Monday, August 18, 2014

CLA Series - Bonus Content: The Secret Tools of Solis.

Since many of the mechanics in Set 3: The Secret of Solis have been revealed, its worthwhile to take a look at them and see how they will help use to deal with ACLA.


The first keyword revealed for set 3 was "Consistent". Cards with Consistent have a higher priority to be drawn each turn so unless you have over 20 consistent cards, each player level you are guaranteed to see a card with consistent. At the time of writing this 5 consistent cards have been revealed (plus the Forge Guardian Omega which doesn't really count for deck building) and all of them have very weak level 1s and some even level 2, but they all have extremely powerful level 3s. This means that they are not meant to be played as mid ranged cards that give you nice smooth draws but instead they are late game finishers, meant to be played in a deck that has the tools to stay alive during the first few levels while setting up a powerful threat for later. Expect to combine it with Alloyin leveling cards or with aggressive creatures that can make up for the low power of consistent cards in the early game.

Its interesting that the way consistent works is similar to one of the first suggestions that were made by some people in the official forums as a way to reduce ACLA. Implementing that idea as a core gameplay mechanic could have introduced a number of potential problem. By having it be a part of a card, Stoneblade can experiment with the idea without affecting the whole game and can easily modify it if necessary, as well as control just how many cards have the ability. Kudos on them for adding this keyword to the game.


There has only been one card with the banish ability revealed: Toorgmai Guardian. Its a card in the style of Ebonskull Knight, with very strong stats at all levels but with a weakness. This card's weakness is that you must be able to banish a card in your discard pile to get the full creature, otherwise you get a weak version of it. 

Before we go on, lets look at the banish keyword and how it affects the game. It should be no surprise that banishing a card has a considerably lesser effect on your CLA probabilities than leveling a card. Lets visualize that with an example. In a normal game that has no leveler or card draw effects, after playing your 8 cards in level 1, you will have a about 45% probability of drawing 6 or more level 2 cards during the course of the 4 turns in PL2. If you played 3 Technosmiths and were able to level 11 cards, the probability jumps up to 92%. If you played 3 Torgmai Guardians and were able to banish a level 1 card each turn, the probability only goes up to 67%. 

That should give you an idea of how banishing a card from your deck improves your odds of avoiding negative CLA. Its certainly not as good as leveling extra cards, but in this card you get an extremely powerful creature at all levels as opposed to the weak bodies the Technosmith carries. I wouldn't be surprised if other cards have banishing tacked on to very solid bodies, and that will make them quite effective.

In the case of this card in particular, the banished card needs to be a plant. In addition, not banishing a card reduces the power and health of the creature. Both of these things together create a huge liability for the card because it limits its effectiveness considerable. For starters, you usually don't want to play it on the first turn of any level, which makes it weaker 75% of the time. You can always play it as your second card and banish the first card you played but that considerably weakens your deck so you would only want to do that during later levels or if you are being extremely aggressive. But the fact that it has to be a plan is the major drawback. This could have been an excellent card in draft but unless there is a large number of plants printed at common in set 3, it will be very difficult to draft a deck that can consistently play this creature at full strength. However, if you can get enough plants into a deck, and that is certainly possible in constructed, this will be a great card to have.

Cinderbound Barbarian

This card features a mechanic that I hope to see in many more cards. At level 1 it is a 3/3 that reads "When Cinderbound Barbarian enters the field, if you are rank 2 or higher, it deals 6 damage to target creature an opponent controls". The fact that its ability only triggers on a rank higher than its level makes it blatantly obvious that this card is meant to be used as an underdrop. This is confirmed by the power of the ability it carries. Compare to Magma Hound which is a 4/3 that deals 2 damage to a creature. That's about 50% more damage. Having a level 1 card be able to deal 9 damage is very strong and can counter many level 2 creatures. The fact that you can distribute it over 2 lanes is even better. Its also levels up very well, including having a very competitive level 3.

I believe there is a cycle of these cards and hopefully we see more cards like this beyond that cycle. They will most certainly be draft staples if they are all at similar power. I'm not sure about constructed though, since underdrops in constructed are often based on synergy, but we'll see.

 Oratek Battlebrand (efficient leveling)

Oratek Battlebrand is a rare spell that deals damage and lets you level an extra card if you are allied to Alloyin. The impressive thing about it is that at level 1 it deals 6 damage. That's enough to destroy most of the level 1 creatures in the game, making it a very powerful spell. Its limitation is that it doesn't level too strongly but that shouldn't be a problem because effectively when you play it, you are also leveling another card, completely making up for its low power curve, at level 1. During the next level, you will now have the card you leveled and a removal spell which is likely better than any underleveled card.

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