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SolForge Card Preview #26: Vengeful Spirit

SolForge Vengeful Spirit

Vengeful Spirit has the benefit of being SolForge Card Preview #26 simply because it’s the first new card that they flipped through in the StarSlay3r video.  I can’t say that I’ll try to attempt the actual reveal order as we delve into all of the new cards, but it sure helped me figure out which one to start with 🙂  Here’s the card text, since the image I took from the video had a visit from Mr. Blurrywebcam.

Vengeful Spirit

Type: Creature
Faction: Nekrium

Rank 1: When Vengeful Spirit is destroyed, the opposing creature in this lane gets -3/-3 (4/2)
Rank 2: When Vengeful Spirit is destroyed, the opposing creature in this lane gets -6/-6 (8/6)
Rank 3: When Vengeful Spirit is destroyed, the opposing creature in this lane gets -9/-9 (12/10)

Vengeful Spirit is a great example of a Nekrium card.  Not only does it do something when it dies, but it does something mean.  It reduces the surviving creature’s base stats by 3/6/9.  While most people (including me in just a few more lines) are going to focus on the health reductions, I’d like to take an opportunity to point out that the base attack reduction is nothing to scoff at.  If Darkshaper Savant has taught us anything up to this point, it’s that a dead creature deals no damage.  So, you’re best bet is to always kill something when you can.  The other, lesser-known lesson it teaches is that creatures with 0 attack also deal no damage.  That can sometimes be just as good.  Darkshaper and Vengeful must have graduated from the same high school.

Anyway, on to the poll!

How would you rate Vengeful Spirit?

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I think a lot of people are going to misunderstand how to use Vengeful Spirit properly.  The way I see it, Vengeful Spirit is a suicide assassin.  Its low heath doesn’t really make it a prime creature for sustained damage dealing, so it needs to kill what’s across from it quickly and give up the ghost (pun intended).  Sure, its attack makes it pretty decent at a one-on-one trade.  Special ability aside, there’s a good chance that you can use it to take out whatever its laning against if it shares the same rank.  But it would be a mistake to try and make an even Rank trade with Vengeful Spirit.  You have to take advantage of its special ability!

Let me declare that Vengeful Spirit should never be played into an empty lane, ever.  Why?  Because then your opponent determines how the Spirit’s ability is used, not you.  Let me illustrate this briefly with a question: If your opponent has a Rank 2 Magma Hound on the board, which would you rather do?  Kill it with your Rank 1 Vengeful Spirit (and thereby gain some Rank Advantage)?  Or play it into an empty lane and allow your opponent kill it with a Technosmith or some other unfavorable trade of their choosing.   You have to find a way to get the maximum benefit from it on the turn you play it, because every other turn it survives you’ve essentially given up its special ability to someone else.

Vengeful Spirit’s greatest strength and it’s greatest weakness are all bundled up into that ability.  Mastering it boils down to one of the core fundamentals of SolForge.  If you pay for a creature’s ability (by way of base stat reductions), then you better get your money’s worth out of it or you would have been better off playing with a different card all together.

Given this train of thought, I’m going to vote that Vengeful Spirit is Not Worth It.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the card is Balanced.  Unfortunately, my gut feeling is that I don’t like the card, and I have a hard time wanting to play it.  Since it doesn’t ever belong in an empty lane, it doesn’t belong in my deck.  Other things can do its job and better.  Who knows, though, maybe all of you will prove me wrong.  What’s your vote?

About Racecar0

13 comments

  1. I’m not sure I agree that a creature needs to be playable on an empty lane  in order to be useful; if a player is on the defensive, they probably wouldn’t want to be playing into empty lanes anyway. 

    That said, I haven’t played around with it yet, so I can’t comment on the effectiveness of the card; however, one way to see it, is as a less reliable but more flexible Cull with the trappings of a creature. As you noted, against the vast majority of non-buffed creatures it essentially guarantees an even exchange. It’s weaker than Cull in the sense that the effect may not take place until the next turn, can be weakened by killing the spirit outside of combat or buffing the victim, and could miss against moving creatures. On the other hand, it also works against creatures of any rank (presumably even untargetable ones going by Brimstone’s precedence), it cripples a creature even if it doesn’t kill it, and of course the spirit can still be used against an empty board.

    So in summary, it looks like this card provides a defense against dangerous creatures that is somewhere between using Cull and blocking/attacking with a normal creature. Whether that’s a strong card in practice is another matter…

    As a side note, the reveal of this creature has solidified a separate class of creatures, bringing the total to 5: beaters (Forgeplate, Zimus), which have high health and decent power and trade well with other cards; targeted casters (Shapers, Reaver), which have mediocre stats, but on certain conditions can cast lower-rank versions of faction spells; support (Skarn, Yuru), which have low power, high-health, and affects adjacent lanes as long as they live; and spell-like creatures (Lightning Wyrm, Vengeful Spirit), which channel equal-rank (ie powerful) spells in combat and are so frail that they are likely to die very quickly afterwards in an uneven exchange.

