Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Shattered Fates Full Spoiler

A few days ago, Wulven released the full card list for the upcoming Shattered Fates expansion. While none of what we see here is necessarily final, most of the set will remain as is for the full release. Anyone that took part in the Shattered Fates kickstarter program will be able to play with this version of the set once the test server goes live. Pay attention to www.shadowera.com for more details.

I've just perused the full list for the first time myself, and I'll talk here about all the cards that I personally find noteworthy.

Note that not all the art for the cards has been commissioned and/or implemented. For that reason, cards without art have been given (PLACEHOLDER) in the image box. These images will be updated as the artwork is released.

Tala seems like the greatest use this game has ever seen for Armored Sandworm. However, there are other targets as well, such as the (also new) Viska, the Scarlet Blade or the older Erika Shadowhunter. Anything with steadfast could also be a fine choice. While this hero won't do too much against priests, enemy warriors and some mage builds will find your sea of dudes difficult to fight past. Amber Rain's damage boost is a great tool, but it could very well be that a new contender has entered the Warrior ring.

Another human hero, Aramia is a potent consistency engine for her ability to drop Tome of Knowledge from anywhere in the deck without disrupting your aggressive ally curve, something Eladwen desperately lacks. My recommendation for the second trigger is to pull out Scrying Eye, then pretend your hero is Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Aramia can also spend that excess energy on Aldmor Conduit, though doing so is not without downsides, mainly the opponent getting a free Wizent's Staff. Cloak of Phasing is another option, useful to stall an enemy's rush while transitioning into burn mode. Once in burn mode, if you don't quite have enough damage, you can smack for two with the Boooomerang. The downside to Armania herself is that while she can play cards out of the deck, she can't play them out of hand. For that reason, playing only one copy of your searchable items, especially Tome, is a bit risky. Word of the Prophet and Fleet-Footed Messenger could help, but it would be just as easy to simply play two copies. Not only does this help your hero immensely, but that way you have a spare in case Shriek of Vengeance tries to ruin your day.

Note: Twilight Eidolon is another option, but I won't endorse it until trying out the new Twilight allies for myself. It could be what makes this hero tick, but it could also be horribly unreliable and slower than just playing regular allies. Only time will tell.

The other warrior hero from Shattered Fates, Vess is strangely similar to Aramia in that he lets you drop Blood Frenzy without breaking stride, in the same way that back in version 1.28, Blood Frenzy could be played off Jeweler's Dream on turn four. After securing your draw engine, Vess helps further by reducing the costs for Crippling Blow, Enrage, and the new Spiked Bolas Strike or Will to Fight, among others.

Baduruu? Is that you? Sadly, it is not. While their abilities are similar, weapons can attack immediately, where most Wulven allies cannot. Riphide may be useful, but first you have to DRAW Riphide compared to the arsenal of bows at Baduruu's disposal, and when you do get him you can't even pick the attack target. I feel like the mage matchup is the only one where Bloodfang's ability will come in handy more than Moonstalker's.

All that being said, Midnight Howl is a really cool card that suffers from a loss in resource tempo. While the buffed ally Bloodfang makes would be a horrible target for Howl, it can make up for the turn spent playing an ally that's just going to wind up back in your hand (Or killed, in the case of Tiger Wulf).

This card seems like a really good way to piss off Antimatter fans. Aside from the obvious Serena deck, there are plenty of cards in the new set which Aetherborn Wisp can benefit from. This card has the potential to be far superior to Champion of Irum. Glimmer of Hope was already good enough without this ally, but now it's fantastic. And yes, to anyone still wondering, the Wisp is a 4/4 after Hope resolves.

This card is mainly meant for warriors and Crippling Blow, notably because you can play one for free at the same time you drop Crusader (Beat that, Layarian Seductress). The Crusader also makes good use of Extra Sharp, a card played far too rarely in Call of the Crystals and Dark Prophecies. For priests, Wizent's Shimmercloak and this card together could finally bring attachment-based decks to the next level. For Rogues, Extra Sharp can be upgraded to the new and improved Backstab, which benefits both as having Ambush and being a cantrip.

The trick with this card is to target an ally that already has Ambush, as the +1 attack is far more useful. Play this in a rogue deck and target Nightshade to pull him out of Furrion Terror range, or use to give whoever was hasted with Lance a boost. Gunther, General of Balor and Wymer the Lionheart make excellent beatsticks for that purpose, Gunther for Steadfast and being able to survive a pair of Supernovas, Wymer for the extra attack point to help secure the buff, which in the end puts both Wymer and the sentinel out of nova range.

