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SolForge Card Preview #29: Electro Net

We continue our SolForge Card Previews today with the Electro Net, our first non-creature Alloyin card!  I had a very interesting IRC conversation to thank for picking out this particular card.  Someone approached me out of the blue by saying that Electro Net might be overpowered and people just don’t know it yet.  I strongly disagree.  And while I’ll mostly stick to why I disagree for this article, I feel like there was one good point brought up in that conversation worth sharing as well.  Here’s the card text:

Electro Net

Type: Spell
Faction: Alloyin

Rank 1: Target creature gets -5 attack.
Rank 2: Target creature gets -10 attack.
Rank 3: Target creature gets -15 attack.

Pretty straightforward, right?  At face value, this card immobilizes most creatures by making them useless for attack.  I don’t want to get into too much of why I dislike the card, because I’d hate to sway your votes on the poll.  Heck, I may have already done that.  Let’s get to the poll before things go too far…

How would you rate Electro Net?

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Whew.  Now that the poll is out of the way, let me explain a little bit about why I feel like Electro Net is a hopelessly Weak card.

They way I look at SolForge (for better or for worse) is in trades.  As we’ve seen in some of the Modules, trades can be favorable, unfavorable, or even.  One of the major strategic goals in SolForge is to have as many favorable trades as you can manage within your two cards.  You are constantly asking yourself, how can I gain the upper hand over my opponent with what I have in my hand?  If a card makes an even trade, it’s a no-change situation.  If a card makes an unfavorable trade, you’re probably kicking yourself or hoping that it will come back with a much more favorable trade later (say, in the case of Scorchmane or Chrogias).  The more plays it takes to counter a singular play that my opponent makes, the more likely you can consider it an unfavorable trade.  Example.  If I have to throw two Rank 1 creatures at my opponent’s singular Rank 2 creature, I think it would be safe to say that the trade was unfavorable and has now set me back a little bit.  I’ve spent two of my precious resources (card plays) to their one.  Ouch.

So, the question arises for me, when will Electro Net ever be anything more than just an even trade when I play it?  Think about it.  Let’s say you just threw a Rank 1 Net at my Forgeplate 1.  What have you gained?  Well, you’ve successfully disabled one of my creatures with a single card.  Now you don’t have to block that Forgeplate with anything.  It can just sit there clogging up one of my lanes.  How do I look at it?  Well, I’d say just a smidgen better than an even trade for me!

That doesn’t make any sense, you might say.  Let me explain.  Even trades happen all the time.  I kill your creature with mine in this beautiful Kharmic Strike (L5R reference for those of you in the know) that leaves both creatures dead.  This kind of 1-for-1 trade is common.  If you Electro Net my Forgeplate, I actually come out ahead of that circumstance, if only a tiny bit.  My creature is still alive while your card is spent.  A creature that is alive is still a threat, even if it has 0 attack.  I can pump it with any number of cards (Enrage, Fangwood, General, etc.), I could sacrifice it for an effect (if a card in the future calls for such a thing), I can still use its abilities if they trigger from events (like a Shaper).

But it clogs up my lane and slows down my game, you retort.  Well, I can easily argue that it clogs up your lane just as much, if not more!  Since I’ve already relegated the Forgeplate to the equivalence of an even trade, I can feel free to replace it on the board without regret.  It clogs nothing for me.  It doesn’t even stall my game.  If you want to play a creature into the lane with my Netted Forgeplate, on the other hand, you’re now spending a second card on killing it off.  Advantage to me.

The one saving argument I’ve seen for Electro Net to date is that sometimes saving your own creatures from death can create more than a 1-for-1 advantage.  Take Yuru for example.  If Yuru is about to bite the dust, dropping an Electro Net on the creature across from him can allow him to create more Zombies and therefore more advantage.  I’d say that this is a situational advantage and the one thing that stops me from saying that the card is completely Not Worth It.

