Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rolling Update: Forsaken Wastes Collection

This post is a continually updating display of the runes I have in the Forsaken Wastes. Last update 1/3/10

Afflicted Corpse x2
Angel of Death
Animated Blade x2
Anthropomancer x2
Archfiend x2
Arctic Beast x2
Bile Zombie
Bladed Corpse
Blood Fiend x2
Bonecrusher x2
Boneguard Infantry x2
Broken Bones x2
Carrion Colossus
Cleric of Unrest x2
Collection of Souls x2
Corpse Golem
Crossbone x2
Crypt Guardian
Dark Enchantress x2
Dark Messenger x2
Dark Seductress x2
Dead Fairy x2
Death Guard
Death Harvester x2
Decayed Mercenary x2
Disturbed Spirit x2
Essence Devourer
Eternal Lich
Ethereal Soldier
Executioner x2
Fallen Draksar
Festering Corpse x2
Forsaken Follower x2
Lich King
Mute Stalker x2
Necrotaur x2
Nether Wraith x2
Ravenwraith x2
Risen Yeti x2
Shadestalker x2
Skeezick Boneblade x2
Skeletal Berserker x2
Skeletal Raider
Utterdark Spectre x2
Utterdark Voidhowler x2
Wandering Zombie x2

Black Ops
Chain Lightning
Chains of Corruption x2
Corpse Collection
Delay x2
Drain the Earth
Essence Drain x2
Festering Wounds
Foul Rite
Ghostly Visage x2
Necrosis x2
Necroweave x2
Plague x2
Serkan's Touch
Soul Cage x2
Soulreave x2
Spell Trap
Throw Bones
Wake the Dead
Weaken x2

Chopping Block x2
Elsari Bazaar x2
Elsarin Vex
Mason's Spire
Mist of the Dead x2
Skull of Decay

Blight Ring
Ethereal Mindshank x2
Fleshsewn Helm
Ghost Pendant
Reaper's Blade
Sacrificial Dagger x2
Shield of Darkness x2
Wraith's Tear x2

Rolling Update: Savage Tundra Collection

This post is a continually updating display of the runes I have in the Savage Tundra. Last update 1/03/10.

Savage Tundra Champions

Crystal Pheonix x2
Dwarven Mountaineer
Frost Giant
Frost Wolf x2
Furbull x2
Glacier Rhino x2
Ice Golem x2
Ice Guardian
Ice Wurm x2
Icecliff Patrol x2
Jakei Climber x2
Jakei Disciple
Jakei Footstriker x2
Jakei Frostwing x2
Jakei Icefisher
Jakei Maiden
Jakei Mindstriker
Jakei Shadowstriker x2
Jakei Shardmaster x2
Jakei Snowhisper
Lonx Ambusher
Lonx Hunter
Lonx Hurler x2
Lonx Shredder x2

Savage Tundra Spells

Ancestral Focus x2
Arcic Wail x2
Blizzard x2
Call of the Tundra
Cleansing Storm
Conjure Ice Block
Flash Freeze x2
Freeze the Earth x2
Humble x2
Millennial Icequake
Razor Ice x2
Summon Ant
Weather Harden

Savage Tundra Relics

Coordination Tower x2
Icefishers' Hamlet x2

Savage Tundra Equipment

Crystal Spike
Frost Amulet x2
Heart of Ice
Ice Carved Greaves
L'usura's Staff x2
Yetihide Cape

Rolling Update: Sundered Lands Collection

This post is a continually updating display of the runes I have in the Sundered Lands.

Sundered Lands Champions

Acid Dragoleech
Crokadar Guardian
Diamondhide Basilisk
Drakewing Swarm x2
Draksar Archer
Draksar Berserker
Draksar Broodling x2
Draksar Broodqueen
Draksar Chameleon x2
Draksar Charger
Draksar Doomslayer x2
Draksar Explorer x2
Draksar Footman
Draksar Gunner x2
Draksar Hunter x2
Draksar Master x2
Draksar Psion x2
Dune Walker x2
Krikkinwing x2
Master Trapsmith
Mounted Sauropod x2
Resilient Skeezick x2
RipDemon x2
Sand Scorpion x2
Scythbill x2
Skeezick Alchemist x2
Skeezick Arthomancer x2
Skeezick Baiter
Skeezick Cannoneer x2
Skeezick Dragonslayer x2
Skeezick Drummer
Skeezick Filcher x2
Skeezick Netter x2
Skeezick Rioter x2
Skeezick Ruffian x2
Skeezick Scoundrel
Skeezick Torch
Skeezick Trapper
Skeezick Warmage
Skithmaw Hunter
Steelspine Bearcat x2
Sunderpede x2
Temple Guard x2
Varu Howler
Vindictive Skeezick x2

Sundered Lands Spells

Awaken Brood x2
Blister x2
Blood of the Dragon
Boil x1
Broodguard x2
Call to War
Channeled Violence
Draconic Benediction
Draconic Pulsar
Drought x2
Fight in Formation
Hatching Season x2
March of the Skeezick x2
Quickening x2
Sandspout x2
Skeezick Revolt
Summon Dragon
Taint x2
Tornado x2

Sundered Lands Relics

Dragon Skull
Draksar Warbanner
Hive x2
Sand Generator
Slum Market x2
Tainted Statue
Target Dummy x2
Unstable Powersource

Sundered Lands Equipment

Poison Fang x2
Rage Band x2

Rolling Update: Shattered Peaks Collection

This post is a continually updating display of the runes I have in the Shattered Peaks. Last update 1/03/10.

Shattered Peaks Champions

Alpine Cyclops x2
Bat Swarm x2
Cave Dragon x2
Clay Form x2
Cyclops Battlefiend x2
Cyclops Earthshaker x2
Cyclops Mauler x2
Cyclops Nemesis x2
Cyclops Seer x2
Cyclops Shaman
Cyclops Wardrummer
Cyclops Youth x2
Deepcave Extractor
Eager Cyclops x2
G'hern Birthmother x2
G'hern Isangoma
G'hern Overlord x2
G'hern Punisher
G'hern Rager
G'hern Sustainer x2
G'hern Taskmaster
G'hern Thrower
G'hern Tyrant
Gluttonous Overseer x2
Hyaenid Spearman x2
Moga Assault Team x2
Moga Aviator x2
Moga Cannon x2
Moga Creeper
Moga Sapper x2
Moga Scout x2
Moga Slinger x2
Moga Trailblazer x2
Moga Trapper
Moga Trigger
Moga Zealot x2
Mogahern Destroyer x2
Mountain Lion x2
Mud Elemental x2
Oozing Slag
Overcharged Golem x2
Parasitic Fesh
Pit Wolf x2
Savage Boar x2
Sonic Elemental x2
Vengeful Cyclops x2
Voil Frenzy x2
Voil Lancer x2
Voil Queen
Voil Screecher x2
Voil Sorcerer x2
Voil Transporter x2
Voil Windstriker x2

Shattered Peaks Spells

Avalanche x2
Bad Blood x2
Consume Resources x2
Crack the Earth x2
Defend the Roost
Devour x2
Extended Reach
Implant x2
Intimidation x2
Lightning Storm x2
Magnify Beast
Suicidal Attack x2
Swimming Lessons x2
Tribe War x2
Wings of Steel x2

Shattered Peaks Relics

Echo Chamber x2
G'hern Scarecrow x2
Moga Bartering Post x2
Moga Den x2
Tribal Hut x2
Tribal Post
Voil Caverns x2

Shattered Peaks Equipment

Bag of Boulders
Ball and Chain x2
Cyclops Eye Belt x2
Diamond Mace
G'hern Helm
Mammoth Club
Slaver's Whip x2

Rolling Update: Underdepths Collection

This post is a continually updating display of the runes I have in the Underdepths. Last update 1/03/10.

Underdepths Champions

Ash Demon x2
Bloodletter x2
Bok Guardian x2
Bok Warden
Captive Lorekeeper x2
Corrupted Cultist x2
Deep Elf Assassin
Deep Elf Fire Dancer x2
Deep Elf Masochist
Deep Elf Mercenary x2
Deep Elf Priestess x2
Deep Elf Ritualist
Deep Elf Scout x2
Deep Elf Summoner x2
Deep Elf Temptress x2
Ember Wasp x2
Fire Elemental x2
Gahlroon x2
Goblin Archer x2
Goblin Brute x2
Grundelwulf x2
Hell Tick x2
Imp x2
Imp Jester x2
Incinerator x2
Lavaflow Devourer x2
Magma Bunny x2
Murk Demon
Nefari Dragon x2
Nefari Reaper
Nefari Griefsinger x2
Nightmare x2
Pincushion x2
Redcap Twins x2
RipDemon Alpha
Rust Demon
Scorched Dwarf
Scorpic x2
Servile Brute
Shadow Master x2
Siege Monger x2
Succubus x2
Thunderhoof x2
Trap Spider x2
Undertortoise x2
Warogg x2

Underdepths Spells

Animosity x2
Arachnid Frenzy x2
Blood Exchange
Cauterize x2
Coward's Reach
Dark Pact
Demolish x2
Fire Blast
Hellfire x2
Mass Web x2
Mindstorm x2
Protect the Nest
Scorch the Earth x2
Shadow x2
Shatter x2
Shattered Nerves
Soul Feed x2
Summon Trap Spider x2
Superiority x2

