Many of you will have already begun listening to JadiimJedi and Wurtil’s set review on the 2 Turns Ahead podcast, but I thought it would be worthwhile to provide an additional perspective in easily referenced format. I covered the commons and uncommons here and today I’ll move on to the rares and legendaries. These tend to be cards that have significant and/or sweeping effects in your games or alternatively are so narrow in their design that their rarity ensures scarcity in the limited format. Some cards may prove over or under-rated here as the draft meta evolves, but this early look should give you a strong starting point for evaluating card utility.
We’ll be using a letter grade scale that should be familiar to many of you:
A: These are the game-winning bombs. Drafting an A will provide strong incentive to switch shards early on or add it as a powerful splash card.
B: Powerful and/or very efficient cards. Cards in this range will pull you towards that shard and either form the core of your winning strategy or serve as answers to a wide variety of threats. These are often very first-pickable.
C: Cards in this range are the rank and file of our deck. They are decent troops and reasonable actions and most limited-playable cards in any set should hover around this grade.
D: D stands for “Don’t play these unless you have a good reason or are desperate.” They’re playable if you need them to fill out your curve. Often they are under-powered for their cost or have situational effects that won’t generally be useful to you.
F: Don’t play these cards in limited.
R: Cards in this category are primarily reserves cards. You won’t be including them in your starting 40, but can pull them out when appropriate to answer specific threats after game 1. In gauntlet, it’s unlikely you’ll run these cards.
Cards are given a grade based on their value to the average deck. Some cards are much more useful in a particular archetype such as spiders or health-gain. Such cards will have another grade which you should refer to if you are drafting that archetype.
Brood Count B+
Let’s be clear, the Brood Count is an impressive troop. Attacking with him generally guarantees you a 2-for-1, usually with some eggs on top. The issue is with his defense; even two measly 3-drops can combine to take him down. For best results try to clear a path for him or shift swiftstrike or flight onto him if you have those options available to you.
Closed Coffins R
Closed Coffins is designed for constructed play and has little use in limited. Occasionally, however, you’ll find someone who was able to draft 7 Woolvir Baashers and you’ll be able to foil his plans in a big way. The average limited deck simply does not have enough identical troops to make Closed Coffins worth your while.
Worst case scenario for Facetaker is a 3/1 troop for 2 resources which can do some work early in the game. As troops start filling your crypt, he will become increasingly useful as he copies them before sending them to their final resting place. Note that copies will include all buffs on those dead troops, unlike a replica (hello, Trufflehead!)
Gallows Ghasts A
The first in a very impressive cycle of major and minor socketed troops at rare, Gallows Ghasts features the same flexibility and impact as its brethren. His strength lies in how big he will ultimately be when he comes into play. You can use the major socket to nullify your opponent’s largest troop, or simply do an obscene amount of damage directly to his or her face. Pair that with lifegain, swiftstrike or spellshield and you have a game-swinging monster at your disposal.
Gemborn Prowler B
Prowler is on the hunt for gems and to his delight (and yours), this format is rife with them for him to harvest. There are 11 socketed cards in Primal Dawn alone and an additional 7 in Armies of Myth. Having a likely 2-for-1 on top of a solid body means Gemborn Prowler should be a welcome addition to your deck.
Grim Justice B-
More at home in constructed than limited, Grim Justice still offers up undeniable value. Excellent against Blood/Ruby aggro and reasonably good against every other archetype, the ability to bring back our own troop (hello again, Trufflehead!) is a significant bonus. Use with Kagulichu for maximum value.
Madness of the Mountain God B
Body above the curve? Check. Empower? Check. Relevant ability for its archetype? Check. Temper your expectations with regards to its ability as by the time he comes out, our opponent may be only minimally impacted. That aside, do not hesitate to have Madness lead the charge in your aggressive Blood/Ruby deck.
