Limited Set Review: Monarch
by Anthony Junta
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Monarch is set to drop this weekend, and if you are headed to your local pre-release and want some tips to increase your odds of winning some of the awesome playmats that are up for grabs, take a browse through our limited set review!
Cards are scored on a standard A-F grading scale and for cards that are part of a cycle the grades follow the order Red/Yellow/Blue. LSS hasn’t released the full set to us yet and not all the cards that have been spoiled have official images online yet. Through out the review, you will find card numbers without names. These serve as placeholders for unknown cards. Some cards are a bit out of order to keep Brute and Shadow Brute together, same with Warrior and Light Warrior, etc. These are my initial impressions of the cards and classes, but I expect there to be some surprises! We’ll all be learning together come Friday! Best of luck!
Before we dive in, I want to quickly discuss two types of cards that I expect will be at a premium in this set across all 4 classes:
- Spellvoid: With Light Illusionist and Shadow Runeblade capable of putting out pockets of arcane damage, you want to be sure to draft/choose your pool to give you access to gear with spellvoid as much as possible.
- Cards with 6 power: Illusionist has the most efficient attacks of any class in the game, giving them a massive advantage if you don’t have access to 6 power attacks to block with. Keep an eye on light/shadow/generic cards with this stat if you don’t want to suffer versus Prism.
Illusionist is the hardest class to evaluate since the class itself is new to us. I expect Prism to want a resource rich deck that can block well and swing back hard with a phantasm attack, adding in a swing with a shield or other aura if you are given some breathing room. It costs 2 + 3 to make a shield and swing with it for 4. The rare auras cost 4 and the phantasm attacks generally cost 2. I take all of this to mean that you will probably want a bunch of blues to pitch. Keep in mind your own illusionist cards won’t break opposing Phantasms, so be sure to invest in some 6+ power generics. I probably want at least 12 blues in Prism.
(003) Luminaris: D+
Compared to Prism’s standard weapon this gives up 3 power and automatic ‘go again’ for costing 0 and having conditional ‘go again’ if you have pitched yellow. An average, I think this will be worse than Iris in limited. I’m not too worried about having yellows to pitch but 1 damage is pretty low impact and I think you’ll be hard pressed to stack up enough auras for this to be worth it.
(004) Herald of Erudition: B
The Heralds are an awesome series of cards that all go into soul on hit. This will probably be the main way to get cards into soul in Prism, so 5 damage dominate is a great way to make hitting much more likely. It's also great closer in limited, where defense reactions can be scarce. There aren’t really common ways to take advantage of the card draw by giving this ‘go again’ but being yellow makes this nice to pitch early and close the game out with late.
This can save you from a lethal attack at instant speed but it's so expensive that it is hardly worth it. Sure you can fizzle your opponent's turn, but at the cost of at least 3 cards from your own hand, you’ll be hard pressed to apply any pressure in return. It doesn't block itself, so if you don’t have 6 resources to pitch it’s a cracked bauble. In limited, I'm staying away.
These 4 cost auras have been really difficult for me to evaluate. You need a 3 card hand to play them but even with 2 blue pitches you can’t also pay for an aura swing, making it really difficult to both play these and apply any pressure. You can make a shield to go along with it, but is that really a good 3 card turn? You can play them on your opponent's turn but you’re likely going to take some damage to keep enough cards in hand and you won’t be left with much to do yourself. If these do remain on the battlefield they are powerful, but, unfortunately, if your opponent can do multiple attacks they merely have to target the aura with the last swing to get rid of it. To make these work I’ll be looking to drop them in arsenal and wait for my opponent to have an off turn. Genesis specifically isn't great as far as the auras go. If you can manage to put a light illusionist card into your soul it gives you a backup aura and draws a card to enable your burgeoning aura crew to swing in. Still, the high setup cost and lack of block makes me wary of putting this in my deck in any matchup and I’m definitely siding it out against go wide builds.
(007) Herald of Judgement: C+
Shockingly, a 2 cost, 6 power attack is somehow below rate for the Heralds. I like preventing cards from being played from banished as a hit effect that can be highly disruptive to Shadow opponents, and Chane in particular. It's less exciting against the light half of the field, but it's still an attack worth playing.
(008-010) Herald of Triumph: A-/B+/B+
There are a very limited number of cards in the set that come with 7 power to block and destroy this phantasm. I'm thrilled to play all three versions of Herald of Triumph. All phantasms are prone to being a negative exchange if your opponent does have a 6 power block, but of the group, Triumph is the only one with a built in means of disrupting that, making it my favorite.
On a full hand you can combine this with a phantasm to make it really difficult for your opponent to destroy the attack. But if they just block up and attack this afterwards it’s not clear that you are really making progress. If you’re on the defensive this can swing the tempo back, but you’ll have to take some lumps along the way.
I like merciful retribution better than the other auras because the fail case is higher. Worst case your opponent wastes an attack on this, takes 1 arcane damage, and you get to put Merciful Retribution into soul. If your opponent tries to ignore it, you can start pumping out shields for arcane damage and slinging phantasms that also end up in soul if destroyed. It’s still expensive and probably requires you to take a turn off but playable.
Illusionist attacks not hitting for enough damage is not likely to be Prism’s biggest problem. The phantasms already hit for a ton and ‘go again’ doesn’t seem super crucial with Prism having great ways to use extra resources already. If your opponent can apply enough pressure they may just ignore this and make the text irrelevant by forcing you to block. Without a full hand I don’t see Ode to Wrath paying dividends.
(014-016) Herald of Protection: B+/B/B
A very aggressively costed card at common. Creating a shield is a pretty decent payoff, as it threatens to leave a powerful weapon in play if your opponent can't apply the pressure back. This slows down your opponent's next turn either way as they are encouraged to either block up or give you a free block next turn.
Another nice attack. Since the arcane damage is only on hit, I'm slightly lower on this than I am some of the Chane arcane attacks we'll get to later. Still, with spellvoid as the only way to block arcane damage in the set this can definitely chip in for some extra damage.
The hit effect for Herald of Rebirth is partly dependent on how many other great phantasms you've managed to draft or open. This is a good way to get back a phantasm that was destroyed by a 6 power block, but keep in mind that any Heralds that do hit will end in soul or in banished rather than the graveyard.
