Sunday, August 3, 2008

Creature Class Critique #9: Fiends

Quick! How many Fiends are there?

If you said three, one for each bribery icon, you're wrong. There are four of them: Mad, Greedy, Ugly Wart and Idiot Fiend. The last guy may not get much play, but he's also a backup card that gets shoved into my deck at the first sign of Tookle. More on that later.

The Fiends are the pawnbrokers of power in the MidRealms, each having carved a nice piece of business for himself. As such, they don't work together very nicely, not even as a secondary class (and with only four of them, they certainly aren't powerful enough to be the main thrust of the deck.

As mentioned in previous critiques, the Fiends are great defensive cards to make up for a weak link in your deck -- namely a bunch of creatures mostly briable by the same thing.

Here are the four Fiends:

Greedy Fiend - a 1 pt creature, bribable by Gold that prevents all Gold bribery (even your own cards) if he isn't bribed away. Useful with Knight decks and decks that use a lot of "female" creatures. Warning: it will not protect you from a Yap Attack.

Mad Fiend - a 1 pt creature, bribable by Beer that prevents all Beer bribery (even your own cards) if he isn't bribed away. Useful with Giant decks and anything with Phil the Bar Fly and Slatch Willer. Warning: it will not protect you from the Major Party Animal or Santa's Beer Sled.

Ugly Wart Fiend - a 1 pt creature, bribable by Babes that prevents all Babes bribery (even your own cards) if he isn't bribed away. Useful with Ogre and Elemental Lord decks and decks with large creatures that tend to be Babes-bribable. Warning: it will not protect you from McHooter's Distraction or Essence of Babeitude.

Idiot Fiend - the only truly offensive Fiend. He's a 6 pt. creature with a +4 bonus if he comes up against a Fairy. Additionaly, he has a 8-point fear AOE (Fairies only) that will take out every Fairy in the game except one. (Mini-quiz: which one? It's an easy one.) Naturally, he goes in my deck when I see Tookle because Tookle is the Guardian of choice for all those small Fairies. (Mini-quiz: Name two medium-size Fairies.)

Suddenly, that Fairy deck of his might add some Goblins to deal with the nasty AOE you keep casting. He'll get tired of playing Gateway to Mystfall to keep getting his creatures back.

Pirates don't gain much from the use of Fiends. Being bribable by everything, you'd need too many Fiends to get any reliable use out of them. And with 1-pt Vitality, they won't hang around very long to be of much protection. Better to have a couple of Shadow cards to steal away the bribery cards (and Cabin Boys, if you like, but let's save the Pirate talk for another day!).

Other Cards to Use:

Simple. There are *no* other cards to use with Fiends. Fiends *are* the other cards.

Actually, there are two Terrain cards that come in handy because your Fiends can't be everywhere and they don't last long. S.S. House of Babes forbids any bribery by Babes and the Iron Crag Mountain Brewery does the same for Beer. These can save you a couple of Ugly Wart and Mad Fiends in your deck. Too bad there isn't a similar card for Gold.

One drawback: don't get too attached to these guys. My first Beer deck didn't need these cards. It had Mad Fiends, but I pulled them out. Why? Because I knew my opponent was playing with them in his deck. Why should I waste the cards when he was doing the dirty work.

Summary: Fiends are great defensive cards, either to protect against your weakness or to attack his strength (if that strength is Fairies). You can't build decks around them, but there are many decks that will definitely benefit from their inclusion.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

The Bribery Coast: Location Terrain, up 12.
(pictured: pirates on the beach, burying and digging up various chests.)
Counts as Rivers and Lakes.
No bribery by Gold permitted on this space.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Creature Class Critique #8: The Disciples of Entropy

(Feel fre to elaborate or debate any part of this....)

Hot on the heals of yesterday's little cabal comes another one, found in the MidRealms near the Drifters Nexus: the Disciples of Entropy. The Disciples consist of a loosely knit group of nine Elementals, mostly with low Vitality, but some have stacking penalities. Three can fly, five can receive channeling. One has an AOE and none are command cards. And all of them are illustrated by Keith Parkinson (and very nicely, too). Most are rare.

All are bribable by either Beer or Gold. And by their very entropic nature, they're addicted to randomness.

Randomness usually isn't a good thing when planning strategies, but you can use their randomness to some advantage. So grab your dice and come along. (Note: DON'T forget to bring dice along!)

Four of the Beer guys work together well -- and, in fact, none of these guys work well by themselves. Mu Kir'Agavati, 2nd Disciple is the only one that's useful alone -- he's a 4 that can receive channeling. He also allows rerolls of dice. That's an ability you'll need a lot of in a Disciple deck.

Next is the Initiate of Entropy, who is a 2 that stacks as a 5 but gets a bonus of 1d6 to vitality in primary attacks. That put you, on average, .5 ahead of the curve. The problem is that you don't get the bonus as a secondary attacker and channeling is limited to 2 points, regardless of the roll of the die. This is why the ability to reroll a low number is important, if only to offset the disadvantages.

Garuda Khan, 1st Disciple is a little better. His stacking penalty is only two points higher, so as long as you have one other Disciple of Entropy out, you'll likely be ahead of the game. And again, you can reroll. But if you have no other Disciples, he's a little useless.

Finally, there is Demorgan the Inciter. He's a 6/11 Vitality, with a bonus of 2d6, but only when he's a primary attacker. He can't receive channeling, but he can fly. He can score anywhere from 8 to 18. Keep an Initiate nearby.

The last Beer drinker is Mendu Sada, the Havoc, who has a 0-5 point fear AOE, determined by die roll, of course.

The four Gold bribable are sort of independent contractors, each with their own purposes. Orella of the Mist is a random destroyer of creatures by border color (you can't plan ahead). Shin Chios (3rd) allows you some flexibility, but it will cost you an extra card. Shin lets you pull another card out of your hand as an Unchallenged card in combat and Shin gains their ability. (This is nice if you have a Merchant and a Super Model in your hand, or a similar combo.) Vikia Tso'Shan'Lu(I call her "Vicky") lets you pull cards from your opponent's combat hand, but she only makes an attempt if she wins (but she takes channeling, so that helps). Finally, there's Xaz, Thief of Twilight, who can steal a text box.

Note: when you steal a text box, you steal it word for word. If you steal "All creatures are immune to Pink Flamingoes", it doesn't become "All creatures are immune to Xax, Thief of Twilight" allowing the Flamignoes to squash her like a bug. Most Guardians cards, however, don't contain "subjects" in their sentences (e.g., "+2 in Swamps", "immune to fire", etc), so these cards would apply to Xax instead.


There are two major cards that you have to watch out for with this deck, one Mortal and one External. Can you guess them?

The External is less likely to show up, but causes much more havoc with this deck: Karnis the Transcender reduces all die rolls to 1. That affects all creatures, except maybe Orella (who would only be able to destroy Elementals). The second one comes right out of the Limited Edition: Major Party Animal. You have a bunch of alcoholics in this deck and the MPA would knock them out of your hand. With you Initiates out of play, you wouldn't be able to reroll on the others.

Cards You Need:

Iron Crag Bagglers: not only to defeat the Major Party Animal, but also for AOE command cards -- your Initiates are easily toasted.

Fiends: Mad and Greedy to protect from Beer and Gold Bribery.

Phil, the Bar Fly: As long as you have the Beer drinkers . . .

The Amazing Cider-Man: As long as you have the Beer drinkers . . .

Energy Wells: It takes 7 points under your stronghold, but it will allow 3 points of channeling to Elementals, which is a nice ratio, almost as good as the Grand Avatar's 6 for 12.

Amulets of Flying: You have three flying creatures (more if you add other creatures), but you need those Initiates and they can't fly. So make them fly.

Shroud of Grahzue: Karnis the Transcender isn't bribable any other way.

Summary: Disciples of Entropy know how to party. And they know how to shoot dice -- by cheating. The more they hang out together, the tougher they can be. Though they mostly get there abilities as primaries and though their bonuses go away for secondary attackers, a handful of these guys lead by Garuda Khan can take down any Guardian without the need for channeling.

Dave Gentzler defended the Disciples when this listing was first published. Dave maintains that, properly played, the Disciples are the most powerful class in the game. As part of the brains behind the game, I wouldn't go against him.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

Alodu'Su Tha'Xuiw'Yi: Elemental, Vitality 2/6, OCB 0, Med, Beer, Gold, Disciple of Entropy, CMP 0, Green bar.
When Alodu Tha'Xuiw'Yi wins a primary matchup, roll 1d6. On on 4+, opponent's primary match-up creature is destroyed if opponent cannot pronounce the name of this card.

