April 12, 2021, 04:04:55 PM

Author Topic: Warlock Lord of Fire: a good meta choice?  (Read 3494 times)

DeckBuilder

  • Playtester
  • Legendary Mage
  • *
  • Posts: 666
  • Banana Stickers 3
    • View Profile
Warlock Lord of Fire: a good meta choice?
« on: November 02, 2013, 07:16:16 PM »
Gaps in the new set

So we have now seen almost all the new cards (only Refreshing Rain remains unknown currently). Most of these new cards have been really interesting. But how many of them are actually competitively playable?

My main concerns are:
(1) a lack of tech to make existing creature spawnpoints more playable
(2) a convergence in what hurts both new mages: fire
(3) a lack of anti-flyer tech for both new mages (even Sardonyx failed the cut)

Let's deal with these points individually


(1) "Assassination not warfare"

Both new mages are swarm (Druid in combination with conjurations). They rely on spawnpoints to create a swarm. These spawnpoints are slightly better than the existing ones. But they are slow, an upfront investment for mid-range play.

But there are existing Aggro Tempo builds that come at you from the start and generally take apart spawnpoint openings. Opening with a spawnpoint is often risky. Because these Aggro Tempo builds simply target the opposing mage and assassinates him/her before troops can repulse his assault. "Going for the throat" may lack finesse and bypass some of the game's subtler ideas. It's not pretty but it works.

So what's changed? Have we got anything to help spawnpoints be more viable? Meditation Amulet is exactly as per promo. So not much help there. There is no new tech to encourage the existing aggressive mages to change their builds, dust off those creature spawnpoints and play mid range.

Admittedly Battle Forge, a staple of Aggro Tempo builds, has been weakened by Corrode (and indirectly Orchid). But Battle Forge is strong because it is not linked to its zone but deploys at range 2. And what it deploys comes into play immediately, not inactive. The attacked mid range mage has enough problems surviving to spend mana and actions on Acid Balls at Forge. If he does, that is tempo loss on his side.

Thus against existing mages, these aggressive builds are still credible. How they fare against the 2 new mages with their spawnpoints is yet to be seen.


(2) "The mage that burns brightest burns shortest"

Given time, Fire is the most destructive element (Earth has more upfront damage, Air is for control, Water is for utility). And both the 2 new mages have a vulnerability to fire.

In the case of the Druid, it is universal. There have been hints that Hydro Immunity will be changed. Which will mean Geyser can be used on her plants (as well as her). Refreshing Rain should also provide succour. But all her plants are Flame +2. That's a huge vulnerability.

With the Necromancer, burn direct damage is a solution to his resilient zombies with lower life. And you can be sure that he will be testing out his spanking new Cloak of Shadows instead of Elemental Cloak, one less item to Dissolve.

So what are the best fire spells?
Attacks: Ring of Fire for range 0 area. Flameblast for range 1 unavoidable. Fireball for range 2.
Persistent: Circle of Fire against swarm. Fire Demons. Lash of Hellfire.


(3) "Death from above"

Both of the 2 new mages lack anti-flyer tech.

The Druid's vine spells target non-flyers. Kralathor (overcosted except against undead), Togorah (rooted uproot 2) and Vinewhip Staff all have reach. Her other cards are ground level. Nightshade Lotus is her control spell against Few Big but can only attack non-flyers hence Sleep them. Even her Surging Wave can't Slam flyers. Yes, she has Raptors and Galador but they are range 1 full actions and dilute her plant synergies, those animals designed more for the Jokhtari Beastmaster.

The Necromancer is missing his flying Skeleton Dragon. He has Skeleton Archers which are at least range 2 but that's about it. He even lacks in-school ranged attack spells (beyond curses). He will need to pack Maim Wings but how many will remember to do this? Overall, like the Warlord, he's a pretty down-to-earth type of mage.

Flying is powerful because it prevents the opponent's mainly ground creatures from converging and removing the threat. It can pick and choose its target, focusing on a mage, ignoring guards if enchanted with Mongoose Agility or just by Sweeping if the flyer has that ability.


Summary

The common silver bullet behind all 3 meta developments is Adramelech, Lord of Fire. As successfully piloted by piousflea in those early days of the tournament scene, this highly aggressive build could tear apart many builds.

Since that early dominance, the Warlock gained Circle of Fire (ideal against swarms that will return with Etherian Lifetree) and Drain Soul. He now gains the excellent Cloak of Shadows, Risen Again for curse-weaving recursion and most Necromancer cards that take his fancy (like Zombie Brute). His Flame Hellion, a control piece, now competes with Dark Pact Slayer for Blood Reaper against some match-ups.

