With PVE right on our doorstep and some finalized talent trees available for us to peruse, the FiveShards crew is here to give their initial impressions on our first tier of talents.
Keep in mind that no one without an NDA or a paycheck from HEX Entertainment has fully experienced PVE in this way before, so when we look back at this in a year there will almost certainly be some things we can point and laugh at ourselves for saying. Still, hopefully this can give you a guide for thinking about how to start spending your talent points as you explore the amazing deckbuilding and playing space we all will be going through.
Let’s dig in with the Mage!
AFFINITY: ELEMENTALS – 1 Talent Point – Elementals in your deck get “While this is in your hand, [(0)]: Transform this into a random action of the same shards.”
Wurtil: Random isn’t great, but the real drawback here is that the Elementals have to start in your deck – no creating Elementals and turning them into actions shenanigans. Might be next tier talents that improve this, but for now this talent is for people who want some wackiness in their Mage games. Grade (D-)
Tecnophi: Interesting theming talent. However, I think more often than not it is better to not use the optional ability and just play the elemental troop out.
UNLOCK: SPELL SPRITES – 1 Talent Point – Unlock 2 Spell Sprites, or 4 for 100+ cards in your deck. (1 cost Shardless Troop, Flight, When this troop enters play, draw a card and gain 2 SP.; 1 [ATK]/1[DEF])
Wurtil: See the bottom of the article for talk about baseline Talent/SP ratios, but Spell Sprites surpass being called a pure SP generating talent by giving a fantastic tool for both aggressive and control based mage decks even if you ignore the SP generation. Spell Sprites and Telekinesis are especially going to be best friends, giving low level mages a way to turn SP cheaply into pure card advantage by returning your own Sprites. Grade (B)
Tecnophi: Directly helps mages gain SP to use their class specific mechanic of spells. Cheap troop with flight and enter play effect makes it a good card to include. Likely hard to find a reason not to include this card if there is a spare talent point available to unlock this ability.
LEARN SPELL: SOOTHSAYING – Default – ACTIVE [(0)] [4SP]: Draw a card, then choose and discard a card.
Wurtil: Easy, built-in card filtering. Look to take advantage of this by playing situational 1-ofs that you now know you can turn into a different card, or by exploiting the free discard to turn things like Rise Again into amazing plays. Grade (A-)
Tecnophi: Being a default starting ability is part of the mage class identity. Using Spell Points to draw a card and discard a card allows the mage to have more options. Very rarely is it bad to have more options, but considering the other available Spells this one might will likely not be the primary spell in the gameplan.
REPLENISH SPELL POWER – Default – [BASIC] [(3 CHARGES)] Gain
3 to 5 [SP] at random.
Wurtil: Turn a charge into an average of 1.33 SP. You start with just Soothsaying and your Racial Spell, but SP will only become a more flexible resource as you grow and learn more spells. Mage’s are really going to like finding ways to gain more charges, of that much I am sure. Grade (A-)
Tecnophi: This looks like it is the primary way the mage gains Spell Points. Mages looking to maximum the amount of SP generated would be looking to include charge generating cards to their decks.
MENTAL SUPERIORITY – 1 Talent Point – Increase the minimum SP granted by Replenish Spell Power by 1.
Wurtil: Going to vary greatly depending upon your deck and dungeon. Aggressive and combo based decks might only get one use out of this against standard encounters before the game is over. Grindy control decks engaged in slobber knocker dungeon boss fights are going to be raking in the Spell Points, eSPecially if they can find ways to create more charges and activate Replenish Spell Power more often. Assuming that all this does is raise the SP floor for Replenish Spell Power it is going to require some specific decks to best utilize. Grade (C-)
Tecnophi: With this talent, a mage would then gain 4 or 5 Spell Point per Replenish Spell Power activation. This would ensure that at the very least with each activation allow a player to cast Soothsaying.
SPRY – 1 Talent Point – +2 Health, +1 SP
Wurtil: 2 Health on the otherwise fragile Mage is appreciated, but really this talent is mostly a gate node for wanting to be on the right side of the talent tree. That said, a flat 1 SP bonus is very good if you plan to build Mage decks that care about finishing the game quickly. Grade (C-)
Tecnophi: Decent bonuses. Not much else to say about it.
AFFINITY: MAGES – 1 Talent Point – Mages in your deck get “When this enters play, gain 1 SP.”
