Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shadow Era Spoilers: Prophecies 1-4

Wulven Studios, in my absence, has released a couple spoilers for the upcoming expansion. Since they failed to courteously await my return, I must now go back in time to evaluate these four pieces of virtual cardboard.

Thanks a lot, guys. :P

Spoil #1: Furrion Terror
Spoiled by Gondorian on 9/21/2012

The first thing to note about this card is the attack symbol in the corner, which is new.

This ally's basic attacks deal fire damage. Will that be important? Of course it will. Read the card's text.

Furrion Terror has three abilities, which is the first ally to do so (even Aeon Stormcaller and Ogloth the Glutton only have two). It has four if you count the damage type.

The first ability is essentially Ice Storm, except it affects both sides of the board. This means it can serve as a 187 creature, and even better, could also clear two or more allies by itself. All those Dirks, Tainted Oracles, and Birgittes disappear in one fell swoop.

The second ability is extremely important. Immunity to fire damage. Ignoring whatever else may come in Prophecies, this card is immune not only to itself, but also to Fireball, Majiya, Supernova, Molten Destroyer, Engulfing Flames, Flaming Arrow, and Wrath of Summer. This is a pretty impressive list.

The third ability, relating to Ice damage, is rather insignificant. Snow Sapphire and Voice of Winter are cards, sure, Voice being particularly good against this card, but the Terror only has 3 health. Eladwen Frostmire kills it in one shot anyways, and if this thing is frozen for more than a turn it should be easy to shoot it down, especially for mages that have the most elemental affinity cards. Ice Storm is really the only card from Call of the Crystals that benefits.

Overall, how good this card is really depends on the rest of the Prophecies set and how common fire damage/2hp allies are. Its abilities are amazing in the right meta and the downside (at least for now) doesn't seem very big. 3 health is very unfortunate, which is why fire immunity is going to be the huge determining factor on whether he's playable or not. As long as Millstalker decks and other allyless strategies are still popular, the success of the Terror will be limited.

Furrion Terror rating: 6/10. Lots of potential, but very situational. Great for sideboards, not playable in the maindeck unless the meta is screaming for it.

Spoil #2: Paladin of Unaxio
Spoiled by Kyle on 9/27/2012

This card is huge. My first reaction is just how much this thing can tank. The Paladin survives a Supernova with 2 health, requires two Fireballs or Eladwen shots to take down, and takes no damage from the ablaze DoT. He's reminiscent of Armored Sandworm, but with three attack as a trade-off for vulnerability to Logan, Evil Ascendant, etc.

The second ability is insane at first glance. iClipse became World Champion on the back of Healing Touch, and this card does the best part of HT for one resource less and without having to spend an extra card. The Paladin behind an Aeon has to be one of the most dangerous things in the game, as now even cripples, disables and freezes can't keep back the beats and both allies can survive the formerly powerful Supernova.

In all honesty, looking at both this card and the previous spoil, it looks like the dev team is trying to kill Supernova for good.

It's important to note that as good as the status effect removal is, part of the beauty of Healing Touch over alternatives in the past has been the surprise factor. Although Lance can get a same-turn trigger, overall the Paladin IS expensive if you're playing him just to remove Jasmine's charm for a turn.

Paladin of Unaxio Rating: 7/10. This ally is plenty multi-purpose, has a great effect, and does a good job at tanking. However, versatility may be good, but ASW is a better tank, Healing Touch has a surprise factor the paladin lacks, and 3 attack is on the low end for 5cc allies. It's good and serves multiple roles, but just isn't capable of winning games by itself. If you want it for any given part over the whole picture, there are better alternatives out there.

Edit: Community member and forum moderator Danae pointed out that this card removes only negative effects, not attachments. In other words, It can be used against cards like Mugged or Clinging Webs but not Crippling Blow and Captured Prey like Healing Touch can. This in fact makes the card slightly worse than I had originally thought.

