Limited Set Review: Tales of Aria
by Anthony Junta
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Welcome to FAB Foundry's second Limited Set review!
Below you'll find my ratings for every non-token card in Tales of Aria. Each has a letter grade and a short rating rationale.
Before we dive in I wanted to briefly discuss a couple of terms. I'll frequently refer to cards as on (or off) rate. This refers to the power of a card relative to the cost and pitch. For example, at red, a 0-cost attack with 4 power is on rate (Wounding Blow). Same goes for a 1-cost with 5 power and so on. Cards that deviate from this will be described as above or below rate.
Here's a quick grading table:
Highly flexible cards or cards that can swing momentum in your favor. Cards that can take over or finish a game.
Soul Reaping; V of the Vanguard
Good cards that draw you to a class when you open them in
Sealed or that can be read as signals in Draft.
Herald of Triumph;
Convulsions from the Bellows of Hell
Average cards that will make up the majority of your deck. Getting a critical mass of these is key to a functional deck
Brandish, Stony Wootenhog
Very narrow cards, cards that have a very marginal effect or are a liability to have in your deck.
Memorial Ground; Doomsday
Not worth having in your deck. Doesn't do anything or could even be harmful.
Hexagore, Death's Hydra; Eclipse
Tales of Aria looks like a really fun set for Draft and Sealed. We only have four Generics--the four equipment--but since every hero has the Elemental talent, those cards are functionally generic in this set.
We also get the fuse mechanic which allows you to generate an additional effect on your cards by revealing another card of a specific element from your hand. It's a bit of a question how reliably you'll be able to do this in Limited as it requires you to have a card requiring a specific elemental fusion and the corresponding element after blocks and pitching. I think the best Limited decks will lean heavily into a single element making it more likely that you'll be able to pull off your fuse effects. This does make the Tales heroes pretty card hungry so you'll have to carefully consider your blocks and recognize that your opponent's won't want to.
This set has a lot of ways to finish games with a good amount of Dominate and the return of Arcane damage in the absence of any common Arcane Barrier equipment: so be wary of going below 5-ish life as that certainly puts you in the kill zone for our Tales of Aria heroes. Speaking of which, let's get to the first one.
Oldhim has access to more defense reactions than any of the other heroes and has a number of big, expensive attacks with painful on-hit effects in his pool, so Guardian's preference for blue pitch cards isn't going away. He also has an activated hero ability that is a defense reaction/discard effect. This tells me Oldhim is trying to take games long: dealing with his opponents threats and gaining incremental advantage with his weapon and disruptive abilities before turning the tide in the late game with a big swing. Oldhim's defense reaction is the most reliable Arcane damage prevention in the set, so Earth blues will be premium picks for me in Oldhim.
Winter's Wail (ELE003): B
Winter's Wail is strictly better than its token counterpart (Titan's Fist) in Limited. The 4 damage is unconditional and if you can pitch an ice card the awkward break point plus hit effect makes this a really unpleasant decision for your opponent. We're sacrificing a bit of efficiency to gain access to an offhand shield, but 4 power is still a good number and I'll be looking to lean into Ice if I'm lucky enough to pull this.
Endless Winter (ELE004): A
8 damage for 4 resources with a hit effect is pretty good. The hit effect here really hoses Lexi more than Briar but it can be threatening regardless. Even if you can't fuse this, eating three cards from your opponent's hand in blocks or taking away activated abilities and getting damage through means any outcome is good for you. If you can fuse, the card gets even better by doubling down on the punishment should they choose--or need--to block. A great card to lay the pressure on or swing the momentum in your favor.
Oaken Old (ELE005): C+
I expect dual element fusions to be tricky to pull off in Limited, even with a full four card hand. If you can pull off the fuse requirements this card is devastating to your opponent, but I expect that will be the exception rather than the rule. Still, 7 damage on a two card hand without fusing is hard to complain about so I'm happy to have this in any Oldhim deck.
