Wednesday , 28 June 2017
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Tag Archives: Deck Building

Deck Upgrade #5: Evaluating Cards in SolForge

Evaluating cards is a key part of deck building.  You need to be able to figure out which cards are broadly strong, which are narrow but strong, and which are just plain weak in order to figure out which ones belong in your deck.  Card evaluation skills are important in general, but they will become particularly important with the upcoming release of drafts (estimated for later this month or next month).

Reviewing other people’s evaluations of card strength is useful, but only up to a point.  I recommend that everyone check out columns like Raidrinn’s card reviews (available for Nekrium, Tempys, Alloyin, and Uterra), but those evaluations are necessarily general—they don’t take into account the specifics of how you will be using those cards.  Likewise, comparing a creature’s attack and health to the averages for its level (a summary of those averages is available here) is useful but is only a starting point.

In this column, I want to focus on three specific points about card evaluation in SolForge.  First, you have to evaluate a card across all three levels, not just at one level.  Second, to paraphrase the traditional rule about property, the three most important things in evaluating a card are context, context, and context.  Finally, context isn’t just about your deck—it’s about your opponents’ decks as well.

Evaluate the Whole Card, Not One Level

During the period before the Core Set’s release, whenever SBE spoiled a new card, players would comment things like “Level 3 is overpowered” or “Avatars aren’t that good because their Level 3 isn’t very impressive.”  Both of those comments are of a type that are not even wrong—they just don’t make sense as a way of analyzing cards.  A single level of a card can’t be a reason, on its own, to conclude that a card is weak.   Similarly, it is impossible for a Level 3 version of a card to be overpowered without considering the other levels of the card, and virtually impossible for a Level 1 card to be overpowered without considering the other levels.  I can easily construct cards with arbitrarily powerful Level 3s that are still balanced or underpowered overall.  I can’t promise that these cards would be fun, but they could be balanced.

Consider a hypothetical spell, “Nekrium Death Curse,” which has the Level 3 text “Your opponents lose all life and lose the game.”  Overpowered, right?  Not necessarily.  Imagine the Level 1 version reads “You lose 50 life.  This card cannot be leveled without playing it.” and the Level 2 version reads, “You lose 45 life.  This card cannot be leveled without playing it.”  That card would be weak.  Playing it would make you extremely vulnerable to any burn or any card advantage and would give up card advantage to boot.  It might be possible to play it as a less good Arboris, Grove Dragon, pairing it with life gain cards like Glowstride Stag and Lightbringer Cleric.  But even then, it would be a sufficiently fragile strategy that it would not be overpowered.  Likewise, a 25/25 Level 1 creature could be balanced, if the Level 2 version reads “You must play this card if it is in your hand.  You lose the game.”

Of course, a particularly powerful level or a particularly weak level matters for evaluating a card.  Chrogias would be massively overpowered if it had an even average Level 1 and Level 2 version—the powerful Level 3, weak Level 2, and terrible Level 1 are what make it balanced.  Similarly, the Avatars are all powerful in monofaction or monofaction with a splash, because they have phenomenal Level 1s, strong Level 2s, and average Level 3s.  Who cares that 15/15 is only so-so at Level 3 when you’ve been 2-for-1-ing for two Player Levels?

Whether a card with one strong level and two weaker levels is worth playing depends on the central point in card evaluation:  context, context, context.

Context, Context, Context 

Cards are not strong or weak in the abstract, but only in context.  Which is a stronger card, Deepbranch Prowler or Chrogias?  It depends entirely on what cards you’re playing it with, what the game plan of your deck is, and what the circumstances of the board are.  If you’re playing a deck filled with Technosmiths and Synapsis Oracles, designed to level up cards without necessarily playing them and then win with Level 3 bombs, Chrogias is the clear winner.  If you’re playing a rush deck designed to seriously damage your opponent during Player Level 1 and win in early Player Level 2, Chrogias is worse than worthless and Deepbranch Prowler is a strong card.  The difference is all about context.

When I think about the context of cards I’m evaluating, I consider synergy; my deck’s game plan; and important niche filling.  Each of these topics deserves more consideration than I can give it here, but I’ll lay out the basics.

Synergy is the way in which a card becomes stronger when played with certain other cards.  Battle Techtician and Alloyin General are both reasonable cards on their own, but together they become much more effective because of the strong synergy they have.  I’ve written about synergy (and its cousin, dependencies) before, and I suggest reading those articles and considering their applications to card evaluation.  One particular thing I’ll mention is the difference between constructed play and draft or other limited formats.  Soul Harvest is a much stronger card if you know that you can include cards like Zimus, Death Seeker, and Flamespirit Mystic in your deck.  In constructed, you can make sure that will be true.  In draft, you’re unlikely to get a Zimus and may not even get a Death Seeker, which means you have to lower your estimate of the value of cards like Corpse Crawler and Soul Harvest that need sacrifice targets.

