Friday, September 25, 2015

The Worst Millennium Cards

The Millennium sticker set was the first "official" set released after Spellfire's termination at the hands of those scallywags at Wizards of the Coast. The cards making up this set were fan-designed and approved by the Spellfire "council" in 2000. Some of the Millennium cards were amazing, others were dire misfires. Today we'll focus on the misfires. Without further ado, here are the 8 worst Spellfire cards from the historic Millennium set.

#8 - The Wealthy Oriental Vassal (Millennium, 8/72).

This card is banned in Spellfire: TAV. Not much to say here...a continuation of the idiocy that was the Poor Oriental Lord (Dungeons chase, 20/25). Cards that make you check the edition of all other cards in play are lame. Plus both of these awful champions need specially-constructed decks in order to not ruin your own game. Just bad.

#7 - Rigged Dice (Millennium, 22/99).

The entire dice mechanic that was shoe-horned into Spellfire in this set was a bad idea. With hindsight, it's clear this cringe-worthy scheme should have been shot down at the earliest stages - but it wasn't. So we get cards like this, which I picked for number 7 because it exemplifies the shocking wrong-headedness of rolling dice to determine Spellfire effects. Repeat after me, everyone: "Draw and discard".

#6 - Cannibalize (Millennium, 68/99).

Sigh. At #6 we have this thing. So in my deck, I'm supposed to waste one precious card slot for a psionic power that subtracts 2 from each of my own champions (killing any/all of the following: my Erellika, my Gatekeeper, my Crawling Claws, my Living Scroll, my Hettman Tsurin, my Cistern Fiend, my Julio, etc.)...and the plus side is a +6 or maybe a +8 ally? Possibly, at the outside, a +10 or +12 ally with no other powers? This card is like shooting yourself in the arm and hoping the bullet goes right through and kills the enemy next to you. Plus we have to look at that awful vampire-crying-his-eyes-out artwork. Maybe he's crying because he just tried to use this card in an actual game of Spellfire and the other players are still laughing at him?

#5 - Amish Nick (Millennium 41/99).

Another very bad idea: let's make a Spellfire card that will be useful only to the most nerdy of players. A card that is only remotely effective if its owner understands the order in which Spellfire expansions were released! People who aren't founts of information about Spellfire history are either incapable of using Amish Nick, or, worse, can be hoodwinked by those who are. Terrible idea, terrible card. Let's move on.

#4 - A Horrible Mistake.

Yes, it certainly was a horrible mistake. An event that is only useful when your opponent copies another card. What, doesn't everyone at every Spellfire table have a mitt full of Bell of Mights and Egg of Emulations? No? So this card is rarely useful? And it takes up one of your precious 10 event slots? Boy, I'm glad I have this event in my deck instead of a Caravan, or a Dodge, or a Cataclysm, or a Black Bess, or a Trasure Fleet, or a Good Fortune, or a Wine of Eternity, or a Bronze Dragons, or a Calm, or...

#3 - Dark Cloud (Millennium, 83/99).

A realm whose only power is to cancel the power of three specific other cards. Two of which no one ever plays with. A card even Spellfire novices would turn their noses up at. Printing this card is a literal waste of paper.

#2 - Headbutt (Millennium, 95/99).

Roll some dice and add the total to your champion. Then roll some more dice and add that total to your opponent's champion. So long as it isn't a monster (because that makes sense). Also, spells and psionics can't be used and...did a 10-year-old make up this card? Probably. Yeah, this crap is #2 on the list. Even the fact that the two people in the card photo are friends of mine can't save this clunker.

And now...the worst card of the Millennium set...

#1 - Madame Griselda's Tarroka Deck (Millennium, 32/99).

Just read it. Who okayed this?

Ugh...I can't handle any more of these awful cards from the Millennium set. Before I go insane let's look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Here's a really great card from the same set.

The Forgotten Idol (Millennium, 34/99).

Awesome art, useful power, just a primo card. Designer must be a genius or something. Ahem. :) 

Next time: The worst of the Inquisition set, perhaps?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Kalidnay and Kalid-na

Let's take a look at two cards featuring the same horrible monster - Ancient Kalidnay (Artifacts, 92/100) and Kalid-na (4th edition, 279/500).