(023- 025) Herald of Tenacity: B+/B+/B+
Putting dominate on these forces your opponent to have a 6 power block or take a chunk of damage. Dominate makes this a reliable way to charge your soul in the early to mid-game and a great closer late.
I expect Prism decks to lean on the heavier side of the resource curve, so I don't see paying 1 as opposed to 2 as serious upside, and in most cases I'd rather have the hit effect. If you do pick this up in multiples consider biasing a bit more towards blue to enable a nice turn where you make a shield, swing with it, and then follow up with our Wartuned friend. At the end of the day, it's a 7 power attack for 1 resource, how bad can it be really?
(088) Iris of Reality: C
Your stock illusionist weapon, Iris of Reality can turn any auras you control into a weapon that swings for 4 with ‘go again’. Prism has access to a few auras at rare and the ability to make one at instant speed for 2 resources and a card from soul. But the costs start to stack up quickly. It will cost 5 resources and a card from soul to create a shield and swing for 4 with ‘go again’. Even assuming you have two blues to pitch, you're a little limited on your ability to take advantage of the ‘go again’. If your opponent takes a couple of off turns, however, this can really put on the pressure.
(089) Phantasmal Footsteps: A
Fantastic equipment for Prism. This really opens up some additional lines of play. Spears of Surreality suddenly becomes much more interesting with the ability to recoup action points. You can also plan to pitch a blue to block with these and create a shield to swing with next turn. This is an amazing way to use up the extra resources a blue-rich Illusionist deck will have
(090) Dream Weavers: A-
I love any card with spellvoid in this set, as options to block arcane damage seem highly limited. The ability to take phantasm off of some of your crazy efficient attacks is a great way to swing the tempo in your favor in the mid- to late game and makes sure that these have plenty of play, even against heroes without access to arcane damage.
(091) Phantasmaclasm: A+
A 9(!) power attack that comes with a built in way to disrupt your opponent's ability to block with a 6+ power card is fantastic. This plus a blue has to be one of the best two card hands in the game. It blocks for 3 if you need it to, so there is nothing not to like here.
I'm not totally convinced that creating multiple shields is significantly better than just creating one given how expensive they are to swing and that they break if you take any damage. This does save you from banishing a card from your soul, which seems to be at a premium in Prism. I like the blue version best since I expect Prism will want a resource dense deck.
Adding phantasm to cards that wouldn't otherwise have it is a definite drawback, but the rate here is good. +5 for 1 resource in red is a big boon, and I like the flexibility of the blue version. If your opponent can't block with a 6+ power attack this is fantastic, if they can it's a blow out where you are two-for-one-ing yourself, which is definitely not where you want to be. If you have ways to debuff your opponents blocks or disrupt their hand this goes up, but it's definitely a risk reward play. I am siding this out against shadow brute every time.
(098-100) Enigma Chimera: B/B-/B
Illusionist really seems to be defined by above-rate phantasm cards that will punish opponents if they can't come up with 6 power blocks. Enigma Chimera exemplifies this. An 8 power attack for 2 resources is crazy efficient. The blue version is also great as a resource card that can still swing for 6.
The cost here is a bit more fair but comes with the benefit of ‘go again’. I like this better if it can be used to bait out a 6 power block from your opponent. The problem is that if your opponent does successfully block this with a 6 power attack, the ‘go again’ fizzles and your turn will just end. This is another big risk/reward card that has the potential for blow outs on either side. If you have a few ways to shrink your opponents blocks, this goes up, but otherwise I'm going to feel a bit nervous putting this on the chain.
Ser Boltyn decks need to reach a critical mass on two fronts: cards that charge, or otherwise put cards into your soul, AND cards that buff your attacks above their base value. Most of the cards in the pool do one of these things, but very few do both, meaning that Boltyn will need to put in some setup to make the deck really flow. I expect Boltyn to have some off turns where you focus on getting cards into your soul for you to use in a flurry of damage the following turn. Few cards in the pool have natural 'go again' so we'll be relying primarily on Boltyn's ability to string together multiple attacks. I want 8+ ways to get cards into soul in a limited deck. Make sure you are taking charge cards highly in draft or that your sealed pool has enough to support this deck.
Raydn is one of the tougher cards for me to evaluate. I don't expect the ability to always be on, but the threat of activation and even the occasional swing for 3 at no cost is tempting. I expect the hatchets will be the better option in most Light Warrior limited decks, but I wouldn't be shocked if Raydn proved me wrong.
(032) Bolting Blade: A-
Boltyn is a little limited on in-class cards with 6+ power to block against illusionist, so this is an auto-include. 7 power at 4 cost isn't great but I expect you will be able to set this up to be cheaper than that a decent amount of the time. At 7 for 2 cost, it's good, and if you can ever get this off for free you are getting away with something.
My issue with Beacon of Victory is that it is taxing an already limited resource in the form of your hero's soul. I expect Light Warrior will be spending cards from their soul to give attacks ‘go again’. This could be a finisher, but I don't expect X to really ever be higher than 2 or 3. The draw is nice, but you need cards in soul and to have charged already this turn, so the setup cost is just too high for me to love it. At least it blocks for 3.
This card has a LOT going on, and ultimately I think it's pretty solid. It buffs your weapon(s), turning on Boltyn’s ability and (potentially) puts cards in your soul (though it's not technically charging) for you to pay with. You'll want to have at least one card in soul before kicking this off, so it requires some set up, but it can enable some great weapon turns as Boltyn.
(035) V for the Vanguard: A
Unlike the conditional soul-charging of Lumina Ascension, here we get it guaranteed and get to trigger anything that cares about the charge keyword itself. This buffs itself as a candidate for ‘go again’ as well. I expect many of Bolytn's best turns in limited will start with this hitting the battlefield.
(036-038) Battlefield Blitz: C/C/C-
One trend here is that I am much higher on the charge enablers than I am on the charge payoffs, for the simple reason that your deck won't function without the enablers and the hatchets themselves are a payoff. Battlefield Blitz is a solid card that’s still going to make the deck, but it's not a payoff I am super excited about. The power is on rate and it blocks well.
