Dark Prophecies 150/150: Here
- 70 class cards (10 per class)
- 25 Human cards
- 25 Shadow cards
- 20 Equipment cards
- 10 Neutral cards
The overall feel of Dark Prophecies is one of centrality - The idea that while a deck can be all about the hero, it doesn't have to be. The limited card pool from Call of the Crystals meant that while balance was fairly easy, rarely did a hero have more than one ways to build a deck. There's a couple examples, such as Moonstalker/Millstalker, Majiya with portal/without, Zaladar control/Feedbomb Dynamo, etc. However, in most of these cases, one variant is clearly played more than any other.
Each hero from CotC has one specific playstyle associated with it.
The goal of Dark Prophecies isn't to give more of the same, but to diversify. To provide cards that reinforce the lesser known strategies, not the greater ones. If you're a fan of taking a trip off the beaten path every now and again, the expansion is perfect for you. If not, well, there's nothing stopping you from doing the same old same old, and you still have access to a few new tricks as well.
Dark Prophecies also aims to plug a few holes and give certain heroes a way to get around what might have previously been an automatic loss. A prime example is The Perfect Shot card, which gives Banebow (and Baduruu) a way to deal with particularly large allies that may otherwise prove troubling. While not necessarily the most efficient (but still kinda awesome, more on that later), it makes unwinnable matchups slightly less unwinnable.
This is extremely good news for tournament competitors who play with sideboards. The more tools, the better.
DP also has a pretty large focus on attachments. Previously, it was thought that Priests were getting all the attachment love, but this is not the case. Plenty of ally attachments are faction specific, not class, and there's even some support in shadow as well as human. What this means for the game has yet to be seen, but it is good to keep in mind in the least.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I failed to mention steadfast, the new keyword from the set. A card with steadfast can still be destroyed by any of the normal methods, IE damage, durability loss, or destroy effects, but it can't be taken out of play by any other means. It can't be returned to hand or removed from the game. This is the Retreat! counter everyone was looking for, but also serves to stop a few other tricks from both the old set and the new.
In the following sections, I'm going to touch on a few cards from each of the available categories. I'll talk about the cards themselves, how they may be used, and you can decide for yourself what you want to bring to the test server when it goes live.
Puwen Bloodhelm, you will be missed.
This card is absolutely insane. It might be hard to understand until you play with it, but trust me. It comes down as slightly smaller than Puwen, but the second your opponent plays a relevant ally (that isn't their own Champion of Irum), he becomes the largest ally for two resources in the game. And if your opponent doesn't play any relevant allies, good for them. You have one, they don't. I call that progress.
It appears Jasmine Rosecult's met her match. Of course, I'm referring to the artwork. And what... 'firm' artwork it is.
As for the card itself, the Seductress is a beast of tempo. While not quite as large as her disabling human counterpart, she gets her effect right away with no resource penalty (other than simply having less). While a poor choice for the more resource-heavy decks like a Zhanna control archetype, the seductress is a great option for those fast, aggressive human lists such as Eladerp. She also serves as an excellent first-turn-advantage negator, for those of you out there desperately searching for such a card.
While not as good at protecting a team as Aeon, The extra bit of health, aggressive ability with a team, and protection from bounce make for a solid threat. Against the right opponent, Gunther can decide games just as easily as his older brother, if not moreso.
Plus you get to make Friends jokes. How could anyone pass that up?
A very well known issue from Call of the Crystals is the existence of Millstalker, a deck designed to give the hero stealth many turns in a row while constantly healing and damaging allies over time, eventually winning on account of the opponent running out of cards.
There's a few options that help deal with the deck in Dark Prophecies, but Wulven Predator is one of the more playable ones. The boon to this card in particular is that not only is it good against both Millstalker and Moonstalker, it's playable in the main deck. I personally wouldn't be ashamed in the least to pack some of these in quick matches. They're not an automatic counter, but a good way to take down Crescendo nonetheless.
One of the earliest things I'm known for is ZhannaX, a deck that owes its success to Ghostmaker. Ghostmaker is available to both priests and elementals, but very rarely have you seen a Zaladar from CotC carrying the weapon.
The reason for this lies in the cards ZhannaX abuses, such as Tainted Oracle and Earthen Protector, which elementals have been denied access.
Magma Jackal is a card that could potentially be abused by Ghostmaker. It depends on the amount of removal and weapons floating around in any given meta, but in the right circumstances it could go pretty far.
The more obvious cards for the jackal are Gravebone and Shadow Knight, both of which can bring it back again and again as well. However, my interest will be introducing the Ghostmaker shenanigans of my roots to more heroes.
We've already seen Furrion Terror, but this ally is imo the much stronger counterpart. The wraith is the equivalent of the old Retreat + ally play in human decks, only the Wraith is one card instead of two. This aspect make it infinitely stronger. Expect to see this card a lot when the test server hits.
There are two reasons why this card has become one of my new favorite shadow cards.