(Note: this one was a JOKE. Someone originally thought I was serious about making a card like this.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Creature Class Critique #7: The Shadow Brotherhood

One of the more interesting little cabals sneaking about the MidRealms in the Shadown Brotherhood. A loosely knit organization of six creatures and a handful of supporting spells, they have the ability to strike your opponent before your opponent even gets out of the gate. And they provide something that is missing for the most part from Guardians: Denial.

The six Brotherhood members are: Agent of Shadow, Knife of Shadow, Red Master of Shadow, Shadow Spy, Shadow Warrior and Thief of Shadow. There is also Shadow of Ashes, if you have a thing for the word "Shadow", but it isn't a member of the clan.

Spellwise, they get support from: Assassin of Shadow and Shadow Strike. Plus, sharing the theme are Phase Assassin, Curse of the Betrayed and Spectre's Ward. (Okay, maybe the last two are a stretch, but Brom has that way with the disturbing artwork and they seem somehow connected . . .).

And then there's Helm of the Brotherhood, which also fits into the theme.

Looking at their abilities:

Shadow Spy -- a Vitality 3 command card that allows you to randomly pick your opponent's combat creatures -- a big advantage against all but a dedicated ranged-attack deck.

Knife of Shadow -- a Vitality 5 command card that allows you to pull a creature from your opponent's combat hand and destroy it if it's a higher Vitality than the Up-Card -- great when there's an Idiot or Rye Beaner face up. (The downside to this card is that there is no clue what to do if the card isn't destroyed. Is it put back in the hand or is it Unchallenged? Play it safe and put it back in your hand. That makes the Knife of Shadow like a Pauly, Official Parrot "Plus".) The Knife is the only Shadow Brotherhood member that has any off-color bonus.

Thief of Shadow -- costs your opponent 2 Power Stones with a win over his stronghold.

Red Master of Shadow -- like the Thief, but it costs him 2 cards from his Creature Pen, assuming that he has some there. (This is a good time to have Bribery cards ready!)

Agent of Shadow -- a command card that moves the combat onto the attacker's space. You can take over a terrain space by defending a different one! In any case, your opponent will be off balance.

Shadow Warrior -- a 9-pt command card can be a risky proposition. BUT you get to attack your opponent's Up-card creature with a +2. If your opponent isn't playing ranged attacks, you can be pretty sure whether or not you'll kill it or not. Also, if you kill it, you deny your opponent an Up card.

And a quicker rundown of the Spells: Shadow Strike (discard Up-cards), Spectre's Ward (double border cards cost stones), Curse of the Betrayed (deny use of specific spell), Phase Assassin (deny draw cards), Assassin of Shadow (removes a card from Draw deck -- and you can look through his deck!) and Helm of the Brotherhood (rearrange and deny cards). Notice the number of times I used the word "deny".

Now comes the tricky part. What do you do with these guys? They all have sneaky abilities and lurk well in the shadows on the edge of society. But someone actually has to do the attacking! They're nasty on Strongholds, but first they have to get there. The command cards attacks the Up-Cards and random combat cards, which is great, but what is going to attack his creatures head on. Granted, two of these guys can take channeling and one has an OCB, but overall, they're weak in combat -- they need help.

As mentioned in an earlier critique, Giants are one choice, with their Stronghold smashing abilities. Spirits are another choice if you want a non-Mortal class that's primarily nonbribable (and Rock Spirits will help in Strongholds). Undead is another mostly non-bribable non-Mortal class, if you want to play with two different colors.

Other cards to have: Potion of Movement Essence (to get them over to the stronghold quickly, in a surprising way) and Anvil of Heaviness to help destroy defenders over there.

Summary: The Shadow Brotherhood is a strange animal. They make up the main thrust of the deck in terms of strategy, but they're the secondary class in terms of fighting ability. That in itself is sneaky by nature, and fits in well with the theme of the deck.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

Shadow Giant: Mortal, Vitality 20, OCB 10, Large, Beer, Giant/Shadow Brotherhood, CMP 0, Red bar.
+10 Vitality attacking non-rubbled Strongholds.
If it wins primary match-up, opponent discards 2 random double-bordered cards.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Creature Class Critique #6: Trolls

Similar in nature to the previous Ogres are today's Trolls. (Depending on your fantasy source, Trolls are either big, fierce and nasty creatures or they're just
repulsive little goblins.) Actually, in Guardians terms Ogres and Trolls have little in common. Ogres are Mortals, Trolls are Externals. Ogres works together and have many common themes. Trolls are just . . . there.

There are five Trolls (four from Dagger Isle, one from Drifters Nexus): Greated Horned, Grotto, Lowland, Valley and Woodland. Their vitalities are low, ranging from 3 to 8. Four are bribable (one
Gold, two Babes and one Beer), none have terrain bonuses (though one gives bonuses in Rivers & Lakes). Two are command cards. All have special abilities, but no two are the same or even similar in nature. There's nothing to build on as a creature class.

Individually, they can aid different types of decks. But the best that I could do with pairing them is as follows: imagine a shield containing a Grotto Troll, Lowland Troll, Woodland Troll and either 2 Water Nymphsor 1 Water Nymph and 2 Wild Nymphs, all sitting on Rivers & Lakes.

With this mystical shield, your Grotto Troll, which is only a Vitality 3 command card, something that I approve of greatly, gives all of your creatures +2. If your attacking, your Lowland is 8+3+2=13. Your Water Nymphs are 7 +3 (for R&L) +2 (from Grotto) = 12. Your Wild Nymphs are 4 + 2 = 6 (or 10 with channeling). Finally, your Woodland is 4 + 2 (from Grotto) + 4 + 4 = 14 or 18 for the third Nymph. That's 55 points of primary attacking Vitality, without channeling!

But, as always, "dream" shields are few and far between.

Troll/Nymph decks are possible, and they would be great if there was a Woods/River & Lakes combo location terrain. (They might even move onto "Phenomenal" in that case, actually, because the bonuses start adding up). But since that Water Forest doesn't exist, you're better
off with creatures with River & Lakes bonuses and hoping for the Water Nymph/Woodland Troll combo to pop up, or go with Woods and Woodland Trolls and take the other Nymphs.

Summary: Trolls don't work well as a deck themselves, but they can support other creatures, particularly Nymphs.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

For Whom the Bell Trolls, Spell, Up 8.
Play on any Troll in current match-up. That Troll and its opponent become unchallenged Creatures in melee.

Vacation Coming

My family and I are going on vacation next week. If I have time today during my lunch hour, I'll queue up some more files, but today is definitely the last day I'll be updating this page for the next couple of weeks.

So if you don't see any new posts, it's not because I gave up already but because I'm busy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Creature Class Critique #5: Ogres

I was going to save Ogres for a while since they're one of the more obvious deck concepts based on class. But since a deck using Ogres was posted to the mailing list, let's go for it now.

There are five Ogres, with vitalities ranging from 8 to 13: Ice Ogre, Polar Ice Ogre, Great Fanged Ogre, Ancient Ogre and Tree Ogre. (That last one is from Drifters Nexus). All are large non-flying Mortals, bribable by Babes. None can be channelled against. Additionally, the Ancient Ogre prevents your opponent from channeling for the rest of combat. (Normally, secondary attackers can accept channeling against Ogres.)

Ogres are also Vitality boosters: Great Fanged boosts other ogres; Ice and Polar Ice are +2 in Mountains; Tree is +4 in Woods.

Putting all this together, your supporting cards should be of two or three varieties: anti-channeling, anit-Babes bribery, and to a lesser extent, Mountain bonus cards.

Choice of terrain:

If you can get them, Rocks of Rhuadan, from Necropolis Park. They are a combo Mountains/Dry Heaps with the following restriction: only Guardians can channel and at -3 CMP. Your opponent can only channel against your non-ogres or as secondaries. This further restricts him. You can get around the -3 by playing a Channeling Flux.

S.S. House of Babes, from Drifters Nexus. No bribery by Babes. The downside is that you none of your creatures get bonuses in Rivers and Lakes.

Spirit Mountain. Huh? Why? Because of one of my choices of secondary classes.

Other creatures:

Ogres can make up the bulk of a deck, but there Vitality numbers don't lend themselves to easy stacking under Shields. You'll need some supporting creatures. The choice you make depends upon whether you want a dedicated anti-channeling deck or a dual-class deck that attacks on two fronts.

