"Ancient Bonds": Card Ratings and Thoughts
MYW / March 18, 2017
Myw here, doing a early set review. I'll share my observations on cards after my Two-ish days of testing, and will give them each a subjective grade based on current and potential power. I hope you enjoy my opinions.
Warblade is Warsurge on a 1/4 body. While 1/4 bodies usually aren't much to write home about, Lyonar is the best faction to make a 1/4 body work because Roar exists, and Sol Pontiff's buff will also often apply. Seems to be a pretty easy include in a Golem Lyonar deck. The likely best part of using it will be playing it along with one other early golem right after your opening turn for great early value, which can often snowball into consistently having control of the game. Later in the game gaining +1/1 is less useful, but it's still a body in Lyonar. It is solid, but not quite the main reason you'll play the deck. B+
Many people consider Gold Vitriol to be strong, but I don't quite agree. At the very least, it doesn't slot in easily to the Healyonar decks that currently exist. Heal procs in Healyonar are not as free as they might appear from the opposing side, and generally require decent mana/card investment. Currently, Ziran grows strong enough to consistently trade well and then snowballs out of control valuewise. A passive artifact like this does not fit in with that plan. It's not quite easy enough to Heal proc to get significant value out of this and get Ziran as strong as you want her. Plus, trading with your general will break this artifact. That could be a good thing to force you opponent to hit you, but that's an inconsistent and frankly insubstantial usecase. If, in the future, Ziran gains the ability to heal obcene amounts like Abyssian with Kelaino, this card might be strong. Otherwise, it seems like a tech to play so that your heals do something when you don't draw Sunforge Lancer. C+
Sol Pontiff is probably the reason you're playing Golyonar. +2 attack is a huge deal as anyone who has been salty about Roar can attest, and sticking it on multiple small bodies like Warblade, Celebrant and Golem Metallurgist is huge-er still. If you have played Razorback, this can pull off similar damage for less, and the strength is still persistent. The "Sol" reason to play Golyonar. (Not really, Warblade is good too. The pun was too easy to resist) A+
Life Coil is esentially pointless on anything other than Ironcliffe Guardian. On essentially every other unit, it's at max +5 HP for 3 mana, terrible by 3 mana buff standards. Even on Ironcliffe, 20 health is probably pointless. It can of course be comboed with Divine Bond, but you'd just be better off playing 2 Divine Bonds instead. For competitive purposes, I can only see 1-2 copies as extra "Divine Bonds" for a deck that wants to win purely with 20+ damage double Divine Bond plays. C-
Peacekeeper is frankly lacking. Best case scenario, it is a 6 mana card with Metallurgist, which competes with Elyx. Both will basically kill the opponent, both are hard to kill. The main difference is that Peacekeeper can be airdropped and if not immediately removed, it can easily clear nearby threats. These benefits come at the cost of being much easier to beat with dispel. Assuming it costed 6, it's already debatable which one you'd rather play, and this card actually still costs 7. It's not a bad card, but it's competing with an already questionable card. C
Lyonar got a golem deck out of the expansion. However, it functions fairly similiarly to the usual Lyonar decks, so it's hard to say if this makes much a difference on Lyonar's factional power level. otherwise, Lyonar didn't really get much to play with, outside of Vitriol, which I don't believe does much.
I get naming a "fun" card after yourself, but why a card not even Timmy would play? You're paying 1 mana to get negative card advantage. Timmy might want to have fun, but usually that involves the remote chance to win. F
Sparrowhawk is difficult for me to evaluate without bias, as 80% of my play with it was getting it off of Blue Conjuror and teleporting that goat thing in for massive damage. In actual Songhai practice- getting an Arcanyst to stick on curve is a pain, and rarely happens, because every single player knows bad things happen when Chakri Avatar is left alive. It's best use is midgame when you've managed to get you 4 drop Arcanyst of choice to stick, ideally Owlbeast. With Owlbeast, you can turn this thing into more than just 3 damage + Mist Dragon Seal. Otherwise, well, that's all it is. C
This card is an interesting addition to the Songhai arsenal. There's a new version of Jankyhai (Jay Cranky) brewing, and it looks absolutely awful to play against. If you don't know it, it's a psuedo one-man-army version of Songhai that efficiently maintains clear board while running away and attacking your face. That Jay and Cranky like it alone gives this card a high rating. Otherwise, this card has other fun usages, like with Obscuring Blow from the last mini-expansion, and winning the Amazing Race (Hosted by Zoochz on 3/19, make sure to watch it!) A
I initially underestimated this card. While it does just look like a big version of Chakri Avatar, starting +2/3 ahead is incredible for it's survivability and dodge-plasma-ability. That you can use inner Focus on it as well is another huge bonus. (Inner focus isn't dead, guys. It's likely still good.) There's not too much else to say about it because it's simple, but sometimes simple is what does the job. A-
Many Songhai players have stated that they don't think this card is great, and that is a fair opinion. This card is definitely too slow to fit into the average high level Songhai build that exist. It is a comparatively slow card. However, it's a strong slow card, and helps validate slower builds of Songhai that retain hand barfing potential. In that scenario, drawing 3 cards is massive amounts of steam. While they are random, the ratio to good spells and bad spells is positive. There are far more good options than bad options. With your replace too, Calligrapher will almost always get you something useful. The rest of the card is useful too- 3/7 is not an easy body to answer, and it must be answered or else it will draw 3 more cards. The draw, board prescence, and slight removal/damage potential of this card make it fantastic in my eyes. This is also a case of me getting it off of Blue Conjuror more often than not and having a blast, so I may be biased/somewhat wrong. A
A lot of Songhai players were disappointed here, and I can sorta see why. The most viable cards are much slower than the average Songhai deck, or used in a completely different build. Plus, Joseki is completely pointless. Still, Songhai got tools to use in non-standard builds, which feels valuable for faction diversity.
