Hey everyone, Alexicon1 here. Under The Hood is back, and what a way to reboot the series with a breakdown on Duelyst’s latest expansion, Ancient Bonds! This expansion is centred around increasing the viability and reworking the power of Tribes in Duelyst. For those newer players to the game, a Tribe is a series of cards that share synergy, such as Arcanysts or Golems. The Tribe can be found (if a card has one) directly underneath the card’s name. The current Tribes are Battle Pet, Arcanyst, Dervish, Structure, Vespyr, Golem, Mech and Warmaster. Ancient Bonds plays host to a whole lot of Arcanyst, Golem and other Tribal synergies, which I will try to get through as much as possible in this article. The entire list of cards can be found here in a much nicer format. This breakdown is in order of cards released, so we’ll be starting with the first card previewed, the Lyonar Golem “Peacekeeper”!
So this was the first card spoiled for the expansion, and boy is it a doozy. 5 Keywords have been packed into this 7 mana Golem, making Peacekeeper a beautiful-looking amalgamation of Ironcliffe Guardian, Beastmaster with a Prism Barrier thrown in for good measure. It is actually a brilliant example of Power Creep, as compared to the Common card Fireblazer this costs 2 more mana for the same stats but 5 keywords and Golem synergy, which is very good value indeed. And as with all Golems, this can be ramped out one turn earlier with Golem Metallurgist and a 6 mana 5/5 with 5 keywords is nothing to snort at. This card with no Dispel will be a very hard creature to kill without trading in a big minion of your own. I expect to see this as a centrepiece in future Golem decks, which most likely will be piloted by Argeon Highmayne as his BBS synergises with Provoke excellently.
For what’s felt like an eon since the Siphon Energy nerf to make only available to minions nearby your General, Vetruvian has struggled mightily to deal with ranged minions or minions who’s effect outweighs their need to be in the melee, such as Kelaino and Spellhai’s major proponent Four Winds Magi. Now with Blood of Air, Vetruvian can now take care of anything not affected by Aegis Barrier or have a natural Spellshield (such as some Mech minions and Sand Howler). This also has the plus side of negating Dying Wishes completely, as it transforms rather than destroying and summoning, which is what Dark Transformation does, which is kind of oxymoronic, as Transformation is in the name. This will be great in Vetruvian mirrors, as this can easily take care of Aymara Healer, Grandmaster Nosh-Rak and Scion’s Second Wish‘ed minions. In regards to Power Creep, this is much better than Entropic Decay, which does proc Dying Wish for 1 mana less, in exchange for Blood of Air not triggering Dying Wish and having an instant 2 damage on board. Overall, this is a good card, and one I fully expect to see as at least a 2-of in most Vetruvian decks.
This card is as close as you are going to get to pure synergy. Ghoulie, as part of being of every Tribe, gets so much synergy it isn’t funny. As part of the Battle Pet tribe introduced in Denizens of Shim’Zar, it gains access to effectively the keyword Rush when paired with Sol or Crimson Coil, as it is controllable because it isn’t specifically a Battle Pet. With Owlbeast Sage, this can reach astronomical heights of Health. With Scion’s Third Wish (who plays that?) this can become a 6 mana 6/7 with Flying because it has Dervish. The possibilities are endless. Out of all of these, I expect this to be seen in Arcanyst or Golem decks the most, although it may have a place in Control Vanar as it can also receive buffs from Iceblade Dryad as it also has Vespyr. A nice card, it will definitely have it’s niche and I look forward to seeing what enterprising players do with it.
I’ve talked about Power Creep in this article already, but boy, this is the most glaring example yet. Compared to Dancing Blades, a minion with the same cost and similar effect, this is vastly more powerful. Lavaslasher can attack a nearby minion from any position, not just in front, which is what Dancing Blades did. It also has +1 attack compared to Dancing Blades’ Opening Gambit, which makes it that more effective. The “Minion Rush” is quite a nice addition to the game, and I expect to see this when Magmar doesn’t want to blow an Elucidator and take the damage in order to clear a minion. The only downside compared to Dancing Blades is that Lavaslasher will take return damage, but the 9 health goes a long way to compensate for that. This also has the same stats and cost as Brightmoss Golem with an additional effect, another example of Power Creep. All in all, this card will have it’s uses, but I wouldn’t expect it to be an auto-include, maybe a 2-of at the most.
