Board Gaming, Strategeries

Thunderstone Advance Analysis VI – Root of Corruption: The Heroes

RoCRoot of Corruption is the closing chapter of the Tala arc of Thunderstone Advance, and is one of my absolute favorite expansions in Thunderstone history. The design theme for Towers of Ruin was to keep it simple as it was a base set. Caverns of Bane design had a dicey/gambling theme to it. In Root of Corruption, the design themes were the “devil’s bargain;” cards that give you a lot of juice, but at a questionable cost; and cards that were good for both cooperative and competitive play. While not every card followed this theory, enough of them did to where any splash of them adds some spice to the game. Today we look at the Heroes in Root of Corruption.

The Armsman set is what Illusory Blade always wanted to be. If there’s a high quality weapon available, this guy is hot.

Armsman Bastion (level 1) costs 7 Gold, with a Physical Attack +2 and a beefy 6 Strength! This means he can even carry the Dwarven Bear Hammer! Which he could anyway because he’s a Dwarf. Shrug. His Strength also allows him to carry a Labrys unassisted, and is 2 Strength away from being able to carry any Weapon in the game. Still, right now, he’s a weaker Criochan.

Armsman Stronghold (level 2) cranks up to 10 Gold, keeps his 6 Strength and increases his Physical Attack to +3. +3 on a Level 2 Fighter is nothing to write home about. Fortunately, he gains an ability and an “ability” Dungeon: Buy one weapon and add it to your hand. So, it’s kinda like Rapparee, except a narrower focus, you don’t have to win the fight to activate it and you get help RIGHT NOW. Unlike Rapparee, he doesn’t help you pay for it. Still, this is a solid ability, and unlike most non-Village purchase actions, this can be the difference between winning a fight or not. He also has Aftermath: Destroy 1 Weapon. If you’re playing savvy, you’ve used this for an upgrade, trashing a Longspear for something a lot better. At worst, you’ve paid for a temporary Attack bonus to get you into Monster smashing range. If there aren’t any Weapons you can afford, you can still take advantage of this to thin out a Longspear.

Armsman Citadel (level 3) jumps up to 8 Strength, making him capable of wielding every Weapon printed for Thunderstone unassisted. He costs 13 Gold, gives you 2 VP and has increased to Physical Attack +4. His abilities got an upgrade as well. Dungeon: Place 1 Weapon from a Village stack into your hand. Spoils: Destroy 1 Weapon. First, that Dungeon ability. The difference between having to pay for it and not is a sizeable one. Admittedly, by the time you have the Level 2, you should probably have some Monster cards that aren’t doing anything but kicking out Gold, but this is still a big deal. Some Weapons are prohibitively expensive, like Greatsword, or Dancing Sword. Moreover, the fact that you don’t have to pay for it makes Armsman Citadel one of the Level 3s that’s capable of soloing Monsters…provided that there is a decent Weapon around. Armsman Citadel combos fantastically with any big Weapon, like Labrys, or with Weapons that will provide other synergy, like Dancing Swords paired with Spellswords. Greatsword is a great combo with him that may allow you to double dip on your Dungeon run. The Spoils ability allows for a little optional deck-thinning if you feel you have too many Weapons clogging things up.

blademageThe Blademage set expands the usefulness of all spells in a fantastic way. In the right circumstances, they can be a real wrecking ball.

Blademage Striker (level 1) costs 5 Gold, has a wizardly Strength of 3 and contributes Magic Attack +1 and 1 Light. Not a lot to write home about, although I do like Heroes that glow. Being able to just not worry about Light producing cards as a side benefit to doing what you need to do anyway is always helpful.

Blademage Forger (level 2) keeps her 3 Strength and 1 Light. Her Magic Attack goes to +2 and her Gold cost rises to 9. She also gets a pretty keen ability. Dungeon: One Spell becomes a Weight 0 Magic Weapon (Spellsword says “ding!”) with Magic Attack +3 equipped to this hero. So, as long as you have a Spell, she’s effectively +5 Magic Attack, which is outstanding for a Level 2 Wizard. Secondly, it gets more mileage out of a Spell, since it does not stop being a Spell just because it’s a Weapon. Gain a nice Attack bonus before popping that Mass Teleport! Blademage Forger plus Force Blast equals  7 Magic Attack and 2 Light in 2 cards. Nice!