In either case, the first cards you want to add are Ugly Wart Fiends (to prevent bribery) and Shadow Panty Raids (ditto).

If you don't want your opponent to channel against you only, you can add in: Lorg Mole (demon), Energy Toad, Moon Spirit and Disc of Siin. Also Brom's Skull 21, Energy Eater, Magic Feedback and Longshot Louie.

If you don't want any channeling at all, then consider adding Energy Leech, Monolith of Power and Siin as your Guardian. (And skip Louie, you won't have need for him and as a channel receiver, you'll be tempted to channel to him.)

If you choose the Lorg Mole and Moon Spirit, you may want to add a few more Demons & Devils or Spirits, but don't try adding both classes. Ugh!

For Demons & Devils: add small guys like Yandrax, Gorgal Skag and Doogoop the Greedy (for vitality bonuses). Devil Hedgehogs and Devil Dogs optional.

For Spirits: Add Ice Spirits and Moon Daughters. Both get bonuses in mountains and can be channeled to in Spirit Mountain. (See, I'm not *totally* insane.) Medicine Man is the Yandrax for Spirits. Arwyddyn is another possibility if you choose not to channel much and want something else to do with your stones. Koset of the Light is a little counter-productive. Stinking Spirit prevents little guys from ganging up on your Ogres, but be careful -- it works on *your* creatures, too!

Summary: I've got to put one of these together. Just writing up the possibilites has got me thinking about it. Ogres are a strong class to build a deck around. And either dual-class or all-out anti-channeling are good strategies for them.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

Eager Ogre: Mortal, Vit 8, OCB 1, Large, Babes, Ogre, CMP 0, Red bar.
No channeling against Ogres. +4 Vitality when used as a primary attacker.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Creature Class Crititque #4: Varmits

Okay, I'll admit it. When you think of Guardians creature classes, Varmit is not the first thing to come to mind. Not even in the top ten. But, hey, let's be unconventional.

I'm not exactly sure what a "varmit" is, except, perhaps, a "varmint" with a southern accent. Varmints are, generally, animals and birds that are pests or vermin or other rodents not covered by gaming laws.

Rascally pests are exactly what three Varmits are (and to be charitable, I'll add a fourth, read on).

The Pesky Varmit has Vit 3 but get a plus 3 bonus against Medium-sized creatures. If you just play the Limited/Revised edition, you'll get that bonus nearly half the time (randomly speaking). That's a heck of a plus. Almost all Knights and Pirates, most Undead and most Slag Beasts are Medium-sized, so you have a head start against many theme decks.

The Varmit Archer is only a 1-point ranged attack, but that's all it takes to win what otherwise would be a push. And at a pitiful Vitality 2, he's easy to stack.

If the Sneaky Varmit survives its primary match-up, your opponent must discard one random card from his Creature Pen. There goes that terrain card he was saving. Or that creature you just Bribed.

Finally, another pest even if he's an Animal, is the Sales Weasel, who is Vitality 4 but becomes Vitality 10 if your opponent doesn't spend a stone. It's better than spending a Stone and a Power Lunch. (And if there's ever a third edition, I'd like to see him reclassified -- if he makes the cut.)

(Note: I don't know if I wrote that before or after finding out that FPG went out of the gaming business.)

These pests are just too cool.

On the downside, as a class, they're limited by the fact that there are only four of them and they don't help each other. But they don't hurt each other either. Two of them have a good bump in their own Vitality, two of them can cost your opponent resources (cards or stones). And since they're low numbers, they go with anything.

Extra card to use:

, a flying Saurian from Necropolis Park. He forces discard of a Medium-sized creature. That narrows it down a little for your Pesky Varmit. (Okay, it's a stretch, but I'm looking for a common theme. There aren't many.)

Iron Crag Bagglers, Bogglers and Bugglers: Yes, they're fairies and fairy decks are common enough. But these guys (and when I see them I think "Time to make the donuts!") are as annoying as the Varmits are. Dispel command cards, prevent ranged attacks (when shooting some of your own) and force Item discard.

Summary: Great annoyance characters, but remove the Pesky Varmits as soon as you see Tookle. And the archers aren't likely to be needed with your Giants, but you never know.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

Varmit Pack Leader: Mortal, Vit 5, OCB 0, Small, Gold, Varmit, CMP 0, Red bar.
C: All Varmits are +1 Vitality for each Varmit in play.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Puns and In-Jokes: Necropolis Park

Guardians Puns and In-Jokes

Necropolis Park

Many of the references actually refer to Egyptian mythology (Sethos, Isis, Osirus, Horus, Imhotep, Djoser, etc.). And one of the Field Marshals or Supreme Leaders has an altered Nazi flag, but I don't know which one unless I find a copy.


40,000 Useless Warhammers -- Warhammer 40,000 is a miniatures game. And if you do an eBay search on "Guardians", you will get a lot of "Eldar Guardians" matches.


Ancient Tome of Dispansation -- A "dispensation" (note the correct spelling) is an exemption from a rule.


Barrow Downs -- Is this where the Barrow Wight lives? Downs are usually treeless, so they should not be considered Woods. Also, "Barrow Downs" is the name of a location in The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring.


Dead Cats -- There's an expression about "not enough room to swing a dead cat". Cats were worshipped in ancient Egypt, so as long as the game has a lot of dead Egyptians, it should have a bunch of dead cats. Also, the dog reminds me of one of the Disney cartoon dogs.

Djoser -- Djoser was King during Third Dynasty (c. 2800 BC).

Doogop the Greedy -- Bribable by babes and gold, but visually, he's supplied his own beer. I'm not sure how many (or which) deadly sins he's committing.

Dork Age -- A takeoff of FPG's own Dark Age card game, along with a picture of Alfred E. Neuman of Mad Magazine fame.

Drizzle Bone the Hack -- search engines yield many recipes and "bone-chilling drizzles".


Eisnmir -- I call him "Eisner" after the guy who drew the Spirit. No reason, really.


Festus -- "Fester": form an ulcer, undergo decay, infect. Don't eat whatever it is that he's cooking.


Heliopolos, Temple of Re -- This is an ancient city of northern Egypt in the Nile River delta. It was the center of worship of the sun god Ra (c. 2100 B.C.).

Horus -- Horus was god of the sky, son of Osirus and Isis.

Humahuma -- Well, she's a "human human" who can make a lot of guys drools and say "huma huma huma . . . ".


Imhotep, Vizier of Djoser -- Imhotep was an architect as well as the subject of The Mummy series of movies.

Ishtar, Queen of the Heap -- Ishtar was a Babylonian goddess of love and war. Also, a really bad Dustin Hoffman/Warren Beatty film (they get lost in the desert at one point).

Isis Isis is an Egyptian goddess as well as the name of a cheesy Saturday morning show of my youth. She was the wife of Osirus.


Judge Dredge -- "Judge Dredd" is not even a Marvel character, let alone a memeber of the X-Men. He doesn't normally carry a plunger but otherwise it's a good likeness. (I'm suprised they weren't sued over that one.)


Kurgan, Blademaster of the Exiled -- There can be only one if you want the bonus. A possible reference to the movie Highlander.


Lotus Flower Water Garden -- Another veiled reference to the Black Lotus from Magic?


Mayor McEvil -- Mayor McCheese of McDonaldland fame.

Mayor McFood -- A pack of french fries with McDonald's arches for eyebrows.

Mayor McGreed -- Mayor McCheese meets Taco Bell.

McHooter's Distraction -- McDonald's meets the Hooters franchise?

Morb's Revenge -- "Morb" is "Brom" backwards. Ironically, this is the only spell in Necropolis Park which was painted by Brom, and thus the only one affected by its ability.


Necropolis Park -- Where dinosaurs mingle with dead Egyptians: Burial ground (Necropolis) meets "Jurassic Park".

Nubian Slave Girl -- I don't know about "nubian", but definitely "nubile", which actually means "young".


Osirus -- Osirus was the husband and brother of Isis, ruler of the kingdom of the dead, and father of Horus.


Saboteur -- Visual: Champs the Wonder dog is tied up.

Sebek, Queen of Magicians -- Egyptian crocodile god, associated with Re and Seth. But in mythology, Sebek was a guy.

Sethos Sethos was the god of thunder, storms and the desert as well as the brother of Isis and Osirus. He murdered Osirus.

Scamp Jones -- Is it just me, or is this Joe Camel in New Orleans?

Silver Server -- Silver Surfer, herald of Galactus. Flies through outer space (which could be considered terrainless). Not a member of the X-Men.

