Tag Archives: ruler

Rulings: Valentina and the Seven Kings

Welcome to a special post here on Friend & Fow which focuses on an important ruling that will be applied for the Philippine AGP (August 20, 2016). I would like to note that there is no rule change that caused this, rather this post is just to clarify any confusion about Overlord of the Seven lands, Valentina.

Continue reading Rulings: Valentina and the Seven Kings

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Know Your Rulers – Engage Knights Edition

The Vingolf – Engage Knights deckbuilding kit is one of the better ways to get into Force of Will. It has enough cards to make multiple decks, and comes with a preselected roster of Rulers to represent each attribute.

Today we’ll look into each of them and examine their strengths and weaknesses.

Hannibal Barca

At first glance, Hannibal seemed to be the weakest of the bunch. Her ATK and DEF are nothing phenomenal, and she dies to Flame of Outerworld. What she lacks in combat prowess however, she more than makes up with the diversity of her abilities.

Her (2) ability may seem mediocre at first glance, but in practice, it represents a constant threat of screwing the opponent’s combat math. A measly boost of 200 DEF can spell the difference between the opponent using two cards instead of one to kill one of your resonators (hence gaining you a favorable trade), and because it’s a really low-impact ability, it can fly over their calculations and have the tendency to be forgotten about during the course of the match. It also grants a huge initiative in combat because it allows your resonators to survive fights that they otherwise wouldn’t. The downside of course, is its cost – you won’t be getting the full benefit of her ability without a decent number of stones.

Like the rest of the Vingolf Rulers, you gain access to the rest of her abilities after J-Activation. Her enter effect is one of the best in the group because its condition is very easy to accomplish since most Resonators become rested as a necessary step in combat. Outside of that, there are also a number of cards that forcefully rest opposing Resonators.

She also gains Target Attack, which gives her more combat flexibility and is often used to pick off smaller targets. Finally, the gain 200 life is an icing on the cake, and is a decent incentive to get her hands dirty.

In summary:
+ (2) dictates combat and saves lives.
+ Built-in conditional removal.
+ More combat options because of Target Attack.
+ Heals a small amount, which can be relevant in tight, close games.
– Fails the Flame of Outerworld Test.
– Because of the diverse nature of her abilities, she’s not suited for decks with a linear, focused game plan.

Alexander

Unlike Hannibal, Alexander’s abilities lean more towards the offensive end, and needs little assistance from Resonators. Her (2) Ability allows her to pick off small Resonators, finish off injured ones, kill larger ones with multiple activations, or function as a 3-cost removal when paired with Demonflame. It’s a handy ability, but nothing spectacular.

Her J-Ruler side however, can swing a game’s momentum to her favor. First, she’ll likely get to kill a resonator with her 800-damage enter ability. Then she can attack as well thanks to Swiftness, and to top it off, she gives Swiftness and First Strike to a Resonator when she does. Because of this huge swing in momentum, opponents have to pay close attention to how their field is arranged lest they want to run into a wipe with one tactical J-Activation.

Alexander isn’t without shortcomings however. Just like Hannibal, she’s susceptible to Flame of Outerworld, and she actually has the lowest health among the five. Her powers as a J-Ruler makes her a high-priority target, so don’t expect her to hang around for too long, especially since Fire has no tools to protect their J-Rulers. This means knowing the right timing on when to hang back and when to J-Activate her is crucial to her gameplay.

In summary:
+ Decent (2) ability which combines well with Demonflame.
+ Built-in 800-damage removal.
+ Swiftness
+ Grants Swiftness and First Strike
– Lowest DEF among the five Rulers.
– High priority target.
– Requires precise J-Activation timing to get its full benefit.

Julius Caesar

Julius specializes in evading and dictating combat by granting Flying to her Resonators and making sure that they hit their targets unimpeded. That said, her (2) is less impressive as it sounds because it costs a lot for what it does.