Don't ask me why this is a human ally. All I know is that he eats Tainted Oracle for breakfast. Also a useful way to convert late-game weenies into usable threats.

Remember how Zalien Crusader uses Extra Sharp? Well, so does this guy, letting you use the buff twice (or more) in one turn. Another good trick is to suicide him into an opposing fatty and get the draw off Treasured Heirloom. Backstab lets you kill one big ally with two attacks without taking any damage yourself.

Remember how I said Glimmer of Hope is great with Aetherborn Wisp? Well, now the pot is even sweeter. Tenacious Buccaneer is the Wulf, Lightsworn Beast of Shadow Era. What scares me is that not only are these cards great in Serena, they're also great counters to Serena. If Serena ever becomes the deck to beat, we could have a problem where the tournament meta is 100% Serena, since the deck with the best odds of beating Serena is Serena herself.

This is another card that work great with Extra Sharp, as she herself doubles the effect of any offensive buff placed upon her. This card would make a great haste target for Lance as well, since when paired with Aldon she can take out a wide array of opponents. Boost her attack enough and she can kill more than one ally a turn, a feat prized in decks like Amber, who doesn't have any reset buttons of her own.

By itself, this card is nothing special. However, when paired with Thunderstrike Construct, what we have is a strong alternative to Armored Sandworm. Both of these cards seem to be designed exclusively for Nishaven with Voltar's Ring, but I have no problem with that. Because both the wisp and the ring cost four resources, the deck doesn't play itself quite as much as it could. There's a potential for a poor resource curve if this card is played alongside both Voltar's Ring and Lightning Strike, meaning that it will be difficult to find just the right list for these cards to go into.

So I guess now that Aetherborn Wisp is a card, shadow heroes get to play with Champion of Irum? This card is part of a series released in Shattered Fates meant to help Gravebone stay in the competitive light. I'll mention some of the others as they come up.

By itself, the ability to know the opponent's hand is an incredibly useful tool. If he survives a turn or more for whatever reason, knowing what the opponent sacrifices is good not just for the game itself, but as a learning tool to watch how your opponents make decisions. If this ally is used alongside a Scrying Eye, not only do you know what they have, but you know what's coming next and can control the top card with much greater certainty.

Haste is good, hasty activated abilities are better. Four resources for a 3/1 with haste probably isn't worth it, but use that buff on a Carniboar or Crystal Titan instead for a kill with benefits and now we're talking.

This is very handy when replacing worn out weapons with fresh ones or ditching a Bazaar which outlived its usefulness. Ravager Zealot is better than Melt Down, partially because hasty damage is better than a cantrip and also because you can play the zealot even without any items to destroy, just for the 3/3 body.

This card is particularly good at resetting allies with useful enters-play triggers, such as Death Mage Thaddeus or Shadow Knight. Bonus points if you have a Portal in play and the resources to re-summon whatever ally you bounced. For even more of a hand advantage, those two resources can be spent on a Sacrificial Lamb. The ally is unique, I assume a previous balance decision, but Sac Lamb gets around the otherwise cumbersome limitation.

This is another card clearly made with Gravebone in mind. Playable the same turn you get the four shadow energy needed to revive an ally, The cultist pitches a fatty into your graveyard that you wouldn't otherwise be able to drop with four or less resources, such as Plasma Behemoth or Ogloth the Glutton. In that way, Gravebone can serve as a Baduruu for the first time, playing allies bigger than he should otherwise be able to. On top of all that, you also get to draw two cards, meaning you have the gas to follow up such an explosive play.

Dakrath is what you discard for a turn four revival. Immunity to Layarian Seductress combined with an Armored Sandworm damage shield and more fuel for the undead fire make him quite a beast with the right support around him. He's still vulnerable to Crippling Blow (and what isn't?), so be sure to pack some Sacrificial Lambs to keep the cards (and the beats) flowing.

As if we needed another Puwen upgrade. This one gives us psuedo-ambush, handy for taking out high-health allies that would otherwise be able to smack back. Damage shields like that on Infernal Gargoyle can also be subverted by this card, converting your low damage attacks into one painful swing. This card can also help when using shadow effects like Carniboar or Bloodthirsty which require one specific ally to do the killing.

In part, this card can work as more Gravebone fodder. However, his list of Homunculus targets aren't the greatest. What this card actually does is enable Aetherborn Wisp's viability for Eladwen, Nishaven and (with her ability to search for the factory) Aramia. Other buff targets include Radiant Wisp, Rotling, Fortified Wisp, Rapacious Vermin, Voracious Arachnid, and Brimstone Devourer (probably better to discard than buff). However, there is one upcoming Mage card that makes a good target...