Awakening (ELE006): A+
I read this card more or less as: "search your deck for your biggest, most expensive Guardian attack and play it for free." The setup cost here is actually quite low as you can just take all the damage the turn you draw this to turn on the effect. Even without fusing I expect you can set this up to make most things free. If ever you find yourself 15 life up, it's still a blue pitch that fits perfectly in Oldhim's gameplan.
Biting Gale (ELE007-ELE009): B-/C+/C-
I tend to value Defense Reactions quite highly in Limited due to the few options available to play at Instant speed or get around Dominate. However, Biting Gale is pretty inefficient at damage prevention costing you two cards to defend 4 at most. The idea of forcing a card (or additional pitch) out of the opponent's hand if you fuse is appealing, but is very situational, mostly against go wide classes. If your opponent isn't going wide they might not even have a card to discard when this is played and since they are drawing up at end-of-turn anyway this isn't doing much to weaken future turns (as the same effect would if you played it on offense). Defense Reactions do need to be good at defending, which is why I like the next card much more.
Turn Timber (ELE010-ELE012): A-/A-/A-
A 2-cost defense reaction that can defend for 8-6 (if fused) depending on its pitch value is a MUCH better rate. There's a good amount of Dominate floating around this set, especially on the Ice side, so this is even a higher priority for me. I expect fusing to be much easier on Defense Reactions because you'll often have a full hand to work with and don't have to bear the costs of not blocking in order to hit your fusions. I'm really happy to have any version in my Oldhim decks.
Entangle (ELE013-ELE015): B-/C+/B-
I like Entangle as an attack that slows down your opponent's turn as long as you fuse by either taking cards out of hand in the form of blocks or reducing their next attack. This seems like an effect Oldhim will like to have, and you can also play and fuse it on a 3-card hand, which is nice. I like the red version for hitting the 7 breakpoint and the blue for the pitch flexibility.
Glacial Footsteps (ELE016-ELE018): C/C/B
To play and fuse this, you are looking at a 4-card minimum hand and your pitch curve in Limited means even that's far from a guarantee. On the other hand, 10-8 damage Dominate will end A LOT of Limited games in this format. If your Guardian opponent is holding all their cards and you're on 5-7 life, I'd be very concerned. I like the blue version best, as 8 damage is still a great finisher with more flexibility.
Mulch (ELE019- ELE021): C-/C/C+
At 4 resources this is still tough to fuse on anything less than a four card hand. Getting rid of the Arsenal is a great effect (see CNC prices) but the cost here is much higher. If you can't fuse, the rate is still fine. Blue-hungry Oldhim will value that version most highly.
Snow Under (ELE022- ELE024): C+/C/C+
This is the Ice counterpart to Entangle and I think they are pretty comparable overall. I suspect Oldhim will lean toward Ice, so this is perhaps easier to fuse, but the effect is higher variance. Sometimes even 1 additional resource cost can be crippling, but sometimes your opponent was going to have a free resource anyway. I'd hedge toward the guaranteed -2 reduction on Entangle, but both cards play to Oldhim's strengths.
Emerging Avalanche (ELE025- ELE027): C/C/C+
Emerging Avalanche blocks for 3 and has some upside if your opponent has an off turn and you find yourself with extra cards. It slows down the opponent's next turn and gives a nice little pump on your next attack. Again the blue version is best for Oldhim, whose attacks are already giant and who is looking to play a longer game.
Strength of Sequoia (ELE028-ELE030): C-/C-/C+
Of the two common auras, I narrowly prefer Emerging Avalanche because I think Oldhim will trend more towards Ice than Earth and I think a Frostbite token is slightly more valuable than a Seismic Surge in Limited. Strength of Sequoia is still fine and goes up in value in a heavy Earth deck or one with a bunch of 4-cost attacks. The blue version gets top marks for its pitch and block flexibility.