A deck’s game plan is how that deck wins games.  It’s not “what would the perfect draw for this deck be?” but rather, what are the realistic, tested paths to victory.  For a deck based on playing spells and triggering powers, the game plan is level up Savants/Flamespeakers/Master of Elements, then chain together strings of free spells and use the combination of Savant/Flamespeaker triggers and the spells themselves to win the game.  For an Uterra/Alloyin leveling deck, it might be level up Chrogias, Echowisp, and Scrapforge Titan, and then use them to overwhelm your opponent.  Typically, a strong deck will have multiple paths to victory—if you build a silver-bullet deck around one card, your deck will fail if you don’t draw that card.  And flexibility in your game plan also lets you play around an opponent’s deck.  If your plan is to Phytobomb and play Deepbranch Ancient and Lifeblood Dryad, you may find yourself in trouble against a Grimgaunt Devourer and Spring Dryad deck.  If you can switch to playing your Shardplate Delvers and Spring Dryads as an alternate path to grow to victory, you have a much better chance of winning.

In general, a card that fits your game plan will be more valuable than one that doesn’t.  Matrix Warden has mediocre stats and an only so-so ability, but in decks that rely on boosting attack, it can be an important support card for core cards like Hinterland Watchman or Oreian Warwalker.  It’s not just that the card has synergy with the rest of the deck—a card that fits the game plan gets additional value because it enables the deck to achieve its design.

The last major aspect of context I want to discuss is the role niche cards can play in a deck.  While typically you want cards that fit within your core game plan, sometimes you need to include cards to deal with problems that may come up.  For example, a power-leveling deck may nonetheless include Deepbranch Prowler.  Prowler can serve the twin purposes of providing early game board presence if you are otherwise in danger of being overrun by a rush deck, and giving you options when you get an unlucky Level 1 hand in later Player Levels.  In that context, Prowler is not a part of the deck’s game plan—if the deck performs ideally, the Prowler would never see play.  But it still has higher than ordinary value, because it fills a necessary niche in the deck.  It provides a tool to deal with the other part of the context—what your opponent runs against you.

The Context of Your Opponent’s Deck—The “Meta”

Your opponent’s deck is almost as important as your own in determining the strength of your cards.  Of course, you generally can’t build your deck based on what a specific opponent will play, but you can make some educated guesses about what might be in your opponent’s deck by considering what decks players in general are using.  Trading card game players traditionally use the term “the metagame” or just “the meta” to describe the overall play environment—what decks are popular, what cards are seeing lots of play, and equally importantly, what isn’t seeing play.  The difference between the constructed meta and the draft meta can be huge—even if Everflame Phoenixes are a must-answer in constructed, played by many players, they will never be a major presence in draft, where vanishingly few players will have even one.

In addition to specifics of individual cards (in an environment with lots of Savants, Gemhide Basher is stronger), speed matters.  The faster matches are likely to be over, the more important Level 1 is and the less important Level 2 is.  The speed of matches depends on how fast your deck is, how fast your opponent’s deck is, and how the interaction of the two decks affect things.  A lot of this has to do with play of the game—there’s no downside to playing a card like the Avatars, with a very strong Level 1, if you’re in the last Player Level the game will reach.  But it also affects deck design—bombs like Chrogias are more powerful in slow games than in fast games.  In particular, because we can expect draft and other limited formats to be on average slower than constructed, cards with weak Level 1s and strong Level 3s will generally be stronger in limited than they are in constructed.

Ultimately, reaching your own opinions on which cards are strong and which are weak—and critically on which are strong in your particular deck, in this particular meta—is one of the most challenging but also most enjoyable parts of a trading-card game.  This column outlined some of the aspects I focus on.  What do you rely on?

Bracket #19: In Which I Attempt to Shake-Up the Metagame

I’m tired of writing up column after column describing the latest Shaper-dominated decks in SolForge Tournaments.  Until this past weekend, it seemed that the metagame was slowly evolving away from them… unfortunately, from that perspective, we just took a large step backwards.  (More on that later.)

So with that in mind, let’s talk about how to beat Shaper decks.  Hopefully, that might inspire some of you to play something else in the next few tournaments.

