Zoochz here with a look at the recently released August Season cards.
I’m extremely excited about August’s “general damage matters” theme. All four new cards seem potentially powerful, and there seems to be good reception to them amongst the Duelyst community. Let’s jump right in, shall we?
Of the four cards released this month, Blistering Skorn strikes me as outstanding. It might seem innocuous, but I’m going to do my best to convey the reasons behind my excitement.
First, Blistering Skorn has one of the best neutral AoE Opening Gambits that we’ve seen yet. While 1 damage might not seem like a lot, it’s clear from played in-faction options like Spirit Harvester, Tempest, and even Ghost Lightning that the ability to mop up a vast swarm of minions has always had a place in Duelyst.
Now though, for the first time, a far-reaching, damage-dealing effect is available to all decks. This card single-handedly answered the prayers of Vanar players the world over as it’s the first way the faction has had to conveniently deal with its mortal nemesis, Jax Truesight. Before Skorn, Vanar decks had to hope to address each and every mini-Jax with minions already on the board. They didn’t have many other options. Now, Kara and Faie can run Skorn in their deck as a powerful “anti-Jax” protection.
Other factions can take advantage of the effect as well. This card is yet another way for Magmar to break Metamorphosis, and its existence will provide a nice check to Lilithe Swarm decks if they should ever reign supreme. It even mops up ubiquitous X/1s such as the Bloodtear Alchemist.
Skorn’s Opening Gambit goes light years beyond that: Players have discovered how powerful dealing one damage to ALL players and minions can be when used with other “general damage matters” cards.
The most notable of these is Twin Fang. Equipping the Legendary artifact, then dropping the new 3/4 results in a General with +4 attack, with 2 extra points of power for every other minion the Magmar player has on the board (or more if those minions can attack the opponent). With a Healing Mystic and Primus First already down near your opponent, that play results in 6 “triggers” on the Twin Fang, leading to Vaath or Starhorn dealing 14 damage himself, plus the 4 from the otherwise underwhelming 2/3s, plus the 1 from Skorn just to top it off. That’s 19 damage from seemingly out of nowhere.
Twin Fangs is just the tip of the Duelyst iceberg. Cards like Sworn Avenger or Red Synja indulge in it when your General takes damage as well. You can also use Skorn to trigger a ton of “creature getting damaged” effects. Lantern Fox immediately springs to mind as the best way to eke extra value out of Skorn’s damage trigger, but there are many others: Shadow Sister Kelaino, Earth Sister Taygete, Jade Monk, Khymera!!
We’re just scratching the surface. Skorn is great for Zir’an. One of Healyonar’s awkward weaknesses was the occasional inability to trigger the “healing matters cards” the deck ran like Sunriser or Lightchaser. Blistering Skorn graciously allows your creatures the ability to become healed or, at the very least, provides a body for the occasionally underused Afterglow Bloodborn Spell.
I won’t spoil everything here, but suffice to say that I’m excited to see what havoc Blistering Skorn brings to this month’s ladder. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a part of the meta for a good long while.
Let’s just get this out of the way: A 5/5 minion for 3 is practically unheard of in Duelyst. On a stats-per-cost ratio, Chakkram’s base numbers are absurdly higher than any other creature for the cost. Chaos Elemental, the standard bearer for oversized 3-drop minions, is a whole -1/-1 less than Chakkram when cast on three. Heck, a 5/5 minion is still extremely solid for a four drop which should illustrate its power.
What’s more, and one of the aspects of Chakkram that I really like, is that unlike a lot of minions who can end up with above-the-curve attack and health—Chakri Avatar, Lightchaser, Vindicator, etc.—Chakkram is invulnerable to dispel. Once he’s down, your opponent isn’t going to wiggle out of a tight spot with a Siphon Energy or Ephemeral Shroud. No, they’re going to have to use removal or risk quickly losing control of their board or worse, their life total.
Perhaps what I love about Chakkram the most though are the mind games that his mere existence brings to the Duelyst. Still interested in getting those two points of damage in? Still want to drop that Bloodtear Alchemist turn 1? Having your opponent get a two mana discount on what is otherwise a vanilla creature isn’t the end of the world, but the decision to deal damage certainly demands more deliberation from here on out.
Ultimately, I’d be surprised if Chakkram came down super early in any particular game. I see him more as a 5-mana-turn play that allows you to play a two-drop as well, although as folks know that can still be backbreaking. Let’s not forget you can still play him for 5, which is a fairly inconsequential requirement late game.
I have a confession to make. When I first saw Blood Taura, I was unimpressed. Being at a low life total is never where you want to be in Duelyst, and you’re going to need to be at 10 health or lower to even cast the 12/12. That worries me in general, and my first impression was that this card would be extremely difficult to play efficiently without being in extreme danger of dying on the following turn.
Then I saw that it had Provoke. Holy Cow! That goes a long way toward preventing an otherwise likely OTK turn from the opponent.
Am I dead? Do you have an answer for Blood Taura? If the answer to both those questions is “no,” well look out because this ghostly red minotaur is going to crunch through your General’s health in 12-point increments. That’s half of your starting life total!
You can also somewhat “cheat” on Taura’s cost if you play your cards right. If you’re able to drop Taura, then follow up with an Emerald Rejuvenator, Earth Sphere or even a Healing Mystic, you’ve essentially slammed this huge monster into play for a giant discount that you didn’t really deserve. What’s more, you can use immediate sources of life gain to rocket even more out of imminent death, e.g. Shadow Sister Kelaino or Shadowdancer. Obviously none of these options completely remove the risk that Blood Taura entails, but I’m eager to see if the risk will be worth the ridiculously large potential reward.
As a final note, it’s creatures like this that explain Counterplay’s need to remove Vindicator’s previous ability to grant Rush. As much as I mourn my fallen Magmar comrade, I don’t think Duelyst could ever survive with the ability to send a 12/12 into someone’s face out of the blue.
We come to the legendary of the bunch. Before we get to the real discussion though, an aside: I really like the “gem” naming conventions of various Duelyst minions. Emerald Rejuvenator. Sapphire Seer. I’m not sure if Diamond Golem counts (since it’s a golem), but I’ll list it here too. I really wish I knew if there was some sort of thematic thread tying these cards all together, but needless to say I’m counting down the days to when I can make a jewelry-themed squad to battle with.
Ruby Rifter is one of those cards whose ceiling is extremely high. Unless you’re in imminent threat of dying, she almost certainly replaces herself the turn she comes into play (you know, when you attack with your General) which is always a good sign for the playability of any minion. Her stats aren’t anything to write home about, but they’re not so meager to immediately dismiss her and, honestly, we’re likely not running her for her muscle in the first place.
Because if she survives, look out! Any sort of meager attempt from the opponent to chip away at your life total is likely to result in some real nasty follow up turns by the Ruby Rifter player. I’ll also note here that he adds some interesting dynamics to cards like Shadowdancer, Four Winds Magi and other “pingy” minions.
I’m hyped for these cards in the Duelyst scene. Hopefully we’ll see some new archetypes emerge with other preexisting “general damage” cards such as Dreamgazer, Flameblood Warlock and Sworn Avenger seeing renewed play.