So you are a relatively new player, ready to spend some goblin gold acquiring cards. Of course, you are aware of the advantage of obtaining a good holding in one faction before moving to another, and you have purchased several booster decks in a chosen faction. But you are still very shy on rare cards, and are considering purchasing some rare cards outright (which can be done in the deck builder by clicking on a card, then choosing the buy option). How do you decide which you most want? The following is my take on the usefulness of the rare cards. Hopefully, other experienced players will share their opinions as well (I probably place more emphasis on minions than most).
pyrohydra -- top priority, one of fire faction's 2 best minions
ruby dragon -- top priority, fire faction's other best minion
cinderling -- moderate priority, very useful in almost any deck, does require care in play
primal flame -- moderate priority, often overlooked, but flexible and dangerous
meteor -- high priority, a spell capable of removing most top minions
catastrophe -- very low priority -- althogh the hallmark card of my best deck, it is very hard to design a deck that uses catastrophe well (my deck had 24 rare cards -- not something a beginner could do).
burning world -- low priority a nice combo with pyrohydras, but otherwise hard to use. In PVP your opponent is likely to have pyrohydras too.
inferno -- very low priority -- another card that is hard to use effectively. I have yet to succeed in building a deck that does so, although I have had one such deck played against me.
rage -- low priority. Rage is a card that seems like a winner, but I've had very limited positive results with it. Unlike the highly similar and very effective fireshroud spell, rage is too unpredictable and too sluggish. It rarely has a significant positive impact in my hands.
volcanic eruption -- low priority. A card with some uses, but rarely one to make a significant difference
heart of fire -- low priority. An occasional extra power point is rarely worth the space in my decks, but I don't use spells as often as most
siege cannon -- very low priority. too slow and too expensive to fire. May have occasional value when facing multiple barriers, but these situations are relatively few -- especially in PVP.
ancient oak -- moderately low priority. A nice card, but not the kind that makes or breaks a deck. I certainly use it when available, but I would not go out of my way to get it.
deepwood ash -- very high priority. Definitely one of the nicest forest cards, instrumental in many forest decks
forest dragon -- high priority. One of the less desirable dragons, but still amongst the best minions forest can offer.
living essence -- very high priority. To me, this card is the primary reason I would play forest. It is not overwhelmingly powerful, but it is dangerous in the correct combinations, and is most quintessentially forest of all cards.
nobbling elder -- very low priority. Not a bad card, but nothing spectacular (at least with the items currently available in the game). I don't see the contribution of this card worth the cost of a rare card.
tree of life -- low priority. A very usable card, but not game changing in any way. Not worth the price of a rare card.
absorb -- low priority. Again a card that is very usable, but not game changing. Worth using if you own it, not worth paying the price of a rare card to acquire.
life force -- low priority. Once more, a nice card, but not sufficiently significant to be worth paying a rare card price for.
re-emergence -- don't bother. Not really worth including in any deck as it is almost always better to have a new minion to use than to return used minions to your deck. It is extremely rare that PVP games last to the point where running out of cards is a significant issue. In any case, you do not need more than 2 of these cards -- you don't need to draw them early in the game, and you won't need to play more than 1 ever.
evolve -- high priority. A very useful card in many situations. I have won games by changing a magmasphere into an aquamancer. Not the type card that has an opponent shaking in fear, but definitely worth having. An almost must id you want to play a deck with ravagers (jungle).
heart of the forest -- low priority. It may be the mantra of the forest rare cards. Something very usable but not game changing and not worth a rare card price.
fey staff -- low priority. see tree of life, absorb, life force, et. al.
ancient turtle -- moderately low priority. Nice ability to draw an aura, but not strong enough to make much difference in a game. To really draw auras, the faerie enchantress (forest, uncommon) is a better choice.
dragonfish -- moderately high priority. A very powerful card, but you need to be prepared to cover it when blocked or the life loss is devastating.
sea dragon -- top priority. A good card with a very nice ability. Useful in most ocean decks.
triton assassin -- moderately low priority. A card that may sound better than it is in practice. It is too weak to effectively block most strength 4 creatures, and is slow defeating most strength 3 creatures. Definitely usable, but something like the razor shark (an ocean uncommon card with the same power point cost) is usually far more dangerous to your opponent.
sirens -- moderately high priority. Combat immunity is always nice, and the siren's ability to call enemy units to face it ensures it is in constant use. But it is easily blocked with a cheap unit or destroyed with a moderate strength spell.