Again, I am lower on the payoffs than the enablers.This card is strong and I'm happy to play all three versions, but I'm prioritizing cards that charge above it in draft. This is great in a 4 card hand, but can't realistically be played for full value outside of that. Still, the red version is one of the most efficient attacks in the game if you’ve charged (I see you, Illusionist). I'm willing to try to set these up to get the bonus, but if you haven't charged, the blue and yellow versions are fine to pitch or block with.
You will almost always want to charge as additional cost on these 0 cost attacks to get a card in Boltyn's soul and turn on the hit effect. You'll really want to combine this with a pump or attack reaction to threaten to use the drawn card whenever you can. Overall, a decent enabler with some limited up side.
(045-047) Cross the Line: C/C/C
Your basic 1 cost card that charges the soul. Nothing flashy, but you’ll need cards like this top make your deck functional. I think all 3 versions are solid, with red and yellow coming in at or above the 4 power breakpoint and the blue version being a nice resource card with some utility.
(048-050) Engulfing Light: B-/B-/B-
Another decent enabler for Boltyn, but with the possibility of putting two cards into soul on hit, I like the upside here slightly better than its 0-cost counterparts in Bolt of Courage or Express Lightning. If you can pump this and use Boltyn's ability it's a good way to turn on your cards that pay you off for charging.
(051-053) Express Lightning: C/C/C
I think this is on par with Bolt of courage. Getting over the 4 power break point makes the red version my favorite of the bunch, but the others are still decent as a way of getting cards into Boltyn's soul. Express Lightning doesn't have the same upside as some of the other charge enablers, but is still good enough to slot into any Boltyn deck.
(054-056) Take Flight: B+/B/B
This is the enabler I really want to see in my pool or in draft. It charges the soul and gives itself ‘go again’ so you can carry the card in soul into a hatchet swing or another attack. I think having this card in hand will be the best way to line up your wide turns in limited. The red version is best, coming in at the 4 power breakpoint, but every one I open or take is going in my deck.
(057-059) Courageous Steelhand: B/B/B-
This is the best way at common to make sure that you can give attacks ‘go again’ with Boltyn's ability by increasing their power above base. Note that these can be used on the hatchets or on any of your light warrior attack actions, so the flexibility is great. The red version is the best bang for your buck but I'll play all of these I can get. It does only block for 2, but that's not enough to bring it down.
(105-106) Hatchet of Mind/Hatchet of Body: C+/C+
The rate on these is fine and the fact that they buff one another when used in succession is a nice bonus. With no built in 'go again' you'll need plenty of ways to get cards into Ser Boltyn's soul and bump the base power of the first axe swing but there's a good number of enablers.
(107) Valiant Dynamo: A+
I don't expect every turn to have multiple weapon swings in limited, but even getting 3 or 4 blocks out of these is great over the course of a game. Plan out your next turn in advance and block with these as often as you can when you have the ability to recharge next turn. I'm definitely prioritizing giving the hatchets ‘go again’ with Ser Boltyn rather than my attack actions if I am lucky enough to open these.
(108) Gallantry Gold: A
Gallantry gold can turn on your hatchets for ‘go again’ if you are lacking a pump or reaction. They also have battleworn so you get a block out of them as well. Off a single blue pitch and a card in soul you can swing the hatchets for 7 damage using these, making them pretty good when you are on the defensive. They can be even more explosive if you have a way to enable weapons to swing more than once.
(109) Spill Blood: B-
A decent pump for your hatchets, but without a built in way to charge you need to make sure you have a card in soul to get the axe train started. The fact that it gives dominate also makes this a great late game finisher if you can swing with both hatchets or provide a second buff to your preferred axe.
To take full advantage of Dusk Path Pilgrimage you'll need to spend two cards from soul, which requires a good amount of set up. The fact that this is limited to only targeting weapons also takes it down a notch, though it does block for 3. It is a good way to pump your first axe swing if you find yourself lacking in that area, and this goes up in value if you are in a Boltyn build that is focusing on axe attacks for your big turns.
(113-115) Plow Through: B-/C+/C+
This is a really useful buff to make sure that you can give your first axe swing ‘go again’. Pitching to play this plus two axe swings is a solid two-card turn. It blocks for 3 if you aren’t set up with a card already in soul, so the fail case is good as well.
(116-118) Second Swing: C-/D+/D+
I think this is significantly worse than its partner in Plow Through. While you need to pump your first swing to give it ‘go again’ the second axe will often be the last attack of your turn. There aren’t enough cards that allow you to attack a second time with a weapon and even if you can, it is heavily taxing on your souls. It still blocks for 3 and +4 is a big threat, but I’m trying to stay away.
(000) Great Library of Solana: B
If you bias your deck towards yellows this can be a serious problem for your opponent. It probably won’t be on every turn but that’s still fine. You run some risk that they can also use this, but them taking a turn off to destroy this is a fine exchange for you.
(060) Vestige of Sol: A+
Gaining an extra resource for every light card you pitch if you’ve put a card into souls is amazing. If you are lucky enough to open this be on the look out for cards that unconditionally put cards into souls as an optional cost. This is a powerful threat on its on to make your opponent block cards that charge on hit.
(061) Halo of Illumination: A
As I mentioned above, I expect spellvoid to come at a premium, and at spellvoid 2 this keeps you safe from late Arcane damage catching you out with no options. The effect is exactly what the Light heroes want. Put a card into soul and replace it with an extra attack for Boltyn (though sadly this doesn't trigger cards that care about Charging) or gain some additional resources for Prism and I think this can enable some of your biggest turns.
(062) Celestial Cataclysm: A
A free 7 power attack with ‘go again’ is incredible, but you'll need to put the work in to make sure that you have plenty of ways to charge up your soul. Boltyn can get cards into soul easier, but he also needs to use them more for ‘go again’. Prism is reliant on her Heralds hitting, but doesn't have the same need to expend her soul cards. Even if you can't play it, this pitches for 2 and blocks for three while destroying phantasms, so you really can't go wrong.
(063) Soul Food: C+
This is a great way to unconditionally get cards into your soul. This ends your turn outright, but even if this just ensouls itself that’s not bad. The sweet spot is probably this plus one other card. More than that, and I think I’d want to be applying pressure and be doing more with my hand that just chucking it into soul.
