EC: Guest Article – “Battling Spellcasters”

Dear friends and fans of the Elemental Clash Customizable Card Game!

This time it is not I who will treat you to a nice, EC-related article, but rather an enthusiastic Elemental Clash fan, David Hassell from the United States of America will “take the stand” and share some interesting insights from his Elemental Clash experiences in the following article or session report!! So let’s hear it from David!!

(Many thanks to David for his enthusiasm for the game and for taking the time to pen this detailed report!)

Last note before we get to David’s session report: You can check all cards mentioned at www.elementalclash.info!

Guest Article David Hassell - Battling Spellcasters Medium


Battling Spellcasters!

Prisma vs Scalden

 

Prisma of the Many Colors

This Spellcaster grabbed my attention from the start, because I love the idea of putting together multi-element decks. How did I do? Here’s the list:

 

Ball Lightning x 3

Dragonslayer x 2

Jupiter-Stormmaster x 2

Archdemon x 2

Fandi of the Flaming Eye x 1

Algorn, Wizard Adept x 1

Greater Catfish x 3 (I love to eat fried catfish, and I love putting this in a deck)

 

Lightning Strike x 2

Mist Cloak x 2

Mars’ Rage x 3 (Oh, yeah! Mars’ Rage + Mist Cloak + Archdemon = PAIN!)

Siren’s Call x 3

Earth Ritual x 3 (I wanted 7, but that’s cheating)

 

Jupiter Stone x 2 / Mars Stone x 2 / Mercury Stone x 1 / Venus Stone x 2 = not that it matters with Prisma

Hastestone x 3

Powerstone x 3

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Scalden Deathbringer

Ouch! This Spellcaster pretty much shuts down any 1 Defense creature from getting on the table. Then you can flip Scalden later in the game to take down an annoying creature and unleash your creatures’ attack power. Nasty!

 

Cosmic Griffin x 3

Cumulus x 3 (I fear this creature. I really do.)

Elder of the Skies x 3

Merman Meddler x 2

 

Protective Sphere x 2

Repulse x 2

Negate x 2

Royal Shattering x 3

Shattering Wave x 3 (these last two can really shut down the opponent)

 

Jupiter Stone x 3

Mercury Stone x 3

Miststone x 3

Powerstone x 3

====================

At the start of the battle, Scalden has to mulligan down to a 5-card hand. The first 7-card hand only had one Stone, the free mulligan flooded his hand with Stones, the 6-card hand had no stones at all, so he’ll settle with a 5-card hand. Since he’s starting with a low 35-card Spellbook and he draws 2 cards per turn, that may not be a liability. You do need to be careful about deliberately using the mulligan rule to draw down to fewer cards, because a bad run of luck can hurt you.

Prisma uses her free mulligan and is happy with her 7-card hand.

Scalden is first, so he can’t draw any cards. He establishes his first Element Stone Stack with a dual-element Miststone (Air/Water).

Prisma builds her first Element Stone Stack, but also doesn’t cast anything.

Scalden draws two cards and pumps his first Stack to 2-level. I’ll say “x-level” to indicate an Element Stone Stack can produce x elements. He casts Cumulus. Due to Scalden’s Static Ability, all creatures have -1/-1. That will lower Cumulus from 2/2 to a 1/1 creature, though his special ability allows him to discard for a temporary +1/+2 boost for each card discarded. Prisma also has to make certain she doesn’t cast any creatures with a printed defense of 1, because the -1/-1 will bring it to 0 defense, which destroys creatures.

Prisma plays a Hastestone into her first Stack, bringing it to 2-level. That allows her to cast a Greater Catfish. The Hastestone gives the Catfish the Quickattacker Ability, so the Catfish is treated as if it was in the Attack Zone. It attacks Scalden for 1 point of damage. Scalden does have the option to use his Flip Ability to purge the Catfish before the damage goes through. That would remove the -1/-1 static impact on creatures, but it’s very important to time your spells, creatures, abilities, and attacks properly.

Scalden deploys the Cumulus into the Attack Zone. He establishes his second Stack with a Jupiter Stone (Air), then casts a Protective Sphere Permanent Spell on it. Permanent Spells occupy the Stack until the end of game or until some spell or effect is able to remove it. The Element Stone in that Stack will stay there, but it’s not needed in order to keep the Permanent Spell in place. That means that Scalden has the option to target that Jupiter Stone with either his Royal Shattering or Shattering Wave spell.

The Protective Sphere protects Scalden’s Air Creatures from opponent’s spells and abilities, and Cumulus is an Air Creature. The Cumulus attacks for 1 point of damage. Scalden casts a second Cumulus.