triton aquamancers -- top priority. By far, the best card for its price in all of spellcraft. A card that can shape an entire game as the opponent tries to counter it -- or one that often decides a game if not countered. I do not build a deck without building in a plan for dealing with aquamancers! A card that is useful in almost every deck. And at cost 2, it complements other cards for tandem plays.
triton pearldivers -- low priority. A card that has occasional use, but one that is vulnerable and likely to be targeted as soon as it gets even marginally annoying.
crushing waves -- moderate priority. A very powerful spell that can change games. But it requires a fair amount of planning to be more help to you than to your opponent. A card that can be devastating, but one that can be unusable as well.
liquify -- high priority. A very useful spell against decks that depend upon creature special abilities. Very useful in many situations -- a card I employ in virtually every ocean deck I play.
fluidity -- very low priority. It sounds nice to be able to swap out your hand. But the fluidity card is not replaced, so your new hand is one card smaller. Since the one slot the fluidity card occupies could be the difference between even wanting to swap decks or not, I never find this card worth space in my deck. Players who are more inclined to play minion light hands may find the card helpful to fish for minions, but I prefer to just include more minions in my deck.
triton ritual -- very low priority. This card is useful if you play a lot of tritons, but it is highly specialized -- not something you should do until you already own a wide variety of cards.
rainbow pearl -- don't bother. a way to store power points from one turn to a later turn -- but if you have frequently power points to spare, you should be examining your deck construction. And if you simply want to use an occasional extra power point, the shimmer pearl (ocean) is more flexible , cheaper, and less exposed to enemy attack.
essence eater -- moderate priority. Not at all a bad card. 3 strength, magic immunity, and evasive are all worthwhile traits and would alone justify inclusion of the card. Its special is valuable, but hard to trigger when it matters. Thus, this card adds versitility to almost any deck, but it is hardly over-powering. Not the kind of card around which one forms a strategy.
shadow dragon -- moderately priority. A card that can be extremely annoying in the hands of a talented player. But it is not always easy (or even possible) to use this card effectively. Unless you can replicate a useful power, the card is a bit pricy (in power points) for what it accomplishes.
darkling assassin -- top priority. One of Underdark's premium cards. The quick trait, together with the special power make this card very formidable for both defensive and offensive use.
deepspawn -- top priority. At 3 powerpoints, this is an extremely threatening card (but be prepared to spend more power to grow it -- potentially lots of power)
primal ooze -- moderate priority. This is an excellent card to neutralize some of the most frustrating opposing cards in the game. But watch out as it also neutralizes card's negative effects -- and you cannot prevent this if your opponent plays such a card opposite.
dark fey -- low to moderate priority. Definitely a card worth having, and worth buying if your deck needs it as it is very helpful in a number of decks. But it is not overwhelming in itself. If you have access to the factions, undead tritons (swamp) and aqualid hunters (ocean) are more common cards with similar effects that are more easily applied.
tentacle from below -- low to moderate priority. I find tenticals from below to be very nice cards -- a special effect that can really crush certain opposing strategies, and 2/2 stats with evasive trait is useful as well for a two power point cost. But, for a rare card, this one does not pack that much punch.
darkling schemer -- low to moderate priority. The card can be very useful, but only really matters in a very small number of decks. I suggesting buying it only if you have a particular use in mind -- otherwise you could get far more impactful cards.
darkling slavers -- low to moderate priority. The card can help round out many decks. It is one of those cards that keeps an opponent under control by threatening theft of any card that gets too strong. But I actually find the threat more powerful than the card itself.
delusion -- low priority. Usually I would prefer a permanent counter from my own deck than a temporary copy of my opponent. This might be personal preference. Consider combining delusion with aetherfish (air) to make the copy permanent.
mind transfer -- low priority. Not necessarily a bad card, but if I need a card to play, I would rather it was something I picked to work with my deck, not something my opponent picked to work with theirs. And if my primary purpose is simply to deprive my opponent of cards, the swamp cards miasma and screaming skulls can accomplish the came thing, are less rare, and require fewer power points to play.
essence exchange -- low priority. There are simply not that many essences at present that are worth stealing. Those that are worth stealing are mainly forest faction which is rarely played in PVP
bone dragon -- top priority. Swamp's marquis card and one of the hardest to stop.
ancient ghost -- high priority. A very good card, with lots of threat potential in addition to is defensive ability.
eternal knight -- low priority. A very nice card, but very similar (and usually inferior) to swamp's undead giant, a less rare card.
vampire consort -- low priority. Another nice card, but not one that is needed. I would takeboth undead giant and eternal knight first, although the vampire's evasive ability makes it competative. Do not expect its special power to be evoked often.