(064) Soul Shield: B+
I love this card as a way to play at instant speed and charge your soul at the same time. I’d be really happy to see this in my pool. At two cost, it pairs really nice with some of the ironhide gear but it is a bummer that this can’t be played alongside a Prism shield easily.
This card is worth it if you haven't put a card into soul. Assuming you do have a few cheap ways to get cards into soul (more likely in Boltyn than in Prism) this is playable, but even then you are really at most netting 2 resources on the exchange. Instant speed is nice, so you can dig for an answer of threat if you really need to survive or close out the game, but ultimately I think this is pretty mediocre in limited.
(066-068) Invigorating Light: B+/C/C
I like the red version as a 6 power block that also has some utility getting a card into your soul in a pinch. If you are short on ways to charge up your soul, you’ll probably be happy to have this but it’s a little costly for being conditionally added to your soul. Note this checks whether there is a card in your soul when it is PLAYED, so don’t expect to make a shield with Prism or give it ‘go again’ with Boltyn after the fact and still get it to go to your soul afterwards.
(069-071) Glisten: A/A-/A-
This card is fantastic in either Boltyn or Prism making it a strong early pick. Boltyn is happy to just chuck counters on your axe at instant(!) speed and swing, but in Prism this really excels. Swinging with a 6-8 power shield (with ‘go again’) is no joke, and the fact that counters stay, means I am going to be working very hard to block heavily and keep that shield around. This can absolutely take over a game for her.
A nice cheap way to get cards into soul on hit and a block for 3 to boot. Boltyn probably prefers this card to Prism as he can more frequently give it ‘go again’. I like red best at the 4 damage break point, but all versions are fine on a one card recovery turn.
This is below rate as an attack, but still playable, and it gets a nice boost against Shadow heroes. Still, it's very conditional. I expect Chane will want to remain below 3 soul shackles for most of the game and as much as she might want to, Levia probably can't banish 3 cards from the yard every turn. Sometimes it will work out, but don't be afraid to use it as an attack, pitch, or block for 2 if the stars don't align. I'd consider siding this out against the light heroes, but realistically you might not have better options.
This is a good, efficient way for either light hero to try to get cards into soul. Probably again better in Boltyn for the threat of ‘go again’ and a stronger need for soul cards. The yellow and red versions both get above a standard single card block while blocking for 3 themselves.
(081-083) Seek Enlightenment: B/C+/C
Boltyn certainly wants this more than Prism as it makes his attack actions eligible for ‘go again’ and threatens to charge the soul. +3 attack is the version I really want but all three are viable for him. In Prism, this can pair nicely with a 2-cost Herald off a blue pitch, but really it's filler and not much more for her.
(084-086) Blinding Beam: B+/B+/B+
I think this is secretly the card in the set that Prism wants more than any other. Being able to debuff an opponents blocking card and stop your phantasm from being destroyed is exactly the effect that she is looking for. I'll be taking this highly and playing every copy that I can get my hands on. It's still fine in Boltyn as both heroes can use it to save themselves from a lethal attack and it gives you protection from reactions and dominate.
This is strictly a sideboard card for Shadow opponents and even then it's not that impactful. Boltyn can make best use of getting the +1 across multiple attacks, but I'm not prioritizing this in any way.
I expect the biggest consideration with shadow brute will be your ability to manage your blood debt. Basically every shadow brute card has blood debt and will require you to randomly banish cards from hand or graveyard. While this allows you to trigger Levia’s ability it also means you may be carrying a lethal blood debt in the mid- to late game. So some number of 6 power shadow/generic cards and shadow brute cards that put those 6 power attacks into banish are your two key focus areas when drafting or evaluating your pool. It will be okay to miss some Levia triggers early on, but in the late game turning blood debt off is critical.
To play her most effective attacks Levia needs cards in graveyard. If you run into a case where you don’t have enough to do this early, you can’t afford to have your weapon dealing 4-6 damage to you. It’s also hard to both swing with this and trigger Levia’s ability to avoid the blood debt tax, so you are hurting either way. Your deck won’t be streamlined enough in limited for this to work. (Stop hitting yourself!)
(122) Hooves of the Shadowbeast: A
Battleworn plus the ability to gain an action point in the late game to enable two big attacks (or give you two chances to turn off blood debt) and close out a game is great. It’s not game breaking, but it’s best-in-slot for shadow brute.
(123) Deep Rooted Evil: C
Jason said this was great in limited in the pre-pre release but I’m skeptical. Yellow pitch and 6 power that can be played from banished sounds good for Levia. This is also a recursive threat as your other attacks can move this back to banished. Unfortunately, this itself doesn’t turn off blood debt from hand and you can’t block with it to get it in the graveyard, making it an awkward late game draw and really bringing down the grade. 3 cost is also below rate relative to other class cards.
(124) Mark of the Beast: A
This is by far my favorite Shadow Brute majestic in limited. This turns off blood debt every turn you play it, and you’ll never be stuck holding this with only 2 cards in the graveyard. Unlike the others, it also blocks for 3 making it very flexible and the Brute card I’d be happiest to open.
One theme you’ll see in this article is being down attacks that draw then discard versus banish 3 from graveyard. Especially when they don’t block. 6 power for 2 resources is fine and it’s a hit for Levia’s ability once in the graveyard, but you’re rolling the dice on turning off blood debt. If your deck is 60% 6+ power, your odds of hitting with another 6+ card in hand is around 80%, but this drops dramatically if the other card in hand doesn't have 6 power (~30%) or if you are going to discard the card you draw (60%). With the same deck composition, banishing 3 random cards from graveyard is ~94% to hit. The payoff of adding another blood debt to banish isn’t worth the risk.
(126-128) Endless Maw: A-/C/C
Finally a Shadow Brute card that blocks. The red version here is the one you want as it’s a 6 power hit for Levia’s ability. As we noted above the math is in your favor to hit banishing 3 cards from graveyard and it gives bonus power when you do hit a 6 power card! Yellow and blue still block well but are misses on 6 power. I’d rather have the extra resource than an extra power to pitch and keep this in my deck as long as possible.