Underdepths Relics
Altar of Votaev
Fire Ruby
Mark of Sheol x2!
Nefari Exchange x2
Nefari Torch x2
Orb of Protection
Temple of Brutality x2

Underdepths Equipment

Blade of the Snake
Demon Shield x2
Flameheart Pauldron
Hate Leech
Nefari Mind Tomb
Night Blade
Scepter of Onus x2
Sheoul Brand x2
Shield of Flame x2
Sword of Shadows x2
Traitorous Helm
Widowmaker x2

Rolling Update: Forglar Swamp Collection

This post is a continually updating display of the runes I have in the Forglar Swamp. Last Update 1/3/10

Forglar Swamp Champions

Bloated Toad x2
Boghopper x2
Boghopper Bull x2
Boghopper Huntmaster
Boghopper Mentor x2
Boghopper Pupil x2
Boghopper Shaman x2
Boghopper Spitter
Boghopper Tad x2
Darkmarsh Snatcher x2
Electric Eel x2
Fentek Servant x2
Fire Salaman
Firk Botanist
Firk Mind Shredder x2
Firk Mindbreaker
Firk Prophet
Forglar Jellyfish x2
Froblic Bull x2
Giant Crustacean
Glowing Slider
Hippo Rider
Kartch, Finlord
Magnetic Anuran x2
Marsh Raptor
Marsh Troll
Massive Anuran x2
Mirefolk Stalker
Mirevixen x2
Muck Dragon
Razorfin Slider x2
Salaman Dervish x2
Salaman Negamage
Salaman Soldier x2
Shock Toad x2
Sludge Wurm x2
Swamp Octopus x2
Swamp Wurm x2
Voodoo Shamfie

Forglar Swamp Spells

Bog Trap x2
Corrode x2
Evolve x2
Feeding Frenzy x2
Hungry Mire
Huntmaster's Charm
Marsh Song x2
Murky Depths

Forglar Swamp Relics

Flood Generator x2
Lotus Altar
Mire Fair x2
Mystic Whirlpool x2
Spirit Altar

Forglar Swamp Equipment

Darkmarsh Helm x2
Firk Mask x2
Poison Dart x2
Scimitar of the Deep
Snaptooth Helm x2
Spirit Stone x2
Tidemaster's Bandoleer x2

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Deck Construction: Gunning for Grimlic 3- Going After Grimlic

Game 5- Trials of the Forglar Swamp Normal

I'm so glad this map has the central island; it used to be utterly brutal. I draw Centaur Skirmisher, Archer Commander, Groble, Elven Archer, and Glorious Charge. I open with the Centaur and then back him with the Elven Archer on turn two. The Elven Archer kills the Boghopper Shaman in one turn, and I've got four champs on the board. Other than a weird thing where my Elven Archer dies to a Muck Dragon, my ranged attacks, combined with a War-Enchanted Groble, manage to clear most of the map in short order.

The presence of the magic-immune firk and the magic-eating Mandrake give my WE Groble pause, but I've got Mogaslicers to handle that. Strangely, the game ends the turn after it spawns the boss champion, but without me so much as touching him.

Game 6- Trials of the Forsaken Waste Normal

This is a low champ opening hand: Groble, Outcast of the Flame, Glorious Charge, Repair, and Full Plate. I open with the Outcast, then play a Groble; then I try something that may or may not pan out. I slap the Full Plate on the Groble. The map is small enough that the lumbering will hopefully not be a problem, and a Groble with 45 Defense will hopefully survive the entire fight. This is great. He takes no damage from anything, and I begin to play a mini-game designed around keeping him from being in a position to take damage (meaning, not letting him be hit by something with a base damage much over 10 and a decent attack). It turns out I needn't have worried, as nothing, none of the purple bases, none of the rares or exotics, have the capacity to injure my Groble. He finishes the battle with unblemished health.

Game 7- Trials of the Savage Tundra

Centaur Skirmisher, War-Enchanted Groble, Seed of Potential x2, Grimlic's Mirror. This is a sort of dream. I lead with the Centaur, but my eventual plan is to cast every rune in my opening hand before anything else. This means I'll have two War-Enchanted Grobles in position to eat up all the spells the AI casts. The best part of this is that it all goes down before a Snowblind is dropped, so I'm able to mirror my WE Groble without any misdirection. While the Skirmisher dances with the Frost Giant, being just fast enough to stay out of its reach, the Grobles work their way up toward the northern font. They hold on for a long time, though eventually one falls to the concerted efforts of 5 or so champions, and then the other crumbles a turn later.

As the armada of summoned foes draws closer, I put a Lodestone Construct in front of my shrine and equip him with the Full Plate; and again, full damage immunity. Or near-full; he can't stand up to the couple 18-Attack champions on the opposing team, and they gradually wear him out. In that time I pull out two Mogaslicers, and kill my way around the edges of the massive champion mass with them. However, once sufficient champions appear, they start just attacking my shrine, and then the odds turn against me.

Game 8- Trials of the Shattered Peaks Normal

I draw Medic x2, Groble, Dwarven Mogaslicer, Light as a Feather. The best bet here seems to be the Mogaslicer, and not just because I'm about to face a lot of moga. He's got the same speed as the Groble, but the damage aura will have a more immediate and useful effect once I'm meshed in with the enemies. He does very well in removing the first G'hern, while my Groble comes around and smashes the Scarecrow. The not-saving problem I've had with using experience comes up again, as my Outcast of the Flame somehow still doesn't have Immunity-Fire.

Things do start to clump up, with all the G'hern managing to spawn from the western font because I don't take it in time. The Groble, balanced by healing from a Medic, holds off the entire northern horde of moga. I put down the War-Enchanted Groble and when he starts taking too many hits, give him the Full Plate. Even with that boost, though, the WE Groble is still taking hits from the G'hern, all of whom have Attack in the high teens. I'm able to Mirror him before he dies, but I'm out the Full Plate facing four G'hern (including both of those brutal ranged champs) and a handful of moga. I bring out the Lodestone and the Archer Commander, but the latter isn't much by herself. By the time they're plucked off, I have nothing but my copied War-Enchanted Groble. He fights a running retreat, but Dirge is 48 Attack and 35 Damage by the time he kills me.

So that's a pair of hurtful, hurtful losses. However, they were losses which provided experience, so I plan to spend that and then delve into the battle with Grimlic for which the bg was constructed.

I increase the Archer Commander's Speed to 8 and purchase Volley Leader. I'm holding off on spending the Skirmisher xp, but I am curious as to whether or not Leap powers Blitz; if so, then buying up Leap 3 would let me get an extra move for the ap I'm spending, plus make them even better first-turn font grabbers. I buy the Mogaslicers 4 hp each, and purchase Speed 8 for the Lodestone (it'll turn into 9 with the Forest faction bonus). I max out the Medics' Heal Champion, and actually buy Immunity-Fire for the lower-level Outcast, along with upping his speed to 10. Even though they're getting expensive, I do buy Speed 10 on the Timber Wolves; I think I'll use them in a lot of split faction groups and I want them to have maximal mobility. I finally descend, lovingly, to tend to my War-Enchanted Groble. I top off his Resistance-Fire and purchase the first level of Resistance-Physical, then bump his speed and his health.

Champions Cost/Level/Attack/Defense/Speed/Damage/Hp/Range
Archer Commander 68/1/13/12/8(9 w/ Faction)/10/38/3-6, Commander:Archer, Volley Leader
Centaur Skirmisher x2 70/1/14/11/11/7(8 w/ Faction)/7/42/2-4, Mobility, Blitz
Dwarven King 97/4/14/22/9(10 w/ Faction)/14/58/1, War Cry 3, Divine Favor 3, Melee Specialist 2
Dwarven Mogaslicer x2 73/1/15/12/9(10 w/ Faction)/12/52/1, Damage Aura 3, Rend 3, Charge 2
Elven Archer x2 83/3/13/11(12 w/ Faction)/11/12/30/4-7, Barrage 1
Groble x2 86/3/10/25/9(10 w/ Faction)/10/42/1 Immunity-Fire, Pulverize 2, Siege, Fury
Lodestone Construct 61/1/10/18/8(9 w/ Faction)/11/46/1 Blacksmith, Construct Immunities, Pilfer
Medic x2 47/1/5/12/7(8 w/ Faction)/5/37/1 Immunity-Disease, Cleanse, Heal Champion 3, Passive, Immunize
Outcast of the Flame 82/13/11/10(11 w/ Faction)/14/37/3-6 Fire Aura 3, Incinerate 1, Dissipate, Confuse Attacker
Outcast of the Flame 84/2/13/11/10(11 w/ Faction)/14/37/3-6 Immunity Fire, Fire Aura 3, Incinerate 2, Dissipate, Confuse Attacker
Timber Wolves 88/2/10/10/10(11 w/ Faction)/9/24/1 Detection 1, Skirmisher, Timber Wolves
War-Enchanted Groble 76/1/10/19/8(9 w/ Faction)/11/47 Spellswallower, Resistance-Fire 3, Resistance-Physical 1, Construct Immunities, Adaptive-Ironfist, Loyalty

Ancestral Anger
Butterfly Wings
Glorious Charge
Grimlic's Mirror
Hammer Strike
Light as a Feather
Repair x2
Righteous Deflection
Spontaneous Growth

Full Plate
Seed of Potential x2

So I'm glad I have the free units at start, because I only pull Centaur Skirmisher in my initial draw. I also have Butterfly Wings, Light as a Feather, Full Plate, and Glorious Charge. I use the Charge and Light as a Feather to get my Rangers tight up on the demons to the left and right of the shrine, and chew through them as quickly as I can. I drop the Timber Wolves once I secure a font, and they bite their way through the demons assaulting the font, though they don't do enough damage to get a kill before one of the three wolves falls. I get a Groble out on the west side and run him around, and bring out a few Centaur Skirmishers as well. However, I'm simply not inflicting sufficient damage to kill the demons fast enough. By the time I've cleared the first new wave I'm already trapped facing a second. My Medics do their best to heal, but I don't time my abilities properly in terms of addressing Inhibited Champs. It's another loss for team rock.

