Card Spotlight - Salamander
Written by Edgar Figaro   
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 17:11

SalamanderThis is my first card of the week after the official launch, and I wanted to do something with power. My pick always goes first, he can bypass armor, he does lots of damage, he can choose his targets, he has range, he can stop an enemy card from being revived, and he’s kind of a dragon. Did I mention he’s also a level 1 card? This week, let’s take a close look at one of the strongest cards in the Gowen arsenal, Salamander.

Salamander has an open skill that does 10 damage, bypassing armor to any unit of your choice. Careful, though. If you don’t have an enemy, you’ll have to target yourself, and that’s no fun. He has AT 30, which is tied with Animated Dead for best damage of a level one card, and a range of 3 which is tied with a bunch of other Great Spirits for best RNG of a level one card. He has 10 HP, but I’d say his biggest weak point is his AGI of 1. It’s not too often that having 20 hit points over 10 is a huge advantage, although it does happen.

Offense is what Gowen is all about. A good Gowen player is one who knows how to do more damage, and more damage faster. Also, to play Gowen hitting hard isn’t enough. You have to hit hard enough to kill. Salamander is a level 1 card with enough damage to take out nearly every level 2 card in the Basic set with one hit. He’s got plenty of range, so he can sit in the back, and when Katrina’s on the field he’s a terror even to level 3 cards. Still, he’s slow and needs support if you want him to do more than take a hit and trigger a Soul Card. Of course, in a fast Gowen deck, that could be enough.

Let’s talk about the real start of the show, Emissary of Flame. It’s an Open Skill, so it takes effect when Salamander is first revealed. It’s ability to get around armor is especially nice for Gowen, a Sphere whose most elegant answer to DF is Bear-killing Axeman’s Charge attack. Since you choose the target, you can use it to cherry pick quite nicely. Any turn that ends with an enemy Unit having only 10 HP left is a good turn to Set a Salamander. This idea brings me to another great strategy, using pre-Action Phase kills to disable the enemy. Okay, so you blow away the enemy with an awesome combination of a Soul Skill, your heavy hitter and a 2 SP row clearing Slash. You took out 5 guys, and are ready to run over your rival with some serious Iczer attacking next turn. But, then you realize that he’s been saving up SP and can Revive all five Units, leaving you having to face his entire army again with two units, 2 less SP and one less Soul Card. To avoid that, don’t always look to clear the board. It’s better to do your killing early in the turn, not late. Early in the game when Rivals are a sure thing, killing a Unit after he’s taken his turn is practically a waste. Next time, when you could have your Bear-killing Axeman finish off that wounded enemy Unit who’s already taken his turn, think twice. Have your brute Standby to recover some HP, then finish off the wounded enemy Unit with Salamander’s Open Skill at the beginning of next turn. Sure, you can do all that will a Grimoire card, but let’s face it, those are expensive to use and don’t leave a handy-dandy 30 damage ranged attacker behind after they’re done.

Salamander’s final word is Blazing Flames, a unique Soul Skill that hits all low level units. Since it’s damage is stoppable by armor and it only effects Units of a certain level, it’s a good thing to know is coming. If you plan for it, you’ll be effected minimally. Your enemy, however, will not be able to… Um, unless he knows what the Gowen starter deck is like. On second thought, maybe he makes a better soul cards for non-Gowen decks, something that has a lot of great high level cards, like Refess, or a lot of DF, like Falkow. Coincidentally, both those Spheres can have trouble dealing enough damage on their own.

Okay, that’s enough for now. So far, this column is one of the most popular sections on the site, which is very cool. Except for the fact that now everyone knows my strategies…

Card Spotlight - Djinn

Stop! Hammer time!Let’s face it, Basic Set Alteil is all about the level 3 cards. Those are the cards that really make the difference in the long run, they’re the ones that win your games. But you know, there are level 6 cards in the Basic Set, and they’re just lots of fun. They have big numbers and big attacks and there’s something irresistible about that.

This week we’ll be looking at Djinn, a Falkow level six and a very happy guy. Look at that smile. And look at those pants! I’m not sure, but it kinda looks like one pant leg is blue and the other has red stripes. It would not be a total lie to say he’s wearing American flag MC Hammer pants, and that earns him a place in my Card File all by itself.