Prisma deploys her Catfish into her Attack Zone. She establishes her second Stack with a Mars Stone. Prisma’s Static Ability allows all her Basic Element Stones to produce any element, so she doesn’t have to worry about matching the proper element with the spells/creatures she casts. The Catfish could try to attack Scalden’s Cumulus that’s in Scalden’s Attack Zone, but Scalden could discard a card to pump it where the Catfish would be destroyed but the Cumulus survives. The Catfish attacks Scalden’s Spellbook instead for 1 damage, and a Shattering Wave Boons.

Scalden could target his Jupiter Stone that’s tied up by the Protective Sphere. That would give him an effective 1-life boost, since cards in the Spellbook = life in Elemental Clash. He decides it would be more productive to try to reduce Prisma’s stacks. Scalden targets Prisma’s Hastestone, and the Hastestone goes to the top of Prisma’s Spellbook. Yes, that does give Prisma the effective 1-life boost, but an attack from Scalden can put the stone from the Spellbook into the Archive, removing it from play.

Scalden deploys the second Cumulus into the Attack Zone, and places a Stone into the first stack to make it 3-level. The first Cumulus attacks for 1 point of damage, and that takes out the Hastestone that was put on top of the Spellbook in the prior turn. The second Cumulus attacks for 1 damage. With only four cards in his hand, Scalden doesn’t want to pump Cumulus unless necessary. Scalden casts a Cosmic Griffin and ends his turn.

Prisma has another Hastestone in her hand, and she plays it to her first Stack to make it 2-level. She attacks with her Catfish, but first pumps it by casting Mars’ Rage on the second 1-level Stack. That delivers 4 damage to Scalden, and another Shattering Wave Boons. Scalden targets the pesky Hastestone, sending to the top of Prisma’s Spellbook. Prisma has two 1-level stacks (one currently occupied by the Mars’ Rage Spell), so those Shattering Waves are hurting her ability to cast high-cost cards. She decides to “heal” by casting Earth Ritual, which will put the top 3 cards from her Archive underneath her Spellbook.

It’s Scalden’s turn. The Cosmic Griffin goes to the Attack Zone. Scalden plays a dual-element Miststone to start a third Stack. Each of the two Cumulus’ attack for 1 damage apiece, then the Cosmic Griffin (2/1) attacks the Greater Catfish (1/1) directly, destroying both creatures.

Scalden casts a Merman Meddler in the 1-level stack. Merman Meddler can be destroyed to neutralize a creature or spell if the opponent doesn’t destroy one of her Stones. Scalden leaves his 3-level Stack free, because he has a Negate Spell in his hand.

Prisma has to Purge the Earth Ritual on her Stack, then plays a Stone on it to make it 2-level. She casts a Dragonslayer. Scalden doesn’t have any Dragons, but at least it’s a creature for Prisma. She has a 1-cost creature in her hand, but it has a defense of 1. Due to Scalden’s Static Ability, it would be destroyed as soon as it was cast. Such is the way of life.

Scalden deploys the Merman Meddler into his Defense Zone, then casts Royal Shattering to take Prisma’s 2-level Stack to 1-level. At least the Stone was returned to Prisma’s hand instead of getting put on top of her Spellbook.

Both Cumulus’ attack Prisma for 1 damage apiece. Scalden follows by casting a Cosmic Griffin.

Prisma deploys the Dragonslayer into her Defense Zone, where it could at least block one of the Cumulus’. Scalden has a Merman Meddler in his Defense Zone and would be able to block the Dragonslayer’s attack.

Oh, but the Merman Meddler has a -1 attack value, so the Merman would be destroyed if it did block. Change of plans! The Dragonslayer goes into the Attack Zone instead. This was all done before Prisma drew a card, so she’s still within her Standby Phase.

She attacks with her Dragonslayer. Blocking is optional, and Scalden decides that he wants to hold onto the Merman to neutralize something potentially nastier.

Prisma plays a Stone back onto the first Stack to make it 2-level, then casts a second Dragonslayer

Scalden’s 2-card draw and low deck size is starting to hurt him. His Spellbook is down to 13 cards, and he’s going to draw two of them this turn. Prisma has 25 cards in her Spellbook.

Ok, Scalden deploys the Cosmic Griffin to the Attack Zone, then draws 2 cards. He then uses his Flip ability to Purge the Dragonslayer on Prisma’s Element Stack. This will eliminate the -1/-1 Static Ability, so his creatures will be able to attack at full value. He targets the Dragonslayer on the Stack instead of the one in the Attack Zone, because Scalden wants to attack it. He discards a Protective Sphere from his hand to pump one of his Cumulus (3/4), then attacks the Dragonslayer (2/2) with the pumped Cumulus.

