Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 Best Blood Abilities


Blood abilities! The sacred powers of kings, bestowed by the gods through their royal blood! Added to the Spellfire game with the Birthright expansion, these spell-like abilities can be cast by Regents and some other champions. Difficult to counter, but overall pretty tame, here are my picks for the top 5 blood abilities in the game. Please note that all choices were made with the particularities of the Antigonish variant in mind.


#5 (tie) - Melt Bone (Dungeons, 80/100)
This card echoes Loup-Garou with its "play something or else" mechanic. Two problems: firstly, it's an ally, not a magic item, that your opponent needs to play. Allies are much more common than magic items (at least in TAV), so the odds are not as good that your enemy won't have one. Secondly, Melt Bone won't win the combat for you and raze the realm you are attacking. What it will do is send the enemy's champion away, defeated, if he can't play an ally. He can, however, put forward a replacement champion (if he has one) and continue the fight. If he has no other champion, the battle is over and spoils is drawn!

 #5 (tie) - Battlewise (Birthright, 37/100)
Doubling the total level of your champion? Excellent way to win the combat if this card is played late in a level-up war. Only #5 on this list because long, drawn-out level-up wars are more common in standard Spellfire than they are in the Antigonish variant.

#4 - Divine Wrath (Birthright, 39/100)
Divine Wrath discards all allies played in the battle so far, and prevents any new ones from being played. That's a pretty good power, so long as you can slap down the Divine Wrath before the Dreaded Ghost or Loup-Garou ends the combat. But the best part of this card is its second power. Unless dispelled, Divine Wrath stays with your champion until the end of your next turn (provided said champion stays alive), which means on your next turn you can attack again with the champion, who is automatically +6 in level and immune to allies! Good deal.

#3 - Death Touch (Birthright, 43/100)
Instant-kill cheese in the form of a blood ability! Sweet. Death Touch does what Divine Wrath and Melt Bone cannot reliably do - end combat, in a hurry! Draw and discard a card (itself a punishing mechanic - "whoops! there goes my Wish!"), noting the last digit. If it's equal to or greater than the champion's base level, it's lights out and give me my spoils! The best defense against Death Touch (besides a 4th edition Dispel) is a high-base-level champion. But high-base-level champions are very vulnerable to instant-kill cards in TAV. It's a trade-off, and one that makes Death Touch a must-have card for any Regent deck.

#2 - Create Minion (Dungeons, 79/100)
The cards above are very good - but our #2 and #1 blood abilities are primo. Let's start with Create Minion, a card that let's you pull any one champion from your graveyard to your pool. Gibs, avatars - you name it, you can get it. And the best part? You can use Create Minion in phase 3 or phase 5. Either before or after combat, your choice. Awesome. No need to put Hettman Tsurin back in play until phase 5, but you sure want your Living Wall out there during phase 3. Great card, versatile and powerful. The only "downside" to Create Minion is that the champion becomes undead - but this is hardly a big problem.

#1 - Death Field (Dungeons, 81/100)
What, no sticker-set card in one of these "top 5" list posts? Nope, not this time. Death Field takes our #1 spot, and it's not close. Maybe it's just the fact that I've been plagued by avatars like Istus and Kiri many times, but I absolutely love quick and easy removal that can eliminate troublesome avatars. It also works on Bigby, Gib Htimsen, Kronos, the Living Wall, etc. What an awesome card! The only problem with Death Field is that it can't target annoying low-level champions like Erellika, Lyr, Gwenyth, and the Headless Horseman. Still, it's easily the best blood ability ever printed.

Next time: 5 best thief skills.               

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Multiple Attacks In TAV?


One of the main tenets of TAV is that there is only one attack per turn. Either the attacker wins the round of combat, and the defender's realm is razed, or the attacker loses the round, and is discarded.

But certain champions have special powers that allow them to attack multiple times per turn. Such champions are nothing special in standard Spellfire, but become real beasts in the Antigonish variant. Let's take a look at a few of these multiple-attack maniacs.

The first champion I'd like to highlight is Darien Avan (Birthright, 86/100). He has the ability to attack twice, but only under certain specific circumstances. Firstly, he needs to win on his first attack. Secondly, he needs a realm to not have been razed after his win. In TAV this can happen in several ways. Maybe a Spirit of the Land (2nd Edition, 288/400) was played. Maybe Darien just finished attacking Nibenay (2nd Edition, 226/400). In any case, he won but the realm is still sitting there, mocking you. Darien can go ahead and attack again. He may even keep one ally he used in the previous battle. Excellent, re-use that Loup-Garou or Dreaded Ghost! Please note, however, that if Darien wins again and the realm is somehow not razed, he can't try a third time.
 
Rikus (2nd Edition, 258/400) is better than Darien, since he can attack twice regardless of whether or not a realm is razed by his first attack. Also, Darien can only ever raze one realm per turn, although he gets two cracks at doing so. Rikus, on the other hand, can raze a realm, granting his controller a spoils, then go right back at it and target a new realm! This is attacking multiple times, TAV style. The ability to raze two different realms with attacks in one turn makes champions like Rikus unbelievably primo in this format. Note that, unlike Darien above, Rikus cannot re-use any cards he used in his first battle.