More importantly, the dominance of Wizard has been dented with the new set. Not only is the impregnable Armour + Voltaric Shield (now available to all to a lesser extent via Veteran's Belt) been weakened by Corrode but so has the armoured Wizard's Tower, also weakened by Cloak of Shadows. The Tower cannot cast full action spells needed to cope with swarm. Even Nullify is bypassed by Orchid and Lotus. Whilst wizard has gained Jelly as an arena cleaner (like Earth Elemental, a Slow full action attack nonliving), the designers have definitely attempted to bring him back on par with the other mages. This will make Wizards a less popular choice in the meta. Which is good news for the Warlock who feared Purge Magic on his stacked curses and the Wizard's Tower utility-change to Geyser to free action douse burn.

In fact temporarily, the popular choices will be the Necromancer and Druid. Because everybody wants to try out the new kids on the block. Even though, due to fear of creating something too powerful, these 2 new mages may not hold their own against current traditional builds that will evolve to cope with them. But only practice and experimenting (and having a whole lot of fun doing this) will discover if this is true.

So the meta could temporarily turn full circle. Enter Adramelech, Lord of Fire, the apotheosis of Aggro-Tempo, that sweeping bringer of fire and burn who soars safe above, swooping down to deal fiery death on enemy mages. The time has come to shine again and burn bright.


[Please feel free to critique this conclusion below]
« Last Edit: November 02, 2013, 08:46:40 PM by DeckBuilder »
It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. And then it's just fun.

sdougla2

  • Legendary Mage
  • *****
  • Posts: 803
  • Banana Stickers 19
    • View Profile
Re: Warlock Lord of Fire: a good meta choice?
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2013, 02:51:03 AM »
I think spawnpoint play is viable, just not for all spawnpoints. Gate of Voltari and Lair both seem viable (and Battleforge of course), although you need to consider how you'll survive rushes if you play a creature spawnpoint. I see very little reason to play Pentagram or Barracks.

The Druid and Necromancer have enough support for spawnpoints and better enough spawnpoints that I'm confident that at least some of them will be viable. As to whether all of them will be viable, well, we'll have to see.

On the other hand, I have been noticing how much better positioned Lord of Fire will be in the new metagame, which is why I've been adding fire damage back into my Warlock build, including Lord of Fire. I de-emphasized fire damage before due to the prevalence of Dragonscale Hauberk and Elemental Cloak.
  • Favourite Mage: Straywood Beastmaster

DeckBuilder

  • Playtester
  • Legendary Mage
  • *
  • Posts: 666
  • Banana Stickers 3
    • View Profile
Re: Warlock Lord of Fire: a good meta choice?
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2013, 03:58:23 AM »
Good to hear from you, SD. It's been a while since you and The Dude helped this newbie with his latest card fad on BGG Strategy forum.

I'm doing exactly the same thing for exactly the same reasons. My last Warlock ran Enchanter's Ring and Curse Ring using a Transfusion Curse build with buffs on me, Slayers and Vampiress. 1 each of Fireblast, Fireball. Ring of Fire, Elemental Wand, Fireshaper Ring, Lash in case of match-up (a friend likes Bridge Trolls, each to their own). Demonhide for damage barrier. Battle Forge obviously. Aggro-control as it sapped life over time with a lot of life transference, opponent busy removing damage curses hence Enfeebles helped control threats.

But now I think it's time to go back to good o'l' fashioned Fire 'n' Brimstone Warlock. Perhaps with Circle of Fire and Dragonscale Hauberk for meta protection. After all, everybody will "fight Fire with Fire" (and therefore you need to protect against it).

I'm even considering my pre-Temple of Light nerf build of Lord of Fire and Angel of Light in Fire Wizard because Temple of Light will return as Necromancer is about and if Dark Mages become popular, then Samandriel comes to the fore. But that may be over-thinking the meta and being two steps ahead which can be very embarrassing when you need to be exactly one step ahead.

As for spawnpoints, whilst I agree that Lair and Gate are ok, I suspect that the existing mages going mid range is playing into hands of the new mages who grow cumulatively stronger with time. The new mages have a lower intercept but a higher gradient of power growth over time (actually it's probably slightly curved exponential with the Pod pyramid, Zombie Frenzy gang-up or Altar of Skulls game state changer). I think the best way to beat the new mages is to Go For The Throat from the start. Dissolve the Epic tome. Burn down the Epic fragile trees and watch them shine like Christmas trees. Hey Druid, forest fires are simply nature's way of "clearing out the deadwood" and ushering in the new age of the Warlock (and maybe Fire Wizard). Muhahahaha!