Before continuing the attack, Scalden casts Shattering Wave to take one of the stones off Prisma’s 2-level Stack and place it on top of her Spellbook. Yes, that gives her “1 life,” but the next attack will put it into the Archive. She attacks with the Cosmic Griffin for 3 damage. A Greater Catfish Boons, and Prisma places it into her Defense Zone.

I believe the Merman Meddler can try to neutralize the Booned Catfish. Even though Boon is an ability and the Catfish would not be placed on a Stack, the Boon does allow the creature/spell to be played at no cost. However, Negate and Omnia’s Flip Ability wording seems to indicate that you can only neutralize cards cast on a Stack. I’ll play on assuming that you can’t neutralized something that was triggered by Boon.

Scalden still has a Cumulus that hasn’t attacked, and he discards a card to pump the Cumulus (3/4) and attacks. Will the Catfish (3/3) block? Prisma takes the damage. Scalden leaves his 3-level Stack free so he can use his Negate if necessary.

Prisma leaves her Catfish in the Defense Zone. She has two 1-defense creatures in her hand that she couldn’t play when Scalden’s -1/-1 ability was active, but now she can play them. She casts Algorn, Wizard Adept. He has immunity from spells and effects, so he can’t be neutralized. Prisma then casts Fandi of the Falming Eye (I think that’s supposed to be Flaming). Scalden destroys the Merman, and Prisma decides she can’t afford to destroy one of her meager two stones.

Scalden moves one of his Cumulus to the Defense Zone. He plays a Powerstone on the third stack to make it 2-level, then casts Cumulus. The Powerstone gives the Cumulus a +1/+1 counter.

Scalden declares the Cumulus in the Attack Zone as an attacker, and Prisma decides not to block with the Catfish. Scalden then discards a card to pump the Cumulus (3/4) before delivering the 3 points of damage. Although not specified in the rules, it is customary to declare an attacker, cast spells/abilities, declare blockers, cast spells/abilities, then resolve damage.

The Cosmic Griffin (3/2) attacks, despite the fact that the Catfish could block and take it out. Prisma’s Spellbook is running low now, so she decides to block the damage, and both the Catfish and the Griffin are destroyed.

Prisma deploys Algorn to the Defense Zone, then plays a Stone into her first Stack to make it 2-level.  That’s all she can do.

Scalden deploys the Cumulus into the Attack Zone, then moves the Cumulus from the Defense Zone into Attack. He has three Cumulus on the attack!

Algorn decides not to block the first two attacks, and 4 points of damage go through. An Earth Ritual Boons, so three cards are transferred from Prisma’s Archive to the bottom of her Spellbook.

The third Cumulus (3/4 pumped) attacks. Algorn decides to take the damage, and Scalden opts not to pump it further by discarding Negate, because that Negate might come in handy. Actually, Algorn could destroy himself to neutralize Negate if it comes out. Ooo, decisions, decisions!

Another Earth Ritual Boons (the final of the three copies in Prisma’s deck), “healing” 3 points of that damage.

Prisma draws a Powerstone and is able to finally (!) build her first Stack to 3-level. She casts a Jupiter-Stormmaster, and the Powerstone gives her a +1/+1 counter. Scalden casts Negate to neutralize the Jupiter-Stormmaster, and Algorn destroys himself to neutralize the Negate. Working back through the spell stack, Algorn and Negate go to their respective Archives, and the Jupiter-Stormmaster goes through. Her Play-Effect sends the Cumulus with the +1/+1 counter back to Scalden’s hand.

Scalden moves one of his two Cumulus to his Defense Zone, then attacks with the one remaining in the Attack Zone for 2 damage. He then casts Elder of the Skies onto the 3-level stack, then casts Cumulus onto the third stack with the Powerstone to pick up the+1/+1.

Prisma deploys Jupiter-Stormmaster to her Defense Zone. Both Spellbooks are running low, and she’s hoping Scalden’s 2-card draw per turn will finish him off. She casts Greater Catfish onto the Powerstone Stack. She’ll leave her 1-level stack free for the Mars’ Rage card in her hand.

Scalden draws and casts a Royal Shattering to return Prisma’s stone in her open 1-level stack to her hand. I think she could play Mars’ Rage before the Royal Shattering resolves, but she opts not to.

The Elder of the Skies is unblockable, so it attacks first for 3 damage. The non-pumped Cumulus declares an attack, and Prisma decides not to block. Scalden discards both of the cards in his hand to pump it, and 4 damage goes through. A Greater Catfish Boons into the Defense Zone!

