There ain't no coming back from an 18-level swing.

Well guys, hope you enjoyed this look at my tournament deck. Not sure what my next post will be about, but please stick around to find out!


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Examining my best deck, part 3: Spells


I have champions able to cast both wizard and cleric spells in my best deck, and have it well-stocked with 12 great spell cards. Let's take a look!

Wish
There's no real need to explain why there's a Wish in this deck, is there? The ability to destroy any card (except a realm) is incredibly powerful. In TAV, I can also have a champion in my pool cast Wish at an enemy champion in combat, which results in the enemy being discarded and gives me a quick, easy spoils. If I'm attacking, the realm is also razed. Wish in TAV is even more potent than in standard Spellfire.

Limited Wish

In Spellfire, you have to be able to stop events. It's even more crucial in the Antigonish variant of the game. My best deck has a Helm. It has a Delsenora. It has an Intercession, a Black Hole, and an Enter Darkness Together. It also has a Limited Wish. I know I'm going to face multiple nasty events every game. I need to stop Good Fortunes, Cataclysms, Calms, Slave Revolts, Curses of the Azure Bonds, Caravans, Black Besses, Caer Allisons, and who knows what else. Limited Wish is a big part of my event-stopping arsenal.

Estate Transference

Even better than Cataclysm or Disintegrate, when you really need a realm gone for good, it's gotta be Estate Transference. Straight into the Abyss it goes, and it won't be coming back. Slight downside is that I can't attack my opponent's formation on the same turn I use Estate Transference, but this deck doesn't attack often, anyway. It's more a defense deck geared toward getting six unrazed realms quickly and efficiently.


Dispel Magic

"Counterspell" type cards are rare in Spellfire. I like being able to control what goes on at the table, so my best deck is well stocked with them. Dispel Magic is a tried-and-true way of keeping Wishes, Finger of Deaths, Creeping Dooms, and Mindkillers at bay while I build my pool and formation.

Re-Target

Another counter, but this one is even more useful. Re-target lets me take my opponent's spell and use it against them. Or take one opponent's spell and use it against another opponent in a multi-player game. Cast Death Spell at my Helm? How about I Re-target that at your Hettman Tsurin? Trying to Disintegrate my front realm? Maybe I don't want your Scarlet Brotherhood on the table anymore. Re-target lets you use your enemies' spells like they were your own.

Takhisis's Abyssal Gateway

It's always fun to show enemy champions "the gate". Takhisis's Abyssal Gateway ushers any one champ (including Avatars) straight to the Abyss. Perfect for getting rid of problematic characters I don't really want around, such as Istus, Lady of Fate or Helm. This is a top-tier removal spell I never want to be without!

Dissolution

This is one of my favorite cards. After I raze my opponent's Ancient Kalidnay or Menzoberranzan, I still can't slap my own down, because of the Rule of the Cosmos. The land is razed, but it's still on the table, mocking me. Dissolution to the rescue! It clears out razed realms and allows my copy to be placed into my formation. It's also great for getting rid of Mithas or the Scarlet Brotherhood before they're rebuilt.

Dispel Illusion
Dispel Illusion is the most powerful Spellfire card ever printed. It's from the Inquisition sticker set, and needs to be in any deck able to use wizard spells. It "rolls back time", preventing the use of any one card. Furthermore, that card cannot be played until the next turn of the player who tried to use it. So, not only is my opponent's Caer Allison considered "not played", they can't slap it down before their next turn. It works on spells, events, allies, blood abilities, artifacts, and everthing else. It's almost impossible to explain how primo this card is.

Intercession
More event-canceling goodness - I really can't have enough of it. Events wreck my game in multiple ways. Being able to deny my opponent their best events gives me a leg up on winning. I've always believed that, and that's how I gear my best decks.

Mindkiller

Sure, it's a bit overrated (mainly because of it's relative uselessness against avatars). But Mindkiller is still plenty good enough to make my best deck. The advantage it has is that it puts non-avatar champions into the Abyss rather than the discard pile, making it much harder for my opponent to get them back into play. This card is basically the cleric spell version of Takhisis's Abyssal Gateway. Except for the pesky "can't send an avatar to the Abyss" part.


Mindshatter

This is one of my favorite Spellfire cards. It renders any champion - even an avatar - useless. It can't attack or defend, it can't cast spells. Gib Kcir can't be discarded to remove a card from play. Helm can't cancel events. This is one of the best "shutdown" cards in the game. I have three of these, and they're all in decks. Mindshatter is just that good.