Now, here’s there reason I think the card is hopelessly Weak, and why I’m going to vote it as such.  It can’t be fixed.  It’s on the cusp of being a strong card.  It’s one of the few cards that can reliably stop a Zimus from rampaging in endless rebirth.  How do you adjust something like that without tipping the scales too far in the other direction?  I’ll just say that I don’t think that increasing the penalty is the correct path to take.  I have a few ideas, but I’m curious as to what you think.  Leave us a comment below with your vote and let’s start some conversation!

About Racecar0

13 comments

  1. I voted balanced because I focused on a tangential point to your point about zimus.

    If I draw a weak creature hand and an electro net I can than use electro net to either negate the strongest creature on the board or use it and combo it with a weak creature to take out the strongest on the board.
    Targeted threat removal (or at least negation) I think has already shown to be very important.

    Also I think you undervaluing the cost of making the opponent play a card over an already existing card. That makes electro net at least a 1 for 1.5 trade. In your example above leaving the forge plate in the lane is still providing you an advantage especially because of the armor, but if electronet forces you to play over that card you’ve given up that advantage and foregone the opportunity cost of getting an advantage in another lane.

    • I still don’t think there is a cost for me in playing over a creature that’s been negated by Electro Net. To me that creature is, to quote Miracle Max, “mostly dead.” The advantage I get by it still being alive is extremely situational (it requires that I draw and want to play one of those cards mentioned). If I just look at it as an empty lane, which is how I would see it until one of these highly situational moments occurs, then you gain no further advantage. Your Electro Net did it’s job: a 1-for-1 trade. My creature is “dead” to me. I don’t hold out hope for anything to come from it anymore. (But if something does, well that’s nice!)

  2. I agree with you on this one Racecar, I don’t really like Electro Net. Sure, it has is uses and can in some cases do some work (like making sure Yuru makes some zombies) but there are cards that do it better (Cull, Lightning Blast…).

    I voted Weak.

  3. Keep in mind that high-toughness, low-power creatures in my opponents lane can actually benefit me, because they allow me to “hide” support creatures. Some creatures (Yuru, Skarn, the Shapers, etc.) are useful, not because of the damage that they do, but because of the side-benefits that they provide by simply being out on the board. If I play one of those creatures in an empty lane, they are prime targets for my opponent. But if I can play one of those across from another high-toughness, low-damage creature, then it forces you to either ignore my support creature or overwrite your own creature.

    Yes, some decks have the ability to take that 0/9 card and pump it back up. But not all decks have that ability, and even those that do pay an opportunity cost for doing so.

  4. I’m inclined to agree that Electro Net is on the weak side, but I think Racecar0’s analysis understates its value. In particular, I think you underestimate the value of playing Electronet on higher level cards–for example an Electronet 1 on a rank 2 card or an Electronet 2 on a rank 3 cards. Those are plays where the other removal/neutralization spells are weak (Lightning Spark doesn’t do much damage, Cull can’t be played at all). But Electronet 1 can still be meaningful. Imagine that I have a Technosmith 3 on the offensive in the lane with my opponent’s Technosmith 3. None of the other spells help me at all. But Electronet 1 lets me win the exchange, with a 16/5 offensive rank 3 card left in the lane. Sure, my opponent may be able to play a rank 1 card to exchange with the Technosmith (if they have the right rank 1 card in hand–there are a lot that would work). But that still pressures them to play into that lane, rather than the substantially lower pressure a rank 1 creature would bring to the field. And there are other combinations where it’s even more valuable (add some regeneration to the creature that got saved, or follow it with a Druid’s Chant, and you could get a lot of value out of level 1 cards.)

    Yes, Electro Net is situational. All of the spells we’ve seen so far are heavily situational. Cull can be a weak play (e.g. killing a single wisp when you have other blockers in hand that could do it just as well), or it can be super strong (dropping a Yuru before the Yuru can generate two zombie tokens). Lightning Spark is weak except when it’s very strong. Enrage can be worthless, or can swing a losing combat into a winning combat.

    All that said, I agree that Electro Net is weak. I’m probably going to pull it out of my deck as I tune my deck for the Tourney. But I don’t think it’s completely worthless, and I can see why you would play it in, for example, an Alloyin/Uterra deck where you have relatively few direct removal options. (Of course, that assumes your other Alloyin/Uterra cards are sufficiently good to compensate for the weaker removal–but that’s a core part of balancing the game.)