Ancient Kalidnay is one of the best realms in Spellfire. When you first drop it, it's placed in the vertical orientation, and is considered both a Dark Sun and a Ravenloft realm. At the end of your turn, you may choose to voluntarily raze it. If you do, you take another turn. That's primo. If you choose to save the extra turn for later, you can take that risk - although Kalidnay has no movement restriction and no power that is useful in battle. I always use my Kalidnay immediately, because it's just too difficult to keep it alive and unrazed (unless it's buried deep in your formation somewhere, protected by other realms). 

Unrazing Kalidnay results in it being shifted to a horizontal orientation, which serves as a reminder that its special power has already been used. It's a one-shot deal, you can't take repeated extra turns. I rarely unraze Kalidnay, but I usually don't replace it with another realm right away, either. Why not? Because once your Kalidnay is in the discard pile, your opponent is free to play his own. Just about every deck will contain a Kalidnay, you can bet on that!

Which brings us to Kalid-na, the hideous creature who in the D&D mythos comes from Ancient Kalidnay. In Spellfire, especially in The Antigonish Variant, Kalid-na is a great choice for any deck containing wizard spells. He is high level, can use psionic powers, and stops anyone from playing Kalidnay. Assuming you don't run Kalidnay yourself (whoops!), this is a primo power. Not only are you removing your opponent's access to one of his realms, you are in effect stripping away one of his turns - the extra one Kalidnay would have given. The only downside is that said opponent is coming after your Kalid-na with every champion-killing card at his disposal!

Next time: The worst Millennium (sticker set) cards! Yup, I'm going there.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My All-Female Deck

My female deck is one of my newer Spellfire:TAV decks, it was put together in 2010. Focusing on Clerics, it has proven to be one of my better ones. Here's a picture of it:

And here's the rundown of its contents:

Lands (13)
-Temple of Elemental Evil                       -Raurin
-Balic                                                     -Gulig
-Theocracy of the Pale                             -Urik
-Malatra, the Living Jungle                     -Bluet Spur
-Hold of the Sea Princes                        -Gehenna
-Spine of Taladas                                  -Elysium
-The Shackled City

Notes: Spine of Taladas is an excellent realm, especially when used as the front one.

Champions (13)
-Misfortune (Avatar)                               -Halcyon
-Goldmoon                                            -Nenioc
-Gwenyth the Bard                                 -Shayira
-Jella                                                     -Princess Alusair
-Starshine                                              -Lovely Colleen
-Telarie Willowind                                    -Lyr of the Mists

Notes: Telarie is one of the greatest defending champions in Spellfire: TAV. Because your enemies only get one attack per turn, she can shield more valuable champions from having to defend, and if she loses, she teleports back with all attachments!

Cleric Spells (10)
-Mindshatter                                             -Creeping Doom
-Intercession                                             -Dispel Evil
-Dispel                                                      -Forbiddance
-Unholy Word                                            -Mindkiller
-Corruption of the Soul                              -Sacred Flame
Notes: Mindshatter is one of my favorite spells of all time, and the sticker cards Dispel Evil, Coruption of the Soul, and Sacred Flame add even more firepower.

Allies (6)
-Loup Garou                                              -The Rahasia
-Noble Djinni                                             -Vistani
-Servants of Faith                                      -Olive Slime
Notes: Vistani is one of those "I lose, but you'll suffer" cards. They have their uses sometimes. Defending against the Living Wall is one of them.

Events (10)
-Calm                                                           -Good Fortune
-Labor of Legend                                           -Insanely Good Fortune
-Cataclysm                                                   -Takhisis’s Mirror of Life Trapping
-Tyranthraxus                                               -Curse of the Azure Bonds
-Caer Allison                                                 -Caravan

Notes: Labor of Legend is an awesome way to instantly flip over that hard-to-attack, powerful, or even winning (6th) realm.

Magic Item (1)
-Falcon Figurine

Artifact (1)
-Throne of the Gods

Rule Card (1)
-Hornung’s Randomness
Notes: No dungeon in this deck. Any suggestions? It's basically a free card (55 to 56), so let's put one in. Please explain your rationale for the particular dungeon you suggest.