Her J-Ruler side is also lackluster compared to the first two. She leans more towards the defensive end of the spectrum with 1000 DEF, and has Flying herself. This would have made her a good blocker if it wasn’t for the fact that the popular Resonators that fly these days are huge monstrosities that can easily power through her.

The best of her J-Ruler abilities would be her enter skill, which draws a couple of cards. This is useful if you need additional draws to fuel your offense without resorting to filling your decks with defensive cards like Cheshire Cat, or dedicated drawing spells like Voice of the False God and Witch’s Dagger.

Finally, her last ability gives a good incentive to play Water, and allows you to pitch the more useless cards in your hand for combat advantage. I’ve heard flying Pied Pipers are good.

In summary:
+ Passes the Flame of Outerworld Test.
+ Built-in draw engine.
+ Has a way to turn useless cards into combat advantage as long as you’re playing Water.
+ Can block flying.
– Popular flying Resonators (e.g. Gilles de Rais, Mephistopheles, Gwiber) overpower her.
– Hard to find use for her (2) ability until the mid-late game, and even then you want her to be J-Activated instead.

Minamoto no Yoshitsune

Minamoto’s (2) ability is the direct opposite of Hannibal’s, being able to increase the ATK of a Resonator instead of its DEF. While this ability doesn’t guarantee survival like Hannibal’s, what it does is increase the likelihood of your Resonators to trade up with bigger ones. That, and the extra damage to the opponent eventually piles up.

Her J-Activate enter ability can be utilized in various ways. First, it is an offensive tool which allows Resonators to attack a second time. Second is that it’s a defensive tool that allows you to have a couple blockers after attacking. Finally, it’s good with Resonators with useful Activate abilities that require them to rest, allowing them a second use of it on the same turn.

While Minamoto doesn’t have a symbol skill like the others, she makes up for it by having great ATK and DEF, and her final ability only makes her a bigger threat as the game progresses.

In summary:
+ (2) ability allows for trading up or sneaking in bits of damage that adds up over time.
+ High ATK and DEF.
+ J-Ruler enter ability has a lot of great uses.
+ Her last ability makes her hard to kill (as long as you have resources to spare).
– Doesn’t have any symbol skills.
– Needs two friendly Resonators in play to maximize her J-Activate.

Vlad Tepes

Vlad is arguably the most popular of the five for one reason alone, and that is her (2) ability, which is a 400-damage swing per activation. The fact that she can do it in Ruler form makes her immune to any form of disruption (outside Glimpse of Kaguya), and is good enough to be built around on as a primary win condition.

Her J-Ruler side is surprisingly good as well. Her enter ability covers a cost range where some of the most useful Resonators can be found, with an icing on the cake in the form of life gain. Her activated ability is great as well, since it allows her to return to her Ruler side, and be able to J-Activate again for removal if needed. The only downside to it is that it costs a lot of resources to do, but is necessary if you want to maximize both of her forms.

In summary:
+ (2) ability is good enough to be built around on.
+ Passes the Flame of Outerworld test.
+ J-Activate enter ability is useful, built-in removal for smaller Resonators, and the life gain helps too.
– No symbol skills.
– J-Ruler activate ability costs a lot.

And, that’s it! I hope this guide helped in understanding the Engage Knights Rulers better, and may you guys always make the most awesome card brews!

Until then!

(card images from http://www.fowdb.altervista.org)

Know your Rulers Part 2

Last time, we have covered Rulers from Light, Water, and Darkness. Now we’ll finish off the list with Flame and Wind!

Flame

Falltgold, the Dragoon / Bahamut, the Dragon King

Here’s the thing about Bahamut, you can J-Activate him on turn 2. And if my interpretation serves me correctly, you can Banish a Fire Resonator even if there’s no legal target of Bahamut’s enter ability. This presents a high-pressure situation for the opponent especially if he isn’t ready for a 1000/1000 Flyer that can end the game in 4 swings (or less, if he has direct damage spells available). As Flame is full of cheap removal (Rapid Decay, Thunder, Duel of Truth), an aggressively-built Bahamut deck can operate on two Will sources, calling only a third when in need to cast Flame of the Dragon King.

