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March 14, 2012

Visions: Legion of Glory Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

It’s our opening round of playtests with Visions, having just wrapped up with the four decks of Mirage. We’ve already begun noting improvements in the decks themselves thanks to the expanded card pool and greater thematic support, but how will that play out in an actual game? To find out we pitted Legion of Glory against another mono-coloured Visions deck, Wild-Eyed Frenzy. With Jimi as the pilot, will the Legion get the job done, or can she burn out my hopes of victory?

Game One

It’s our first game with the new Visions cards, and Jimi kicks things off with a Goblin Swine-Rider, while I counter with an Infantry Veteran. Next turn she swings in for 1 to land the game’s first strike. She then peels off my Veteran with a Chaos Charm, forcing me to replace it with a Vigilant Martyr.

Now turn 3, Jimi swings in again with her Goblin to put me at 18. I fire back with the Martyr for 1, then add a Knight of Valor. Next turn sees Jimi add a Keeper of Kookus after another 1-point attack, and it’s a 19-17 game. Over to me, Jimi picks off my Martyr with another Chaos Charm, and I sacrifice it in response to regenerate my Knight, not a terribly effective response but better than simply letting it go to waste. I then gird the Knight with Ward of Lights (giving it protection from Red), swing in for 2 and pass.

Jimi’s attacks double up on turn 5, when she adds the Keeper to the Swine-Rider and send both into the red zone. She then lands a more substantial body with a Talruum Piper. I may not have much to offer in the way of flying creatures, but its 3/3 body is certainly relevant. I keep the pressure on with another attack from the Knight, tying us up at 15 life. Then, to shore up the defensive gap I bring out a Femeref Scouts. Back to Jimi, she attacks with her Goblins and the Minotaur, as expected. I block the Minotaur with the Scouts, letting the Goblins in for 2. Jimi then plays a Goblin Recruiter, adding a Goblin Soothsayer and second Swine-Rider to the top of her library. I keep us level at 13 when my Knight of Valor casually strolls across the red zone, then add a Longbow Archer– bad news for Jimi’s weenies.

Now turn 7, Jimi plays the Goblin Sooothsayer and passes, her lines of profitable attack having dried up. I attack with the Knight, then add the Zhalfirin Crusader, one of my deck’s two rare cards. Back to Jimi, she sees her window beginning to close, so she sends in her forces after summoning a fresh Swine-Rider, keeping the Soothsayer back. I block her Goblin Recruiter with my Longbow Archer, and put my Zhalfirin Crusader in front of her Keeper of Kookus (redirecting 1 point of damage back to Jimi). She then pops her summoning-sick Swine-Rider to the Soothsayer, giving her field a +1/+1 bonus. The unblocked Minotaur and remaining Swine-Rider carve in for an impressive 6 points of damage, and I’m left at 7 life. Back to me, I simply play an Infantry Veteran and attack back for 2 with the Knight.

Now turn 9, Jimi plays a Goblin Soothsayer and passes. I get in the usual 2 with the Knight, and Jimi finds herself at 6 and on a very short clock. Next turn she goes into the tank for a good minute, before doing nothing and passing. I fire back with the Knight for 2 more, then shut down the Talruum Piper with a Pacifism, just in case.

Jimi’s turn 11 is a blank as we approach the game’s natural conclusion. I swing in with my Knight of Valor and Zhalfirin Crusader, with enough open mana to redirect any damage on the Crusader back onto Jimi. She chumps with a Soothsayer, taking 1 point of damage from the redirect and going down to 1 life. She scoops after her next draw.

Game Two

Jimi begins with a Mountain and passes, while I start off with a Plains that enables an opening-turn Magma Mine. Next turn Jimi plays a Goblin Recruiter, putting a Soothsayer and Swine-Rider atop her library after a thorough tutoring. Meanwhile, I pull off a clutch play with a second-turn Longbow Archer, whose first strike will shut down Jimi’s weenie brigade. Next turn she adds a Goblin Soothsayer, the enchants her Recruiter with a Mob Mentality. I continue the buildup with a Knight of Valor.