Getting a bit carried away here. But the point about charting the different start strengths and power growths of different strategies for each mage's viable builds is pertinent. The new mages are better than existing ones at mid range, therefore the existing mid range builds will have to go either aggro or control. And I don't fancy the latter with their steep power growth gradient. That's a theory anyway. We shall see...

"We live in interesting times" as the Chinese proverb goes...
« Last Edit: November 03, 2013, 04:57:08 AM by DeckBuilder »
It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. And then it's just fun.

Aylin

  • Sr. Mage
  • ****
  • Posts: 494
  • Banana Stickers 4
    • View Profile
Re: Warlock Lord of Fire: a good meta choice?
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2013, 07:56:53 PM »
Quote
Nightshade Lotus is her control spell against Few Big but can only attack non-flyers hence Sleep them.

Nightshade Lotus has a 0-0 Ranged attack. Ranged attacks can target flying creatures in the same zone. Corrosive Orchid's attack is also 0-0 Ranged. Both are unavoidable. Hence they can both attack flying creatures.

While Surging wave cannot hit flying creatures, Acid ball, Geyser, and Burst of Thorns can all hit flying creatures. With her staff and her Reach creatures I think she will be fine against flying creatures.

The Necromancer does look a little weak against flying though, I agree. Hopefully the flying dragon will be in the next expansion.

DeckBuilder

  • Playtester
  • Legendary Mage
  • *
  • Posts: 666
  • Banana Stickers 3
    • View Profile
Re: Warlock Lord of Fire: a good meta choice?
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2013, 02:56:11 AM »
Aylin, good spot. I even mentioned it when first spoiled on the spoiler thread (so contrived for a flower to attack a flyer) but in my righteous dismay that Meditation Amulet is unchanged to do nothing for existing spawnpoints (which is what triggered this piece), I forgot about this flowers attack flyers anti-intuitiveness. My bad.

Vine range Sleep does make a big difference (I'm less concerned about a stationary range 0 attack 2 or 3 from a flower).

So Renewing Rain has now been spoiled making this thread obsolete. The spell is far bigger than I'd anticipated. Will Hydro Immunity be changed as well in the new FAQ? I hope so as I hate anti-intuitive rules ("it don't make sense" destroys the immersive illusion, reminding you that it is just a mechanical game).

I should be happy because there seems to be less of a glaring "gap in the meta" which would hurt the game. Necromancer can still use Lord of Fire, Vampiress and Maim Wings to attack opponent's flying threats. Druid can use Tarok (rarely used) as a cheap anti-flyer silver bullet though, as you pointed out, she does have ranged (did not realise Burst of Thorns attacked flyers either). Using existing creatures (beyond Malaconda) does not play on their synergies but there are existing solutions.

I think Druid wins the prize as most artificially contrived mage to date. Plant conjurations are immune to poison effects like Pestilence but not plant creatures. Renewing Rain heals creatures but not plant conjurations. They even explained Kralathor's silver bullet in its flavour text in case people felt it was a balancer. The problem with plants is the base game never envisioned them as anything but in a support role (Tanglevine, Wall of Thorns). They have been really ambitious with this set which is to be applauded but "I will put your plant to Sleep", "my plant does not Bleed but it does trigger Bloodthirsty" etc, all these intuitive inconsistencies jar. Plant creatures were a Pandora's Box.

I think this thread needs to be killed off. Yes Fire and Flyers and All Out Aggression will be good against them (hence Lord of Fire). But it's not the glaring gap in the meta I thought it to be. Teaches me a lesson to research thoroughly before posting in Strategy & Tactics section.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2013, 08:14:16 AM by DeckBuilder »
It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. And then it's just fun.

barriecritzer

  • Full Mage
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
  • Banana Stickers 0
    • View Profile
Re: Warlock Lord of Fire: a good meta choice?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2013, 10:01:05 PM »
was surging wave suppose to come with the druid vs necro set or is it from one of the other expansions?

sdougla2

  • Legendary Mage
  • *****
  • Posts: 803
  • Banana Stickers 19
    • View Profile
Re: Warlock Lord of Fire: a good meta choice?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2013, 10:04:28 PM »
It's from one of the other expansions.
  • Favourite Mage: Straywood Beastmaster

Laddinfance

  • Legendary Mage
  • *****
  • Posts: 4646
  • Banana Stickers 2
    • View Profile
Re: Warlock Lord of Fire: a good meta choice?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2013, 11:03:33 PM »
Surging Wave is in Conquest of Kumanjaro.