The other way to play Bahamut is utilizing Falltgold’s Activate ability in a mid-range shell. In a Flame/Darkness/Wind combination for example, Falltgold has up to 8 targets to call (Gardea, and Gilles de Rais), access to counterspells and being able to ramp resources (Elvish Priest, and Gretel), and additional removal (Stoning to Death).

Bahamut’s one true weakness at the moment is Dragonslayer. But who plays that anyway?

In summary:

+ Preys on decks which can’t deal with a 1000/1000 Flyer on turn 2.
+ Great Ruler for aggressive and mid-range strategies.
+ Maximizes the damage from Flame of the Dragon King (800 damage is 1/5th of the opponent’s life).
– Dragonslayer!
– Mephistopheles stops him cold. Hopefully you have enough burn to finish the job.
– J-Activating early basically puts you all-in, and some decks can capitalize on that.

Snow White / Bloody Snow White

I ask the same question from my first article on her: How do you stop a 1300/1300 with Target Attack and built-in Removal on turn 2? If you play anything, she rips it off immediately. If you play nothing, she advances her field and pressures you.

My personal take on Snow White is that she shines as an aggressive deck because she puts in a lot of pressure with those huge stats, Target Attack, and the Activate Ability which turns excess Poison Apples into removal. This allows her to clear the field and make way for you other Resonators.

Snow’s not without weakness though, as a Human, she’s susceptible to Jeanne d’Arc’s abilities, and Purifying fire deals huge damage to her. Her J-Activate is dependent on when you’re able to draw a Poison Apple, so expect some games when she can’t even activate at all, but always try to mulligan aggressively for it nonetheless. Basket of Little Red solves this to an extent, but at the cost of 1 or 2 cards slots, and slowing down your offense.

In summary:

+ Biggest stats out of all the rulers in Grimm block.
+ Target attack allows her to pick off any Resonator.
+ Makes use of redundant copies of Poison Apple as removal.
– Weak against Jeanne d’Arc.
– Susceptible to Purifying Fire.
– J-Activation is dependent on when you get Poison Apple.
– No abilities in Ruler form.

Little Red Riding Hood / Little Red, the Wolf Girl

If you’re going the Werewolf route, Little Red’s a great choice since she can fully utilize Bloody Moon, and make swings in tempo and damage via her J-Ruler abilities. In essence, it turns every Bloody Moon (or Pale Moon) copy a into 800 damage to Resonator / 1200 damage to player card, in addition to the buffing your Werewolves and possibly destroying an opposing Special Magic Stone. That’s a lot of upside for a 3-cost card!

Therein lies her weakness though – she needs at least a copy of Bloody Moon to take advantage of her abilities, and it’s good for a turn. Also during her J-Ruler state, she has a very low DEF (200!). This makes her susceptible to things like Thunder and Duel of Truth. But just keep the coast clear and she’s going to swing the game (and the damage race) in your favor.

+ Turns any Moon into a 2000-damage swing.
+ High attack on par with Jeanne d’Arc.
– Very low DEF in J-Ruler form.
– Needs Bloody Moon to work.
– J-Ruler form lasts only for a turn.
– No other Abilities in Ruler form.

Wind

Puss in Boots / D’Artagnan, the Bayoneteer

In theory, a dedicated Musketeer deck can be really strong with Puss. First of all, they cost less. Second they have easy access to Pierce and First Strike. Third, Siege Warfare kills anything hands down. Fourth, Athos can be a huge threat all by himself, especially with Crucifix and Musketeer’s Bayonet attached to him. In fact, this is probably the best way to play the Musketeers – play all 12 copies, get some protection spells and Additions in, J-Activate, and let Pierce and First Strike rack up the damage. It’s a very linear strategy that can easily be disrupted by killing them before they can be protected.