    (I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a targeted spell that causes the same effect as Vengeful Spirit’s death effect, and another creature that causes about half of that on summon. In fact, it would form a nice counterpart to the Tempys quartet of Spark, Wyrm, Flameshaper, and Hound.)

  2. Not worth it? I agree that you don’t want to play it into an empty lane, but it does have the ability to trade up. Also as SeomanReborn has mentioned, it can help get around massive armor.

    It’s not a fantastic card, and perhaps it’s only an average card overall. I think it might be a bit hasty to say it’s not worth it though.

  3. I haven’t played with it yet but I votet “Balanced”. It’s a cool ability and is one of those cards that you need to be clever about, I tend to like those more than the “obvious” cards.

  4. I grappled with weak and balanced with this. I wasn’t sure how to look at the card (should I just view it as a 7 rank 1 attack that gets a penalty when attacking the player; do I ignore its low low health at rank 1?).

    In the end I decided to look at it in the situation I would most like to play it. That situation is to use it to create rank advantage (copywriten yet?). I doubt I would plop this down as a rank 1 across from another rank one but if there was a rank 2 or even a rank three I would throw this in front of it.

    It is a much more limited balanced card than say magma hound and probably why I was leaning towards weak. But if you can use it to trade up a rank or even negate a higher rank then I think it is really powerful, but because its ability is only applicable at the right time it sucks it back to balanced.

    On a side note, some factions are going to be better equipped to go first and tempys and nekrum look to be shaping out as factions that like to go second. I was leaning towards tempys/nekrum but probably will be going back to my initial thought of tempys/alloyin.

  5. I think one of the other values of this card is as the chump block debuff. There’s a common situation in mid to late games where your opponent has a nasty rank 2 card on the field and you have a hand full of rank 1s (or a rank 3 against your rank 2s and 1s). To prevent Forgeplate 2, say, from doing 9 points of damage to you, you throw a rank 1 card in front of it–let’s say a Zombie Warrior 1, which is actually a first-rate chump blocker. During combat on your opponent’s turn, your chump blocker dies, doing some damage (but not a ton, relative to its health) to the Forgeplate 2. Now you need to block a 9/6 again on your turn, and there’s a high risk that you’ll either trade a rank 2 for it, kill it with a rank 2 but leave the rank 2 almost dead, or lose another rank 1 without even killing the darn thing (thus giving up lots of card advantage). Consider this with Vengeful Spirit instead: now the surviving Forgeplate 2 is at 6/5. You might be able to trade it with a rank 1 card (maybe augmented a little with a spell). And any decent rank 2 card should be able to kill it and stay up. Plus, if you have to leave it unblocked, you’re only taking 6 damage, not 9.

    As the numbers work out in this example, the difference between the Zombie Warrior and the Vengeful Spirit isn’t huge. But the Zombie Warrior is just about the best chump blocker we have so far, and the Vengeful Spirit is better. That says to me that the Vengeful Spirit will be very handy blocking higher rank cards at a loss–something that happens all the time.

  6. Duodecim: You’re right, of course; I still don’t think of all of the new cards. But Vengeful Spirit is still better than Deepbranch Prowler, and obviously has a much better leveling curve.

  7. Man, I love how active this community is! I wrote half of a reply before church and in the hours that have passed before I could come back and finish, a few new great points were brought up. Some of what I wrote will now be a little redundant, but it’s worth mentioning again anyway. Here comes the text wall!

    The reason I dislike this card goes back to my “all Rank 1 hand” argument from Card Preview #25. A card’s Rank 1 is always the most important rank you should be looking at, because it’s (likely) the most frequent Rank of that card that you’ll see all game long. Let’s take a look at some numbers that a lot of you have no doubt already looked at. There are 8 cards that Vengeful Spirit can assassinate to gain Rank Advantage. Two of those cards (Lightning Wyrm and Scount Drone) it could have killed without the use of its ability. One of those cards (Echowisp) will end up in an unfavorable trade because a copy will still stick around. That leaves us with 5 cards (Reaver, Devourer, Huntress, Magma Hound, and Vengeful Spirit) where Rank advantage could currently be gained from a Rank 1 Spirit taking out a Rank 2 card.