So I go again.

My second time, I draw Elven Archer, Timber Wolves, Righteous Deflection, Seed of Potential, and Spontaneous Growth. The Growth was a spell I never once saw last game, and I think it will really help here. I play out my Archer and set to cutting down the first rank. I give Menalaus the Seed, because he's really the one to kill in this game; no regen and vulnerability to fire means he gets hurt, and hurt bad, and hurt fast. Grimlic is tricky because many of the best ways to deal with fire exist in Wrath factions. I throw the Full Plate on Grimlic, since he's a teleporter and doesn't need normal movement. Then I realize that you can't teleport if you're lumbering, and things get a little less awesome- I'm waiting for my Lodestone to appropriate the item.

Another fun interaction lesson is that Spontaneous Growth doesn't override Scorch the Earth. These are the kinds of things it's hard to know without trying. My wolves and Groble push me up to just past the river, but a Gahlroon and fully three damn Imps drive me back. These Imps have fully 15 speed. That's just madness. It ends up being just the brothers, two Medics, a Mogaslicer at my font, and eight Ash Demons, an Imp, a Rust Demon, and a Scorpic. I'm afraid that, at present, I have to declare this experiment a sad failure.

Deck Construction: Gunning for Grimlic 2- Initial Testing

Game 1- Beginner Forsaken Wastes Normal

I open Archer Commander, War-Enchanted Groble, Elven Archer, Dwarven Medic, Spontaneous Growth. I lead with the Elven Archer and manage to also deploy the Groble...then realize it's because I misclicked and deployed the Commander instead of the Elven Archer. I always enjoy playing new runes and being surprised by things; like how the Lodestone Construct is a large-base. My mechanical men stomp their way over the broken bones, and I only lose one Timber Wolf the whole match! Medics are a nice cheap healer, and Immunize saves one of the wolves. Other than that and the need to heal a War-Enchanted Groble one time, there's no notable challenge.

Game 2- Beginner Savage Tundra Normal

I open to Centaur Skirmisher, Groble, Groble, Full Plate, Dwarven Mogaslicer. I drop the Skirmisher, and a second one two turns later; Speed 12 means they're still getting 7 ap on ice, which is nice. I put Full Plate on a Mogaslicer and he becomes fully immune to most of the enemies on the screen. I briefly consider just destroying the shrine, but instead I let my Centaur run around and throw spears into things, while my Mogaslicers mow through the northern shrine's defenders.

I'm once again going to shift my play over to the Trials, because I don't think I learn a ton playing against the Beginner missions.

Game 3- Trials of the Ironfist Stronghold Normal

I open all three archers, Timber Wolves, and Glorious Charge. I drop the Wolves since I know I'll be running into dogs when I spring the Mead Trap. I take the first font and clear the first wave with no real difficulty, though all my aura guys get bunched up when I'm fighting the Earth Golem- I only have an Outcast of the Flame for non-physical damage. That means my Slicers are weakened enough that when I cavalierly charge into an Earthmover/Barbarian Commander, they die pretty quickly...both go down in one round, actually. That misplay costs me, because now I'm facing down a horde of melee fighters with a bunch of...archers. And a wizard. I slap Full Plate on a Centaur Skirmisher, using him to clog the entrance for a couple rounds. That actually works pretty well; with Mobility and Speed 7 he's able to shift and attack without worry. He goes down and my Seed of Potential-Bearing Archer Commander dies when I forget that Ancestral Rage sets your Range to 1. The War-Forged Groble, however, is a true champion. He's got a Seed on him, and then I also slap the Righteous Deflection down. Since he's bolstered by Ironfist spells, and he's a Spellswallower and Adaptive-Ironfist, with the AI spamming Unobstructed View, his damage is well over 20. Every time I heal him with Repair, too, that increases his hp by a further 5. Sadly, he can't survive Stone Dragon/Groble Pulverizer/Ghoulhunter. The Lodestone's just a big sack of dying, and then it's two Medics facing...everything. A Full Plate-wearing Groble tries to assist, but I pay the price for my hubris and go down bleeding. The Groble puts up a great fight though; Defense 45 and Resilient means he's really not being hit by anything.

Game 4-Trials of the Ironfist Stronghold Normal, Redux

I'm shamed by my previous misplay so I decide to run this map again. I definitely feel that it had been my game to lose. Sapelah and his gang are back for blood, and I pull Groble, Archer Commander, Outcast of Flame, Grimlic's Mirror, Repair. It's my 11 Speed Outcast of the Flame, so he hits the ground first. I use a Medic to trigger the mead trap (he ends up very dramatically in the center of all three dogs. My Mogaslicer tears up the Beastmaster, and then I drop a delicious Repair to take him from 10 hp to 48. I'm much more careful with my auras this time, and they let me avoid a lot of attacks by killing creatures on the end of my turns. I manage to get the War-Enchanted Groble out early on, and it's glorious. He's getting +2 Damage, +1 Attack, and +1 Defense with every useless Unobstructed view my opponent casts.

The pass is clearer this time, meaning I can move my small base figures up while the Outcast deals with the Earth Golem. One of the Slicers spends a big chunk of time stuck away from the enemies because there's no room for him, but I do get to put a Barbarian Commander between 3 Aura 3s at one point. Two War-Enchanted Grobles (thanks to Grimlic) can kill the Dwarven Sharpshooter in a single attack each. Even my standard Groble is doing 20 damage by the time the AI starts spawning purple-base champions. My War-Enchants have over 100 hp and are regenerating 4 hp a turn, and I wipe everything the turn it lands.

Obviously most games won't work out that same way with the War-Enchant, but that was sure fun. A full-faction group sounds even more appealing; I can't say that I was drawing a ton of benefit from the K'Thir end other than the speed boost, but I think it'll prove more valuable in a more challenging game. The Ironfist Map bunches things up and lets a few big melee characters really hold their own- mobility isn't much of a factor.

Spending XP, I buy Rend 3 for both Mogaslicers. My Groble without Pulverize 2 gets it. I increase the Lodestone's Speed to 8, and buy Speed 9 and Immunity-Fire for the unleveled Outcast of Flame. Both Medics pick up Cleanse, which heals as well. Keeping an eye on the goal of beating Grimlic, I buy Resistance-Fire up to 2, looking longingly at the Resistance-Physical I will one day purchase. Four games is also where I like to consider what is and isn't working within the bg, and make the necessary changes. Unfortunately, I don't see any rune that demands to be removed. I'm keeping the Commander in until she can get the ability to grant Rain of Arrows, and will decide if that's awesome once I get a chance to use it. Similarly, I haven't had a cause to summon the Dwarven King, but can easily see benefits in doing so at some point. I leave the bg completely unchanged for now.

Champions Cost/Level/Attack/Defense/Speed/Damage/Hp/Range
Archer Commander 56/1/13/12/7(8 w/ Faction)/10/38/3-6, Commander:Archer
Centaur Skirmisher x2 70/1/14/11/11/7(8 w/ Faction)/7/42/2-4, Mobility, Blitz
Dwarven King 97/4/14/22/9(10 w/ Faction)/14/58/1, War Cry 3, Divine Favor 3, Melee Specialist 2
Dwarven Mogaslicer x2 71/1/15/12/9(10 w/ Faction)/12/48/1, Damage Aura 3, Rend 3, Charge 2
Elven Archer x2 83/3/13/11(12 w/ Faction)/11/12/30/4-7, Barrage 1
Groble x2 86/3/10/25/9(10 w/ Faction)/10/42/1 Immunity-Fire, Pulverize 2, Siege, Fury
Lodestone Construct 57/1/10/18/7(8 w/ Faction)/11/46/1 Blacksmith, Construct Immunities, Pilfer
Medic x2 45/1/5/12/7(8 w/ Faction)/5/37/1 Immunity-Disease, Cleanse, Heal Champion 2, Passive, Immunize
Outcast of the Flame 65/13/11/8(9 w/ Faction)/14/37/3-6 Fire Aura 3, Incinerate 1, Dissipate, Confuse Attacker
Outcast of the Flame 84/2/13/11/10(11 w/ Faction)/14/37/3-6 Immunity Fire, Fire Aura 3, Incinerate 2, Dissipate, Confuse Attacker
Timber Wolves 83/2/10/10/9(10 w/ Faction)/9/24/1 Detection 1, Skirmisher, Timber Wolves
War-Enchanted Groble 64/1/10/19/7(8 w/ Faction)/11/45 Spellswallower, Resistance-Fire 2, Construct Immunities, Adaptive-Ironfist, Loyalty

Ancestral Anger
Butterfly Wings
Glorious Charge
Grimlic's Mirror
Hammer Strike
Light as a Feather
Repair x2
Righteous Deflection
Spontaneous Growth

Full Plate
Seed of Potential x2

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deck Construction: Gunning for Grimlic

For my next build I'm looking at putting together a construct-heavy bg. This is partially to take advantage of the Repair spell, which is a massive 40 healing to a select construct, and partially because I want a Protectorate bg that can handle the first level of Grimlic's Descent on Hard. Grimlic's Descent swarms you with Ash Demons, Rust Demons, and the occasional Imps, Gahlroons, and Waroggs. There's also liberal use of lava, and the Ash Demons are monsters for Inhibiting champs. Also, the AI pops its champs wherever it wants; so as you're pushing over the river toward its shrine, it can just spawn three Ash Demons at yours.