Spoiler #3: Layarian Diplomat
Spoiled by Kyle on 10/4/2012

This is a really interesting card. Allies that immediately effect the board are good, and this one strips away all the damage prevention that seems to be important not only in Call of the Crystals but in Prophecies as well.

"My protection broke."
For anyone unsure of what this card means, A passive ability is one that is constantly active. An active ability, by contrast, is one that needs to be activated by the player to have an effect.

As an example, look at Aeon Stormcaller.

Protector is always there, working, so is a passive ability that can be negated by Layarian Diplomat. Aeon's second ability, which buffs an ally, must be activated by the player and so the Diplomat can't prevent it.

The simple way to look at it is that activated abilities have a cost, when passive ones don't. This isn't always necessarily the case, but makes a good general guideline. Currently, every active ability in SE has a number in a black circle (resources) or an amount of shadow energy followed by ':'. That resource number can be '0'; however, it's still there to indicate that the ability isn't passive. For an example of an activated ability with no cost, see Death Mage Thaddeus.

Let's take a quick look at what this card can do.

  • Disables Protector, enabling you to target other allies.
  • Turns off Defender, allowing you to attack first in combat.
  • Ignores the armor abilities of Infernal Gargoyle, Armored Sandworm, Furrion Terror, etc.
  • Allows you to attack allies like Nightshade and Erika Shadowhunter that have stealth.
  • Removes Ambush, stopping an opponent from attacking for profit.
  • Stops Earthen Protector from reviving an ally.
  • Stops Ogloth the Glutton or Carniboar from buffing themselves.
  • Removes the buff from Aldon the Brave or Hellsteed.
  • Removes the debuff from Raven Wildheart.
  • Stops the card draw effect of Tainted Oracle and the payback effect on Deathbone.
  • Prevents Bad Wolf from healing.
  • Turns a Spark back into a 1/1 or Pack Wolf into a 2/3.
  • Shuts off the card draw from Wulven Tracker.
That's a lot of options from CotC alone. This card affects a large majority of allies, and while some are rarely game-changers shut off for a single turn, others, such as Protector and damage prevention, will make or break the game.

The difficult thing with this card is that by itself, it can't do much of anything. You still need to spend two or more things to kill your one target, instantly making it worse than just a plain old Mind Control.

As a control-style player, I want this card to be great. However, it really needs a meta to support it. This is extremely far from an auto-include. Even if it is amazing in a given format, the fact remains that it really is card disadvantage, even with the 2/2 body.

I honestly can't imagine ever wanting to include more than two copies in a deck. Enters-play effects are great, but they need to be less situational and/or have larger bodies in order to warrant being played.

Layarian Diplomat Rating: 6.5/10. Can do lots of things that haven't been seen on any other card. That's the only reason why rating stretches this high. This is playable if you literally have no other way of dealing with allies like the Sandworm, and only if. One deck can use it in one situation and the rest will just play better cards. At the end of the day, this card is a temporary means that still requires you finding a permanent solution.

Spoiler #4: Io Void Leviathan
Spoiled by Kyle on 10/22/2012

(The icon means electric damage)
At first glance, this looks like it could be good.

Guess what: it's not.

Look at the base size. A mere 2/4. That means if you use a shadow ability the turn Io comes down, it becomes the size of a Plasma Behemoth without the ability. The deck that wants to play this card the most is Moonstalker, and Moonstalker would rather run PB, Shadow Knight, Molten Destroyer, etc. in that slot any day. It takes too much of an investment to make a big ally out of this card.

All that said, there is a deck I'd like to have this card in.


Wizent's Staff would make Io Void a really cool card, and I love that interaction. Unfortunately, Io is a shadow ally, meaning this can never be. Since they aren't of the same set, this won't even happen in Meltdown.

If we see some Wizent's-style card for shadow (wulven in particular), re-evaluating this card may be necessary. Otherwise, I'm not a fan.

