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The Best (and Worst) of SolForge

The Best (and Worst) of SolForge

I like lists, and I realized that I haven’t yet done any in this column yet.  So clearly it was time to put that to rights.  Below, in addition to the standard run-down of recent SolForge tournaments, you’ll find a series of Top 3 lists: Cards to Nerf, Cards to Buff, Cards to Watch, Cards to Draft, and Cards to Play Once The Metagame Evolves.  I fully expect people to disagree with me on these things; after all, what’s the fun of a Top 3 list if you don’t say some provocative things?

Cards In Need of Power Reduction:

  1. Epidemic
  2. Flameshaper Savant
  3. Brightsteel Gargoyle

Epidemic  is the only card that both belongs in absolutely every deck from it’s faction, and ought to be played in almost every game.  Removal ought to be expensive; playing Epidemic is cheap.  Seriously; all of the Top 8 in this week’s “no Shapers, no Legendaries” Reddit tourney used Epidemic–and two of them were playing Epidemic as their only Nekrium card. As for Flameshaper, it’s been discussed at length elsewhere; I won’t add more here.  Gargoyle may be surprising to some, but I think that the only thing keeping it in check right now is the Nekrium/Tempys removal-heavy deck that everyone is playing… and then only barely.  (Gargoyle is susceptible to Epidemic.)  I think SBE underestimated how strong it is to stay on the Defensive on a player’s own turn, especially given the Armor and Move inherent to the card.  If/when Flameshaper and Epidemic are nerfed, I expect that Gargoyle will quickly get out of hand.

Cool Abilities that Need Better Cards

  1. Lightning Brand
  2. Lightshield Patrol
  3. Paladium Pulsemage

I love Aggressive, and want there to be interesting abilities that grant that skill.  But Lightning Brand is almost unplayable; you have to expend resources to level it up, and even then it is only useful if you draw it on the exact turn as a creature that you want to make Aggressive.  Lightshield Patrol’s ability is potentially cool, but right now it is wasted: 1/2/3 Armor is not really enough to affect your strategic decision making.  I’d rather see it have a base-stat reduction and a more powerful ability.  And Pulsemage is just tragic; before Set 1 came out, I was looking forward to a card that gave an Electro Net style debuff when it entered play.  But Pulsemage’s ability is too weak, and the base stats are too bad, to ever consider playing it.  I once built an A/N deck on a free-to-play account whose whole point was to debuff my opponent’s creatures’ Attack, and I still couldn’t justify including Pulsemage.  Honorable Mention: Natural Selection.

Cards That I’m Worried About (but wouldn’t touch yet)

  1. Grimgaunt Predator
  2. Grimgaunt Devourer
  3. Everflame Phoenix

Much has been written about Predator; it certainly concerns me, but I’m curious if it still feels broken once Flameshaper and Epidemic are nerfed.  Grimgaunt Devourer runs the risk of being dangerous to the metagame, because he’s both a strong card in his own right and a hard-counter to Uterran Swarm decks.  (In general, I think it’s good for creatures that are hard counters to one deck to be not especially powerful against other decks: think Oxidon Spitter,)  I want Uterran Swarm to be a viable strategy in competitive play, but I worry that the risk of seeing Devourer will be so high as to automatically prevent that deck from being played.  As for Phoenix…  it’s close to being a great card.  But again, the thing that concerns me most about it is the Defender status in Level 2.  Level 2 Phoenix ought to leave you vulnerable, but the Defender status makes it difficult to get rid of (unless you are playing with significant creature removal).  Honorable Mention: Zimus, the Undying.

Cards I’m Looking Forward to Drafting

  1. Nexus Pilot
  2. Bramblewood Guardian
  3. Grimgaunt Specter

All of these cards are awkward (at best) fits into constructed decks–and yet they all could be strong in the right draft environment.  Nexus Pilot and Guardian have massive health bars–in the right draft deck, they could be a lot of fun to play.  And Specter is a card that I would never put in a Constructed deck…  but at Level 2, having an 11/11 Move creature could be fun in an environment with virtually no Legendaries or Heroics.