Scalden decides to attack with the last Cumulus (3/3), knowing that if Prisma blocks, the Cumulus would take out one of the blockers in the Defense Zone. Prisma has to block, and chooses her Catfish to block. The Catfish and Cumulus are destroyed.

Prisma deploys the Catfish into the Attack Zone, and moves Jupiter-Stormmaster from Defense to Attack. She plays her Mars Stone to set up a 1-level Stack, then declares the Catfish (3/3) as an attacker. Since the Stormmaster has a higher attack value, Scalden decides not to block. Prisma casts a Mars’ Rage to pump the Catfish (6/3), and 6 points of damage go through! That depletes Scalden’s Spellbook.

The game isn’t over. A player only loses if he/she has to draw a card and can’t. However, Scalden can’t pull any tricks from his sleeve. Prisma ends her turn, and Scalden loses the game during his Draw Phase.

Prisma wins the game… with only 3 cards remaining in her Spellbook!

 

Andi’s Retro Game Reviews #1: The Lord of the Rings – the Two Towers for GBA

Dear readers and dear friends of retro videogaming!

Now for something totally different and maybe utterly unexpected: Since this blog is supposed about video games as well, yet I keep publishing post after post about cardboard games (tabletops, such as M:tG or my very own Elemental Clash) without a tiny sign of video games at all. This, my dear friends, is about to change…

…as I invite you to read my first in a series of reviews of Retro Video Games, some I would call hidden gems, for various older consoles, mostly handhelds I would say since I prefer handheld gaming over sitting before a big TV screen with a controller in hand. I will call the series, of which I cannot predict how many episodes I will be publishing over the course of time (maybe it will be a neverending journey into retro-gaming-nerdness! 😀 ),

ANDI’S RETRO GAMING REVIEWS

or ARGR for short (that does sound like something a pirate would heartily utter).

We will start this off with something I started playing again quite recently and am massively enjoying, which has given the igniting spark pretty much for doing this new series of game reviews on this here my blog:

The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers for GBA (Gameboy Advance):

LotR TT Startup Screen

Startup Screen

When I think back to when the GBA was THE top notch handheld console of the time (man it must be ages since that), some of my fondest memories of a handheld I love to the very present day come from playing the second episode in a trilogy of games, which let you re-enact the adventurous stories and action of the three Lord of the Rings movies, which are, as I hope the better part of you knows, based on the fantastic and epic novels of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Gameboy Advance adaption of the movies/books turned out really great and engaging from what I remembered, and for one reason or another I found the second installment of the series on the GBA most appealing, hence the review of it here, and I have had hours and hours of fun and enjoyment playing the second game “The Two Towers” through several times with several characters, levelling them up, collecting rare items and unravelling the many hidden secrets. So yeah back then I played the original cartridge on the original device… Nowadays I have my “special” PSP that plays pretty much anything out there so I gave LotR – the Two Towers another try quite recently. And it has lost nothing of its appeal, charm and huge replayability value.

But for all of those unfamiliar with the game, let us begin at the beginning:

This game could be classified as an action RPG or hack and slay/slash game and comes closest to the Diablo I + II experience when it comes to the portable GBA. There may be one even closer to that experience, which I have fond memories and nostalgic feelings about, but I am aware of none better than LotR – The Two Towers so correct me if you know more than I do. To some the game will no doubt feel a bit dull because all you do is basically running around slaughering Orcs and other foul beasts with one out of 5 well-known characters of your choosing at the outset of the game:

Character Selection Screen

Character Selection Screen

At the outset, before you dive right into the action of beating down Sauron’s evil hordes one-by-one, you get to choose your character. The 5 are really really very different in how they play and the game is quite faithful to the novels and movies there. I always start out with Aragorn, who is a close-combat warrior and can learn a skill (each character has their very own set of unlockable active and passive skills – more on that later) to wield two mighty blades at once – my favorite play-style in games like that. The others are Legolas, who is a ranged attacker shooting arrows at distant enemies, then we have Gandalf who wields a staff AND a sword (how awesome is that!) and can learn a ton of devastating magical spells, or Frodo, who is kinda a stealthy character who is probably the hardest one to play the game through with since he is very weak physically. Lastly there is Eowyn. I don’t really get what her benefits in the game are… she just seems like a weaker version of Aragorn, a genuine warrior type of character. Maybe I should give her a real try some time and find out about her qualities! 😉

Right after you selected your character, you are treated to something nobody would give a shit about but which blew my mind back then when the game was freshly released and I played it for the first time: An about 10 second long, highly pixelated video sequence of footage taken right out of the movie!!

