Welcome to the last of the card analysis posts for the Tala arc of Thunderstone Advance. As much as I love this game (and I really do) I am SO ready to stop talking about it. Here are the Village cards for Root of Corruption, which includes some of my all time favorites.
Blood Debt starts off the devil’s bargain theme. 1 Gold cost, which means you can even get it on the super rare 9/1 split. 5 Gold production, the single biggest printed value in Thunderstone history. This card is the cure for what ails ya in an expensive Village. Of course, with a name like Blood Debt, you can’t expect it to just be an unattended pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s worth -3VP. Ouch. And it can only be destroyed by itself, for those of you thinking that you can borrow at a brilliant rate and then expect a Drua to clean it up. Village: If you have 10 Gold, destroy this card and end your turn. So, you get crazy buying power, and the choice of losing a turn (effectively) later, or sucking up -3 VP. The value of the card is based on how many difficult to buy cards there are. If you’ve got a really expensive Village, this is your best friend. Or if Silvertongue is around. Nothing like burying your opponent in negative VPs for fun and profit. At 2nd and 3rd level, you can even do it while smashing faces. It combos well with Innkeeper and Castellan to make your extra buys actually mean something more than splitting your meager gold into two small buys.
Circle of Protection is another neat card. It costs 3 Gold, and has the same play timing as a Familiar, which is to say that it comes out and just waits to be used. It cancels the next Raid, Breach or Aftermath effect on your turn and then destroys itself. Looking at Thorn Caltrops, we know that there isn’t much Raid happening, but it’s nice that it stays out there and waits for it, rather than having to be at the right place at the right time. Breach effects are also not common in the Tala arc (though there are more of them in the expanded game) so again, nice, but not a reason to buy. Aftermath is a much more compelling argument, as there are some downright nasty Aftermath effects, some of which even come from your own cards. You can use a Circle of Protection to save your other Heroes from a Disowned Bloodrager, if only for a turn. What I like best about this card though, is that it glows. It’s a light that sits there not taking up space in your hand. They can stack, so you can have all the light you’ll ever need without taking up any room in your hand.
Cursed Dagger is the third “Cursed” weapon in Thunderstone, the first two being Cursed Mace and Cursed Bow. Cursed Mace has a somewhat restrictive Weight, but is otherwise fantastic. Cursed Bow has limitations on what rank it can target. Both of them give you a Disease for equipping them. The new kid on the block though, he’s something else. 4 Gold, 0 Gold production. Physical Attack +2 with a very accessible weight of 2. Two abilities: Dungeon: Gain a curse to add Physical Attack +1. Dungeon: Gain 2 Curses to add Physical Attack +2. So what we have here is a +2 Weapon that can equip to almost anyone, not too shabby. Depending on how far you’re willing to push your luck, you can take it to +3, +4, or even +5if you’re okay taking 3 Curses for the privilege. Combine with anyone who eats Curses for proactive use, Drua, Honormain, Profaned to have a potent if unstable deck. If playing with the Thunderstone Classic cards, combine with Sidhe to lose friends and gain face punches.
Debased Wizard is another of my favorites, one of the most solid Villagers in Thunderstone history. Solid, solid card. 4 Gold gets you 2 Gold production, 1 Light and two incredible abilities. Village/Dungeon: Gain 1 Curse. You may use an ability you’ve already used this turn. The applications for this are huge. Trying to talk about all of the ways this is useful would take up 2-3 posts all by itself. I will include some standouts though. When equipped to an appropriately strong hero, Maul gains HUGE attack bonuses. As does the Caliginite Silencer. Draw a bunch more cards with Forcemage. Accelerate the game clock even more with Tuath. There are oh so many situations where it is worth gaining a curse to double up on a super sweet ability. This ability is totally boss. And it produces money and Light. It also has Dungeon: Select a Battle effect on a Monster in the hall, ignore it this turn. Gain a Curse. So this effectively turns any Battle effect into: “Gain a Curse.” So it’s another Veilminderish effect that doesn’t cover Aftermath, but is an exponentially better card by virtue of the first ability. This is just a gimme that totally allows you to smack Belac around like a ragdoll. Combine with cards that profit from Curses and you gain a suite of really strong abilities with very little drawback.
Elven Waybread is the sole food for this set, because well, let’s face facts, food isn’t all that exciting unless you’re playing some kind of Iron Chef deckbuilder. Hmm. Iron Chef deckbuilder….*scribbles notes* Anyway, back to the bread. Costs 4 Gold, produces 2, and even has a VP. Gotta love VP opportunities that are available just to buy. Actually, you don’t, but this one isn’t bad, as it comes with two other abilities. Dungeon: Each Hero gains Strength +2. Yawn. Strength buffs are a pretty narrow focus. They can help you to equip some pretty boss Weapons, but if you need to use Food to play with your Weapons, you’re drastically increasing the ineffectiveness of your deck. If only every Weapon were like Maul! It helps you beat up Golems if you’re playing with Classic cards, or gets you past some nasty Strength debuffs, but generally speaking I don’t run Monster meta unless I absolutely have to. Good thing it has this other ability Village/Dungeon: Destroy Elven Waybread. At the end of the turn, place 1 Hero from your hand on top of your deck. OK, so as this costs you a VP to use, it better be good, right? Well, it is. Think of all of the Heroes who are capable of either soloing a bad guy or can do so with very little assistance. Eat a little elfbread, and you don’t have to wait for the full recycle to see that Hero back in action. That’s pretty badass. Is it badass enough to warrant buying cards that don’t help you win fights? That’s a question of what Heroes it’s paired with and your ability to get them quickly. Using an Elven Waybread on a Hero that’s not a game changer is a poor play. Use in the Dungeon to get someone back in the game quicker, use in the Village when your hoss gets surrounded by clutter to act as a Prepare action while still doing profitable Village actions.