Necropolis Blackguard D
Necropolis Blackguard will be one of the cards most susceptible to one of the perils of card evaluation called Best-Case Scenario Mentality. Yes, there may be games where you shift his ability onto a Cloudspeaker and he will win you the game. Typically however, you will be forced take 1-2 damage per turn and there will be games where your desired target is removed and the Blackguard will quickly kill you. His payoff isn’t worth the risk his ability entails.
Sadly, this charming lady is all looks and no substance. Play her as a 3/5 flight troop with a tiny upside and you’ll get what you expect. If the game goes long you may find an opportunity to enthrall some troops, but consider that if she hasn’t killed your opponent already, it’s unlikely she’ll be able to attack profitably to activate her powers.
Like Closed Coffins, limited is not the format for Subterfuge. Its strength lies in disrupting your opponent’s plan by turning synergistic cards into non-synergistic ones. With the hodge-podge of cards we typically end up with in limited, Subterfuge will normally have little effect on your opponent’s plan. If you need to deal with a bomb before it enters play, consider bringing it in from the reserves.
If I had to describe Shin’gami in one word, it would be “awkward.” In order to get the full payoff from him, we need to have a crypt stocked with some decent troops, be able to force a point of damage through on the ground and also have triple blood threshold. It will be a rare game that all of these come to pass. Don’t discount his base stats, however.
Ah, Tezozo. The answer to the question “How do we give aggro decks a premium troop that is dominating early and late in the game?” Rage 2 is ridiculous on this fellow, allowing him to instantly become the biggest threat on the board. Every time he returns, he cuts a larger swath through his opposition. His only weakness is as a top-deck late in a game when his triggered ability isn’t in play yet.
Xentoth’s Malice F (C in spiders)
For those of you familiar with the Quadrant Theory of evaluating cards, you’ll see that Xentoth’s Malice is either mediocre or bad in every situation other than when we are at parity with our opponent. Fairly useless when we’re winning or losing as well as on curve, Malice’s power comes when we have the time and resources to get the card advantage it can offer. If your spiders deck is very defensive and needs inevitability, Xentoth’s Malice can provide it.
Cosmic Shaman A
Doing his best impression of whatever dragon you want him to be, Cosmic Shaman not only hits the board hard the turn he comes into play, he has his fellow troops do it twice more (or alternatively once more, twice as effectively.) His single threshold makes him playable in any deck and with any combination of gems you can dream up. Lifedrain and flight? Nullify a troop and swiftstrike? Direct damage and +1/+1? Building your own dragon has never been easier. This should never be in a reserve in any deck with the fixing available in the format.
Danse Macabre B
Danse is a powerful effect in a shard already strong with effects that buff fliers. The steep setup cost of triple Diamond threshold and a crypt stocked with troops keep this from being too dominant, however. The ideal Danse Macabre deck will be able to deal with that setup cost while being able to buff the phantoms when they arrive.
Exemplar of the Awakened D (B necrotic)
An archetype-enabler for the necrotic, playing Exemplar properly gives your opponent a lose/lose situation. Either they use valuable removal on him and then have to face a larger opposing force or they don’t deal with him and he grows out of control. Consider delaying playing him until you have at least 2-3 necrotic on the field to get full value.
Flashpaw Howler C+
A 3/3 quick troop for 4 resources merits a C+ rating and that’s about where the Howler falls in this format. Constructed players should be able to create some wonderful shenanigans with his ability there’s nothing too exciting happening in limited.
Grace of Tiaanost B
Actions that buff troops are often over-valued but Grace of Tiaanost has a key feature going for it in that second line of text. Any troop coming back into play after being killed is a boon for you; troops with enter-the-board effects are a giant headache for your opponent. Take care not to get blown out by timely removal when you play it.
Grievous Phantom B
Another card that is over-costed for its base stats but offers a powerful effect in the right situation. Look to the Armies of Myth packs for additional sources of phantoms such as Spiritbound Spy and Ethereal Caller to complement Primal Dawn’s Midnight Spiritualist and Force of the Tomb. Note that the phantoms are not reverted; buffs will carry though the transformation. Aim for at least 5 sources of phantoms in your deck before putting this expensive finisher in.
