So here we are - halfway through the first set of New Valhalla, and the metagame is finally starting to take form. We have a lot of contenders from both Reiya and New Valhalla Cluster fighting for the top spot, and at the initial reveal of the Starter Decks and New Dawn Rises, a lot of players cast their judgment upon many of the cards released. However, there were some cards that most players looked over in favor of the other powerhouses of New Valhalla. In no particular order, here are my choices for the 5 cards that players most overlooked!
A 1000/1000 body for 2 Darkness Will sounds really good, and a lot of players immediately thought that, until they saw that Patchwork Frankenstein doesn’t recover during its controller’s next recovery phase if it attacks or blocks. That huge drawback initially deterred most players from playing good ol’ Frankie in their decks… until they realized what a potent build-around monster it is. Frankenstein was clearly build to be banished for other card effects in Lich, with synergies in Oborozuki and Vlad, the Insatiable, but not only do these obvious choices work, but some incredibly smart players ended up pairing Frankenstein up with Blessing of the Sun, which was used to circumvent its drawback.
Going into New Frontiers, banish effects with cards like Majin Subjugation and Kaim, the Demon of Vice, but some players have also begun pairing it with Princess of Fleeting Hope, using her ability to forcibly untap Frankenstein every turn to avoid his major drawback.
Frankenstein’s huge body and massive drawback are immediate triggers for an experienced deck builder, and finding ways to get around that downside are not only an enjoyable challenge, but also a fantastic way to shake up the metagame in creative ways.
I’m not going to lie here – I definitely overlooked Youkai Festival when I initially started building for New Frontiers with New Valhalla. Clearly, Wind decks were not seen in top tables at Worlds day 1, so people rightfully overlooked this card at that point. However, once you factor in the power of Wind cards from Reiya, especially aggressive versions, and then pair that up with Festival’s ability to drop two 600/600 bodies that prevent 2 blockers (The Hundred-Eyed One), you can cheat in a ton of damage and establish a massive board. Now, if you get into the late game, both players are low on resources, the flexibility of Festival lets you pay 6 will to bring out 2 Karura from the deck, which at that stage of the game can completely seal the matchup in your favor.
With an obscene amount of flexibility, and versatility with 4 different Youkai, each of which have a different total cost, Youkai Festival has solidified itself as a card that gives Wind an even deeper tempo/midrange identity, and will likely be seen in many Chamimi and Hanzo lists to come.
I completely overlooked Jormungandr when building my Arthur Knights for Worlds, and boy did I feel bad. Two of my Hanzo Machine matchups were versus some of the Australian players, Alex and Tasman, both of whom were playing the sneaky snake. Little did I expect this thing to beef itself up to 1400, kill off my powerhouse resonator, and attack me for game… which ended up costing me my chance at the top 16 of Worlds. Jormungandr, if left unchecked, can single handedly break a medium to slow paced deck within a few turns, and both of the counters that it generates are incredibly easy to ramp up if you’re running basic stones.
In New Frontiers, Jormungandr found a home as early as day 2, being featured in the Light Palace Witch deck that went into the top 8 at Day 2 of the World Championships. A Water resonator with a the Beast race, as well as the ability to apply pressure immediately solidified Jormungandr as an immediate 3-of in that style of list. This little guy can really pull his weight, and is always a potential include in any Water deck from now until it rotates out.
Brunhild was hyped up a lot upon her release, mainly due to her massive body, revival ability, and a Rune that blows up the board for only 3 will. However, her focus on midrange made people wary to play her, however, that doesn’t mean her Runes should be overlooked. In Worlds Day 1, Brunhild’s main use was in the Darkness attribute, but still kept cards like Odin’s Judgment and Dispel with a few Light stones to back it up, Dispel’s main use in this case being to burst gain life or hit a Sky Round that would help Machines to establish an unbreakable board.
However, the real catch comes when we begin to look at New Frontiers. Three cards, Idol of Magic, Angel Statue of the Tower, and The Village of Spirited Away, Kouga, all have begun to see play in the Time Spinning Witch, as well as Light Palace making its appearance in more aggressive Witch builds. With all of these additions running around, addition removal is necessary, however, the only removal we see is Destruction of the Portal in sideboard. Dispel fits a very unique role, as a cheap out to any addition that’s available as early as turn 1, filling an even more essential role in Brunhild than Destruction has in any Wind deck. If not playing a deck with impactful additions, the card is burst life gain, which can be essential to stave off the aggressive matchup, but both modes on Dispel are extremely relevant in New Frontiers, and this card should never be overlooked when building a Light deck.
“Severing” – a dirty word to the experienced Force of Will player. However, the general consensus when looking at Life Severing Blade was that it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as Severing Winds. Sure, a 1-will kill spell sounds amazing, but the condition is not exactly the easiest thing to bank on, especially if you’re trying to play the card in a slower deck. Now, what happened at Worlds? Brunhild lists were using it in tandem with their revival spells to capitalize on its discount! Again we return to the darkness Brunhild lists that took the room at Worlds by surprise, and it’s clear when looking at the deck that aggressive trading (even unfavorable trading) allows for cheap removal and immediate refilling of the board.
Going into New Frontiers, the card doesn’t see as much play due to darkness being either Jeanne D’Arc focused aggression or full on Lucifer Control, and the card doesn’t specifically fit those archetypes, but any uptempo card or card with a beneficial effect upon leaving the field that gets printed from now on will indirectly affect Life Severing Blade’s power level for the better. It’s another build-around card, similar to Frankie, but a very powerful card that should always be on a player’s radar when trading into a board or making a push against someone with only one will open.
So, now that I’ve just described five cards to you and explained why they were overlooked, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Mike, what does this have to do with anything?” Well, the main takeaway is this: as a deck builder, your job is to always look for potential build-around cards or silver bullets that other players may be sleeping on. Take a look at a card you’re not familiar with, grade it at face value, but then think harder and dive into the database. You never know what kind of incredible synergy you’ll find with an old, forgotten card!