The first is his capability for four damage on T4. While it may need a bit of setup to get an ally dead by then, the end result is strong nonetheless when it happens. Think of it like Keldor, but the effect is permanent and helps survivability as well. Players accustomed to Aeon know how quickly +1/+1 bonuses can make an impact.
The second is his ability to manipulate graveyard order. Not only can you mess with an opponent's Shadow Knight loop or Honored Dead, you can strip mall allies from your own graveyard to improve such abilities of your own, such as the effect of Ghostmaker.
Starting to sense a pattern?
Do you like Crippling Blow? Does your opponent think they're clever by using Sacrificial Lamb on their crippled allies?
Then the Braxnorian Veteran may be for you.
He also works well against Serena, in the off chance she makes you discard one of your cripples.
There's a cool trick possible with this card that lets you get away with an early cripple to avoid damage. You can attack and kill the ally you crippled earlier, then play this ally and reattach your CB to the larger, more difficult to kill target.
Logan got a boner. So did his Jeweler's Dream.
I don't think anything else needs to be said.
Sometimes, you don't need any fancy enters-play effect. Sometimes, you don't need any effect at all. Sometimes, you just need a large ally for a small cost. In those times, try Stalwart Battleguard(TM).
May contain small parts. Not appropriate for children under four.
Once upon a time, there was a similar effect in Magic: The Gathering.
That card was Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
For a long time, he was one of the most hated cards in the game.
Then he got banned.
Scrying Eye is a different animal, just as Shadow Era. However, control over an opponent's draw is about as much power as one can have in a tcg. It won't win you the game, but once you're in the lead, a card like this can make it nigh to impossible for the opponent to find a way out.
This card is essentially the mirror to Priest of the Light. Why it helps both players, making it worse than the human counterpart, is something I couldn't answer. The graveyard clause is rather silly, as Gravebone profits much more by summoning a larger threat than it does with the mutual bonus Sun-blighted One supplies.
The good part about this card is the surprise factor moreso than anything else (as the rest isn't that good). Getting to use your ability a turn early may catch people off guard. The question is whether or not it's worth letting the opponent do the same.
This preemptive Now You're Mine opens up a lot of options for hunters. I'm not lying when I say this is one of the better traps to date, possibly better than Death Trap. Not only does it remove the ally, hurting recursion strategies, but it also removes itself, helping Victor to recycle only the cards that are more readily applicable in the late game.
This is the trap that makes your opponent unsure if Snare Trap is Snare Trap.
The nice part about this card isn't the stalling. It's the information. Knowing what your opponent plans to play makes it easier to accommodate; you may have an extra turn to prepare. You can also catch opponents in the middle of their turn, potentially keeping an ally safe after the opponent's wasted some damage on it.
As mentioned above, this card gives hunters a new way to answer larger threats that may otherwise prove troublesome.
I would like to have simply seen 'Kill target opposing ally', as this IS situated perfectly between Assassination and Mind Control. I feel like the cost is right.
Then I realized this could potentially be better than just kill.
The go-to weapon in the hunter arsenal for ages has been Soul Seeker, which provides a health bonus upon killing an ally. By using The Perfect Shot to weaken allies, then finish them off with your weapon, you get to use the 'on-kill' triggers for your cards. This also applies to any other, similar effect such as the buff to Carniboar. TPS can help you shoot down the enemy and start the train a-chuggin'.
Ever tried to play a priest with a more aggressive edge, rather than the usual Tidal Wave deck? I know I have, and I know this card is exactly what was missing. Possibilities include a Raven coming down on turn four and having the EP/Aeon combo online by turn five.
The attachment clause is potentially nice as well, albeit a bit less important in my opinion. If you want to go that route, steadfast is a very nice keyword to have, as Retreat has historically been a good way to shut down buffs, as will the new Darkwood Wraith.
As I said above on The Perfect Shot, four seems reasonable for spot removal.
The shuffle-into-deck effect cancels on death triggers like Tainted Oracle or possible reanimation from Gravebone and Shadow Knight, but also means you'll eventually get to see that ally again. This could be bad, but could also be good. Put a Puwen back in the deck and that's one more worthless card in late game that separates the opponent from a card they could actually use.
As with removal, four resources has become the go-to cost for priestly draw. This one is actually pretty good, although doesn't mix well with Tidal Wave.
The thing to remember is that the effect triggers at the end of your turn, meaning she'll immediately replace herself in your hand. It's like a Belladonna that keeps on giving.
Just remember to destroy that Evil Ascendant.
Remember Layarian Seductress? Artful Squire? Priest of the Light? Lily Rosecult? Hell, Krystoffer Wyld? All of these allies like to get played again, and again, and again. Vozitian Orders can do that.
Humans don't have their very own Darkwood Wraith, but nonetheless, this card creates an archetype. If not now, then another expansion off. What we have here is a reusable effect that reuses cards which can't normally be reused. There's no doubt in my mind that this will eventually define a deck.