Blademage Caster (level 3) of course will not be shown up by her previous incarnation. 3 Strength, 13 Gold, 1 Light, and 2 VP. Magic Attack +4 is pretty nice. Dungeon: Each Spell becomes a Weight 0 Magic Weapon with Magic Attack equal to its Gold cost. Big pay off here. First, it makes multiple Weapons, so share and enjoy. Secondly, it makes HUGE weapons. Mass Teleport is now a Labrys that draws 3 cards. Blademage Caster actually gets MORE mileage out of Royal Summons than Glamercast Maestro, which says a lot. As the Weapons are Weight zero, Blademage Caster almost (but not quite) joins the hallowed ranks of “possible to solo bad guys.” Like the Armsman, Blademage is entirely dependent on other cards in the Village. If the only spells are Bandia’s Wisdom and Owl Eyes (nonbo!), it’s best to avoid this stack, but if you get a decent spell or two, let the good times roll!

The Honormain set is our first Fighter/Cleric in Tala, and does pretty much what you would expect it to do. Which in this set is pretty awesome. Combine with things to give you Curses for fun and profit!

Honormain Gallant (level 1) is pretty sturdy. 7 Gold gets you 5 Strength, enough for *most* weapons, Physical Attack +2 AND an ability. Village/Dungeon: Discard 1 card or destroy 1 Disease. He doesn’t replace the Disease like a lot of Clerics do, but makes up for this by being able to do it in either the Village or Dungeon. He can also simply discard a card, removing it from harm’s way. A solid level 1 Hero

Honormain Defender (level 2) increases to 10 Gold, with a new shiny Labrys-friendly 6 Strength and a Physical Attack of +3. His ability loses its Village access and divides into two separate branches. Dungeon: Discard 1 card to gain Magic Attack +1 Dungeon: Destroy a Disease to gain Magic Attack +2. Like the Skinshifter, finding a useless card to pitch is almost never an issue, especially by the time you have 2nd level guys. This is especially nice as it will allow you to overcome Magic Attack requirements without investing in extra cards specifically for that purpose. If you happen to have a Disease in hand (and all Curses have the Disease trait) then you can turn the penalty into a plump Magic Attack bonus. If you have both, then he becomes a level 2 Criochan that has Magic Attack and thins out a Curse. Solid.

Honormain Paladin (level 3) climbs to 12 Gold, gains 2 VP, and sees his Physical Attack climb to a wizardly +5. However, both of his abilities from Level 2 stick around and gain the Repeat Keyword, which allows it to be done as many times as you like. This means on your worst draw (him and 5 Monsters), he’s still good for +10 if you chuck it all away. Which makes him a proud member of the Can Probably Solo Monsters club. That’s a tough club to get into.

The Moonclaw set adds a new group to the Ranger class in Thunderstone Advance. Rangers have been known for a few things thus far, Dungeon manipulation and Gold penalties. Moonclaw continues these proud traditions.

Moonclaw Scout (level 1) 5 Gold, 5 Strength, Physical Attack +2, NO Gold penalty! This makes him a pretty remarkable level 1. There is a catch though, Aftermath: If you did not defeat a Monster, destroy this card. So, he respects strength and hates weakness. If you lose a fight when he’s around to watch it, he’s out. This is pretty easy to play around, as most of your Dungeon visits will have a plan in mind for bashing a bad guy. He doesn’t go in for the intentional loss plan, and he’s probably not the best to gamble with so fighting Salamanders or Corvaxis (appropriately) may get this guy to bail more often.