D’Artagnan himself is quite powerful, having both Pierce and Target Attack himself, but his sorta-low DEF limits him to picking off smaller J/Resonators. Finally, the buff he gives to the Musketeers is HUGE.

In summary:

+ Musketeers become huge and unstoppable when you allow them to get buffed.
+ Siege Warfare kills anything.
+ J-Ruler form makes Musketeers huge killing machines, and Pierce + Target Attack is so, so awesome.
– Linear, inflexible Ruler that’s tailored to a couple of strategies.
– Beware the Emperor in New Clothes if you’re going the Addition route.
– Hard to J-Activate – needs a consistent way to search for missing Musketeers.
– Siege Warfare conditions are hard to pull off.

Christie, the Wind Tracker / Helsing, the Vampire Hunter

Christie’s main role is to be Dracula’s foil. Since she removes all of her target’s abilities, you can be sure that the Vampire ruler will be permanently dead. This makes her a very good sideboard card for that particular matchup since she doesn’t take much sideboard space, and it’s free under the right conditions. Her Ruler form isn’t too bad either, as her Activate ability allows you to draw cards with proper hand management. Because of this, there are a few successful ventures into making her a Main Deck Ruler.

Do take note that her J-Ruler Enter ability destroys any non-human J/Resonator, which makes it still good even if there aren’t Vampires, Werewolves, or Immortals around. It’s like having a 4-cost removal that’s readily accessible (and produces a 1000/1000 body to attack with).

Her support spells are decent as well. Silver Bullet turn her into a mini-Grimm of sorts, allowing her to search for Wind Resonators appropriate for any given situation. While this ability has limited targets at the moment. Remember that we’re only two sets into the block, and that there will be more Resonators to come that’ll help push this Spell to the top.

In summary:

+ Great against Alucard/Dracula
+ Silver Bullets is a very promising Spell.
+ J-Activate is almost always certain removal.
+ Good Ruler Activate ability.
+ Doesn’t require any Green Will, as long as you’re fighting the right Races, so she can theoretically fit in any deck that isn’t Ruler-dependent.
– No other abilities in J-Ruler form.
– Silver Bullet doesn’t have enough good targets at the moment.
– Decreased effectiveness vs Human J/Resonators.

Crimson Girl in the Sky / Little Red, the True Fairy Tale

“Oh, you’re not blocking? Alright, I’ll cast Poison Apple, Evolution of Growth, then banish Refarth – that’s +4000.” Crimson Girl is probably the queen of big damage and huge numbers – which is no surprise when she’s doubling any ability or effect that adds ATK or DEF. Because of this, the first kind of deck that comes in mind is the Oz trio (Cowardly Lion, Heartless Tin Man, and Brainless Scarecrow), who benefits greatly from each Achievement counter that they get. She works well with other Resonators outside of Wind too such as Tinker Bell, the Spirit, and Gilles, de Rais, the Golden Dragon.

Another way utilize her J-Ruler form is to build a deck with Poison Apple and Evolution of Limits in mind, along with Resonators with Swiftness. One copy of each, A Refarth in play, four Wills, and a careless opponent are all that’s needed to recreate that sentence above.

Or you can load a deck with lots of Additions ‘ala Puss in Boots and create one huge monstrosity.

That aside, she’s very reliant on Refarth for getting activated as soon as possible, since paying the cost manually is very slow and usually leaves her without any other possible play for the turn.

Finally it’s important to remember that she can’t be the target of Dark and Fire spells and abilities in her J-Ruler form, which protects her from Duel of Truth, and Thunder.

In summary:

+ Best Ruler for decks that rely on buffing their Resonators, or Resonators with buffing effects.
+ Very easy J-Activate with Refarth.
+ She’s can’t be killed by pure Fire decks, as long as she’s kept in Ready position.
– No other ability in Ruler form.
– Needs Refarth to J-Activate without effectively losing a turn.
– Stats are decent, but lean towards the defensive end (800/1000). 

