Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Creature Class Critique #24: Undead, Part 1

Christopher's Creature Class Critique #24: Undead, Part One

Okay, I'll state this right off the bat -- this is in no way the definitive discussion of Undead. There are just too many of them for that. But I'll do what I can to slice through this pile of stinkin' bones.

There are about 50 cards that deal in some way with Undead and nearly half of them come from Necropolis

. If you don't have any NP and have no access to them, keep reading. I'll do this in two parts, the first being restricted to Dagger Isle and earlier. That is, this critique will be restricted to 19 Undead creatures, one supporting and three anti-Undead creatures, and 1 Spell.

Common Threads

Bribery: Easy one. Out of 19 creatures, NONE are bribable. The Necromancer, however, a mortal Wizard is bribable by Babes.

Channeling: Six creatures accept channeling. Three creatures can channel. Two do both. Bone Shambler and Wraith receive double the usual amount. The Necromancer also channels -- better than any of the Undead do, but only to Undead.

Flying: None of them. Not even a bat (he came later). So bring on the Ice Storms.

Size: A few Large and one Small, but the rest are all Medium. That might be a problem about a bunch of Varmit Archers but even that's not much to worry about.

Off-Color bonus: Ten have a small off-color bonus, including the Bone Shambler, which has a variant card that has no OCB. (That was a typo when they were printed.) Be careful which one you use.

Ranged attacks: Just one, Grim Skull, but he's got a bonus -- he's the only ranged attack that can receive channeling to the ranged attack!

Terrain bonuses: None.

Command Cards: Three. Arms of the Earth, which allows you to pull a creature from your opponent's hand, Wailing Spectre, which has a 4-pt fear AOE, and Embryonic Witch, which wins pushes. Leaves room for Rik' Sook, so you can use your Necromancer.

Immunity: None. Shadow of Ashes has a fire-based attack, but isn't immune to fire, nor is Wailing Spectre immune to fear.

Power Stones: Skeletal Minion returns to Storage for a stone, if it loses. Shadrune can cost your opponent a stone. So can Vampire and Vampire Lord.

Other: Just about every Undead creature has a special ability of some sort. This is what makes up for their lack of immunity, terrain bonuses, ranged attacks, etc. It also makes it more confusing to put a dedicated deck together (other than "pile on the Undead and go out and kick butt!" -- not that there's anything wrong with that.)

I hope I covered everything.

A Quick Rundown of Cards

Not gonna happen. Just too many of them.

Other "Theme" Cards

Ice Spirit: Immune to Undead. Watch out for it, or you'll be channeling just to keep your creatures alive. (Ice Spirit hits Undead as a 7.) Note that Ice Spirits are not immune to secondary attacks or Grim Skull's ranged attacks.

White Unicorns: Destroy Demons, Devils and Undead. But they're rare, so you don't have to worry as much as you do with Ice Spirits.

Vampire Hunters: A strange creature. A Vitality 8 Mortal with an OCB of 1 against Elementals and +10 vs Undead, but they have to worry about the Undead's OCB against them. However, since Undead have low or no OCB, that +10 bonus can be devastating or at least cost you a stone.

Howl of the Dead: Reclaim your Undead when you lose them in combat. Good card to have.

Other Cards

Warwick's Conversion: A natural for theme deck. Note that these are good for the Necromancer, but not for the Vampire Lord. Vampire isn't a real class. Perhaps it could be a "subclass", if there were such a thing. (And that begs the question, which I'll ask again next time, is Buzz, the Vampire Mosquito, the Undead/Bug, is he, in fact, a Vampire? He sure acts like one!)

Rik' Sook: You have a guy that channels only to Undead, but the Undead don't receive channeling in great numbers. This will even that out. And without large numbers of command card creatures in your deck, there's plenty of room.

Ice Storms: You're not flying, and flying creatures are popular even if they aren't in flying shields. Go for it.


You're on your own here. There are just too many possibilities. It depends on the Undead and Guardian you pick. You can siphon off stones with your Vampires and Shadrunes. You can chop down their flyers. You can give bonus channeling above the usual limits. Use Arms of the Earth if your opponent favors big creatures and shields with few creatures.

Secondary Classes

Undead can stand on their own well and don't need a secondary class. That's true enough without the cards from Drifters Nexus and Necropolis Park, which only add to the kickass nature of the Undead.

Individual cards are helpful, but not an entire secondary class.


Sun Spirits: They kick Undead butt from here to the MidRealms. Not much you can do about it. You don't want to carry about 10-point Captains with you to smack them down.

Final Comments

I can't make too many comments. The first Undead deck I went up against was made after we got our hands on a box of Necropolis Park, and that set was heavily represented. Has anyone else put together an Undead deck without benefit of Drifters Nexus or Necropolis Park? They still look formidable.

C. J. Burke

Banshee: External, Vitality 6, OCB 0, Medium, Undead, CMP 0, red bar.
At the end of the next match-up, if both creatures remain in play, the losing creature is destroyed.