Gorynych (Underdark, 84/100), like Rikus, enables you to target (and raze) two realms in the same turn. One thing that makes him better than Rikus is the fact that he flies. This enables him to attack lands with the movement restriction "can only be attacked by fliers" or realms in back of the formation, protected by more powerful front lands. The other trick this creature has up his sleeve is his wishbone. Yes, you read that right. If Gorynych is attacking for the second time, and a Spirit of the Land or a Pit Trap hits the board, the realm will be automatically razed so long as Gorynych was winning the battle.  Note that Gorynych has to be winning the battle when his wishbone is activated, making him less primo than the Headless Horseman, who can choose to automatically win even when he's losing. Then again, the Horseman can't raze two realms for you in the same turn!      
 
Here he is, the ultimate "more than one attack" champion. Zaknafein (Underdark, 94/100) is a powerful Drow who has the ability to attack three times per round. He can raze Nibenay and then target a second realm. He can even target three different realms in one turn. Can you imagine three spoils coming your way? This guy can break a TAV game wide open all by himself. Only problem? He can't re-use any cards, so you'd better have a fat hand before contemplating taking three swings at your opponent(s). The other minor flaw is that Zaknafein reduces in level with each attack. He goes from a robust 9 to a mediocre 6 to a wimpy 3 with each swing. A good strategy is to attempt to win the first battle with a level-up war, while saving your instant-kill cheese for the later two fights when Zaknafein is lower in level. 

Be aware that all four of these dangerous champions have no immunities whatsoever, and all of them attract champion-killing cards like magnets. If used well, however, they can really tilt the gaming table in your direction!

Next time: The five best blood abilities.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Official TAV Rules


Hey folks. Here is the link to the brand-spanking-new Spellfire: The Antigonish Variant rules.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. Although I have been playing this version of Spellfire since 2000, this is the first time the rules alterations and changes from standard Spellfire have been codified in an official document.

If you've been curious to try the format, now's the time! Tell me what you think.

-Marc D.

***UPDATE 1! Link to rules now actually works! :) ***

P.S. I have been asked about the Dungeon changes. I do have a post explaining my rationale for each change here. I think these changes make dungeons more fun and less confusing.

***UPDATE 2! Link to the Spellfire Reference Guide, vol.3 is here. ***

Thursday, August 30, 2012

***SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT***

Hey people, just a little blurb here to let you know that the OFFICIAL SPELLFIRE: THE ANTIGONISH VARIANT RULES will be posted here for the first time tomorrow morning!

This is something I've been asked about repeatedly, and I finally sat down and combined/adapted the standard Spellfire rules and tournament rules to create the first ever version of the TAV rule guide.

I will post the TAV rules as a downloadable Google document. Feedback is very welcome once you've read and gone over the rules document. Thanks!

-Marc D.

My Kings & Thieves Deck


Let's take a look at my spell-less "Kings & Thieves" deck:

Realms (12): Ancient Kalidnay, The Spinx, Mount Nevermind, The Gorgon's Crown, Menzoberranzan, Mintarn, Cities of the Sun, Richemulot, Avanil, Temple of Elemental Evil, The Vampire's Realm, the Spiderfell.

Champions (11): Roubhe Manslayer, the Gorgon, Julio, Krijeydif, Zaranda Star, the Skulker, the Noble Outlaw, the Vampire, Tasslehoff Burrfoot, the Pirate, the Pawnmaster.  

Avatar: Mask.

Magic Items (3): Armor of the High King, Tarokka Deck, Gauntlets of Dexterity.

Artifacts (2): Wintering, Cannon Ball.                

Allies (3): Loup-Garou, Cat Burglar, Guild Master.

Events (10): Cataclysm, Treasure Fleet, Calm, Slave Revolt, Good Fortune, Tyranthraxus, the Caravan, the Genie Bottle, Labor of Legend, Trapped.

Dungeon: Might of the Blood Right.

Rule Card: A Sure Thing.

Thief Skills (5): Backstab, Assassination, Use Poison, Framed, Broad Jump.

Blood Abilities (6): Death Touch, Create Minion, Melt Bone, Death Field, Divine Wrath, Battlewise.

Holding: The Heartland Outfitters.                                     

Total: 55 cards + 1 dungeon.

Notes: This deck works great against decks that have loaded up on counterspells or "lockdown" champions like the Arch-Druid, Midnight, or Sadira. Thief skills and blood abilities are difficult to counter and dispel, and some have very powerful effects. I created this deck sometime in 2000 and have been tinkering with it ever since. Before I made my Heroes deck (which I should post about one of these days), the Kings & Thieves deck used to have unarmed combat cards as well.

Tell me what you think in the comments.

Next time: The TAV rules are coming!              

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Can You Do With A Broken Arrow?