Dispel

Fourth edition Dispel is a beast of a card. While the second and third edition Dispel both stop wizard and cleric spells, the fourth edition version also works on psionic powers and blood abilities - making it the most versatile "counterspell" in Spellfire.

Well, that's it for spells in my best deck. 

Next time: allies & magic items.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Examining My Best Deck, part 2: Events


Lets talk events! I have 10 in this deck, which is the maximum. Out of my eight Spellfire decks, only one has less than 10 events (my Heroes deck only has 5). Events are some of the most powerful cards in the game, and can determine who wins and who is left crying over an incomplete formation.

Let's go through the events I have chosen for my best deck.

Enter Darkness Together
I still remember the thrill I got when I pulled this card out of a pack of Dungeons way back when. It turned out to be one of the final packs of that set I ever opened. Even back then everyone knew this was one of the "big" chase cards from the expansion. It's one of the most powerful Spellfire cards ever printed, able to stop both events and spells. It also cannot be calmed and can't be canceled either - no Intercessions or Limited Wishes or Helms need apply - except by tearing up the card the EDT was played on. You'd have to be really, really desperate to do that...although I have seen someone who wanted an extra turn so bad they tore up their Caravan. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Coming of the Phoenix
I think every deck needs one of these babies. If I want to use my Helm, Delsenora, or Lyr again, they're back! Any champion (except an avatar) flies directly back from the discard pile to play. I can use Korgunard once to rebuild a realm, then use him again! This card even skips that pesky "hand" stuff and places the champ right back into my pool. Great stuff.

The Genie Bottle
I have five of these, all in decks. If I had more they'd be in decks too. What a primo event. This has got to be one of the most underrated cards in Spellfire. The ability to dispel all spells in play, including a just-cast spell, is amazing. Let's say my opponent has one of my champions immobilized with a Mindshatter. They also have a Forbiddance in play, so I can't attack them. Next, they target my front realm with a Raze. It's Genie Bottle time! The Mindshatter and the Forbiddance are instantly gone, and the Raze is countered. Any rule cards and holdings are gone, too...and the Genie Bottle can't be itself countered. My opponent's strategy is now ruined, and I am in a much better position to win the game.

Good Fortune
Anyone who is wondering why Good Fortune is in my deck must be new to the game...very new. I play it, I draw 5 cards. Simple but devastatingly effective. There's a good reason this is one of the prime targets for event-canceling spells like Intercession and Limited Wish. It can literally change the course of the game.

 Tyranthraxus, the Possessing Spirit
I get my opponent's best champion, provided it isn't immune to harmful events. I also get to keep said champion, unlike with Curse of the Azure Bonds. It becomes a monster able to cast wizard spells, which is neat because this deck has wizard spells...and I'd rather cast Wish using a borrowed champion, since there's always the chance Spell Turning is lurking about in my opponent's hand.

Caer Allison
Another of those events that has to be in your deck if you own one. Sure, I can use it to save my champions if my first realm is Cataclysmed...but I don't place champions until I have two realms, unless I'm attacked. The real use of this card is to win the game when I have 5 unrazed realms. Caer Allison will end things in a hurry for me, unless it's canceled somehow.

The Caravan
Taking an extra turn is just about the most powerful effect I can think of. Caravan is a must-have in any deck.

Unusually Good Fortune
I get 3 free cards and the opponent's event still goes off - nobody is wasting an event-canceling card on this. Except if I try to use it on another player's Good Fortune. If they don't stop it, they get no cards and I get 5. That's devastating.

Black Hole
This event is a promo card created by the German Spellfire League. They have a TAV-rules tournament each year and they graciously sent me a professionally printed copy of this promo. Black Hole is a fantastic event that allows me to take my opponent's Caravan, Good Fortune, Spirit of the Land, Labor of Legend, or any other helpful event and use it for myself. They can't stop the Black Hole, only cancel their original event. So either way, once I play this, they won't be getting the beneficial effects. And if they don't want to waste event canceling card on their own event, I'll be getting the 5 cards, the extra turn, or whatever.


Cold Cup Of Calamity
 
Ah, the Cold Cup. Best used right after my opponent has slapped down a Good Fortune or Treasure Fleet, or has just played the Temple Of Elemental Evil or discarded Avanil. I get to take a long look at their fat hand and relieve them of a few "unnecessary" cards. At the right time in the game, the Cold Cup can be devastating. But timing is everything with this card.