Wurtil: There are tons of great Mages, from Thunderfield Seer at common to Archmage Wrenlocke at Legendary. Many Mage talents revolve around playing more Actions, but Affinity: Mages is a strong reason to skew your deck towards playing a more troop-oriented Mage deck and backing them up with your Spells. That won’t be the standard way to build Mage decks, but as you can see in the math at the bottom of the page this talent has probably some of the highest potential for SP generation, so all it will take is one great Racial Spell or later tier spell and you can create some serious firepower just by playing troops. I foresee lots of Mage players picking up Affinity: Mages with a leftover Talent point from their builds, as while it will likely be on the lower end of power for your standard Mage deck it also opens up entirely new archetypes for you to build for just one point. Grade (B)
Tecnophi: I think this is better than the Spell Sprites due to how this talent allows for a lot more cards to have the enter in to play effect of gaining Spell Points. Not as good as gaining charges, but great if a deck is going to play some mages anyways.
LEARN SPELL: TELEKINESIS – 1 Talent Point – ACTIVE [(0)] [6SP]: Return target card to its controller’s hand.
Wurtil: An entirely new tactical option at your fingertips in every game. Except it is more than that, because you can easily abuse it in many ways, either by filling your deck with “Enters Play” troops and returning them to play again or by leaning hard on the Aggro-Control front alongside SP maximizing talents to reliably use this every game on turn 3. Grade (A+)
Tecnophi: Great spell, enables a mage to repeat an enter play effect dependent combo, and has the flexibility of bouncing an opposing troop swinging in for lethal.
LEARNING – 1 Talent Point – You begin the game with 0 to X SP at random, where X is the total number of spells you’ve learned.
Wurtil: I’m grading this in a “for now” sense. As HEX unlocks more tiers in the future (and presumably, more Spells), then Learning will get stronger and stronger. But right now, the main reason to take it will depend heavily upon whether you build a deck that relies heavily upon Telekinesis or your Racial Spell being used early and thus requires more early game SP generation. Grade (C)
Tecnophi: Compare to the other available talents, this one feels rather lackluster. I think this closer to the bottom of the list of talents to be considering, unless the mage specs has a handful of spells learned.
OPEN MIND – 2 Talent Points – PASSIVE: The first time you cast each spell each game, gain 2 SP.
Wurtil: Like Learning, Open Mind will likely be incredible as we unlock more and more spells. For right now though, even if you only plan on averaging 2 different spells per game this is one of the best SP generators per talent point you can get. Do remember that those SP only help you if you are actually using them afterwards, but for now Open Mind seems to be the go-to talent for helping your SP in control decks. Grade (B)
Tecnophi: Could be very useful in the right situations, hard to say without know what other spells are available and there cost. There might be a nice curve of spells out there to maximum this talent’s effect.
UNLOCK: KNOWLEDGE IS POWER – 2 Talent Points – Unlock 1 Knowledge is Power,
or 2 for 100+ cards in your deck. (1 cost Shardless Quick Action—Target action in your hand gets “When you play this, copy it.”)
Wurtil: In a vacuum, this is an expensive 2 Talent Points for a card that isn’t creating that much of an advantage outside of Mastery of Time power plays. Where Knowledge is Power shines is when you can build around recurring your new power action, which primarily from what we know means either Archmage Wrenlocke’s equipment, Escalation goodness, or the Coyotle routes like Cyclone Shaman, Stargazer’s equipment, and Dream Dance’s equipment. This is a talent you look at and realize you are going to be building your deck around it, so while you might sacrifice some flexibility there is no denying the power level here. Grade (B+)
Tecnophi: Not too sure how to rate this, as in a standard constructed 60 card deck a single copy of a card doesn’t make it something to rely on. I find it really hard to justify spending 2 talent points for this.
WORLDLY KNOWLEDGE – 1 Talent Point – PASSIVE: At the start of your turn, if you have four or more actions in your graveyard, void all actions in your graveyard and gain 2 SP.
Wurtil: Activating this twice doesn’t mean playing 8 actions in a game, it means playing 4 actions twice, which means that those seeking to abuse this with combo decks need to dig hard for how best to use it. It also is in conflict with some of the best ways to push Knowledge is Power, as voiding those actions can be a big negative that you might not want to do. I’m also not sure what decks can put 4 actions into the crypt 3 times or more and not have established control against all but the hardiest of dungeon bosses, so likely the best use of this talent is for those players wishing to skew into pure Action control decks. It really does pay off there though, so if you enjoy playing Action heavy then this talent is for you. Grade (C+)
Tecnophi: To make good use of this talent, a deck would need to have quite a good number of actions. This feels like a niche talent for very specialized action heavy decks.
