Greetings! My name is Raidrinn, and Racecar0 has kindly requested that I present to you all an analysis of ForgeWatch’s next SolForge Card Preview, the Steelshaper Savant.
Steelshaper is the Alloyin entry in the Shaper card cycle, where each card features a flavorful ability from their faction each time you play a Level 1 card. Uniquely, this is the only card from the cycle that can add a static ability (Armor) to your creatures. Like the rest of the cycle, it features the 4/6, 6/10, 10/14 Attack and Health progressions. This means, while it won’t be a combat powerhouse early on, it can usually trade with most early plays. In the mid-game, the slightly above average Health–along with its ability to add 4 or 6 armor in a turn–can allow it to survive most threats and make your lower rank creatures a force to be reckoned with.
The Armor increasing ability on Steelshaper Savant has the potential to be very powerful. One of the ways I go about testing this potential is by looking for powerful interactions within the legal cardpool. This way, you can find many of the building blocks needed to design a strong deck that properly integrates card in question. What I’m going to do here is breakdown my FAVORITE FACTION FUSIONS!
Armor, currently unique to the Alloyin faction, is an ability that carries the potential to be a considerable boon for your forces. Since the Alloyin faction usually wants to elongate the game, Steelshaper Savant has a chance of doing some real work stalling the board. Before the recent update, Shapers didn’t play terribly well with cards like Technosmith and Synapsis Oracle since they continually reduced the amount of Level 1 cards in your deck. Now that Level 3 Savants trigger on Level 2 or lower cards, this is much less of a restriction. The Alloyin want to play cards with high Health like Synapsis Oracle, Alloyin General, and Ionic Warcharger. Forgeplate Sentry is already strong and giving it another point or two of Armor would go a long way in helping it dominate the mid-game. Combining Steelshaper Savant and Sonic Pulse can even turn around a board in which you were falling behind. Continue to ratchet up the incremental advantage with Synapsis Oracle and Steelshaper Savant to dominate the late game.
Nekrium have few cards that end up an optimal fit for a deck containing Steelshaper Savant, but those that do are quite powerful. Darkshaper Savant interacts favorably since it reduces power and helps hedge against an opposing Cull the Weak (which obviously destroys even the most heavily armored creature). Grimgaunt Devourer, Blight Walker, and Yuru, Necromancer all want to stay alive as long as possible to continuously generate Card Advantage. A few points of Armor would go a long way in allowing this to happen.
Tempys have some big creatures that they can play, and this may bode well for an Armor increasing inclusion. The possibility of making already beefy and mobile Movers more difficult to kill and forcing through damage is a plausible direction for our Steelshaper Savant. A Flameblade Champion that has been Armored by a Steelshaper Savant would be far more likely to survive the turn needed for a Lightning Spark to clear the blocker from its path or a Windcaller Shaman to bump it over a lane. Volcanic Giant is already gigantic and every additional turn it survives will rapidly drain your opponent of life. Is this better than just putting every Move creature and pump spell in a deck then continually bashing through for damage? Honestly, probably not.
Of the 3 other Factions, I must admit that my favorite pairing is with the Uterra. Uterra has many very powerful defensive creatures that only get better with Armor. Cavern Hydra becomes hellish to get past when its preventing damage and Regenerating every turn. Uterran Packmaster tag teams with Lifeshaper Savant to make sure your Armored dudes really and truly wall anything your opponents play. Other growers (cards that add both Attack and Health) like Shardplate Delver and Spring Dryad are very relevant when you can prevent an additional two or three damage; we need them to survive till our turn after all. If you are looking to use Steelshaper Savant to create overwhelming board-states, there is probably no better pairing than the Uterra.
Wrapping this up, Steelshaper Savant is a Balanced, build around me card, and a flavorful entry to the Savant Cycle. I’m actually very happy that the power level of the ability was increased, because previously the card was just unexciting. Now, I can safely say that Steelshaper Savant will have a place in both faster midgame decks and even a few lategame leveling decks. What is your opinion on the power level of Steelshaper Savant and where do you think its place is in the metagame? Vote in the poll and leave your ideas in the comments below.