Looks like Caliber-O got a discount and a recolouring with Cyclone Generator on this tongue-twister of a card. Surprisingly, it ended up being given to Songhai rather than
Vetruvian or Lyonar. Obviously intended for Backstab or Ranged shenanigans, this could be quite fun with Obscuring Blow, Mask of Shadows and Mist Walking for some OTK goodstuffs. It really can’t be used effectively for trading unless for a last-ditch survival effort and even at that stage taking damage really isn’t the way to go unless you’ve Alcuin’ed a Concealing Shroud. This is very likely going to be a niche card and the most noteworthy thing about this card is that it may or may not be supremely hard to say 10 times fast. You’re trying to do it now, aren’t you. Don’t deny it.
Can’t decide between playing Lilithe or Cassyva? Whether to play Wraithlings or Shadow Creep? Now, with Nocturne, you can have both! Nocturne will give rise to hybrid Abyssian decks, which could be very potent indeed. Paired with either General’s BBS, this can generate extreme value. A Shadow Nova could produce 4 Creep tiles and 4 Wraithlings, which is good in any circumstance. This also has the power to negate enemy summons on the space where the Wraithling appears. If you kill a Rebirth minion with Abyssal Scar for example, and Nocturne is on board, the Wraithling will appear in place of the Egg. This would be also good in Abyssian mirrors for dealing with Reaper of the Nine Moons. This is a clever, well-designed card and I expect to see this be played with frequency
The first direct Arcanyst support of the expansion that has been previewed so far, Blue Conjurer is good. Very good. I’d take a wager now that it is almost an autorun in Arcanyst decks, as the continuous ability to fill your hand with Arcanysts is quite valuable. However, as the pool of Arcanysts increase, some Arcanysts such as Nocturne may not be so good when drawn outside of their home faction (Abyssian). But drawing others such as Circulus, can be very advantageous. CP will need to find a balance with Arcanyst cards as to not flood the available options and negate Conjurer’s effectiveness. The statline of Conjurer is quite tanky, and with one Owlbeast proc can become close to unkillable without dispel or hard removal. When all is said and done, this is a card that will become a centrepiece of Arcanyst decks for months to come, and I look forward to what it brings.
This is a very simple card, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t bad. Circulus can allow for board swarms very fast, when coupled with the Wall generation spells Gravity Well and Bonechill Barrier, which may be why CP gave Circulus to the Vanar. I at first wondered why it wasn’t given to Abyssian, but the question was answered the next day with the release of Death Knell. CP is trying to keep as many factions as viable as possible when playing Arcanyst, and Vanar is a close second in the ability to swarm with their Walls. With an Owlbeast on board, this can stack up really fast and become quite hard to overcome without hard AoE removal such as Decimate or Circle of Desiccation. This may find use as a 2-drop in many Vanar decks, as the 3 health can allow it to withstand a blow from the majority of 2-drops. A well-designed card, I look forward to see how decks fit Circulus in.
This card has it all. An epic name, an epic effect, epic pixel art, you name it. Death Knell fits in perfectly with the Abyssian theme of resummoning after death, and this can be so powerful when played on curve, returning up to 8 minions as well as a 6/6 body. Moderation is the key here, as an effective Prismatic Illusionist may dilute the pool of available pulls from the Opening Gambit, rendering your pile to a bunch of 2/1 Illusions. But in all honesty, that isn’t something that can just be ignored. For 8 mana and some preparation, you can get a heck of a lot of stats. If it pulls back a Firestarter, or an Illusionist, things can get out of hand very quickly, and with Abyssian’s already prominent Swarm mechanics (such as Deathfire Crescendo, Soulshatter Pact and Void Steal) they can overrun you very fast with the instant board presence that Death Knell provides. When coupled with Arcane Devourer on 9 mana, you get a guaranteed 24 stats on board (8/4 +6/6) plus whatever Death Knell brings back. Keeping in mind that Dragonbone Golem is a 7-mana 10/10, the value is incredible. I fully expect this card to be a win-con in Abyssian Arcanyst decks, and I can say personally that I will be playing this card.
Not only did the Healyonar archetype utilising the Lyonar Kingdoms’ secondary General Zir’an Sunforge gain much needed support in the second expansion Rise of the Bloodborn, it also looks like it will get support in the third expansion as well. The Glacial Elemental of Lyonar, this also can target the enemy General, which means when coupled with the often absurd amounts of healing that Zir’an (and to a lesser extent, Argeon) can output on a turn-by-turn basis, this could result in total board clears. Gold Vitriol can also be used as a finisher if the enemy is too far away to reach with your minions, although currently Meltdown can deal much more damage in the late game and so may be taken over this in those stages. But during the early game, this could easily wipe an opponent’s first few moves and make it even easier to start using utilising one of Lyonar’s inbuilt faction strengths: Board Control. A really nice card, I expect to see this in most, if not all Healyonar decks, and I will definitely be slotting at least 2 of them into my own Heal Zir’an deck.
