Friday, January 23, 2009

Creature Class Critique #21: Elements

"Elementary, my dear Watson . . ."

Tired of Tookle and thinking Small. Then think Big, think Large, or at least think Medium. Think Elements. Not Elementals, mind you. Just "Elements".

There are 17 Elements in the game: 10 from Limited, 1 from Dagger Isle, and 6 from Drifters Nexus. (Necropolis Park was full of Saurians and Traithes.) An astounding 14 of them are Large, and the other 3 are Medium. There are no Small Elements. Hey, would you expect something that's akin to controlling the forces of nature to be Small? (Except, of course, that they aren't "Forces"; those were done in Critter Critique #10!)

Five of these guys can fly. Six are bribable by Beer (which, after all, is one of the most important Elements in the game). Four are channelable (including one that's got unlimited channel receiving ability) and one with CMP 2. Four have terrain bonuses and six can change the terrain. (The Overlords are Elements, don't you know.)
One has a ranged attack. Eight are command cards (seven of which can be useful).

Let's kill the suspense and bring out our Elements:

Air, Earth, Fire and ... Whoops, forgot one:
- Earth Elemental, V18 OCB 9 Large, +2 in the Dry Heaps.
- Fire Elemental, V14 Medium Flying, +2 in the Woods and 4-pt fire AOE.
- Greater Air Elemental, V16 Large Flying, +6 vs flying creatures.

Air+Water, Water+Earth, Water+Earth (again), Earth+Fire:
- Vapor Elemental, V11 Large Flying Channel receiving. When played in a match-up, opponent must discard any Items in Combat hand.
- Mud Elemental, V8 OCB 2 Medium, +4 in Swamps.
- Ice Elemental, V15 OCB 6 Medium, +4 in Mountains.
- Magma Elemental, V9 Large, 4 point ranged-attack.

(No Fire+Air. That would be Smoke, but we have a Smoke Spirit already.)

Light, Dark and Energy:
- Light Elemental, V13 OCB 2 Large Flying Channel Receiving, Destroys Darkness Elemental.
- Darkness Elemental, V13 OCB 3 Large, Command: Opponent must reveal his Combat Hand. You may choose to retreat before melee, but discard the Darkness Elemental to do so.
- Greater Energy Elemental, V12 Large Flying Unlimited Channel Receiving! CMP 2.

Overlords: All are Large Beer drinkers. Command cards, for the duration of combat, the disputed land space being fought upon is considered to be ...
Rey, Overlord of Trees, V4 OCB 2 ... to be Woods. No ranged attacks.
Gnorg, Overlord of Swamps, V6 OCB 1 ... to be Swamps
Ix, Overlord of the Waters, V5 OCB 1 ... to be Rivers and Lakes.
Uras, Overlord of Mountains, V2 OCB 2 Channel Receiver, ... to be Mountains.
Slor, Overlord of the Wastes, V5 OCB 2 ... to be Dry Heaps
Baezhu, Overlord of Twisted Ways, V2 OCB 2 ... to be Spires

Vensuni Inferno Swarm, V6(stacks 14) OCB 4, Command: 11-pt AOE fire attack, discard entire combat hand

Personal Perferences

Vensuni Inferno Swarm is a great card to root out and destroy a bunch of weenie creatures as long as they aren't immune to fire or have a Iron Crag Baggler handy (or Hescox 25 Egyptian motif standard bearer).

The Greater Energy Elemental can kill Guardians single-handedly (but I only have one and I haven't actually used it.)

The Light Elemental is a big flying channel receiver. It's only flaw is the useless "Destroys Darkness Elemental", which is nice, except that there is little reason for someone to play a Darkness Elemental and more reason for someone to play a Golden Fleecer. (Ouch.)

The Overlords have their uses. People love 'em or hate em. Gnorgg is a little expensive for a Swamp deck, but he's a nice surprise if you're packing Clamjacks (particularly Odious ones). Uras teams up nicely with Festus (and when beaten in combat, your opponent gets to say, "Ha! I beat 'Ur-as'!")

Vapor Elementals are just fun and cool. Why? I don't know, I just like them. Three of them and Scamp Jones (get him to fly if you can!) make One Nice Shield.

Earth Elemental pounds nearly every Undead in the game.

I like them all, in fact. EXCEPT! Except for the Darkness Elemental, which has a really silly command ability. First of all, why spend 13 points of your hand just to see what's in your opponent's hand? That leaves you with only 17 points. Press Leak give you the same ability except that it lasts for the entire round! The only difference is that you can retreat under cover of Darkness ... but you have to destroy the Darkness Elemental. D'oh! Of course, I'm going to retreat. I just wasted 13 points on a command card!

There's only one reason to use this card, and that's the rare Drifters Nexus Card, Standard of the Elements. This Magic Item becomes a ranged attack, the strength of which is equal to the Vitality of your Element (not Elemental!) command card. That means the card is worth 2, 4, 5, 6 or 13 points. Even in this case, a Thunder Hawk is a better choice.

Other Cards

Other than Standard of the Elements, the only card to use is Energy Well, which channels 3 points to all Elementals. That includes five of your cards. After that, you need cards to capitalize on your Overlords abilities or some other fliers or cards that support whatever strategy you see here.

Fiends won't help you. All your Beer bribables are command cards.

Secondary Classes

Thematically, the best fits are Forces and Spirits because it's sometimes difficult to see why something fits into one group or another. For instance, there's no Water Elemental, but there's a Water Spout (force). There's no Smoke Elemental, but there's a Smoke Spirit. There's both an Ice Spirit and Ice Elemental (with totally different vitalities and abilities).

Realistically, those would be poor choices anyway. Although some forces and spirits might complement particular cards, you need something to protect you from Mortal (particularly Knight, Pirates and Giants, with their big off color bonuses).

Likewise, Elemental Lord looks good, but isn't. Besides being the same color, these guys are just too big! You need some smaller guys to fill out the Shields.

Frankly, I'm at a loss. Undead are good, but they're good by themselves. Fairies would round things out and the Woods help your Fire Elemental, but they're good by themselves, too. Pixies, Titans (nah, too big), Fungus and Mold? Experiment.

Cards to Watch Out For

Great Ba'te - Immune to secondary attacks from Elementals.
Nob, Rapacious Gob - Kills Elementals as secondary attacker.
Orella of the Mist - Has a 1 in 3 chance of destroying Elementals.
River Giant - Immune to Elementals in Rivers and Lakes.

Which Guardian to Use?

Rak Nam - Leader of the Mighty. Simple and straigtforward. Nine points of channeling makes your Vapor Elementals 20 for one stone. Add in a Gift of Isis, add it's double at 22 for one stone. And you need raw power to pump up that Greater Energy Elemental.

Do NOT use Harkin with Greater Energy Elemental!

Gaar isn't much good either. These are Big Boys. Five points for two stones is nothing. Get some Power Lunches or add Rik' Sook instead.

Summary: Raw power and control of the very terrain you're playing on. But having never tried a deck of this type I can't say that it will work. I can only say that I'd like to make a deck work. However, in general, Elements individually seem to help other decks better than working as a cohesive deck on their own. There are no special abilities that link all the cards together, nor do their special abilities focus in any particular direction. But that also means that they will usually be some condition where some of the cards can prosper against any opponent.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

ObSigcard: I owe you one. That's because I have sooooooo many ideas from typing this one up that I might do an entire list of them. All of the Elements are swirling around me, force to be reckoned with, attacking my Spirit. My head is spinning -- 360 degrees around.

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