Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Battlebranded Reign of Varna Review: Constructed Edition

The Reign of Varna is upon us! And with it, new cards for us to tinker and have fun with. This particular article will examine the heroics and legendaries released in this set, alongside some notable rares and commons.


Aeromind Squadron

Starting off with a curious one, a Metamind always screams for Drix, and this one in particular has wings. Wings! It ability to tutor a random Metamind seems fairly irrelevant, unless we get free Metaminds in the future. Mediocre stats and currently bugged, I doubt this would have a high impact on the constructed metagame.


Having two creature types that are 'functional' is certainly a unique feature of this card. While the Dinosaur part of it is currently mostly irrelevant, given that this isn't a good Bron replace target nor are there enough good Tempys Dinosaurs to justify Thunderstomp for now. On the Robot end, however, its synergy with Brightsteel Sentinel is glorious. It also plays nicely with Relic Hunter, which is a huge plus. I see potential in this card, it has solid support, and future cards only make it better.

Leyline Sentry

The easiest Leyline to trigger by far, but yet also the one with the lowest impact in terms of its body, you can easily toss this card into your A/T lists and it'll do some work most of the time. The fact that it's a Robot is relevant as a free body that can be used alongside the Brightsteel Sentinel and Aegis Knight combo. Very good, but nothing to lose your minds over.

Lucid Echoes 

In a vacuum, this card should be beyond horrible because you spend a play to not affect the board, or your opponent in the slightest. However, Ironmind Acolyte exists, so I can't say that. Basically, when you cast this, you're risking a dead play for a guaranteed activation on your Acolytes, IF you draw them. Only very specific archetypes can use it effectively, but those that can, use it very well. Pretty niche.

Nexus Overwatch

Some of you would look at me here and point out that it's supposed to be a draft card, and it is. However, it's also a leveller that has a serviceable body. While Killion is clearly more flexible, often levelling decks can't afford its weak body anyway. Amusingly, while it can't contend with Nexus Aeronaut in PL1, it actually eats it in later levels. Maybe a card that has no place in constructed, but still is a consideration when considering levelling options nonetheless.

Steeleye Seer

I'll just go ahead and say a 1.4 Seer is insanely strong, since it guarantees that you get level twos the following turn, and its level three is absolutely bonkers, and its progression from level one to two is.. bland. It literally just gains four health, and that is a huge flaw with the card, since you spend a play on a body that does little to affect the board and barely levels for one level. Furthermore, this card alone will never dominate the metagame with numerous hate options available (A/N Soulreap Seer mirrors? Sounds miserable.). Good, but not overwhelming strong.

War Machine

Curious card. War Tinker exists, so that's an idea. An Overwhelming Force on a stick is an intriguing take, but is probably too win-more to justify. Maybe, just maybe, with one or two copies in a dedicated robot deck as a tool to push a lead. Definitely want to play this alongside War Tinker, though.


Ancestral Echoes

You would think a Ferocious Roar that happens post combat would be pretty awkward. And it is. However, this is the kind of card that you play to push a lead, and making your board stickier is a very very effective way to do this. Great, but rarely a three of due to its rather situational uses. 


Botanimate got an update, basically. 6/6 is a hefty body, but given that Oreian Justicar 
is likely to see more play due to the Leylines. Nifty, maybe this pushes UA a bit more? I would like that.

Killer Bee

BEES! The entire article was a ploy just so I could proclaim our allegiance with our supreme bee over- Whoa, what happened? Anyway, despite all the buzz about bees, it appears this card lacks... quite the sting, as it were. Seeing how this costs a whole play and dies to Static Shock, Flamebreak Invoker trigger, Tendrils of Twilight and the like, it's basically a flying Broodfang. You spent a whole play on a flying Broodfang if you play this. Still, it's a card that fits its flavour to a tee, and good show of new player mechanics, so respect where it's due. Also, BEES!

Leyline Golem

The second easiest Leyline to trip, and a pretty mediocre body. I don't think anyone would lose their minds over this, but it's still something to play around. Decent if the metagame shifts to more AT oriented decks.

Shardplate Behemoth

So, what the big deal about Behemoth? It's big, solid as an on-level play and an amazing underdrop, combos with Ancestral Echoes, Immortal Echoes, Suruzal and Bron. Yet, so far it doesn't seem overbearing, which is an rather curious case. Certainly one of the more, if not the most powerful card released in the set. Is it too strong, however? I personally don't hold that opinion, but time will tell.

