Wow, it can be amazing what a week can change. Not all that long ago there were rumblings of a new expansion, and all of the sudden we have previews! In the interest of full disclosure, I personally can’t stand preview season in any game. I would much prefer just a full dump of everything at once. The marketing aspect is completely understandable, dripping out information in this fashion builds hype. Of course, the idea is that more hype means more sales. For me however, I am not a huge fan of this structure. I could pontificate about this particular topic for a while (just ask Wife, she’s heard the spiel 1,000 times) that isn’t why we are here. Today we want to talk about the veritable swarm of previews from Duelyt’s soon to be newst set: Unearth Prophecy
This article will take a quick look and record my initial thoughts about the cards we have seen. It isn’t really a review as there just isn’t enough information at this time to truly make an assessment. That being said you can’t really avoid trying to play the prophet (get it? Eh eh?) in spoiler season so there will some predictions mixed in.
Note: At the time of writing this the images are not part of the press kit so I am going to link to the mothership. To keep up with previews you can go here: https://news.duelyst.com/unearthed-prophecy-previews This is where CPG has all of the previews collated after their official announcement as they have done with other new sets.
Going in order of reveal we have Glacial Fissure up first:
Deal 8 damage to EVERYTHING in the center column.
I’ll be honest, this is not a great start. There are a number of reasons for my distaste but they require a little bit of a preface. For some time now, there has been a vocal part of the community clamoring for more board centric cards. I get it, the game has a virtual board which is central, crucial, and a unique defining factor of this game compared to other ones. This spell directly relates to that and simultaneously fits into a theme Vanar has been pushing since the first set. Cards with the keyword infiltrate or spells such as Avalanche want both players to focus on where they are positioned. Block your opponent’s guys from getting to your side or once they have infiltrated they are going to be even more dangerous. Be careful though if you commit too heavily to your opponent’s starting half then an Avalanche could spell doom for your entire team. Once Mesmerize was “printed” I think the writing was on the wall that there would be more of these sort of effects in the future (as if there was any real doubt).
Unfortunately while these things sound great as they seem to provide decision points, and really decisions are what make a game interesting, I think Glacial Fissure is going to end up being a super frustrating meme. The expectation shortly after release is that every Vanar deck will be starting out with:
4 Glacial Fissure
And they will probably be Faie. The reason is that you could play back on your side, maybe contest mana tiles, maybe use them as bait. Then your opponent will need to decide whether it is worth potentially playing into Avalanche and fissure. If they try to be cute and dance around the middle column you can mesmerize them into place for 8 damage. Let’s take a moment to appreciate that. That is a HUGE portion of your starting 25 life for merely 3 mana and 1 card. Songhai gets to do that on 8 mana with Spiral Technique. As mentioned if your opponent wants to be a party pooper and not show up to the shindig you are throwing on your half of the table then you can just bbs them to oblivion. The other available option is to utilize Vanar walls. If your opponent makes a single, possibly fatal, miscalculation you could pin them in place for several turns with Gravity Well or other provokers and then just wallop them over and over with these sort of effects.
So what’s the problem? All of this sounds like a lot of work for a significant but possibly reasonable payoff given the effort involved. Well, at the moment I am leaning towards fissure is going to be exceptionally difficult to pull off. All of these things kind of require that your opponent cooperate to get them to work. If they stick to their half of the board, while they may cede the mana tiles they should be able to build a sizeable army and march into your territory to close the game. Even worse, maybe they call your bluff and you don’t see the fissure when you need it, or the fissure despite being a mere 3 mana cannot fit in the turn you have the chance to play it. Overall, I think the card may be too difficult to make work and therefore it will be relegated to meme status where it will frustrate people caught off guard by chunking them pretty hard. One tell may be if the Vanar player is going first and specifically avoids the center tiles allowing player 2 access to them, but that isn’t a surefire way to predict an inbound fissure. Part of me hopes that the card is strong and there is a reasonable way to play around the archtype. That brings me to the second issue though. Comparing this to backstab Songhai it doesn’t bode well. In the case of the backstab build your opponent can simply hug their wall from the start and nearly invalidate your entire strategy. Sure Grandmaster Zendo helps alleviate this particular issue, and eventually they need to do something to try and win the game, but it hampers your strategy significantly. Coming back to Glacial Fissure if the plan of just “don’t go near the middle” defeats the deck then as mentioned previously it becomes a meme and will show up periodically to ruin someone’s day. If the build happens to have legs despite this I would be happy to have something like this show up since it does force you to think and play differently.