It's true that shadow heroes can use Wrath of Summer. However, look at the rest of the spoils. We have two cards that are immune to ablaze and a third that shuts off Io. WoS is not only a relatively weak card, it also requires the opponent play allies vulnerable to the damage.

Io Void Leviathan Rating: 3/10. There's plenty of good 5cc shadow allies already. The fact is that Io is too slow to compete with the others. Without some way to accelerate the ability, his size is largely dependent on what the opponent chooses to do with their energy. When your win condition relies on if your opponent decides to make it huge or not is when you're essentially forfeiting games. I'd give it a 2 if it weren't for the sheer hilarity of how big it could get in a Moonstalker mirror.


Overall, a bit disappointing. Largely, the potential of these cards relies on the power of the rest of Prophecies, so I hope my concerns are un-warranted. However, we could be facing a set of big, flashy cards that look cool at first but in practice are underwhelming.

It's good to have cards like that in a set. In a game with 350 cards, not all of them can be playable. What worries me is that these are the cards chosen to show off the set. They're an example of what we should expect.

I have a feeling there will at least be a few gems in Prophecies when it finally releases at some point next year. However, these aren't it. I wouldn't hope much for the next set in general, but I still have faith in the very least that some new decks will come out of the expansion on par with Baduruu.

What I'd like to see spoiled next is a simple common. I'm fine with it being an ally, as this set is mostly based around diversifying the ally pool. I want to see a simple common that could be played, an alternative to the current options. Nothing complex, nothing flashy, just a playable alternative to the current choices that could compliment the hero they're played in better.

In short, I want to see an example that proves Wulven is providing us tools to build decks with, not building decks for us.

Until next time,



  1. It would be hard for me to agree with you more, looks like the "school of MTG-beats" makes everyone think a certain way :). I particularly like that you've picked up on the punisher mechanic aspect of Io as to why it's bad (and it is, truly, bad), I wrote a fairly long reply in the spoiler thread outlining the same thing.

    I'm slighly more upbeat on the diplomat than you are. in this game, you can't win the game off the back of your one or two drops (unlike MTG), so what you really want in a one or two drop is something that's relevant both early and late game. At the moment not many early drops fit that bill, the two human 1-drops are basically the only that come close barring other synergies. Puwen for eg. is just always a terrible topdeck mid-late game, especially if you're hellbent. Now, layarian diplomat isn't going to always be good in those situations, but he does have the potential to be amazing and open your opponent up to a 2 for 1 or even better if they were, say, ignoring your board and relying on an aeon-backed alpha strike to win the next turn. And at worst he's a grizzly bear, which is only slightly behind the curve. He can still come down T2 on the play and trade with allies in the same situations as puwen would have.

    Still, I very much agree with your overall assessment. These cards are too cute and narrow to be flagship representations of the new set and I hope that Wulven doesn't try to go too deep down the fire/ice/lightning damage thing to try to make the new set interesting, only to find that the old standards are just simply better. Eg. if they make a whole bunch of cards/allies that do elemental damage, and a whole 'nother bunch that have resistance to elemental damage then you might just be better off playing with the original ally pool and just ignoring all the newfangled silliness. Hope I'm wrong though, we might even find out before Christmas if we're lucky...

    (something else Wulven need to learn from WoTC.... release dates people!! make 'em and stick to 'em)

    1. Part of the reason why I'm not sold on the Diplomat is because he's a 2/2. That would be fine if 1 attack allies are common but they aren't. The fact is that the Diplomat dies to pretty much anything, meaning the only way it's relevant is if you get him t2 on the play and even then Puwen & Brutalis laugh him in the face. It's the same issue with Dirk, who's played only for consistency if the deck already has four puwens.

      True, Diplomat has an ability Dirk doesn't, but that's a two-way street. Dirk's ability is also one that keeps on giving, whereas Diplomat is one-and-done at best, if there's even an ally to target when you play it.

      And both are worse than Puwen.