Snowdrift Alpha

Believe or not, this card is pretty hard to make work in constructed, despite being a draft windmill slam pick. With an extremely mediocre body up till level three (and by that point no one fights fair anyway) and an unreliable ability that's mediocre even with Hunting Hax, I don't see this in optimal decklists. Maybe in an Ator shell?


Abyssal Maw

Given that Contagion Lord got buffed and there are a bunch of good Abominations running around, this guy slots right in the deck. The entire shell is only about 12 cards or so though, so you'll need to fill it out to push it in a particular direction. Abominations appear to have potential, however.


Level-gated removal is often destined for failure, since casting this in PL1 is often an overreaction, and lets your opponent level more cards, but if you don't level this, you can't kill the things that are actually a threat, and then they are a dead draw for the rest of the game. However, Cacklebones avoids these pitfalls by coming on a stick, and having amazing support cards in Anvillion Arbiter and Leyline Demon. In conjunction with his best friends, you'll be laughi- cackling, rather, all the way to the bank.

Immortal Echoes

Chuck a few sticky or troublesome creatures into the dead pile, like Progeny, Behemoth or Dino Knight, mix well, and pour. Serves one sad opponent. Honestly though, this card is beastly in the right shell, and pulling only your creatures is a huge boon in reliability. For example, you could play a Big Dumb Animals deck so that the dead pile is filled with redundant, big dudes, and always get well, big dudes. Or say Progeny, and get back your sticky creatures over and over. Potent card, but not one you slam into your decks mindlessly.

Iniog, Carrion Demon

I absolutely adore his flavour, but cards that rely on the stars aligning to pose a semblance of a threat to your opponent and even after that, additional pump to become a game ending threat. You could get cheeky and use Heart Trees and Vigor Leeches, but then you're just waddling in jank at that point. If you do manage to make a good deck with this guy though, hit me in the face with it, I really want this guy to be good, so please prove me wrong :p

Leyline Demon

I adore this guy. As hypocritical answering Free with Free is, being able to tip the scales again feels great. Also encourages thinking about playing your Static Shocks and Duskmaw Tendrils a bit more, which I'm all up for. I'm pretty sure most Nekrium decks can squeeze in two or three of these because they are just so darn effective, it not going to tear up the metagame though, don't worry.


Blobby over here has some interesting qualities, it has the numbers and power level for constructed, but no niche (or at least known niche) that it fills, while synergies with Brimstone Tyrant are interesting, I doubt that is enough to propel Blobby into the big leagues, and that makes me sad.


Ash Maiden

Gotta pump them all! You know its her destiny! Oh! Ator is her best friend, in an aggro shell she'll blend! Huh? Wrong Ash, never mind me. Anyway, an investment for board position by playing a weak body, Although, given that her effect is persistent during both players' turns, it can be better than say, Uterradon Ridgeback. Also amusing with Lug, if you can get the stars to align with a Windweaver congo.

Draconic Echoes

Basically, I haven't lost a game to this where I wouldn't have to any other relevant threat. I guess it's pretty spiffy if you can get it off an Everflame Mystic trigger, but that's unreliable as it is. It's pretty hard to justify since you spending a whole play to burn your opponent's face for an indeterminable amount of damage and is often worse than just playing a threat. A very.. iffy card, but not as bad as I originally thought.

Leyline Tyrant

The Leyline with the most specific condition, but also the one with the best body by far. Expect to see this if they print Wegud v2.0. But never otherwise.

Smolderscale Dragon

An interesting take on the egg to fire breathing dragon formula. The one point of AoE in PL1 hardly makes a difference, and at level two it's only slightly better, compared to Scorchmane 2, which had a respectable body and decent text. Still, it aids the Board Begone (A deck that utilises a ton of blanket effects to stabilise over and over until their late game bombs come around) archetype a little more than Scorchy does, so there's that. Level 3 is arguably better, given its absolutely humongous butt. If there's a Board Begone deck that makes it, this will be in it.

Zarox, The Raging

And finally, Zwaxor! This is the card he designed as his prize, and it does look spiffy. While I haven't played this much in constructed, from my experience in draft, this guy can grow fairly fast. Windweaver and Staff of Vaerus are obvious cards to pair with this, creating a pseudo- Oratek Explosives in NT, which if that's any indication of power, is pretty appealing.

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