It is Christmas break and I’m immobile. I am in immense pain because of a flare-up of an old back injury. This sounds slightly worse than it is, only because I’m completely addicted to the SolForge demo. The eye-popping graphics are crystal clear. Game play is smooth. The strategy is deep. I know, I said my dirty word: strategy. The thing with me and Magic is that I have fun playing Angels. Just Angels. I want the most amount of Angel power in my deck possible while remaining… somewhat competitive. We might not win regularly (I miss you Baneslayer Angel), but when we are victorious, the little girl inside of me that loves rainbows, cupcakes and Lisa Frank rejoices. I’m not a spike. It’s just for funsies. That’s me.
Something about SolForge is different. Something about SolForge makes me want to send my dragon right at your face, and once he’s demolished you, do a 360 and head directly to your village for some more fun. SolForge seems simple at first. You may play any two cards every turn. Your creature battles the other player’s creature in the same lane. You are dealt five new cards every turn. Easy. Except that it’s not. As I was confined to my bed for several days, playing game after game, I did something “funsies” never do: I went full-on tilt.
The rough part about this tilt was that I couldn’t call @Justin_DZ to vent and get advice because he doesn’t have an iPad and hasn’t played yet. I couldn’t read through the latest “strategy guides” or just tell @realevilgenius to make me a damn deck. I had to put on my big girl pants and figure it out. After a quick pouty session on Twitter, I decided to take the sage advice offered to me from @jasonlreedy and started playing the Alloyin/Tempys faction deck like it deserves. At some point, SolForge will be released and brilliant writer/gamers everywhere will produce tons of advanced content. Until then, you are stuck with me. I hoped you might spend the next few weeks with me as we walk through a game playing the Alloyin faction. Let me introduce you to a game of SolFoge and we can learn to play together.
Round One: The Opening
I am Player One and have drawn the Alloyin/Tempys faction pre-constructed deck. The AI, Player Two, is playing the Uterra/Nekrium faction deck, has the opening move (you may only play one card if you play first) and plays a level one Zombie Infantry (click him a few times to level up!):
The Uterra/Nekrium deck starts with creatures that are much bigger than Alloyin/Tempys. If you do not keep them in check, their creatures can get so big and gain board control so quickly that you might never recover. We start with 100 life, so feel free to get a little creative with the hits you take, but we definitely don’t want to let this guy live.
After the AI plays the Zombie, it passes the turn. Quick note on mechanics: when you play a card it levels up and goes back into your deck. Deciding what cards you want to play at level one to level up to level two for later is just as important as deciding what card we want to play to deal with the Zombie facing us now.
Our opening hand is as follows:
This is your major removal spell and will be useful at all three levels. It is not as good as the Uterra/Nekrium removal spell Cull but you will need it. I have found it to be most useful in the early levels when the majority of creatures are 4 toughness or lower.
This dog is where it’s at. Not only is leveling from 5/3 to 9/7 pretty decent, but we also get a free lightning spark when we play him at level two. I always try to cast the Hound within the first two rounds and get a leveled up version of him in my deck as soon as possible.
Mr. Roboto here is probably not where we are going with this turn. He is pretty underwhelming, having no secondary abilities. Our Hound levels from 5 to 9, plus gives us a free removal spell. He is fine when you need a chump fattie to throw out and didn’t draw a Volcanic Giant, but otherwise we can do better.
The actual stats on Lightning Elemental seem mediocre at first glance (being level three with a toughness of six means level one creatures can still kill you) but Swiftness (read: Haste) is very useful. It can never hurt to level this guy up when given a chance. He is also a great opener for a quick 4 damage to the face.
This is a Terminator a Momma can love. With his special ability, he is really a 4/5 that levels to a 9/12 and ends at 15/20–WAY better then Mr. Roboto. You could make a good argument for leveling him over Lightning Wyrm in almost all circumstances, but I think we shouldn’t discount the benefit of Swiftness completely.
After looking over all our options here, I decide that I don’t want Player 2 to begin the turn with the Zombie. I cast first my spell: Lightning Wyrm. The Zombie is 6/5 and my Lightning Wyrm is only 4/2, but it has Swiftness. So I get to play it and send its level two into my deck. I hit the “Battle” button and do 4 damage to the Zombie, knocking it to 2. After the “battle” phase has ended, I cast Magma Hound. When the Hound enters the battlefield, his special ability does two free damage to the Zombie, killing (re-killing?) it. Now I have two cards in my deck that are level 2 to my opponent’s one.