The first manaspring interaction released in Duelyst so far, Celebrant is a card that should be an auto-include in most mid-range and control decks solely because it allows either player to ramp to 5 mana on their second turn, which is a huge power and tempo-swing. If player 2 as Abyssian doesn’t take the tile in front of them or the one Celebrant created, they can summon Grandmaster Variax turn 2 after Darkfire Sacrificing the Celebrant, or they could even take one then summon Spectral Revenant after sacrificing Celebrant. The Golem synergy allows for this to be effectively free with Golem Metallurgist, and this 1/4 body means it will survive most early game trades. This card will most likely be one of the most played cards out of this expansion, and I’ll be slotting it in wherever possible
At first glance, this card seemed kind of….out of place. Looked like it belonged more in Abyssian than it did Magmar. Then it clicked. This card can be absolutely amazing when used on neutral minions. Cards that have low stat-lines in exchange for immediate effects, such as Sunset Paragon can be instantly sacrificed, and you can either pull a Dreadnought or a Makantor Warbeast. Either of these is absolutely fantastic. If you can use it on a Rebirth minion and keep the Egg safe, it could be a free body. However, the best value for this card is playing it on 3 mana minions and 5 mana minions, and currently there aren’t any Rebirth minions with that cost. If you pull a Dreadnought from Cascading Rebirth, you can play a second Cascading Rebirth and potentially get a Silithar Elder, or at worst an Unstable Leviathan. A simple, yet potent card, I look forward to the plays that can be made using this and would definitely love to put it on a Reaper of the Nine Moons after it has hit face.
This card does two things. First, it makes you feel really cool as you look at the amazing pixel art. And two, it reminds you that Skyrock Golem is a card. In theory, this card is really cool, rewarding you for playing Golems in the early game and culminating in a massive payoff in the late game. But in all reality, this is dead to 4 factions’ inbuilt AoE. Tempest, Plasma Storm, Breath of the Unborn and Frostburn all completely negate the effort you put in to get the pay-off as well as Songhai’s Ghost Lightning + Crescent Spear combo. Even a well-placed Stars’ Fury will remove most of the threat of the OG. Because of the sheer amount of removal that completely undoes any effort on your part with the card, I’m very sure that this will not be played. The only way that it could ever be played was if Zurael, the Lifegiver was primed and ready to go after the opponent deals with Skyrock Golem the first time. But that involves playing Zurael, who does have his uses, but probably not useful enough for just this one-time deal. A good card in theory, its’ effectiveness is instantly undone by the fact that every faction can deal with it with little to no effort on their part.
At first, this seems a bit too weak. But then you realise that Sol Pontiff is a Golem, so it gets the +2 bonus. This can be quite powerful when you start stacking up Golems, but is only really good when you are ahead anyway, as you can’t really build the presence to make running this card worthwhile if you are scrambling to survive. I would expect this to be run in Lyonar Golem decks anyway, purely for the Golem synergy and for the fact that it might help once or twice, as this is a prime Dispel target and won’t last long on the board. Pontiff is the kind of card that you want to keep close, but not too close so it can easily be picked off by opposing minions. If it survives, and you already have a board presence, it can get quite swingy very fast, as +2 attack on all of them can quickly overwhelm you. This card will have its’ niche, but I don’t expect this to be regularly run in Lyonar decks.
This is the all-rounder of the expansion, a neutral, universal buff to any minion with a tribe. For the 4 mana investment, the Health is a little too low for my liking and can be easily dealt with by most 3 drops. Although it does put Sirocco’s summonings out of AoE killing range, so it may find it’s place in Golem Vetruvian as a centrepiece of the potential archetype. In Swarm Arcanyst-type decks utilising Prismatic Illusionist, this could be very powerful and would get out of hand quickly as 3/2 Illusions can quickly chunk you down, especially in Abyssian with cards such as Deathfire Crescendo, Soul Grimwar, and Soulshatter Pact. Another problem is that when Feralu dies or is dispelled, the buff disappears, meaning that everything can be undone with one well-placed removal. This means that Feralu will have to be squirrelled away as far away from the fight as possible in order to get the most effectiveness from it, but that is in reality a minor drawback to the power of the card.
