Hi, Duelyrs! It’s Arananthi here, totally neglecting the article I promised about Tempo in Duelyst — that’s going to have to wait until after the last two 700-spirit posts. But it is in the works; it’s just a pretty deep subject and I want to be able to get into it rigorously. So instead, I’m posting about the four new units that came out today: Jaxi, Firestarter, Grailmaster, and The Khymera.
First, though, a word about how to judge cards in general.
When you judge cards, you need to look at three basic factors.
- It’s base stats (if it’s a minion). The base stats for a ‘good’ minion are determined, roughly, by the Golems you see at each cc. 2cc is 5 total stats, 3cc is 7, 4cc is 10, 5cc is 13, 6cc is 16, and 7cc is 20. By that logic, 8cc would presumably be 24. So right off the bat, you can see that all of these minions are sub-par in terms of base stats. But that’s OK; most minions are. The question then is:
- Does their ability make up for their stat loss vs. a Golem? If you could have a Firestarter or a Brightmoss Golem, how often is the Firestarter’s ability going to win you a game that the Brightmoss would have lost? How often would having a Brightmoss in that spot win the game instead? And finally,
- Is there a mechanic that exists that can exploit this card’s ability in a way that makes it stronger than it first appears? If so, is the exploited ability strong enough to warrant putting in as a combo piece given that you will, quite regularly, only draw half of the necessary combo?
This unassuming little dude is of massive importance to a couple of factions, and pretty good almost anywhere. Stats-wise, it’s a total of 6 for 2cc, which is above the curve. The risk of getting Dispelled or Transformed is fairly small, since most decks are going to want to save their big effects for bigger creatures, so it’s fairly reasonable to put Jaxi in just as a tempo card.
But the Deathwatch ability will trigger twice off of one Jaxi — once for Jaxi and once for the Mini-Jax — so it’s particularly strong in Abyssian. The ranged-dude-in-a-corner effect will frequently draw out enemy AoE even if it’s the only minion on the board, because it’s hard to get to, making it particularly strong in any kind of weenie deck. Having a ranged unit that deals even modest damage is super-strong, so Jaxi is strong in a deck that buffs specific minions (Songhai’s Killing Blade, Vetruvian’s First Wish) and particularly in a deck that buffs all minions (Lyonar’s War Surge, Vanar’s Razorback).
In short, if you’re looking to build a ‘core’ of common cards that can go in as the ‘base’ of several different decks, Jaxi should be on your “to craft” list probably just after Primus Fist, simply because Primus Fist is an Opening Gambit and thus has an instant effect on the board, whereas Jaxi is not only a Dying Wish, but the Mini-Jax has to wait until next turn to do anything.
Firstarter has pretty awful stats for the cost — 6 points below Brightmoss Golem. As a standalone ability, in your average deck, Firestarter isn’t great, either. Most decks run between 9 and 15 spells, and you need to get at least 2 Spellsparks to hit before you have exceeded the attack value of a Brightmoss. This means that (unlike, say, Four Winds Magi or Bloodrage Mask) you’re limited to a 2-square range away from wherever the Firestarter is standing, making Firestarter’s low(er than a Brightmoss’) health a significant liability. Either that, or you’ll just have a stream of Sparks meandering toward the fight which will probably end up getting removed before they get there.
That said, there are a few solid occasions in which the Firestarter’s special ability might make it perfect for a deck. Because it’s based on spellcasting and it’s a triggered ability (meaning it will happen even if the Firestarter can’t act because it was just summoned), a late-game Songhai play consisting of dropping a Firestarter and playing a series of 3-5 cheap spells could be gamewinning. It’s also 3-atk, so it works with Inner Focus if that’s relevant.
Similarly, Spellsparks are probably going to die the turn they’re summoned, making Firestarter another excellent focus for Deathwatch decks. With a Manaforger down, an Abyssian can pop off some Void Pulses, use one Spellspark to Ritually Banish an annoying enemy creature and get a replacement Spellspark for it, and use the deaths of all of those Sparks to power a Moondancer or Bloodmoon Priestess.