The card that validates Golem Vetruvian. A body for Sirocco and 2 cards is ridiculously good. 2 mana draw two cards was nerfed for a reason. A+
Wind Striker is an interesting card. The effects are good and allow the General to make important trades early on, but the body will often be pointless as Vetruvian has no efficient way to buff attack. I surmise that this card was created to help Vetruvian fight Songhai. The artifact helps Vetruvian race the Songhai player, and the body seems to be built specifically to beat up Heartseekers. Outside of that matchup, it can definitely help in giving you a wider selection of positioning patterns when summoning your later units, but ideally you want to give this thing attack somehow, so think on that while deck building. I definitely think this card can be very useful despite the less than stellar body, but it will require different builds and possibly future cards. Flying is a pretty strong cardtext, all it needs is the power to make it worthwhile. B (B+ potential)
This card revives tokens, fun fact. The first of it's kind I believe. Anyway, this card is incredibly situational and only works with another artifact equipped, or Falcius of course. When it does work, though, the swings are huge. It's hard for me to evaluate the true power of this card, but I believe ultimately it won't see that much play due to it's conditional nature. B-(?)
When Sirocco was first revealed, there was a lot of mean things said about it's power level. Ultimately however, I think Sirocco has proven it's worth. (Although it's probably being carried by Dreamshaper) While AOE answers this card, AOE is the only "True" answer, and if it isn't Tempest the "answer" is of mana parity. When not answered, the value generated can be absurd. The synergy with Inner Oasis is also absurd, leaving you with a board that is actually almost unanswerable, and doubly absurd value. If you pull this combo off and the opponent doesn't have plasma storm, they will never have true control of the game again. A-
The card Vetruvian has been waiting for- the answer to all your Bloodmoon Priestess related ills. It is actually a very strong removal, and useful in most matchups, even the Songhai one due to the potential to remove two dangerous units. This card validates the old "Good stuff" Vet decks again, since it won't automatically lose to certain cards. A (A+ for how much Vet needed it.)
Vetruvian likely made out the best this expansion, getting a fully formed Golem deck and the ability to not automatically lose to a backrow card. The latter point is more important than it seems, since that issue crippled a large amount of builds.