(129-131) Writhing Hulk Beast: B+/C/C
The red version is another hit for Levia’s ability puting it well above the rest. The other versions are fine as strong, dominate attacks that banish 3 cards from the graveyard. It also blocks for 3 giving it a good deal of flexibility.
I think this card is great. It’s a way to turn off blood debt when playing a generic attack and blocks for 3. I like the blue version best as a pitch card early that stays out of the graveyard and then gives dominate in the late game to hit for lethal. Be careful when pairing with another shadow brute card that could banish up to 6 from the yard, as this could limit future options.
(135-137) Boneyard Marauder: B+/C/C
Team Covenant’s promo was promised to be a staple and the red version certainly is in Levia. I’d play as many as I can get. 6 power, blocks for 3, banish 3 from the graveyard hits all the right notes. Again I prefer the blue to the yellow for the higher pitch value.
This card really suffers from not blocking and therefore having no reliable way to get it into the graveyard. A draw and discard is risky if you are carrying a big blood debt and this rolls the dice on turning it off. I like the blue as a pitch card that turns off Levia’s ability if it is banished from hand. I’m wary of putting the reds and yellows in my deck.
(141-143) Dread Screamer: A-/B-/B-
The red version here is excellent. 6 power, blocks for 3, banishes 3 from graveyard and has the potential to get ‘go again’? Even the yellow and blue versions are good. They are misses for Levia’s ability but the ‘go again’ lets you turn off blood debt if your other play doesn’t on its own (generics or Deadwood Rumbler as examples).
(144-146) Graveling Growl: C+/C+/D
This is a bit difficult to play, but if you can, the efficiency is great. Even if I never get to play the red or yellow versions, I am happy to have them in my deck as 6-7 power cards that block for 3. The blue version is much worse for not hitting the 6 power threshold.
(147-149) Hungering Slaughterbeast: B/B-/C-
As a basic attack that banishes 3 from the yard and blocks for the 3, I am really happy to see both the red and yellow versions in my limited deck. It’s not flashy, but it’s exactly what Levia wants.
(150-152) Unworldly Bellow: C+/C+/C+
I like this as an enabler for your brute or shadow attacks that otherwise wouldn't have a way to turn off blood debt. This is a miss for Levia once it's in the graveyard, so I don’t mind trading a point or two of power for the increased pitch that allows me to keep these in my deck later into the game. Blocking for 3 is always a fine fail case.
(221) Ravenous Meataxe: C
2 cost for 5 is a great rate, but it will probably miss a decent amount of the time (40-60%) in limited. Discarding for the axe also doesn’t turn off blood debt itself, so it will be hard to use in the mid- to late game without additional banish effects. That said, at least it stocks your graveyard and I’m happy to run this over Hexagore any day.
(222) Tear limb from limb: A-
A fantastic finisher for Brute. You’ll have to keep a full-ish hand and get a bit lucky on the discard (note this does NOT banish so blood debt is still on) but when this goes off it’s a huge tempo swing that can win the game outright or swing the tempo greatly in your favor.
Note again that this discards rather than banishes, so you’ll have to find another way to turn off blood debt. It does potentially have 'go again' if you can activate dominate on a 6+ power discard, but I wouldn’t rely on this. It doesn’t block, but the red version is a 6 power hit and a good potential finisher with dominate.
(226-228) Smash with Big Tree: C-/C-/D-
This doesn’t give you an outlet to turn off blood debt when you play it and it doesn’t block, so there’s not really a good way to get it into your graveyard. Levia might still want to play the red and yellow versions as hits for her draw then discard effects, but that’s not enough for me to be excited to have this in my deck.
Chane has more flexibility in managing his blood debts, as most shadow Runeblade cards can be played from banish, moving them to the graveyard. The key for Chane will be managing your soul shackles. Limited was already a format prone to decking out, even before banishing extra cards off the top of your deck every turn. You’ll want to try to build a deck that has some natural ‘go again’ to avoid relying on using Chane’s ability, as once you have 3-4 shackles active you’ll be on a tight clock to close out the game or outright lose. Note how much spellvoid your opponent has access to and plan to save some arcane damage accordingly.
Galaxxi Black puts a point on wanting to play cards from your banish. It forces your opponent to have a block for 3 or face an additional arcane damage as well. 1 for 3 isn’t bad but it can often be shut down by a one card block and this certainly isn’t where I want to be spending Chane’s ability for ‘go again’.
(156) Shadow of Ursur: A
This card does everything you want all on its own. It pitches, blocks, and can be played from banished for free. Banish another card with blood debt to gain 'go again' and swing with that one too.
(157) Dimenxxional Crossroads: A-
If you set this up early and have a good balance of attack and non attack actions this could provide 10-12 points of arcane damage over the course of a game. With no arcane barrier this is huge. Yellow pitch and block for 3 is a great fail case.
(158) Invert existence: A
Chane's majestics are all excellent. This can be played from banished and can deal 1-2 arcane at instant speed, making it a great late game finisher. Not to mention the ability to disrupt the opponent's graveyard and that it pitches for 3 to pay for your other blood debt cards early.
(159-161) Unhallowed Rites: B/B-/B-
A cheap attack that can sometimes be played from banished, clear troublesome blood debts and get good late game cards back into your deck is pretty good all around. The red version is best at 4 power but I’m happy to play all 3.
I think this effect is mediocre for the cost of a card and 1 resource; and the block for 2 hurts. This does turn on all your non-attack action needs and arcane damage is a valuable commodity, but I'd rather have some of the other non-attack actions in this slot. The fact that it can't be played from banished also takes it down.
(165-167) Seeping Shadows: B/C-/D
The red version here is really the main one I am interested in. Enough of Chane's common attacks cost 2 that going down to the yellow or blue versions risks not having a valid target, leaving you to pay 3 for no effect or start leaking damage to blood debt. The effect itself is great, though by no means cheap, turning on everything that cares about playing a non-attack action and giving your next attack 'go again.' The others are too risky for my tastes.
Another blood debt attack that can be conditionally played from the banished zone makes this pretty decent. I like the red version as a conditional attack for 4 and the blue version as a blue pitch/3 block. Make sure you consider how many non-attack actions you have during deckbuilding to get this out of your banished zone.