Apart from some epic looking pixel art (I mean, who doesn’t love a panda pyromancer with a magic staff), this card can be really powerful in its’ home faction, Songhai. In conjunction with Owlbeast Sage, Arcanysts will get +1/+2 when a spell is cast, which can get very overwhelming very fast. Chakri Avatars will now get +2/+1 whenever a spell is cast, much better than Owlbeast as Songhai as a faction prizes Attack much more than Health. Being an Arcanyst itself, it’s attack can stack up reasonably quickly, as well as being quite tanky, meaning that your opponent will have to devote minions to remove it or blow some of their removal on it. Having removal used on Kindling means that there isn’t one for a Four Winds Magi, an astronomically big Chakri Avatar, a Lantern Fox, a whole host of cards that can be quite punishing if left unremoved. This card should become a centrepiece of Arcanysthai decks, and I am curious to see how high players can get the stats on minions when utilising these cards.
Whoa. Just, whoa. This card may singlehandedly bring back Eggmar, albeit with a Golemic tinge to it. In the late game, this card is effectively answer or die, lest you become overwhelmed with the phenomenal Grow stats or legions of Golem eggs. As well as Eggmar, this could potentially bring back Growmar, and combine the two underplayed archetypes into something playable. If Morin-Khur is equipped, a Flash Reincarnation into Juggernaut will result in the two Eggs hatching instantly, as Flash counts as General damage. Moloki Huntress can make at most, this a 9/15 at the start of your opponent’s turn, which is impossibly scary. The Golem synergy also means it can come out earlier via Golem Metallurgist, and in any case, this would be a fantastic 7 mana play. Without answers, this will get out of hand supremely quickly and may very well win you the game. A solid card, I yearn for this to see regular play, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
To be completely honest with you, this is a card that will probably see very little play in my opinion. It’s really just a Keeper of the Vale without a body, but instead you have to take damage 3 times in order to get the effect. If it would ever see play, it would have to be in the form of future investment, i.e playing it early to have it break preferably a few turns later, but even that isn’t really worth it in Abyssian, as they normally have lots of smaller minions which severely dilutes the pool that this card can pull from. For this to really be effective, you’d have to build a deck around it, i.e playing Wraithlings and Darkfire Sacrificing them early to get out threats that you can resummon using this Artifact. The moment you start playing low health 2-drops, the value of this card plummets to the point where you find yourself extremely lucky to get a semi-playable minion and not a card whose only use is found in the early game. I don’t expect to see this card played at all, and if you want to be resummoning things, use Nether Summoning or jump ship to Magmar and play a Keeper Vaath deck similar to the one that SonOfMakuta has found success with here
The crushing feeling when it came to Abyssian cards with the release of The Releaser (no pun intended) was immediately reversed with this card. This also introduces this expansion’s keyword, Bond. Bond works similar to Opening Gambit, but it will only trigger if there is at least one minion of the same Tribe on the board when it is played, making it a conditional pseudo-Opening Gambit. Swarming with Prismatic Illusionist into this card can straight up win you the game, meaning that your opponent must pack AoE lest they get chunked into retreating while you charge towards them on full health. As mentioned in the PCGamer article where the following six cards were revealed, if Nightshroud is coupled with the underplayed Consuming Rebirth, you can OTK from 25 if there are 13 Arcanysts on board which is no mean feat for a 4-cost card. The 5/1 statline means it won’t last long, especially in Abyssian mirrors, so it really is designed around its’ effect. I really like this card, and I’m very likely to toss this into my Abyssian Arcanyst decks.
We had Divine Bond as one of the most powerful cards in the game. Then it got nerfed, significantly dropping its’ playrate. And now, with the release of Life Coil, it may become just as powerful again, and be restored to its’ place as the premier Lyonar archetype. This now means that Lyonar minions can trade without negating the value of Divine Bond when it comes to the card. However, the 3 mana is definitely too expensive, and because of it may find more use in Gauntlet where Health is more prizes as Dispel is less frequent. If paired with Second Sun (yes, I know, it’s not really played), you can get a 24/16 that will quickly clean out your opponent if not dealt with. Ironcliffe Guardians could get quite fun (I’m being sarcastic) when they smack your face for 23 damage in one hit, or a complete OTK if Argeon uses his BBS, Roar. A simple card, one that may find use in Divine Bond decks but in reality will find its home in Gauntlet.