Read More »

Forging the Deck: You’re a Wizard, Raidrinn! + Tournament Report

Since the Core Set released, decks that contain mostly spells have been on a lot of people’s radar. Why? Because it is a new, unique way to play the game. The challenge of beating an opponent with only a few creatures in your deck is hard to pass up. As someone who likes a challenge, during Gen Con I built my first version of spells; Tempys/Nekrium. The deck had 2 win conditions. A single copy of Lyria, and 1 Scorchmane Dragon (I didn’t have Zimus). The deck was not great. It could win a few games, but not with any consistency. It felt powerful, but there was something missing.

Enter Flameshaper Savant, the man of the hour. Finally I wasn’t just trying to get bits of value with Master of Elements and Static Shock, I now had an engine. But an engine needs fuel, and realizing that Flameshaper Savant was the real centerpiece of the deck, not the fact it was mostly spells, I switched over to Alloyin as my Faction Pair.

The deck’s improvement was immediately noticeable. Ghox and Energy Surge allowed me to consistently find Flameshapers, as well as create far superior spell chains. I settled on 8 creatures for the deck because every creature I added made the spell chains less consistent. After a bit of theory crafting and testing, I settled on this list.

The Deck

Creatures:
3 x Flameshaper Savant
3 x Master of Elements
2 x Ghox, Metamind Paragon
Spells:
3 x Energy Prison
3 x Energy Surge
3 x Static Shock
3 x Lightning Spark
3 x Uranti Bolt
3 x Firestorm
2 x Metasculpt
2 x Disintegrate

Flameshaper Savant
The deck may be named spells, but this is the true engine of the deck. One of the mistakes people seem to make is clogging their deck with other… stuff. The deck doesn’t need stuff, it needs Flameshaper and cards that make Flameshaper better.

Master of Elements
Massive body and free spells = winner.

Ghox, Metamind Paragon
“Why Ghox?” some ask. “Why not Stasis Warden?” others inquire. The answer is actually very simple.

You don’t have to level Ghox.

I must stress the importance of leveling in this deck. When you level the wrong cards at the wrong times, you lose. It’s that simple. There are already 9 cards that are completely level dependent, why would you want to add more? Every level dependant card that is added is another card that is useless after Player Level 1.

Energy Prison
The obvious use is to lock down creatures that are too large for your damage based removal to handle, but there is an even more important function this card provides…

Giving your own creatures Defender.

One of the most powerful plays this deck has is locking down either your Flameshaper or your Ghox from attacking. Unless your opponent has a removal spell or large Aggressive creature, your engines will sit on the field for the rest of the game.

Static Shock
Free spells without a large body still = winner.

Lightning Spark
Kills creatures, goes to the face when the board is clear.

Uranti Bolt
This one is more interesting. Leveling this card is not really a priorit,y because the Defender clause remains useful all game. I’ll often cast one a turn on an abnormally difficult creature while I wait for an Energy Prison.

Firestorm
Aggressive Echowisp is a problem, this is your answer.

Metasculpt
I saw someone on the SolForgeGame Forums say, “…and we all know Metasculpt is terrible.” I couldn’t believe it. This is subtly one of the most powerful cards in the game. Can’t kill a Grimgaunt when its about to get huge? Sculpt it. Arboris 100/101? Sculpt it. Fleshfiend 3? You get the picture. On top of this, the card doesn’t need to be leveled until Player Level 2. That’s very important as card leveling order is critical.

Disintegrate
This is the card that I get the most flak about. I will be the first to admit that this card is awful. I hate that I need to play this in the deck. Looking at the current card pool, I’ve exhausted all the playable removal that doesn’t need to be leveled (except for Sonic Pulse and Electro Net, but those cards playtested awfully). On top of that, the problem I started running into was not a “need more removal” problem, but a “need cards that don’t target creatures” problem. Disintegrate is a card I can cast that doesn’t need a target, and until better options come along, its probably staying in.

The Gameplan

Spells is hands down the most difficult deck to pilot that I’ve used in SolForge. Spell sequencing, draw percentages, spell and combat math, as well as when to block, when to take damage, and when to just race your opponent to 0. Even in the finals match of the Tournament, I made many mistakes and I’m very practiced with the deck.