High Infinitrix A
The key factors we look for when evaluating troops are power, flexibility and playability. High Infinitrix meets all of these standards and goes a step further by playing very nicely with her fellow necrotic. Not only can she distribute relevant buffs and abilities to everyone on her team, she can do it all over again when another necrotic arrives while simultaneously shaking off any non-permanent removal. If you missed out on picking up a Vampire King in Shards of Fate, don’t miss out on Primal Dawn’s version of it.
Radiant Physician D+ (B+ in constants)
Feeling down because your Chants aren’t quite getting the job done? The doctor is in and he has the cure for your blues. A key piece to the Chant archetype, the Physician can help you overwhelm your opponent in short order. Note the double threshold required but don’t be too concerned if you can’t get him down on turn 2.
Rally of Kings B+
The ‘rally’ effect finds it genesis with Rally of Kings. Not only do we get a solid buff for 3 resources, we get the flexibility of a superbuff for 6. I’ve shown my love for universal pump actions with Cry of Gawaine and I love the constant version of it even more.
Soul Slaver C (A- in health-gain)
A 2/2 steadfast for 2 resources is certainly playable but with even a handful of health-gain effects Soul Slaver can be a dominant force. Troop producers like the Slaver are always dangerous and he doesn’t ask much of us to get the ball rolling.
Starlight Pathfinder C (B- in coyotle)
Cards that can generate card advantage are welcome in our deck and the Pathfinder has its own uniquely digital take on it. He’s a decent body in any Diamond deck and truly shines in a deck with multiple prophecy effects. Hit it with an Earthcaller for maximum opponent rage.
Totem of Lanupaw B-
An aggressive 1-drop that can beat down early and offer buffs later in the game is a strong package. He won’t always give your troops the ideal buffs but he can be a reasonable resource sink as you head into topdeck mode.
William Rowan A
So let me get this straight: I not only get an above curve body on a 2-drop, I will ultimately get a 5/5 steadfast, swiftstrike great wolf that buffs my 2-drop? And the more I attack, the faster I get the big body? And if William re-enters play, I get another great wolf? I will never get tired of playing with this card. He may struggle when he doesn’t get down early but given a source of evasion like Airvolution or Shadestalker, Rowan will soon make her appearance.
Beguiling Temptress C+
Like Succubus, the Temptress wishes to convince our opponent’s troops to do her bidding. She can also partner with one of your larger troops to attract correspondingly larger opposing troops over to your side. My concern with her is that she’s not particularly useful out of the box; she needs more powerful allies to be useful. Then once her ally has the ability, it can no longer attack or block effectively. That said, she can be a nasty surprise to an opponent who is not expecting one of his or her troops to be stolen before the next combat step.
Cards that can sweep the board clean (no, not you Broom Bot) can have a huge effect on your games. While the effect is symmetrical, only you know that it is coming, allowing you to catch your opponent overextending. Electrofry gives us the flexibility to target smaller troops like spiders and phantoms or later to reset the board completely, clearing the way for your big troops in future turns. While this is the most devastating Ruby card in the format, there are some troops big enough to survive it.
Flamespitter D+ (B in actions)
A departure from the aggressive orcs we’re used to seeing, Flamespitter has her fiery pets do the fighting for her. Getting a permanent bonus from every action we cast is significant, allowing us to swing in with a constant stream of 3-attack troops and fill our crypt for spells like Festering Decay or Danse Macabre. Without the actions to back her up however, she won’t make your final 40.
Hulking Smasher B-
Smasher may not excite the crowd when he hits the field but he offers great value in conjunction with spells such as Cleave and Electrofry. Even a simple Scorch can set this beefy gladiator into a frenzy. Your opponent will be loath to block; look for opportunities to blow them out by removing one of the troops they multi-block him with in an attempt to remove him.