He almost always comes down as a 2/4 (3/4 off Gravebone, 3/2 off Ghostmaker), but it only gets better from there. In control mirrors, this ally forces an opponent to be proactive, because otherwise you get to do nothing but attack and pass the turn. Note that the Abomination says nothing about items, so the use of Tome of Knowledge, Dagger of Unmaking, and yes, Abomination Factory, is entirely okay. Even if you are playing one type of card or the other, The Abomination still gets big, albeit more slowly.

Considering how few things set allies on fire (and that most of them are Mage cards), Phoenix Urigon is a decidedly useful ally. While it probably won't last long the second time around, the second body is rather painless to Sacrificial Lamb. If the unburnt phoenix is disabled, That problem can easily be fixed with Sac Lamb, Retreat!, Supernova, Slingblade Demon, or even a couple Furrion Terrors.

While this card works beautifully with Victor, I'd like to bring up the relevance of one damage in Baduruu or Gwen. They may make 3 and 4 damage attacks respectively, but many mid-game allies have 4-5 hp. This is why in Baduruu decks, cards like Death Mage Thaddeus and Furrion Terror are crucial. Raven's Gambit is another card in that arsenal of options, and one that helps you draw more DMTs, Terrors, Gambits, and other essential cards.

This card can be used as a hasty beater on turn four with the aid of Master Trapsetter or Twisted Familiar. Without either card, it won't be of much use until turns six or seven. By itself, the Bobcat has the power to take out Furrion Terror, but not much else. The two ramp allies can be used for an extra point of damage as needed when rushed early. If played later in the game, hopefully you have either a weapon in play or you're Victor, either of which can help the cat secure a kill.

Similar to Rapid Fire, but cheaper and an ally. Being an Ally is bad, but being four resources is good. Woodland Spotter is useful for Gwen with Feathered Longbow, but also comes in handy for Baduruu decks that can't afford to sac to five. Baduruu's interaction goes further than that, as the 0/6 body is enough to trigger the condition of Grundler's Double.

Not that Jericho lacks for targets nowadays, here's an option for those times where your opponent's stingy with the Blood Frenzies. By itself, Embers of the Just is an acceptable answer to Phoenix Urigon. The destroy clause, however, is an upgraded Smite, more like a Fireball for priests. I'd say it's hardly worth spending 4SE and two resources on a fireball, but it's better than racking up 10SE and having nothing to spend it on.

Finally, some non-warrior/wulven ramp that works. While he may be temporarily disabled, the priest mirror is the only situation where he won't wind up in your resource row, one way or the other. In a similar fashion as Tainted Oracle, Devoted Knight is an ally you can feel okay playing before a Tidal Wave.

Puwen is rapidly becoming the Grey Ogre of Shadow Era. The Ironmonger to me seems decent, though is far better in the late game only whereas Aetherborn Wisp has application in both. Expect to see a lot of this card only if someone figures out how to make Vozitian Orders work.

Layarian Seductress, meet your match. While unable to stop activated abilities of Death Mage Thaddeus or Plasma Behemoth, Sword Thief does get around Dakrath's protections. The thief's body also has a higher damage output, important if you're Lance looking for a haste target in topdeck mode. As mentioned above, this is one more ally designed for use with Vozitian Orders.

Here's the card that makes Vozitian Orders work. You can steal an ally, play an ally, and bounce the stolen ally. This will take plenty of cards and resources, though, so it'll take something more to make such a strategy better than just playing Retreat!.

Finally, a reset button to stop Millstalker decks. The unfortunate thing is that most current rogue decks rely on items themselves, and that Stop, Thief is already quite good in those decks. Still, this will have an impact on Meltdown at the least.

I can't help but feel this card is a little overpriced. The bounce/steal may be good, but you're taking a risk on the base ally. The fact is that for six resources, I can expect a 3/8 or 2/9. A 1/6 is unacceptable at this range, and even a 4/6 is sub par. But this doesn't cost six resources. It costs seven. I feel like the limit of four attack is unfair for the price, since you take a risk by playing him that you'll have a seven-cost 0/6 where you could have had something far more effective. And if a 7/6 proves too good on the rare occasions where you can pull it off, give him an extra point of health or two at least. That way, he's more in line with what a body of his cost should be. If this card is given a little boost before the set is finalized, I expect he'll be a good late-game option to take advantage of the profuse amount of late game utility allies in Shadow Era, similar to Darkwood Wraith but worth an extra two resources and Unique status.

