Shadowverse: Basic Neutrals
Everybody gets the Basic set of Shadowverse cards, and the Basic set is always playable in both Rotation and Unlimited formats.
Among the Basic set are eight Neutral cards which we will take a close look at here. You will see that they have some interesting things to say about both Fantasy and the game of Shadowverse.
From the gameplaying point of view if you only play the competitive games then the Goblin is someone you seldom see. But if you're like me and you play the lowest levels of the AI for the daily rewards the the Goblin is as familiar friend, or rather, a familiar adversary. It's always something to see this guy jump into the arena on turn one and me with nothing to pull. At two toughness, he won't be that easy to get rid off that early in the game and could get in a ping or two before being removed.
From the point of view of general fantasy the Goblin is a staple adversary. Among CCGs MTG is the one that really takes advantage of goblins - goblin decks in Magic can be extremely powerful (or is 'annoying' much the better word?). In Dungeons and Dragons for parties just starting out, goblins are a familiar low level monster. It's good to see the Goblin represented here at the very basic level of Shadowverse. They're malicious, dangerous, and tend to multiply like rabbits but goblins are also crafty, ingenious, tenacious and hard-working.
Is there anything that can trump the Goblin in being a fantasy archetype? Yup, only two, and here's one of them.
What's the other one you ask? The dragon. I've been around Fantasy long enough to consider this to be the iconic Fantasy image.
I'm not referring specifically to Dungeons & Dragons here - I'm referring to 'the fighter versus the dragon'. An image that has been repeated countless of times across various Fantasy-based material. It is iconic and it shows the two great archetypes of the craft.
It is also symbolic and shows us what lies at the core of all Fantasy: a person (the Fighter) dealing with a seemingly insurmountable problem (the Dragon).
Back to the Fighter in Shadowverse. He's a vanilla 2/2 for 2; known as a Bear in MTG. Fairly costed and valued the Fighter forms a baseline that can be compared to another Basic Neutral card:
The Mercenary Drifter comes in for a slightly unfair 3/2 for 3. That said, seeing the Mercenary Drifter jump out at you at turn three is always problematic. At turn 3 this card always gives me the impression of being very powerful and must be dealt with immediately.
It's also interesting to note the difference between a fighter and a mercenary. More often than not a fighter is a soldier belonging to an army. A mercenary is a sellsword or a fighting freelancer. It makes sense that a Mercenary at 3/2 is more powerful than a figher at 2/2, but no tougher. After all, if you're going to sell your skills you better be better than the ordinary troops (Fighters).
Now we come to the Well of Destiny
Beautiful art but I think it should have been some kind of well.
The Well of Destiny is representative of a universal mechanic in fantasy games - the buff; a means of adding power to characters. Common buffs are usually one shot spells but this one is an amulet. It will take up precious board space but it will buff your followers while it's there.
Harnessed Flame and Harnessed Glass. What the heck is this?
These cards are very unique. These 'little demons' are by no means common Fantasy archetypes. What these twin cards symbolize though is a CCG staple: the Combo. If both of these cards make it to your next turn they combine to form this gorgeous and gorgeously powerful follower.
It's going to be a bit of a trick to get a 2/1 to survive to the next turn though - particularly one that has a target painted on it's forehead.
Going to back to playing the game I recall the numerous times that Goliath comes to the board (again while I'm playing the low level AI for rewards) at turn 4 or 5.
By this time evelution is available allowing Goliath to achieve a level of formidability. Looking at the unevolved Goliath, he is no more powerful than the Mercenary Drifter but the four toughness is a factor.
Last, let's look at the Angelic Sword Maiden.
I don't recall having ever seen this card in action, either on my side of the board or my opponent's. Nonetheless, it is representative of Angel cards in it's protective quality. This one has Ward - the precursor of a long line of Angel ward cards.