    • I still say that even within your example, Electro Net is a bad card. If we’re tied with Technosmith 3s and you net mine to kill it and keep yours, you’ve still spent 2 cards to kill my 1. Granted, I now have to spend another 1 to kill yours, but that’s still a 1-for-1 trade. Electro Net rarely will produce something that becomes more than a 1-for-1 (I dare say the Yuru example given is one of those few instances). Cull can become more than a 1-for-1 because of the additional card gain. Also, you can gain some advantage with Cull because it can clear a lane and let a creature through (something Net will never attain).

      If we start looking into Electro Net’s usefulness on cards that don’t share its Rank, things start getting very situational. Dropping a Net 1 on a Technosmith 3 that has nothing across from it doesn’t solve the problem of a creature that’s about to deal damage to you. Sure, it softens the blow, but the threat still must be taken care of. Ultimately, in most cases where you can find a way for Electro Net to give you an advantage, I can find a justification that it’s an even trade (or worse) instead.

      • To the extent that you’re trading one card for another of higher rank, that’s a clear win. Rank advantage matters, not as obviously as card advantage, but it still matters.

        Also, fwiw, if Electro Net is overly weak, it can be made balanced by increasing the numbers. There is some value (perhaps -5/-10/-15 is it) where it’s underpowered. There is some value where it’s overpowered (I think we can all agree that -15/-20-25 would be overpowered; -10/-15/-20 feels overpowered to me, because it would let you pretty reliably neutralize completely cards one rank up). But there’s going to be some intermediate value where it’s well-balanced. Maybe that’s -6/-11/-16 (or -6/-12/-18). If you still think that’s too weak, up it to -7/-12/-17. At some point, the gains in rank advantage plays will definitely outweigh the fact that it doesn’t directly produce card advantage.

        • Rank Advantage does matter, but Electro Net has a hard time even giving that much. To head back to our previous example of competing Technosmiths. If you spend a Rank 1 Net to disable my Technosmith and thereby successfully kill it off while preserving your Smith, you seem to gain a great Rank Advantage (though you’ve lost a Card Advantage). If I then turn around and kill your Technosmith with a Rank 1 card of my own, that Rank Advantage is negated. We both spent a Rank 1 card and killed each person’s Technosmith.

          Now, what the Electro Net *does* give you is an opportunity for me to have a bad draw where I can’t kill it off (unlikely, but still possible). Overall, though, the likelihood of an even trade with no advantage to either of us is still quite high.

          • I think you’re still over looking opportunity cost. In the techno v techno battle above electronet allows you to change the dynamic your opponent had going into that battle. Instead of a clear lane he still has 16 attack creature there. So on his turn he now has to forgo the opportunity of an empty lane or take 16 damage.

            Is it easy for him to counter techno, yes, but he is now responding to you instead of dictating the game.

            I guess that’s the difference we see in electro net. You see it solely as a responsive card where as I see it as a tempo changer. Or in solforge module turns I see it as a card that works in either short or long players strategy and can help you flip from short to long or vice versa.

          • Also, the same logic as in the example in module #2 (the rank advantage one) apply here. Imagine you had Forgeplate 3 going up against an Electro Bot. Normally they’d trade, but if you used Electro Net on the Electro Bot, you end up with a (15/7) Forgeplate 3. In contrast, if you had played any level 1 creature, the best you would have gotten would have been a (7/7) Prowler. So in that way you could see Electro Net almost as a sort of preemptive Druid’s Chant.

            Of course, that’s an extreme-case example, and doesn’t make the spell any less situational. But it’s good to note that there are cases where it punches much, much higher than its weight.

          • This example seems to highlight the power of Armor much more than the value of Electro Net to me. I’m really hoping I can see some great Electro Net moves in Tournament 3 😛

          • Aaaargh I can’t wait!

          • And let me point out that Electro Net is an Alloyin spell, and since armor is an Alloyin attribute, interactions between them will likely be more common than it is now.

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