Squibby -- Squib: a small firecracker, one that burns but does not explode; a witty speech or lampoon, or a filler article. Harry Potter fans might know the term "squib" to mean the non-magical offspring of wizards.


The Minx -- A minx is a promiscuous woman, or a young woman who's flirtatious or impudent. Why is she considered an animal? Is it a possible pun on "mink" or "manx cat", perhaps?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Puns and In-Jokes: Drifters Nexus

Guardians Puns and In-Jokes

Drifters Nexus

Once again, Drifters Nexus contains lots of creatures with specific names. There is no way to know which of these are in-jokes, except to recognize them or be "in on the joke".

In general, O-Men is a take-off of Marvel Comics Uncanny X-Men, even though not all of the characters parodied are actually X-Men. X and O are the opposite sides in Tic-Tac-Toe. They are also the letters used to represent "kisses" and "hugs", respectively.

Gob refers to the mouth. All of the Gob creatures feature very prominent mouths.


10 Gallon Voodoo Hat -- Visual: Eagle-Eye McFinny is wearing the hat.


Al' Jabah -- The name sounds like "algebra", and the text deals with multiples.

Annoying Gnats in the Hood -- A "Boyz N the Hood" reference, maybe? The timing may have been right, but I don't think that's it. Gnats are usually refered to as "annoying".


Bagpipes of Fear -- Why would anyone fear bagpipes? Well, maybe because of the infernal racket they make.

Black Locust -- Note that the class is "Tragic". It's a reference to Magic: the Gathering's Black Lotus card. It's also a dig at how much money Wizards of the Coast had and the fact that they could outbid any other gaming company (at the time).

Bruno Smashmouth, Union Boss -- Mob influence in the AFL-CIO (or other unions).


Caddy -- The group of cards, Caddy/Gopher/Golfer, is just a silly combo. Why a Giant? Caddyshack reference?

Captain South America -- Capt. America (an Avenger, not a member of the X-Men). The text box ability is a reference to Cap's mighty Shield.

Carrag the Black -- "Carrag" means "scabby" or "scabby animal" in Manx (from the Isle of Man). (Internet searches reveal the most wonderful useless information).


Delilah Rangoon -- I am amazed at the number of hits for "Delilah Rangoon" on search engines. Most of them have to do with horses, ethnic food, bars & clubs, and movies. Oh, yeah, and card listings. The most infamous "Delilah" cut Samson's hair and made him powerless.

The model for Delilah Rangoon went on to become Playboy's Miss December 1999.

Disgruntled Postal Worker -- Great graphic. It's the very definition of "going postal".


"Eats", Cockroach King -- Visual: his tatoo reads: "Born to Kick Bug".


Golden Fleecer -- Jason stole the Golden Fleece. A fleecer swindles people (in this case out of their destruction
ability). According to Dave Gentzler, Brom painted Keith Parkinson's portrait (returning the favor for Smilin' Jack).

Golfer -- The group of cards, Caddy/Gopher/Golfer, is just a silly combo. This could be a Caddyshack reference.

Gopher -- The group of cards, Caddy/Gopher/Golfer, is just a silly combo. Why is Gopher dressed like Napolean? Is it because he's conquering a golf course? This could be a Caddyshack reference.


Initiate of Entropy -- If you think about it, "initiate" of "entropy" is an oxymoron.

Ix, Overlord of the Waters -- "IX" is the roman numeral for "9". Ix was the Mayan giant that held up the sky (1 of 4).


Little Voodoo Hat -- Visual: Eagle-Eye McFinny is wearing the hat.

Lizards on the Toast -- Double pun: Wizards of the Coast has so much money that they probably are "on the toast" of the town. (Whether or not they're lizards is a different debate altogether.)

Longshot Louie -- This one could be a total co-incidence but in the SF novel Ringworld, Louie is the navigator of the ship the Longshot. The visual shows a creature with a sextant (for navigation) and there are stars visable.


Maitz Motel -- Painted by Don Maitz, a pun on the Bates Motel of "Psycho" fame.

Medallion of Skyphos -- "Skyphos" is a drinking cup.

Medicine Man -- Although they're "in tune" with spirits, Medicine Men are usually people.

Mighty Tiki God -- A reference to MTV. [DG]


Oscar the Wonder Chimp -- Don't know any famous chimps. Takeoff of Rex the Wonder Dog?


Phil, Bar Fly -- "Bar flies" are usually people, not bugs. Apparently, artist Phil Foglio is also a barfly, and this card is based on him, and done in his style. (Foglio is not one of the Guardians artists.)

Professor Heisenburg -- Reference to Heisenburg's Uncertainty principle.


Rock of Far Rolling -- Rock & Roll will always be, it'll go down in history . . . and Rolling Rock is yet another beer reference.

Rosetta Stone -- The key discovery at "translating" hieroglyphics.


Saboteurs -- Champs is pictured.

Shin Chois, Third Disciple -- Looks like Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics. [DG]

Small Mox -- Reference to Magic's "Mox" cards combined with a "smallpox" pun.

Soggybottom Gertz -- Needs to wear Depends?

Sewage Back Up -- Lots of grafitti, including "Ploogak Stinks" and "Tweezle was here" (though it looks like "Tweezle" is misspelled.)


Tanniker Smith -- I'd love to track this one down. It sounds like something out of pulp SF, perhaps E. E. Doc Smith. Anyone?
(Note: Obviously, I like the name because I've usurped it and have been using it for over 10 years now. It was even my badge name at Lunacon once.)

The Amazing Cider-Man -- Spider-Man (not a member of the X-Men). Visual: web shooters supply beer (cider).

The Maitz Motel -- Maitz is the card's artist as opposed to Bates Motel from the movie Psycho.

Tiger Baloo -- The most obvious reference is to "Cat Baloo". In Disney's "The Jungle Book" (and possibly Kipling's version as well), Baloo was a bear. Shere Khan was the tiger. This card predates Tiger Woods raise to fame in the golf world (so no bonus for Woods. Or Irons.)

Tree Ogre -- Bears a lot of resemblance to the Ploog's Polar Ice Ogre, doesn't it? The wrong sketch was sent to Shaw. The mistake wasn't discovered until too late. [DG]


Uras, Overlord of Mountains -- Accidental pun: whenever you beat it in combat, announce loudly, "Aha! I whupped Uras!"

Urufa, Queen of Goblins -- "Urufa" my goblins, "Irufa" you face. (Okay, I'm reaching for that one.) Visually, she's the only green goblin in the game. Maybe Cider-Man will challenge her.


Voodoo Hat -- Visual: Eagle-Eye McFinny is wearing the hat.


Wheel of Law -- "Wheels of justice" reference? More likely, the try-your-luck justice as seen in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Or maybe someone just liked watching "Wheel of Fortune" on TV.

Woolverine -- Double pun: Wolverine of the X-Men; also it's literally a "wolf in sheep's clothing".


You Can't See Me, I'm a Vampire -- Bradstreet, the artist that did this card, worked on Vampire: the Masquerade. And the kid's looking right at him. Dave Gentzler had an interesting commentary on it regarding LARPS Vampire players at cons. When I find a copy of it, I'll post it here.


Zelda, Bag Lady Bug -- She might've been a "Bug Lady" originally, but the pun doesn't work as well.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Puns and In-Jokes: Dagger Isle

Guardians Puns and In-Jokes

Dagger Isle

Dagger Isle contains lots of creatures with specific names. I don't know the source of them, or even if there is a specific source other than the artist or the card designer that named them.

I'm mostly working on names again. I'm only referencing visuals that I recall of the top of my head. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to view the cards and update this list. Suggestions are welcome.


Champs the Wonder Dog

Champs, the Wonder Dog -- I believe that there was a movie dog called "Rex the Wonder Dog". Champs is the only Restricted card in Guardians. His image also appears on the Saboteur card.

Cuthbert the Resurrector -- St. Cuthbert (634-687) was known in his time for miracles, but resurrection was not one of them.


Druk -- Co-incidentally, Royal Bhutan Airlines is also known as Druk Air. Druk flies. Also, I've been told that "druk" is Dutch for "forceful persuasion", which is appropriate for a Devil.


Eagle-Eye McFinny -- Visual: McFinny shows up on all the Voodoo Hats.

Essence of Babeitude -- If nothing else, it's a classic name.


Giant Aunts -- As opposed to the "Giant Ants" of THEM fame. Giant Aunts will certainly wreck any house.

