Thursday, January 15, 2009

Creature Class Critique #16: Demons & Devils

Okay, it's about time these "critter" critiques got on to serious business, and you can't get more serious than Demons and Devils. Before Necropolis Park, D&D weighed in as the heavyweights of Guardians. After it, Undead got much stronger, but D&D are still no slouches.

Devils have a lot of things going for them, not the least of which is that their biggest enemy are a few pitiful Angels, not something that a deck is likely to be built around. But let's take a look at what Demons and Devils can do.

Guardian Killers: There are two creatures (1 Demon and 1 Devil) that can single-handedly kill any Guardian by accepting channeling. And one of them flies!

Fliers: There are eight of them, including the Big Daddy of em all, Old Nick (a 20-point channel receiver flier, Ugh!).

Immunity: Toiling around in the underworld as they do tends to make these guys immune to fire. Eight Demons and Devils have this immunity. There are at least five creatures with fire-based attacks, and at least six creatures with fire-based AOEs. Immunity to fire can come in handy.

Vitality Boosters: Yandrax gives bonuses to all Demons and Devils. Chephros gets a bonus for each Demon or Devil beaten so far. Devil Dog gets +3 if its a secondary. Doogop the Greedy gives bonuses to creatures for each of their bribery icons -- and all but four of them have at least one. And the Succubus will take down just a good chunk of the creatures that are bribable by Babes.

Lawyers: Sure, it's only a 7 Vitality, but he'll count for 21 when it comes time to see who wins. Tricky little devil, isn't he? Make sure he wins or pushes (Djinn, anyone?) and hope the other guy doesn't get any secondaries in.

Healing: Demon Hordes of Kabod. If you get a dream Shield of five of these, it'll be hard to ever kill that Shield. Luckily for everyone else, there aren't any other Demon healers.

Destruction: Drizzle Bone the Hack has a ranged attack that will destroy the primary match-up opponent (if the opposing creature loses). Play one on the Lawyer's opponent after the Lawyer wins -- it will make seconday attacks that much harder and preserve your bonus.

Spells: Summons Gate. Re-inforce Demons and Devils from your Creature Pen to anywhere in the playing area. He bribed them away? Put them back. He was going to attack your "weakened" shield again? Forget about it.

Magic Items: Vestibule of Kabod. You can stash away one Small Demon or Devil in the Vestibule and it won't count toward the 30 point-limit. That means if you can get your hands on a Drizzle Bone the Hack, you can get a 38-point shield. Add in Rye Beaner (ooh, watch out for that self-immolating FIRE AOE. Oh, wait a minute...), and you effectively have 43 points!

Command Cards: There are three. Yandrax gives a Vitality bonus. Baleful Eye is a Demon Seer (not channeling, though), not really that great, but good if you've seen his Shield before and he's not playing Tookle. But my favorite is Kazarian Squawker which attacks his command card if its a creature and before it goes into effect. Warning: Don't play it against a Local! And it can't beat Handles O'Rourke, who is likely to have a handful of ranged-attacks to help him out.

And there's one more thing that they have over Undead. Off-color bonus. Ten D&D have an OCB of 1 or better. Undead get no off-color bonus against D&D (not even "Buzz" the Mortal Undead). The only thing that they have is Old Gumper (which is a great way to save themselves from Sun Spirits to boot, but more about that when I do Fairies or Undead.)

The question with the Demons and Devils isn't "Can you make a deck?", but "Which deck do you want to make?" There is just so much at your disposal. Concentrate on fliers? Fly in with your Guardian killers? Use your Lawyers to take and keep disputed land spaces? Wow. What Other Cards Could You Possibly Need?

A few, actually.

Djinn -- as mentioned above, to keep your Lawyer around. Djinns are always a good card to have, but this combo has a specific reason.

Ugly Wart Fiend -- the biggest, baddest Demons and Devils are bribable by Babes. SS House of Babes is good to have, too.

Eye of Missile Mayhem -- for that 6-point Doomwing ranged-attack and the Drizzle Bone destruction.

Ice Storm -- Interesting card for creatures immune to fire, but yes, it's a good card to have because you can knock out some of those Angels and Cherubs that have nasty bonuses against you. Just be careful when you use it -- you have a few vulnerable fliers as well. But remember, all Angels fly, less than half of all D&D fly, so the odds are in your favor.

Flame Cannon
-- Well, come on. If you're going into battle counting on all the powers of the unholy fires of hell, you got a theme going. Take a Flame Cannon along for the ride. Make it nice and hot.

Energy Well -- for seven points of stacking under your stronghold, you can channel 3 points to any elemental that can accept channeling (and a bunch of your guys can).

Arcane Infusion -- Was there ever a card more apt for a Devil deck? Fly out into an opponent's terrain. If necessary, fight your way through. Just make sure you still have either Old Nick or Bealzebub and one other card. Arcane Infusion, drop the other card and go on in. Blam!

What to Look Out For?

Angels, naturally.

White Unicorns. One of the most destructive creatures in the game. It destroys Demons, Devils and Undead. (It also kills Black Unicorns specifically, even if you could change your creature into something else.)

Great Ba'Te. If you can't kill him on the primary, you can't get him in the secondary round. If it squashes more than 6 points of yours on the primary, you'll have a problem getting the space. (This was a great card to have when I played against a Spirit Deck. Oooh, he hated me.) Note, the Great Ba'Te has a 6-point OCB, making it a 30 against your deck!

River Giants. They're immune to you in Rivers and Lakes. Stay out of them. Unless you really need those SS House of Babes. (Damned if you don't and damned if you do...)

Knights and Giants: They have off-color bonuses that'll kick demonic butt through all nine layers of hell.

Summary: If any class was kickass before Necropolis Park, it was the Demon and Devil dual-class. Sheer numbers will do it, but the variety of their powers is cream on the coffee. After Necropolis Park, the Undead got a big lift, but Demons and Devils can still give them a run for their money. The two flying Guardian killers are just the beginning. Round them out with vitality boosters to claim spaces or flyers to get you into your opponent's stronghold. I'm convinced. I'm putting one together to beat up that Undead deck I play against.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

Damned If You Don't, Damned If You Do: Spell 19
C: Any creature that loses a primary match-up to one of your Demons or Devils is destroyed. Channeling against your Demons and Devils costs 1 stone more than usual. Costs 1 stone to play.

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