Still from the Movie Sequence

Still from the Movie Sequence

Back in the days, that WAS something totally kickass and yeah, again, it really blew my mind seeing this on my tiny GBA screen.

Depending on which character you chose, you will start at different locations in the game and furthermore, each of the 5 characters has their very own storyline which is a huge plus for the game all in all as you pretty much get 5 quite different adventures packed into one cartridge. Oh did I say 5 characters?? I know for a fact that some secret stuff is going on in the game (and a quick google search would tell me all about it…) and that you somehow can unlock Gimlie as a 6th playable character. It must be true since on ocassion, you find axes which nobody but Gimlie could wield (equip). I figure it must have to do with finding all of the 8 different, iconic artifacts like the broken sword Narsil or Bilbo’s Map which are hidden throughout the game, and hidden very well I must say…

OK on to the graphics and gameplay:

As Aragorn, whom I choose when I started to play the game again recently, you start out upon leaving Rivendell and you’ll find yourself in a snowy landscape depicted in an isometric persepective, again quite faithful to the Diablo-style hack’n’slay gameplay I mentioned earlier.

The Journey Begins...

The Journey Begins…

Soon, that is after some paces into the wilderness, you will encoutner the first opponents, which are somewhat varied – at the beginning you only get pitchwork wielding Orcs as well as some Archer kind Orcs but as the game progresses you will encounter many more different enemies such as smaller Moria Orcs or Goblins and later on the much stronger Uruk-Hai Orc-Human crossbreeds as well as wolves and other non-Orc Creatures.

Pitchfork Orcs Attack

Pitchfork Orcs Attack

I said above that the game consists mainly of killing Orcs… which is true to some extent, however the rest of the gameplay makes for an engaging gaming experience (at least for fans of the Action Adventure genre) and offers a lot of replay value. Before I  got into what fleshes the simple Orc slaughterfest out to make for a greatly enjoyable game, I should mention that the graphics and especially the movement animations in LoTR – The Two Towers are really well done for a GBA game, confined to SUCH a small screen.

So yeah, you walk around, run into ugly Orcs and kill them. You have a Life Points meter (the red orb in the lower left corner) as well as a Magic Point meter in the lower right corner of the screen (MP will be consumed as you use Active Skills, such as Aragorns healing power, with which he starts the game). In between the two orbs you got another indicator, a green experience point meter. With every slain enemy, the experience meter will go up and once it reached its far end you will level up. And this is where the fun comes in. You can fully customize your character by means of distributing stat points upon level up as well as learn or improve active and/or passive skills by allocating skill points. Each character has their very own, very unique skills such as Aragorns Life Stealing Skill that regenerates some of his health when he damages or kills a foe. Frodo on the other hand can use the ring to sneak past enemies or improve his skills in finding more and more precious items and gems.

Active Skills on the left, Passive Skills on the right

Active Skills on the left, Passive Skills on the right

Gems are the currency in the game. Oh and speaking of items: There are tons and tons  of different items of all kinds such as weapons or protective gear or even amulets etc which are found in treasure chests or dropped by slain enemies. This way you can really customize and power up your hero to your heart’s content and this is what makes this game a gem for me!

Your inventory on the left and your current stats on the right

Your inventory on the left and your current stats on the right

Oh and about halfway into the game, when the mighty Uruk-Hai appear, you will start finding “rare” or “enchanted” or “premium” items or however you can call it. Their name will be written in green letters instead of white as per normal and they usually have some additional powers or effects such as weapons inflicting plus X fire damage or whatnot. You will need these once the Uruks appear, believe me. Oh and then there are the ultra rare items written in red letters. These are really hard to come by but have amazing powers as a matter of course and what is really cool, you can find and recognize items from the books and movies… I remember when one time my character found and wieleded Orcrist, the Orc Slayer which Gandalf finds in a dirty cave in “The Hobbit”!

One tiny detail I shan’t forget to mention: There is an “Orc-Kills” stat on your Status Screen (see above… I killed two when that screenshot was taken… how lame…) and you can actually check how many Orc lives you have taken on you adventure… In the end the number will be in the thousands if I remember correctly haha!!


Well folks that is it for my review of The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers for Gameboy Advance.

I hope you enjoyed my rather brief look into one of my old GBA favorites and hopefully you appreciate my effort to diversify the topics on here a wee bit. You can be looking forward to Episode 2 of Andi’s Retro Game Reviews already as I am playing and massively enjoying SHINING FORCE from the Game Gear, playing on my Nintendo 3DS (yes they sell old classics for cheap on their E-Shop) at the moment. So guess which game will be up next!

Until them I wish you happy gaming as always – be it analog or digital!! 😀

Yours,

Andi