Monday, January 26, 2009

Creature Class Critique #22: Dragons

"Here there be dragons . . ." or something like that. "Drakes, freshness you can taste."

I'm falling behind, so I'm throwing this one up here unedited. I hope to have time to fix it later. Enjoy.

There, deep in the heart of the mountain, at the bottom of a cavernous maze, lay the end of the quest and lair of the dragon. Do you have the wherewithal to enter?

Why not? In Guardians, dragons would hardly be found in the bottom of mountains. Most of them take to the air and of the two that don't, one prefers the water.

There are six Dragons (aka Drakes) in Guardians and, for the most part, they're BIG. Like the creatures of myth, they're fond of the fair maidens, but they'll settle for the tramps that are featured on the Babes card. And big as they are, you can channel to most of them, which makes half of them Guardian killers.

Common Threads: Five are Large and the same five are bribable by Babes. Four of them them fly (including the Medium one). Four of the large ones can receive channeling and one of those can channel a whole one point (oh, boy, wow!). Three of them have AOEs -- hey, what's a dragon without dragon breath? Several of them seem to like devouring low vitality creatures. (Hmmm, where's that Tookle fairy deck?)

None has a ranged attack.

Worst common thread -- all but one is Rare and the other is Uncommon. That will make a big problem collecting these into a cohesive deck.

From Smallest to Biggest:

Bantam Drake - Vitality 8, Medium flyer, Gold bribable. +7 Vitality vs flying creatures (although the picture looks more like it should have a bonus against non-flyers, but it guess it likes to strike really high up.) The Bantam Drake is the one guy that really won't help against a Fairy deck.

Hal, a Toasis Dragon - Vitality 9, OCB 1, Large flyer, Babe and Beer bribable, channel receiver. Command: if your primary attackers lose by less than 5, both creatures are destroyed. That'll help against those little guy decks. Hal is also one of the worst puns in the game. (I really have to put together a concordance of jokes in this game....) Oddly enough, despite the joke, Hal doesn't have an AOE breath weapon, but his ability is better than that.

Vesuvious Rex - Vitality 13, Large flyer, Babes bribable, channel receiver. Rex is immune to secondary attackers with Base Vitality 5 or less. So they can forget about that bonus for those Goldthwaite Jumpers and Buzzards (but watch out for those Devil Dogs!).

Lake Serpent - Vitality 17, Large, Babes bribable, channel receiver, +3 Vitality in Rivers and Lakes. The Serpent is the only Dragon with a terrain bonus, and it gets a fire AOE, too.

Land Drake - Vitality 18, OCB 5, Large, Babes bribable, 3 point fire AOE. It doesn't receive channeling but it gets an OCB. For some reason, when I hear the name, I keep thinking of Chevy Chase in that sketch, "Land Shark".

Dragon Wing Lord - Vitality 19, Large flyer, Babes and Beer bribable, channel receiver, CMP 1. Five point AOE fire breath. The baddest unmodified AOE in the game. I wouldn't waste it for the CMP 1, personally.

And a bonus:

Kikijub - Vitality 14, OCB 2, Large. +9 Vitality in Mountains. Kikijub isn't a Dragon -- it isn't anything. But it looks like it could be. Maybe. Sort of. What the hey -- it's big and nasty.

What to Do With Them?

First off, don't put a Dragon Wing Lord and a Vesuvious Rex in the same shield (along with a Rye Beaner or Scamp Jones). That sort of defeats the purpose Rex's purpose, doesn't it?

You can't make them the primary focus of your deck. Why? Because they're too big! How do you stack seventeens and nineteens?? Rookie mistake. You need some low number creatures to balance it out. Bugs, Varmits, Gnomes, Barnyard Animals, maybe even Chaks, but something.

(The three Chaks complement some Dragon abilities: Greenback Chaks destroy Small creatures -- three Dragons have AOEs that will burn away low vitality creatures, so there's an overlap there. Fatback Chaks is immune to secondary attackers (however, you can't make any either!), V. Rex is immune if they're Vitality less than 5. And the Slackback Chak must be beaten by 3 or more or its a push, but with Hal, he must be beaten by more than 5 or both are destroyed!)

However, how small depends upon which creature you're using. If you're using Hal, you don't want your supporting players to be so small that Hal's ability won't ever kick in. And you'd probably want them to be big enough to win occassionally to avoid destruction.

(Remember, destroyed creatures can't be revived on the Altar of Takuli.) Here's where sneaky bonuses come in handy -- like Bulbous Clamjacks in Swamps or Sales Weasels. And Schneebles and Snoots can be especially effective.

Your best bet will be to get one Dragon into every Shield that you send out, so your opponent will have something to fear, and so that you'll have room in the shield for some backups!

Secondary Classes

Frankly, the Dragons *are* the secondary class. You may want to build around them, but they are too big to have too many in one deck. You need some help.

Flyers are good. Things with extra AOEs are always helpful. After all, how many can your opponent bribe or dispel or burn a stone to prevent (Hescox 25 standard bearer)?

And don't forget Rye Beaner and Scamp Jones! You need the extra room.


If you want a theme going, there are two Dragon standard bearers, but neither are particularly helpful for this deck. One is a penalty for ranged attacks on both sides and the other changes border color. You don't have any ranged attacks among the Dragons, so that might be okay (but there are better defensive standard bearers, IMHO) and changing border color won't do much for you either, except perhaps to protect you from those nasty Sun Spirits and their ilk.

DO NOT use Shield/Terrain. (Duh!)

Anything Else?

Yes, Ugly Wart Fiends and Shadow Panty Raids. You don't want to lose 19 points of a 30 point Shield to a silly bribery card. Sure, you're creature will come back, but you'll likely lose a Shield in the process!

Cards to Watch Out For

Babes cards. And Super Models. And there isn't much worse than having your 5 point AOE taken out of the round by a stupid Major Party Animal (though a Dispel will take care of him).

Old Nick. It's the only thing bigger than your guys. There are a few other bigger things, but they don't receive channeling (and they're Mortal, so you may have a bonus to beat them).

And all the usual stuff that any deck has to watch out for.

Which Guardian to Use?

Rak Nam will give you the raw power that the Dragons need, so he's an obvious first choice. After that, it depends upon personal preference, planned strategy and your choice of supporting cards.

Summary: I don't know how cohesive a Dragon deck would be, but Dragons are great disruptive cards when played at the right time. Sprinkled liberally into another deck, they can swing a game around. They're great for repeatedly pounding low-vitality creature decks, but have to be careful not to get beaten by those nasty secondary attackers.

C. J. Burke
Keeper of the Flame

Daffy Drake: External, Vitality 11, OCB 0 Large Flying Dragon, Babes, CMP 0, green bar.
5 point ranged attack.

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