Underplayed Cards I Expect to Dominate Once Flameshaper Gets Nerfed

  1. Leafkin Progenitor
  2. Oreian Warwalker
  3. Storm Bringer

All of these cards have the potential to be very powerful in the right deck…  and yet all of them are extremely vulnerable to the standard Nekrium/Tempys removal-heavy deck that is dominating the current metagame.  Once the metagame evolves (or is forced to evolve), I expect all of these cards to have their day in the sun.  (By the way, if Gargoyle isn’t touched, he would jump to the top of this list.)

Competitive Scene Summary:

In terms of competitive play, we’re seeing two slightly different versions of the Nekrium/Tempys removal-heavy deck evolve.  One is legendary-lite (often legendary-free).  That deck plays Flameshaper and Master of the Elements virtually every time they are drawn, and tries to primarily win with those two cards, plus usually Grimgaunt Predator.  This deck tries to lock down the board completely in Player Level 2, and win shortly thereafter.  The other variant includes multiple copies of powerful late-game cards: Zimus, Phoenix, and sometimes Scorchmane Dragon.  The slower variant uses the Shapers and Spell combos mostly to keep the game under control, and hopes to win the game in Player Level 3.  The two decklists are similar, but they prioritize leveling different cards.

As for non-Shaper decks: virtually every tournament these days, at least one mono-Alloyin deck slips into the Top 8.  That seems to be the most consistent way to defeat Shapers, without playing them.  Besides that, there are two other decks that occasionally slip into the Top 8.   There is an aggressive Tempys deck (built around Ashurian Mystic and Rageborn Hellion) capable of killing Shapers before they can become problematic, at least sometimes.   And  there is a U/N deck that has seen some success as well: essentially a Uterran Swarm deck that contains Devourer, Predator, and Zimus.

Commons-Only Tournament (9/27)

(Swiss Bracket, Top 16, Decklists)

1) Tomos: A/U; Enraged Prowlers, Hydras, and Warchargers

2) Rootbreaker: A/T; Stalling for Robots

T3) Crono373: A/T; Move and Removal

T3) ParkerMD: A/U; Stalling for Robots

T5) mappo: A/U; Stalling for Robots

T5) mattf: A/U; Stalling for Robots

T5) Rook166: A/T; Stalling for Robots

T5) Ryan 983: A/T; Stalling for Robots

Standard Constructed Tournament (9/29)

(Top 16 Bracket, Decklists)

1) dehboy; N/T: Shapers and Spells w/ Zimus and Phoenix

2) TheCable: A/U: Robots

3) fatalanth: N/T: Shapers and Spells w/ Predator

4) GedofGont: A/T: Card Draw to Stall for Phoenix

T5) Feign: N/T: Shapers and Spells  w/ Predator

T5) Hans: N/T: Shapers and Spells w/ Phoenix

T7) Signia 268: N/T: Shapers and Spells  w/ Zimus and Phoenix

T7) MrBao: N/T: Flameshaper and Spells w/ Zimus

Pyramid-Style Tournament (10/4)

(Swiss Bracket, Top 16, Decklists)

I’m only going to report the factions here; the decklists are too unwieldy to discern strategies in most cases.

1) Hans: N/T

2) Icicles: N/T

3) Ryan983: A/T

4) Technogeek5000: N/T

T5) Brakara: N/T

T5) Justice: N/T

T5) mattf: N/T

T5) Sebola3D: A/T

Standard Constructed Tournament (10/5)

(Swiss Bracket, Top 16, Decklists)

1) Bludex: N/T; Shapers and Spells w/Predator and Phoenix

2) Tonda: U/T; Swarm w/Predator and Devourer

T3) alca: Mono-Alloyin; Avatar, Robots

T4) Snook: N/T; Shapers and Spells w/Predator

T5) Brakara: N/T; Shapers and Spells w/Zimus and Phoenix

T5) Llauron: Mono-Alloyin; Avatar, Creature Buffing, Card-Drawing and Leveling

T5) Purebullet: N/T; Shapers and Spells w/Predator and Phoenix

T5) Tomos: N/T; Shapers and Spells w/Predator

MetagamingTV Highlander Tournament (10/6)

(Top 16, Decklists)

I’m only going to report the factions here; the decklists are too unwieldy to discern strategies in most cases.