This card is a fantastic design, and possibly validates Abyssian Arcanyst decks alone by being the only 2 drop Arcanyst that at least trades with Tiger. This innately combos with a lot of easy value cards like Sphere of Darkness and Both general BBS'. However, it is probably better for Cass decks, as it is difficult to use creep without building your deck around they synergy with it. Even in Cass decks, the use of a few stray 1/1s is also not that much to speak of. While this card is well designed, it doesn't do all that much for either general at the moment. B- (B+ potential, probably)
This is the card you wanted consuming rebirth to be. It works with Reaper of Nine Moons! However, due to how slow this card is functionally, it's competing heavily with the powerfurl Nether Summoning. There aren'tquite enough cheap/valuable dying wish minions to really make this worth it for the most part. But, there is one shining beacon- Sarlac the Immortal. This card doubles the amount of Sarlacs on your board, leading to cheesy/ridiculous board states that will make some of you glad EMP exists. While this combo is fun when it works, it's not quite worthwhile yet, as the entire power of the deck relies on drawing Sarlac. This card will continually get stronger with more Dying Wish cards introduced, though- so it has a future. C+ (unknown future potential)
I don't understand this card at all. Functionally it's very unique, but the payoff is very weak for the cost. For 2 more mana, you can do the same thing instantly with a 3/4 to boot. I'm guessing this was a 2 mana card in testing but it was found to be bad for the game somehow? Either way, it sucks. F
Nightshroud does not combo with Death Knell properly. Death Knell has a random summoning order, making this card's value inconsistent. Because of this, and because the body is mostly worthless, this card unfortunately gets a low rating. You need at least 4 Arcanysts on the board to really justify playing this, and that's incredibly hard to pull off. Could potentially get better with more Arcanysts, but probably not. D
This card is strong, obviously. However, is it stronger than just winning with Spectral Revenant as your top end? No. Your best bet is playing it along with 3 Revenants like most obliterate decks do. It's possible, but it's inevitably slower and likely weaker. Revenant will always be in the way of these lategame options being particularly worthwhile. Still, it's strong, and I'm not grading card based on how redundant they are. It's the reason you'll play Arcanysts in Abyssian at all, so it better be strong. Also, the sprite kinda looks like it's wearing a vest and a tie, so it gets style points. A-
Abyssian didn't get all that much this time, but it certainly got interesting and diverse cards (some of which are hot garbage, but still). Abyss will probably go back to playing Creep decks at a high level, with possibly the odd Nocturne here and there. The future potential is there, though.
When CPG give streamers cards to reveal, they usually want something that WOWs the players and the streamer talking about it. But sometimes, they give people boring cards. That confuses me, because they have stuff like Godhammer lying around. This card is amazing for A)Grow Synergy B)New Magmar play patterns C)Giving starhorn something he might use better than Vaath. The Synergy with Moloki Huntress is fun, Magmar sitting back trying to keep their artifact alive is completely different from usual Magmar play, and Starhorn might be able to pump out more minions to buff and doesn't have anti synergy with this card, anyway. Vaath still might actually be better at using this though, since in order to remove it the Opponent needs to actually hit Vaath. Probably not though, based on the same logic I used on Golden Vitriol. A- (I'm probably biased due to how much I like this card. A potential)
FYI, this allows you to summon a minion on any space around the unit Destroyed. The card text is not clear at all, CPG. Anyway, this card is also fun. The RNG doesn't greatly influence this card's powerlevel either. The best usecases are evolving 4->5, 5->6, or 6->7(and 7->8, but that seems like overkill), so it's best in heavier decks. You'll mainly want to use this on card with extremely strong opening gambits like Keeper of the Vale or Sunset Paragon, or big minions that took hits and still survived like Golems. Technically this has egg synergy, but frankly it's not all that valuable evolving either of the two good egg minions due to the potential medicore/bad 3 and 4 drops Magmar has. Still, the options are there. B+
This card really does it all- healing, a golem, and a resiliant minion in one package, and possibly making egg decks almost usable (at least Morin-Khur, I dunno about the rest.) Outside of Golem decks, it's a good card. Inside golem decks, it's a disgusting card to ramp out early, and is easily too difficult to answer forcing the opponent on the backfoot. Even later in the game the rebirth makes it a pain to deal with, and the heal is obviously valuable. A, A+ with Golems.
This card at 5 makes every player think twice when they put a card with 4 HP in their deck. It's simple, effective, efficient, and absolutely stupid if you can ramp it out on turn 2 with golem synergy. It may be a bit unhealthy for the game making 4 HP so undesirable, somewhat like Old Plasma Storm and Tempest. A+ (maybe A++, but the meta will move away from 4 HP minions and it'll be A+ again.)
CPG naming department, there's already a card called Abyssal Juggernaut. Please change one of them. Anyway, this is Slightly-Better-Kyhmera. You didn't want to trade into either, and both could make unreasonable units pop out. The main difference is that this card can get a 1 mana discount, which is pretty huge. The other is that this makes multiple threats instead of just one per damage, which makes Flashing it out that much better. Still, for most factions this isn't that difficult to answer unless you manage to perform the fabled double flash reincarnation. Even so, this card probably is incredibly frustrating (yeah ok) for people lower on the ladder, as lower skill games generally go longer, and cards with specific answers like this are extremely hard to beat. B, B+ in golems
Magmar got a ton of love there. Overall they got the best cards out of any faction, but Vetruvian still made out happiest because their old value decks are finally playable again too. Lavaslasher is worryingly efficient, so hopefully CPG is looking at it very hard as we play it.