Maestro of Alacrity B
In a reasonably aggressive deck, the Maestro will keep your opponent on their back foot as he can almost always get in for 3 damage on turn 4 and he threatens speedy big troops every turn after that. Team him up with some of the beefy dudes in the format like Crocosaur and Sandstone Rumbler for best effect.
Obsidian Cyclops B+
Ruby’s representative in the major/minor socket cycle is this raging monocular elemental. He shares the same single threshold requirement as his brethren, making him easy to play with whichever gem options you like. Ruby has always favored its own direct damage and evasion gems but the plethora of shard fixing in this format allows you to build him as you see fit. His flexible resource cost also allows you to deploy him when you feel the time is right.
Savvas’ Evocation D
Another of the digital innovations Primal Dawn has to offer, Savvas’ Evocation unfortunately acts more as a proof of concept than an effective play. In its original form we get a slightly upgraded Skarnbreath. Alternatively we may have access to a speedy 4-attack flier or a fairly useless mana accelerator. The first two forms aren’t necessarily bad but when you can’t count on it being the card you need when you need it, there are better options to fill the slot.
Stingshot Sniper B+
One of Ruby’s traditional weaknesses is its lack of effective flight troops. Stingshot Sniper not only gives us a fairly costed, empower flight troop, it tacks on some significant damage each time it attacks. If you can keep the skies clear for him, he can take out bothersome ground troops or simply accelerate your opponent’s demise. Consider holding a Combat Training or Seeing Red for the Sniper for maximum carnage.
Titan of Voktar D
Do you have that one friend who insists on making grand entrances after everyone else is already at the party? Titan of Voktar is that friend. His board presence and triggered ability are certainly intimidating but he just won’t be ready to rumble when you need him to be due to his 8 resource cost and quadruple threshold requirement. Put him aside for your kitchen table decks.
Visage of the Masquerade C (B in elves and aggro)
Visage has some definite combo potential in constructed but for limited we need to focus on how much value we can expect to get from his ability. The average deck might be able to get 2-3 activations but Visage can really shine in an elf deck designed to take full advantage of its 5+ resource cards. Bringing him in on turn 4 and letting him multiply on turns 5+ is likely more than your opponent will be able to handle. He’s also right at home in an aggro deck, swinging in on turn 2.
Voice of the Ashwood B
An early Voice can spell doom for an opponent if unanswered. If you can back him up with some removal or give him evasion, he is fully capable of letting you overwhelm your opponent within 2-3 turns due to his rage-powered resource generation. Like William Rowan, he needs help later in the game to be effective but his potential power cannot be discounted.
Zakiir’s Frenzy B-
5-resource do-nothing constants: the bane of my existence. As far as they go, Zakiir’s Frenzy is fairly compelling. Truly terrible if we’ve fallen behind an aggressive opponent, it can be a source of inevitability in games where we have the time to reap its benefits (literally, if we have Blood threshold.) Frenzy is unlikely to be of any use in an aggro deck but it will prove invaluable in a more controlling one.
Zygmunt’s Game D
Any card that has “destroy a troop” on it for 1 resource bears our attention. Even adding “random” is OK, but when it starts targeting our own stuff, we need to question its viability in a format based on troop presence. Best designed for situations where we’re highly likely to hit an opponent’s card, Zygmunt’s Game will be very difficult to use effectively in this format.
Cyclone Shaper B
Cyclone Shaper can find a home in any Sapphire deck but is a priority target for any action-heavy list or one that has some key expensive or empower actions. If you have a number of actions that draw cards or otherwise fuel your plan, this is the coyotle you want to see.
Flashpaw Elder B-
When the worst case scenario for your troop is a 5/5 flight for 6 resources, you’re in a fine spot. Throw in the ability to pop into play unexpectedly and give that ability to your next non-quick troop and you should feel good having the Elder in any of your Sapphire decks.