(171-173) Piercing Shadow Vise: B-/C/C
4 power for 2 cost is a little below rate, but this blocks for 3 and can be played from banished without jumping through any additional hoops, so I'm happy to include all three versions of this in my Chane decks. I'll be looking for ways to deal arcane damage with ‘go again’ to pair with this.
Another card that sacrifices a little efficiency to gain the ability to be played from banished. It comes with a built in buff that makes this a great target for Minnowism or Seeds of Agony. I always like that it blocks for 3 as well.
(177-179) Rifted Torment: B-/C/C
Another card that is a bit expensive for its power, but as a potential source of arcane damage that can be played from banished, it still seems quite good. The red version requires 3 cards (excepting reactions) to block fully and the blue and yellow are good early pitches that can get banished by Chane in the late game for some arcane damage threats.
(180-182) Rip Through Reality: B/C+/C+
We can see the theme here. Another overcosted card that blocks for 3 and can unconditionally be played from banished. If you've dealt arcane this gains ‘go again’, which makes this the best of the bunch in my book. Another great Seeds of Agony target.
(183-185) Seeds of Agony: A-/B-/C
Speak of the devil. This is the non-attack action that I want to see in my shadow runeblade deck. It can be played from banished and adds arcane damage that can provide a big boost to a number for your other cards (unhallowed rites, rip through reality, piercing shadow vise). The red version is the best given the cost of the other Shadow Runeblade cards. Unlike Seeping Shadows, this costing 0 means you can always afford to play it and get it out of banished, even if you don’t have an attack that works with it.
(229) Dread Scythe: B
I would run this over Galaxxi Black given the option. It's quite a bit more expensive but takes two cards minimum to fully block and having a recurring source of arcane damage in this set seems excellent. You'll want to bias your deck a bit more towards blue.
(230) Aether Ironweave: A-
Battleworn here is a very nice touch. Chane already wants to have a good balance of attack and non-attack actions and this pays you off with some additional resources to enable a big go-wide turn as it can pay for most of of Chane's attacks or maybe even another pump as well. Don't hang on to this too long though if you start running low on non-attacks.
(231) Sonata Arcanix: C
This is tricky to evaluate. I really think your best option in limited is to play this for 0 and hope to get one arcane and draw a card, which at the end of the day is good but not amazing. I don’t think your odds of getting better than that are significant until you are investing 4-6 resources into this, and even then it’s a bit risky. You really need to build towards this by having a good ratio of attack and non-attack actions in your deck, or by pairing this with one of the cards that set up the top of your deck. For reference, if your deck is exactly 50/50 attacks and non-attacks, you are 77% to successfully draw a card off this at X=0. If you only have 10 non-attacks it drops to about 69%. Anything that isn’t either (reactions, instants) further brings down that percentage.
(232-234) Vexing Malice: B+/B+/B+
A combination of arcane and physical damage on one card that demands a two card block. The arcane damage can turn on Chane cards like Piercing Shadow Vise and Rip Through Reality, making this a prime target for Chane's ability, but it's also fine to just play this and chip through some arcane damage. It's also a great finisher in the late game once your opponent has expended any spellvoid armor they have. It can't naturally be played from banished, so this is a good Spew Shadows target.
(235-237) Arcanic Crackle: B/B/B
I like this almost as much as the rare for all the same reasons. I'm going to be valuing any source of arcane damage highly. The blue and yellow versions of both Arcanic Crackle and Vexing Malice are great as early pitches that can come around in the late game to close things out with a few points of Arcane. Try to keep track of your pitch count so you don't end up banishing these with Chane, or keep a Spew Shadows around to get them back.
(187) Carrion Husk: A
An equipment that blocks for 6 is super powerful. You can tank some of your opponent's biggest threats and still carry a full hand into your next turn, shifting the tempo in your favor. If you're lucky enough to open this, play it and use it early as it will break on its own if you drop below 13 life.
(188) Ebon Fold: A
I expect this to be one of the top picks at common in draft. Spellvoid 2 can save you in late game from lethal arcane damage and the instant ability is good for both Shadow heroes and especially Levia. Chane can use this to banish a card that can be played from banished for a free card draw. In Levia, I expect this to be worth 4-8 points of damage as you can use this to turn off blood debt on a turn where you brick or don't have a way to get cards into banished.
This requires you to get 20% of your deck into banished, with blood debt, before you can even play it. It doesn't block and can't be played from banished if it ends up there off a discard. Be happy if you open this, but you'll probably be better off saving it for constructed.
Playing 6 cards with blood debt in one turn is a dream in limited and nothing more. And if you do manage to pull it off I can't imagine you are losing that game anyway. It doesn't block and deals 1 to you for the rest of the game if it ends up in banished. Again, save this for your constructed brews.
This is rarely going to block for anything in limited. On offense, I expect this will most often be an attack for 2-4 and only rarely 6 in limited. I like it better in Chane as it can be played from banished but it's a miss on Levia's ability.
(192) Guardian of the Shadowrealm: A
I already value any way to play at instant speed pretty highly in limited because your options are scarce, but the fact that you can recur this seems incredible. 6 defense is great, but even better in this set with the 6 power theme running through it. The ability to deal with multiple big threats from your opponent with one card over the course of the game is too good to pass up. This harder to play this multiple times in Chane given the way his ability works, but its still excellent. And in Levia, I could see this blocking for 2-3 times per game and posing a serious problem for anyone trying to beat down.
(193) Shadow Puppetry: A
A fantastic card in both Levia and Chane. Chane wants it as a cheap non-attack action with a great effect and an opportunity to keep stacking your banished zone with playable cards. In Levia, it's another chance to turn off blood debt and enables multiple big attacks.
I'm down on Tome in limited. Without ‘go again’, this really isn't a card you want to see in your banished zone as Chane and it's a miss for Levia's ability. It doesn't block and can't reliably provide any card advantage, so I'm avoiding this.
(195-197) Consuming Aftermath: B+/C-/C-
Both Chane and Levia would really like the red version of this card. For Levia, it’s a hit to turn off blood debt once it’s in the yard and you can choose another 6 power card from your hand to banish to turn blood debt off the turn you play it. For Chane, it’s one of the few 6+ power cards he has access to outside the generic pool, so he’ll want this to deal with Prism. The other versions have minor synergies with both heroes but it’s very expensive for what it ultimately does.