SECRET KNOWLEDGE – 2 Talent Points – At the start of the game, a random card in the top five cards of your deck gets cost -2.
Wurtil: I’m assuming that this doesn’t hit shards for now. That being said, the worst case for this talent is that in the first five turns of the game you hit your shard drops and instead of having access to 15 total resources over those turns you have access to 17. Not a huge bump. On the other hand, if you get shard screwed then the cost -2 can be a huge life saver. Random is gonna random, as sometimes your first draw will be a 0-cost Cerulean Mirror Knight and other times you’ll get a barely cheaper Arcane Focus as the fifth card off the top, but with a moderate floor by always doing something positive in your game and a high ceiling of saving you from poor draws this talent certainly pulls its weight. Grade (B)
Tecnophi: This talent may not always give the right card you want the cost reduction, but if the game lasts past 5 turns the card will be drawn. This type of guarantee is much more reliable than the talents that grant access to cards. Very few downsides with this, I think mages will enjoy this talent.
SELF KNOWLEDGE – 2 Talent Points – +1 Starting and Max Hand Size
Wurtil: THIS IS IT! We might find out that this talent is overvalued, but what every TCG players dream when they hear about combining TCGs with MMO talent trees is to use some talent points to get an extra card. Your early game gets more consistent, your mulligans get less painful, and you get a natural card advantage buffer in attrition matches. Raid Leaders paid big money to do this in a small fraction of the PVE experience, all you have to pay is 2 Talent Points. Grade (A)
Tecnophi: This is a must have talent. Some players might think that going from 7 cards to 8 cards isn’t that big of a deal, but seasoned players know that it is a lot better than just an extra card. The amount of keepable hands and consistency would increase greatly leading to winning more games.
Wurtil’s SP Calculation Bonus Section!
|Turn 1||Turn 2||Turn 3||Turn 4||Turn 5||Turn 6||Turn 7||Turn 8||Turn 9||Turn 10||Turn 11||Turn 12|
|UNLOCK: SPELL SPRITES||0.44||0.56||0.6||0.68||0.72||0.82||0.86||0.92||1||1.08||1.14||1.22|
|AFFINITY: MAGES (4 Mages)||0.4||0.52||0.58||0.66||0.72||0.82||0.86||0.93||1.02||1.1||1.17||1.26|
|AFFINITY: MAGES (16 Mages)||0.91||2.08||2.32||2.64||2.88||3.28||3.44||3.72||4.08||4.4||4.68||5.04|
|AFFINITY: MAGES (32 Mages)||1||2.73||4.64||5.28||5.76||6.56||6.88||7.44||8.16||8.8||9.36||10.08|
|OPEN MIND [2 Talent Points!]||0||0||2||2||2||4||4||4||6||6||6||6|
|WORDLY KNOWLEDGE (16 Actions)||0||0||0||0.5||0.64||0.8||0.96||1.12||1.26||1.42||1.54||1.68|
|WORDLY KNOWLEDGE (32 Actions)||0||0||0||1.8||1.88||1.94||2.7||2.96||3.26||3.52||3.78||4.02|
You are on the play.
You play Spell Sprites as soon as you can. You don’t have recursion for them. You aren’t playing any additional draw to find them sooner (obviously this can skyrocket their SP generation but it is hard to put onto a table).
For Mental Superiority, you hit your shards each turn but don’t have additional charge generators.
Affinity: Mages is so deck specific that we have to create strange conditions to try and fit it in. For now, assume you can play the mage whenever you draw it at cost 1. I also have broken this talent into three sections – one with 4 mages for those decks that won’t run many, one with 16 mages to represent a deck that is balanced between Mage troops and actions, and one with 32 Mage troops that looks to eschew actions and focus on backing up their troops with Spells. Take these numbers with a HEAVY grain of salt, as what Mages you put into your deck will greatly change the calculations, but I wanted to show the potential here.
For Learning, I assume you have picked up Learn Spell: Telekinesis (because it is awesome and because why else would you have picked up Learning).
For Open Mind, I assume you can cast Soothsaying as soon as you activate your charge power the first time, Telekinesis as soon as you can activate it a second, and your racial spell upon activating it a third. If you have other SP generators or a cheaper Racial Spell then you can bump these numbers forward a bit.
For Worldly Knowledge, I assume you can play an Action a turn that is in your hand from turns 1-6, and then two actions a turn after that. I’ve broken out a 16 action deck and a focused 32 action deck to help show the differences. Like Affinity: Mages, your specific deck build will greatly influence the mileage you get here.