Forbidden Tomeseeker B+
Most at home in controlling decks that can draw out the game, Forbidden Tomeseeker grows relentlessly and when the time is right can shift its power to the troop that can best utilize it. With even a small amount of card draw in your deck, The Tomeseeker can grow out of control in short order.
Frenetic Doppelganger D
A doppelganger that copied the best troop on the board would be worth playing; one that has an identity crisis every turn and randomly picks one isn’t worth dedicating resources to. Too unreliable if you’re looking for consistency and power.
Mad Robomancer B+
The next entry on our build-your-own-bomb list is this narcissistic dwarf. Featuring single threshold and major/minor sockets, the Robomancer can also replicate itself whenever you cast an action. It doesn’t take many activations of a self-replicating troop to flood the board and overrun your hapless opponent. When each of those troops also comes with two gems that can impact the board when they enter play, you have the recipe for a suffocating force of angry dwarves.
Moonsong Oracle B+
A skill-testing card with stats we can’t ignore, Moonsong Oracle demands good timing on our part. If played too soon we lose tempo; if played too late we lose utility. If you need to dig for answers to specific threats, the Oracle offers significant value.
Poet of Gla’aki D+
I can’t deny the card advantage the Poet offers once he’s in play; he even plays well with Kin of Olkoth and Oculus of Azathoth. When it comes down to it though, 7 resources and triple Sapphire threshold demand a bigger effect on the board than the Poet can provide.
Starcaller Ancient D (B+ in coyotle)
Starcaller Ancient has generated a lot of hype for constructed, and for good reason. The card advantage it can provide in a deck filled with prophecy effects is formidable. In limited her ability is no less powerful, just a bit harder to maximize. Properly supported, the Ancient can single-handedly take over a game.
Tale of Destiny F
Even in a deck with a unique troop, there’s no guarantee we’ll draw and play this before the troop itself. This is not a card designed for this format, don’t harbor any dreams of making it work here.
When we think Sapphire removal, we’re restricted to things such as Cripple, Incubation Webs and Polymorph: Dingler. An action that guarantees the troop will cost less than the original and can even turn it into an inanimate object while only costing 1 resource at quick speed is premium removal by any standard. This is a valuable addition to any Sapphire mage’s arsenal. No angry tweets when your transformations backfire, please.
Tribunal Magistrate C+ (B+ in spiders)
The ideal vennen troop sits on the board able to block our opponent’s early plays while simultaneously contributing to the egg total in our opponent’s deck or buffing the spiders when they come out. Tribunal Magistrate manages to accomplish all three of these goals for a mere 3 resources. If you can manage to keep a few vennen on the board alongside this fat fellow, your spiders will quickly be able to close out the game.
I praised symmetrical sweeper effects earlier, but while Vexstorm seems to fall into this category we need to note the important difference here. An effect that wipes the board doesn’t care how many cards you have in play compared to how many your opponent has. Vexstorm rewards the player who has the larger board presence and, presumably, is winning the game. The only time we’ll manage to benefit from playing this action is when we’re losing with a larger board presence. Those times are few and far between; I recommend the times that you play Vexstorm be the same.
Let’s explore the cost to benefit equation involved with Vision Quest. In order to begin benefiting from it, we need to invest four cards (the constant plus three more.) We will be repaid for that investment in four turns. If we invest another three cards next turn, the repayment takes three turn total. By the time we’re profiting from the transaction, we’ve given up at several turns of board development and haven’t been able to play anything, assuming we could even afford the initial three card payment. It asks far too much of us to be of use in limited.
Artisanal Cheesesmythe B-
The only troop in the set with lethal that’s always active, the reasonably cost Head Cheese can be valuable on both offence and defence. The cheeses it creates are overly expensive, incentivizing you to keep him attacking but two of the three created cards are very relevant in one of the two key graveyard recursion shards. When your attacks cease to be profitable, he can play defence while the rest of your deck does its thing.