Moving on, next up we have:
Abyssian Minion 4/2
Dying Wish: Draw two minions with Dying Wish from your deck.
Now this I really like. Part of it is my love for the Abyssian faction, but as many other players have done I’ve built and played many Lurking Fear builds. The obvious issue that stands out in those lists is that while you can ramp out a huge threat early on, despite the dying wish keyword you can often find yourself low on cards and unable to close with your opponent clinging to single digit life points. Nekomata addresses all of that neatly in a way that Necroseer and Void Hunter grasp at. Additionally you can try to build a tutor-able deck in which only very specific dying wish minions are available to be yoinked from the ether into your hand. The body itself leaves much to be desired, the aforementioned Void Hunter sports the same stats for 1 less cost, however a turn 1 Lurking Fear to make this cost 3 and suddenly everything is sunshine and rainbows despite the primary Abyssian colors being purple and black. The only negative I think people will have about this card is the way in which is provides a linear deckbuilding experience. As someone who loves tribal decks and theme based builds that isn’t really a negative to me, but looking at it from another perspective I can understand the complaint.
For day 1 Magmar reveals we actually were spoiled with 2 spoilers:
Endure the Beastlands
Turn a 2×2 area into Primal Flourish
Magmar Minion 4/5
Opening Gambit: Turn a nearby friendly minions space into Primal Flourish.
The obvious question is what is Primal Flourish? Primal Flourish is the Magmar version of Shadow Creep. Minions standing on the tile have something happen to them and the idea of turning tiles into assets seems to be a cycle in this set, but more on that later. In Magmar’s case:
Primal Flourish gives friendly minions standing on it “Grow +2/+2”.
That’s…that’s uh pretty big.
Grow has been an unfortunately weak keyword. Sure, everyone has probably won some games with grow.dec, but the minions have an awkward dichotomy where they need to be placed safely enough to, you know, actually grow. However, they can’t be placed too far away or they will never make it into the fray in time. Moloki Huntress just found her new best friends though. They hang out, they go to the movies, they also stomp on your opponent’s dudes and them too! I really like the idea of flourish and Omniseer seems to be reasonable enough on its own that you won’t feel bad about playing. Notable it survives a fight with Lavaslasher. At least the opening gamebit fight. Keeping in mind though that it specifies a nearby friendly minion so it would appear you can’t just plop the Omniseer down to eat its own foliage.
Endure the Beastlands is a little more difficult to predict. Shadow Nova is the obvious comparison, but that card dropped off the face of Eyos and deep into the Shadowlands after the Shadow Creep rework. Nova was a pretty large tempo hit and I could see this card being the same. If you have Moloki on board then you are going to be super happy to windmill slam (is that a thing is digital card games?) beastlands and make your guys gigantic. However, if you are in a losing board position having to wait until your turn is going to be really rough, especially since you won’t be advancing your board with this by itself. You’ll improve it but only if things survive which is far from guaranteed. Omniseer presents a body and a repeatable buff, this will be more difficult to manage.
Kaleos gets some help in the next reveal:
Songhai Minion 2/4
Whenever this minion is moved for any reason, it deals 2 damage to all enemies around it.
Ignoring the Hearthstone jokes about 4 mana 7/7’s and everyone’s complaint that this seemingly miniature dragon has wings but doesn’t have the flying keyword, I really like this little guy. Kaleos was the first Songhai general but has fallen by the wayside since Reva was introduced. His hero power has subtle power and there really hasn’t been much reason to choose it over a “free” heartseeker from the alternative. However now that we are seeing more minions that care when they are moved we may get a resurgence of Kaleos. There is some debate whether the damage is done at the origin or destination which be a big factor in how this minion plays. In either case you will be able to pull off a ton of tricks with Juxtaposition, Kaleos bbs, and Mist Dragon Seal. Really this only scratches the surface and I’m excited to try this one out. Long term I am not sure effective it will be as the 4 mana is kinda clunky. Many are comparing it to Sunriser and I think that’s reasonable. In Sunriser’s case I actually don’t run too many and sometimes cut them completely from heal centric lists. There are plenty of awkward hands generated by an understated 4 cost minion. Of course on the other hand there is the upside of potential blowouts but playing one of these 4 cost monsters and going hard with triggers to wipe out everything around them.
The next preview has some minor ambiguity as well:
Neutral Minion 1 /2
Cannot be attacked.