Player Level 1: Cast Flameshaper
The spell order is as follows:

Flameshaper Savant
Flameshaper Savant
Flameshaper Savant
Master of Elements
Energy Prison
Energy Surge

If you have Flameshaper in hand, find a way to cast it. I don’t care how much damage you are taking, if you can’t cast Flameshaper you lose. Of course there is the rare game where you draw only 1 or even 0 Flameshapers. That’s ok; don’t panic. That’s why you are allowed to level Energy Surge. Even in the games where you don’t have Flameshapers leveled, Energy Surge will dig them up for you. There was at least one occasion during the tournament where I only leveled one Flameshaper the entire game, and Ghox/Energy Surge made sure I found it every time.

Player Level 2: Stay Alive
Flameshapers and Masters usually do a pretty good job of clogging the board but you are often battling from behind at this point. Now you finally get the opportunity to cast all those other spells you haven’t even looked at yet. It’s common to be able to play Flameshaper 2, Master 2, Static Shock 1, and any other spell. This will easily help you battle back from most board states. You’re objective is to clear the board and keep it clear for the rest of the game.

Player Level 3 and Beyond: Win the Game
Once Player Level 3 gets going, you’ll have a large percentage of your engines leveled. You are likely drawing extra cards and generating excess damage which you send at the opponent. Besides continuing to keep the board clear, your priorities now change to locking your own Flameshaper with an Energy Prison, or just chaining tons of cards with Ghox and Energy Surge. Usually, if you have made it this far and are above 40 life, you are golden.

The Tournament

In the minutes before the tournament, I’ll admit I was sweating a bit. I had spent some time looking through the decks, and while a majority of the tournament was playing Nekrium or Uterra midrange style decks (both of which are great matchups for Spells), there were a couple of decks I knew would be problematic with if pairings did not go in my favor. SeomanReborn, I’m looking at you and your 3 Jet Packs.

Pairings went up and I breathed a sigh of relief. While I was in one of the pods where I would have to play a winner (which means a potentially stronger deck) both builds were Nekrium midrange and therefore pretty favorable with my Energy Prisons and Metasculpts set to snap off the scariest of the threats. The Jet Pack deck was safely on the other side of the bracket, so I wouldn’t need to worry about facing it early on. Sadly for MNPaladin, who was playing the same 30 as myself, he got paired up with SeomanReborn and lost a close 3-game match.

Both seraphimscall and Voidhawk played very well. Early on, I had to stave off aggressively-leveled Fleshfiends, Zimus, and Lyria from seraphimscall as well as the Xrath, the Dreadknight of Varna in conjunction with Unrelenting Dead from Voidhawk. Its value and ability combinations like these where Metasculpt really shined for me. If I couldn’t kill or lock down a creature with Flameshaper or Energy Prison, Metasculpt made sure I would be able to do so on the following turn. Four intense matches later, I faced MrHyde.

MrHyde played a card that I hadn’t considered during testing, and it bit me hard in that first game. During Game 1, he aggressively leveled 2 Explosive Demise which countered my Prisons and in the end killed me only a turn or two before I could have had the game myself. I needed a change in strategy. Game 2, I mostly eschewed Energy Prison in favor of aggressively leveling Energy Surge. This would allow me better chains in the mid and late game for the extra damage needed to remove his creatures from the board instead of locking them down with Prison. The strategy was very effective. While I had to make concessions in the early game and take a lot of damage, I was able to stabilize at around 40 life each game and render his Explosive Demises useless by never leaving a creature alive on his side of the field.

Skies had me worried; the combination of large Aggressive creatures and Phoenix to finish off my life total during the end-game seemed very dangerous. I was fortunate in the fact that instead he played a more controlling role with the deck. I was able to out chain his Flameshapers with my own and move on to the quarterfinals.

Decurion’s deck had an interesting focus on recurring creatures and removal using Scourgeflame Sorcerer as its main engine. Sadly, he was unprepared for Metasculpt and Energy Prison. Once the Flameshaper engine was revved, I raced to the finals.

The final match was the only match that got officially recorded. You can watch the match yourself here. The pressure and length of time I had been playing must have started getting to me because there are a number of misplays I made that, while not costing me the match, show that I still have much to learn about this game.

Epilogue
I have to say, its pretty fantastic to have won my first official Stoneblade sponsored SolForge tournament. I had played in many of the previous community tournaments, and while I had fun, I didn’t do as well as I could have. This was an awesome tournament put on by an amazing community of people. I’d like to specifically thank Kit101, Racecar0, and MNPaladin for all their help just letting me grind games against them all. May you all draw your Flameshapers and play them often.

Bracket #15: Looking Forward

First, I would like to congratulate The Rope for a resounding success in last weekend’s Sealed Deck SolForge TournamentThe Day 1 champion solidly defeated Badmoonz, the Day 2 champion, in the final match.  Both decks combined Uterra Packmaster and Echowisp with a selection of Tempys and Uterra supporting cards, but in the end The Rope’s Echowisps were just too much for Badmoonz to handle.

