Update 12/10/16: Rewrote White Wolf of Eldwood analysis as previous analysis was based on a misconception. Thank you for reading!
Shadowverse is a card game by Cygames available on mobile devices and Steam. Though new, it has received raving reviews and is currently in the process of establishing their second expansion, Rise of Bahamut. Want to try the game out? Check out our Shadowverse Competitive Primer series to learn how to get started in Shadowverse!
Cygames has begun to reveal some of the cards from the Rise of Bahamut expansion pack on their official site. While the effects, costs, and stats are not set in stone, they do allow us to make a few guesses about what effect these cards could have on the metagame. While we at TechRaptor discussed previous details about the expansion pack and reveals here, the English translations give us a lot more detail on what's going on. As more cards are revealed on their site and their Twitter, we'll be sure to keep you updated with our ideas about them!
At an 8-point cost for only 4/4 in stats, the White Wolf of Eldwood does not seem like a particularly amazing card, even with Rush. The deck search effect, however, sounds incredible. Since the biggest card in many Forestcraft decks is Crystallia Tia or Elf Knight Cynthia, this card should allow for a five- or six-point discount respectively, which makes the value considerably higher.
The effect is a Last Words, so this card needs to be destroyed before the effect activates. Thankfully, as this follower has Rush, that is not a difficult task to accomplish, especially as it's often played late game, where the opposing followers may easily have four or more attack. It is important to note that this card will only search Forestcraft specific cards, which means it will not find and discount neutral game-finishers such as Dark Angel Olivia or Prince of Darkness. It can, however, find and discount Forestcraft spells and amulets such as Homecoming or Titania's Sanctuary, which could result in interesting plays. While, like other Last Words cards, it does fear being Banished, at 4 base defense it avoids the common Havencraft banishing cards Priest of the Cudgel and Blackened Scripture without prior damage. However, it must be wary of Odin, as it can be played on the same turn, which wastes White Wolf of Eldwood's effect if it was not triggered already.
As many Forestcraft cards, including late game ones, benefit from having cards played before them, most notably Crystallia Tia, White Wolf of Eldwood can both help clear the board and trigger these effects. Allowing the next big card to be played for free after dealing four damage to a follower is an incredible boon and may even bring about the use of larger Forestcraft cards such as Rose Queen. While White Wolf of Eldwood has extremely disappointing stats, in many late game situations, its stats combined with Rush and its Last Words give it the powerful ability to do damage to a follower, deck search and support a large card being played immediately afterwards.
A 2-point 2/2 follower is pretty typical as stats go, but in Forestcraft, most two-point followers have added bonuses. Examples include Elf Girl Liza, who protects the field from being hit with a spell and Fairy Whisperer, who can generate a Fairy to the hand. What makes Crystalia Lily special is not her stat line, but her Enhance effect; transforming an enemy follower into a Snowman, a 1/1, is basically hard removal. This requires six points, so this card should be compared to other hard removal cards and other six point Forestcraft drops.
Forestcraft does not get any good leader-specific hard removal cards, so it has to do with the neutral cards Execution and Dance of Death. Already, Crystalia Lily looks like an upgrade to them; for one extra point, you also get a 2/2 after removal is over. While Execution can target Amulets and Dance of Death does two damage to the opposing leader, Crystalia Lily provides arguably better benefit. In a pinch, you can use it as a two-point follower with a reasonable stat line without the enhance effect.
The main 6-point Forestcraft follower is Elf Knight Cynthia, whose effects are not comparable. To get the same kind of hard removal with Elf Knight Cynthia’s attack boosts, one would need to trade in an already developed board or to use an Evolution. Crystalia Lily is far more useful to trade one-to-one with a big opposing follower from turn six onwards, and is cheap enough that it can still be cycled back by Ancient Elf, Pixie Mischief, or Nature’s Guidance to be used again. Crystalia Lily offers a great amount of utility to Forestcraft in helping it deal with large opposing followers over the current removal options, and two or three copies will probably be run in most decks.