So there you have it! What do you guys think of my all female deck?

Next time: I have no idea! :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Great lesser-known champions!

Okay folks, let's take a look at four great TAV champions that just don't get a lot of press.

First, this little guy! One of only two cards (along with Thought Eater) that was actually depowered from third to fourth edition, Cistern Fiend (3rd edition, 282/400) is immune to all spells - offensive and defensive - and allies cannot be used against it. No Wish, Death Spell, Finger of Death, Mindkiller, or Takhisis's Abyssal Gateway. No Loup-Garou, Thought Eater, or Dreaded Ghost. The Cistern Fiend's low level of 2 means you get to slap down your instant-kill cards, while your opponent is crippled by the Fiend's immunity to cheese. Good champion, but not one you'll see every day around the Spellfire table. More players should consider adding him to their decks.

Next we have Lord Robilar (Ruins & Runes, 32/100). This guy has a bizarre robot horse that gives him the earthwalking ability. O-kay. Robilar is also immune to offensive cleric spells, and the special powers of Avatars. Those two items aren't exactly game-breakers, although being immune to Mindkiller and Mindshatter is nothing to sneeze at. Being resistant to Kiri's vanilla-izing could also be useful in certain situations. Overall, Robilar is a good champion who is right up there when discussing the best heroes in the game.

Ting Ling (4th edition, 354/500)! The very name conjures images of...flying Asian clerics with the blood of kings? This guy is one of the best attacking champions in the game. He can fly over dangerous front lands, bringing his allies with him. He can use blood abilities, allowing him to attach a Divine Wrath or a Melt Bone for a quick win. He's high level, making him an acceptable champion with which to engage in a level-up war. He'd be better with an immunity or two, but even as printed he's a vastly underrated champion, especially as an attacker.                            

Talcon (4th edition, 341/500) is sort of a "mini" Lyr of the Mists. While Lyr can banish any champion in a pool once battle begins, Talcon can only do so when he's been defeated. Though not quite as powerful as Lyr, in a TAV game he can still cause a lot of trouble. Let's say your opponent attacks with this guy. Do you block and try to kill him? If you win, you lose your best champion in the pool. If you lose, your front realm is razed and Talcon gets to try his luck again next turn. These are not good options. Talcon is a solid addition to any Psionicist deck, and he's been in mine from the start.

Next time: My all-female deck!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Top 5 TAV Events

Hey everyone! It's time for a look at the five best events for Spellfire: The Antigonish Variant. I am limiting this list to events that I personally own, because the nature of events dictates a familiarity with them is necessary before an honest evaluation can be made. A card may look excellent on paper, but gameplay might subsequently show it to be not that great (ex: Cold Cup of Calamity). So, without further ado:

Honorable mention - Discovery of Spellfire (3rd edition chase, 401/420) 
There are two kinds of great events. The first kind does something to the opponent (Cataclysm, Slave Revolt) or their champions (Tyranthraxus, Wrath of the Immortals, Wine of Eternity). The second kind does nothing to your opponent, instead it does something for you. Most of the cards on this list are the latter type. However, Discovery of Spellfire is definitely in the former category. The more players in the game, the better this card becomes. In a 4 or 5 player game, the ability to search each opponent's hand and grab one card to be discarded is extremely primo. While any events will most likely be used before they can be grabbed, your enemies will be unable to protect key champions, realms, magic items, and allies. Discovery of Spellfire just missed the number 5 spot on this list.

#5 - Unusually Good Fortune (Forgotten Realms chase, 11/25)
Our number five card is Unusually Good Fortune, a card I have previously written about here. It combines the "do something for you" effect and the "do something against your opponent" effect in one awesome package. Any time an enemy plays an event, you can piggyback off it to a sweet draw of three cards. If the event your opponent played was Good Fortune, then Unusually Good Fortune cancels the enemy's card draw. Instead, you get to draw the five cards, and the opponent gets none! This kind of punishment can shut someone down big time, while you fatten your own hand. The reason UGF is only #5 on the list is the unpredictability of when you will get to use it. Our next card is more straightforward and more regularly usable.