A big body with two narrow but not irrelevant abilities, Bloombringer is not the legendary troop you’re hoping to crack in your packs. I will note that there are 5 plants at common and uncommon in the format, 3 of them in Wild. 6 bodies to churn out of the crypt are also easier to manage with Kagulichu, though we often need those bodies for other purposes. He’s a reasonable top to your curve but don’t be afraid to substitute a more synergistic troop if given the opportunity.
Briar Harvester D+
Briar Harvester, where were you 18 months ago? Here we have a troop that asks that we have resources open when our troops die to get value from it and generate troops that have no synergy with the current format. Its base stats are below par and it will take a special situation to make the Harvester worth including in your deck.
Echohowl Alpha B-
The howl that prophesies doom, Echohowl Alpha sacrifices his own stats in order to provide us with an Onslaught-like effect in the near future. The effectiveness of his ability is proportional to your board presence so he’s not ideal in troop-light decks. The fact that our opponent knows this prophesized troop is coming and can mill away or otherwise disrupt our plan hurts his value slightly as well. All things considered, Echohowl Alpha provides a very powerful effect but is no guarantee of victory.
Elder of Visions B-
An early drop worth its weight in gold on turn 2, Elder of Visions can provide repeated buffs to our troops if left unchecked. Coyotle are plentiful in the format so deckbuilding around him isn’t overly challenging. He is susceptible to most of the removal in the format but we’re not heartbroken if our opponent uses a valuable piece of removal on him in lieu of taking out our bigger troops.
Feralroot Archdruid D- (B in health-gain)
A card that clearly denotes what archetype it wants to be a part of, the Archdruid provides bountiful riches if we can manage to provide it with regular dose of health-gain. Being able to generate permanent resources for no cost is borderline broken. His second ability, while impressive, should never come into play in any reasonably built deck. Pair him with a Silver Rook or a Pale Harvester and empower your way to victory.
Greenpaw Emancipator B
Troops that bring friends to the party have always been coveted; anyone who had a chance to play with Royal Falconer knows how powerful his effect can be. While the Emancipator’s Shroomkin buddies lack evasion, you’re still getting a collection amounting to 8 attack and 7 defence for 5 resources. If the game goes long, we’re looking at a total attack of 20! Also note that there are two more sources of Shroomkin troops in Fungus Amongus and Trufflehead in the same shard, both of which getting buffed with him in play. Greenpaw Emancipator is straight value.
Justicar of Aryndel C
The Justicar boasts a well above-curve body for only 3 resources but is crippled by the triple threshold requirement. With an ability that doesn’t factor into our format, it will take a Wild-heavy deck to be able to use him effectively. Empowering him as an 8/8 6-drop may be more feasible for many decks.
Primordial Caves D
It may not cost 5, but Primordial Caves sure does nothing for a while. If you don’t have a reliable way to get troops into your hand other than your draw phase (looking at you, Artisanal Cheesesmythe), your 3-drop spot would be better served by even an average troop. With the typical deck containing around 15 troops, we simply won’t be able to activate the Caves enough to justify the loss of tempo.
Primal Dawn C+
The vast majority of decks benefit from a way to get extra cards into your hand and Primal Dawn attempts to fill that role for Wild. You will be getting random troops and while they will be Wild, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to play them as they may be multi-shard. If you can accept those shortcomings, you are rewarded with a +1/+1 buff for all of them (and any other troops you may have in hand.) If you manage to find 10 resources to pile into the empowered version, you’ll refill your hand with a number of doubly buffed troops. It’s unlikely to get to that point but it’s nice to have the option to do it.
Rune Ear Hierophant A-
The final major/minor socketed troop of the cycle is a bad-ass bunny. Getting buffed by new troops in a shard best suited for generating them, he has easy access to the spellshield gem as well as whatever major gem you care to add in. He can be exceedingly difficult to remove once he hits the board and can single-handedly lead your team to victory. He may not have the immediate impact of the others in the cycle but underestimate him at your own peril.