Now turn 4, Jimi plays her Swine-Riders and ends her turn. Back to me, I again manage to resolve a Ward of Lights (choosing Red) on my Knight of Valor, and Jimi’s back on the clock. Next I add a Resistance Fighter, though it draws a Chaos Charm and falls where it stands. Next turn Jimi brings out something new- a Talruum Champion– then passes. For my part, I then drop a Favorable Destiny on the Longbow Archer. Eager to get things moving, I then attack with the unblockable Knight of Valor for 2, then add an Infantry Veteran.

Warrior's Honor

Jimi gets things underway for her part on turn 6 when she turns her Talruum Champion sideways, knocking me down to 17 life. I counterattack with the Knight of Valor, using the Infantry Veteran to steal in an extra point of damage. Next turn we repeat the process, though for my part I add in a Femeref Healer.

Now turn 8, Jimi sacrifices two Mountains to a Fireblast, letting her smash my Longbow Archer. With my shield down, Jimi goes all in for 10 (much of this coming from the Mob Mentality) and unless I’m willing to chump my shiny new Healer there isn’t much I can do about it. I go down to 4 life- dangerous territory given the prospect of another Fireblast, but if I can untap with my Healer I’ll be safe from the other one I know her deck possesses. For my part, I play a second Magma Mine and pass, though having capped out at three land it’s just decoration for the moment. Back to Jimi, her turn is a blank, as is my next one.

It’s now turn 10, and I’m on the defensive. By the same token, Jimi doesn’t have enough offense to get past my defenders. She adds a Goblin Elite Infantry, then attacks for 1 with the Goblin Swine-Rider. This is clever- the Swine-Rider is a liability to her right now, given that Mob Mentality requires all of her creatures to be committed on the attack to offer its bonus, yet by attacking with the Swine-Rider I can block it and kill the Recruiter. Instead of doing her the favour of killing it, I simply prevent its damage with the Femeref Healer- since I’m now holding a Remedy, I’m still holding proof against a sudden Fireblast. Back to me, I add Femeref Scouts and pass.

Jimi sends in the Swine-Rider on turn 11, and again I prevent the damage. Knowing the problem won’t soon resolve itself, she doubles down with a second Swine-Rider. Back to me, I finally draw a fourth Plains, play it, and pass. Jimi attacks in again with a Swine-Rider, and again I let it through while moving to prevent the damage. Jimi responds by popping her other Swine-Rider to the Soothsayer, giving her creatures a +1/+1 bonus and putting me down to 3. At the end of her turn, I put a pressure counter on the Magma Mine.

Our turn 12 is a blank, with each of us looking for something useful off the top of our libraries. By turn 13 I’ve accumulated a third pressure conter on the Mine, popping it to blow up her Talruum Champion. With her offense blunted, I resume my attacks with the Knight of Valor, putting Jimi down to 10 while replacing it with a second Knight of Valor.

Now turn 14, Jimi adds a Talruum Piper while I begin working up my second Magma Mine. Next turn Jimi- feeling the pressure- decides to try and finish me off. She summons a surprise Viashino Sandstalker, then attacks with her Sandstalker, Piper, Goblin Elite Infantry, and Goblin Recruiter, popping the Swine-Rider to the Soothsayer for an extra +1/+1 to all. I then play a Miraculous Recovery, flashing in the Longbow Archers out of my graveyard. The Archers block and kill her Sandstalker with their first strike, while my protected Knight of Valor absorbs the Piper’s incoming damage. The Elite Infantry and my Femeref Scouts bump off of each other, while her Recruits and my unenchanted Knight trade out for one another. Thanks to my surprise defense, Jimi’s attack is thwarted and I manage to cling on to life. I counterattack with everything I have left, knocking her down to 2 life. I then add a second pressure counter to my Magma Mine, and sacrifice it to finish her off.

Game Three

Looking to stave off the sweep, Jimi opens with a Mountain and passes, while I get the creature lead with the trusty Infantry Veteran. Next turn she’s out with a Goblin Tinkerer, while I drop a Femeref Healer.

Now turn 3, she plays the Viashino Sandstalker, letting her swing in for 5 damage-a nice start! Over to me, I slap a Sun Clasp onto my Veteran- ordinarily not the most tempting of targets, but a way to answer her Sandstalker. Sure enough, next turn she simply plays a Flame Elemental and passes, but that too is a nettlesome addition. I gird my Femeref Healer with a Favorable Destiny and end the turn.