Moonclaw Courser (level 2) jumps to 8 Gold, his Strength stays at 5, and his Physical Attack increases to +3. He also picks up a -1 Gold penalty. Ah, there it is. Once he’s level two, the Moonclaw trusts that you’re the winning team and reveals his true value by means of his ability. Dungeon: Reveal the bottom card of the Dungeon deck. If it’s a non-Guardian monster, you may switch it with the Monster in Rank 3 or deeper. So, he’s a Ranger’s Wilderness Map that doesn’t draw a card but DOES help you fight. Not bad at all. For why Ranger’s Wilderness Map is useful, refer to my post here.

Moonclaw Ranger (level 3) costs 11 Gold, keeps his 5 Strength (Did you expect a birdman to get stronger? At least he can wield a Longsword), his base Physical Attack increases to +4, he gains 2 VP, and comes with a -2 Gold Penalty, which at this point doesn’t matter. What does matter is his ability.  Dungeon: Reveal the bottom card of the Dungeon deck. If it’s a non-Guardian monster, you may switch it with a Monster in the Dungeon Hall. So, Ranger’s Wilderness Map was already not a bad card, expanding you to 4 options over your standard three and fishing out Monsters other people tried to deny you. He kicks it up a notch by taking that 4th option and putting it wherever you want. If whatever is on bottom is better than whatever is around, throw it in Rank 1 and pound on it. Combine with Thundermage Bolter for blasttastic good times.

The Profaned Set is one of my favorites in the set, because sometimes I like high-risk high reward scenarios. This set perfectly embodies the devil’s bargain theme of the set.

Profaned Acolyte (level 1) costs 5 Gold, has a pretty Wizardly 3 Strength and Magic Attack +1. He also has the ability Dungeon: Light +1. Gain a Curse. So…let’s see. He’s Blademage Striker, except he has the Cleric class in addition to the Wizard class, and his Light is conditional to you gaining a curse. Badass. His multi-class does provide a bit of foreshadowing of what’s to come though. Clerics are known for purification effects (card destruction). Wizards are most often the Heroes with card draw abilities. These are an interesting pair of concepts leading to the evolution into…

Profaned Curate (level 2) is cheap at 8 Gold if you get a chance to buy him. He picks up a Strength to bring him to 4, his Magic Attack climbs to +2 and he figures out that you weren’t all that crazy about having to gain a Curse for light so he just glows all the time now. His ability changes too. Village/Dungeon: Draw 1 card. Gain a Curse. Multi-location draw is good. You don’t suffer from the Curses immediately. As of right now, it doesn’t cost a hand slot if you’re willing to take a Curse….but activating card draw when you’ve been willingly filling your deck with Curses is a dicey proposition. Good thing he has a second ability. Repeat Dungeon: Destroy a Disease to add Magic Attack +3. So, if you have a Curse in hand, at worst, this guy is Magic Attack +5 and 1 Light in two cards (plus the removal of a Curse). If you have more, he’s happy to gobble them up and nuke Monsters in the process. The card draw ability helps you put him and the Curses together, which is where the risk of this hero set lies. When he pairs with his fuel, he’s a weapon of mass destruction. When he’s not, you’ve got a deck full of curses. His level 1  helps set up his level 2 though, and his level 2 helps set up his level 3

Profaned Patriarch (level 3) costs 11 Gold, has a Longsword wielding 5 Strength (though if you were investing in this guy, why were you investing in Longsword?) 1 Light, 2 VP, and Magic Attack +3. Repeat Dungeon: Destroy a Disease to add Magic Attack +3 and draw a card. Nice! This is also where the excitement factor comes in, repeated drawing of Curses leading to the super hadoken is pretty fun. It also burns a lot of Curses out of your deck, so if you want to keep having this kind of fun, you’ll need something to keep you stocked with Curses. Fortunately, both the Level 1 and 2 are happy to help with this.

The Silvertongue set presents a 3rd aspect to the traditional Thief class. Aird steals and seduces, Rapparee acquires things, and the Silvertongue is the fence. This set is also a tremendous asset to cooperative play.