First let’s talk about when you actually get to bring out a level 6 card. Generally, this happens during a late game SP bloom. Chances are, sometime late game you’re going to lose a big chunk of your field. You’re finally going to run out of copies of your level threes, and you’re going to be left with not a lot of cards, but level 4 in your chosen Sphere and at least 8 SP. Say, from two level threes hitting the graveyard plus your normal 2 SP allotment. That’s when you can bring out a late game level 6 to have some fun. If you’re enemy has already gone through this and has Phoenix or something out there, Djinn isn’t going to live up to his potential. However, if your enemy still has lots of cards on the field, Djinn could win you the game.

Here’s an important thing to remember about late game heavy-hitters. They probably won’t be getting a lot of support from your other units, because chances are you’re running low on other units. Therefore, even though the high level cards tend to have big HP, like Djinn’s 80, they will actually be HP starved. Why? Because they’re probably going to be outnumbered, so the enemy will have plenty of chances to take that HP down.

Therefore, the number one thing you want your level sixer to do is go first, before the enemy can nickel and dime him to death. That’s the number two reason Djinn is my card of the week (number one is the pants). Djinn has an AGI of 4, which makes him the fastest late game card in the Basic Set. This speed will go a long way in making your enemy’s army, and I mean his whole army, wish they’ve never been born.

Now once Djinn’s going first, he hits for a decent 40 damage at RNG 3. That’s good, because in the late game you just need to send as many units to the cemetery as possible, so your enemy loses LP. Doing solid damage to those errant Will o’ the Wisps or Sylphs hanging out in your enemy’s back row will make that happen. But we’re not here for that, we’re here for the big one, an Action Skill called Berserk Wind. Berserk Wind is not cheap, at 3 SP it makes Djinn basically useless as a mid game card even if you could get him out by some miracle. However, this card is for a late game SP bloom, and at that point you won’t have anything else to spend your SP on, anyway. Berserk Wind subtracts 20, bypassing all armor, directly from the HP of all enemy units. Low HP Lawtia archers? Cemetery. Wounded but still armored Refess soldiers? Cemetery. Support characters? Cemetery. Will o’ the Wisp and any other Great Spirit? Cemetery. Like I said, a great way to win the endgame is to put units in the cemetery as fast as possible. Any units. It doesn’t matter if you only kill off his support guys and his archers, because his front line won’t be much use when his out of LP.

One other great thing about level sixers like Djinn is they can be highly effective with just one copy in your File. Think of it as the back up, since an SP bloom is usually caused by you taking a beating. One copy of Djinn can make a big difference, it can turn the game around. Also, I’ve found that if the enemy actually has enough power to take him down, then they probably also have the power to take him down two or three times. However, if you find yourself doing the late game SP bloom all the time, you might want to go with two or even three Djinns. And for those of you who don’t plan on letting yourself get hit hard enough to cause a late game SP bloom, think of this: there is nothing more frustrating then having one happen and having nothing to spend all that SP on!

Okay, that’s all till next week.

Card Spotlight - Light Spearwoman

Light SpearwomanFor my first installment of Card of the Week, I had really been hoping to do Will o’ the Wisp. However, due to some last minute game re-balancing, I decided against it. This week’s pick has everything I look for in a unit card. Simple, one might even say humble, effective, versatile, inexpensive to use, and as a bonus she looks nothing like a Marvel super heroine whose name rhymes with Matlock.

This week’s card is Light Spearwoman . Surprised? She’s not very flashy, but she’s a level three mid-range archer with solid numbers. AGI 2 is my only disappointment, but you can’t have everything and sadly it’s about average for the Refess starter

First, let’s take a look at her Action Skill, a ranged 45 damage plus DF penetration for 1 SP. Now put her next to Boy Combat Priest and set off Brutal Inquisitor’s Soul Skill. Can you say 65 damage plus DF penetration? I bet there’s a Sea Hunter having nightmares about that right now. For 1 SP, this is some serious punch. Defense penetration is a must for taking out Falkow Card Files, and the damage bonus will play hell with Lawtia units, since they tend to have lower HP. Gowen units are pretty much defense free and have plenty of HP, so her special attack is less useful against them.

Offense is nice, but where Light Spearwoman really shines is survivability. She’s a fully functional archer, so she’s likely to be in the second or third row. Just like it would any archer, this makes her much less likely to be attacked. Why? Simple math. If you have an occupied front row with X units in it, and Light Spearwoman in the second row, the chance of her being hit by an enemy with sufficient range is 1 in 1+X. If he doesn’t have sufficient range, chances are 0. If the enemy wants to attack someone in the front row, he can just use a unit with a RNG of 1, and he has a 100% chance of hitting the front row. If he wants to attack someone in the second row, he will still have X in 1+X of hitting the front row! Therefore, like all archers she will be attacked much less often then other units.