      It's true that he's a Grizzly Bear. But in Magic, 2/2 creatures are a formidable size. There's plenty of 1/1s, and 2/2s have some of the best cards in the game. In Shadow Era, there's two 1/1s, and most allies are at LEAST the size of an Elvish Warrior. 2/2 allies are simply outclassed, and that's that.

      That's why I'm not a big fan. I understand why he couldn't be 2/3 with that ability from a design sense. It's too early to be outclassing what people already consider to be amazing commons. However, even a 1/3 would be acceptable to me, as long as it can survive on board a turn maybe. Unless the standard somehow changes drastically, 2/2 bodies, by themselves, are pretty much useless.

    2. Realistically though, any ally of 3 toughness dies automatically if it's played unprotected onto a non-empty board (most 4s will too, but I'll confine the discussion to x/3s). There's almost no board states where playing an unsupported x/3 into an existing board presence isn't either definitly or very likely going to end up that ally dying. The only such state which is even relatively common is on the draw vs a T2 brutalis, where a DMT will likely kill your X/2 but an x/3 will be unharmed. That situation does come up but isn't enough to damn the card imo.

      Imo, the main consideration is whether x/2s die to more spells or hasty attacks than X/3s. If you think about all of the commonly played cards in this category (bolt, maj, elad, zal, fireball, aldon, DMT, weapons), there's not actually that many that will kill an x/2 that won't also kill an x/3. The biggest ones are aldon or DMT on top of a 1 attack ally and banebow's abiliity.

      x/2 is clearly worse than x/3, but not by *that* much. The way attacks worse, and just how difficult it is to keep anything on the table compared to MTG, makes the mtg comparison of "what can it block" much less relevant here imo. It's the power part of the equation that is more relevant, because you want your two drops to be able to establish a strong board presence on the play and comine to take a larger ally out later in the game if it's part of a more cluttered board.

      Of course, this is all a fairly moot discussion based on the current meta. If, like, that furrion terror guy gets played alot then this guy becomes obviously much worse.

    3. Well, a 2/2 dies to any 2 drop besides Brutalis and Katrin. If you play a 2/3, it forces your opponent to at the very least do something extra to kill said 2/3 instead of going for the dome, and at best, they cant. It forces your opponent to play around you, possibly disrupting their strategy, affecting their sac choices, and hurting tempo. Even if a Puwen dies, it still has function in death.

      Advertising that a 2/2 is the same as a 2/3 while on the play is basically saying "Hey, I'm going to lose half my games based on a coin flip." If you want to win consistently, your deck needs to be prepared to win both on the play and on the draw. An early 2/2 body does practically nothing defensively. It's bad on the draw the same way Dirk is bad on the draw. That's not speculation; it's fact.

      If the difference between x/2 and x/3 was negligible, Dirk would see WAY more play than Puwen. After all, Dirk has an ability, right?

      The fact is that Puwen is better than the 2/2s in the same way that Infernal Gargoyle is better than Medusil- Sure, it does less damage, but it can take a hit. And in the grand scheme of things, that's what's important.

    4. Question - on the draw, do you play your puwen into an opponent's puwen or dark flayer? That's a serious question, because depending on the matchup and my hand, I frequently don't. The card disadvantage of instantly losing it to an aldon or DMT (or even a just-drawn kris) is just too important to warrant the relatively small upside. If it's a matchup where I suspect my opponent to be running 4 copies of the relevant 3 drop (particularly zaladar, elad or amber) then I'll often sac it provided my hand or hero gives me some hope to turn the board around later.

      This is probably why I don't see the difference between an x/2 and x/3 as so big. x/3s really do die so frequently in that spot that I find it's often worth not even playing them so as to avoid the virtual mulligan.

