The third and perhaps most important part is that until the Throne of the Tides previews started this week, there's been very little to talk about - I've been playing the same deck for a month in preparation for the Zapped Giants Open III, will continue playing that same deck in preparation for the UK Nationals next month, and therefore am not about to discuss it in too much detail; I went to play Sealed in Sheffield, opened an uninspiring pool, and met the elusive Alex Crow who proceeded to do horrible things to me with Soridormi and Twilight's Hammer.
I came fourth of seven, with a 2-1 record, thanks to shitty tiebreakers; the Zapped Giants Open was more of a success story, with me finishing top of the standings after the swiss pairings on 6-1, only to scrub out of the Top 8 after winning the first game. My deck had a complete breakdown in the second game, giving me three six-drops in my first hand and all three of my one-drops in my mulligan; the third game came down to him killing me before I killed him. Disappointing, but a second Top 8 in three Zapped Giants Opens is not to be sniffed at. Once Nationals has come and gone I'll have a bit more info.
I was intending to go and play Sealed at Stoke-on-Trent yesterday too, but - amazingly - literally nobody turned up.
So! Instead I'm going to bore you senseless with a few of my favourite cards from the new set, Throne of the Tides. The full spoiler was made available Saturday morning, and you can find it at TCGBrowser.com amongst other places. In no particular order:
A nice exciting one to start. Or not.
So Righteous Cleanse isn't the most bombastic of abilities, but when was the last time Paladins got a standard, unrestricted dispel?
March of the Legion, with Sacred Purification, which by all accounts looks like it was pretty damn good. Given the lack of hate we've seen in the last block though, this seems pretty good too - a two-cost, Instant, no restrictions (no Repentance- or Blessing of Faith- style nonsense), and with a free Delve tacked on too?
I think I prefer Oppress in a "Best Dispel in Core" contest but this is potentially a really important card for Core and limited formats.
Arcanomage Misti is, to be quite honest, just Burly Berta, but worse. Luckily for us though, Berta joins the list of flagship allies who are being reprinted with the release of the Fall 2011 Class Starter Decks, so there's nothing stopping you from including both of these in your deck. Turn 2 Burly Berta is awkward. Turn 2 Berta Turn 3 Misti could be very awkward.
Keeping her alive will be the most difficult part, as the loss of that fourth health is pretty huge, and her single ATK is mostly irrelevant when defending.
I quite like Master Sniper Simon McKey's flip - he could easily give a bit of reach to the Aspect of the Wild Hunter decks that have been floating around. With an Aspect out, there is nothing shameful about playing a Tesla on turn 6 and then smacking your opponent in the face for 14.
Unfortunately he looks a bit like a cross between the two main characters from Gears of War.
Trivia fact: This is another vanity hero for a volunteer - this time it's, umm, Simon Key, who works on the rules team and moderates the Cryptozoic forums.
Parexia is one of over twenty cards in the set featuring the Empower keyword, ("When this ally enters play, if you control another XX hero or ally, do thing") and while most of them have solid stats and powers, Parexia stood out due to the lack of discard effects printed recently. There have been a few, and I'm sure we've all been blown up by Revealing Strike once or twice, but forcing the discard of two random cards and getting a passable four-drop for five resources seems like a pretty good deal to me.
With many classes struggling for card draw (and Throne not really offering a huge amount to combat that), we could see one or two neat discard decks pop up in the new Core format. Priest now having access to Mind Melt, Oppress, Twisted Mind Spike and Parexia, not to mention newcomer Tendrils of Darkness could see people topdecking quite reliably... if they can find a way of killing those pesky Girdles.
This guy intrigues me. I almost never want to voluntarily discard my own cards, but binning an Arcane Barrage to Valak's power seems like it could be a solid plan.
The main issue is refilling your hand later in the game. Mana Agate is good but won't single-handedly fix the problems this card could create for you like a Mana Sapphire or Invocation would.
So - a great power stunted by a lack of available card draw. Is he good enough for Classic?
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the set are these Bottled equipments. Every class has one, along with the Monsters. They aren't class-restricted - they just get better if played with their corresponding hero. Bottled Life with a Druid Hero will give you two 1/1 Treants on your furst turn if you so choose; a second one on your next turn will let you play flagship ally Plainswatcher Taro for free.
The Priest one makes an opponent discard a card each time it is activated, the Mage one channels Darkness Calling for you, the Death Knight one reduces an ally's health by 2 each time it is used, and perhaps the most intriguing one is the Warlock's Bottled Void - which hits an opposing hero for 3 damage, heals your hero for 3 damage, and then does it again when you use its secondary power. A twelve-health swing for three resources.
Last one for now, a card that scratches my ex-Totem player itch. Clearly he works well with cards like Scimitar of the Sirocco - drop him into play accompanied by a Fire Totem, make him a 10/5, then clatter into the opponent for 13. However, at some point I will be attempting to get my hands on a few of these and will put together another Totem control deck like I used in the good old days. I get the feeling that given half a chance he could run riot with a Totem or two of your own in play.
I deliberately tried to avoid a lot of the obviously great cards - you don't need me to tell you why Ozumat, Commander Ulthok and Mazu'kon are good!
The full list of Flagship cards that will be reprinted with the release of the 2011 Fall Class Starter Decks:
Thrall, Warchief of the Horde; Jaina, Lady of Theramore; Garrosh Hellscream; Babagahnoosh the Grumpy; Burly Berta; Deathlord Jones; Saurfang the Younger, Kor'kron Warlord; Bolvar, Highlord of Fordragon Hold; Kor'kron Vanguard; Fordragon Hold; High Commander Halford Wyrmbane; Leeroy Jenkins; Plainswatcher Taro