And that’s everyone folks! Hopefully you all have a great opening weekend. I hope this guide helps in some way.

Until then!

Once again, much thanks to http://www.fowdb.altervista.org/ for the images. 

Know your Rulers Part 1

With our friends in America anticipating the arrival of the Grimm block, there has been an interesting discussion regarding which rulers are viable, and which ones are less so. Here’s my take on each of them, but please do keep in mind that I’m just a month into the game and also still in the process of digging deeper – think of this article as less of a guide and more of another gamer’s opinion. You know, just some additional information floating around the net. 😛

Let’s dig in.

Light

Grimm, the Fairy Tale Prince

Well, let’s start with the elephant in the room. Grimm is undeniably powerful in the Grimm block/cluster, having placed top finishes on two major tournaments in Japan so far – the World Championships in 2014, and the Winter Open in 2015. His lack of a J-Activate is more than made up for by the fact that he can cast all Fairy Tale Resonators regardless of their color (which makes it impossible to be color-screwed), while being able to trade less useful ones with his Activate ability. This gives Grimm-based decks a lot of flexibility, wherein you can pack one-ofs of cards like Emperor in New Clothes, and Grimm, the Avenger of Fairy Tales.

Speaking of Fairy Tales, they’re no pushovers either. Tinker Bell is a threat that grows as your field develops, Hunter in Black Forest is probably the best 1-drop Resonator in the block, Rapunzel is a potential 1-turn killer, Pied Piper can lock your board when left unchecked, and Aesop, while not being a Fairy Tale himself, adds a layer of protection to the rest of the cast.

However, the one spell which puts him over the top is Tell A Fairy Tale, where you can search for any Fairy Tale Resonator and put it directly into play, triggering its Enter ability. Most of the time, this means staring at a 1000/1000 Hamelin’s Pied Piper on turn 3. It can also be cast on five resources, with the other two reserved for protection or interrupts.

A Grimm deck can be built in different ways – the World Championship decks (which only uses CMF) were Wind/Water/Light. With TAT thrown in the mix, I personally use Wind/Darkness/Light, while the winner of the Winter Open used Fire/Light/Water.

Despite all of these strengths, Grimm is beatable. He builds his Field advantage one step at a time, so early disruption is essential in improving your chances against a Grimm deck. Fire is especially good since Thunder and Rapid decay works against most of the Fairy Tales, and Fire resonators tend to be huge for their cost (see Seven Dwarfs, Murderous Snowman), so Duel of Truth works as well. The deck’s composition makes it an easy target for Return to Stories as well. The lack of healing effects makes him vulnerable to direct damage even if he stabilizes the field. Like most decks, Grimm has a hard time dealing against Flying Resonators. Early aggression followed by Pumpkin Witch can kill him before he sets up.

Grimm decks are usually light on removal spells. This means it’s also possible to go over them with huge Resonators like Mephistopheles and Gilles de Rais. They usually depend on Pied Piper to control bigger Resonators, so as long as you have an answer for him, it’s possible to brute-force your way into victory.

Lastly, Grimm doesn’t have much in card draw. While he can improve the quality of cards in his hand by swapping them for more useful ones, it is possible to grind him out of options with decks like Kaguya control.