So I'm looking for a bg which has resistance/immunity to fire, the ability to navigate lava, cleansing ability and healing, high damage, and shrine defense. Is that a tall order? Probably, but there's nothing for it but to try. I'll experiment with a full-faction build first, but I imagine I'd do well to consider mixing; I'm thinking specifically here of adding K'Thir Forest, so I can pick up Light as a Feather for my heavier constructs like Earth Golem and Catapult/Siege Engine. I'd also be able to run two Outcasts of the Flame, which can ignore the Ash Demons and slaughter anything else.

Okay, that actually convinced me to consider the split faction first.

As before, let's start with the full-on list of all my available runes. First, I consider Ironfist options. The fact that Mogaslicers count as constructs mean I'll probably take two of them for mobility alone. Full Plate is also a good combination with Light as a Feather. Obviously I want two Repairs, since they're a major draw for building the deck in the first place. I consider at least one Righteous Deflection and one Hammer Strike standard choices for any IS deck that isn't firmly anti-spell; I also like Glorious Charge because I believe it should give Lumbering units cheaty movement. I'm tempted to also include Strip Armor, since I'll be primarily dealing in physical damage. I may want to come back later for an Impervious as well, since that would help with shrine destruction. If I plant a creature with Siege next to someone's shrine, one turn's worth of Impervious might make all the difference.

Having at least one Nora Mine grants a significant advantage, and this bg might actually be expensive enough to warrant two. However, the IS side is already getting pretty full, so I'm going to try running the deck without nora gen for the moment. Most of my construct pieces are unleveled and thus should be fairly cheap; hopefully once they're in play their resilience will keep them there.

Cuts are tough, and I begin to think seriously about abandoning the half-faction concept and going full IS, so I can pack in more constructs (Earth Golems, specifically, and some siege engines) more healing, and a few hardy dwarves. I'm hoping to make up for the lacking elements on the KF side though, with a focus on range and speed.


Dwarven King
Dwarven Mogaslicer x2
Groble x2
Lodestone Construct
Medic x2
War-Enchanted Groble

Glorious Charge
Hammer Strike
Repair x2
Righteous Deflection

Full Plate

The Forest has some ground to cover. I know I want both Seeds of Potential, since it provides healing and a trail effect I can use to build a path over lava for non fire-immune creatures. I can also drop it as a font defender in a pinch, then pick the relic up before it's destroyed and redrop a few turns later. I'm considering a Prismatic Crystal as well, since i have some passive units who can self-heal and use the Crystal to clog an area. I don't know that I have the space for it, though, so I move on to spells. Butterfly Wings got a boost when they added Mobility, which is useful for a shrine end-run. Ancestral Anger speeds my units while increasing their damage, so I'll take that as well. Spontaneous Growth is a heal that can also undo a lava spell.

Where Champs are concerned, I'm looking seriously at range. Given that the map I'm building for does grant a couple Elven Archers already, and I have two of my own, Archer Commander will provide some serious benefit. The Outcasts of the Flame were one of the major reasons I went K'Thir, so I'm obviously taking two of those. Timber Wolves provide a quick boost on the board, though they'll crumple fast against UD. With two spots left I toss in a pair of Centuar Skirmishers; they're a new rune I haven't played much, but they have range 2-4 and several mobility options.

Archer Commander
Centaur Skirmisher x2
Elven Archer x2
Outcast of the Flame x2
Timber Wolves

Ancestral Anger
Butterfly Wings
Grimlic's Mirror
Light as a Feather
Spontaneous Growth

Seed of Potential x2

As it stands, then, the final build is then:

Champions Cost/Level/Attack/Defense/Speed/Damage/Hp/Range
Archer Commander 56/1/13/12/7(8 w/ Faction)/10/38/3-6, Commander:Archer
Centaur Skirmisher x2 70/1/14/11/11/7(8 w/ Faction)/7/42/2-4, Mobility, Blitz
Dwarven King 97/4/14/22/9(10 w/ Faction)/14/58/1, War Cry 3, Divine Favor 3, Melee Specialist 2
Dwarven Mogaslicer x2 69/1/15/12/9(10 w/ Faction)/12/48/1, Damage Aura 3, Rend 2, Charge 2
Elven Archer x2 83/3/13/11(12 w/ Faction)/11/12/30/4-7, Barrage 1
Groble 82/3/10/25/9(10 w/ Faction)/10/42/1 Immunity-Fire, Pulverize 1, Siege, Fury
Groble 86/3/10/25/9(10 w/ Faction)/10/42/1 Immunity-Fire, Pulverize 2, Siege, Fury
Lodestone Construct 57/1/10/18/7(8 w/ Faction)/11/46/1 Blacksmith, Construct Immunities, Pilfer
Medic x2 38/1/5/12/7(8 w/ Faction)/5/37/1 Immunity-Disease, Heal Champion 2, Passive, Immunize
Outcast of the Flame 65/13/11/8(9 w/ Faction)/14/37/3-6 Fire Aura 3, Incinerate 1, Dissipate, Confuse Attacker
Outcast of the Flame 84/2/13/11/10(11 w/ Faction)/14/37/3-6 Immunity Fire, Fire Aura 3, Incinerate 2, Dissipate, Confuse Attacker
Timber Wolves 83/2/10/10/9(10 w/ Faction)/9/24/1 Detection 1, Skirmisher, Timber Wolves
War-Enchanted Groble 61/1/10/19/7(8 w/ Faction)/11/45 Spellswallower, Construct Immunities, Adaptive-Ironfist, Loyalty

Ancestral Anger
Butterfly Wings
Glorious Charge
Grimlic's Mirror
Hammer Strike
Light as a Feather
Repair x2
Righteous Deflection
Spontaneous Growth

Full Plate
Seed of Potential x2

I'll run this through the standard testing gamut of four beginner matches, four trial matches; but then I'll be taking it into Grimlic's campaign instead of PvP.

Rolling Update: K'Thir Forest Collection

This post is a continually updating display of the runes I have in the Savage Tundra. Last update 1/03/10

K'Thir Forest Champions

Archer Commander
Centaur Archer x2
Centaur Regulator x2
Centaur Skirmisher x2
Circle Messenger
Colossal Boa
Elven Archer x2
Elven Artisan x2
Elven Blademaster x2
Elven Mage x2
Elven Treecaller
Enraged Grizzly x2
Falconer x2
Garu Chosen
Garu Hunter x2
Garu Hurler
Garu Shaman
Gnarlwood Grappler
Great Eagle x2
Mountain Garu x2
Nectar Faerie
Nymph x2
Outcast of the Flame x2
Solitary Garu
Sporegill x2
Timber Wolves
Treant Launcher
Tree Spider x2
Veasel Druid x2
Warcaller Fiorn
Wild Elf x2
Wilderkin Snakedancer x2
Winged Lerper x2
Woodland Jester

K'Thir Forest Spells

Ancestral Anger
Brambles x2
Butterfly Wings x2
Carnivorous Vines x2
Fuel x2
Grimlic's Mirror
Herbal Antidote
Light as a Feather
Rally the Herd x2
Reclaim x2
Sabotage x2
Spontaneous Growth
Swiftwind x2
Thorn Collection

K'Thir Forest Relics

Elven Trading Post x2
Nature's Balance x2
Pride of K'thir
Prismatic Crystals x2
Throne of the Circle x2

K'Thir Forest Equipment

Barbed Vine Leash x2
Forest's Embrace x2
Hunter's Charm
Rejuvenation Ring
Seed of Potential x2

Rolling Update: Ironfist Stronghold Collection

This post is a continually updating display of the runes I have in the Ironfist Stronghold. Last update 1/3/10