The ramp card Ramp Vanar has been looking for. This along with Crystal Wisp makes for 6 ramp options, enough to consistently ramp every single game. It can also be played alone, because a ping is never truly bad, and fits into most Vanar decks especially the Arcanyst builds, and more mana is obviously always welcome. A
A well designed card. Has synergy with 3 Vanar cards- Flash Freeze, Frigid Corona, and Icy. This gives Vanar another colorful removal option. However, it's definitely inconsistent, as without those 3 cards, it doesn't do anything at all. 9 possibly combo cards seems like a lot , but it is only enough to support the first Guantlet. The second and third are less useful. Plus, Flash Freeze and Icy are fringe cards that aren't generally consisdered strong enough to play alone, so without this combo they're not impressing. This combo set is a bit too conditional to be explicitly good, but that may be resolved with more freeze synergy in the future. B- (unknown potential)
Circulus has a solid 50 on pre-release voting. In a few weeks, Bagoum will be hosting post-release voting, and I believe this card will have the greatest distance between pre-post ratings (please don't let me overly influence your vote, though.) The question was- "How good is putting an illusion in your hand?" The answer is, very. First, you can replace it. In Duelyst, games generally end with about 20-25 cards left in the deck, so the likelihood of redrawing one illusion is not great. And at that point, you basically just drew a card at the cost of your replace. Replacing more will definitely force you to pick them up later in the game, but those can always be replaced again, or you could just play them, because later in the game 2/1 bodies can be very annoying and there are easy mana gaps to fill with 1 mana cards. This is also one of the best 2 drops you can get in the lategame, for the same reason. In other situations, you can just keep the Illusion, in order to trigger the bonds of you Kindred Hunters and Trinity Wings in the future, as Arcanysts are, for some strange reason, removed all the time. This card is simply flexible and powerful. A
This card is not great. It seems good, but in practice, Your 2 drop Arcanysts are premium removal targets and easy Tiger food. because of that, this card almost never manages to get played on curve. Later in the game, it loses value as 3/3s (or 4/4s) are easy for 4 and 5 drops to trade into, making this card only good at face damage. Plus, it's vulnerable to Makantor, Holy Immolation, and partially weak to all AOE. The one strong point this has is that it is pretty strong against Songhai. In the future, if there is a neutral Arcanyst 1 drop or 2 drop that can actually be expected to survive, (specifically a 1/4. This should be you, Azure Horn Shaman) this card will be good. Until then, C+/B-
This is a great card for Vanar, the Spell-centric faction (Songhai players are complaining, but this is how I feel). It gives Vanar the ability to swing the board using Frostburn with a strong body, as opposed to clear and develop a weak body with the remaining mana. It combos with Circulus and Aspect of mountains, for even stronger swing. And it creates burst on its own with Spirit of the Wild. Plus, it's a mana discount to Winter's Wake. Every single future costly Vanar spell will also combo with this card. A-, only because it's combo dependent. A to A+ when it works.
Vanar got great cards this expansion. They're all pretty well designed and interesting, and open up a lot of new deck design. My favorite set of cards of any faction, and that's not even because I'm a Vanar main.
Interesting design. 1 mana ramp for most decks, and even more ramp for golem decks. This card is fun, because many cards have the potential to stealing this generated mana or at least negate it. When it's not stolen, this allows, with the cost of awkward general positioning since you need to walk onto the tile, ramping straight to 5- and the difference between 4 and 5 drops is possibly the largest in the game. This card introduces many creative play patterns, even later in the game, because there are several fun combos that are possible when you have 10 mana- Metamorphosis and Skorn, for example. I still can't properly evaluate this card's true powerlevel, which I suppose makes it good design in a way. It is at least A-.
A lovely card that makes all sorts of strange ideas more playable. Battlepet Songhai, Dervish/Golem Vetruvian, Arcanyst/Vespyr Vanar (probably not lol), and probably more that I can't or haven't thought of. This too is difficult to evaluate, but I believe it is ultimately around a B.
Feralu might as well be a Vetruvian card, as the ability to make Sirocco's swarm survive most AOE is extremely worthwhile, along with the innate dervish synergy. It may be too fragile to be played in optimized decks due to 3 health being Phoenix Fire bait, but I cannot say for certain. It will depend on how Golem Vet matches up against Songhai. In other factions, there's not much reason to use this- depends on if other tribes get more swarm support. B (B- if the Songhai weakness is too much)
This Drill is only Ok. 5/5 for 5 is fine, but not much to write home about. The effect is also not much to write home about.Golems are already good at trading well. Because of this, when you play against golems, you try to make sure they don't trade into your minions by playing defensively if they have any you can't remove. If you can't do that, you're likely in a losing situation. In that scenario, this card is amazing- but that's the definition of a Winmore. Still, it's only a 5 mana Winmore, so that's not the worst card to play. B-
This is a great card that I underestimated until I started playing it. At 4/6, it's a sold 5 drop body. While you can potentially generate a ridiculous amount of cards with this, even just one is enough to be good, likely on 6 mana on a BBS turn. It is a infinite value card, perfect for someone who really enjoys playing Pandora (like me) but wants it playable earlier in the game. Also, this card (in my opinion) is fun RNG, since the cards still need to be paid for, and the card is inherently slow so the payoff on the RNG is earned. I suppose getting Calligrapher or god forbid, Death Knell can feel pretty unfair, though. Still, I'm a fan. A
I thought this card was trash, but several very good players swear by it. They show me confusing builds with 7 minions that I don't even know how to begin playing. To all players expecting accurate ratings from me, I'm going to fail you here. Sorry. Rating: ???