Another small two-point follower for Swordcraft’s already cluttered table. Without a commander on the board, this card is directly outclassed by Veteran Lancer who has the same stat line but comes with Ward. There are no one-point Commanders as of now, so that means Gelt does not receive any benefits on turn two. While there are viable two and three point commanders, such as White Paladin and Fencer, the main ones are from 4 and up, such as Avant Blader, Aurelia, Regal Saber, and the ubiquitous Royal Banner.
That is not to say that it is completely useless up until that point, only that Veteran Lancer is unarguably better. However, compared to the other two drops that Swordcraft has, Gelt may still be a viable option, especially as it gets better than Veteran Lancer after a commander is on the board. Gelt provides 4/2 worth of stats and Ward if one of the most common Commanders, Royal Banner, has been played. This is equivalent to Oathless Knight in stats but arguably better because it avoids being cleared by Angelic Barrage. It is better than Centaur Vanguard’s 3/1 but does not have Storm. Though Gelt is not as offensive as Centaur Vanguard, the value it provides is higher, especially because it is better if there is no Commander in play.
Gelt appears to be yet another toy in Swordcraft’s toybox of low cost, efficient followers. While he faces competition from Veteran Lancer, he has distinct advantages over some of Swordcraft’s other 2-point followers and is worth a shot though he is not as aggressive as the other available options.
This card introduces a new mechanic, Clash, which is activated when the follower engages in combat, whether attacking or being attacked. The three point 2/2 stat line is slightly inferior to Swordcraft’s other three point followers, Ascetic Knight and Novice Trooper. However, the effect of this card offers a significant benefit to Swordcraft. While it already has deck searching cards in Avant Blader and Maid Leader, Swordcraft suffers from having less and less hand advantage later in the game due to having so many low cost followers.
Thief remedies this. It is almost guaranteed to get card draw, whether played on turn three and attacked by something else or played on turn four and later to be evolved and attack. There are ways to remove this without allowing card draw, such as Deathbrand or Windblast, but those are class specific and drawing that sort of removal is a boon in itself. The majority of people must deal with this by attacking into it, helping the Swordcraft player regenerate a partially depleted hand.
While the effectiveness of this card falls off a little late-game as compared to Ruthless Assassin, a three-point follower that almost guarantees hard removal if a Commander is on the board, it is definitely a contender for Swordcraft’s three-point slot as it offers the unique ability to generate card draw, something that Swordcraft much appreciates.
Yet another two point 2/2 follower, Craig, Wizard of Mysteria is yet another tool for Spellboost Runecraft. It’s immediately superior to the other two-point followers on turn 2 for this playstyle. Taking a quick at the other options for the slot we see that Crafty Warlock and Apprentice Alchemist are mainly for Earth Rite focused decks, another playstyle entirely, Sammy, Witch’s Apprentice is not used as it gives the opponent card draw, and Timeworn Mage Levi and Scholarly Witch are not meant to be played until an evolution is available. Penguin Wizard is not really viable.
However, the important point is to compare its effect not just to the other followers, but to the other spells. On turn two, whether or not Insight was played on turn one, a Runecraft player will have five cards in hand. Therefore, a spell such as Conjure Golem or Kaleidoscopic Glow has a chance to Spellboost up to four cards once, which is more boosts than Craig’s two. However, realistically, a turn two spell will hit 2–3 Spellboosts, making it only a little better. However, Craig can only Spellboost followers, limiting its effectiveness to Witchette Emmylou, Rune Blade Summoner, Lightning Shooter, Mythril Golem, and Flame Destroyer.
Because Flame Destroyer and Witchette Emmylou drop in point cost when Spellboosted, Craig is the equivalent of a zero-point 2/2 if it Spellboosts them. Rune Blade Summoner gains +1/+1 for every Spellboost on her, so Craig provides 4/4 worth of value for two-points. In both cases, Craig provides great but delayed value; still, he is useful both late and early game in establishing followers on the board while also setting up for later in the game. Spellboosting Mythril Golem and Lightning Shooter provides decreasing yields. Both cards are rarely run in Spellboost decks anyways and typically are fine being Spellboosted normally before they are played, as being able to do higher and higher amounts of damage to a follower(s) only helps up to a certain point. Craig being limited to followers reduces its effectiveness in the mostly spell-heavy Spellboost Runecraft decks, but it can definitely be a very efficient follower if its Spellboost hits the right cards.