Ironfist Champions

Aspect of Granite x2
Barbarian Commander x2
Barbarian Shaman x2
Brubaker Brothers x2
Conscripted Warrior x2
Council Elder x2
Deep Miner
Drunken Thug x2
Dwarven Axe Guard
Dwarven Catapult
Dwarven Defender
Dwarven Handler
Dwarven King
Dwarven Mogaslicer x2
Dwarven Sergeant x2
Dwarven Sharpshooter x2
Earth Golem x2
Griffin Rider x2
Groble x2
Gronk Rider x2
High Mason x2
Interrogator x2
Ironfist Brawler x2
Ironfist Collector
Ironfist Glider x2
Ironfist Paladin
Lodestone Construct
Medic x2
Mountain Sentry x2
Plains Savage
Priest of Valdac x2
Savage Shieldman x2
Savage Wolf x2
Siege Engine
Stalwart Defender
Terraformer x1
Tundra Barbarian x2
Turret Team
War-Enchanted Groble
Wild Chieftain x2

Ironfist Spells

Barricade x2
Consecrate the Earth
Earthquake x2
Glorious Charge x2
Hammer Strike x2
Increase Gravity
Last Stand
Macadamize x2
Open the Earth x2
Repair x2
Restore Life
Righteous Deflection x2
Smite Enemy
Spell Ward x2
Strip Armor
Unobstructed View
Valor x2

Ironfist Relics

Failed Amplifier
Guard Tower x2
Ironfist Standard
Merchant's Quarter
Mystic Forge
Nora Mine x2
Sanctuary of Hope x2
Wind Generator

Ironfist Equipment

Axeman's Fate x2
Earthgod Sigil x2
Full Plate Armor x2
Heavy Crossbow x2
Holy Blade of Valdac
Stonearm Sash x2

Deck Construction: Full-Faction Forsaken Wastes 5 PVP and Conclusions

After those four battles I'm sitting on some more experience, particularly with the runes who were below the cusp at the last runthrough. I increased Speed on the lower speed Enchantress to 10. Bought Charm 2 for one of my Dark Seductresses, and Disease Immunity for the other. It's difficult to decide how to level the Shadestalkers, so I just put the points into buying up their exertion; I want to keep them cheap but I would like to, at least, see them putting out higher damage. I may go back and increase that later. The Ethereal Soldier gets Hex 2, and the Mute Stalker bought into Evasive 3. I can finally afford Speed 8 for my slower Wandering Zombie- just 13 more points for Speed 9! Finally, I bump the Utterdark Spectre's Speed to 10.

With all that xp spent, it's time to trot the BG into actually PvP. There's a lot working against me here, most specifically that I've played several games with a friend of mine and apparently that increased my rank. I expect to eat a day's worth of losses, but I'm only too happy to be surprised.

Game 9- PvP(Hastatus 1559, Level 1) Versus gaverion (Princeps 1378, Level 1)

I'm always surprised by maps that seem totally unfamiliar; apparently they change a lot of the maps in PvP, so the Ironfist Stronghold map with the narrow pass now has a font there to capture. I draw some Berserkers, Enchantresses, and the Lich King and think I have a decent chance of racing the font. Unfortunately, gaverion is able to drop a cheap Scorched Dwarf he uses to take the second font while his Deep Elf Priestess contests the font. Ultimately I'm not sure if I was supposed to run away with my Lich King or stick around, but his Priestess and a Deep Elf Masochist eventually run me off. By the time I lose the central font I've picked up the northern one with my Mute Stalker, and dropped an Eternal Lich. However, gaverion controls the central font and drops a Deep Elf Ritualist and Deep Elf Scout in rapid succession. Thanks to a beckon he takes the northern font away from me, and then I'm stuck trying to defend my Shrine with the Eternal Lich (sans phylactery, he took that away real fast) and a Skeletal Berserker. I'm facing two Priestesses, a Grimlic, a Ritualist, a Deep Elf Summoner, and a Scout until I kill it.

Thinks progress predictably. My proud moment is when his Grimlic drops three mirages and I base up a Plagued Skeletal Berserker, which kills them all with the infection damage. He removes my Lich and my Berserker in the same turn and, since I can't cast anything else for xp, I concede.

Game 10- PvP Versus Alazel (Princeps 1378, Level 1)

While Game 10 loads, my trades come in; I have a second Mute Stalker, a second Utterdark Spectre, and two Nether Wraiths (which are stealthing energy thieves with Hex). The game starts up and I'm facing Forglar Swamp. I draw both Liches, an Enchantress, an Animated Blade, and a Wandering Zombie, and lead with the Lich King again. I'm up against a lot of Firk, it looks like, including the Mind Shredder. I quail, because I've used the Mind Shredder to great effect but as of yet not faced off against one. Alazel also has a Soulsphere, meaning all of his units share damage. Since my only ranged attacker is a Lich King and Alazel is playing a Firk Sensorate (Resist Magic 3) this means I'm only doing about 4 damage to each of his other units, and a single damage to the Sensorate. Combined with his Boghopper Shaman, Three rounds in the Mind Shredder still has full health. Then he drops a Feeding Frenzy on my Lich King, who barely survives. The Frenzy has the other delightful effect of further spreading out the damage his units are taking- my Lich is doing his best but he's not even putting out a dent.

I render my Animated Blade incorporeal to escape from a poison trap and take one of his fonts away. The next turn starts up with both of us seizing a font from the other; his Firk Sensorate is outside a deployment zone, while my Lich goes down to the Mind Shredder. The Delay I dropped (I finally get to use it!) prevents me from having to deal with a Salaman Negamage. Unfortunately, he opts to drop Kartch, Finlord instead. I manage to fight it out and kill off his Boghopper Shaman, do serious damage to Kartch, and just as I'm about to tear into his Salaman Dervish...he drops another Soulsphere. Followed by a Marsh Gargantua.

I battle it out for the eastern shrine for a long time; I'm using a Mute Stalker, which negates the advantage of his Kartch. However, the Stalker's not fast enough to catch the Mind Shredder and attack, so I'm running in circles, storing one more ap each round, while my zombie tries to kill his other troops. Judicious use of various disease effects, meanwhile, is enough to break his second Soulsphere, though it does nothing to his titan. When he has my Stalker at one hitpoint, and poisoned, I make him insubstantial, as I'm facing no magical damage. That lets me hang onto the font for one more turn, but my attempt to throw Reanimate down on the Stalker meets a Backfire.

Eventually I'm staring at another Boghopper hero, I have no champs on the board except a devastated Skeletal Berserker, and I concede. I'm proud of my boys.

Game 11- PVP (Principales 1886, Level 1) Versus yewsef (Signifier 2398, Level 1)

The fact that yewsef's Shrine has over 80 hitpoints indicates I am going to be badly, badly hurt in this engagement. My opening hand only includes 1 champ, and it's the Skeletal Berserker. This is less than ideal, so I play aggressive and pump a mobilize into him so I can grab the central font on turn two. yewsef contests the font and I decide discretion is the better part of valor, fleeing back with my Berserker to grab the font closest to me. The opening hand has me in a bad way, so I'm looking at things as a workshop to play with strategy. I run my Vampyre up to the central font and he's hit with a Devolve and reduced to 11 hp. I Phase Shift, again facing absolutely no magic damage, and get two Skeletal Berserkers into the mix. After Phase Shift ends I slap Ghostly Visage on the Vampyre, now a few hp higher thanks to a very weak swing on a summoned snake. yewsef drops a Thorn Collection on my Berserkers, then Vortexes my insubstantial Vampyre, meaning he now has uncontested control of the central font. Yewsef does what I would have done, and moves one of his pieces to contest my font; but he overshoots and misses its control zone. He manages to plant a serpent in the font, though, meaning I'll be without 10 nora on my next turn.

The Vampyre tries to take my font back while a Shadestalker and Ethereal Soldier attempt to hold off the Centuar Regulator I've been fighting since the beginning of the game. The Shadestalker falls, but I pull a Skeletal Berserker out to help my soldier; the Centuar runs away to rejuvenate himself. My chicanery with Plague and Ethereal Soldier is fun, but doesn't actually accomplish anything in the vein of preventing my game loss. Still, things went far, far better than I expected, and I'm again proud of my boys.

Game 12- PvP Versus nickybaby (Principales 1851, Level 1)

This is the first split-faction warband I've gone up against. The shrine has more hp than mine so I'm a little concerned, but at least the first creature he drops isn't the end of the world. I draw Wandering Zombie, Mute Stalker, Animated Blade, Vampyre, and lead with the Vamp (I'm thinking about naming him Edward). Edward and my Mute Stalker go for the southern font, facing off against a Krikkinwing and a Drakon. Meanwhile an Ethereal Soldier goes for the northern font, boxing out against a Skithmaw. Edward's Shield of Darkness is Disarmed, but he's not in position to take any hits so that's okay. I eat the Krikkinwing thanks to a timely Mobilize, while the Ethereal Soldier removes the Skithmaw.