Overall, the tournament was a resounding success. Almost 60 people ended up participating.  While both day’s champions played decks that approached the standard Growth deck that was dominant before Set 1 was released, many other players had at least some success with a wide variety of different deck designs.  Stoneblade Entertainment’s Brian Kibler and Justin Gary both stopped by to play some matches, and we gave out $5 store credit door prizes (that SBE generously provided) to several lucky participants.  On behalf of Forgewatch, I would like to thank all of those who participated.

This Friday, Forgewatch, in cooperation with SBE, will be hosting the first Set 1 Constructed Deck Tournament, and we hope to see a large turnout there as well.  Once again, SBE has provided us with $5 store credit door prizes to hand out, and this time forum badges will also be given to the Top 4 participants.  Also, the Top 4 will be eligible to participate in a future Invitational Tournament, which will pit the top players from several different tournaments against each other.

Of course, this week we saw the full release of Set 1, so I thought it would be a good time to go over a few things that you can expect from both me and Forgewatch over the coming months. Read More »

Bracket #13: Testing Packmaster

Before I get started on last week’s Live SolForge Tournaments, I would like to congratulate Pion on his Forum Community Tournament 5 victory.  Pion defeated SeomanReborn in a battle of similar Tempys-Rush decks that both took advantage of Rageborn Hellion’s strength and used Alloyin as a secondary faction.  They were the only two such decks in that tournament; it was a clever and ultimately successful deck design.  In fact, this type of deck is still a reasonably viable deck on the client (although admittedly it is not as good as the dominant Uterran Packmaster Growth deck we are seeing so often—see below for more details on that).  If you haven’t tried to take advantage of the synergy between Rageborn Hellion, Alloyin General, and Ionic Warcharger, I would recommend that you do so.

Now, last week there were two different live tournaments.  The two tournaments had virtually identical structures, with one key difference.  In one, PC Community Tournament 3 (PC3, sponsored by Forgewatch), players were allowed to use any card that they wanted.  In the other, the SolForge Packless Tournament (I’ll call it Packless from now on, organized by Kit), all cards were allowed except for Uterran Packmaster.  This allows for a bit of a test: both tournaments were being played under the same metagame, with the same cards and rule-sets.  How much would the banning of a single card affect the deck composition of the participants and finalists? Read More »

Bracket #12: Live Tourney 2 and Forum Tournament 6 Swiss

PC2: The Rise of Grimgaunt-Growth Hybrids

On Saturday, Forgewatch hosted the second live PC Client SolForge Tournament (PC2 from now on).  There were 16 participants for this event.  Each round was best two games out of three (or first to two wins in case of ties), although the tournament as a whole was a single-elimination format.  No cards were banned, and I served as Tournament Organizer, with some organizational assistance from Racecar0.  I would also like to thank grim2103, who did an insightful live commentary on the streams during the tournament.

kbs666 won the event, playing what was clearly the dominant deck of the day: a Uterra-Nekrium, Grimgaunt-Growth Hybrid deck.  (You can see the full decklists here.) Similar decks were also played by the third and fourth place finishers, SeomanReborn and Kovayaro, respectively.  zrandles finished in second place, using a Tempys and Nekrium removal- and direct-damage heavy Dragon Stall deck; zrandles got particularly good usage out of Firestorm and Flameshaper Savant (and, of course, Scorchmane Dragon). Read More »

Forging the Deck #9: Hellion Lays an Egg

Note: This article includes only those cards and changes available on the Steam Client as of the 7/16/13 update.

Since the latest card update, I’ve been experimenting a lot with deck designs.  In today’s Forging the Deck, I’ve decided to write up my favorite (and most successful) of these experiments.  Before I describe the deck, let me start by saying that the deck has three paths to victory: Rageborn Hellion, Enrage and Scorchmane Dragon.  If you don’t think that those can comfortably coexist in the same deck… well, read on.  I hope to prove you wrong.  Also, while you read this article please keep in mind that this deck relies on building Card Advantage quickly, and using that Card Advantage to either win quickly or to allow it to get away with playing a Level 1 Scorchmane Dragon (aka an Egg) early in the game.  If you do not understand Card Advantage, I strongly recommend that you go read both Noetherian’s and Cerebral Paladin’s excellent discussions of the subject before you continue reading this article.