While not as large as Shadow Knight, the shaman could be used to get a group of Pack Wolves together, and the lower cost helps swarm strategies. Moonstalker's ability mitigates some of the disadvantages of one health, but without it you'll have to watch out for Fleet-Footed Messenger.

This card serves as 'sweeper insurance'. Even a Tidal Wave or Supernova can't slow you down. You'll still have an ally, right there waiting to beat face when your turn starts. Just be careful not to let it trigger before you need it, so no Sacrificial Lambs.

This is an incredibly useful answer to Crippling Blow and Captured Prey, the downside being the Wulven tribal clause that prevents use on allies like Ogloth the Glutton.This card is useful because, even outside of the warrior matchup, three extra damage is three extra damage. The wulven tribe has some hasty options which could make full use of Resilience, provided you have the resources.

This card is great for two different situations. The first is for the interaction with Dimension Ripper and Transference, where you essentially have control over which card you draw. The other is similar to what makes Scrying Eye good. By ensuring that your opponent draws certain cards, you also ensure that they fail to draw others, namely whatever's in their deck that could actually help them. Useless if you aren't already winning, but if you are, you can make sure the opponent can do nothing about it. Because it moves two card at a time, cards like Blood Frenzy won't be able to subvert your ability to stack the opponent's deck.

Like The Perfect Shot, but better. Useful when you can't quite kill something, so you make the damage it deals inconsequential until you can finish it off.

I thought at first that this can abuse Mind Control for great value, but the target card needs to cost three or less. It still works as a consistency tool for the ZTC deck which is designed to get the most value out of Feedback and Bad Santa, two cards that fall under Mimic's cost limit.

In my recent experience playing Amber, I find myself using Retreat! to bounce my own Layarian Seductress more than anything else, and now I can do that with a significant profit attached. You'd rather not use it on an opposing ally most of the time, but if Bad Santa is involved, it's not as bad as it could be.

In an environment where Kris is more a waste of a card than a significant damage source, The Last Harvest makes an excellent early play to support the incoming sea of dudes. The cost to activate makes it ineffective if you want to be dropping allies every turn, but skipping your third turn drop to buff your second turn ally and kill your opponent's will refund the card spent on a first turn play. The Last Harvest is also a great setup for Bad Santa in slower decks. Lastly, I'd like to point out that playing and using The Last Harvest is one of the things allowed by Evolving Abomination.

I know I've mentioned this card a few times already, but I have to bring it up again. It's not quite as effective at drawing as Bad Santa, but has the advantage of being one-sided. Humans don't have a whole lot of graveyard manipulation, but there are still cards that benefit from a little self-mill such as Honored Dead and Lily Rosecult. The deck thinning to search for an answer is useful in and of itself, crucial late-game when you really need that Supernova, Tidal Wave, or Ley Line Nexus. Essentially, all the times you would need Bad Santa.

Card draw is good, and so is ramp. There are plenty of undead allies in the set, though you don't necessarily need lots of them to play this card. Shadow Knight may be plenty.

Faction-specific removal? I'll take it. Use this card on opponent's ally to soften them up for an easy kill, or put it on your own ally in order to hit the opposing hero for lethal damage. It's sort of like Smite, but the health reduction gets around damage shields.

At first, I wasn't sure whether I liked this card. It's a one-sided Tidal Wave only if you have a bunch of disabled allies lying around that you could be doing other things with, like retreating or sacrificing. Then I realized that Overwhelm damages the opposing player.

I can picture Baduruu using this card to recover from a Ley Line Nexus. Victor and Logan both have ways to abuse the effect as well.

Can you say Shadow Knight? That's a six damage weapon against allies, assuming the sabre isn't stopped by a damage shield.

Serena often has difficulty when forced to pick between attacking the opponent or attacking an ally. Now, the overall result is the same, assuming you have room in the deck after Anklebreaker and Fan of Blades. Hunters can also use this card, which means Victor has a new tool to further his advantage in control mirrors.

There are plenty of graveyard shenanigans already in Shadow Era and even more coming in Shattered Fates. This Sledgehammer not only makes a great target for Amber's buff even without any abilities, it also serves to disable Shadow Knight loops, Gravebone revives, and other annoyances. Even Banish is but a temporary solution. This weapon is the only permanent exile that works directly from play, and it works five times.

That about does it for the worthy mentions in Shattered Fates. Overall, I'm pleased with what I see. The tribes have a lot of love, but not without overshadowing the 'real' cards. There's plenty of allies at the right spots on the curve to shake up the competitive scene, while at the same time reinforcing some of the old archetypes that players know and love. I won't say for certain until the beta goes live and I get my virtual hands on experience, but it looks like there's a little something for everybody.

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