Just to get it out of the way, the question here is whether this minion can be counterattacked. My belief is yes it can which cuts the power level down significantly, but I am going to operate on that assumption until there is evidence otherwise. Clearly this guy loves pants. For those of you not aware, “pants” is slang from Magic describing buff cards that get attached to creatures. So putting pants on this guy to make him big and strong is one avenue. It suffers from exactly what you’d expect. One dispel and the punch back from a single attack spells doom for this guy. Chromatic cold ends him immediately. You can say that about a lot of cards, however he is mostly irrelevant without help. Further I expect there to be a ton of Lightbenders and other dispel in everyone’s lists early on to help combat all the Primal Flouish and other tile based strategies that are going around even aside from the current top tier threats that justify dispel. So they wasted something dispelling this guy and not your <whatever>, that’s good right? Maybe. A Lightbender or Sun Bloom may make multiple things you have very sad, or you invested 3+ cards into this guy and they get a 4-for-1. I think he looks cool, obviously he is a threat with Scion’s Second Wish but generally he seemed to be all flash no substance. One important note though, you could use him as a mobile wall, this guy blocks all day.
Unless frenzy hits him too.
Maybe the Vanar deck we started out with wants him as an additional “wall”, I don’t think so though.
Another neutral card was shown:
Neutral Arcanyst Minion 3/8
BOTH players cannot cast spell that cost 2 or less.
The anti-arcanyst arcanyst makes an appearance. This guy has a few cute combos such as combining with Sphynx to stuff your opponent’s hand with riddles. Permanently. Well sort of permanently as they could remove Magesworn and then give them back to you. That’s probably an 8 mana combo as your opponent may pass the riddles back to you and you’d be stuck with them forever if you don’t ditch them first. Ghost Seraphim also is impact by this minion as it would prevent your opponent from playing any spells. I would presume it also prevents any player’s bbs from going off, which could be significant. I don’t think this guy ends up seeing play. A disruption style deck would be interesting to see though. Archon Spellbinder is anti-synergy with this guy though.
One more Abyssian card for you:
Teleport ANY minion to friendly Shadow Creep.
Without “draw a card” attached to this I am skeptical. It certainly can have its uses despite that. You now have a 1 mana Deemonic Lure, assuming of course you positioned your creep in the right location (eyes on you Void Sphere). Also, the ANY is important and maybe hints at future Abyssian minions that care about standing on Shadow Creep. Not being a cantrip is a big problem for me. It may make the cut as a 1 or 2 of to provide extra Daemonic lures or possibly swapped the numbers so a full playset of Nethermeld and a couple lures to up the numbers if the requirement is easy enough to work around. Abyssian arcanysts are likely to be happy about this as additional cheap spells are crucial in that list.
The Vetruvian previews came in a pair, also with their own special tile:
Vetruvian Minion 3 /4
Opening Gambit: Return a nearby minion to its action bar. Turn that space into Exhuming Sand.
Destroy a friendly minion to turn its space into Exhuming Sand
Exhuming sand summons a 2/2 Iron Dervish when its owner summons a minion from their action bar.
First off, I want to say I’m excited to try out all of the new tile based strategies. They seem to be playable as well which is always a bonus. This particular one interacts with a less prominent part of Vetruvian mechanics and that’s dyisng wish. While Abyssian gets the bulk of the cards with that keyword Vetruvian is no slouch thanks to Aymara Healer, Pax, and ALlomancer. The other dying wish minions for this faction aren’t quite at the power level you’d want for competitive play but can have niche roles. Let’s also not forget (or maybe we should) that Corpse Combustion exists. This is a more focused version of Nether Summoning. Putting aside the tile momentarily Arid Unmaking probably has the bigger potential. In many card games, being able to remove your own minions on demand, specifically destroying them can be tremendously beneficial. Costing a meager 1 mana, Arid Unmaking can fit in wherever you need it. Now the question is whether there are enough cards available to Vetruvian that you’d want to off of your own volition. Aymara is the obvious candidate but most of the other in faction minions would prefer your opponent to do it. For neutrals you can pick up Dioltas, Gnasher, Unseven, and Grimes. Of course there are other options, but those a good start. Regardless this card will get better over time as there are more options.