Dragoncraft could use a few new toys, and Breath of the Salamander offers one. However, Dragoncraft also offers a plethora of two-drops already, such as Fire Lizard, Dragonewt Scholar, Dragonrider, Dragonewt Fist, Dragon Emissary, Dragon Oracle, and Mushussu. As a direct comparison to Dragonewt Fist, Breath of the Salamander does not discard a card but does one less damage overall. On turn 2–5, it does not seem particularly amazing, as three damage to a follower is not really justified for two points.
The Enhance effect on turn six brings a completely new light to the card. Dealing three to one follower and then two to all enemy followers is a significant board clear; the followers in many board flooding aggressive decks barely hit two defense if at all, meaning this will clear a board more often than not. It comes on turn six, one turn sooner than Dragoncraft’s other board clear, Conflagaration, meaning this card can be played to clean the board right before the Overload benefits associated with Dragoncraft cards begins. Additionally, unlike Conflagaration, this only clears the opposing board.
As a low-cost card, it can also be used as discard fodder to activate many other Dragoncraft effects. While Breath of the Salamander is a little underwhelming as a two-point spell that deals three damage, it offers quite a bit of functionality on turn six and later that make it worth running on late-game focused Dragoncraft decks.
As a hard removal specific to Shadowcraft’s arsenal, this card immediately brings to mind Deathbrand; they are even the same cost. However, Pact with the Nethergod requires no Necromancy but deals with followers at four defense and below, compared to Deathbrand’s three defense and below without necromancy four. Like Deathbrand, this is almost always inferior to any other card on turn three, as, at best, it trades directly for one opposing follower of four point cost or below.
Through its Enhance on turn seven and later, however, this card gains the ability to “steal” the opposing follower’s stats by summoning a Pluto and giving it the stats of the follower that was destroyed. Because Pluto is already an 8-point legendary with a similar destroying and stat-stealing effect, this card may seem incredible.
It does indeed represent a swift tempo swing on turn seven, for which Shadowcraft’s other best option is the sometimes slow Lord of the Flies. However, an important note is that the monster to be destroyed must be four defense or under, meaning the summoned Pluto will have a maximum of five defense. Additionally, against leaders that usually swarm the board with multiple, smaller cards, such as Forestcraft or Swordcraft, the Pluto might be taken down swiftly even if it steals the biggest follower they had.
As solely hard removal before turn seven, this card is almost always inferior to Deathbrand, especially because four shadows required to make Deathbrand non-situational are not hard to come by. This card does, however, offer a powerful tempo swing especially against decks that play one big card at a time, despite the caveat of the follower being required to have four or less defense.
A five-point 6/6 follower is incredible, matched only by Dragoncraft’s Lightning Behemoth and Bloodcraft’s own Beast Dominator, both of which have very unfortunate effects. Mastema’s negative effect is that it can only attack the opposing leader and followers with ward; it has to go straight for the face, in other words. While being unable to trade this into other opposing followers may seem an issue, in aggressive Bloodcraft decks going straight for the leader is the typical strategy. The Bane on this card also ensures that no Ward will survive an attack.
In a control Bloodcraft deck, the restrictions on this card may not make it worth running over Bloody Mary or harder removal such as Savage Hunt. On the other hand, this card faces no competition from the other Bloodcraft five-point cards in an aggressive deck. Additionally, Mastema’s powerful stat line and Bane speak for themselves in forcing the opponent to focus on removing it, which can be a difficult feat on turn five.
The biggest question is whether or not typical Bloodcraft aggression decks will run this; the most common deck is a Forest Bat archetype, which focuses swarming the board with 1/1 Forest Bats and using associated cards to deal direct damage. While that deck does seek to end games quickly, having a turn five play as significant as Mastema can force the opponent to clear their board which allows for attacking the opposing leader with other followers, making Mastema a viable option in aggressive Bloodcraft decks.