What’s important about this for Light Spearwoman is that she has an impressive 45 HP. It’s highly unlikely that she’ll be taken out in one hit by an enemy archer, since the only one in the Basic Set that can easily do that much damage is… Light Spearwoman herself. Combine this with the fact she doesn’t get hit very often and three copies of her, and you’ll find that she’s an early-mid card that will survive into the end game with no difficulty. You even might have time to heal her in between the moments when your enemy actually lands hits.

When it comes to versatility, you can’t go wrong with her. Since her survivability is good, she’s a candidate for taking the risk and putting out multiple copies. If your enemy doesn’t have any good area effects, You’ll find that multiple Light Spearwoman units can turn almost any enemy force into Swiss Cheese. Another alternate use for her is the front line. Sure, her defense pales in comparison to most other Refess front line fighters, but in emergencies, you could do a lot worse. Her HP isn’t much less than most Lawtia or Falkow front line level 3’s, and her damage is better if you’ve got the SP to spare.

Next time, I promise a card with a lot more flash and huge, crushing numbers… and possibly American flag MC Hammer pants, as well. However, I’m not sure if “Card of the Week” will truly be a weekly feature until the game goes live, so bare with me.

Card Spotlight - Pegasus
Written by Edgar Figaro   
Thursday, 27 August 2009 15:11

PegasusIt’s time for Refess at Card of the Week, and I wanted to do something from Set 3 this time. Luckily, Set 3 is jam packed with good Refess cards. Usually I try to do something that’s not too rare but also not already overused, although that might be hard since a lot of users were starved for new interesting Refess cards and they’ve all seen a lot of action. I do have to write several pages about this card, however, so I refuse to feature a one-trick pony. Even if it’s a pony...

That’s right, this week we’re going to tackle Pegasus, a level 3 rarity 1 ranged unit with a bunch of interesting skills. First let’s take a crack at the stats. 40 HP is nothing fantastic for a Refess unit, but considering it has some range its survivability is pretty good. 30 AT is the magic number, and any level 3 Refess unit sporting it out of the box is worth note. Same with the AGI 3, no complaints there. Still, there is nothing remarkable about these statistics. In practice however, Pegasus is extremely efficient both offensively and defensively.

But this is Set 3, and that means we’re here for the special abilities, so let’s get down to business. Winged Charge is the obvious heavy hitter here, a permanent +20 bonus to all Falkow Units. This is of course great with a combo Falkow Refess File, and thanks to several other cards that work well cross color, this can make a very powerful setup. Still, unless you’re heavy Falkow or have the Falkow Proxy sitting on the field from your opening, chances are this ability isn’t going to turn the tables. It’s more like a fun extra.

Mounted Combat is where it’s at. Refess has plenty of great tanks, including the now somewhat legendary Folrart Guardian. Put a tank in front of the Pegasus, and its survivability skyrockets. As an added bonus, since the Pegasus buff is a Start Skill, DF debuffs will barely slow you down. As we’ve learned countless times in Alteil, permanent fixed bonuses are inferior to bonuses that can be replenished or re-assigned, and Mounted Combat is both. If your tank dies, summon a new one or Move an old one into the space right in front of Pegasus and consider your losses cut.

Remember that Mounted Combat has a secondary effect, one that will give +10 AT to the unit behind him. I call it a secondary effect because this is Refess we’re talking about. You’ll have tanks in your front row ready to receive the DF bonus long before you get Pegasus on the field. However, you probably won’t add a second ranged attacker until later, so you may or may not get to take advantage of this bonus. Still, it can be a help to support units with Auto Skills who still get to attack, like Abel. It’s also a huge boon to Rapid Shot Magic Archer, who can make double use of any damage bonus. Thanks to the generally high HP of your front line, and the decent HP of your Pegasus, you’ll find your third row archer to be pretty long-lived. And again, should the enemy exterminate her with extreme prejudice, you can always summon or Move another unit directly behind your Pegasus.

Before we wrap this up, lets take a quick peek at the soul skill, Shadow of Wings. As long as you have a Refess unit on the field (Healing Preist?) then all your Lawtia units get AT+30. A unit buff on an LP 1 card is nothing great, but +30 is the highest all friendly Soul Card bonus in the game, so it might be worth it for some Files.

In short, Pegasus is a mid-range unit with efficient stats that combos well with nearly every Refess unit, giving bonuses where and when they count the most. He’s not too flashy (except when used with a Falkow File) but he adds inexpensive power and survivability to any Refess File.