Song of the Sun F
Another constructed card with very limited appeal in the limited format. If you find a combo that can utilize a single copy of this card, it’s an option but it will be difficult to convince me that one exists.
If you’ve ever wished that Chlorophyllia could scale up, Wellspring is the card for you. Being able to ramp from 4 to 6 resources or 6 to 9 can allow you to play some of the big hitters in the format that can be out of reach for many decks. Even a bump from 2 to 3 resources can allow you to get the jump on your opponent. Mind the double threshold requirement if you’re running more than 2 shards.
Angel of Agony A-
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for aggressive decks is high-defence troops clogging up the ground. Enter Angel of Agony. She gives you a high-attack troop with evasion and her static ability allows you to wear down your opponent’s troops over multiple turns. With swiftstrike she will rule the skies as she leads wave after wave of your more… expendable troops into your opponent’s crumbling defences. Be mindful of 3 damage actions such as Totem Trap and Burning Tendrils as they may be the only way your opponent can take her down.
Bogberg, the Great Gobbler B (A- in actions)
6 resources and quadruple threshold may seem like a lot to play for a 2/2 flight but Bogberg has a few tricks up his sleeve. 14 of them, to be exact. Note that he gets buffed by all actions drawn, not just your own. If we estimate 4-5 actions for our opponent’s deck and 9-10 for ours, we can expect Bogberg to be an 8/8 on average with the potential for much more. But wait, there’s more! Not only do we have a huge board presence but our hand has been completely refilled! If we can dodge hard removal from our opponent’s freshly restored hand, we should be able to ride the Great Gobbler to victory.
We’ve discussed symmetrical board wipes so now let’s dive into a non-symmetrical one. This Purge-on-a-stick is very difficult for your opponent to answer at a point in the game where all of their removal has either been played or is buried in their deck. The vast majority of the time that Chronodaemon his the board, you will win the game but 8 resources with quadruple threshold is a big ask in shards with no resource ramp. Make sure your deck is set up to get to the late game if you want to run him. Also be aware of the other nine Avatars in the format that aren’t affected by his ability.
Primal Dawn’s only dragon rewards you for going five-shards by giving you unparalleled card advantage. Stats above the curve (though still expensive) mean that it’ll be a race to see if you fill up your hand or kill your opponent with Daarmak first. He is strong incentive to go five-shards early in a draft, if you weren’t already.
Forever’s Child A-
What Daarmak is for five-shards, Forever’s Child is for the health-gain archetype. Challenging to play on curve with quadruple threshold, this Avatar has the potential to completely overrun your opponent with Orchins. She benefits more from large gains of health unlike most of the cards in this archetype that simply want the trigger, no matter how small. Stock up on Caribaur Healers and Harvest Moons if you’re lucky enough to open a Forever’s Child in pack 1.
Freak of Nature B+
We come now to the payoff for the Kagulichu player, Freak of Nature. Equally at home on the board or in the crypt, this abomination is difficult for your opponent to permanently remove. In fact, the only non-rare way to void it in the format is Prairie Trapper. If you tend to your Freak as it germinates in your crypt, it will reward you by blossoming forth when you need it most, slowly choking out your opponent’s troops as it does.
Lazgar Chul B+
This fabled vennen warrior is the ideal top to an aggressive Blood/Ruby curve. Just when your opponent feels they’ve been able to stabilize the board on turn 5 or 6, you can drop Chul and force them to make a very difficult choice. While she excels at her designed role, she does require backup to be effective. Her effect is also wasted if you can’t survive a crack-back attack from your opponent. With those caveats in mind, Lazgar Chul is a fist-pump include in any aggressive deck.
Psionic Flame C
While there’s something to be said for cards that have the functionality of two different cards in one, Psionic Flame falls short of greatness due to its resource requirements. We are typically paying an extra resource for the convenience of having both effects on one card and once we’ve scaled to 7 resources, the effect becomes somewhat underwhelming. That said, it’s certainly playable and fits like a glove in the Ruby/Sapphire actions deck.