Stop, Thief is already good at blowing up items. Not only can you use this on yourself to recover an Ill-Gotten Gains or Anklebreaker, but you can steal any opposing key items for yourself. Tome of Knowledge, Book of Curses, Jeweler's Dream, What Big Teeth, Wrath of the Forest, Wizent's Staff, The King's Pride, etc. Or, take a Dimension Ripper and keep on taking.
While a large enough ally to fend for itself, Tiger Wulf does well enough in a game even if you don't plan to use the ability, similar to Jasmine Rosecult in current human decks.
If you do spend the cost, however, it's plenty useful. Either you get to kill an ally larger than he (in case you need it) or take out any item, an effect yet to be seen on a wulven card. While Tiger Wulf may be expensive and slow as removal alone, the immense versatility is not to be forgotten.
Also, you get to make one last attack with your dead ally. How cool is that?
Haste is awesome. Just don't play support abilities before playing the Hunter. It's a simple solution to getting a simply powerful threat.
Play Pack Alpha on him for an extra surprise.
Personally, I've never been a fan of Soul Reaper. The surprise factor and burst heal are both amazing, but the all-your-allies-are-gone part tends to sting. Infinity Core removes that problem, and also takes the slot of both Soul Reaper and Eternal Renewal, giving you more room in your deck for other things.
Crippling Blow and Captured Prey have both been the bane of Elementalis for ages. Super Focus stops that from happening. Just be careful not to let multiple such attachments lock an ally down before playing the Focus, as you'll never get to reap the benefits with disabled allies on board. Jasmine Rosecult, Raven Wildheart, Anklebreaker, and a few other tricks will all hurt as well.
When I said above there were other cards that hose Millstalker, this is what I meant. Permanent anti-stealth makes Millstalker extremely difficult to pull off at best. Rain Delay, Full Moon and Lone Wolf can help, but probably won't be enough to secure victory. The threat of this attachment in sideboards may be enough to keep Millstalker as we knew it away from the top slots for years to come.
Think of this card like Aldon the Brave meets Tainted Oracle. It's a hasty 1 damage if you already have an ally in play, and while you lose the 2/4 (34) body and team-pumping benefit, you gain the card refund upon the target's death. I would be surprised if this card didn't see at least a little play.
The shadow version of Treasured Heirloom, Bloodthirsty's card value is less guaranteed, yet has more potential. Best used from hand the turn you're killing with it for sure, it will at least replace itself. I could also see this card being used as an alternative to Death Mage Thaddeus.
Placing cards on top of your deck is actually card disadvantage, because for the rest of the game you'll be a turn behind on your draw.
However, this can be mitigated with a certain shadow ally that replaces herself - Belladonna.
Welcome to the new GraveBella. Forum member KillTrend would be proud.
This is one of those holes that needed filling for nearly every class, so it's cool to see them give one to everybody instead of take up so much room in a small expansion. Like Sever Ties, Change of Fortune provides an out to support abilities for those heroes without access to a specialized version.
It's nice to have a more direct way to fight Portal, among others.
I would say this is just a worse Bazaar, except for two reasons.
The first is that, since it's an activated ability and not passive, the person who plays the Conduit gets to use it before opponents can.
The second is Io Void Leviathan.
I really don't think that needs elaborating.
While the attack boost of The King's Pride is important, sometimes all you need is the extra health. That +1 makes the difference between easy and impossible to kill. If survivability is your thing, the Breastplate gets you more for less.
This is another of those cards The Perfect Shot benefits from. This inverted Wrath of the Forest is a poor man's Ill-Gotten Gains. However, that doesn't mean it can't be of use. You won't get to profit from Death Trap, but Gwenneth's Soul Seeker will certainly be overjoyed.
Lance is good. The best part of Lance's ability, for half the cost and with multiple targets, is even better.
This is the card Lythite was made for.
This card has a cool interaction with Bazaar, not to mention any other items you may find yourself with multiples of. The energy cost will eventually hurt, but It's nice to be able to turn extra copies of items into more than just resources.
Also, it can always target itself.
Essentially, this is the card that puts Baduruu on the map. Stealth countering will deal with Nightshade, five durability means five extra damage with Baduruu's effect, and the draw is really going to help if an when the condition is met.
Most importantly, though, is the simple fact that Baduruu has access to another weapon around the size and strength of Soul Seeker. Consistency has always been one of his biggest problems, needing the weapon in hand to use his ability. Now, though, double the weapon count means double the trouble. In the past, he's been well known as one of if not the worst hero in the game's history. With Grundler's Double, Baduruu has taken his first giant leap toward the rest of the pack.
A problem that many heroes have is that of crowd control. Serena and/or Sorcerous Poison on the Fan of Blades is just what the doctor ordered. Kill a few allies and draw for each with IGG, then draw again when the Fan runs out of durability. This card could set off a pretty amazing upset or two.
This concludes our tour of Dark Prophecies. Keep your eyes peeled to The Boweh over the coming days as decks begin to emerge and we take a deeper look at what's under the hood.