Silvertongue Swindler (level 1) costs 5 Gold and produces 1. He’s got 4 Strength and Physical Attack +1. He’s got an odd ability: Village: Place a Village card on its stack to gain 2 Gold. So, he’s kinda Cleric-y in that he helps to thin your deck of Torches and Longspears (yes, they are Village cards!) making way for better money makers and consistency. As this is not a destroy effect, this will allow you to benefit from cards like Blood Debt without having to suffer the penalties. Not too bad.

Silvertongue Rook (level 2) sees a few statline bumps, he now produces 2 Gold while costing 7, his Physical Attack goes to +2 while he Strength remains static. His ability gets interesting. Village/Dungeon: Give another player a Village card, gain 2 Gold or Physical Attack +2. So you’ve bought some expensive cards with Blood Debt, it’s time to pay the piper, lose a turn or suffer a dead card with negative VP. OR, you can make it your neighbor’s problem. A little fast-talking and he’s agreed to assume responsibility for your reckless spending. In a way, Silvertongue Rook is a fiscally irresponsible college student with the other players being his parents. You got what you wanted, now it’s their problem. Better still when you can give them cards that don’t really help anything in the mid to late game, and there are plenty of those. Give them your Torches and Longspears. Make them pay off your Blood Debts. Let them deal with Rage of the Disowned after it’s chewed through your Regulars. Choke their deck with garbage while streamlining yours.

Silvertongue Sharp (level 3) produces 3 Gold,  2 VP, has a respectable 5 Strength, costs a meager 10 Gold and has Physical Attack +3. His ability sees a complete upgrade. Village/Dungeon: Give another player a Village card, gain Physical Attack +3 and draw a card. You’d use this in similar fashions as listed above. The biggest problems with the Silvertongue set are these. First, if you’re buying cards, you probably want to use them. Giving them away seems a little counterproductive unless they are examples like the ones given. Secondly, like the Drua, you’ll run out of things you want out of your deck (and in others) which limits the effectiveness of this hero. If you’re in a head to head game and one of those negative VP penalty Village cards shows up, buy into this stack and bury your opponent in them.

treefolkThe Woodguard set is the last hero in this analysis and solid as an oak. An oak. Because he’s a tree. Nevermind. Tangentially related, I always enjoy leveling up Regulars into Woodguard simply because I am amused by the notion of a little battle experience under your belt inspiring you to become a different species. 

Woodguard Scion (level 1) costs 7 Gold, has Physical Attack +1, 1 Light and 10 Strength. TEN. Wow! Oh yeah, he can’t equip Weapons. Dungeon: Physical Attack +2, each other player draws a card. Obviously, in cooperative play, he’s a HUGE winner. In competitive, he’s still really good. He glows, has amazing growth potential, but you want to use that ability sparingly. Fun fact: If you’re playing these cards with Classic, with the exception of one card, even at level 1, Woodguard wins every Tavern Brawl ever. As well he should. As someone who has gotten drunk and challenged a tree to a fist fight, I can definitely say it does not end well for the non-tree combatant.

Woodguard Sapling (level 2) increases to 10 Gold, keeps his light, his amazing and mostly useless Strength, and increases to Physical Attack +2. His ability gets a bump as well. Dungeon: Physical Attack +4. Each other player draws a card. Oof. Helping the other players again. At least this time you’re getting some beef out of it. +6 Attack out of 1 card is generally enough incentive to get me to pull the trigger if there are good targets in the hall.

Woodguard Elder (level 3) costs 13 Gold, still 10 Strength and 1 Light. 2 VP, and Physical Attack +3. He picks up an upgrade to the previous power and a new one. Dungeon: Physical Attack +6 Each other player draws a card. Done. +9 and a light out of one card makes him a hoss. Have a card on me.  Dungeon:  Destroy a disease to draw a card. At 3rd Level, Woodguard finally remembers that he’s a Cleric. A nice gimme of an ability, but I’d still take him even without it.

Next up, a card by card of the Village cards in Root of Corruption, which include some of my absolute favorites of all time.


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