#4 - Good Fortune (4th edition, 120/500)

There's really no need to explain Good Fortune being on this list, is there? You get to draw five cards. Especially in TAV, card advantage is key to winning. The only question was where exactly GF would fall on the list of "best events". What events are better for you than drawing five cards? The answer - not many.

#3 - The Caravan (4th edition, 131/500) 
One of the few abilities that trumps extra cards is an entire extra turn! The Caravan allows you to do this between any two players' turns, so it's even more awesome. Use it just after you've ended your own turn, to get that last spoil and (hopefully) the win. Or use it between the turns of two of your opponents to "sneak" in extra actions or attack an enemy who is dangerously close to six realms. The only downside to this card is that you have to have ended your turn before using it - so if it's canceled, you're done. And the Caravan does attract event-canceling cards like a magnet.

#2 - Caer Allison (Forgotten Realms, 3/100) 
I've already written about Caer Allison here. It is the cheesiest event there is in Spellfire. Toss it down for your 6th realm for the instant win. Or use it to save champions after your last realm has been nuked by a Cataclysm. When played for the victory, there are only a handful of cards that can save your opponents. The Caer Allison has to be canceled, or it's game over. For its awesome ability to end Spellfire games, the floating castle gets the #2 spot on this list.

#1 - Enter Darkness Together (Dungeons chase, 10/25) 
I've also written about this awesome card here. EDT is the most powerful event in Spellfire and deserves its spot atop this list. Its ability to cancel any event or spell - and its immunity from being countered - makes it a cornerstone of any deck. Seriously, if you own one, it's going to be in your best deck. If I had 10 of them, they'd all be in decks. There's absolutely no reason to not have an EDT in every Spellfire deck you own. Standard or TAV, it makes no difference. Also, it should be noted that, if your opponent actually rips up his or her card to avoid the effects of Enter Darkness Together...well you've just been witness to an epic Spellfire moment. The entertainment value alone will outweigh the fact that your EDT didn't work. Playing this card is a win-win proposal! :)

Next time: Lesser-known awesome champions.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Heroes Deck

Today let's take a look at my heroes deck.

Realms (13): Perrenland, Avanil, the Scarlett Brotherhood, Kingdom of Furyondy, Village of Orlane, Village of Nulb, Border Post, Duchy of Tenh, Quasqueton, Slave Realm of Tunek, Irongate, Castle Arborgate, The Horned Society.

Holdings (2): Not So Fast, Ancient Arms of the Shield Lands.

Champions (12): Young Strahd, Dagrande, Hettman Tsurin, Helm, The Builder, The Fair Princess, Lord Robilar, Mayor Charles Oliver O'Kane, Agis, Big Chief Bagoomba, The King of the Elves, Oogly the Half-Orc.

Avatar: Bahgtru

Magic Items (3): Hero's Chalice, Rod of Lordly Might, Chest of Many Things.

Unarmed Combat Cards (12): Flying Kick, Watahh, Uppercut, Whirling Dervish, Knockdown, Headlock, Concussing Blow, Stunning Fist, Haymaker, Roundhouse, Bear Hug, Trip.

Allies (6): Knights of Neraka, Map to a Mercenary Army, Noble Djinni, Mercenary Gold, Master Illithid, Lurker in the Earth.

Events (5): Dodge, Pit Trap, Ancient Curse, Kamikaze, Treasure Fleet.

Dungeon: Field of the Battle Lord.

Rule Card: The Golden Age.

Total: 55 cards + 1 dungeon.

Notes: This deck works fairly well. It's one of my newest Spellfire decks, about three years old. It wins and loses based on its unarmed combat cards. If I draw the rule card and the dungeon, and they stay out, the deck can hold its own with any TAV deck I've seen.

Tell me what you think in the comments.

Next time: The 5 best events for TAV.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

5 Best Unarmed Combat Cards

Unarmed combat cards! These difficult-to-counter hero-specific cards made their first appearance in the landmark Runes & Ruins set in 1996. Like Blood Abilities and Thief skills, they are still a bit controversial to old-time Spellfire purists. Not that we TAV players care what *they* think! 