The battle for the southmost font devolves into his using dragon after dragon, and me using...Edward. It's just Eddie. I hold three fonts for much of the game, but eventually I relinquish my hold on the northern one to focus on a thrust to the south. The game drags on; I kill every dragon he throws at me, but he never runs out. Eventually we've both popped our avatars, but there's just so much space taken up by his big units that I can't get a swing in on his. Font control really decides the match; I hit a point where he uses Broodcall to take my closest font and I can't recover it in time before he burrows a Sand Dragon into the control area. Once that happens I have nowhere to deploy units- even though I got the fun Reanimate effect wherein the nearest area I control leaves my control at the same time Reanimate triggers, meaning I immediately contest it and get to swinging. I manage to beat back his assault on my shrine with a Berserker, a Mute Stalker, and the shrine himself. I still get surrounded though, and he pops a Strip Armor before piling three dragons onto my shrine.

This proved an excellent experiment, both in terms of getting me to think closely about deck building and getting me back into playing PvP at all. I went 0 and 4, but I also have 63 career ranked wins (most of which were back when you could play ranked games against your friends). By comparison, nickybaby had close to 550 career wins; close to the same number of losses too, granted, but that indicates participation at a much higher level of play. For a deck I put together yesterday using a combination of runes I've never played and runes I don't tend to like playing, I'm very satisfied with the results.

Since the trades went through, I have some runes to swap in and I'll toy with the overall bg composition. The major thing to house me in that last game was Granite Bracers, because so much of my fighting was reliant on Edward. When he's up against a creature who automatically blocks and ripostes the first attack each round, he's not only limited to hitting every other round (when he has enough ap for two attacks) but he's forced to hold his ap on the in-between rounds, because he's sure not to hit. I'll tweak the bg and return to it later, perhaps, to see how the new version plays.

Full-Faction Forsaken Wastes Deck (Stealth/Insubstantial Focus)
Final Single-Player Record:
Final PvP Record: 0/4

Monday, September 21, 2009

Deck Construction: Full-Faction Forsaken Wastes 4 Intermediate Testing

Game 5- Trials of the Savage Tundra Normal, Redux!

My initial pull is Mobilize, Animated Blade, Dark Enchantress, Reanimate, Skeletal Berserker. I plop the Enchantress and send her toward the south font on turn one, and present a Shadestalker on turn two. Since the Icefisher tends to Break the Ice and retreat, Shadestalkers should be able to eat up a lot of their AP. There's a beautiful moment where two units lose all of their ap to an insubstantial Shadestalker blocking the Shardcaster.

The fight became much more exciting when I realized my touchy net connection hadn't saved most of the stat increases I paid for after Game 4. That meant, for instance, I plotted out one round in such a way that I would get several hits with an Animated Blade with Multiattack 3, but only had Multi-1 (and no Rend).

Still, after a pretty long fight I managed to pull out a victory. It really came down to the Shadestalkers on this one, as well as diligent use of the Shield of Darkness. I even got some good use out of the Dark Enchantress, though her rounds would have been more impressive if the Animated Blade flanking with her had his stats. I never managed to take the north font, but managed to hold my shrine with just a Vampyre, an Eternal Lich, and a few Wandering Zombies/Skeletal Berserkers. I didn't even have to pop the Avatar and run away, which usually ends up happening on this map.

Game 6-Trials of the Sundered Lands Normal

I draw Ethereal Soldier, Wandering Zombie, Dark Enchantress, Vampyre, and Shield of Darkness. I lead with the Enchantress (she has speed 11 and I want to get more practice with her). On turn two I back her up with the Eternal Lich. Dark Enchantresses do great with the Reaper's blade, and a Wandering Zombie and Skeletal Berserker help feed her dark appetites.

The combo of softening up those high-Def targets with a combination of Essence Drain, Plague, and the Eternal Lich lets me keep my Enchantress at full health through two fonts. There's a small slowdown when the Cannoneer hits the board, but I push through and cut down everything in my path. Each purple-base falls apart in just a few rounds, and the biggest headache I have is maneuvering two Shadestalkers around each other.

Game 7- Trials of the K'thir Forest Normal

I draw Utterdark, Animated Blade, and Skeletal Berserker. I lead with the Utterdark; the Berserker would have had the 11 speed but I can hit the font with 6. Turn two I bring back the Enchantress/Reaper's Blade combo, then phase shift both of my units to get the stealth. The first few champs fall easily, but things get tricky when I cross the river. There's a lot of magic damage, and the Grimlic's Eyes destealth all of my champs whenever they move anywhere near the northern font or the shrine. I manage to push through thanks to zombies and phase shift, along with somewhat cheaty use of Dark Seductress- when summoned, she Fears the board, but the AI won't attack with a Feared creature at all. Two Seductresses buy me the time to move a few Shadestalkers and the Mute Stalker over the river, and Reanimate keeps the Vampyre in play until the bitter end.

Game 8- Trials of the Underdepths Normal

From elves to...evil elves! I draw Vampyre, Animated Blade, Shadestalker, Plague, and Delay. Yes, I've kept Delay in even though I can't use's all about discipline. This isn't much of a choice, and I lead with Vampyre. I back him with Shadestalker, which is a great early play for this map since you're facing melee fighters first. The next turn I add an Utterdark, which lets me phase shift the Shadestalker and Vampyre and pick up stealth on both.

It's stealth and incorporeal that push me through most of the map, picking the targets off one at a time. Anytime things clump, the Enchantress is able to drop a Charm and/or Fear (the latter being useful against the Gahlroon) to gum creatures up; she only has both at range 1, but careful positioning makes it work. The Nefari Messenger's magic damage makes her a threat but she doesn't have detection, so I just keep turning everyone invisible and things work out fine. The high base damage on the two techy pieces in my set (Utterdark and Mute Stalker) really help ensure that my warriors strike hard the whole time through. I suffer very few losses, mostly the Shadestalkers; but the Stalkers come off of cooldown so quickly that by the time I have the space in my rotation to cast the second one, the first one is available again.

I've found that the deck works best when I'm picking a few key champs to run into combat, then supporting them with other pieces who take swipes at the primary champ's target. Between the insubstantial and the energy thief, the BG is able to isolate one target while simply not dying from attacks inflicted by others. This is different than a lot of my BGs, which tend to fight battles on multiple fronts. With this battlegroup I devote a large quantity of resources to a single target, but can often kill two, even three such targets in a single round. Although many games had a slight tension point, the cheap, quick-popping champs had an easy time of pushing through. I would definitely like to have a few more pieces; most notably I'd add in another Utterdark and Mute Stalker if I had them. I'm looking into the Rune Bank concept in hopes of picking some up.

Deck Construction: Full-Faction Forsaken Wastes 3 Initial Testing

Game 1: Beginner Shattered Peaks (Normal)

Open with Lich into Vampyre. Haven't played the Lich in a long time and screw up his positioning (he was distracted and thus not able to teleport around). Pulled a Berserker out of the font and slapped a plague on him, dropping the Pit Wolf in one one round Pummel+Basic Attack. Lich and Vampyre remove the Cyclops Youth. The game moves so quickly I don't really get a chance to test out a lot of my new runes, and I may need to think about doing the trials missions rather than the beginner missions.

Game 2: Beginner Sundered Lands (Normal)

I lead with the Utterdark, which is a poor choice because his speed is low and he has no form of special movement. Turn two I make up for it with a cheap Skeletal Berserker, so I'm only a turn behind the ideal on the first font. I confirm that Delay doesn't work, which is a shame. Otherwise things proceed swimmingly; I overextend with the Utterdark but have a Reanimate for when he goes down. The Utterdark and the Mute Stalker are the big MVPs this game, though a Wandering Zombie also helps. The Zombie basically ignores everything that's thrown at him thanks to his physical resistance, while the Mute's Evasion-granting ability cuts down on the damage from the Draksar Archer and Skeezick Netter. I do try making the Netter ethereal, and he apparently just hangs out right where I drop the spell; he's stealthed as soon as the first turn ends but he was in pretty much the same space when he became solid and attacked.

Playing the beginner stuff on Normal is definitely too easy; I move on to try the Trials.

Game 3: Trial of the Savage Tundra (Normal)

The Eternal Lich is unlikely to remain Eternal, since the Tundrabot spams Arctic Wail and the Lich's little urn only has 10 hp. Turn 3 the Wail hits, but the Lich is already earning its keep with ranged attacks. I pull both Shadestalkers and put them both on the board, hoping to screw with the Bot's action points and survive as a result. Things fall apart quickly once the ranged wave of attacks hit though, and my shadestalkers tangle up in each other's robes and stop the rest of my folks from progressing. Things look grim.

Bless the AI tho; it wastes two full creatures blowing up the Eternal Lich's urn when my Reanimate kicks. Still, once the fulcrum tips it's that familiar old wave of ranged attackers beating up on my shrine. I manage to muddy things up with the Zombie and a Shadestalker, but not nearly by enough. By the time things wind down, I still haven't killed the Bot's stealthing first spawn, largely because I lack detection and started with too much in the way of ranged attackers.