In summary:

+ Flexible ruler that has tools for most match-ups.
+ Can switch useless Fairy Tale Resonators in hand for more useful ones.
+ Tell a Fairy Tale is borderline broken with him.
+ Deck can be built in any color.
+ Fairy Tales are good once they get together…
– … and not so good when picked off one-by-one.
– Limited tools versus early aggression, kinda weak against Fire.
– Very few removal.
– Unlikely to put in other Rulers as sideboard options.
– Doesn’t have much card draw.
– Weak vs mass removal (Pandora of Light, Redbird of Prophecy, Midnight Bell + Cinderella)

Sacred Princess of Guidance / Lumia, the Creator of Hope

TAT’s poster girl is ironically seeing less play than the other Rulers of the set, and I think it’s because at first glance, her J-Activate is takes a bit of effort to properly work and it’s something which the deck has to be built around. I say that it’s neither. You can see her ability as an extension of your hand – it’s essentially +3 cards. I personally see her as a Ruler for a control deck because of this. The best part about Lumia is that she doesn’t force you to play Light to maximize her abilities – just one copy of Almerius, the Levitating Stone in your Magic Stone deck is enough to J-Activate her the next turn.

Should you want to build around her J-Activate though, the best card to start with is Necronomicon since it moves your cards to the removed from the game (RFG) zone. So you’re essentially getting three or more copies of a card – when they’re cast normally, then when they’re cast from the graveyard using Necronomicon, then when they’re cast from the RFG zone by Lumia’s J-Activate. It’s potentially one of the more powerful strategies in the long game, and I think it’s worth exploring further.

In summary:

+ J-Activate is essentially increases your hand size by 3.
+ Works very well with Necronomicon, thus suited for longer, more grinding games.
+ Ruler form has HEALING!
+ Can run on two Light Will sources, or one Almerius.
+ That J-Ruler art!
– Abilities of both sides doesn’t affect the field directly (unlike say, Snow White’s).
– Not for the impatient. There are better rulers for more aggressive playstyles.
+/- Unexplored potential.

Pandora, Girl of the Box / Pandora of Light/Dark

First of all, don’t let the 5-cost board wipe fool you, six turns is a very long time. Aggressive decks will go all out and try to kill you before turn 5, and slower decks will control their offense as to not be behind when her J-Activate happens. My initial assessment of Pandora is a Light/Dark control/discard deck which can splash Fire for more removal, Wind for interrupts, or Water for more card draw, where you run them out of options and slow them down via discard and removal, J-Activate to wipe any remaining threats, then put down a game-ending Resonator like Mephistopheles, Elder Ones, or Ftthagua, the Flame Spirit for the kill.

On the other hand, Pandora of Dark is the nightmare of control decks since their reactive gameplay forces them to keep large hand sizes, plus they can’t stop the activation. As long as you put in a huge threat after J-Activating, it’s almost lights out for them.

The most fun part of using Pandora however, is post-sideboard, where you can keep the opponent guessing whether you’re playing the Light or Dark version. For additional mind games, use a different ruler for game one and keep both Pandoras on the sideboard.

In summary:

+ Is it Light, is it Dark? HA! You’re wrong!
+ Unstoppable Board/Hand wipe at the ready.
+ Spiral of Despair works way better on her.
+ Pandora of Dark eats most control decks for lunch.
– Well duh, it’s always Pandora of Light on game 1, then Light if you’re playing aggro, Darkness if you’re playing mid-range or control.
– Somewhat useless after J-Activate.
– Weak J-Ruler stats.

Water

Nameless Girl / Jeanne d’Arc, the Flame of Hatred

Jeanne is a specialized anti-Human Ruler, which is awkward because to activate her freely you need to have a human Resonator put into your graveyard, then her J-Activate kills all remaining humans on the field (including yours if there are any remaining in your field). So you need to find the right balance of how many humans to put in the deck, and which ones to use. Also, her J-Ruler ability locks you into splashing red, which isn’t too bad considering it also has Purifying Fire. That said, there aren’t too many human Resonators which are big threats. The ones that come to mind are Rapunzel, and Bloody Snow White. The rest are easier to deal with even without her ability.

The door opens however, when Moojdart comes into play, which allows you to deal huge damage to anyone buy turning any J/Resonator human and burning them down/killing them outright with her abilities.

On the plus side, her umm… stats are huge. They’re the second highest among the rulers of Grimm Block, making her ideal for cards like Duel of Truth. That aside, I think she’s still more of a sideboard Ruler than a maindeck one, where she shines against Rulers like Snow White, Lumia, and Pandora.