Card Spotlight - The Magician / Primrose

The Magician / PrimroseFor such a good looking mage who, judging by the color of her nose has probably had a few drinks, she doesn’t get a lot of love. Still, her capabilities are impressive, versatile, and very inexpensive. I’m all ready for a Card Spotlight on The Magician / Primrose.

Primrose has a lot to offer any Card File that has room for two levels of Gowen. First of all, as a level two she’s easy to get out. She fits right into any rush strategy, because she can be fielded with one turn’s SP. Her statistics read a standard 30 HP, 20 AT, 2 AGI and 3 RNG. Ranking up, AT reaches the magic number of 30. Sound familiar? They should, they’re the exact same stats as another level 2 ranged Gowen unit, Lightning Archer. Considering how much play that card has gotten, it’s safe to say that Primrose will hold her own in any standard Gowen Card File.

Also like the Lightning Archer, Primrose has an offensive Action Skill, only hers costs 1 SP instead of two, and hits two random units instead of a target column. The targeting is a nice benefit, especially since it’s something Gowen doesn’t get to do often, but generally column attacks are bad so the effectiveness of the two attacks are comparable. In this case, the fact Primrose can blast for half the cost gives her a big advantage.

Primrose’s Magic Blast is also AT based, which is good because Gowen is one of the most buff-friendly Spheres there is. Kurina, Exploding Spores Soul Skills, and Magic Weapon are all old standbys. All in all, offensively she is comparable to Rapidshot Magic Archer, Battle Mage of Regus, and other level 3 ranged attackers.

Primrose’s most unique ability, however, is her Open Skill. Its ability to instantly deliver your entire field from the threats of Witches, Returns and Cyclones is unmatched. Because it works so fast, it’s even easier to pull off than the one comparable ability in the game, the Gowen Angel, Rogueerst’s Soul Skill. Also, since Primrose is relatively cheap, anyone running a Card File with a heavy reliance on level 2’s, such as Lawtia Rush, might want to keep a copy or two of the Primrose in there as a back up, since one Cyclone can literally end your game.

Primrose’s Soul Skill may seem a bit weak, but it does combine two abilities that no other Soul Card does: targeted damage and AGI manipulation. Against a Lycan rush, it’s invaluable. 20 targeted damage twice lets you take out two succubus cards, and the random AGI drain will likely cripple a Fenrir or an Eskatia, or another mid to high AGI unit. 20 damage might not seem like much, but it can take out a number of other mission critical support cards, like Snaf, Enchanter, Amazon, Elder Druid, Magic Musician, Rapidly Flying Apprentice and Song Sorceress. Unfortunately, the power of this skill is limited by the possibility that the AGI drain occurs on some unit you just brought below 0 with the 20 damage, because all the effects resolve at the same time.

Card Spotlight - EX 2 Card Rundown
Written by Edgar Figaro   
Friday, 28 August 2009 15:10

We didn’t have much time to spend on the EX Cards here on Card of the Week this time around, and since time is running out on the second EX Card Packs, I thought I’d put down a short paragraph with some of the highlights.

Boy Inquisitor / CudgelBoy Inquisitor / Cudgel
Everyone’s favorite adolescent named after a plank of wood was the favorite of the second EX set early. He gave Refess an edge against Dalos and Legrye. Unfortunately, if you’re up against anything without a dragon or an AGI 5 powerhouse, you’re left with a below average level 3 unit on the field in a Sphere that specializes in level 3 powerhouses. Thankfully, Set 3 has added Sword of Mysteries, that gives Cudgel a super-cheap buff that makes him a serious contender against every Card File. Comboing him with a Salamander is also a great way to make sure he takes out the enemy Dalos or buffed high-AGI powerhouse before Cudgel gets himself blasted.

On the Soul Skill front, Cudgel’s LP 2 one turn +50 DF and +50 AT to all friendly units is infamous. This is widely considered one of the best, if not the best Soul Skill in the game. A number of top Folrart Files from all four Spheres use it as their trump card, or just to make a good File better.

Boy Inquisitor / CudgelThe Angel’s Trumpet
This Grimoire is simple and effective. It renders a unit ineffective for one turn, whether it depends on AT, AGI or both. It’s a cheap, simple way to deal with an enormous number of attacks and abilities. For example, Zu-juyva’s close skill. The level of control it gives you also can create an interesting combo with other AT manipulation units, like Snaf and Aegis.

 


Virtouso / RutinaVirtuoso / Rutina
This is the one EX2 Card we’ve actually given some time to, so check out that card of the week here. The quick explanation is that in most circumstances her Action Skill can mimic the Assassin’s famous Kill ability, except cheaper and irrespective of range. You can even force an enemy unit to take out itself! Her Melody of Darkness is also one of the most unique abilities in the game, one that will combo well with other Lawtia units, and promises a wider range of applications in the future.