Magmar’s version of Scintilla, this having Rebirth also means it the health buff can potentially be proc’ed multiple times. With a solid stat-line and Golem synergy, this can come pretty cheap with Golem Metallurgist. This should become a staple in Golemar decks as well as Juggernaut, this allowing for sustain to be able to reach the crucial 8 mana mark. When coupled with Cascading Rebirth, this can pull some really good stuff, such as Drogon or Elucidator, even Earth Sister Taygete wouldn’t go amiss. Having one of these on the board means that if another one comes down, the Golem synergy fulfils the Bond requirements and you’ll get another 3 health. Overall, a well-designed card and I am curious to see how often it is run over other healing cards such as Azure Herald and Earth Sphere.
I adore the aesthetic of this card, the pixel art, the name, it’s all beautiful. The tankiest Rush minion in the game, this has the very unique ability of drawing you 3 random Songhai spells at the end of your turn, not immediately after it attacks. This makes it so that these cards can be played on 8 mana at the earliest if Calligrapher was played on curve. Potentially intended for Control-ish Songhai decks, this will ensure you keep your hand full long after your opponent has begun topdecking, even more so when couples with Owlbeast Sage and utilising the Health buffs from playing the spells that Calligrapher gives you, a sort of co-dependency if you will. If you use Inner Focus on it, you could get a full hand at the end of turn, albeit it will be completely up to the RNG Gods. There are 27 spells available to Songhai, so it may take a while before you get something useful for the fight after a horde of Mist Walkings, Artifact Defilers and Ancestral Divinations. A clever card, it makes the Rush mechanic less about the face damage but more about it’s effect. In my opinion, it fits much more into the Songhai aesthetic with its’ effect than Spectral Revenant does in Abyssian’s.
The spell version of Arcane Devourer, but with a repeating effect, Ghost Seraphim is a really strong card. Synergising with Arcanysts and spells, this can allow for extra board presence when used in conjunction with Blue Conjurer, as that free spell allows for an extra minion in hand. If you are playing a Winter’s Wake styled deck, this allows you to play it a turn early, and with an 8/9 body alongside it, which can turn a game instantly. Not only does this card have a potent effect, it’s an amazing stat-stick and is very scary to face down without hard removal and using dispel without removing the body still means that you are staring down a phenomenal statline. A really powerful card, this can turn the tide of the battle very fast and could even close it out for you. My only gibe about this is that it was given to Vanar, not often a spell-based faction, but in reality if it was in Songhai it would be plain broken as things like Spiral Technique could come out a turn earlier and murder you straight up.
So far this expansion, we’ve seen a prime mechanic from the first Boss, Caliber-O’s arsenal, given to Songhai in the form of Bangle of Blinding Strike. And now, the signature mechanic from the second Boss, Monolith Guardian, has been given to Vetruvian and boy is it a thing of beauty. Although at first glance this may seem like it will have limited uses due to the Artifact charges, but when coupled with other Artifacts such as Wildfire Ankh or Spinecleaver, this could be absolutely insane. This could clear rows of enemies, summon the Bloodfire Totems in their place, and get a copy of each minion destroyed nearby, in any case a tide-turning play. This will become another prized pull out of Autarch’s Gifts, alongside the Spinecleaver + Ankh combo that has ended many a game. Also, Entropic Decay counts as General destruction so you can freely kill an enemy minion and get a copy for yourself. If an enemy minion is dispelled and then killed, the resummoned minion will have it’s effects returned to it, an even stronger play, and could even mean that people run Siphon Energy in order to clear the minion’s effects before destroying it. I love this card, and may even return to play some Artifact Sajj when this expansion drops. Just some bonus trivia here, but Spinecleaver and Thunderclap are the two swords that Sajj wields in her art.
This card is sheer brilliance in Songhai, allowing for a turn 1 Chakri Avatar to leap to the other side of the board on Turn 2 in addition to a 3/2 body that should be able to trade with most 2 and 3-drops. Sparrowhawk is a really versatile card, and its’ effect is appreciated really at any point of the game, the early game for extra poke, midgame to begin closing it out, and the late game when players are topdecking and can’t actually reach each other is where Sparrowhawk really shines. The Arcanyst synergy allows it to get high attack when coupled with Kindling, meaning that this becomes a 4/2 if the Mist Dragon Seal is used the turn Sparrowhawk comes down, and that 4 attack can clear many minions. Additionally, if Owlbeast Sage is on the board, this can get +1/+2 if that MDS is used instantly, and a 4/4 is nothing to sneeze at. A really good card, I expect this to be consistently run in Songhai decks, even if purely for that Chakri Avatar synergy.