Groatie -- It sounds like "grody", which means disgusting or nauseating.

Grunwald the Usurper -- Grunwald is a small village in Poland, near Tannenberg, site of two important historical battles (1410, 1914).


Hal, a Toasis Dragon -- Halitosis is a medical condition, which refers to having fetid (really bad) breath. It the illustration, Hal has gassy, green breath.

Heisenburg's Missiles -- A reference to Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle. The illustration is reminiscent of Oliver Hardy (of Laurel & Hardy fame).


Old Gumper -- A "gump" is a fool, dolt, dunce, complete nitwit. This definition predates both the book and movie versions of Forest Gump.

Oppressed Slaves -- The fact that these guys are wearing suits and ties wasn't lost on me. I'm surprised that they weren't chained up inside cubicles.


Santa's Beer Sled -- I wonder if that's "Old Nick" brand beer. Or Ballantines?

Schneebolt -- Pun on "schneeble" and "bolt" (fast).

Seraphim -- Traditionally, it's the highest rank of angels, which would be far above "Archangel".

Slimwit Man -- 'Slim' Whitman is a singer. This is definitely one of the worst puns in the entire game.

Supermodeloid -- She puts the Super Model to shame, doesn't she?


The Black Eye -- I would have made a "Flying Dutchman" comment, except that the Dutchman didn't actually fly.


Valley Troll -- Visual: more of a "Valley Girl" Troll.

Vensuni Inferno Swarm -- Mt. Vesuvius comes to mind.


Warwick's Aura -- Warwick, aka Richard Neville, was a 15th century English military and political leader. He sided with the Yorks in the War of the Roses.

Work Crew -- Visual: if that guy isn't Oliver Hardy (of Laurel & Hardy fame), he's a near-relative.


Yap Attack -- Yap is "Pay" backwords. A play on "payback", perhaps? Yap is the currency of the MidRealms, according to The Guide to the Mid-Realms

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Puns And In-Jokes: Limited/Revised

Guardians Puns and In-Jokes

Limited and Revised Edition



Angel -- Visual: spear is pointing down; however, he attacks creatures of the "underworld", so why not?


Baal-a-gog -- "Baal" is a false god, or another name for the devil. "Agog" means eager, filled with excitement.

Babe Hound -- "Babe hounds" are usually people, not dogs.

Bagpipes of Fear -- Yes, the very sound they make would strike feel in the staunchest of men.

Bealzebub -- Another name for the devil, even though he's a "Demon".

Black Lung -- Usually a condition developed by smokers and coal miners, not giant fish.

Brap Back Goblins -- Visually very similar to Brown Backs, but not a contiguous image.

Brown Backs -- Visually very similar to Brap Back Goblins, but not a contiguous image.

Bruce the Goose -- A goose in Scotch plaid with bagpipes? A reference to Robert the Bruce, perhaps?

Bungee Bony Ridged -- Visually similar to Snibs Bony Ridged, but not a contiguous image.


Captain Red Nose -- First, takeoff of Blackbeard, Bluebeard, etc. Second, Maitz does the Capt. Morgan Rum bottles and if you drink too much alcohol, you'll get a red nose.

Carreg Amroth Stronghold -- Carreg Cennen Castle in Wales was built by the Normans in 1300. Amroth is a village in West Wales (12th cent).

Cherubs -- Visual: baby angel. FYI: Cherubs actually rank 2nd (under Seraphs) in classic angel mythology, with Archangels ranking 8th and Angels ranking 9th. However, cherubs can also be depicted as lion-like with four heads (or four faces).

Control Destiny -- Visual: the three Fates

Cow -- Cows have bad gas problems.


Demon Horde of Kabod -- "Kabod" Hebrew for 'body, mass, substance'; "honour" to a man, "glory" to a heavenly being. (applied to demons??)

Devil Dog -- Drake's cake; usually these mythical animals are "Hell Hounds".

Devil Hedgehog -- Visual: "The Thinker"

Dreaded Doom Dog -- Cerberus, the three-headed dog from mythology.

Dry Heaps -- Sounds like "dry heaves".


Female Titan -- Visual: she's flirting with the Male Titan.

Floyd the Flying Pig -- "When pigs fly!", cf. Pink Floyd's "Animals" LP cover. Appparently, your army chows down on a revitalizing pork lunch.


Giant Penguin -- Fantasy-game staple or "Monty Python" reference?

Gn'bby Gnomes -- "Knobby" (rounded hill or mountain?)

Gn'legable Gnomes -- "Knowledgeable", i.e., learned.

Gn'Omish Gnomes -- "Amish", i.e., Pennsylvania Dutch

Grand Phooba Schnee -- The leader of the Elks or Moose lodge is the "grand pooba", so this is the head schnee. Yes, schnees are more than a class, they're an organization!

Gorgal Skag -- I can't find the exact slang reference, but the visual makes me wonder about the "fetid cracks" comment.

Grilbus -- Visual: a St. Bernard with a helm and massive fists (not paws).

Gringe Commander -- Guide to the Mid-Realms suggests that the artwork was inspired by Brom. Possible reference to "grunge" icon Kurt Cobain, who bore a slight resemblance.

Groupie -- A person that hangs around celebrites; usually they are mortals.


Haba Naba Daba -- Sounds like gibberish; visually very similar to Haba Naba Kaba, but not a contiguous image.

Haba Naba Kaba -- Sounds like gibberish; visually very similar to Haba Naba Daba, but not a contiguous image.

Heels of Speed -- How could anyone run in these?

Horse -- Visual: artwork similar to the usual depiction of a knight in a chess set.

Humungus Fungus -- "Humungous" is misspelled so that both words end in "ungus".


Idiot -- He certainly looks like one.

Iron Crag Bagglers -- When I see these guys, I think of "Time to make the donuts."


Khnumian Stronghold -- Khnum: a god in the form of a ram who created human beings from clay on a potter's wheel


Lawyer -- All lawyers go to Hell, don't they?


Major Party Animal -- Most "party animals" are actually people. He likes Beer, but he's drinking wine and toking on a bong.

Male Titan -- Visual: he's showing off for the Female Titan.

Merchant -- Visual: he's selling a velvet Elvis

Minataur -- Usually spelled "minotaur"


Na 'Boob -- I'm curious if there's a reason behind this one (and most of the Slags for that matter). Nabob, maybe?


Old Nick -- A name for the Devil as well as a British ale.


Paladin -- A knight driven by honor, chivalry and profound faith, making him incorruptible (and unbribable).

Party Animal -- Most "party animals" are actually people.

Pauly, Official Parrot -- I'm sure there's something, though I'm not sure what. "Polly, want a cracker?" perhaps?

Pesky Varmits -- Possibly a slang way of saying "varmint" (i.e., rodent, vermin)

Pink Flamingos -- Harmless, but durable, plastic ones are found on lawns everywhere.

Ploogak, the Conqueror -- Painted by Parkinson, not Ploog.

Ploogak, the Couqueror -- A misprinted name. There's a "u" where the "n" should be.

Power Lunch -- Usually something that Wall St. types do.


Reverend Smilin' Jack -- Guide to the Mid-Realms suggests that the artwork was inspired by Brom.

Rouge Specter -- "Rogue" is a dishonest person; "rouge" is red makeup. The misspelling was accidental. It was supposed to be "Rogue" even though it is wearing a red cape. I had correspondence with Dave Gentzler who told me that it was actually named by a playtester who had won a tournament. Unfortunately, the guy misspelled it, and no one caught it.


Schneeble -- "Schnee" is german for "snow", but I don't see any connection there, other than it sounded nice

Seer -- Visual: maybe this is unintentional, but the copyright information is inside the crystal ball, which has the effect of making it look like a Magic 8-Ball. Either that, or the seer is trying to find out the numbers for the lottery. (Either 950 or 056.)

Snibs Bony Ridged -- Visually similar to Bungee Bony Ridged, but not a contiguous image.

Snogwart -- Predates "Hogwarts" (of Harry Potter fame) by several years.

Sphinx -- The one in Egypt has the face of a man. This one is all lion.

St. Ballantine's Evocation -- I can't find much on the web about "Ballantine". He's not a saint, though there's a priest associated with *music*. Ballantine's is (or was?) a brand name of beer.

Super Model -- Visual: Man, what a visual. Every army should have one, don't you think? Cut-out fashions for the Super Model appear on the back of the Necropolis Park box. (They don't actually fit.)