So without further ado, let's go into my list of the five best unarmed combat cards for Spellfire: The Antigonish Variant!     

#5 - Watahh! (Chaos, 27/72)
From the Chaos sticker set comes our number five card. Watahh (think Bruce Lee). This awesome card can only be used in combat, but it can devastate an opponent in the right situation. Watahh allows you to remove any two cards attached to the opposing champion, or reflect the special power of any just-played card - even an event - back at the opposing player before it activates. Opponent has a Divine Wrath attached? A Spell Gem of Martek - Clear Crystal? A part (or two) of The Rod of Seven Parts? No problem. Bang! They're gone. Or what about a pesky Ambush or Ancient Curse, thrown down in the heat of battle? Now it affects your enemy instead of you. This card is pure primo. The fact that it's this low on the list shows you the awesome power of unarmed combat.                                              

#4 - Whirling Dervish (Millennium, 99/99)
They say "speed kills". Well, in the Antigonish variant of Spellfire, cheese kills! Whirling Dervish is one of the best ways in the game to cut the cheese. When your opponent slaps down an instant-kill card - like Intellect Devourer, Loup-Garou, or Melt Bone - you cackle with glee as Whirling Dervish comes spinning out of your hand. You ignore the instant-defeat conditions of your enemy's card (for example, you don't have to play an ally to satisfy the Melt Bone). Even better, the effect lasts until the end of the combat and makes your champion invincible except in a level-up war. If your opponent has no way to match your level, he's not winning with gimmicks. Chew on that, Living Wall!

#3 - Haymaker (Runes & Ruins, 92/100)
It was a close battle for #3 and #2 on this list, but Haymaker slipped down to the bronze position because with it you can never be *sure* your opponent is about to croak (except if they have pushed a Living Scroll or Crawling Claws into battle). It might be likely you'll win, but its not set in stone. Haymaker does have that awesome "draw and discard a card" mechanic, where you make your enemy throw one of his cards into the discard pile. What if it's his Cold Cup or his Caer Allison? Ouch, that hurts. Anyway, once the card has been drawn and discarded, we check the last digit of its card number. If it's equal to or greater than the champion's base level, the champion is instantly killed, unless he is one of the undead. But if you're using Haymaker against an undead champion, it's a good bet that things aren't going well. The Haymaker also provides a robust +7 level bonus, but its not often used to win a level-up war. It's used to end combat, in a hurry.

#2 - Stunning Fist (Millennium, 98/99)
Yes, I was present when this awesome photo was snapped. No, I didn't snap it. Stunning Fist features an image of my pal Chris (a great Spellfire TAV player), destroying the jaw of the one, the only, Hayden William Courtland, co-creator of this whole Antigonish variant thing. And what was captured by my pal Matt and his awesome camera skills on that hot July day was pure unarmed combat gold. Would you like a card that you absolutely, positively *know* is going to give you the victory? Then play this baby. So long as your current level plus 10 puts you 8 levels or more above your enemy, he is instantly killed. Unless your opponent has a Dodge or some other sneaky event (not likely), he's going down. Even if you're not 8 levels above after slapping this down, its massive +10 bonus will put you well on your way to victory in the ongoing level-up war. Haymaker might give you the win, but with Stunning Fist, it's amost a sure thing! 

#1 - Fighting Dirty (Dungeons chase, 3/25)
I've already written about this awesome card here. It forces your opponent to waste a card, like Haymaker. It potentially gives you a giant level-up bonus, like Stunning Fist. And it empties your enemy's hand even better than Cold Cup of Calamity. One of the most powerful Spellfire cards ever printed, Fighting Dirty can end the game for all intents and purposes - it's that primo. Think about it: you are losing by a few levels. You slap down the Fighting Dirty card. Your opponent draws and discards an Ancient Curse. There's a good event gone uselessly to the discard pile. Furthermore, because the last digit of the card number of Ancient Curse is a 9, you get a +9 level bonus. Lastly, your opponent discards 9 cards immediately from his or her hand. If I have to explain to you why this is the best unarmed combat card in Spellfire, maybe you should stick to Magic: The Gathering! :)

Next Time: My heroes deck revealed!