The Deck:

Creatures: (all cards x3)

Spells: (all cards x3)

Releasing the Inner Fire

Card #1: Scorchmane Dragon is normally thought of as a late-game bomb.  You stall out, get to Level 3, and let the big fire-breathing monstrosity win the game for you.  And sure, if you get that far, go ahead and play Scorchmane 3.  But Scorchmane is really here because of his Level 2 stats.  12/12, Move 1 is incredible.  Now, what if put an Enrage 2 on him, and have a 19/19, Move 1 creature?  Or instead, put him on a board with a Hellion 2 so after he attacks he is just gave +2 attack to the whole board?  In short, don’t think about Dragon as just a Level 3 bomb.  Think of him as an extremely powerful Level 2 creature.

The problem with this deck is laying that egg without getting too far behind on the board.  We’ll get to that.

Card #2: Rageborn Hellion will functionally win you most games.  If nothing else, it’s the card that will draw the most attention in most games, thereby freeing up your other creatures.  Hellion is wonderful for growing your creatures, especially if you can get multiple copies of it on the board at the same time.  Hellion is also a good target for Enrage; a 5/11 creature can be annoying to deal with, and it keeps the Hellion buff on the field for that much longer.

Card #3: Ashurian Mystic has two roles in this deck, the same two that he serves in most decks.  First, Mystic’s job is to proc Hellion, growing the attack power of all the other creatures on the board.  And second, Mystic is a great finisher, especially if you’ve been leveling Enrage (and yes, you’ve been leveling Enrage, right?)

Card #4: Cavern Hydra is one of the great Card Advantage generators in all of SolForge, so of course it is in this deck.  And you should never be afraid to play it.  In fact, with this deck, Turn 1 Hydra is my favorite play.  If my opponent ignores it, because its base Attack is a bit low, I’ll make him pay for it with Enrage or Hellion.  If my opponent tries to kill it, in most cases doing so will only give me the Card Advantage that I’m looking for.

Card #5: Deepbranch Prowler is mostly here as a low-depreciation card to minimize the negative impact of late-game Level 1 draws, although Prowler’s natural Breakthrough does make it a fabulous target for Enrage.   A 10/10 Prowler is difficult enough for your opponent to deal with that it’s not a horrible play on Turn 2; a 19/19 Prowler (which is a Prowler 1 + Enrage 3) is never a bad play anytime.

Card #6: Echowisp is a low-depreciation card that is excellent at recovering from bad board positions.  It plays a much smaller role in this deck than in most decks you’ll find it in; leveling Echowisp is by no means a priority.  But sometimes you’ll find that your opponent has you out-gunned and you just need to clear out the lanes, and Echowisp does that admirably.

Card #7: Magma Hound serves a very similar function–recovery from bad board positions–although it’s special ability is also often useful at helping to take down Grimgaunt Devourers (in tandem with another attack, of course) before they can feed.  Of course, both Echowisp and Magma Hound are useful cards in their own right, both of them can be grown by Hellion, and both can be Enraged.  That’s just not their primary function.

Card #8: Enrage is one of the primary leveling concerns of the deck, along with Hellion and Dragon.  Early game, Enrage can help you generate Card Advantage; late game it can help you push through a punishing amount of damage.

Card #9: Lightning Spark is the primary creature removal in the deck.  I have a slight preference for it right now over Uranti Bolt, although either spell works just fine here.  It is mostly here to protect Hellion and to kill Grimgaunt Devourers, Spring Dryads, and other dangerous creatures before they can wreak havoc.

Card #10: Firestorm is here as an anti-Uterra spell.  To be blunt, I would just as soon replace this spell with a creature like Flameblade Champion, Flamestoke Shaman, or Flameshaper Savant.   But nothing takes out Echowisp (and Hunting Pack) like Firestorm, Echowisp is ubiquitous in competitive play right now, and this deck does have a little trouble against the fastest Growth decks without Firestorm.   For all of those reasons, I cannot justify removing Firestorm from the deck at this time.  As it is, if you are playing against anyone playing Echowisp, then you should plan on leveling Firestorm.  Otherwise, it’s highly situational.

The Gameplan

Early Game (Turns 1-4)

Try to get through this phase of the game, if possible, having played at least one each of Enrage and Scorchmane Dragon.  Other than that, focus on generating Card Advantage using Cavern Hydra and Echowisp, and try to get the most out of your Rageborn Hellions, playing your Ashurian Mystics, Deepbranch Prowlers, and Magma Hounds only as needed to maintain Card Advantage and trigger your Hellion.  If playing against a Growth deck, make sure to level at least one Firestorm.