Thackle -- "Tackle"? "Hackle"? "Spackle"? Maybe it's just a cool-sounding name for a Slag Beast, but I'm willing to bet that there is a reason for the name.

Trumpeter -- Gabriel blowing his horn?


Vampire Hunters -- Visual: the reflection of the bat in the mirror looks like the "bat symbol" on Batman's chest.

Varmit Archer -- Possibly a slang way of saying "varmint" (i.e., rodent, vermin)


Water Spout -- There are two dictionary definitions: a tornado over water that produces a column of air and water; or a drainage pipe. No mention of the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Whispering Spirits -- Visual: looks like a buttrfly, but those "wings" are giant ears.


Yandrax -- I'm curious if there's something to this. Sounds like "anthrax", which is both a disease and the name of a rock band. (Pink Floyd is well-represented in this game.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Puns and In-Jokes: Introduction

Many years back, I developed a concordance of in-jokes, bad puns and other references in FPG's Guardians CCG. And some time later, I posted it on usenet and later on my old webpage.

It isn't totally complete, obviously, because I wasn't on the team that put them there in the first place. However, I found a lot of them and I've been contaced by Dave Gentzler about a couple of them.

Most entries are based on the names of the cards and their abilities, but there are some visual references. One of these days when I have time to sit down and look at each individual card, I may be able to add more of these visual gags. Artists were given much latitude in their illustrations, so there probably are more that I missed.

Suggestions and additions are welcome.

I've divided them into four categories: one for the main set and one for each of the supplements:

* Limited/Revised Edition
* Dagger Isle
* Drifters Nexus
* Necropolis Park

Each of these will be handled in its own entry over the next four days.

Add any corrections or additions onto any of these threads and I'll update the entire list at a later date.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Creature Class Critique #3: Giants

Christopher's Creature Class critique #3: Giants.

Since in the previous 'critter critique' I mentioned that Giant and Ogres needed entries of their own, I might as well do one of them today. I decided to go with the big guys.

Giants come in even-numbered Vitalities from 4 to 18 (excluding only, for some reason, 6). So it's conceivable that you can stack 3 or 4 of them under one shield. The problem is that you need to stack guys that work together, which isn't as easy.

There are 10 Giants, not including the Giant Penguin, and one Item that can only be used by Giants, the Rock of Far Rolling. Even though the Penguin isn't a "giant", I've included it in the discussion below. (And remember: whenever you play it, use your best Monty Python falsetto and announce, "It looks like a penguin.")

Common links:

Six Giants have OCB of at least 1/3 of their Vitality. Two have Mountain bonuses, one has Dry Heaps and the Penguin has Rivers and Lakes. Also, the River Giant is immune to Elementals in R&L. Two have killer ranged attacks, but don't use them unless you know your opponent has only one primary attacker or you have an Eye of Missile Mayhem. (Watch out for Bone Frights!) And the Giant Shaman (Vitality 4) makes Giants channel receivers.

The biggest common thread is this: attacking your opponent's stronghold. The Cave Giant and Elder Cave Giant ignore stronghold bonuses. Giant Aunts doesn't ignore them, but they can rubble a stronghold just by winning (Embyronic Witch/Djinn anyone?).

Looks like it's time to go for the Guardian kill -- if not, destroy the strongholds instead. Rock Spirits are nice, but you probably won't have room for them. Consider instead packing a couple of Anvils of Heaviness. You'll have a bonus to attack the stronghold and they won't have any to defend!

Weak link: The Caddy is a joke card, a dangerous joke (he's an 18 with an OCB of 9!), but a joke nonetheless. He's special ability is "kills Gopher". Ha ha. Funny. I get it. A Caddyshack reference. However, that one stupid sentence leaves the Caddy open to destruction by a Golden Fleecer. Not funny. Another weak link is the the vulnerability to the Golfer -- but only if your opponent has been able to find some packs of Drifter's Nexus!

Okay, let's get down to business. What should you stack with your Giants so that they'll fit in a Shield and fill it out completely.

Locals: Duh! Unless you want Rik' Sook to supplement your Giant Shaman, you don't have any Giant command cards. Go with some Locals, Rye Beaner or Scamp Jones, to allow a little more room in the Shield. You don't have to worry about that self-immolating AOE, that's for sure.

Idiots: Makes a 3-creature shield a 4-creature shield and draws off one secondary attacker from your Giants. In this deck, that's important!

Shadow Giants: (This was almost the humorous creature name on the bottom of the post.)

If you're going for the Strongholds, then the Shadow Brotherhood are your boys. Let them ride in on the shoulders of Giant Aunts (Hey, there's a pun in there, somewhere). The Thief of Shadow and the Red Master of Shadow have nice text boxes if they survive over a non-rubbled stronghold. If you played an Anvil of Heaviness, that's a little more likely to happen. Also, you can use that Embyronic Witch/Djinn combo, too. IMPORTANT: Use them *before* your Giant Aunts rubble the Stronghold!

Small Demons & Devils

You'll need a Vestibule of Kabod, but if you have one you can put a Small Demon or Devil in your Shield that doesn't count toward the Shield Limit. This is good in any deck, but again, a Giant deck needs all the help it can get. Some possibilities: Doogoop the Greedy (gives each of your Giants, except the Aunts, a bribery bonus),
Drizzle Bone the Hack (highest small Devil vitality, 8), or Kazarian Squawker (command card that accepts opponent's command card). Unfortunately, D&D do not provide anything toward your goal except as a possibly free creature fodder.

Summary: Giants are nasty creatures ready to pound, but there sheer size is actually a detriment, making it hard to fill out a Shield. Unlike other classes that can only serve a secondary role, Giants can easily serve as the primary class BUT they need supporting creatures (or a class of creatures) to fill out their shields for the attack.

And watch out: They may be big BUT Giants will get stomped by Titans.

Note: When this was first written, the Titans were not an NFL football team. Now it sounds like a prediction of the outcome of a game.)

C. J. Burke, Keeper of the Flame

Tree Giant: Mortal, Vitality 12, OCB 3, CMP 0, Red bar.
6-point ranged attack that *only* works in Woods. This overrides the 'No ranged attacks' restriction. +2 in Woods.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rating the Rares: Original Set R2 and R3

Rating the Rares

This message was previously posted on Usenet. Part 1 was reposted last week.

The rest: Rare-2 and Rare-3

  1. Ancient Ogre: All ogres have immunity to channeling. But for most of them it goes away after the primary attacks. Not so with the Ancient Ogre. Your opponent is prevented from channeling for the rest of combat! Great card.

  2. Captain Red Nose: On the surface, he looks like a great card, but he's very limited. With a vitality of 15, he takes up half the shield, and you're not getting too many more Pirates in there. Works great if you have Pauly, Official Parrot, or Warwick's Conversions to convert small things into Pirates, or even a Soul Mirror and a lot of small creatures. In a starter, he's just another pirate. Okay card.

  3. Cow: Another card that's played for laughs. A 3-point AOE isn't going to take out a lot, though you never know. A better bet is the Uncommon Stinking Spirit, which does the same thing, but with up to 4 point creatures. (Warning: Stinking Spirit affects you as well.) The best use for Cows is to be detonated by Farmer Brown. Joke card.

  4. Gn'Olegable Gnomes: For 5 points, giving each creature +2 is very nice -- especially if you have more than three small creatures. The only drawback: the Grand Phooba Schnee's +1, +2, +3 ability works for every creature, and blows the Gnomes away by comparison. Good card.

  5. Gringe Commander: "This ability cannot be disspelled." Right there it becomes a quality card. And the ability? +3 to your Slag Beasts. Suddenly, Squibby and Groatie aren't so bad. And in the Dry Heaps, these creatures have great bonuses anyway. To top it off, there are enough Slags around that you'll find some in a starter deck to work with Gringe. Cool artwork, too. Great card.

  6. Idiot: He has his uses, but not many of them. Idiots are nice in the opening draw, when you have a lot of other creatures. Then you can use one to draw off an opponent's attack as a one-shot nothing. But late in the game, when you need creatures to save a bad game, you do NOT want to see this one coming into your hand. Okay card.

  7. Paladin: First of all, here's another card that Archangel Odessa should be able to channel to, but that complicates things. Here's a Captain Red Nose for Knights EXCEPT he's not bribeable, he's a little smaller, there are more knights to benefit from his bonus, the Horse give HIM a bonus, and last but not least, he gives your Mortals immunity to fear! Play with Soooooooul Mirror. Great card.