I’m less excited about Sandswirl Reader. That isn’t to say it isn’t viable, quite the contrary. If you look at it as a 3 /4 which typically costs 3 mana, plus a hailstone it is exactly the correct cost. Often you’ll see these cards that are stapled together end up costing extra to compensate for not requiring multiple slots in your deck. The fun doesn’t stop there though! You also get an Exhuming Sand tile! Keep in mind that assuming that nothing changes with the sets release “writing” to a tile overwrites whatever was there before. Shadow Creep tickling you? Dump some sand on it. Garden flourishing just a little too much? Dump some sand on it. Opponent creating a veritable desert with their own Exhuming Sand? Dump your sand on it.
Creating your own personal sandbox for fun and profit.
It will take some time to determine if the weaker body can justify itself but it has potential. Of course you can build a bouncy house for yourself by running a ton of opening gambit minions and targeting your own stuff with these guys. It may be reasonably viable since you will be generating some board position each time you resummons a minion through the sand.
Now onto the cutest preview thus far:
Magmar Minion 1/1
Baby makantor has already stolen the hearts of the masses, and the pup now has its sights set on your opponent’s board. Lacking the rush of its 6 mana cousin, you’ll be hard pressed to get the crazy high end value out of this guy, and clearly you won’t get the unexpected victories warbeast can produce since, well it will have to be on the board already. All that being said forcefield is a pretty powerful keyword. Frenzy is a very powerful keyword. Even at only 1 damage you can make a lot of math very difficult for your opponent. For 2 cards you can build your own Sword of Mechaz0r but with forcefield. With flourish tiles this guy can get silly. I don’t think that turn 1 Warpup into turn 2 Primordial Gazer will be a thing, but maybe! Thraex is happy to buff this little guy, although that necessitates that someone actually run Thraex but I don’t want to digress too far. I think Warpup is going to make people panic slightly the way that Azurite Lion does. Maybe not quite as much but if you let him stick around you are probably going to have a bad day as the Magmar player is assuredly running ways to buff him. He isn’t insurmountable though and may suffer from similar issues that grow minions do. You need Warpup close enough to interact quickly, but far enough away that he doesn’t get double attacked before he has grown up. I’m not entirely sure whether Warpup will actually see the light of play long term. It’s an early drop that requires help. He is going to be a mostly bad topdeck and even as a turn 1 play can be answered relatively easily.
But he is just so damn adorable how can people not play him?
Now we move onto another neutral minion:
Neutral Minion 2/4
Whenever an enemy attacks, this minion gets +3 attack until the end of your turn.
This guy is interesting. The cost is reasonable. The effect can be bonkers. The thing is 4 health just isn’t that much and he suffers from the same ailment we have described a few times now. If he is too close he’ll become bacon before you can use him, if he is too far he will be irrelevant. He also incidentally dies to Makantor Warbeast, but so do a lot of things. The 4 health does help shield it from phoenix fire and the like until you are ready to have Wild Tahr try and blow your opponent’s house down. I like this guy but it is tough to rate him. I think he has potential in say Songhai or Vanar where movement effects would allow him to sneak in there and wreak havoc even though he may have started the turn across the board. Overall I’m pretty positive about the little piggy here.
Another neutral minion and this one seems wild:
Neutral Minion 4/5
Whenever this minion deals damage to an enemy, it also damages all joined enemies.
After Unearthed Prophecy releases there will be a lot of effects that make you think twice about clumping or even just touching your own stuff with your other stuff. This guy has a solid body, and effect that seems crazy good (initial impression is that blast/ranged on this guy would trigger his power too!), and he is available to all factions. I anticipate seeing him in a LOT of decks. Just as a PSA, the sub-reddit has a chart posted by ThanatosNoa for how his power works. Bloodmoon Priestess and other token generators are going to have a bad day in the near future.
The next streamer card is Vanar this time:
Vanar Vespyr Minion 1 /4
This minion has +3 attack on your opponent’s turn.
As this card was revealed all I could think was “man this might be playable if it was a vespyr”. Then I reread the card and it is! It is a vespyr! The 4 health breakpoint in this case is pretty good for a 2 drop since it dodges a lot of early removal and requires your opponent to think before just punching it. Triggering all the vespyr synergy (frostfire!) gives you another avenue to explore with this guy. It could also have a home in the Glacial Fissure deck. Sinister Silhouette and this guy along with some infiltrators can be sheep dogs and try to herd your opponent and their stuff into position to get blown out. Honestly it seems kinda fragile but it may be worth a try. Granted that’d work without the vespyr tag and just using it as a deterrent doesn’t require vespyr synergy.