Saturday, January 17, 2009

Creature Class Critique #18: Elemental Lords

You have all those Elements and all those Elementals, but who's running the show? The Elemental Lords, of course.

There are only three of them, so they can't hold down a deck by themselves. But they have enough oomph to protect your primary class and to cause some damage of their own. As a class, they were limited but useful -- before Necropolis Park changed the complexion of -- and their standing in -- the game.

The three Elemental Lords are the Iron Lord, Sand Lord and Rock Lord. They have Vitalities of 10, 11 and 12, respectively, and medium-sized, non-flying Babe lovers. The Sand Lord is a kickass creature in Dry Heaps with a +6 bonus (a 55% increase) but has a weakness for Woods (-6 Vitality, a 55% decrease!). But the other Lords are the real story.

Both the Iron and Rock Lords have 3-pt fear AOE attacks, but it doesn't end there. They get bonuses to the AOE for each different Elemental Lord in play. TAKE NOTE! There is one important RESTRICTION and one important OMISSION in that ability.

The restriction is *different* -- you can't pack three Iron Lords together for a 9-pt AOE. They're the same Lord. Each one gets only their own 3-pt AOE but after the first one, the others are useless.

The omission is the words "you have" before in play. In other words as long as someone plays one, it adds to you AOE. So if your opponent plays a Sand Lord in one matchup, then in the next matchup (or any after) you may play a Rock or Iron Lord for a 6 point AOE. (Important strategy note: if you have a Dry Heaps deck, don't play the Sand Lord first in combat.)

The problem, of course, is how do you get that coveted 9-point AOE attack? I mean, sure, six points is good, but nine point in phenomonal. Add 10, 11, and 12 and you get 33. Oops, you're over. At least, before Necropolis Park, you were over. Now you can get 33 points in your Shield easily with the help of the Locals: Rye Beaner
and Scamp Jones. Scamp will get the three Lords into a single Shield. Now you're ready to scare the bejeezers out of your opponents.

But that's not the end of it, either.

Okay, sure, you can fit all three into one Shield, but can you get all three into one Shield? Do you think that the four cards will be nice enough to show up and the same time as the Shield so you can use them? Not likely. You need a little help. And it's there, and it's common.

Warwick's Conversion is a must -- but let me warn you now. This is a surprise tactic that will only work the first time. Your opponent will either curse or give you a devious smile (and *then* curse). But after that, the surprise factor will be gone and your opponent will be out for blood whenever he sees this card. Sidetrack ended.

Here's what you do -- play any card, say, Ugly Wart Fiend (another good card to have). Next, cast Warwick's Conversion. Your opponent may wonder why (unless they've read this!) but once it goes through, you announce that your Fiend is now an "Elemental Lord". Pause a moment to allow this to sink in with your opponent as he searches through his Fairies for any cards that might survive the onslaught of what's obviously the next creature.

You now have plenty of room to fit two extra Elemental Lords.

Now, we can argue over when you have to announce what you're changing a creature's class to and whether that comes before or after you ask your opponent if he wants to dispel it. The card doesn't mention it, and we played that you didn't. It also helped that I played it in the middle of my Barnyard Animal/Knight deck. The sneaky part came in that I had a Horse as my command card. My first Barnyard Animal lost and I cast Warwick's Conversion. My opponent had the choice of spending two stones to dispel it (he had Sikura) and save a little creature or lose the creature to Sir Floyd the Smelly. He chose the latter figuring that I'd burn off the Horse bonus, and he'd save a later, bigger creature of his because of that.

After he said, "Nah, I'm not spending the stones", I replied, "Okay, it's an Elemental Lord." And I save my Horse bonus for my Knight, in case he had a big creature that would survive the 6-pt scare.

(And if you want to argue that I should have announced first, well, it's his fault for making the Knight assumption!)

Hmmm, suddenly these Elemental Lords are looking better, aren't they?

Other Cards to Use

Reverend Smilin' Jack: A less controversial way to get an extra Elemental Lord in your Shield. Place the Lord as terrain and then fight there. Watch out for that Hammer of Doom (but a Hammer trade for a Sand Lord isn't so bad in my book.)

Primary Class

So if the Elemental Lords make a nice secondary class, who should be the primary? Any of them, but confusion always helps the first time around.

Knights and Horses: You don't need the Barnyard Animals, but the Horse does add to the surprise. Also if you're going to lose your Elemental Lords in a fight, you can at least blow up its opponent with a combo Warwick's Conversion/St. Ballentine's Evocation. (Or channel to it with a Valkyrie Spirit.)

Pirates: Okay, let's get silly. You can change Captain Red Nose into an Elemental Lord. Then you can change your Rock Lord into a Pirate. Lots of bonuses. (Requires lots of Spells, though.)

Undead: The Chief Lector Priest of Sethos changes the class of your Undead to any other class -- and it does it for free! Drop some Dead Cats, maybe a Vampire Mosquito and then hit 'em with the Iron Lord. No Spells or stones required! (I've never done this because my opponent had an Undead deck and two Undead decks going head-to-head would be as boring as the two Great Balderoon decks that went head-to-head.)

Summary: At first glance, the Elemental Lords don't have much going for them. Their bonus requires odd stacking creatures or that your opponent be playing the same creatures that you are. But when you start getting sneaky, you can blow away a small creature shield as easily as a Vensuni Inferno Swarm while holding on to a strong, high-Vitality shield. And sneaky is definitely the way to go so that you aren't defused before you can kill at least one shield. The three Lords are easy to add to any deck, though smaller creatures make for a better complement to a Shield. Just so long as the rest of the cards are winners, too. You probably won't get more than one or two shield kills this way, but you'll be off to a great start.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

Mud Elemental Lord: External, Vitality 13, OCB 3, Medium, Babes, Elemental Lord, CMP 0, red bar.
+7 Vitality in Swamps, -7 in Spires.
All your Mud Elementals are +2 Vitality while Mud Elemental Lord is in play.

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