  8. Party Animal: Funny art, but the joke wears off right away. Throw it out there and see if it survives. Not likely to do much. Doesn't suck.
  9. Pauly, Official Parrot: If you have a bunch of Pirates, then Pauly is hard to kill off, and his ability is okay, too. In a starter, he's less useful. Good card.

  10. Ploogak the Conqueror: (As well as the "Couqueror") A must for a Slag Beast deck. You need to win the battle for your Slag Bunny to heal a slag beast. Ploogak helps take control of the space. If he lives long enough. Good card.

  11. Reverend Smilin' Jack: Jack is a one-man schtick. Place a large creature, like a Watcher, face down. Next turn, spring it on your opponent. Watch out for Hammer of Doom. Good card.

  12. Shadow Warrior: Nine points may be a lot to spend on a command card, but if you know what your opponent has in his shield already, and there's a beatable creature sitting on top of his deck, go for it. Card advantage is key to Guardians. If you don't have it, you're screwed. Great card.

  13. Cherub: The Demon and Devil bonus is nice. Better than what the Archangels get (comparitively). And the immunity will frustrate your opponent. Best match-up opponent: Dreaded Doom Dog. Dog dies without doing any damage to Cherub. Very good card. (Not quite great.)

  14. Corruption Stream: You can't beat a Corruption Stream. Literally. It wins as a secondary attacker, though I've had arguments whether that should be allowed against Guardians (according to the rules, yes, but should it?) Great card.

  15. Darkness Elemental: Don't get me started on this one. A thirteen point command card that you discard if you use part of its ability. I don't think so. The only thing good about it is that you can then play Standard of the Elements for a 13-point ranged attack.

  16. Death: It destroys almost every mortal that it comes up against, but will lose to those it doesn't destroy. (Thankfully, most of those knights are bribeable!). But it stacks very high. The only saving grace is the standard bearer that allows you to change border colors and, thus, make creatures Mortal and destroyable. Good card.

  17. Earth Mother: Nice artwork. Channeling receiver. Works great in spirit decks. Not having to place a card is a great ability. Great card.

  18. Energy Leach: Dispels command cards like the Boggler, but can stop channeling if played in a matchup. This is sometimes a Very Good ability to have, particularly if you can keep him alive by range attacking or bribing the opponent. Great card.

  19. Fire Elemental: I'm a little leery of showing 14 points of my hand on the first matchup, but if I know that he's got a bunch of 4-pointers in his combat hand, you better believe it's coming out! If your opponent has a lot of little creatures floating around, don't expect your Fire Elemental to live long. Good card.

  20. Light Elemental: Nothing too special. The ability is silly and leaves it open to destruction by the Golden Fleecer. Still it's a 13-point channelable flyer. That counts for something. Very good card.

  21. Mist Veiler: A couple of these and your opponent is screwed. Many battles are won by carefully selecting your secondary attacks and picking off the right creatures. But you can't pick these off. Play them in the Woods with no ranged-attacks and your opponent will be very limited in his options. Great card.

  22. Spirit of the Forge: An Elemental Master Gunner, except that he's an unbribeable Spirit. With Traithes (from Necropolis Park) he's almost useless. However, if NP isn't available, he's not too bad. Good card.

  23. Thunder Hawk: One of the best surprises in the game. Sock someone for a great ranged attack. And it's possible to save your Hawk as it is "lost" in combat. Great card.

  24. Arms of the Earth: For six points, you get a shot to pull your opponent's Earth Elemental out of his hand. Whatever you get won't count toward victory conditions, so the bigger the beter. And if you know what he has in his hand, so much the better. Great card.

  25. Black Unicorn: A 13-point unbribeable channeling receiver. Sure, it can't receive channeling from Grand Avatars, but otherwise a Great card.

  26. Bone Shambler: Receives up to double vitality in channeling. The version with the off-color bonus is naturally better.

  27. Crystal Flash: Great with Tookle (he's small) and Great in a starter deck.

  28. Eternal Witch Lord: His channeling ability is pretty much useless. His other ability -- healing Undead -- rocks! Maybe not as good in a starter, but phenomenal if you can get your hands on Necropolis Park. Oh, and he can kill every Guardian single-handed. Great card.

  29. King of Mystfall: There are enough common and uncommon faries to make this a good card in a starter deck, but with all the fairies available, it's a Great card in a constructed Fairy deck. Just watch out for Idiot Fiends. Great card.

  30. Lake Serpent: Yet another creature that can kill a Guardian solo, and this one has an AOE, too. As with the Flame Elemental, I'm leery of using the AOE as my first attacker unless I *know* my opponent's hard. Hard to stack so that he'll live, but still Great card.

  31. Phantom Stalker: Sucks in a starter deck, because his ability is useless. Even in a constructed Undead deck, I've never seen his ability actually used. Okay creature.

  32. Rik' Sook: Rik Rocks! For a five-point command card, you can channel to every creature in the matchup. A reusable Power Lunch. A portable Spirit Mountain that works for everyone. Kills in a starter. Overall, a Great card.

  33. Shadow of Ashes: One of the few cards that has a fire-based attack, but isn't immune to fire. Sun Spirits kick their butt. Nothing special. Okay.

  34. Slippery Slime: Play your big guy first, let him pull out the ranged attacks, then swap it with the Slime and you got your big guy back. Great card.

  35. Valkyrie Spirit: Her 3 points of channeling vs 7 stacking is better than most. She channels to knights that don't accept channeling. And with Warwick's Conversion or Soul Mirror you can make lots of knights. Great in a starter (lots of common/uncommon knights), Great in a constructed Knight deck.

  36. Vampire Lord: Disappointing. His Vitality bonus is useless since he's a 12, Vampires are 9, and there aren't any other "vampires" in the game. "Vampire" isn't even a Class, it's a creature. And what creature is it going to beat that has accepted channeling? Disappointing.

  37. Winterseed's Maiden: Okay card. Nothing special.

  38. Wraith: Another card that can receive twice its Vitality in channeling. The fact that it can strike as a 24 when it stacks as an 8 is even better! Great card.

  39. Haba Naba Daba: Considering that AOEs are usually played first, Haba is a good defense card, but overall goblins are a weak bunch. Good card.

  40. Sorcerer: Expensive to use. But if you know what your opponent has, it can be a killer card. Good card.

  41. Energy Well: Sucks in a starter because it's very likely that you won't have any channel-receiving Elementals in your deck. Otherwise, it's better than average. Good card.

  42. Grim Skull: A six-point ranged attacker that stacks as a four. It you have any channelers, this is the card to use with it. Good card.

C. J. Burke, Keeper of the Flame

Homebrew Card

Dot Breeze:
Mortal, Vitality 2, OCB 0, Small, Gold, Misc. Human, CMP 0, red bar. Immune to any creature that can accept channeling or has been channeled to.

Note: Dot Breeze was one of a series of homebrew cards inspired by the characters in The Wizard of Oz.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Creature Class Critiques #2: Angels

Creature Class critique #2: Angels.

Being the good citizen I am, I want to make an Angel deck. Too bad Angel decks bite the big one.

Without an expansion feeding them, Demons and Devils can take over the game almost as badly as Undead can. Angels, by contrast, are left in the dust.

There are only nine angels: Angel, Trumpeter, Cherub, Archangel Magnus, Archangel Odessa, Holy Avenger, Angel of Death, Guardian Angel and Angel of Righteousness. Plus there's the Cleric (who is a Wizard) and Paladin (who is a Knight).

If they worked together, nine would be enough, but their limits are crippling.

My first complaint is about the creature Angel: it can't accept channeling without a Power Lunch, yet lowly Clerics can. This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest mistakes of the game and the thing that cripples Angels as a class the most.

My second complaint is about their bonuses:

Archangel Magnus gets +9 against Demons and Devils. Astounding. Until you realize that a little Cherub gets +6, which *triples* its Vitality. On top of that, the biggest angel of the bunch can't beat either Bealzebub or Old Nick if all the creatures channel. (Magnus takes Nick, however, if no channeling is allowed.)

Next complaint:

Archangel Odessa : On the plus side, I love the artwork. But her ability? She channels to Clerics and Angels. "Cleric" is a particular creature. "Angel" is both a creature and a creature class. We can assume that the text applies to the class because the creature "Angel" cannot accept channeling. But to compound this problem, she cannot channel to *all* Angels, only to the ones that normally receive channeling. And on top of that, the channel receivers are all Uncommon or Rare! Ugh!

And that doesn't even address the issue of channeling to the Paladin, who is a holy fighter. (At least he can receive power from a Valkyrie Spirit, though that seems almost "pagan". No offense to anyone, best word I could find.)