The most controversial card released so far, the 7 mana 9/9 Golem EMP is this expansion’s Meltdown. For Golem decks, this is a must-run because of the fact that most Golems don’t have effects, therefore the Opening Gambit that dispels everything on the board plus destroying all artifacts will effectively only harm the opponent. So this is a low-key buff to Abyssian, as EMP will not eradicate the Shadow Creep tiles as well as not removing the AWESOME buff from the Wraithlings spawned via Grandmaster Variax’s effect. This is a very strong stat stick, and is really an example of Power Creep as Dragonbone Golem, another 7 mana Golem, has a statline of 10/10. This effectively means that the ability to dispel everything and remove all artifacts is worth 1/1 of stats, which doesn’t really seem right unless there is some Power Creep in play. A really strong card, this will be the late-game for Golem-based decks, and be sure to watch out for the flame threads that will spring up through the various forums and Reddit after they get caught out by this card.
RIP Crystal Wisp 15/3/2017. This outdoes Crystal Wisp in every aspect, with the one Attack that it affords, 1 mana cheaper than good ol’ Crispy Wisp, and the extra mana is guaranteed on your next turn as you really should only be using it when a minion will die this turn. Mana Deathgrip is in reality Vanar’s version of Cassyva’s BBS, Abyssal Scar. This is so good when you just need that extra point of damage in order to clear something, which Vanar doesn’t really have access to unless they run the underplayed card Flash Freeze and don’t want to blow a Chromatic Cold on it or can’t reach it with Faie’s BBS. This is basically a free 1 point of damage if it kills a minion, as it gets refunded on the next turn and allows you to ramp up quite fast. If played as Player 2 on 6 mana, you can play Meltdown + BBS next turn with the 8 mana, which is super powerful. A good card, this will definitely see use, and I would hazard a guess that it could be a 2-of in most Vanar decks.
This here is the stuff of memes, of legendary memes no less. This card is even more fitting with Joseki’s name attached to it after the publication of the article in which Kotaku interviewed him about frustration with game development (can be found here). And boy, will this get frustrating either way, you’ll either fail to get something good or your opponent will pull one of your crucial cards and punish you very hard for it. Or even both! For that reason alone, I’m sure this card’s playrate won’t be very high, and will only find use in some crazy Songhai shenanigans. The only redeeming feature of the card is it’s low mana cost, and if it is going to be played, it would be done in decks with low curves and lots of combo pieces so your opponent wouldn’t get much value out of it. A really hilarious card, I have a feeling that just like EMP is the Meltdown of the upcoming expansion, Joseki will be the Aphotic Drain of Ancient Bonds.
We see Power Creep coming into effect here again with the Vetruvian Golem, Dreamshaper. This card has some awesome pixel art, and the awesome ability of for the most part killing off Divine Spark as a card. The only real caveat to this being straight up better than Divine Spark in every aspect is that Dreamshaper is reliant on having another Golem on the board, although if this is slotted into it’s intended place in a Vetruvian Golem deck, it really shouldn’t be a problem. If coupled with Golem Metallurgist, this becomes a 3 mana, 2 body combo (2/3 + 2/2) with the addition of 2 cards. As we can see, this far outstrips Divine Spark in any way, shape or form and really emphasises the Power Creep that is occurring from one expansion to the next. Quite a solid card, this could even find a place with Artifact and Golem Sajj to allow for fishing to find those crucial OTK combo pieces, although in reality that is a pipe dream. I do expect this to see play, but to the amount it is played we’ll just have to wait and see.
I adore this card, probably one of my favourite so far in the expansion. For starters, this most likely will only be run in Arcanyst decks solely because of the amazing value that it offers and a 5 mana 4/4 on it’s own is nothing to write home about, even it if it has Flying. But if you get the 3 Teachings of the Dragon, which aren’t too shabby in their own right, basically a True Strike, an Overload (Vaath’s BBS) and an Afterglow (Zir’an’s BBS). By themselves they are solid cards, the two BBS reprints more so than the True Strike, but when put together they can be amazingly strong. Another bonus of playing this, is that it drops the amount of spells you need to put in your deck and focus more on Arcanyst synergies with things like Blue Conjurer, as 3 of these means up to 9 extra spells that you have access to. This opens up the possibilities of your deck to add even more stuff to it and cram in as much synergy as possible. As mentioned on Reddit, if played on curve, you can quickly swarm the board on 6 mana if a Prismatic Illusionist is dropped and the 3 Teachings are used. If the Trinity Wing itself flies in and attacks, you can use the Lesson of Wisdom to heal it back up to trade another day. The Lessons of Courage and Power are great for trading and board clearing so you can establish and build upon that board presence with Prismatic Illusionist. This is an amazing card, I love it and I expect this will appear frequently in Arcanyst decks.