    5. The thing is that whether the opponent has removal now or later, they have it. There's no getting around that.

      So if I have nothing else to play? Sure. My guy might stick. It might not. If it doesn't, that's because my opponent spent a card killing it- a card that could have been spent to kill one of my more important allies later. If my Puwen survives, I'm that much better off for it. Do I expect it to? no. But I have to at least try.

      Of course, this depends on the deck as well. For example, in Elad rush, as soon as I lose the board I know I'm not getting it back and I now have to win with burn. So of course I play the ally, because if I don't play him now he's a dead card anyways.

      In Zhanna, by contrast, assuming I play Tidal Wave, early board control is nowhere near as big a deal. In fact, I didn't even bother playing Puwen at all in early versions of ZhannaX. I have reset buttons, I have healing, turns 2-4 board control really aren't too big of a deal. At that point, no, I wouldn't play the Puwen.

      Of course, all this hinges on having no other option to play. If I was, for example, choosing between Puwen and Tome of Knowledge, the discussion would be a very different one.

      To sum it all up, there's lots of variables. Some decks want to run out that t2 ally and hope it survives, and those decks want Puwen. Other decks don't care about the early board, so they'd rather not play 2cc allies at all. Whichever one you are, Puwen still ends up being the better card.

      Sure, Diplomat might have more use late-game. But if your only aim is to play it late and not early, why play a card designed to do either or? If you're playing him just as an aid to removal, you're better off just playing more removal. If you want a card that can do both... well, you're out of luck. Because Diplomat doesn't do the same thing Puwen does. Puwen forces the opponent to eather drop removal on a sub-par ally or extend their board presence to set you up for a 2-for-1. Diplomat just sorta dies.

    6. The thing is you wouldn't play him as an ally on T2 anyway for the reasons you state of only being a 2/2 but also because he only removes the passive abilities on summon.

      In what situation would you be desperate enough to remove passive abilities on T2?

  2. Yeah, I have absolutely no problem walking into a 1 for 1 removal spell. If I'm playing an ally to have it traded for a now you're mine or arrow or whatever, that's cool. But the situations I was talking about aren't 1 for 1s, DMT and Aldon's one point of haste damage is absolutely not worth a card, in each of those circumstances you're just losing a card which is why I'm often reluctant to play even puwen on the draw in those spots. I really only see Puwen as a card that's good (a) for establishing board presence on the play or (b) on the draw if your opponent hasn't got a T2 play, but even then he'll probably get outclassed so quickly by a 3-drop that he might not be worth playing (the only time he's actually good on the draw against a 3-drop is if your opponent drops a PoTL and you have aldon backup).

    That's why I'm sort of hopeful for diplomat. He's still good T2 on the play, but he also has the potential to be good in other situations. The problem is, and this is probably where I do agree with you, is that his ability is probably too weak to actually be worth a card. If it was something like azorious arrester (target ally can't attack or block or use abilities before the end of your opponent's next turn), then he could really have some potential as it would frequently effectively net you a card. But this... yeah, it's probably too situational really.

  3. Io Void Leviathan (IVL) may be useful to an Elementalis. One buff and he's up from 2/4 to 4/8 and a second buff brings up to a giant 6/12. However if you just double buff the Brutal Minitaur he goes from 6/6 to 8/12. HOWEVER, if the opponent uses any shadow energy during that time (that time will be a minimum 4 turns without a Shadow Font) IVL jumps up to 7/13 and then 8/14 which makes it slightly better (and it would jump up to a 10/16 if your opponent was a priest using WS each turn for those 4 turns). People would combat any fatty beyond 8 health with a disable or instant kill so it wouldn't really make too much of a difference.

    I still like OtG better because of his (3) instant-kill ability and higher base stats despite him costing the extra resource and being unique. Tbh there would never be a time when I wouldn't rather play a BM, PB, or SK.

  4. The void leviathan can be useful in shadow warrior decks. If there is a cobra demon and/or plate armor on the field the leviathan can go to 3/5 - 4/6 immediately after hitting the board.

    Not great at all, but not completely useless @ 5cc.