Broken Arrow (TU Chase, 24/25) is a great card in Standard Spellfire and an awesome one in TAV. It combines the effect of a fence (like Solid Fog) with the spoils-shifting power of the Noble Outlaw. The only downside is that you can only use it in a multi-player game. If you are facing a single opponent, it's useless.

When you slap this baby down, two of your enemies must be engaged in combat. Both champions return to their pools and combat is over. Because this is the Antigonish variant, you only get one attack per turn. Therefore Broken Arrow ends two opponents' chance to get spoils. Very useful if one of them is at five realms, looking to slap down that last land.

If it only stopped your enemies from gaining spoils, Broken Arrow would be a decent event. But its "only when you aren't involved in the combat" drawback might keep it out of most decks, where the 10 precious event slots are so important that a card that has no effect when you are engaged in battle probably doesn't make the cut.

But Broken Arrow does more. It actually gives YOU the spoils, instead of one of the two boneheads engaged in the battle. All of a sudden, it could be you slapping down realm number 6 and cruising to victory, on someone else's turn!

For it's fence-like combat ending ability, plus its awesome Noble Outlaw-like ability to mess with other people's spoils, plus its primo ability to give YOU said messed-with spoils card, Broken Arrow goes straight to the bullseye when talking about great event cards.

Next time: My Kings & Thieves deck.

P.S.: There is a rumor floating around the Spellfire-verse of NEW STICKER SETS to be soon released in Brazil. As soon as I have more information on these supposed new fan-made cards from the hotbed of Spellfire in South America, I will link to it here!

Friday, January 27, 2012

5 Best Psionic Power Cards


Let's take a look at the five best Psionic power cards, keeping in mind that this list is based on TAV play.     

#5 - Psionic Disintegration (Dungeons, 73/100)
Yes, it destroys a land. But at what cost? Well, you can't attack the turn you use it, which means no spoils for you. To my mind, getting an instantly-playable spoils card is one of the most powerful things you can do in Spellfire, especially when playing TAV games. Giving up your spoils puts you at a marked disadvantage. Mind you, blowing up one of the other guy's realms can be more useful than getting a spoils at times, and sometimes (like when faced with a land bearing a primo movement restricton) you simply can't launch an attack anyway. One thing is certain, this card is definitely better than Disintegrate, which is an easily-countered wizard spell. Let's slide Psionic Disintegration in at #5 on this list and move on. Next!

#4 - Magic Draining Field (Dungeons, 74/100)
They follow each other in the Dungeons expansion set, and they follow each other on this list! Weird. Magic Draining Field is an awesome card against any deck which is spell-based. It's still good even if the opponent has only a few spells mixed in. Against a deck with no spells (such as my Kings & Thieves deck), it's basically useless. So for every time you paralyze your opponent's wizard deck, you will be stuck with a cardboard clunker each time you face his psionic deck. Because of this big downside, I can only put MGF as #4 on this list. Still a great card, 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time, though? Ugh.

#3 - Destroy Thought (Conquest 18/81)


Oh, those crazy sticker sets! Destroy Thought is a truly awesome psionic power card. Not only does it cancel an attack on your realm, the champion who was about to attack can't attack or defend until Destroy Thought is dispelled. And since only a precious few cards can dispel psionic powers (4th edition Dispel, Wish, Dispel Psionics, umm...are there any others?), that means the affected champion will probably be sitting there doing nothing for quite awhile. Even better, when playing TAV you only get one attack per turn, so this card effectively ends your opponent's chance to get a spoils. Nice.

#2 - Domination  (Conquest, 19/81)
For card #2, We return to the Conquest sticker set, and to the awesome Domination card. It's sort of like Curse of the Azure bonds, except you get to keep the champion forever, so long as Domination is in play. It's like a Tyranthraxus that's twice as difficult to counter, and doesn't take up one of your precious 10 event slots. It works on avatars as well as ordinary champions. Very few champions are immune to psionic power cards. The downside? You can't use the stolen champion (except for sacrificing). Still...the ability to take your enemy's best weapon, with little chance of a counterspell ruining things, is primo.

#1 - Drain Will (Dungeons, 75/100)
Here it is, folks, my pick for the best psionic power card (I thought Powers was the set with all the psionic powers? Dungeons has it beat, hands down!). Drain Will kills any champion on the board of adjusted level 9 or less. Pretty sweet removal for Bigby, Midnight, Cyric, or whoever else is plaguing you. But Drain Will's second power is even better. No champion in that opponent's pool can attack until after their next turn. So you simultaneousy nuke a champion and potentially ruin your enemy's next turn. Even in a multi-player game, this puts a severe whammy on one opponent, who has to draw a good attacker (or have one sequestered in his hand), or else he's got a spoils-less turn coming up. Sweet.      

Well folks, that's it for this time. Hopefully my next post won't take...quite as long to happen as this one did!

Next time: What can you do with a broken arrow?

P.S. As of this writing, it looks like Spellfire.net is no more. Truly the end of an era, people. But this isn't the end of Spellfire, not by a long shot.

P.P.S. It's back up!