Building Better: Evaluating New Cards

Hello, everyone! We’re doing a bit of an about-face this week, because of the launch of Azindel’s Way and the imminence of the Season Three Invitational. I had originally planned to do a full card by card breakdown of a deck, going in depth into tradeoffs, but just simply did not have time after writing up 33 player profiles and a viewers guide. Fortunately Direwolf Digital bailed me out and I can talk about the new promo cards instead, in the context of examining cards with regards to existing decks.

Arcanum Monitor

Arcanum Monitor, the card on the left, is one of the three new promo cards. Closed Beta veterans may recall the removed card Squad Strategist – Arcanum Monitor is the same card in a new faction pairing. Squad Strategist didn’t see an overwhelming amount of play in closed beta, but it does give us a starting point for evaluating how this new card will play. Neon wrote a whole article on how to evaluate cards, so I’m not going to talk about how strong the card is in a vacuum. Rather, I’m going to see if there are any existing decks that might be a good fit for Arcanum Monitor, or if it needs a new deck built around it.

The first thing we note is that Arcanum Monitor is an uncommon faction pairing, Praxis, and has heavy influence requirements so isn’t likely to be super splashable. Fortunately, it’s in Time, which alleviates the influence requirements somewhat due to Time’s easy access to fixing. Arcanum Monitor buffs itself for each of your other units, but it’s real powerful ability is acting as a pseudo Obelisk, giving all of your other units +1/+1. To play Arcanum Monitor effectively, you’re going to want a bunch of units in play, and that’s exactly what Praxis Tokens does best. Combining the token generation of Fire with the stat buffing of Time, Praxis Tokens seeks to go wide, then tall. Arcanum Monitor could be a large boost to the archetype, acting as both another buff effect and (with overwhelm) a way to push damage through stalled boards. If you’re feeling more ambitious, the other potential home for Arcanum Monitor could be in a FTP Shimmerpack deck, similar to Toth201’s list from the Season One Invitational. Shimmerpack lists can run into trouble when they don’t draw their buff cards (Obelisk and Shimmerpack) so having access to an extra buffing effect could be powerful. Fire also gives you access to better token generation cards, so it isn’t as necessary to play a ton of dorky units.

Starting Point: Try Arcanum Monitor out in Praxis Tokens and FTP Shimmerpack.

Rilgon, Hooru Operative

rilgon_hooru_operative

The card says Shaman Warrior but we can all clearly tell he’s a Ninja. Boo card type mismatch! Rilgon sports an unimpressive stat line for his cost, but has two interesting abilities. Both Aegis and Double Damage are very powerful battle skills. Note that while you need to play a weapon on Rilgon to give him Aegis (a good way to protect the now-buffed unit!) any spell will give him double damage.

Rilgon doesn’t slot in to any of the “mainstream” Hooru/x decks – neither Hooru Control nor Icaria Blue have weapons to play on him, and they’re not looking for an under-stated 4 drop that could potentially be a double damage attacker. However, an older deck could be the perfect fit for Rilgon – the sometimes popular Hooru Aegis. A reusable Aegis fits in perfectly with the deck’s plan, and Rilgon is going to do a lot of damage with something as simple as a single Finest Hour. I think he’s a natural fit for the deck, playing well with cards like Paladin Oathbook and Hammer of Might as well as combat tricks like Finest Hour. Now, is he good enough to make Spiked Helm worth playing? That might be a stretch, but if no one ever tries it, how will we know?

Starting Point: Try Rilgon out in Hooru Aegis.

Azindel the Wayfinder

azindel_the_wayfinder

By far the hardest card of the three to evaluate, Azindel is sort of a super Initiate of the Sands, but at an odd spot on the curve. Maximum power doesn’t refresh until the start of your turn, so you won’t get access to the power boost unless Azindel actually survives a turn. Everything from Suffocate to Silence will ruin his day. However, if he does survive, he has the potential to ramp you by a ton just by having units die, and Shadow is very good at having units die on demand. That said, he’s not in the “traditional” ramp pairing (Combrei) but rather in Xenan. Current Xenan decks are focused on 5 Strength Matters decks with cards like Dawnwalker and Impending Doom, and their curve generally stops at 5. Azindel wouldn’t be too interesting to those decks. However, he could be interesting to some sort of Vara Ramp/Reanimator deck – Units going to the void from anywhere count for his ability, so discarded units are fair game. I don’t think there’s an existing deck for this card, but that’s where us deckbuilders come in – first player to break him wins!

Starting Point: We’re gonna need to brew a whole new deck for this guy.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for bearing with me today! It’s a much shorter article than my usual but I hope its useful nonetheless. We’ll be back next week with our promised full deck breakdown – should be fun!