(198) Soul Harvest: A
This is the Levia specialization I want to see in limited (and constructed for that matter). It blocks for 3, pitches for 3, and is a hit for Levia's ability with 6 power. It's expensive and banishing 6 cards from your discard is no joke but it's a good late game finisher especially against the light heroes if pitched early. Don't be afraid to block with it and have it as a hit in your graveyard.
(199) Soul Reaping: A+
I also significantly prefer Chane's rare specialization to his legendary one. Banishing a single card from your hand as an alternate cost is amazing for a 6 cost attack that sometimes has ‘go again’. Not to mention that you get resources back for doing so. Banish a card that can then be played from banished, use Chane's ability to give this ‘go again’, and be happy with one of the best limited turns around.
Disturbing art aside, this is another non-attack action that I'm very happy to run in Chane. It can be played unconditionally from banished and gives a nice buff to your next attack. I'm much lower on the card in Levia as it's a miss on her ability. That averages out to around a B in my estimation.
I like the red version of this card as a 4 power attack that can be played from banished making it a better fit in Chane. The others are fine and I appreciate that it blocks for 3, but it's nothing too exciting.
(206-208) Lunartide Plunderer: B-/B-/D+
After a bunch of Chane cards, we finally get a big hitter for Levia. I think the yellow and red are comparable as 7 power is a good break point but the yellow is more flexible as a pitch card. The bonus to hitting light heroes is nice, but not the most important aspect of this card. Even if it's a suboptimal block, it's a nice shadow attack that triggers Levia. The blue version really drops off here.
(209-211) Void Wrath: C/C/C
Ghostly Visit with an extra point of power for an extra resource. On balance I probably prefer Visit just to give more resource flexibility. This card is again best in Chane. All three versions are fine offering decent flexibility and blocks for 3.
This card is a bit pricey for the effect but strikes me as solid in either Levia or Chane. It's a decent non-attack action in Chane that can also be used to get a pesky blood debt card out of banished that can't normally be played from that zone (although that's not terribly common looking at the card pool.) It's also a way to get some recursion in Levia (like Dread Screamer) but given the card costs she really wants the red version. Both heroes can use it to recur a nice generic threat that ends up in banished.
(216-218) Blood Tribute: D-/D-/D-
I don’t think this effect is ever worth a full card. It’s a cute way to try to turn off blood debt or add a card that you can play from banished with Chane, but I don’t want to dedicate a card that doesn’t block solely to those ends. Maybe you can run one of these in Levia if you are concerned about your ability to keep your ability active, but I’m going to be trying hard to avoid it.
This card gives some decent counterplay to light heroes. Giving an attack the ability to banish a card from their soul after they've declared blocks is nice, and I expect it will be fairly disruptive to their next turn. Being able to banish a card from the graveyard at instant speed is great in Levia and decent in Chane to set up a threat that can be played from that zone. Make sure you sideboard this out against a shadow opponent.
(238) Blood Drop Brocade: C-
As a 1 time effect, I don’t think this effect is that good. I expect this will be at its best on offense when you need an additional resource. The defense reactions all seem cost 2 in this set and I’m not sure combining this with an ironhide equipment (thereby spending 2 equipment for just 2 defense) is where we want to be. If you have an open chest slot, by all means slot this in and be happy with the value, this isn’t one I’ll be heavily seeking out.
(239) Stubby Hammerers: C
Definitely the best named card in the set. This set does have a 3 or less power theme running through it and this is a fine pick up for some extra value, but don't expect it to be worth more than 2 or so damage. This is best in Chane and Boltyn, though I'd rather have Gallantry Gold as a Warrior. If you have nothing else in the hands equipment slot I'm happy to pick this up and bump a 3 power attack to a 4. Keep in mind this doesn't affect weapons.
(240) Time Skippers: A-
Time skippers are expensive, but they have some utility for basically all of our heroes, so I expect you will have to take these highly in draft. The action points can get you out of breaking a spectra that would otherwise end your turns and both Chane and Boltyn could use a fall back if their normal ‘go again’ aren;t quite enough.
(241-244) Ironhide Gauntlet/Helm/Legs/Plate: C+
These seem decent but not great as a defensive option in limited. Prism can probably make the best use of them by pitching a blue, activating an armor and then making a shield. For other heroes, you are still giving up a card from hand to block, but it can be helpful with a number of big dominate cards in the set.
(245) Exude Confidence: B-
In limited, this effect isn’t super high impact. Defense reactions and instants aren’t going to be that common and the efficiency itself is not great, especially at 6 for 3. Without natural ‘go again’ this is probably best in Chane and Boltyn so that you can get the effect across multiple attacks. In the late game, threat of activation can force your opponent to over commit on blocks and give you room to wide for the win.
(246) Nourishing Emptiness: B+
Levia is the only hero that seems like she will be able to get the extra effect with any consistency, and as a 6 power attack this is an A+ for her. For the rest of our heroes, this is a fine card that is awesome if you are lucky enough to draw it in your opening hand. I wouldn’t put too much effort into trying to turn this on. If you don’t get this to start, be happy playing it at its base or popping a phantasm with it.
(247) Rouse the Ancients: C+
The setup cost to make this work is pretty high considering you need to play this, pitch a blue, and still have 13 power in hand. In limited, this probably means you need to play this from arsenal on a full hand. The payoff is good, 7 ‘go again’ is no joke, but I’m skeptical that you’ll be able to play this consistently. It only blocks for 2 but the blue pitch does save it from being a dead card if you don’t have time to go for the setup play.
(248-250) Outmuscle: B+/D/D
I'm really only interested in the red version here for blocking phantasms and triggering Levia's ability. It's overcosted for the power of the attack and through thr red version will probably have 'go again' a good amount of the time, the other versions really drop off.
(251-253) Seek Horizon: C/D/D
A free 4 power attack will always be serviceable. I’m not that intrigued by the additional cost of putting a card on top of my deck to get ‘go again’. Maybe Levia could use this to set up a guaranteed draw and discard, but it seems like a very narrow case.