Final complaint: off-color bonuses

True, there are a lot of Demons and Devils, so there's a good chance you can get a healthy bonus if you fight a deck built with them. Unfortunately, the Angels don't have anything else going for them. Most have OCB of 0 or 1, so they can't even fight back against Undead very well. If the game is ever re-released, I wouldn't mind seeing their OCB bumped up a couple of points to give them an added usefulness.

Okay. Complaining is easy, let's get to the good stuff.

All angels fly, which is a good thing, except that only three of three would survive an Ice Storm, so watch out. Most have Vitality bonueses, but only against Demons & Devils. The Angel of Righteousness have a bonus based on bribery icons and most D&D have at least one plus, it works nicely on other creatures.

The Trumpeter is cool. For a 2-pt. command card, you can find out if your opponent is about to spring a Lawyer on you. And against a D&D deck, you might force your opponent to reveal his entire hand.

The Guardian Angel is a reusable, but expensive, Holy Grail. Ironically, the best card to team with this one is Sacrificial Altar. Get rid of the dead wood so that you can keep the good ones alive.

And one other way to get stones is to call on that Angel of Death. He'll give you stones, but not many. After all, he's taking up nearly half the shield as it is, but you should be able to win at least one more battle.

So what's a good primary class?

Naturally, Knights come to mind. Why? Because of the Holy Avenger/Paladin connection. Because of the Cleric heals Mortals connection. Because of the Knight/St. Ballentine's Evocation connection (okay, that one has nothing to do with Angels, but it sounds "holy", doesn't it?). Knight provide a nice OCB against Elementals, so they're effective D&D killers themselves. There is also one flying Knight.

Pirates have a couple of good elemental bashers, and provide some ranged attacks, which Angels lack. But they are highly bribable. Still, it's interesting psychologically to see the two teamed in a Guardians version of St. Elmo's Fire.

Sermon on the Mount?

Nice name, but will it work? Two good primary classes with some bonuses in Mountains are Giants and Ogres. There are more Giants than Ogres and their range of Vitality is greater, but is heavier, naturally, on the higher end. Most Angels are lower Vitality, so they could round out a Shield. Angels could compliment Ogres so the same reason.

I won't get into too much detail on Giants and Ogres because they each merit a "Critter critique" of their own (as it is, I chopped out a few paragraphs from *this* post because they were getting off track.

Summary: Angels are good (naturally), but they're not good enough. They make a nice supporting class, but couldn't survive as the main thrust of the deck. They're nice to have for defeating nuisance cards like the Lawyer, but they're too narrowly defined for general use.

C. J. Burke, Keeper of the Flame

Avenging Angel: Same as "Angel" card, all stats and artwork, except that it accepts channeling.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Guardians Rules, Part 4

Guardians is a great Collectible Card Game formerly produced by FPG, Inc. The game is no longer supported, except by fans who have played the games since its inception or since picking up discounted cards.

One problem with picking up discounted cards: if you can't find a starter deck, you don't have the rules. (There are other things you may not have either, but the rules are the most important.)

This is an effort to correct that problem. What follows are a quick set of rules for playing the game. They get more complex as the go along. All that is listed is what you *can* do, not what you *should* do. For playing tips, go elsewhere.

part 4 of 4
(version 0.2)


After Combat has ended, you must determine who won.

The attacker discards his beaten creatures and gathers together his remaining creatures. The defender does the same. Each player than adds the total Vitality of his creatures -- NOT THE STACKING VITALITY! Don't use the red penalty number, if the creature has one. Also, creatures who did no damage due to immunity (e.g., a Sun Spirit does know damage do a Devil Dog) DO count for control of the space.

The only exceptions are creatures who were bribed (there not on the space anymore, even if they did technically survive) and creatures that, for whatever reason (Spell, command card, etc.) are out of play and don't count for control of the space.

If the attacking Shield has more Vitality than the defender, it wins control of the Space and the defender must retreat his Shield (even if already turned) one Space in any direction, as long as it lands on a space under that player's control. He may retreat to a space that has another of his shields on it, but if he does so, one shield is discarded (this counts for the opponent's goal) and creatures are also discarded so that it is under the 30 point limit. If either of the two Shields involved were turned, the remaining shield is turned.

If the defending shield has the same Vitality as the attacker or more, that shield retains control of the space and the attacker retreats. The attacker MUST retreat one space in the direction it came in even if it traveled TWO spaces before combat, even if it has a shield there already (combine Shields as above).

The loser in combat has the choice to destroy the entire Shield and all creatures within it (this counts for opponent's goal) -- this may be prudent if a weak turned Shield would be forced to retreat onto one of its own unturned Shields. By discarded the entire Shield, the remaining Shield can turn and attack its opponent (which may or may not have been weakened from the prior fight.)

If the loser CANNOT retreat because it has no space under its control to retreat to, the Shield is automatically destroyed.

Examples: Allen flies over one of Bob's Shield to attack Bob's second Shield. If Allen wins, Bob must retreat one space in any direction to space under his control. He may, if he wishes, to retreat into the space that has the other Shield. If he does that, one Shield is discarded and Bob can only keep up to 30 points worth of creatures. The remaining Shield is turned if either of his two Shields had been turned before the combat.

If Bob wins the combat, Allen must move back one space in the direction he came even though he originally travelled two. HOWEVER, the space is occupied by Bob's other shield. Therefore, Allen's shield is destroyed.


The most important rule in healing creatures is that only the winner can heal creatures. The retreating Shield is considered to left their fallen comrades behind. (Demon Hordes of Kabod are an explicit exception to the rule; card text always overrides the rulebook.)

The second rule to remember is that you cannot use a creature that you just healed to heal a second creature. (For example, if you had five Demon Hordes of Kabod and three died, the two survivors can only heal two others. The fifth one is lost.)

Obviously, healed creatures DO NOT count toward control of the space becuase you have to have control of the space to heal creatures.


After all Shields have been turned and all movement completed, the final phase occurs: the Terrain Settlement Phase.

First, if your opponent has no Shields in the Disputed Lands and all the lands either have one of your Shields or one of your terrain on them (or are under your control by default), CONGRATULATIONS! you won.

Otherwise . . .

For each of your Terrain cards in the Disputed Land area that has one of your opponent's Shields sitting on it: remove your Terrain card. Your opponent does the same for your Shields. This represents the terrain changing hands.

Next, for each of your Shields that is sitting on a disputed land space that has no terrain card, you must play a terrain card from your hand. If you do not have a Terrain card to play, you may spend a stone and place any card from your Storage Hand or Creature Pen face-down in the terrain space, with the word "Guardians" facing you to indicate that it is your card. This face-down card is not considered to be any of the basic terrain types.

If you don't have any cards to put down, or do not have stones to pay for a face-down card, or just choose not to play a Terrain card (you don't have to even if you have them), you can instead discard a creature from beneath the Shield. This creature is discarded -- it doesn't become a face-down terrain card; the space remains terrainless.

If you discard the last creature, the Shield is destroyed (this counts for your opponent's goal).

You CANNOT replace your own terrain card, unless you have some means of removing the existing one (such as a Hammer of Doom or Ancient Tome of Dispansation).

If you place a terrain card and your opponent plays Hammer of Doom before the end of the phase, you are required to play another card (or drop a creature).


If no one has won, go back to the Draw & Organize phase. Take note of the number of lands under your control and under your opponent's control (include the ones that you control by default). If you control more than you opponent, add your MDL (most disputed lands) to the number of cards that you draw. If you have fewer, subtract your LDL (least disputed lands) from the number of cards that you draw. If you're tied, don't modify the number.

Next, whoever had the lower Up-card on the previous turn, draws extra cards equal to the LUC (low Up-card) bonus.

Your previous Up-card is the first card you draw, with the following exceptions: if your Guardian is Tes Let, you have the option to discard the Up card and start drawing with the next card (this is his ability and if printed on the card); if you are not entitled to draw any cards this turn, discard the Up-card and turn the next card as your Up-card.

If you run out of cards, you do NOT lose automatically (though it's pretty likely that you'll lose eventually). However, you cannot draw any more cards into your hand -- you have to play with what you have. Randomly draw a card from your discard pile as your Up-card.

Confused? That's normal. Try it out a few times and you'll get the hang of it.

Homebrew Card

Mortal, Vitality 5, OCB 1, Large, Barnyard Animal, CMP 0, red bar. +3 Vitality when shield is attacking.