Mid Game (Turns 5-10)

The Level 2 versions of Enrage, Hellion, and especially Scorchmane Dragon are your priorities at this point.  Focus on playing and getting the most out of those cards, using them to push through as much damage as possible.  Alternatively, if you are playing against a faster deck, you will probably need to just survive–stall the game out until Level 3, when you can win with your bigger Dragon and your Level 3 Enrage.  In that case, use your Echowisp, Magma Hound, and Firestorm to drag the game out, although do your best to level your Enrages and try to make sure you have at least one Level 3 Scorchmane in your deck.

Late Game (Turn 11 and beyond)

At this point you are reliant on Enrage 3 and Scorchmane 3 to win the game for you, so do your best to get those cards into your deck if they are not there yet.  In particular, look for opportunities to play an Enrage 3 on a Prowler or a Mystic, which can thereby push through damage even if you do not control the board.

Summary

I’ve found this deck is a bit complicated to play, but also a lot of fun.  Enrage and Hellion both have great synergy in their own ways with Scorchmane 2, Hydra, Prowler, and Mystic.  And of course, it is always nice to have that bomb in your deck if the game goes long.  I’ve won with this deck on Turn 6 by stacking Hellions, I’ve won on Turn 9 by putting an Enrage 3 on a Mystic 2, and I’ve won on Turn 20 with a belated Scorchmane 3.  Moreover, I like it because it doesn’t neatly fit into any of the current deck archetypes; I’m not sure what this deck is.  And if nothing else, I hope it demonstrates that the latest patch opened up new metagame possibilities that we haven’t yet explored.

[Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, the card tooltips still reflect the old card text.  We’ll get that updated as soon as possible for future readers. Sorry for the inconvenience!]

SolForge Stream Sum-Up #7

Hello everyone! SeomanReborn here again with another SolForge Stream Sum-Up. This week, because of the 4th of July and the Monday update, the stream was done on Friday July 5th. There was no preview card this week, but Kibler managed to give us some really good information about what is coming up for the future of SolForge.

The 20 Booster Packs

There were a ton of questions on the SolForge forums and Steam forums about who exactly gets the 20 booster packs for free. Kibler clarified this and said that anyone who contributed before the Steam Early Access will be getting them for free. This includes the Kickstarter campaign, the PayPal extension, Pre-Orders, and the Ascension SolForge add-on.

Also, starting the second week of July, they plan on allowing people to purchase 20 packs for $20 (max of 5) in the SolForge Store. People seemed excited about this in the chat, so it will probably do very well.

Tournaments

Kibler also talked about the future of SolForge Tournaments. He mentioned his interview with The Mozu Report and talked some about a tournament idea that StoneBlade is trying to make happen. The problem, Kibler states, is that not everyone can block out 4-6 hours to play a full tournament. Also, during a tournament, there is a lot of dead time for people who finish their games quickly. StoneBlade wants to offer an alternative tournament format that lets you play it on your time. The idea is that you can queue up and play against other people who have similar wins/losses until all the rounds are over. They are not sure on the specifics yet but really want to offer this to people who don’t have as much time. This would be available for Draft, Sealed, and Constructed.

As a side note, when talking about GenCon, Kibler mentioned that the first iteration of Tournament play should be implemented by the end of August.

GenCon

  • For GenCon, they will have a much larger booth than last year.
  • If you wish to interview developers at GenCon, contact StoneBlade on Facebook.
  • They want to have large screens overhead showcasing Developers vs Fans.
  • They want to have many SolForge events but gave no specifics yet.

Card Design

  • Mentioned changes to removal spells but offered no specific changes.
  • Mentioned a possible nerf might be coming for Windcaller Shaman stats.
  • Factionless cards will not be as powerful as faction cards but will have unique effects that do not fit in the factions.
  • Kibler mentioned that the first set is really designed to define the different factions and players should not expect many cards to have cross-faction abilities.
  • Since their design space allows them to add smaller sets of cards, Kibler stated that they may bring structures into the game with a mini card update instead of with a big release.

Misc.