stitched golem -- moderate to high priority. Stitched golem can have a dominating presence, but it requires a little bit of development of your discard pile. It is quite difficult to build suitable discards for three or four strong stitched golems, but discarding one (or having it die) messes up the quality of your discards. Thus you will probably not need more than two in a given deck -- especially since you don't need to draw one until you develop the discard pile. If you have limited card holdings, be aware that building a good discard pile (to get good stats for the golem) requires careful card selection -- and you may not have all the necessary supporting cards, either.
bloof vapour -- you decide! A high risk card. Most opponents will simply kill it quickly (usually to their advantage). If it grows a couple of rounds, it becomes very formidable, but most players will have a plan for that contingency (unless they cannot eliminate it quickly). In those cases, you may take life damage without much compensation. I have not seen it used enough to evaluate its full potential.
necropolis --low priority. A card that certainly feels formidable as it can easily reach strengths of 15 or more. But as a barrier, there is nothing it can really do with that strength except to block a lane -- not something easily exploited. And it is still vulnerable to spells. At 3 power to deploy, it is not really that good at the primary function of a barrier -- temporarily blocking paths at very low cost. Don't be fooled by AI decks where it can be a real pain -- those decks generally "cheat" in some way -- either through a supportive power card (like mausaleum) or by having more than the 4 copies allowed a human player.
bodyswap -- high priority. This card is extremely dangerous -- especially in combo with cards like ancient ghosts with evasive characteristic, or with cost 1 and 0 minions that can be played before bodyswap but in the same turn.
festerplague -- priority varies. This card, to be valuable, requires a deck designed around it (usually with air faction's timer influencing cards). Dut there are several possibilities for such design, and they are not hard to pull off. Buy it only if you want a timer deck, not for general use.
blood orb -- moderate priority. Blood orb often appears in high quantity in decks with lots of kobos -- cheap minions that channel the orbs, and then become sacrifice material for the orb. But blood orb is valuable in almost any deck. How many times do you either cover a minion or have one facing certain destruction -- say by having to attack a stronger minion? One or two orbs allows you to gain something for inevitably lost cards.
heart of darkness -- very low priority. The powerpoints gained are generally not that frequent or useful -- especially since they are often earned during the attack phase, and are not available until after cards have become exhausted.
dark secrets -- low priority. An interesting card. But its contribution to most decks will be far less than a bone dragon or an ancient ghost.
Air: Note: I do not recommend investing in air except as a secondary faction until you have extensive card holdings. Air decks can be very competative, but they require specialization (lots of specific cards that would rarely be used elsewhere) and usually a lot of tweaking. I have seen effective air decks revolve around sky hydra, archmage, and time eater / uncontinue. I have seen semi-effective air decks revolve aroung crushing waves (ocean) and tornado. And, unless I mis-remember, that's it. I have seen other air cards instrumental in numerous decks where air is a secondary faction.
cloud dragon -- moderately high priority. The magic immunity has many uses, and no other magic immune craeture has this kind of health. Coupled with its ability to use a zero cost power instead of attacking, the cloud dragon tends to last a long time -- even when opposed by a strength 4 minion. But the card is not strong enough to work as a strategy focus.
sky hydra -- moderately high priority. A very dangerous card, but sky hydra is vulnerable when first played, and can be hard to grow without losing too much tempo.
time eater -- moderate priority. This card sounds more powerful than it really is. The special can be exceptionally nice in the right combos, but it is hard to invoke -- an opponent will work very hard to keep it blocked, and it is not strong enought to remove many of those blocks on its own. Thus it is prone to not upholding its part in combos with festerplague (swamp) or chronomancer (air).
aerovore -- moderate priority. With its 3/6 stats, the aerovore is definitely tempting as air faction's "biggest" minion. But this is really a trap -- the aerovore does not match up against other factions strength 4 minions and has no way of removing such or really even aiding the removal of such. Moreover, its special power is more likely to affect you than your opponent, so it is best used with cards (like air pressure) whose timer you want to exhaust. It's not a bad card, but it's not a major threat either.
archmage -- moderately high priority. This is a very potent card, but it requires a deck with lots of cheap spells to acheive its potential. But the cheap spells reduce the available cards for other threats. It is a delicate balance between starving the deck of things like minions and neglecting the ability to invoke the power of the archmage. And without this power, the card is not worth much.
temporal -- moderately low priority. The opponent will likely target this card if possible. And it's really a paper tiger -- something that looks more threatening than it is. With a 6 timer, it is not a good attack card. And with 2 health it isn't a good defense card. Mainly it's simply a curiosity with occasional, but rare, impact. Not really worth specifically purchasing when gold is still scarce.