Rotten Rancor C (B with Kagulichu)
Rise Again has a new friend to play with in Rotten Rancor. While we lose the ability to target our opponent’s crypt, we gain the opportunity for a 2-for-1. It’s passable in any deck that can meet the thresholds but is clearly designed to be used as part of Kagulichu‘s nefarious plans. The tempo swing provided by a big troop coming into play and removing the biggest obstacle in its way is not to be ignored.
Carloth Cobblestone F
You’ll notice that all of the multi-shard cards available in Primal Dawn benefit the minor races of the set. For example, Primal Dawn features only 5 non-rare Humans, with Armies of Myth adding an additional 3. The multi-shards are all excellent fixing options but you simply will not be able to reliably play them.
Coins of Kismet F
The best possible outcome from Coins of Kismet is a 1 in 9 chance that we’ll draw a card for 1 resource. The coins offer too little payoff to justify running in any deck.
Crucible of Morvarth R
Are your opponent’s crypt shenanigans getting you down? Do you wish you could find a way to get rid of that Freak of Nature once and for all? The Crucible has you covered, friend. For the low, low cost of 1 resource you can remove any troublesome recursion target and for 3 resources you can shut down a good portion of Kagulichu‘s deck. Not typically useful but a life-saver when it is needed.
Infinity Engine D-
If you have fuel for the Engine, it will take you to the promised land of big plays. Finding fuel can be difficult and getting it on the board can be a big loss of tempo. If you find yourself with a number of Infusion Devices and/or constants in your deck, you might be able to find some use for it.
Mecha Hive B
A versatile bot factory that grows as you play. It can lock down the ground while slowly releasing Bumble Bots to watch over the skies. Mecha Hive loves buffs and will fit quite well into a coyotle deck with lots of prophecy effects. If your deck lacks ways to deal with flight troops, the Hive can give you an answer.
Monsagi Lily Pad F
As with Carloth Cobblestone having problems in effective reliability, a lack of playable shin’hare in the format tanks the Lily Pad’s usefulness.
Primal Essence F
While its effect is significant, the chances that you end up with more than one is highly unlikely.
Quash Ridge Rubble D
If you can manage to scoop up all of the Blood/Ruby orcs, there’s a chance this could see play.
Scrap the Endless F
Another card without much support in the format, Scrap the Endless comes in as a pitiful 7 resource 4/4 troop. On the plus side, it features the only card name in the set that gives you the best suggestion on how to treat it during deck-building.
Scrios Limestone F
With only 7 playable non-rare dwarves to power it, the Limestone is not very useful.
Shrine of Xinlurgash D (B in spiders)
Universal draw effects never come cheap and the Shrine is no exception. While it asks no resources of us, it does ask for its pound of flesh to power it. For 4 resources, we’ll want to get 3 activations out of it before we can be happy with the value it provides, though it conveniently allows us to sacrifice the Shrine itself if we need an escape plan. In a deck that has a good amount of troops or cheap artifacts to feed to it, the Shrine of Xinlurgash can provide us with the card advantage we need to overwhelm our opponent.
Spine Scuttler F (C+ in five shard)
Scuttler is one of those awkward cards that you want to play on curve but is only really good after turn 3. It’s not a good top-deck later on but you can find decent value on turn 3-4 tossing it down along with another play and daring your opponent to use removal on a 1-drop.
Tomb of Nulzann F (B in five shard)
This is not something you want to drop 7 resources on but if you can get a reasonable discount on it, it will repay you with ongoing card advantage and all the gemmed troops you could possibly want. You may need to replace it if your opponent has a very fast deck, though.
Twin Eternities F
For 9 resources we get a pair of 6/6 bodies which is quite reasonable, but unfortunately they need to hit our opponent to have any effect. By the time we have the resources to play these two we’re about to win, about to lose or the board is clogged with troops. They offer no real benefit in any of these situations and do offer a real drawback by taking up space in your hand. Unplayable in the vast majority of decks.