Well there you have it, my 10 events. Next time, I'll go through the spells in this deck.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Examining my best deck, part 1: Champions

My best Spellfire: TAV deck. Click for larger size.
I thought I'd do a few posts on my best Spellfire deck, which you can see in the photo above. I have a bunch of decks, but only two - this one and the Gib deck - that I'd consider really "good" decks. The one above I call my Tournament Deck because it won a Spellfire: TAV tournament in spring 2000 against 7 other really good players. Of course, a few cards have been substituted since then, as sticker sets became available, etc.

I'm going to go through the deck line-by-line from the picture above. This time it will be champions, and I'll move down a line each post. Hopefully I can cover the whole deck over the next little while. I'm also going to explain my rationale for each card in the deck. Please share your ideas on my choices and whether you think there might be a better card to substitute.

Let's get going!

Champions (15)

I have 69 levels of champions in this deck, well short of the standard deck limit of 90.

Ethereal Champion
This guy is so versatile. He can cast wizard and cleric spells, and is immune to champion powers (he can fight the Living Wall, for instance, without being absorbed). The Ethereal Champion also allows me to flip my entire pool face-down to prevent targeted spells and champion-destroying events. An awesome champion that costs an arm and a leg these days.

Living Wall

The Living Wall has to be in my best deck - it's just that good. Its ability to absorb and instantly defeat champions, allies, and psionics of 6 or higher means it will never be troubled by Dreaded Ghosts or Cyrics. It's immune to magic items, artifacts, and offensive spells, which means it can't be Mindkillered or gotten rid of with the Psychometron of Nerad. It's level 10, which gives it a good chance in any level-up war. A primo champion all around. 

                                                       Erellika
Her powers to negate psionics and cancel the abilities of enemy holdings are okay, but the real value of this versatile champion is her low level and ability to cast both wizard and cleric spells. Her level of 2 ensures I get to play first, which makes her a prime candidate for delivering Loup-Garous and Dreaded Ghosts straight to my opponent's face.

Earth Elemental

The earthwalking ability is nice, and there are a lot of great champions with last digits 3,2,1, and 0. This is an amazing surprise defender to get me a quick win and a quick spoils. I just keep him in my hand (and off the table) until the time is right. Once I slap him down he's a big target and doesn't have any immunities to protect him, so keeping him in my hand until ready to use him is the best plan.

Th Elf Prince Fhileraene
This guy can cast wizard spells (useful in this deck) and use blood abilities (not so much - there aren't any blood abilities in the deck). But the real reason he's in here is his other power. When attacking (before combat starts) he can kill one monster in any pool. It might be a monster owned by the person I'm attacking, or it might be one owned by a third player somewhere else around the table. And they can't protect the monster by defending with it: the Elf Prince kills it before a defender is even chosen. Goodbye Headless Horseman, Living Wall, or Gib Lhadsemlo.

Headless Horseman
Do I really have to go into why this champion is in my best deck? I attack, and my opponent either just flips the land to avoid losing a champion (and I get a spoils), or they block and I say "I choose to win". Their champion is discarded along with the Horseman, the land flips, and I get a spoils. Third option: they block, I win the battle without activating the Horseman's special power. If I'm successful, I keep the Horseman and repeat the process next turn. Those are all very bad outcomes for my opponent.

Korgunard the Avangion
Korgunard is a champion that should be in almost every deck. He sits in my pool, avoiding combat, and at any time I can discard him to rebuild a razed realm, potentially winning me the game. If not, I can bring him back from the discard pile using a spell, event, or champion ability and use him again. What an amazing card.

Arch-Druid
This guy is phenomenal. He doesn't take part in combat. He sits in my pool, shutting down every other cleric on the board. He also stops avatars from being played (I don't run an avatar in this deck). Stopping creeps like Istus, Lady of Fate and Kiri-Jolith from hitting the board is a great power.

Helm
This guy can cast both wizard and cleric spells, but his real purpose is to sit in my pool until my opponent tries to play a Caravan, a Good Fortune, a Calm, or a Cataclysm. I can discard Helm to cancel any event. There's no way to counter this effect - the event is toast. Afterward, if I can bring Helm back from the discard pile, he's mine to use again. 

Manshoon of the Zhentarim
One of the best attacking champions in the game. I take my shot in combat, and if I lose, I discard another card and put him back into my pool (with all his attachments!) and try again next turn. Low risk, high reward.