chronomancer -- moderately high priority. Very respectable for a two power point card. At least your opponent will feel oblidged to deal with it, and chronomancers are a basis for numerous of air's combos.
arcane thief -- don't bother. How often will a good opponent leave substantial power points unused? Probably only when power points are not an issue (for either player). I much prefer the special of the otherwise identical cloud fey (a common card). This one is not worth a big investment.
spell leach -- low priority. an interesting card, of value mainly because it distracts the opponent, inhibiting possible courses of action. Since the spell leach's growth is entirely under your opponent's control do not expect it to ever become formidable. Certainly a usable card, but not one I would buy.
blown away -- moderately low priority. Cost 0 and 1 minions, if your opponent has any, are almost always easily dealt with -- you don't need to waste a card slot for them. But wait a second -- blown away affects all cards (including items, auras, and traps). There are certainly a number of decks where this is invaluable -- and one card deals with all. I don't know that it's worth buying, but there are circumstances where it is very useful to have to play (try using this vs. the mausaleum power card for instance, or to protect magic immune decks from null wands).
tornado -- moderately low priority. Not a good clearance card because it requires a round to take effect, and it merely returns cards to an opponent's hand. But, with a little searching, it can be used in many combinations. I like playing cloud fey in tornado lanes -- the fey gives me one health, it does a quick attack to do one damage to my opponent, then returns to my hand so I can repeat the action next round. Using tornadoes effectively does require a carefully constructed deck.
null wand -- moderately high priority. You don't necessarily need four null wands, but a couple are very handy. With one in play, neither combat nor magic immunity is an issue. Only liquify is a nicer solution to immunity.
giant constrictor -- top priority. Probably jungle's best card -- especially when combined with stranglevines. In fact, this combo alone makes a jungle deck very formidable.
jungle dragon -- moderate priority. Any strength 4 card is a valuable threat, but this is a very weak one. Its special is virtually worthless as it only removes creatures that could be defeated by simply attacking (rather than expending power points to invoke the special). And the jungle dragon has less health than an underdark worm.
ravager -- don't bother. The ravager almost always does more harm to you than to your opponent. You certainly don't want more than one in play at any single time -- unless you can use the forest spell evolve to remove it's disadvantage.
dactyl -- moderately low priority. Invoking a dactyl special is an expensive way to remove an enemy minion. But it is an option in desperate circumstances. Unlike the jungle dragon special, this one could come into play.
savage shaman -- ? priority -- I haven't played with this one enough to have a solid recommendation. It seems weak, but, like blood orb, it does make good use of foredoomed units.
law of the jungle -- very low priority. This card is very slow, and you are vulnerable to it just as your opponent. It lacks the impact for me to actually want to buy it.
mortal wound -- A nice card to finish off an opponent. And very dangerous in large quantities. But it is a bit expensive for me to expect several in play by the time i need them.
cursed idol -- low priority. Invoking the idol is largely under my opponent's control. And at cost 3, it is hard to justify the powerpoints. If I wish to keep enemies out of lanes, I would much prefer fire faction's lavapult. However, I have not thoroughly investigated possible combinations with this card (e.g. sirens and tide caller)
jungle juice -- very low priority. Consider that it takes two rounds and two cards out of my deck simply to recoup the power I invested in playing the card and you can understand why I'm not fond of it.
sacrificial blade -- very low priority. Generally the power I get from sacrificing a card is less than the power to play the card, hardly what I consider a useful move.
lost spellstone -- very low priority. This is probably a matter of taste, but I don't like the randomness. If there is really a spell I want, I'll take that spell. I certainly cannot count on lost spellstone to give me some particular spell!
essence jar --priority depends. This is a very useful trap -- but only when auras are being played. Presently, that doesn't happen all that often, but depending on the propensities of my opponent, it might be helpful. If nothing else, at cost 0, the trap can trigger the savage trapper special, and it can plug lanes where I do not want stranglevines to move. Probably not worth buying, but you decide.
Once again, an exceptional piece.
A very good article indeed. Very useful for so many players.
You may like to know that several of the *weaker* cards mentioned will be getting a slight improvement in the next update, so reading your analysis was very nice and confirms our suspicions.
(Incidentally, these changes will not bring any alteration in function, as this would just confuse and irritate players, but might make them cheaper or get the odd +1 here or there).
Unfortunately I can't give a release date for this, which probably annoys me more than anyone.
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