Counterplay has again continued the trend of fixing underpowered cards by introducing new ones in their place, the other ones being EMP to replace Ironclad and Dreamshaper to amend Divine Spark. And now with Kindred Hunter, this appears to be intended to bring to play what Frostiva couldn’t. It seems to be a slightly better Fenrir Warmaster, as the extra health sometimes allows to get a bonus hit in, and the Bond caveat is kind of irrelevant if you are playing an Arcanyst based deck. This is quite nice as Player 1 if you play Circulus turn 1 and this turn 2 which can begin to build a board presence, especially if you drop a Prismatic Illusionist the turn after and get a free proc with your BBS. With a good statline, this can trade quite efficiently with other 2 and 3-drops plus the Night Howler can do quite a lot as well. The Howler also has Vespyr synergy, and we could see a tempo-based Vespyr/Arcanyst hybrid-style deck which could be quite potent. This is a really good card, and this will definitely see play.
We start the review of unseen cards with Warblade, a really solid Lyonar Golem. For its’ statline, it’s quite good for the mana cost, and the effect can be quite potent if you have a board presence. The buff also just doesn’t apply to Tribal minions, it includes all minions, so having a 4/6 Silverguard Knight doesn’t sound too bad in all honesty. Although this is better in the mid to late game as in the early game there may not be many minions to buff, it can definitely be still played because the 1/4 statline means it will definitely survive a few hits from the opponent before crumpling and fading away. The Golem synergy means on turn 2 as Player 1, you can play Metallurgist then Warblade and buff the Metallurgist and whatever you played on your first turn. A good, solid card, this will be a staple of Golem Lyonar and I’ll definitely put these into my own deck.
Two 1/4 minions in a row, although this is slightly more costly. So Staff of Y’Kir costs 2 mana, so what you are really getting is a 2 mana 1/4 with Flying plus a Staff thrown together as one card. Because it equips an Artifact, this could be run in Artifact Sajj and get a body as well. The Golem synergy, as always, allows it to be ramped out a turn earlier with Golem Metallurgist which is pretty good. The Flying means it can be squirreled away at the back of the board and then fly in and being buffed to obscene levels, then proceeding to smack your opponent for some decent damage. The pixel art is really quite cool in my opinion, sort of reminds me of Blitzcrank from League of Legends. A reasonable card, this may see play, but it is far from an auto-run certainly.
Swarm Lilithe just got a whole lot of power with Blood Echoes, allowing you to dispose of those pesky Wraithlings that just can’t reach an enemy in order to willingly sacrifice themselves to buff you up even higher. Although this won’t be effective with Deathwatch minions, as they’ll be destroyed as well, this is a must-run in decks that utilise Soul Grimwar as a win-condition. Apart from that, that doesn’t really have a use unless you are trying to reach your opponent who has locked themselves away and you are trying to get towards them with some lucky spawns. This is also a pseudo-heal, as they’ll be resummoned in their base form, so you could always use it after you attack with them all to heal them back up at the cost of them being in random places. A clever card, this will have it’s niche, but it should fill it very well.
This is such a strong card it isn’t funny. This could almost singlehandedly bring back Growmar as a viable archetype, bringing the grand total of Magmar archetypes to 3, after anything Vaath and Burn Starhorn. When coupled with Moloki Huntress, this can get out of hand very fast, as minions that don’t die (such as a well-timed Makantor Warbeast) will receive a buff before your opponent even has an opportunity to clear it. This is also really good in the early game, as you can play this on your first turn as Player 2, then play a 2-drop which will receive a buff if it doesn’t die, making it harder to kill. I love the name, just makes it sound so epic, and I fully expect this will be run in Growmar decks, if not become a staple of the faction due to its’ amazing power.
Not much to say about this card, but I’ll say as much as I can anyway. Iceshatter Gauntlet is a interesting card, as it already fits into a minor niche within Vanar, and is obviously designed for a few synergies. Firstly, Avalanche could be a brutal boardclear when coupled with this, as the General can just walk in and sweep up any stragglers with this Artifact as it functions like Deathtouch (but without the need for damage, so it can kill Stunned Forcefield minions without having to break the Forcefield), so there will be no counter-attack. This also means that the Artifact won’t lose a charge, meaning it will last longer to annihilate some stunned minions later on. This could also work well as an early game board clear when used in conjunction with Flash Freeze, killing any enemy minion for 1 mana and 2 cards, which isn’t bad all things considered as the Gauntlet can last a little longer. A good card, this will have it’s place, but I really like the idea that Counterplay is trying to encourage with this.