Round 2: Whoa Ugly
The AI isn’t messing around. It plays the best creature in the deck–probably the most powerful card you can play in the Demo, period–Grimgaunt Devourer, and then follows him up with Deepbranch Prowler.
Imagine fighting a hundred Goblins, thinking to yourself, “man, I got some real problems.” Then a Balrog sashays into the room and you realize you didn’t know what a real problem was until then. His 5/3 might not seem that scary, but this baddie gets +1/+1 every time a creature is destroyed. Not just when YOUR creature is destroyed. When ANY creature is destroyed. Many turns will play out with four or five creatures dying at once. You do not want to face this guy when five creatures just buffed him up to 10/8 and you are still casting lvl one babies. When this guy hits the field, smash him. Do not suffer him to live.
Prowler is a scary level 1. We don’t have any creatures that can stand toe to toe with him, and of course he has “Breakthrough” (or what the rest of the world calls Trample). If you look at his level ability, he doesn’t get significantly larger. He is an early threat. Since we are still in the early stages, we will treat him as such.
After casting both creatures (which have summoning sickness), Player 2 hits “Battle” and takes no damage from my Magma Hound because it also has summoning sickness.
We have been dealt five new cards and not one card is the same as what we drew in our opening. I love this feature of the game so much. It requires you to make good choices and gives you choices to make. No mana screw, no mulligans.
This one is a bruiser. He is not quite as impressive an opener as a 7/7 Deepbranch, but when he levels he eats Deepbranch for lunch.
He is called General for a reason. He wants to lead your troops. There will be so many times where you have at least three cards you would really like to cast early on for no other reason than to level them up and get the party started. The General should, in almost all cases, win a spot. He gives buffs to each adjacent creature and is a very decent defender all by himself.
I payed zero attention to this guy before @jasonreedy mentioned him to me. When I read it the first time, I wondered why at level 3 I should care about casting level 1 cards. I would be playing level 2 and level 3 cards most of the time, surely? Well, I was wrong. It will be a tough choice when you have two level 2 cards on the field and three level 1s and the level 2s just seem like a no-brainer. Most of the time, this will actually be the case. You will cast the two level 2 cards you were dealt.
However, it is important to never stop finding a way to cast your level 1 spells and keep leveling them up to level 2s, or you will just keep getting dealt the same level 1 cards over and over in long games. It kind of sucks to cast the level 1 Acolyte over the Volcanic Giant, but just eat your veggies and do it. It will help you grow big and strong later.
Technosmith takes some brain power. I find the majority of games I lose when I control the Alloyin/Tempys faction is because I misplayed Technosmith. At level 1 he is only a 2/2 which is pretty weak. However, his ability is vital for late game advantage. When you play him, you are gaining the leveling ability over your opponent. He lets you pick any card from your hand and send it into your deck leveled up. The tricky part is knowing how to squeeze him in without losing too much board advantage vs. their big huge baddies. Once he levels up, he gets so much better at 8/8 and is a must for the race to get your level 3s on the board before your opponent.
While I would really prefer to cast Technosmith and level up an extra creature, having Grimgaunt Devourer on the field, now is not the time to show weakness. His creatures have summoning sickness, so I don’t need to worry about anything I cast dying this turn. I decide to cast Alloyin General in the slot directly across from Deepbranch. When I pass the turn to Player 2, my General should live through the fight and, more importantly, he is going to give +2 attack to the poor soul that has to face Grimgaunt Devourer.
The safest choice here would seem to be casting Volcanic Giant vs Grim. With the Generals buff, he would go into the fight a 7/5 and you could feel pretty safe in destroying the Grim. I decided to be a little risky since it is still early. I really want to level that Acolyte. I am just hoping that with the General’s help my now 6/6 Acolyte can do the job.
If I seem overly worried about this Grim it is because I am. You should be too.
I hit “Battle” and my Magma Hound, which has no creature blocking it, deals five damage to Player 2′s face. I cross my fingers, hold my breathe and pass the turn… (to be continued)
Join us in our next episode to see if we can take the Balrog down and turn our attention toward surviving the middle game. Feel free to post any tips/tricks/thoughts in the comments as we learn this new game together.
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