This card is a lot less good than it looks/feels. Just like with Kindred Hunter, Arcanyst Bond conditions are INCREDIBLY difficult to meet. In order to get full value out of this, you'll need a pretty small hand or a lot of mana, or else you'll overdraw. These two points make playing this card a struggle. In addition, there's not that much point to giving your general +1 attack at the point of the game this card will come down, so that spell is a bit crappy. The other two are both very valuable, but they're more or less still worth the 1 mana they cost. When added up, Trinity Wing is a 8 mana 4/4 with flying, that does the 3 effects. I don't think anyone would play that card. Obviously Trinity Wing is slightly better because it's flexible, but still, the raw value is not strong. Also, remember when I said Lavaslasher helped make 4 HP minions a little more questionable? Trinity Wing also falls under that category. Ultimately, for the payoff card for Arcanyst Bonds, this card doesn't do enough to justify the synergy required. It's waaaay too early to call for buffs, but in my opinion if you want this card to be worth it, the body needs to be better, or more interestingly, the spells generated should be undercosted (cost 0). That way, the raw value is at least respectable, and the Bond becomes worthwhile. Until then, C+
I have been since notified that Trinity Wing has been seeing tourney success, so while I stand by my opinion, I am going through the VODs for potential reevaluation.
Is this card named Grimes because playing it makes you feel grimey? CPG, I understand the Appeal of RNG, I really do (See what I said about Blue Conjurer) but it's an incredibly low percentage of the population who enjoys cards with this huge a RNG swing. Complaints aside, this card actually has about 3 + 3 + 3 average value. I'm not saying 9, because Duelyst does not scale linearly- if it did, Ashy Meypht would be overpowered. It's not overly strong, but it can be strong enough to be played, unfortunately. F(for bad design)
The most divisive card in the set, because unlike Grimes, some people actually like EMP. The Global Dispel is strong, and people call it antifun, but ultimately it's only a new form of AOE. Difference is, it's stapled to a giant body. If there was anything questionable, it would be how massive this body is. Regardless, the primary use for this card is to turn off decks that are trying to win on passive backrow value, cards like Kelaino, 4 Winds Magi, and the like. Otherwise, its just a fat body. It won't prevent you from losing to pressure, and it's still easy to remove with any single target removal. Offensively, you'd probably rather have most other 7 drops. It's not stellar outside of defeating passive value decks, but the flexability of this card will definitely allow it to see play even when it's not the best option in most situations. A-(mostly for questionably large amounts of stats)
Pretty good set of neutrals, several cards that scream "Build around me." A few of them are a bit boring and could have done more, but that's fine. Not too much else to say about them.
This is a pretty good mini expansion to improve archetypes, something that many players have said was lacking. I personally am not the biggest fan of new Golems as they tend to be uninteresting, but we still got fun stuff like Celebrant out of that half. The Arcanysts here are almost all interesting, if a bit on the weak side, and Bond is a good keyword, laying the foundation for future cards. My average rating of these cards this time around is probably higher than Rise of the Bloodborn, but don't mark that as powercreep- Most of the strongest cards are restricted to archetype support, and often need to be strong to make those archetypes worth running.
There is a lot of talk about how Duelyst cards could be more interesting, and more based on the board as opposed to internal/global effects, and I mostly agree. But, don't hold that against Ancient Bonds. It wouldn't particularly suit a tribe based expansion to overly influence game mechanics. I'm happy with most cards in this expansion, and several of them like Celebrant do actually stress the positioning skills. Considering the last real expansion created Battlepets, which are strictly based on controlling board position, I'm not too afraid of CPG not innovating- but the outcry must certainly hammer that message through. Until then, enjoy experimenting with Ancient Bonds. There are a huge amount of cards worth building around this set, and more that validate almost-competitive cards from previous sets, and I'm having a lot of fun so far.