    Now, out of those cards, which ones would you be able to gain the same type of Rank Advantage with a Zombie Warrior? All but the Magma Hound. That leaves one card that ZW couldn’t kill that Vengeful Spirit could. The other benefits to ZW are that he actually has health and could create Card Advantage trading with other Rank 1 cards where Vengeful Spirit could not. Additionally, if I play ZW into an empty lane (which is perfectly reasonable), he deals more damage to my opponent if left unblocked. This conversation gets interesting as other people have mentioned Deepbranch Prowler in the mix as well. I will admit that I think Vengeful Spirit levels up a little better than ZW and Prowler do, but at Rank 1 (which I say, again, is the most important Rank to look at) I’d take ZW over Spirit.

    To the chump-blocking conversation. I have to say that planning on cards as being “good chump blockers” is a really bad idea. Chump blocking is something you do because you don’t have anything else you can do that’s better. It’s a defensive, on-the-ropes type of move. I’m not saying that it’s something that won’t happen to you as a player, because that is a lie. I say that planning on creatures doing that from the get-go is the wrong thing to do for deck-building. I don’t want to put cards in my deck because they’re the best chump blockers, y’know? I want to put cards in my deck because they help me to reach the win condition. Chump blocking is just something that happens when it happens.

    The armor argument, as has been mentioned in a few places, is the only area where I can see this being effective. For now, we don’t have many Armor creatures (only one to be precise), so I can’t place a lot of worth on it. The Armor situation is likely to change, but I can’t bank a current opinion on what might be. Only what is.

    I have to agree with Duodecim that I look at this card as kind of a mangled, creature version of Cull the Weak (or potentially some other spell down the line). It’s clunky and I think that its ability is only sometimes helpful. Take a look at the now-changed Magma Hound and you can see a creature with almost the same benefits, but does the job better. You could easily say that at Rank 1 each card does an equivalent of 7 damage. Magma Hound, however, isn’t limited to dealing that damage to a specific creature within its lane. (Plus it doesn’t have to die, a bad thing for creatures in this game, to do its work.) I think Vengeful Spirit suffers from the same limitations that made Blood Sucker (not Bonescythe Reaver, but Blood Sucker) a difficult card to want to play. I just can’t see in its current incarnation in the current environment being a card that I want to play with.

    Tournament 3 is coming up soon, though. Prove me wrong! 🙂

    • Racecar: we can’t really just discount “chump-blocking ability” that easily though, because it happens often enough that handling it well can make a huge difference. Sure, it’s only something done when you’re already in a bad situation, but due to the way draws work in Solforge, bad situations happen frequently, oftentimes as a result of pure luck, and part of winning is being able to make the best of these bad situations. If this card can make the difference between being crushed by some large, scary creature and surviving later to turn things around, then it can certainly be a helpful addition to the deck.

  8. Racecar, I think you are also looking at it from a combat only point of view.

    If you play this opposite a creature and it gets culled/lightning sparked/flameshaper’ed/etc before combat goes off it is better than a zombie warrior as you still have a effect.

    I know solforge is combat intensive but there is plenty of direct damage/removal.

    Re chump blocking: I think it’s something that happens every game often when you get an all rank one hand. You can ignore vengeful spirit, level other things and than when(if) need a chump block have one That can impact more than one turn by lowering attack.

    Yes it might seem weird to put a card in your deck and explicitly plan on not leveling it. But so far it seems very unrealistic to level every card in your deck., so it might not be a bad strategic choice.

  9. Allow me to chime in a little belatedly. One thing to ask yourself when judging the power of any card is: what kind of deck would I put this card in?

    Vengeful Spirit is Nekrim, so let’s think about it in context of other Nekrim cards–in particular, I agree with Racecar that it is most comparable to Cull the Week and Zombie Warrior. First, let’s compare to Cull. Cull clearly has the advantage in being able to take out a creature before combat occurs–valuable for countering “chump-blocking”. What advantages does Vengeful Spirit have over Cull?

    1) At higher ranks Vengeful Spirit can take out (or damage significantly) a Level 3 creature–something that Cull is incapable of doing.

    2) Vengeful Spirit is a creature.

    Why is being a creature important? Ask Yuru and Grimgaunt Devourer, and see what they say about it.

    As for Zombie Warrior, Racecar0 is correct that in most cases where you might play this, you would prefer a Zombie Warrior, because the Zombie Warrior has a better chance of surviving combat. But in some black decks, survival can be overrated–and Yuru can’t revive a Zombie Warrior anyway.

    Is Vengeful Spirit a card you might build a deck around? Clearly not. But can it be a useful component within some black decks? Absolutely.

  10. This is totally late and random, but note that the only time the armor penetration of this ability comes into play is when the armor rating is higher than Vengeful Spirit’s power–in any other matchup it’s no different than as if Vengeful Spirit had +3/6/9 power. Presently the only matchup that satisfies this condition is Forgeplate 3 vs Vengeful Spirit 1, and it’s hard to imagine that any card will be getting higher than 8 armor.

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