1) Heroeskage: N/T

2) Axel: T/U

T3) Jran74: N/T

T3) Tab110: N/U

T5) fatalanth: T/U

T5) Hans: N/T

T5) Tonda: U/N

T5) WillHunting: N/T

Reddit No-Legendaries, No Shapers Tournament (10/9)

(Swiss Bracket, Top 16, Decklists)

Note: Championship Game has yet to be played as of the writing of this column.

T1) Bludex: N/U; Predator, Shardplate Delver, Creature Removal

T1) DarksoulSP: N/T; Predator, Creature Removal

T3) Destroyer: Mono-Nekrium; Xrath, Dreadnight of Varna; Avatar; Zombies

T3) Snoopy196: U/N; Rootforged Avatar, Delver, Epidemic

T5) Justice: N/T; Spells, Removal, Predator

T5) Leto: N/T; Predator, Delver, Removal

T5) SeraphimsCall; A/N; Steelforged Avatar, Creature Buffing, Epidemic

T5) Tonda: N/T; Predator, Creature Removal

I’d personally like to thank Scream112 and SonataWolf from MetagamingTV for partnering with us on the 9/29 Standard Constructed Event.  They plan to run a European-time-friendly tournament every Sunday; I encourage you to participate if you are interested.  Also, I’d like to note that we have decided to not run a Limited Rarity Invitational; details can be found in this thread.  I know that will disappoint many of you, but we simply do not have the resources (time, money, manpower) to make the event as successful as we would like it to be.

Finally, I’d like to give a general thanks to everyone who regularly participates in the tournaments and events that we run.  I think I can speak for everyone at Forgewatch, and for that matter everyone who is running tournaments right now, when I say that our primary goal is to build up the SolForge community.  We aren’t getting paid to do this.  In fact, since Set 1 was released I’ve spent more time organizing events than actually playing the game.  But we do it because want this game to succeed in the long-run; we want to keep playing and enjoying the game, and in order for that to happen other people have to continue playing it as well.  By participating in these events, you are a part of that community building effort, and we all appreciate it.

About mnmike2002

mnmike2002 (aka Mike Edwards) is a writer and blogger. When he's not writing, he's probably either reading (history books or fantasy novels) or playing video games (mostly RPGs). He's published one book so far: Democracy Despite Itself: Why a System that Shouldn't Work at all Works So Well, co-authored with Danny Oppenheimer. He lives in Cambridge, MA with his wife, Sarah.


  1. Lightshield Patrol is a actually a 19/20 at lvl 3… Which is actually ridiculously huge without the armor. Sadly him and the Hinterland Watchmen dont count General or Techtican buffs.

    Overall great article, I agree with the rest of the things you mentioned. 🙂

    • I agree that Lightshied doesn’t need a buff; I just think it would be a much more interesting card if he had lower base stats and a more interesting ability: For instance, make him 16//17 but give him 7 armor with the Attack bonus (or something like that).

  2. I think changing Epidemic and Firestorm to their previous versions (Epidemic being double sided -3/-3, -5/5, -7/7, and firestorm being one sided 2/2, 4/4, 8/8 with dmg) would make the game a lot more interesting. Having epidemic be one sided with grimgaunts is a mistake in my opinion and would reduce the overall power of nekrium in current build iterations. Flameshaper needs to have damage not able to be dealt to the face as it is right now. A card I think is too large for its effect is master of elements and honestly concerns me more than devourers. I think your overall analysis as a whole is solid however.

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