Game 4: Trials of the Shattered Peaks (Normal)

Going into this I'm both optimistic and nervous. Optimistic because the wide-area attacks my guys pack should do well on the swarms, but nervous because I don't think I do enough damage fast enough to kill the late game G'hern. My opening hand is Lich King, Eternal Lich, Shadestalker, Wandering Zombie, Reanimate- I lead with Lich King because he has the highest speed, though I expect him to get hit by the Distract and lose teleport; luckily he doesn't. I'm able to take out the G'hern scarecrow with the Lich King, which does give me hope for the game. I follow that up by Essence Draining the G'hern Sustainer and shooting him twice with the Lich King, meaning he's down to 8 hp before he even reaches my font. Then I plant an insubstantial Shadestalker in the way, ready to soak up his AP. Deprived of their leadership, the moga are much easier to deal with and I debate whether I should play aggressively or hang back at my font and pick off the moga with my ranged liches. I decide to mix both, and then have a tense moment as my 0 ap Vampyre is left by a cliff edge and I worry about an avalanche. I leave my Shadestalker in range of the Slinger as well, because I struggle with sacrificing ap to him from my other champs.

I also forget how Festering Wounds works (I really, really don't play FW much) and there's a round where I expect to clear the board and most certainly do not. However, when the gravedust settles it's a win for Team Diaphanous. Being able to kill each G'hern at extreme range with the liches means that the moga fall quickly, and in the whole game I suffer very few losses.

With four games down I settled into the Forge to tweak my runes. I buy the unleveled Seductress disease immunity and one level of Charm. Eternal Lich, who has no impressed me, picks up Dark Favor- so each time he's summoned he hits all of my enemies with a 3 life loss. Between his own ability and Reanimate, I can conceivably do this up to four times in a game, not counting his shortened cooldown. I'm holding off on picking up Exertion for both of the Shadestalkers, but I do up their speed; when a Champ has Energy Thief it's nice to have a big speed base to store all those stolen points.

The Utterdark is an interesting upgrade choice, because he can either pick up Phase Shift or Stealth, for the same price. Phase Shift has a survivability element, and he would automatically stealth the same turn he shifted; but being that my opponent would know exactly where he was, I don't know that it would necessarily disguise his position, and imagine someone would make an effort to destealth him immediately. Stealth would give me an active invisibility and an immediate boost (due to the Surge-Shadows ability) but it's an expensive ability and I've been playing the Utterdark as more of a brawler than a sneaker. I pick up Phase Shift. I boost the Wandering Zombie with better starting stats to Speed 9 and 40 hp.

I'm going to stick with the Dark Enchantresses for the moment, even though they've seen absolutely zero active use. However, I'm dropping the Disturbed Spirit and one of the Ghostly Visages; the latter would be better if I had an option of dropping insubstantial sooner, but as I don't I hardly ever used it.

In the place of those two runes I add in a pair of Animated Blades. The Blades are different than the last time I used them, as they no longer have Dodge. However, their Defense and HP both seem to have increased, so the hope is that they'll prove less fragile now. I buy one up to Multiattack 3 and Rend 1, and the other Multiattack 3, Rend 1, Speed 9. The intent with the Blades is to have some more melee options, a little bit more damage, and some quasi-range in that they're quick fliers able to pick a far target and engage it. They also give me anti-equipment options, and I will probably want that at some point.

With those changes made, I'm ready to run through four more Trial games. However, I probably shouldn't do so at 2:40 in the morning.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Deck Construction: Full-Faction Forsaken Wastes 2- Rounding Out the BG

My real hitters are the Ethereal Soldier, Skeletal Berserkers, Utterdark, and Vampyre. Spell-wise, I'm going to want to have an eye out for things that help me put the cripple down on my opponent's creatures, setting them up to die quickly. There are also a few runes that are sure to be useful in PvP, but won't help me much when it comes to playing the computer given the way the AI's units are deployed. I like the idea of using Delays to keep enemies off the board, for instance, but I'm pretty sure they won't slow the computer down at all. Mobilization and Festering Wounds are obvious inclusions- the current build has two creatures (the Dark Seductresses) that will take damage and a debuff from that, but they're only a few points away from me being able to buy disease immunity. I also really like the Plague spell; it's a quick cast spell that works well with insubstantial creatures, and it's very fun to slap it on a possessed creature because he'll make himself sick if he's not undead. Necroweave is also nice as a reset button, since it lets me lose all my guys and be set to summon them up again. However, it's been so long since I've gone full-faction I think I'll wait on the weave until I see what kind of cooldowns I'm dealing with. I also don't know what to make of Serkan's Touch; I like a big debuff but the manner of this debuff, being a reduction over time, seems to fit poorly with a 55-nora expenditure. I'd have to cast it very early in the fight to get any real use out of it. I also really like Ghostly Visage; it can be a defensive spell, it can remove an attacker for several rounds, and obviously it has the potential to boost my Utterdark. I'm not sure how using it on my opponents will work though, since I believe they'd stay invisible even after they lost insubstantial, which means I'd need to have several detection creatures on my end. That may be best saved for the partial faction version of the BG.

For spells I'm taking:

Essence Drain x2
Festering Wounds
Ghostly Visage x2
Plague x2

I'm capping things off with a Shield of Darkness to increase survivability on my life-drinking and insubstantial champions, a Reaper's Blade to make up for the low overall damage of my champs, and an Elsari Vex because so long as my premium membership is up I've got free access to one.

Now I'll distribute the CP on the units which already have it, and jump into the game!

Deck Construction: Full-Faction Forsaken Wastes 1- Champion Selection

I find it fascinating how unevenly rune distribution seems to break down when picking up packs. There are 8 factions in Pox, and 10 runes in a pack; I don't know how they handle pack sorting but I don't believe there's a ton of care put into ensuring that every faction is represented. This isn't a bad thing, since the game's setup really encourages sticking to one or two factions and developing your ability with them.

Still, there are a couple of factions with what feels like really lackluster representation in my collection. I often feel like the Wastes are one of them, even though I should ostensibly love this faction. It's almost entirely made up of undead, be they skeletons, zombies, or more exotic creatures. It's focused on debilitating effects, weakening your opponent in ways that your own creatures can ignore, and profiting from the death of your own and your opponent's pieces. This meshes extremely well with the Wastes' faction bonus, which is a reduction in the wait time before your dead creatures recover (the cooldown). To reflect this, many of the runes are extremely fragile, sometimes ridiculously so. Cooldowns for creatures are based on total nora cost, and there are many runes which a full-faction FW deck can cast every few turns; a few, I believe, can even be cast every turn if you don't do much to upgrade them.

As someone whose favorite color in Magic when he started was black, whose first truly great Magic deck was a black deck focused on graveyard reanimation, and who gradually came to appreciate the permission assholery of Blue in conjunction with black, I should love everything about FW.

Unfortunately, FW decks seem to be extremely dependent on a few crucial, excellent runes. That's one thing that runs differently than Magic or DnD Minis: certain runes simply become must-haves. Although some cards are simply excellent in Magic, the tight 60 card limit most serious players try to adhere to and high percentage of resource cards that are necessary combine to prevent any color from having must-play cards. Particular deck archetypes might hinge on a few key cards, but a different deck in the same color might ignore them entirely. In Pox, certain runes seem to be must-haves across the board- if you're playing the faction, you're playing it in part to have that rune (or two of that rune). It's no surprise the runes in question aren't commons.

I don't have most of the critical runes in the FW set. I don't have the Unholy Tomb, which damages non-undead and pays you for it. This is a critical rune not only because you're profiting and hurting all the living foes you face globally, but also because it sets up all the extant creatures to be targeted by Festering Wounds, another must-have (non-rare, surprisingly!) rune of which I only possess one. Festering Wounds inflicts a disease effect on all wounded creatures currently in play; disease both reduces the creature's attack/defense stats and inflicts continual damage over the next 5 turns. Not only does this soften your foes for the killing blow, it also breaks stealth on hidden units, mediates the effects of regeneration, and increases (albeit slightly) the damage all of your units do.

FW runes don't have great area of effect spells, and generally aren't doing the greatest damage. Many runes are initially slow, and as I mentioned before they're often fragile. Those hurdles are overcome in part by the FW having some of the techiest abilities of any faction. There are powers that screw with healing, powers that feed your bank or repair your home base, and many keyworded powers that just don't exist anywhere else.

Starting with my champions, then, here are the key pieces I'm interested in using:

Animated Blade-C Stupidly fragile, the blade is a quick flyer with multiattack and shatter. Shatter helps me avoid dealing with equipment, and I'm simply a sucker for multiattack. Multiattack feels like breaking the game to me; getting more attacks with fewer points means increased efficiency. On an Animated Blade, though, the rune is usually dead before it can pick up enough AP to achieve the fabled 3-swing turn- at least without Mobilize.

Anthropomancer-U I love healing because I feel it lets me get greater use out of my runes; Anthropomancers heal the entire group when they come into play, and I think that's valuable. They also have curse 2, which lets you gang up on a creature and tear him down, or nerf an opponent's speed in order to drastically reduce their threat. Their third ability, auruspicy, grants an extra rune reveal and bonus action points when the Anthropomancer scores a killing blow. While neat in theory, it seems difficult to set up.

Arctic Beast-C This is another one of those runes which are presumably horrible, but I can't help but love. The picture for this rune would actually display when the game loaded during an expansion in which it wasn't released, and the grinning, skeletal zombie-G'hern was very attractive. I like that the beast has climb, which is an easy 1st turn font on a couple of maps which are otherwise tricky. Chill and attack-frost are also nice, because outside of the Savage Tundra you don't run into a lot of frost resistance/invulnerability. Their base damage is also high- the only real problem with the Beast is that it has horrible defense.

