We are currently at the dawn of a new expansion, but before Kaguya goes to the moon, the Six Sages arrive, and the Cthulu (or Cthuli?) run rampant, let’s visit five of the most powerful Resonators in the Grimm Cluster.
5) Gilles de Rais, the Golden Dragon
The biggest beatstick this side of the Cluster is a dragon, and it’s as fiery, explosive, and powerful as you can expect a golden dragon to be.
At his weakest, Gilles is a 1200/1200 Flying monster that could swoop down and take out any J/Resonator that isn’t named Bloody Snow White, Abdul Alhazred, or Mephistopheles. But it gets better from there. If you build your Magic Stone deck to take advantage of his power, he enters “normally” on turn 6 as a 2000/1200!
I say “normally” because there are a lot of ways to put him into play earlier – you can ramp him up with Elvish Priest and Gretel, Awaken him with Jeanne d’Arc, or set him up with Humpty Dumpty! Regardless of how he’s summoned, Gilles is sure to put the hurt on whoever is on the other side.
Did I mention he 1-shots players at full health if you have 6 Fire Stones, Refarth, and Little Red, The True Fairy Tale in play? Just saying.
4) Carmilla, Queen of Vampires
In a format that’s focused on Resonator combat, board advantage plays a major role in winning most matches, and no other Resonator does it better than Carmilla.
Depending on whom your Ruler and her target is, Carmilla can grant up to a 4-card advantage: when she enters play (+1), kills a Resonator (+1), resurrects it to your side if it’s Human and your ruler is Alucard/Dracula (+1), and if your opponent spends another card (or more) to kill her/them (+1). These seemingly small, one-sided advantages eventually pile up – each one putting you closer to winning.
Never mind that she can singlehandedly fulfill Alucard’s J-Activate condition. Most of the time, you’d be more than happy just to have her kill something – which happens more often than not, as there are very few Vampire Resonators, and none of them short of another Vampire Queen is so threatening. That means Carmilla has a whole buffet of targets to feast on whether it’s the usual Human, the huge Dragon, or the occassional Demon Lord.
This huge range of targets also means that Carmilla is never a useless card. She’s a great draw when you’re playing catch-up, and she helps pull the game out of the opponent’s reach when you’re ahead. The 800/800 body is just adds insult to the injury.
3) Hamelin’s Pied Piper
Chances are that you see the Pied Piper on only one deck, but the role he plays there is of great importance.
Hamelin’s Pied Piper is in unique position right now as a Resonator, in that he has all the tools to win the game by himself, and at the same time in a deck that’s designed to protect him while he does his role. While Gilles and Carmilla also fulfill similar roles, they aren’t usually under the protective umbrella of Aesop, or within the Realm of Pure Spirits, or backed up by Absolute Cake Zone.
1000/1000 means that Piper can finish the game in quick fashion should the coast remain clear – and it’s a relatively easy task, considering his ability. He’s both a great offensive and defensive tool that can eventually lock the opponent out of the game as long as he remains protected.
Perhaps the most fearsome of his characteristics is that he can be played through Tell a Fairy Tale on turn 3 (or as early as turn 2 with Elvish Mystic), which demands a very precise answer from the opponent, or he risks losing on the spot (or at least be at a very huge disadvantage). Cries of Tell a Fairy Tale being overpowered usually stem from a very early Piper that was left unchecked.
Finally, there’s the Rat Catcher’s Pipe which, with enough Water Stones, can Rest the opposing field and kill the opponent in one fell swoop.
Gretel is cheating-on-a-stick. While she doesn’t have the raw power of the first three Resonators on our list, she affects the game on a more fundamental level – resouce ramping.
In a game where resources and seperate from the main deck, decks tend to be consistent in their game plan (barring disruption), and the sooner that a player can reach the resources to execute that plan, the more likely they are to pull ahead and win the game. Having one more resource than your opponent means you can play defense faster, go on the offense earlier, or play something bigger while their still stuck on their 300/300s and 500/500s. It’s like fighting someone from the stone age.
