Monday, October 17, 2016

The Best Millennium Cards

Let's count down the seven best cards from the Millennium sticker set. As always, cards were judged by their usefulness and power in Spellfire: TAV.

7 - Dispel Evil (43/99)
This card causes any one monster in play to be discarded. No matter its immunities. The ability to get rid of a Gib Lhadsemlo, a Gorgon, a Living Wall, or a Kronos the Titan is absolutely primo. Dispel Evil can be cast before combat or during combat, which makes it even more versatile. Good removal is hard to find, and Dispel Evil snags the #7 spot on this list with ease.

6 - Sacred Flame (37/99)
Slightly better than the ability to remove one monster is the ability to remove any attachment from any champion. Get rid of the Ring of Winter. Remove a Divine Wrath. Strip off a Star Gem of Martek. Trash a Pseudodragon. The possibilities are endless. Solid, solid card which should be in just about every deck that contains clerics.

5 - Stunning Fist (98/99)
At #5 we find this awesome instant-kill unarmed combat card. After Stunning Fist is played, count up the levels of your champion and the opposing champion. If yours is winning by 8 or more, the opponent's champion is discarded immediately and you get a spoils. If not?'ve just gained 10 levels, which is nothing to sneeze at.

4 - The Forgotten Idol (34/99)
I may be a bit biased, since I designed this card, but I think it deserves the #4 spot. Actually, it could be ranked even higher. What's so good about the Idol? Well, let's say your opponent has one of those annoying champions entrenched in his pool - non-attacking champions who vex you with their special powers. Hettman Tsurin. Jella. Gwenyth. Cyric. Helm. You want these guys dead, but you don't want to waste Wishes and Death Spells. Here's where the Forgotten Idol comes in. Attach this baby to a champion and attack. Then switch your attacker with any champion from any opponent's pool! No matter what happens, the enemy champion (and the Idol) are discarded at the end of combat. Bye-bye!

3 - Insanely Good Fortune (47/99)
I designed this card as well (along with Hayden), but before you accuse me of stacking this list with my own creations, read it carefully. It negates any helpful event - like Caravan, Good Fortune, and Calm. These are events in almost every deck, and ones you definitely want to stop if possible. The secondary power is only a bonus. If someone is trying to use an Unusually Good Fortune (a popular chase event that definitely sees a lot of play), they are going to have a very bad day. Good enough for #3 on this list.

2 - Whirling Dervish (99/99)
I love this card. When I attack, I want the realm razed with the least amount of fuss. Instant-kill cards thrown down by a low-level defender are fuss. Major fuss. Luckily, this card eliminates any of those shenanigans. You can attach the Dervish during combat to eliminate your opponent's ability to use his cheese, or (even better) you can wait until he tries throwing down the Loup-Garou, Use Poison, Melt Bone, Noble Djinn, Vorpal Blade, or whatever else the sneaky jerk has saved up for you. Once he has tipped his hand, slap down your Whirling Dervish and counter the instant-kill effect. Bam.

1 - Kronos the Titan (62/99)
Not much to write here. The best monster champion in Spellfire is also the best card in the Millennium sticker set. Just read him. Imagine what you could do with him in your pool. Imagine what he could do to your opponent's pool. Champions just don't get better than this guy. Print one, and put him in your deck today.

Next: The best and worst of the Inquisition sticker set.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Out of the REALM of possibility!

One quirk of Spellfire: TAV is the variant's treatment of Realm (Conquest, 66/81). For some reason now lost to the mists of time, this sticker-set card has always been treated like Shaqat Beetles (4th edition, 234/500). That is to say, any number of Realms are allowed per deck, to the limit of 15 realms as indicated in both the standard rules and TAV rules.

Look at this annoying thing.
Because of this odd quirk, which may have been due to a misinterpretation of the Realm card text long ago, things like this have been legal in TAV for over 15 years:

"Cool, I win! Oh, wait..."
Another great reason to play TAV - you just can't do this sort of thing in standard Spellfire. :)

You can call it a house rule or an optional rule or whatever you like, but trust me: letting Realm be used this way adds to the fun of the game. Give it a try, and you may find that the only thing that beats winning a game of Spellfire by completing a formation of six realms is winning by completing a formation of six REALMS!

Next: The best cards in the Millennium sticker set.

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.