  • There are a bunch of cards that are close to completion. There will be a regular schedule of card releases soon. Also, if you have a fan site, send a message to StoneBlade on Facebook to see if you can get your very own card to spoil on your site!
  • Current plan is to have at least three tiers of Rarity in normal 8 card packs. Five Tier 1 cards, two Tier 2, one Tier 3 card, and the possibility for one of the Tier 1 cards to be a Tier 4+ card instead. No official word yet on exactly how many rarities there will be, though they did mention that they had started with five and were now looking at four.
  • They do plan on retiring sets over time to prevent a build up on sales in the store. They also plan on bringing sets back with special reprints.
  • They plan on having the ability to gift packs and specific cards to friends.
  • They are throwing around the idea of having “Card Spotlight Weeks” where everyone can try out a specific rare in their decks. At the end of the week they will have a sale on that card.
  • Game replays will not be available immediately but are still planned to be part of the game. They are currently looking into having streaming capability inside the game client (to see an example of a game currently using this, see Planetside 2).
  • Kibler showed the iPhone version of the SolForge client on his webcam (pictured in the header) stating it was coming along very well.
  • There is a very good chance that StoneBlade will be at PAX East in 2014.
  • Kibler goes on a Lore rant that you can view from 52:25 to 54:57 during the stream. They would like to produce fiction separate from the game about the SolForge universe but they have no specific plans.
  • If you have feedback, StoneBlade is watching the solforgegame.com forums as well as the Steam forums.

Stream

Watch live video from stoneblade on TwitchTV

Forging the Deck #8: Deck-Builder Celebration Stream

On Monday, six of the Forge Watch staff gathered together to celebrate the launch of SolForge’s new deck-builder live on stream.  We each built a deck and paired off for three really fun (for us, anyway) matches.  You can watch that stream below, but more importantly, you can see the decks we played as well!  The video will have explanations on the purpose behind each deck and how you might play them. The decks weren’t meant to be the very best, but rather a representation of a few of the different popular deck types from our experience.  We hope you enjoy them!

Noetherian’s Nekrium/Tempys Deck

Creatures:
3x Grimgaunt Devourer
3x Corpse Crawler
3x Death Seeker
3x Magma Hound
3x Windcaller Shaman
3x Wind Primordial
3x Flameshaper Acolyte

Spells:
3x Cull the Weak
3x Grave Pact
3x Uranti Bolt

Raidrinn’s Nekrium/Uterra Deck

Creatures:
3x Grimgaunt Devourer
3x Scourgeflame Sorcerer
3x Corpse Crawler
3x Death Seeker
3x Vengeful Spirit
3x Spring Dryad
3x Echowisp
3x Grove Huntress

Spells:
3x Cull the Weak
2x Grave Pact
1x Soothing Radiance

Racecar0’s Tempys/Nekrium Deck

Creatures:
3x Flamestoke Shaman
3x Cinderfist Brawler
3x Ashurian Mystic
3x Riftlasher
3x Windcaller Shaman
3x Flameblade Champion
3x Air Spirit
2x Magma Hound

Spells:
3x Uranti Bolt
2x Cull the Weak
2x Firestorm

Hoywolf’s Alloyin/Nekrium Deck

Creatures:
3x Brightsteel Sentinel
3x Forgeplate Sentry
3x Ionic Warcharger
3x Matrix Warden
3x Spark Bot
3x Scrapforge Titan
2x Synapsis Oracle

Spells:
3x Sonic Pulse
2x Tech Upgrade
3x Cull the Weak
2x Hungering Strike

SeomanReborn’s Alloyin/Tempys Deck

Creatures:
3x Synapsis Oracle
3x Scorchmane Dragon
3x Magma Hound
3x Brightsteel Sentinel
3x Ionic Warcharger
3x Windcaller Shaman
2x Alloyin General
2x Scrapforge Titan
2x Forgeplate Sentry

Spells:
3x Uranti Bolt
2x Sonic Pulse
1x Firestorm

grim2103’s Tempys/Uterra Deck

Creatures:
3x Rageborn Hellion
3x Wind Primordial
3x Rumbling Earthshaker
3x Deepbranch Prowler
3x Echowisp
3x Spring Dryad
3x Ashurian Mystic
3x Windcaller Shaman
3x Cinderfist Brawler

Spells:
3x Enrage

Stream


Watch live video from forgewatch on TwitchTV

SolForge Stream Sum-Up #6

SeomanReborn here again with another Thursday SolForge Stream Update! This week Kibler dropped a crazy amount of information on the future of the game.

Deckbuilder

Deckbuilding 6-27

Kibler did a nice job of previewing the features of the deckbuilder and made a few decks with it. Here are some of the things it can do:

  • Filter visible cards by Faction and Card Type (Creature or Spell)
  • Order cards by Name, Faction, Type, Attack, or Health
  • Save up to 6 different decks
  • Warn you if the deck is not legal for play when you save (if a deck does not have exactly 30 cards or has more than 3 of any specific card). The deck is still saved and can be edited later.

Read More »

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