The Sandstalker reappears on turn 5, attacking in alongside the Elemental. I block the Sandstalker with my Veteran, using the Healer to prevent 1 point of the damage and come out ahead in the exchange. Still, the Elemental impacts me for 3, and I find myself at 12 life. Back to me, I play a Vigilant Martyr and pass. Next turn Jimi casts Goblin Scouts, giving her a trio of 1/1 tokens. I add a Zhalfirin Commander.

Now turn 7, Jimi adds a Goblin Soothsayer but ends her turn without incident. Over to me, I attack with the Commander for 2, with Jimi opting not to defend it. Next turn she counterattacks with a pair of Goblin tokens, the Flame Elemental, and her Tinkerer. As expected, she pops a Goblin token to her Soothsayer for the combat bonus. I block one token with the Healer while holding off her Elemental with my Infantry Veteran (with a little help from the Healer). That still leaves 4 damage, and I’m now at 8. Looking to bolster my creatures against the next onslaught, I play a Sun Clasp on my Zhalfirin Commander, then bite the bullet with a Pacifism on Jimi’s Flame Elemental. Given that the Elemental can be sacrificed for damage, I’d been holding off on Pacifying it but with all of my creatures now outside of its effective reach, it’s a safer play. This lets me come in for 5 with my Commander and Healer, adding in 1 more thanks to the Infantry Veteran. This puts Jimi at 13, five points above me.

Pacifism

Jimi again looks to threaten on turn 9 with an Ogre Enforcer, but I answer rare with rare with a Retribution of the Meek to kill it (and, sadly, nothing else). I swing in for another 5 damage, pumping again through the Infantry Veteran to leave Jimi with 7 life. Next turn she reinforces her defensive position with a Talruum Piper and Keeper of Kookus, while I keep a little pressure on with the Zhalfirin Commander. Jimi opts to chump her Keeper of Kookus to it, and my turn is done.

Jimi’s turn 11 is a blank, while I simply play a Femeref Scouts as we both enter a build-up mindset. Still, the best of Jimi’s plays are behind her. I Pacify her Talruum Minotaur, and when she tries to Fireblast my Infantry Veteran, I trigger the Sun Clasp to snatch it back to my hand and replay it. A couple of tactical strikes later wear Jimi down, while I land a Magma Mine. The Mine builds up to destroy her Talruum Piper, and bereft of her best defender I alpha strike for the win.

Thoughts & Analysis

As noted in our reviews of the Mirage decks, we were a bit underwhelmed by the experience of playing them. They felt somehow immature, big ideas that were limited by an inability to express them based on the available card pool. Only one of the decks- the Blue/Red Burning Skyapproached what we’d ordinarily expect to see. They weren’t terrible, but they did feel a bit unpolished and simple.

What a difference a set can make! If Legion of Glory is any judge, the addition of a second pool of cards has given much more form to the ideas and themes of the developers. That isn’t to say that this is the best Theme Deck we’ve ever seen, but it definitely has taken a few steps in the right direction. For one thing, it takes an identifiable archetype- White Weenie- and puts its own spin on it. Legion’s tactic is to make combat difficult for your opponent. We saw this concept realised in Ride Like the Wind with its legions of flank-Knights, but Legion does so with a much greater diversity of effects. With creatures that heal damage, others that pump attackers, still more that wreak havoc with blocking assignments and the like, Legion doesn’t rely upon getting any one card onto the battlefield. By offering threat diversity and a stream of cheap attackers, it dilutes the value of an opponent’s removal cards and makes them difficult to manage in the red zone. And if its removal is lacking somewhat, well, that’s par for the course anyway.

We’re excited to see what the rest of Visions will offer based on what we’ve seen here alone!

Hits: Solid game plan well executed with a pleasing diversity of cards; low mana curve that is generous with land-light starts and still lets you churn out attackers

Misses: Leans a bit heavily upon auras to get around the usual weakness of weenie strategies (facing larger creatures)

OVERALL SCORE: 4.15/5.00

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