Mother of Blood / VelvetHoly Mother of Blood / Velvet
This EX2 Card hasn't been featured as a Card of the Week, but she's been the star of an even more extensive strategy breakdown courtesy of Challenge of the Fortnight. Check out that right here.

 

 

 

Roar of Courage / BraveRoar of Courage / Brave
Brave is not the kind of unit you can just throw into any Gowen File and expect it to perform. He’s got decent HP for a Gowen, and the best DF of any Gowen unit in the game. With his special Auto Skill figured in, he’s going to hit the magic number 50 AT without effort, and in practice he almost always has all the attack he needs to take out the enemy tank.

Brave’s level 6 makes him immune to most level dependent effects, and isn’t so bad in a File that’s going to Rank Up anyway. However, Brave really shines in a file with other high level units. If you’re file is designed to run a high Sphere Level anyway, Brave can be a serious asset. If he’s the only reason you’re pumping it past 3, then you won’t find him very efficient. Also, Brave can tank and he can one shot units, but without backup from some Area of Effect abilities, he’ll get cut down really fast. If you can get Brave and Fire Dragon on field at the same time, the enemy will find it almost impossible to take them out. The Fire Dragon will take out low and medium level units, and Brave will play clean up. By having a combination of high HP units and Brave’s big DF on the field, big Gowen will find a new level of efficiency. Also, since Brave and most other big Gowen units have 0 SP costs, the game slowdown caused by having big meat on the field will let you save up SP to recover from Assassin Soul Skills, or just to rain down fire from your Grimoires. Remember, this only works if you have at least two tanks out at once, to divide up the damage. 

The Dark Eye / WabellThe Dark Eye / Wabell
There’s not too much to say about Wabell, he’s pretty simple. A level 4 unit with the statistics of a level 6 unit, who zeroes out your SP when he comes out. Sounds expensive, and that means he can only be used effectively if you’ve got a plan right out of the gate. You can follow him up immediately with a +3 to your Sphere Soul Skill or a Proxy. You can also just move on to a different Sphere, or make sure he’s your last big unit played. The best move I’ve seen was a combo with Shield Coat / Fierte, or rather her Soul Skill. If her Soul Skill goes off right after Wabell comes out, then you have no additional penalty, but your enemy will be rendered unable to get out any big units for a few turns.

Magic Dancer / ChiruruMagic Dancer / Chiruru
One of the strongest level 1 units in the game, she’s got an area of effect attack that hits all units irrespective of range. As a bonus, this counts as a Grimoire, so she combo’s well with the Swan Swordswoman, who gets a damage bonus for every Grimoire used. Chiruru’s also got a Start Skill that buffs all Sorcerers, including favorites like Azure Beastmaster, Sylph Sorceress, and cross Sphere units like Aegis, Magic Doll –Support- and the Time Reader. As a standard cross-Sphere card type, you can bet on seeing more and more of them in the future.

Chiruru is another big winner in the Soul Skill department. Her +50 AT +5 AGI buff to all units for one turn is a little less popular than Cudgel’s version of the same thing, probably because she’s only got 1 LP. The nice thing is that hitting first and hitting hard is the number one way to succeed, and she guarantees both. Also, unlike Cudgel a few Shield Breakers aren’t going to ruin her day. All in all, she’s got one of the top Soul Skills around, and that’s not likely to change.

Flash Paladin / IbertFlash Paladin / Ibert
The only Slasher available to Falkow, and coincidentally the hardest hitting Slasher in the game. However, his agility is only 3, and his HP is a disastrous 20. His saving grace is Azure Flash, which makes him immune to direct attacks. However, because he can still be hit by any Auto or Action Skill, this is no guarantee of survival. You’ll have to come up with a good combo to draw out his immense power and make the best of his strange level of survivability. One idea is to combo him with Enchanter and put him in the second row. The double whammy of attack invulnerability and being in the second row will let him last, and rain down sharp death on the enemy forces, one-shoting nearly anything. There are countless other possibilities, from defense, to MAX HP boosters and SP banking. A side effect of his defensive ability is that if he’s alone in your front row and the enemy’s RNG 1 units attack, your row 2 units will still be out of range, because Ibert still occupies the row, even though he’s not a target.

Any way you look at it, his offensive abilities are unusual in his Sphere, and his unique Azure Flash ability could be the key to a once or future strategy.


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