(254-256) Tremor of íArathael: B/B-/B-
This fits really well in both Chane and Boltyn. In Chane this will almost always be on and 6-4 power for 1 resource is pretty solid. In Boltyn, if you’ve given any previous attack ‘go again’ you’ll also get the buff on this. If you have another way to pump this, you could even banish from sound to give this ‘go again’ and get the buff after your opponent has declared blocks.
(257-259) Rise Above: B-/C/C-
2 cards to block for 4 is above what I would want to pay for a defense reaction usually. Neither cost option is particularly appealing as I don't expect to be able to make good use of the top card in limited (though Chane and Levia do have some applications), but with only a few defensive options to play at instant speed in the set, I think I'll probably be running at least the red and yellow versions.
(260-262) Captain’s Call: B-/C/D+
This card is excellent in Chane since it turns on all your non-attack care abouts, and flexible enough (at least the red version) to be serviceable in the other classes. The blue version gets much worse based on the limited number of cards it can target.
(263-265) Adrenaline Rush: C-/C/C
I would like this card so much more if it also got the +3 power when blocking if you have less life than your opponent. As is, the attack is decent if it gets the bonus and pretty bad if it doesn’t. The built-in potential buff means Boltyn probably wants this more than others. Normally I would like the red version at the 4 and 7 breakpoints, but having the flexibility to pitch this if you are even or ahead on life makes me value the blue and yellow versions more highly. Really I think this is filler. You can run it if you need to and it will be fine.
A 'go again' attack if you have another low-power card in hand that draws you a pump is intriguing. However, Chane and Boltyn are the only heroes that will be able to make full use of this and even then there are some turns where you might not even be able to play this. You have to be building or drafting with that theme in mind for it to be worth it.
At first glance I thought this card was bad, but I actually think it has decent synergies for both Chane and Boltyn. It threatens to pump Galaxxi Black to the 4 power break point (and the 1 arcane damage). With a card in soul this also threatens 6 damage worth of axe swings. I think your opponent will have to think hard about the cost of letting this through and it trading for a block from their hand is a fine fail case.
Based on reactions online, I don't seem to value knowing my opponent's hand as highly as some others. The only hero I think that would real want this is Prism so she can check if the way is clear for a phantasm. But the fact that it has to be played from arsenal to have 'go again' is a big downside. This can go up with enough 3 or less power synergies.
(275-277) Overload: C-/D+/D
I don’t think this is very good in limited, especially since we really haven’t seen many reactions that could make sure this gets through. Pumps can help, but I think generally I would want to be using my pumps on other effects. It could be interesting if you pitch this alongside a pump for a late game finisher, but in draft I don’t think you’ll have to take this highly to get it into your deck.
(278-280) Pound for Pound: B/C+/C+
This is a good finisher in a close game. In most games of limited you can probably set this up and the fail case is fine. I like the red version best as a 6 power block, but the others also provide good flexibility to pitch early and come back late.
(281-283) Rally the Rearguard: B+/B-/B-
This card is an incredible defensive option. The red version can destroy phantasms at 6 power and the ability of all 3 to go up to 5 defense at instant speed is excellent. This gives you game against attack reactions and dominate and the power to cost ratio on the attacking end is totally serviceable.
(284-286) Stony Woottonhog: C+/C/C
I like the red version as a 6 power block. The others are playable, though not terribly exciting. The effect is a nice bonus, if this chips in some damage I am happy, but I’m not disappointed to see my opponent ditch two cards to it either.
(287-289) Surging Militia: B/C+/C+
This card is going to be so annoying to defend. I really like this if you can combine it with any pumps/hit effects or just as a late game closer. In the late game, the fact that you can play the red version off a two card hand to force a 3 card block and shift the tempo in your favor seems great.
This is pretty reasonable in Chane, but even if this is always on it is basically just Wounding Blow, solid but not exciting. It would be good in Boltyn as having a built in buff, but Boltyn doesn’t have access to enough auras (any?) to turn this on. Prism can have the bonus turned on sometimes, but it’s still a bit fluky and the payoff isn’t really there.
(293-295) Zealous Belting: C+/C+/D+
This seems excellent in both Levia and Prism. These classes don’t get a ton of natural ‘go again,’ so having access to a couple of these really increases the amount of pressure you can apply during your big turns. Blue gets a lot worse at just 3 attack, but I like both the others.
(296-298) Minnowism: B/B-/C+
I really like this in Boltyn as a way to make your cheap attack actions eligible for ‘go again’; playing this into the red or yellow version of any of the 0-cost Boltyn cards has the makings of a really nice turn. Chane can also make good use of this to turn on his cards that care about whether you have played a non-attack action. Happy to play it in either of them.
I like this card in Boltyn and Chane, again mostly as a way to make your attack actions eligible for 'go again' and turn on cards that care about a non-attack action being played. The red version has the rate I want, but the recursion element means that all three have some play and can be slotted into really all the classes. Keep in mind that you get to order the triggers, so if you'd rather have a Light attack go into soul on hit than to the bottom, you do have that option.
If I can't get any spellvoid armor I will be actively looking for these and even if I do I may try to pick up a 1 or 2 for the Chane matchup at least. I've been putting a premium on spellvoid all set and it continues here. Obviously you'll want to side these out against non-arcane classes but dropping a couple of these on the battlefield early could be the difference in the late game.
I could see running a single copy of this if you have some really strong attacks in your deck, but this doesn't block and when you play it you are functionally down a card for the turn. The red version lets you get back the strongest attacks, but if you draw it early it doesn't pitch well and you might not have anything worth getting in the yard. The yellow and blue are fine pitches but might not be able to get the strong card you really want. No version of this card really does what I want it to.
That’s it, 306 cards! (Well more like 260 or something until LSS finishes spoiling the set…) Monarch looks like a really fun and interesting limited set. I can’t wait to try out draft once US stores can support it, and I’ll probably be online looking for some pre-release at home sealed matches come Sunday. Thanks for reading, and I hope this article has been useful, or at the very least thought provoking. Let me know if you enjoyed this or if there are cards you think I got wrong. Join the Foundry Guild Discord and shoot me a DM @AnthonyJ#4980.
Enjoy Monarch Limited and best of luck at your local pre-releases and armories!