At three-points, 1/2 is a very weak stat line for this follower. However, Master Sage’s effect, reducing the cooldown of all allied amulets by one, is definitely worth the stat cost. On turn three, it is common for most Havencraft decks to have two amulets out, usually, some mix of Pinion Prayer and Sacred Plea, meaning this card can help quicken their activation.
Similar effects to this card are Healing Prayer, a three-point spell, and Greater Priestess, a five-point follower, who both reduce all cooldowns by one. While it is nice to imagine this card surviving for more than one turn and reducing twice, given its stat line, it is doubtful that it will manage to survive. Sister Initiate has two higher attack but only lowers the cooldown of one amulet by one. Healing Prayer may be more effective versus aggressive decks. Other common turn three plays are Divine Birdsong, Featherwyrms Descent, Prism Priestess, and Elana’s Prayer, all of which serve different purposes. Master Sage offers a "faster" play compared to them, speeding up Amulet activation and getting a 1/3 follower out onto the board.
In the later game, this card can still find use in triggering amulets to activate earlier than intended, though it is debatable if it is useful over Greater Priestess, who has a 3/4 stat line. However, this card does offer a new way for Enstatued Seraph decks to set up the two-turn victory. In combination with Healing Prayer, Hallowed Dogma, and Sister Initiate, Master Sage will probably be yet another way to set up for Seraph Lapis, Glory Be. Master Sage is also a solid early game play in most amulet-based Havencraft decks and especially good in Seraph decks.
The namesake of the Rise of Bahamut expansion and the largest monster in terms of non-situational stats in the game, tied with Servant of Darkness from the Apocalypse deck. This monstrosity boasts 13/13 in stats and the ability to utterly clear the board, meaning that only hard removal or Bane with Evolution/Rush/Storm can take it down.
As a neutral game-finisher, Bahamut can be compared to Dark Angel Olivia and Prince of Darkness. Olivia comes one turn earlier and can be played onto a disadvantaged board, as, after refreshing Evolutions, she herself can be evolved to attack and trade. However, she is not as definite as Prince of Darkness or Bahamut. Prince of Darkness is harder to play onto a disadvantaged board if there are no Evolutions left, but the Apocalypse Deck that it provides boasts nearly unavoidable win conditions. In contrast, Bahamut can be played onto any board as it clears the board on entrance, even removing amulets.
However, in comparison to the other finishers. Bahamut is far more match up dependent. Against most Havencraft decks, destroying amulets can put one at a disadvantage, as many Havencraft amulets actually provide benefits when destroyed. Leaders with Forestcraft or Swordcraft decks can fill the board with followers after summoning, leaving Bahamut will unable to attack the opposing leader. Though Bahamut offers another choice as a game finisher, there are some powerful caveats preventing it from being a go-to game-finisher in control or late-game decks.
As yet another five-point removal card, Call of Cocytus faces competition from Dance of Death and Execution, as well as other leader specific follower removal cards. While Dance of Death is inevitably better in aggressive decks because of the two damage and Execution offers more use against decks centered around amulets, Call of Cocytus does bring something new to the table.
If, instead of on turn five, this is played on turn eight or later, it can destroy an opponent and place a five-point 13/13 Servant of Darkness in the hand. While the Servant of Darkness is a very good card, spending eight-points on follower specific removal is a high cost. In comparison, the eight-point Odin completely banishes a follower or amulet as well as giving a 4/3 follower. However, Cocytus can also function as removal before turn eight. The 13/13 Servant of Darkness on the turn afterward is extremely powerful but also extremely slow. Additionally, on turn eight and beyond, it may not be effective to trade one card for one follower, especially against decks that flood the board.
Call of Cocytus offers yet another interesting five-point removal, but it falls uneasily between Dance of Death/Execution and Odin, and the benefit it offers may be unusably slow.
Overall, while some of these cards seem like duds, all of them offer new and interesting effects that will definitely see some testing before people really decide on them. Many of them strengthen and provide new tools to already viable playstyles, while others seem fun but underwhelming. Still, they'll definitely shake the Shadowverse meta when they are released on December 29th, and we look forward to them as much as you do!
Stay tuned to TechRaptor for analyses of the next batch revealed on the Shadowverse Twitter on December 8th.