In summary:

+ HUGE stats (2nd best out of all J-Rulers in the block, behind Snow White).
+ Great combo with Human + Voice of False God + J-Activate (T1 Hunter/removal, T2 One-Inch Boy, T3 Voice, J-Activate).
+ Really good at killing Humans J/Resonators.
+ Awesome with Moojdart, and large amounts of Flame Will.
– … and just okay without it.
– Needs a human to die to freely J-Activate (otherwise, wait for turn 5).
– Lack of high priority Human targets makes her a better sideboard card rather than a maindeck Ruler.

Seer of the Blue Moon / Kaguya, Priestess of the Moon

Opinions about Kaguya’s viability as a control deck greatly vary. Some say she’s a gimmicky Ruler to toy around with the Treasury Item / Standby mechanics. Others claim that she’s the control deck of the block, and is a worthy candidate of being the best deck. I personally think she’s competent enough to be tier 1 for two things: first is that there’s no dedicated hate for Treasury Items in most decks (probably just a pair of Dream of Juliet at most), second is the existence of the non-interactive infinite turn combo (Alice’s World, Elvish Archer, Jewel on Dragon’s neck), with Law of Silence to keep the opponent from interrupting it.

Still, the fact remains that she has to get to a point where she can do her win conditions and it’s usually no easy feat against aggressive decks, considering that she has to play at least four or five colors. This means she has the potential to get color-screwed more than any other deck in the game. But when she takes off, it’s very hard to win against her. She also has a bad matchup against Pandora of Dark, and Necronomicon (which, unless she plays one of her own, can grind her out of cards in a very long game).

In summary:

+ Very flexible control deck shell with a lot of options and can be built in any way possible.
+ Infinite turn combo.
+ Treasury items can lock the board out if the game goes long enough.
+ Card draw!
– Gets color screwed more than any other deck.
– Can die to very early aggression
– Sideboard has to be built very carefully.
– Can be unforgiving to pilot.
– No healing outside of Vampire’s Staff and Death Sentence from the Queen

Alice in Wonderland / Alice, the Drifter in the World

“How do you build an Alice deck?” is the question that’s yet to have a really solid answer. What we can do however, is get idea ideas from her ability. One of the most obvious hints is that in order to maximize her J-Activate, we need to have all five colors – with a small bonus if the Water Will came from Moojdart. For that to happen, we need to play the long game – which means the deck’s most likely a control one. An alternative is to pick three colors whose effects we like, and then we build around those (e.g. Light for Healing, Flame for Removal, Water for draw).

Given this idea, the most complex part of an Alice deck might probably be balancing the stone count. Stones for 3-color Alice are easy, with a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 ratio, plus 1 more for Moojdart if you really need the bonus. Getting all of her 5 abilities requires a more complex stone setup – usually 4 of your two main colors and then 1 of the rest, depending on the Will Attribute costs of your spells. If your main is Darkness/Flame for example, you need 4 Darkness/Flame, 1 Darkness/Light, 1 Darkness/Wind, 1 Darkness/Water, 1 Flame/Water, 1 Flame/Light, 1 Flame/Wind, and 1 Moojdart. And this can change depending on whether or not you need more of a color than the others (for example, you can get by with only 1 Wind Will source in a metagame that’s light on Additions).

And then there’s the deck composition itself.

However, there’s a really great incentive for maximizing her J-Activate because it’s roughly comparable to playing five cards in a turn – 1 big heal spell, 1 removal spell, 1 draw spell, 1 discard spell, and 1 addition removal. It’s like a 4 or 5-to-0 card advantage!