Finally, since Firestarter is an Arcanyst, it benefits from Owl Sage, which automatically makes it some sort of synergetic with a Lyonar Divine Bond spellcasting deck. (Unfortunately, as with Prismatic Illusionist, if you cast War Surge, the buff happens to all creatures on board, then the Spellspark is summoned, sans buff. Oh, well.)
tl;dr: it’s better than Prismatic Illusionist, but is that enough? Probably only in very specific decks.
A 7cc 6/6 is, again, awful. And random abilities are probably not going to make up for the +4/+4 that an (already-unplayed) Dragonbone Golem will get you. The full list of abilities a Grailmaster can gain includes: Provoke, Celerity, Ranged, Frenzy, and Flying. It can gain only 1 of each, and it only gains ones it doesn’t already have. On the minus side, this means no crazy Rook-like stunts of attaining “Deathwatch: Gain +4|+4.” On the plus side, if you can manage to summon five creatures in a hurry, you can nab a 6/6 Flying Ranged Frenzy Celerity Provoke, which isn’t a bad thing.,,except that it’s never going to happen.
In general, this card is going to suck balls. Once you get to the point where you’re investing more than half your total possible turn’s cores into a single body, it had damn well better do something RIGHT THEN, or be almost impossible to remove, because the tempo loss you feel if your Grailmaster gets Natural Selectioned, Ritual Banished, or even Spiral Techniqued is just crippling. If Grailmaster had been able to gain Rush, it might be totally worthwhile to play in a deck that can summon 3+ minions in one turn for 2 or less total mana (Abyssian, Vanar) just for the 50% chance at Rushing with it. As it is, it’s essentially bollocks, even if you can pop out all five keywords for 2 mana on turn 7.
tl;dr: This card is 100 Spirit toward your next Holy Immolation/Star’s Fury, and that’s sadly all.
Once again, paying 8 mana for 17 points of stats is kind of crazy bad, and this thing again does nothing when it hits the board unless you’re playing Magmar and cast it via either Kujata or Flash Reincarnation. Even then, getting a single token minion is generally not all that amazing, considering the list you get to choose from is:
0/2 ‘Unattackable’ Panddo
1/1 ‘Rush’ Spellspark
1/1 ‘Provoke’ Treant
1/1 ‘Ranged’ Mini Jax
3/3 Ghost Wolf
4/4 Whyte Drake
5/5 Seismic Elemental
4/8 Ice Drake
And finally… 8/8 ‘Ranged Frenzy Shroud’ MECHAZ0R!
So, some maths:
- In order to make up for the assumed total value of 8 mana, you have to summon another 7 points worth of stats through Khymera’s ability. But…
- 71% of the time, you’re going to get 6 or fewer points of total stats.
- 25% of the time, you’re not going to get 7 more points over two consecutive activations.
- And the only one of these tokens that has an immediate board impact is the 1/1 Rush Spellspark (and, very rarely, the 1/1 Provoke Treant could pin something down usefully — and in ridiculously extreme edge cases, the 0/2 unattackable Panddo could theoretically appear in the space directly behind something that a Songhai wanted to backstab and thwart the backstabbing attempt.)
In short, if you were going to spend this much on a creature, you want one that has some kind of immediate impact, even if it’s an Archon Spellbinder whose impact is to make spellcasting more annoying for your opponent. The only factions that might care about Khymera are Magmar, who can easily spawn tokens as part of casting the thing, and Abyssian, who can use the 1/1s it spawns…but even then, they’d almost always rather have Firestarter.
So in total: craft the hell out of Jaxi, it’s awesome. Firestarter has a place in a few specific decks. Grailmaster and Khymera are a waste of space.
Grailmaster could be redeemed quite easily by adding Rush to its list of potential Keywords, so you could get a huge swing out of Grailmaster+Bonechill Barrier by nabbing Rush+Ranged or Rush+Frenzy or Rush+Celerity. The chanciness of it would make for a great comeback mechanic, but not something so reliable that you’d want to use it as your tempo play if you were already in the lead — exactly the kind of card Duelyst needs a few more of. (Don’t understand what I mean? Watch this:)
Khymera could easily also be made Rush on top of everything else it already is without coming even close to breaking it. It might occasionally see play if it were Rush…but even then, it would probably be less for it’s token-spawning ability and more for being a big Rush threat with a Kardashian-sized backside. Yeah, it’s really bad.
Ok, that’s it for today! Later this week: the 700 Spirit Magmar decks! Until then, keep on Duelying!