Blood Fiend-U For a short time, these guys were insane. They have an interesting mechanic whereby they don't gain action points through regular means, and instead damage themselves for 8 action points- enough to swing twice. Blood Fiends used to be able to activate this power as soon as you cast them, meaning they were faster than any other unit in the game. Now, though, there's a 1 turn delay before the ability is available- I believe it's the only rune in the game with that trait. Since the change I haven't bothered to return to them.

Carrion Colossus-E I have this weird luck when it comes to getting rares, exotics, and limited editions; I very, very often pull runes from the Forsaken Wastes but they tend to just suck. The Colossus is no exception; I'm not sure how to make him great, and he's so expensive to play that once he comes out I really want to see him win the entire game. He does not. I wish he would, though.

Dark Enchantress-R See above. At one point I think I had three or four of these. Her base damage is just ridiculously low, and her defense is wretched. Back when Possess was good she still wasn't able to get the best version. I simply don't understand what the developers want me to do with her. She can serve as an okay road block between charm, fear, and (I suppose) possess; but she's so fragile that she just dies at range and her damage is too low to really help restore her with lifedrinker. She does have Phase Shift though, and I'm eyeing an insubstantial BG which that would benefit.

Dark Seductress-U Yeah, creativity reigns in the naming here. I like this quirky piece, and it would go well with the stealth-insubstantial concept. She also has zealot-lich, but all the liches I have I generally don't care for.

Death Harvester-R I want this piece to be awesome; profiting me to no end as my foes fall. However, his Dead Eater power wants him to be in combat, but he can't attack undamaged opponents. I'm sure this is no problem for people with Unholy Tomb, but as I said earlier...yeah.

Essence Devourer-U I was reading a deck-building column one of the devs for the game maintains, and he built a concept around this guy. It's something I could pursue, I think; I probably have enough token generators to keep him fed and he is big and scary.

Eternal Lich-R I think the name is woefully misleading. When this guy is summoned he produces a relic; when he dies he returns to the space where the relic was, assuming the relic is there. What I was expecting, though, is that he'd then drop another relic. Without that he's not really eternal, he's just something who pops back. Unfortunately, that is his only ability. Despite being a floating wisp he doesn't even fly. His range is awkward and his stats don't blow me away.

Shadestalker-C This is another strange rune; Energy Thief was originally an iconic ability for a sort of stealthy Skeezick creature without much else going for it. Given to a creature without stealth removes the biggest frustration associated with that guy, which was when you'd run around losing action points, no clue where it was. However, I'm eyeing a concept that would give insubstantial creatures stealth, meaning that the Shadestalker might be worth trying out (he has Phase Shift).

Utterdark Spectre This is the guy I'm angling to use. He surges off of stealthed units, gaining increased attack and damage. Since his damage starts at 12, that's already quite impressive. He also gives all insubstantial creatures stealth at the end of each of his turns, and so I think there are several ways I could make that useful. The real challenge is that I think this deck would be best served as a split-faction deck, bringing in the Underdepths for all of their excellent stealth champions and the new stealth spell available there; plus the Shadow Master, which has an area stealth it can drop on all of your units.

I think I'm going to pursue the stealth/insubstantial concept as a full-faction experiment, but I'm already preparing myself to abandon this project in favor of a split faction approach.

Tenative Selections:

Dark Enchantress x2
Dark Seductress x2
Disturbed Spirit x1
Eternal Lich
Ethereal Soldier
Lich King
Mute Stalker
Shadestalker x2
Skeletal Berserker x2
Utterdark Spectre
Wandering Zombie x2

For the most part this is a lot of folks who can go insubstantial, and thus profit from the Spectre. The pieces that aren't that are generally intended for offense (Lich King) or clogging the ground (Zombie). I'm already not crazy about this build, but it is a starting point. I'm already anticipating the need for more range and a little more beef on the ground; if I cave and buy the FW starter to mine for parts I'd definitely add a second Ethereal Soldier.

Deck Construction One: Full-Faction Forsaken Wastes

Starting out, I'm going to take a long look at my Forsaken Wastes runes and see if there's something I could compose in a full faction direction. Taking my cue from the great deck-building articles on Star City Games and the Wizards of the Coast Magic site, I'm going to put a BG together, then run it through its paces, then modify, then retest.

I'm thinking a good order of operations is to run the deck through the beginner battles for both alignments, giving a good re-think after every two games, and then trot it into the ranked play for, say, five games. It's a bit tricky because I could very well lose these games, so I'm holding off saying I have to complete one of the campaigns before I change the set.

We'll see how it goes. First though, the list of everything I have in FW as of right now.

Afflicted Corpse x2
Angel of Death
Animated Blade x2
Anthropomancer x2
Arctic Beast x2
Bile Zombie
Bladed Corpse
Blood Fiend x2
Bonecrusher x2
Boneguard Infantry x2
Broken Bones x2
Carrion Colossus
Cleric of Unrest x2
Collection of Souls x2
Crossbone x2
Dark Enchantress x2
Dark Messenger x2
Dark Seductress x2
Dead Fairy
Death Guard
Death Harvester
Decayed Mercenary x2
Disturbed Spirit x2
Essence Devourer
Eternal Lich
Ethereal Soldier
Executioner x2
Fallen Draksar
Festering Corpse x2
Forsaken Follower x2
Lich King
Mute Stalker
Necrotaur x2
Risen Yeti x2
Shadestalker x2
Skeezick Boneblade x2
Skeletal Berserker x2
Skeletal Raider
Utterdark Spectre
Wandering Zombie x2

Chain Lightning
Delay x2
Drain the Earth
Essence Drain x2
Festering Wounds
Ghostly Visage x2
Mobilization x2
Necrosis x2
Necroweave x2
Plague x2
Soul Cage x2
Spell Trap
Throw Bones
Wake the Dead
Weaken x2

Chopping Block x2
Elsari Bazaar x2
Elsarin Vex (Virtual)
Mist of the Dead
Skull of Decay

Ethereal Mindshank x2
Fleshsewn Helm
Ghost Pendant
Reaper's Blade
Sacrificial Dagger x2
Shield of Darkness x2

What We're Cooking Here

The past week saw a return to spending my money, and my time, currently mired in the game PoxNora. I don't claim to be excellent at the game, nor even particularly skilled. I have been playing it, on and off, for several years- since their second expansion set dropped, in fact.

It has a lot of features that I love:
-Randomized packs of collectible pieces, with the constant potential to be surprised by some great pull.
-A number of different "factions," each of which possesses unique advantages over the other. The factions can be mixed and matched as well, allowing you to combine the benefits and qualities of two groups in an attempt to further shore up their weaknesses. I really like that the runes (that's what the pieces are called, folks) in Pox tend to be designed with an eye towards the inherent benefit their faction provides. This means that the Sundered Lands, a faction of draconic tyrants whose bonus is an increased defense, tends to get runes whose base defense is actually slightly lower than you might like to see. This is offset by the minimum +7 bonus you're always going to gain, now that the game only supports full- and half-faction battle groups.
-Excellent card art. Some of the pieces are just beautiful. Unfortunately, just about any depiction of a female is so cheesecake as to be almost NSFW. This includes the art for some runes that aren't even female.
-Recycling resources. Unlike a traditional CCG or even miniatures game, in Pox your runes are always going to become available after being expended (for spells) or defeated/destroyed (for everything else). Granted, you're not guaranteed to still be playing when the rune comes up, but the potential for incredible, marathon games is really satisfying.

There are also things about Pox I'm not crazy about. The financial expenditure in any game like this is always troubling to me, though it has been interesting to watch Pox evolve and address the necessary player economy for a game like this. Still, my collection is by no means 1337. I also tend to shy away from the ranked games, because A) the matchmaking seems to struggle with putting me in a game and B) it usually just takes a few seconds before they drop some ultra-leveled 20 dollar rune and proceed to annihilate me. I often had the same problem with Magic, and to a much lesser extent Dungeons and Dragons miniatures. Pox, being turn based, skews closer to the latter gameplay than the former; luck is less of a factor and strategic comprehension more of one, which means I generally stand a better chance of success. However, the leveling elements available in the game mean that someone who runs a rare or exotic (which are better by their very nature) is usually going to be able to plow through several common or uncommon runes of a similar level. That gets frustrating when you see a warband that's almost all rares.

It's even more frustrating when all of the easy-to-buy starter decks already come with doubles of some really powerful rares; this is only frustrating because back when I started playing the starters were utterly wretched. Now they're awesome but it's difficult to abandon the efforts I've put into building a collection and sign on to the idea of picking up a deck someone made for me.

The other thing I find unfortunate about Pox is the general lack of strategic conversation, or at least well-written strategic conversation. Even when I wasn't playing DnD Minis or Magic competitively, I read strategy on the topics voraciously. I love that stuff. I enjoy seeing the revelation of unusual interactions, considering the impact of certain strategies, and examining the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of the game. I want that stuff back, and since I'm not seeing a ton of it in practice I've decided to start working some out myself.

Hence this blog. No major plan yet, but the idea is that I'll use this as a space to put battlegroups together, evaluate runes, and consider general strategies.