Normally, a ramping card won’t be considered powerful (e.g. Elvish Mystic), but Gretel has a number of things going on for her that puts her over the top:
First, the Magic Stone she puts into the field is enters play recovered. This means that you can use it immediately for additional plays. This also means that she essentially costs 1 Wind. That in itself really, really good value.
Second is that she’s Human and Fairy Tale. While this makes her a typical Jeanne/Carmilla target, her former race makes her a good Banish target for Voice of the False God, and the latter makes her a great addition in Grimm decks, where additional copies of her can be discarded for the Ruler’s ability.
Third is that she provides a 200/200 body which can be used to chump block (very important in a format where Pierce is rare), or used for other Banish effects such as Cinderella or Charles.
Finally, her interaction with Hansel and Absolute Cake Zone are nice bonuses to have. The former might not get much of the spotlight, but the latter is seeing play in any deck that has a hint of Wind.
Gretel’s single flaw (which thankfully keeps her from appearing in every single deck) is that she needs to reveal a Wind Stone (or a Special Magic stone that can produce Wind), for her to ramp. That means that in order to have a full 100% hit rate with her, you need to plan your stones differently, or add Wind as a 4th color which binds them all. For example, in a Light/Fire/Darkness deck that wants to utilize Gretel and a few other Wind cards, their Magic Stone deck becomes 4 Wind/Darkness, 3 Wind/Fire, 3 Wind/Light despite Wind just being a splash on the deck. If you thought that it’s easier in a three-Attribute deck with Wind as main and X & Y as your other two, you’re mistaken too! Since 4 Wind/X and 4 Wind/Y only amount to 8 Magic Stones, and you’ll have to decide if putting 2 remaining X/Y Stones is worth reducing your chances to ramp by 20%. The alternative of course, is to put 2 copies of Wind/Z.
Of course, one could always argue that the fact that Gretel puts a Magic Stone 100% of the time on a 4-attribute deck offsets the chances of being color-screwed by offering more chances to get the much-needed color, and I think that it’s best to leave it to a player’s preference and risk assessment. Regardless, the value of being ahead in Magic Stones cannot be denied, and in that aspect, Gretel truly delivers.
1) Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
Despite the fanservice-oriented art (we’re pretty sure that Cheshire’s the one in the background while the girl in front is actually his tail), Cheshire’s power as a drawing engine is probably the best in the Cluster because she does everything for a measly cost of 1 Water. You get to sift through you deck two cards deep, while being able to put back one card on top (safe from discard), and still have an untouchable 0/200 blocker that simply shuffles itself back into the deck when it dies, netting you more cards when you draw her again.
And all of these abilities find use for different types of decks.
Strictly speaking, Cheshire won’t leave your hand gushing with cards. But being able to dig for that crucial removal card, or combo piece and still play it on the same turn can mean the difference between a win or loss. The fact that she can play defense is just icing on the cake. Her most important power (and will always be) is that she changes the quality of cards in your hand, and generally for the better.
Paired with Voice of the False God, splashing Water (lol) to any two or three-colored deck can easily be justified by the card advantage that those two cards provide.
As a Fairy Tale, Cheshire finds a natural home in Grimm decks in any number, and can easily be searched by pitching any irrelevant Fairy Tale to Grimm’s power. Her other big role is working in tandem with Yamata-no-Orochi, and Humpty Dumpty, where she sets up Yamata on top of the deck so it gets put into play when Humpty cracks. One buff to the Nightmare-Dragon later and it’s game over for the opponent. Outside of the combo, she acts as an invaluable part of the engine by digging through the deck for the combo pieces and stalling the enemy’s offense.
Card draw is a very important aspect of the game. In theory, the player who draws more cards than his opponent is more likely to win the game. It’s what gets you both the answers and the threats of your deck, keeps you from relying only on luck (topdecking) alone to pull you from a losing situation, and puts you in the lead by increasing the likelihood of holding answers to ensure that the opponent stays behind when you’re ahead of the game. In a nutshell, it provides options, and having options contributes a lot towards winning a match.
And in that respect, the Cat holds more power than anyone else in the Cluster.