Undoubtedly one of the MVPs of this expansion for Arcanysts, Loreweaver can fill your hand in a heartbeat when couples with card draw such as Heaven’s Eclipse, which allows you to gain a full hand instantly. The Arcanyst synergies mean it can be buffed very highly with Owlbeast Sage, and can turbo out Illusions very fast with Prismatic Illusionist. One of Songhai’s weaknesses was that it was very combo-based and often had to blow their entire hand in order to push for win. Because of this, Spelljammer was a frequent Neutral card in Songhai decks, but now Loreweaver can help with spells plus it has the Arcanyst synergy that I’m sure we’ll see in Songhai when this expansion is released. Quite a good card, this is playable in certain places, but I love it and will definitely use it.
Mass Dampening Wave is the theme of this card, and that’s not something I’m annoyed at. This also stops General counterattacks, so your minions can just go face without fear of dying. However, as the ability is triggered via Bond, Boulder Breacher really only has use within Golem-based decks. The stats are quite nice for the cost, as a 5/5 should be able to withstand a bit of a pounding before dying, plus if you have a board presence, this can become a pseudo-board clear or even a SMOrc session if that’s what you are into. The Golem synergy is great, meaning that it can come out fast with Metallurgist. I really like the aesthetic of this card, although we’ll have to wait and see if this is widely used or not.
Here we are, the last card of the expansion. Grimes is a very interesting card, probably being the most RNG out of this expansion. Because of this, this won’t see play, even if it triggers twice because it has both an Opening Gambit and Dying Wish, which hasn’t been seen before in Duelyst if I remember correctly. The huge range of minions this can pull from means that you could get something completely terrible, or something game-winning, which I’m sure will be the fuel of many ranting Reddit threads about the OPness of this card because they got Calligrapher to win the game. This, in theory is a good card, but the statline is just too little for it to have any impact, especially if you pull a Sirocco and you are playing Arcanyst or something like that.
So I was all set to finish off this review, but upon consulting the patch notes, I realised that there were 4 card changes that definitely need to be written about. So I’m not going to hold you up anymore, let’s get into it!
This card has pained me for as long as I can remember, my Songhai opponent dropping a minion, Inner Focusing it, then buffing it to insane stats to swat me like a bug. This is a huge blow to Songhai’s burst potential, making them have to prepare for a combo a little more efficiently and reducing their out-of-hand damage output. I wasn’t expecting this change, but I do think it’s healthy with the release of the new expansion with cards like Sparrowhawk proving potential problem areas
Overall, this is a buff to Control decks, as now they have more chance of making it to the late game intact in order to try and push for a win. Although Inner Focus still has power, it definitely will take a hit with this change. Now, onwards to the bane of all non-Lyonar players, the brother in arms of Holy Immolation, the Battle Pet Slo.
For a very long time, Slo has enabled Lyonar players to clean you out so early with Holy Immolation and then proceed to beat you up with their overstatted minions as you scrambled to get your own minions to survive even a single turn. This does hurt Lyonar’s place at the top of the meta, where it has reigned supreme for many months now, but it isn’t that bad.
This is a buff to everyone, yes, everyone. Even Lyonar, because now you have to think about what you are going to do, instead of dropping Slo and Holy Immolating with not a care in the world. And yes, I don’t care what you say, thinking is a good thing. However, this may result in Slo dropping out of play as its’ main play point was that it was 0 mana and allowed you to ramp very fast. Next up, the Vanar General, Kara Winterblade
The first Under The Hood had Kara as the first review, after it was nerfed heavily and plunged Kara into obscurity. Now it’s being amended, and although not the strength it once was, it will definitely make Kara playable again.
This is definitely a buff to everyone, as having more General diversity means a better game overall. Kara can now actually be played, and may see more play than it would have with some of these new expansion cards. The timing of this expansion couldn’t be more perfect, as now more people will be willing to give Kara a go to see how she plays after her buff, and some may find a new main. Now, to the supremely underplayed Golem, the 6 mana Diamond Golem
There isn’t really much to say about this buff, the card has no effect, being an original Golem, and really the only thing that would happen to this is that it may see a bit more play than it currently does, which it should have anyway due to the new Tribal support.
Thanks everyone for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and found it informative, and if you have any questions, criticisms or anything to say at all, feel free to drop me a line. I’m frequently found in the Duelyst Discord channel, or you can find me on Reddit or the forums.