Greatsword is a neat card I go back and forth on. It costs a whopping 8 Gold, so it’s not an easy club to get into. It produces 2, which isn’t awful. It weighs a VERY cumbersome 7, while producing Physical Attack +3 for those stout enough to carry it. If you’re buying into this stack though, you’re doing so for the ability. Dungeon: Discard this and the equipping hero. Place a Monster in the Hall in your discard pile whose Health is less than or equal to this Hero’s Attack. OK, let’s talk a little bit about this. With a 7 Strength requirement, it’s going to be tough to find people to pick this up and go behead a bad guy. Even the strongest Level 1s capable (like Criochan) will only bag a 5 with this. Investing heavier will allow you to bad bigger bad guys. Here’s the real sauce though. You’re doing so as a Dungeon action. Like the Thundermage Bolter, you’re completely bypassing the combat phase and it’s accompanying Battle and Aftermath effects. Unlike the Thundermage Bolter, this does not end your turn. This can be both a good and a bad thing. It’s incredible in that with the remainder of your hand, it’s possible for you to slag a second baddie. Doubling up on kills is the best case scenario for this card. This is best facilitated by lots of card draw abilities, as using it means the second guy you fight you’ll be going into with a 4 card hand, minus a strong Weapon and a strong Hero to carry it. Interestingly, with a little luck, this can be used with the Disowned to rack up some beefy kills while not slaughtering your own other Heroes. Armsman of 2nd and 3rd level can go get this, add it to your hand. If there’s a good double kill opportunity, maybe he goes and solos it (removing the newly acquired Greatsword from the Aftermath/Spoils), or sticks with the party. Outside of that, chalking up a loss with a diminished hand after chopping someone’s head off is still a tempo control move that allows you to hasten game end while still collecting VP to hold a lead. Elf strategy for the win! Greatsword can be a difficult card to play, but if you can pull it off, it really lives up to its name. Otherwise, it’s really more of a Mediocresword.
Hedge Witch is a reasonably flexible Villager. She costs 5 Gold, and while she doesn’t produce any, she has 3 abilities. Repeat Village/Dungeon: Destroy 1 Disease. This is nice that while it doesn’t profit anywhere, it’s repeat in either the Village or Dungeon. Normally that kind of efficiency comes at a pretty high premium. Village/Dungeon: Discard 2XP to draw 1 card. Now, in most games, I will not typically have a great surplus of XP, but there are plenty of games that I do, and I like things that give me alternate uses for them. Repeat Village/Dungeon: Discard 2 XP for Magic Attack +1. Another sink for extra XP. The card is quite flexible. It doesn’t really superwow anywhere, but pending the other cards you’re seeing, this card has a fair amount of potential.
Hysterical Villager is an interesting one. He costs 2 Gold and produces 1. He’s got an ability that makes a lot of people furrow their eyebrows. Village: Destroy the top card of a Hero stack. Why would you want to do this? I can think of a few reasons. You see what combo your opponent is building towards, so you start trying to take the legs out from under him. He spends 8 Gold on a Greatsword, you eliminate one potential carrier. Secondly, most savvy players will not be the guy who buys the last Level 1, freeing up the table to buy better cards before he gets a chance. Hysterical Villager allows you to zap the top card and give you first dibs on the next highest level of that stack for purchasing. He even helps you with this by virtue of his second ability, Village: Destroy to gain 3 Gold. Combine with King Caelan’s Writ for a higher level hero ready to go on the very next turn.
Labrys is simple and effective. 6 Gold Cost, 1 Gold production, 6 Weight and Physical Attack +5. It’s a big heavy sharp piece of metal that you hit things with, and also a shout out to the lesbian and feminist communities. True story, this came up in Design.
Livewood Bow is the best bow since the outstanding (if an Archer is present) Short Bow. Costs 5 Gold, has a beefy 3 Gold production, and a very accessible 4 Weight. It grants the carrier Physical Attack +5…but subtract’s the target’s rank from its Attack value. Wah. At Rank 1 it’s a Magic Missile, at Rank 2 it’s a Longsword and sure, it’s not super duper at Rank 3, but it makes up for this in its outstanding production, flexibility and ease of access.
