Hot on the heels of the Wanderers come the Animals, another miscellaneous grouping of creatures with little common bonds between them. Just as the residents of your local zoo vary in size and ability, so do those that only have the classification Animal.
There are a dozen animals, excluding the Barnyard Animals and the Giant Penguin (which isn't even a Mortal, nor does it have a class). And what may seem odd for common animals, most of them are bribable.
And speaking of Bribery, that's one common thread for the Animals:
The Babe Hound gives bonuses if your opponent is bribable by Babes.
The Pig Dog lets you bribe by Babes and then re-use them. The Major
Party Animal makes all Beer-bribale creatures sit out the fight. Party Animal is immune to any creature that can be bribed. And the Minx, if she goes up against a Babe-bribable creature, returns to your Combat Hand (nice against Ogre and Pirate Decks!).
The Party Animal is the weakest of the bunch. At only one point (and four stacking), it isn't going to beat anything, but it's the equivalent of a re-usable Idiot -- so long as it goes up against a bribable creature. Great against Pirate, Knight, Giant, Ogre, Fairy and Swamp/Clamjack decks; not so good against Slag Beast, Angel and Undead. So-so versus Spirit and Demon/Devil Decks.
Major Party Animal requires some care: it affects you, too. But it can give you an easy victory over Giant shields, along with Disciples of Entropy, Phil the Bar Fly/Amazing Cider-Man combos, etc.
Babe Hound and Pig Dog can work together. If they're both in play, your creatures get a bonus against Babes bribable creatures. If it doesn't look like that will be enough to beat your opponent, bribe him with Babes and get them back. Then, on top of that, add the standard bearer that allows you to alter your opponent bribery icon (Brom's Dem Bones 15) -- now, if it's bribable, you can bribe it with Babes for a stone and get the Babes back to do it again.
Along with Babe Hound, there are two other Vitality boosters. Dead Cats, the only External Animal because it's also Undead, gives all your creatures a boost, but only if it dies. That shouldn't be too tough to arrange. And Jalupee Lobo gives each of your creatures a boost if you can guess the size of your opponent's creature before he reveals it. This card joins the Idiot Fiend, jumping into my deck at the first sign of a Tookle/Fairy deck. (Does anyone else think that Jalupee was a counter card to help prevent being overrun
by all those little guys?)
The Sales Weasel also gets a boost if your opponent doesn't spend a stone. I consider it an honorary Varmit, because it's as annoying as Varmits are. Actually, the Varmits would work well with these boosters: consider Jalupee and Pesky Varmit -- you can guess small or large and have a 2 of 3 chance at a bonus, or guess medium and have a 1 or 3 shot and a BIG bonus.
Another animal that goes well against Fairies and Undead is Fangis the Hunter. If you have the Henchman class (I don't), that's a misprint -- he's an Animal. Fangis gets the equivalent of an off-color bonus against Externals instead of Elementals. He's a Vampire Hunters with a much wider effect.
The Other Three:
Bruce the Goose: Actually, he's the best of the lot, but he didn't fit in with the others, so I waited to mention him. Bruce forces your opponent to lose! Your opponent *must* play the card with the greatest vitality that will lose to your creature. However, your opponent is free to choose between multiple creatures with the same Vitality -- and if he doesn't have any creatures that will lose, he's free to play whatever he wants. Team this guy with a Lawyer, but watch out if he
only has 3 Mist Veilers in his hand.
Gopher: The Gopher, if he survives combat (doesn't have to win), flips
your opponent's terrain card over. Now there aren't too many terrain-based decks out there, but enough decks use benefit from them. Giant decks use Mountains; Pirate decks use Rivers and Lakes; Fairies
use Woods. Flip it over and the extra bonus goes away. Flip the Woods over and you can use ranged-attacks! Flip over the Iron Crag Mountain Brewery and you can bribe with Beer! (And Tiger Baloo will get a bonus if played after the Gopher.)
Pink Flamingoes: Everything is immune to them. Your opponent will need a nice big shield to kill them and your Shield and take the space. Best when paired with an Idiot or Goldthwaite Jumper or a Scamp Jones and a couple of little creatures (DON'T use Rye Beaner!) to draw fire so that it will take a few turns for your opponent to kill it and claim the space. Watch out for Major Party Animals!
So what do we have here? The Major Party Animal takes out all the Beer bribable creatures (even in that Iron Crag Mountain Brewery). You play Dead Cats and they get squished, giving a bonus to your Gopher (and add a Varmit Archer to help him win or a Djinn if necessary) so that he survives and you flip over the Brewery -- or better yet, flip over the SS House of Babes. Now you're free to play your Pig Dog and Babes card. Or just play your Minx over and over (again, use that Brom's Dem Bones 15) and let your animals crouch and then pounce and tear to pieces.
Summary: Animals are not a cohesive lot. The herd mentality is definitely missing. But grouped together, they have what it takes to take on several types of decks -- particularly a Tookle/Fairy deck. One-shot decks lack versatility, but they can be good for that one shot if you expect to see that same old Tookle deck again. Undead decks fair better, but still have to watch out. And Pirate and Giant decks are positively crippled, with Knights and Ogres fairing only a little better.
I was laughing when I starting this critique. It doesn't seem so funny anymore.
Someone try this and let me know. This could be that one unexpected deck that does some damage just because it's so unexpected.
C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame
Playing 'Possum: Spell, Up 8
Play as Command Card. All Animals (excluding Barnyard Animals), if used as ranged-attacks gain, +1 to their ranged attack, and if used as secondary attackers, gain +3 to their Vitality.
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