Crystal Clans: The Wisdom of Death
The Skull Clan, Part 1
The results from last week's poll are in, and the fans have demanded that we start our clan previews with the Skull Clan!
You might imagine that the Skull Clan is your standard death-crazed cult. But every aspect of the Crystal Clans world offers fresh, colorful characters that will capture your imagination and challenge your expectations of what to expect from a fantasy board game.
The Skull Clan values history, tradition, and the wisdom of ancestors. And their ancestors show up to every battle to strengthen them. Take a look at the Skull Clan signature ability, Undying.
Every clan has a signature ability. Not all the units in a clan have the ability - on average, about half do. But the signature ability is the sun that all the units tend to revolve around whether they have the ability or not. In Crystal Clans, signature abilities are a big deal, and warp the battle a lot more than regular abilities, making the clans feel completely different from each other.
The Undying ability couldn't be simpler - you can summon those units straight from your discard pile. No need to spend initiative to draw them into your hand. And you ALWAYS have those units as an option. The flexibility and summon-speed Undying units offer make the Skull Clan feel quite powerful. I'd say that Undying was broken, except that all the other clans have broken signature abilities as well.
Let's take a look at the Skull Clan's Undying units.
The Ancestral Knights are the meat and potatoes of the Skull Clan. 4A/4D is a solid stat line, and a 1-activation cost means they stride across the battlefield with haste. These units fly in from your home zone over and over again and are formidable in a battle.
Although you will run through your deck faster due to Ancestral Knights dying, the Reapers ability also offers an advantage, because it helps pour more units with the Undying ability into your discard pile. The Skull Clan welcomes death, and their freedom of spirit is their greatest advantage.
The Ancestral Warriors are cheaper than the Knights, so they can be fit into more tight initiative windows when you really need to move fast. They don't discard units from your draw pile when they die either, and instead offer a powerful alternative - remove them from the game in battle to give the rest of your battling squad a big bonus for one battle. It's always an interesting choice. Lose the unit forever for a big 1-time boost? Or keep their modest 2A/2D for this battle and summon them again in the future?
Chanters are an example of a unit without the clan signature ability, although the ability they do have is scary. But what I want to point out about them are the battlefield effects at the bottom of their card. Chanters offer a completely consistent battlefield effect - it is the same no matter what card your opponent plays, always adding a solid +5A to your squad if all the units in the squad are reanimated. (It just so happens that all units that have the reanimated keyword also have the Undying ability.) So the more you are leveraging your clan signature ability, the more consistently strong the Chanters become when played as a battle card.
But lets wrap up this week with 1 more Undying card, good ole' Sinlore the Ancient.
Sinlore, an ancient ancestral elder of the Skull Clan, is our first previewed Hero unit. Each deck has 3 heroes, and heroes are stronger for their cost than commons. Therefore, when your opponent destroys one of your heroes, they usually feel a great sense of relief, as that's 1 less hero to deal with. Not so with Sinlore the Ancient, who comes back over and over and over again. You can be sure that the Sinlore will always be summoned the turn after you destroy him.
It's not without cost, though. To summon Sinlore, you must destroy a unit you control. It could be one of the relatively disposable and reusable Ancestral Warriors, or it could be a non-reanimated unit, in an attempt to set up a Chanters battle card play. But when you pay The Cost, Sinlore always rewards you, not only with a beautiful dead flower but also with strong battlefield leadership.
Sinlore also has a unique pair of battle effects when played as a battle card. No one else has the ability to completely obliterate the enemy squad like Sinlore, if played against a BOLD battle card. But that comes with some risk too, as your squad is obliterated if you play it at the wrong moment. More than one playtester lost a game due to drawing Sinlore randomly as a battle card when having no cards in hand. But that is also part of the cost you pay for a hero who can rise from the dead.
So that is half of the Skull Clan. Next week we'll take our first look at the Meteor Clan. For those of you whose stomach turned imagining losing a game due to playing the wrong battle card, you'll appreciate the keen foresight Meteor offers in playing battle cards.
See you next week!
Past Crystal Clans Previews
Game Page, Announcement Article
Game Basics: The Battlefield, Initiative and Scoring, Squads, Summoning and Activating, Replenishing, Invading, and Reshuffling
Art Previews: Blood Clan, Flower Clan, Meteor Clan, Skull Clan, Stone Clan, Water Clan