Spellcraft’s 10 Worst Cards
I’m sure players have differing opinions on this, but I wish to present a list of my 10 least favorite cards.
Note that the list is dominated by overpowered and conditionally overpowered cards. An underpowered card is simply never used; an overpowered card ruins game after game after game because, well, who doesn’t want a powerful card?
1. (by a wide margin) Triton Aquamancer. Problems with the aquamancer are
A. Its power is overwhelming. I believe, in a typical round, players deploy an average of about 3 health to the board (see the post “Models as Useful Spellcraft Tools in the strategy esays [sic] thread for the basis of this). One use of the aquamancer power, at no cost to the card’s owner, increases the health he deploys per round by 33% while decreasing his opponents per turn health by 33%. But with cards like overworld elixir and energize, let alone with multiple aquamancers, it is easy to implement the power 3 or more times a round. Even worse, the damage is not random, but always hits where it hurts the most. And the power cannot be temporarily shut down. Even a 10/10 stat minion can be shut down by throwing cheap junk in its path. An aquamancer power can essentially be shut down only by having no minions on the board.
B. An aquamancer quickly becomes virtually industructable. True, there are a reasonable number of cards that can destroy an aquamancer when it is first deployed, but by the time it reaches health 3, it becomes virtually industructable. And this occurs anywhere from 0 to 2 turns after the aquamancer is played. Thus, not only must a player take enough cards that immediately kill an aquamancer to have such a card in hand at all times, one must also hope the opponent playing the aquamancer does not have energize, overworld elixir, barkskin, life force, fey spirit, or other cards that immediately give the aquamancer its nearly invincible health level.
C. An aquamancer is ridiculously cheap. At cost 2, it is not even the primary card played in a round. And even if it can be destroyed, the card(s) required to do so are almost always more costly than the aquamancer itself
Nothing hijacks a game to extent a single aquamancer does. I have seen 1000+ rated players ignore a deepsea thing to hunt down a lowly aquamancer. I once played a “copycat” deck against an aquamancer/energize deck. My opponent had an established aquamancer and 2 overworld elixirs in play. I had an established shadow dragon (copying the aquamancer power) and two stolen overworld elixirs in play. We both spent the entire game powering aquamancers with overworld elixirs and discarding dragons because keeping the aquamancers powered was more important!
2. Fire Prism. No, I don’t think a prism is truly overpowered. But with the correct draw, it is overpowering. And, once the right set up is established, a fire prism is totally unstoppable. Since I find getting the right set up established to be more a matter of the draw than the player’s strategy (at least with good players – poorly played prism decks are usually easily defeated), fire prism, more than any other card, reduces the game to dumb luck.
3. Primal Flame. With a power similar to an aquamancer’s, it is little surprise that I don’t like primal flame either. But at least the flames are limited to three applications (unless their health can be bolstered) and a cost of 3 power to deploy is more reasonable. Of course, the magic immunity adds a level of difficulty dealing with the flames.
4. Calm Seas. This is too much a hit or miss card: totally worthless (or detrimental since it inhibits your use of auras) if an opponent does not use auras, absolutely devastating against decks relying upon multiple copies of an aura (like pack attack or dreadmarsh plague). Again, the game is reduced from logic to luck. Overall, the card is absolutely well balanced, but it rarely is balanced in a particular game.
5. Stranglevines. Stranglevines can pretty quickly reduce formidable forces into quivering weaklings, and in that sense, are overpowered. The power does have limitations (timer, randomness, inability to affect barriers, inability to affect lanes already containing objects) and is actually strategically interesting. It can be countered (say, by strategies not relying on strength), or it can be outlasted. But I think the card does have an imbalancing effect and would be better at either a higher cost or with a shorter timer.
6. Ashes. I place this card at the top of the set of underpowered cards because, except for the fact that it is almost unusable, I like the card’s flavor and strategic concept. And I know this card has been already found underpowered and modified. Unfortunately, I think the modification made the card even less desirable. The problem with the card is first that its primary power (eliminating an opponent’s discard pile) is only useful against decks that use the discard pile – either to fuel creatures like undead giants and silver hawks, or to retrieve previously used cards. And, second, the problem is that, even when useful, the card just doesn’t have much impact – undead giants are formidable with or without a discard pile. And if cards are balanced when used once, they are balanced when used twice. I honestly would rarely choose to spend 2 power to destroy an enemy’s discard pile if I could do it at will – let alone using a precious card to do so. The side effect of doing one damage to an opponent is rarely worth the two power either and feels like the artificial add-on that I think it was. Were it not for the possible interaction with fire-prism through a combo with heart of fire, I would love to see this card without the life drain at cost 0 + draw a new card. And frankly, I value the diversity, feel, and potential of this card far more than either fire prism or heart of fire – I just wish it was adjusted appropriately. Another alternative is to make ashes an aura with an ongoing effect of destroying cards rather than sending them to discard (it would then disrupt discard-rebirth strategies as well – although it’s not that these strategies were ever that great). A third alternative (which works with any card that is very situation specific) is to give the card the power, “discard to draw a new card.”
7. Feral Elemental. As designed, a feral elemental is simply a vastly inferior version of a ruby hatchling. Even if the elemental’s special power cost nothing, I’m not sure I would every want one in place of a hatchling. And if I’m playing a deck where I really want quick cards, my second faction is likely to have more appealing options.
8. Spell Leech. A potentially valuable “balancer”, the spell leech fails because it is just too vulnerable. The idea of a card to deter spell use (and spell leech has the perfect feel for this) is wonderful – but it needs enough lasting-power to matter. I would like to see it start at 0/4 stats (or at 1/3 for higher cost).
9. Lava Giant/ Cloud Dragon (choose either). Except for faction, the Cloud Dragon’s magic immunity, and the cost (due, I’m sure to the magic immunity), these are the same card! I want more variety.
10. All the cost 0 and cost 1 jungle minions that didn’t make “the cut” into the game. For versatility, I think every faction needs a very low cost minion of some sort.
Very interesting post!
I wholeheartedly agree with most of your observations, especially about the Aquamancer.
My opinion only really differs regarding the Primeval Flame - with only 3 uses, I don't find it overpowered, especially against high health or health-restoring decks.
I actually find Primeval Ooze to be one of the most over-powered cards. When I play, the reason I include many cards in a deck is for their special abilities, rather than their attack or health (e.g. Ancient Ghost, Living Essence, Deepspawn). When a single cost 3 card can strip them of their powers, including their immunities, it sabotages many of my strategies.
Usually I would simply block such a card or play a higher strength minion against it, but being elusive, this does not work. Hence, the Ooze can negate several of my cards before being destroyed, while diverting my resources from other cards the opponent can play.
Perhaps this is simply due to not knowing the most effective way to deal with Oozes, but I tend to find them vastly more overpowered than Primeval Flames, or Stranglevines, for instance.
Interested to see what cards other players find the worst.
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