In summary:

+ Nice art. I’ve met people who expressed interest in the game after seeing this card.
+ Good control deck shell which can be built in a lot of ways.
+ J-Activate is massive card advantage when maximized, yet can still be used for one or two abilities in a pinch.
+ If you win lots of style points for making an Alice deck that works properly! 😀
– Can be color screwed, depending on how you build both the main deck and the magic stone deck.
– J-Ruler side has no Continuous benefits and mediocre stats, even when activated early.
– Ruler side has no other abilities.
– Given her play style and how the deck is built, it might not be possible to sideboard other Rulers.
+/- Not explored too much by players.

Darkness

Alucard, the Dark Noble / Dracula, the Demonic One

In terms of raw power, Alucard can be considered one of the highest. It’s not hard to see why – his J-Activate seems pretty easy to trigger, and he can deal with early forms of aggression in a pinch. But his true strength comes in Dracula form, where he gains the very annoying Imperishable ability that makes him a recurring threat. It’s not uncommon to see him activated once or twice during the course of a game. This becomes very important because of his Continuous ability to recruit everyone he damages to his side, as long as they die within the same turn. This gets him additional value from cards like Bloodsucking Impulse, and Duel of Truth. Finally, he has flying, which is always good to have in the Grimm Cluster format.

If there is such as weakness for this deck, it’s that playing Dracula forces you to play Vampires to make the most out of his J-Activate. The problem with that is a) most vampires have inferior stats for their cost, b) there are a number of cards which can be played to hate specifically on Vampires such as Silver Stake, Crucifix, Christie, the Windtracker, and Elvish Exorcist, and c) there are very few Vampires to choose from. Alucard also needs to J-Activate to fully tap into the deck’s power, which is nearly impossible when facing control decks who are playing around it.

To counter this however, all of the Vampires have strong, or useful abilities: Vampire’s Servant is a lightning rod for removal, Lora can search for Carmillia, Vampire’s Staff provides damage and healing, Vampire Bat is a huge threat late game, and finally Carmillia can easily fulfill Alucard’s J-Activate conditions by herself on turn 5. They also have two strong support cards in Alvarez, the Demon castle, and Resurrection of Vampire. Finally, as Darkness, they have access the best removal in Stoning to Death.

In summary:

+ Only ruler with Imperishable, making him a recurring threat.
+ Very strong Continuous ability in J-Ruler form that benefits from Bloodsucking Impulse and Duel of Truth.
+ Can fly.
+ Vampires have strong abilities and good support cards.
– … But weak stats for their cost.
– Lots of dedicated Vampire hate cards.
– Needs to J-Activate to fully utilize the deck’s power.
– Christie, the Windtracker.
– Unless you have Dragonslayer on the deck for some random reason, Bahamut on turn 2 will give you problems.
– J-Activate can be played around with by control decks. No resonator to kill = no J-Activate.

Ebony Prophet / Abdul Alhazred, the Harbringer of Despair

Unlike Lumia, Abdul greatly benefits from getting to J-Activate early on because of the one-sided advantage its Continuous ability provides, while his Activate ability can be used both offensively and defensively by shutting down key Resonator abilities and removing those of yours that are disadvantageous (such as Mephistopheles and Squirmer of the Dark).

That aside, there’s no single way to build a deck that utilizes him – he’s good both offensively and defensively. He shines versus Grimm though, by keeping Hamelin’s Pied Piper, Glinda, the Witch, and Tinker Bell, the Fairy in check, among others Fairy Tales. He’s also a great sideboard option for Darkness decks, especially when your opponent is bringing in a lot of Alucard hate.

In summary:

+ Powerful J-Ruler abilities that has a lot of applications.
+ Works well with Demon Resonators.
+ Great sideboard option for decks that use Darkness.
– A huge target when he J-Activates. Make sure you can protect him.
– Needs Grusbalesta in order to J-Activate easily. Otherwise, you’re probably gonna lose tempo.
– Expect players to be prepared for him because he’s popular.

So that’s it for part 1! Stay tuned tomorrow as I tackle the rest of the colors.

Until then!

A very big thanks to http://www.force-of-will.com/ for the card images.