Big news: We hope to open Summoner Wars pre-orders tomorrow, April 19! But first, your next Scraven preview.
Last week we learned a bit about Scraven and what at first may seem like the most straightforward offensive strategies that come from his deck, but Scraven's has some interesting elements that pack strength in both offensive and defensive situations when used properly. You might want to sit down for this next part... it's a lot to take in.
Let's sit on this for a minute.
Yes, they are called Hunters. Yes, we know Marek has Hunters. Yes, it was very intentional. I wanted a unit that carried resilience with it unlike other units we had seen, a theme that taps into the very core of the pack mindset. Hunters in both sets trigger each others' abilities, but remember they do not have the same abilities. First note Sand Goblin Hunters continue to grow more resilient at the expense of being more costly yet remaining 1 AV, while the Sand Cloak Hunters have the ability to increase AV with an Event Ability under them. I know what you may be thinking, so I'll go ahead and answer: yes, if a Sand Cloak Hunter had an Event Ability under it, ALL Hunters would get that ability.
The other neat thing about Pack Dominance is the element of magic denial and protection. In combination with Scraven's Esteemed Leader ability, Scraven can take his most wounded Hunters after attacking and pull them out of harm's way, which allows for you to influence who might be taking the attack from your opponent, and even allowing time to get another Hunter out (in turn giving another life point to all your SG Hunters.) You have to be careful though, as even denying your opponent the magic for the Hunters won't net you position on the field if each of them slowly begin to topple one-by-one. For example, if you have 3 Hunters on the field and one is sitting with two wounds and a different one is destroyed, the Hunter with two wounds will be discarded. I did mention that this deck has elements of both offense and defense though, so lets look a bit more on how these guys can be used offensively.
Yikes. Maybe it IS wise to pack a bunch of Hunters? As ravenous as a Bloodthirsty Scraven or a rallied-around Cyrus might seem, a pack of Hunters (even just a few) can create some devastating results, and Scraven has the movement to get them into position. Do keep in mind the stipulation about other modifications to Attack Value also, so for instance a Sand Cloak Hunter with an Event Ability wouldn't get an additional die.
"But Brian, how could I have a Sand Cloak Hunter use Barrage AND one of Marek's Event Abilities at the same time?"
Well, you wouldn't. You'd be using one of Scravens.
Yes, Scraven comes with 3 Event Abilities, two of which you'll have to wait until next preview to see. Sand Blast can be quite an interesting card, especially for offensive play. One of the most obvious thoughts for a Scraven deck would be throw it on a Sand Cloak Unit and let all your Units toss the enemy Units around. As fun as that is, one of my favorites would be to throw it on a Flinger who can ping a Unit previously hiding behind a wall or blocker and tossing them into the open. Not to mention the added benefit it gives to setting up a solid Sand Wyrm attack, or get in closer position to Silts, getting around Biter or Kreep's abilities... any number of things.
Lastly I want to take a look at another one of the Champions in Scraven's deck who seems to look at the terms offensive and defensive a bit differently. Aside from being perhaps one of the most awesome pieces of art we've seen in the game (with one of the doofiest looking pieces of art in the game riding on his back), Sand Drake acts as a protected transport for some of your Common Units across the battlefield.
Not only that, but Sand Drake also gains strength for each Unit in tow. (Cue your crazy ideas for Bomber spam.) One thing that comes from this is that the Units underneath aren't seen as being on the battlefield at that time, so it doesn't help for Hunters on the Battlefield, Bloodthirsty Scraven, or Cyrus. What that does mean, though, is a long-term bypass to the cost of Hunters by slowly summoning them and slowly dropping them. I do not advise this in general, but if your opponent is piddling around and you have nothing else to do, give it a shot.
A lot to take in, I know. I wish I could say this is the craziest part of Scraven's deck... but it isn't.
Until next time.