Maul. Oh man. This card. This is one of those cards that could probably have a post written just about it. Let’s take a look. 6 Gold cost, measly 1 Gold production. Very accessible 3 Weight. Physical Attack -2. Awesome. It’s heavy and awkward, what did you expect? Dungeon: Gain Physical Attack equal to the equipped Hero’s Strength. FINALLY, something that rewards having a high Strength! Having a Maul in hand makes Thunderstone Shards worth more than the chance to gain some bonus XP. Equip to a beefcake and swing for the fences. Use Debased Wizard to double the pain. The stronger your hero, the worse it is for the thing on the receiving end of this beatstick. Just like real life! Interestingly, the penalty only applies if equipped, so you can use the bonus, figure out a way to set down the hammer (discards via Honormain and Skinshifter, anyone?) and just get a fat bonus with no penalty. Yes, it really does work that way, yes, I understand how little sense that makes. Sometimes just picking up a hammer and not hitting things with it gives you the inspiration to fight harder…? Honormain and Skinshifter both are tremendous users for this, as both have discard abilities. Honormain comes with a good base Strength, and Skinshifter has Strength boosting abilities that are not garbage.
Mind Control is one of the only spells in the game that produces Gold, which it produces 2 of, and costs 7. It’s got an interesting ability, but not one I care a lot for. Dungeon: Destroy this card, place 1 Monster from the Hall in front of a player. On that player’s turn, they must go to the Dungeon and attack that Monster. For purposes of this combat the Monster is in Rank 0 with 0 Darkness. OK. So, what do you use this for? If there’s a nasty Monster in the hall with a really horrid Battle or Aftermath, you can force someone to run headlong into it. Here’s a few problems with this. Nasty effects notwithstanding, you’re making a Monster easier for them to fight. Monsters with nasty effects that you would want other players to suffer are generally worth a fair amount of VP, and you’ve eliminated Darkness as something to be dealt with for this one. Smooth move. Can that be good? Sure. Is it good enough for you to spend money on and then destroy to affect one opponent when it didn’t even help you win the fight? Highly dubious prospect, that. You can also use it on yourself to call “dibs” on a certain Monster that you want to fight. This is a more proactive use of this card, I would think, though I think the tempo cost is still too high. Without being Rain Man, you’re not going to have a super solid idea of what you’re going to have going into that fight and the plan could blow up in your face.
Rage of the Disowned is a powerhouse. It costs a massive 9 Gold, and comes with a -2 VP penalty. It cannot be destroyed or discarded, so once you buy in, you’re stuck with it. Fortunately, it’s pretty sweet. Dungeon: One hero gains Physical Attack +5 and cannot be destroyed by Dungeon or Battle effects this turn. Woot! Aftermath: Destroy that hero. Uh…OK. So I can burn my Regulars out in fits of +6 furious glory, slag Monsters and lose Regulars? That’s worth the -2 VP for sure! Sure, once you run out of Regulars, you’ve either got a dead card that won’t go away or you have to feed it actually decent Heroes, but I think that’s a fair trade for the power gain. Or, you could pass those negative VPs on to your friends with Silvertongue.
Stablehand is a fantastic card that many people overlook. Costs 3 Gold, produces 1, has two abilities. Village/Dungeon: Destroy 1 card in your discard pile. As previously discussed, the ability to choose and destroy your own cards is the most powerful ability in a deckbuilding game. This allows you to Rest a card without losing a turn, with the caveat being that it is in your Discard pile. Which means it’s annoying as hell when you draw your Stablehands in the first turn after a recycle, which happens to me all the time. I’ve also had this poor farmer’s son slaughter dozens of sleeping Regulars, cure difficult Curses, and even pay off Blood Debts and get rid of Rage of the Disowned. Yes, that’s right. Those traits only apply while they are in your hand. Once they’re in the discard pile, they’re fair game for Stablehand to dispose of in a tidy fashion. His other ability is Village: Destroy to place your whole deck in your discard pile. This is a fast forward button to a new recycle, and if you have multiple Stablehands, a way around that annoying drawing of them with an empty discard pile. Most destruction effects are limited to the 6 cards in your hand. Throughout the game, there will be a much wider selection of cards for this to destroy than a lot of other deck thinners. Pass at your own peril.
Lastly is Tincture of Victims, a funny little Magic item with a few abilities. 5 Gold cost, produces 2, so it’s not too hard to get a hold of. Dungeon: Switch all Physical Attack to Magic Attack of vice-versa. Discard 1 XP. This is a handy way to get around some immunities and sometimes those are hard to come by. Dungeon: Add Physical Attack +2 and Strength +3 to one hero. Destroy this card unless you gain a Curse. This is the more popular ability. It is a Curse breeder if you’re playing with things that make that profitable, and it helps win fights. Pair it with a Maul to negate the penalty and increase the damage output. Pair it with Greatsword to give you an Attack bonus to kill better bad guys as well as a solid Strength buff to help more people get to use it.
This concludes the card analysis for the Tala arc of Thunderstone Advance. Hopefully you can put some of this to good use and tighten your game. Questions? Comments? You know what to do.