Living Scroll
This guy is level zero, so he adds no champion levels to my deck. He's basically a free champ, so no reason not to have him at the ready. I keep him in my hand, waiting for the chance to use him against an unsuspecting hero or cleric who blunders over to attack my formation. If I have this thing in my hand, and Ruins of Zhentil Keep as my front land, I can barely control my giggling.

Julio, Master Thief of Haslic
He's low level, which means I get to play my instant-kill cards first. If he wins, he allows me to bring my Dreaded Ghost, Helm, or Korgunard back from the discard pile to my hand. Julio is just what the doctor ordered, especially late in a game when some of my best cards have already been used.

Prismal the Outrageous

Prismal can cast both wizard and cleric spells, which makes him a very useful champion. He can also attack any Forgotten Realms realm, no matter its position or restrictions (bringing his allies with him), and gets an extra spoils if he razes it. I love having champs able to cast both types of spells in my deck, and his extra powers are just icing on the cake.

Delsenora
Delsenora belongs in any deck. Having her in my hand is like having another Calm, since she can be discarded from my pool to cancel the effects of any one event for me. I never use her in combat, instead she chills in my pool, casting the odd Intercession or Dispel until I want to discard her to "calm" an event.

Zakhata, the False God
 
Zakhata is from the Conquest sticker set. She robs my opponents of the ability to use their avatars's power, while simultaneously taking their avatars's levels for her own. If it's a multiplayer game, and more than one opponent has an avatar in play, this champion can easily get to level 30. Even though Zakhata has no spellcasting abilites or immunities, she's worthwhile to have in my deck for the wreck she makes of the avatar-based plans of my opponents. Plus she adds zero levels toward my deck's champion limit, so she's basically a free throw-in like the Living Scroll.

Well, there you have it, the champion lineup of my best deck. Next time, I'll focus on the 10 events in the deck.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Top 15 Magic Items, part 6


Here we go, the final three entries on the Top 15 Spellfire: TAV magic items list! 

NUMBER 3: Bag of Beans (Night Stalkers chase, 11/25).

You'd better pull something better than a bean out of there.
The remaining three magic items are all incredible, and while #1 wasn't in doubt, the #2 and #3 positions were a bit difficult for me to decide on. Bag of Beans ended up at #3, but that's no slight against its power. This thing is a beast. After drawing your usual three cards at the beginning of your turn, you get to cut your deck during phase 3 and take the card you have cut to. If it's a realm, you have to discard it, but if it's anything else you can put it into your hand, into your pool, or play it. It's *almost* like getting a fourth card per turn. Card advantage is everything in Spellfire, especially in the Antigonish Variant. Bag of Beans gives you card advantage over your opponent, in spades. Only two magic items in the entire game are better than this one.

NUMBER 2: Dragon Font (Artifacts chase, 20/20).


Is that a dragon in there, looking at me?
At #2 we have the Dragon Font, which at first blush might seem worse than Bag of Beans. I mean, with the Font you only get to draw two cards, instead of the usual three. But wait! Instead of drawing that third card, take a long look at the bottom five cards of your deck, and pick one to grab! The remaining four go back on the bottom, a resource to be exploited by the Font next turn. You're always guaranteed to see a new card each turn, and you keep a "bank" of four more that you can take when they are most appropriate to the game situation. Words can't express how powerful this is. If you've ever played against someone using the Dragon Font each turn, you'll quickly come to understand. This thing is so good that there is only one magic item ever printed that can exceed its power. 

NUMBER 1: Bell Of Might (Forgotten Realms chase, 18/25).


If you draw this, your opponent will soon have their bell rung.
The Bell of Might is the best magic item in Spellfire, and it's not close. Duplicating an opponent's event is powerful enough in a two-player game: you Good Fortune, then when your opponent uses theirs, you Good Fortune again! It's like having two Cataclysms, two Caravans, and two Wrath of the Immortals in your deck. In a multiplayer game, the Bell of Might is insane. Nearly everyone plays with 10 events. With the Bell, once per turn you get to duplicate another player's event. We could be talking multiple extra turns, multiple Trapped's, multiple Slave Revolts, multiple Ancient Curses. The Bell is so primo, your opponents basically have to destroy it, kill the attached champion, or lose the game. I've seen multiple Wishes used to nuke the champ with the Bell attached. If it sticks around, the player who has it usually wins. That's why it's my choice as the #1 magic item of all time. 

Well, that wraps up my list of the Top 15 magic items. Let me know in the comments if you disagree with my order or if you think I missed a magic item altogether. Thanks for reading!

Next time: The 10 best Artifacts.