Titan's Fist (ELE202): C
Compared with previous Guardian weapons we have seen our basic hammer loses some efficiency to let us play a shield alongside it. In a well built Guardian deck I expect it to swing for 4 60+ percent of the time. With Buckler only blocking 1 with blade break maybe I would rather have Anothos, but Titan's Fist is a great fallback plan on a one-card hand and perfectly usable in Limited.
Rampart of the Ram's Head (ELE203): C+
Defending 1 at the cost of a full card from hand isn't good, so you really need to be in a matchup where you know you'll be able to defend with this multiple times (because your opponent is making multiple attacks not on the same combat chain) or have other outlets to use resources on your turn for Rampart to be good. A couple copies of the 2-cost Guardian Defense Reactions can go a long way toward getting value here in Limited. Both Lexi and Briar have a number of non-attacks that would break the chain, but I'd expect my opponent's to sequence in a way that avoids that if I reveal this. Lexi's bows being instants also hurts the value of this in Limited.
Rotten Old Buckler (ELE204): C
In Limited, I think Buckler is actually decently close to Rampart in terms of power. It's a one time use, but doesn't cost you a card from hand, which means you can keep or gain some tempo using this. If you plan on going long the persistent value of Rampart probably gives it an edge but Buckler is a perfectly fine offhand option.
Tear Asunder (ELE205): A+
Another incredible Guardian card. Dominate and discard two makes any Guardian attack a major threat. The buff and fact that this can apply to weapon attacks as well is just gravy on an already great card. The fact that it pitches for blue also means you can pitch this early to set up your late game finisher.
Embolden (ELE206-ELE208): D/D/C-
I'm not a big fan of Embolden. At 4 resources, you're looking at a four card hand with at least two blues aside from your auras (likely Emerging Avalanche or Strength of Sequoia) to draw a card off this. If you're not drawing, the buff is still powerful but is asking a lot considering its 3 total cards to play and you can't even swing your weapon after without pitching a third card. The blue version has enough utility with the block and pitch that I don't mind playing it, but I'm avoiding the red and yellow.
Thump (ELE209-ELE211): C-/C-/C
Thump seems fine but not great. At 4-cost it's costly to play this and a pump from hand and base rate is pretty inefficient at 4 for 6. This goes up in value slightly if you are leaning more towards Earth and/or have a number of Strength of Sequoia cards in your deck, as the Seismic Surge plus buff makes this playable on a two-card hand with the ability active.
Lexi is probably the hero that can play most as differently depending on which element you lean toward. Ice heavy Lexi I expect to skew midrange, looking to slow opponents with discard and Frostbite while she chips away with Dominated arrows. Lightning Lexi seems like the most aggressive deck in the format, with a wealth of 'go again' and bonus damage on-hit effects. Lexi is also the hero that gets the biggest benefit from fusing. It can often be awkward as, when fusing a card without 'go again', fusing leaves you a card in hand that you might not want to Arsenal. Lexi at least lets you flip the card up for 'go again' or a Frostbite token the following turn.
Shiver (ELE033): B-
Having Dominate built into a weapon or hero is always quite powerful in Limited, so Shiver's ability to apply that to any arrow gives Lexi excellent reach to close out games if you can combine one or more pumps with this mode. In the early and mid-game the +1 effect can also help you hit key breakpoints or chip in additional damage. Also worth noting that since loading is an instant you can load an arrow on turn 1 if you go second and start your first turn with a card in Arsenal.
Voltaire, Strike Twice (ELE034): B
Voltaire lets you potentially load two arrows a turn with its ability, but instead of giving Dominate, you can give the arrow 'go again' or +1. While generally Dominate is strong in Limited, there are a number of arrows for Lexi which really benefit from getting 'go again' to get multiple possible triggers of your fuse effects: Buzz Bolt, Chilling Icevein, Frazzle, etc. There are some builds that will probably actually prefer the Dominate effect of Shiver to the 'go again' from Voltaire depending on the arrow suite you pull/draft.
Frost Lock (ELE035): C
Frost Lock will be better in Constructed than in Limited I expect. Locking out 0-cost cards on hit seems somewhat impactful to Briar and Lexi, but less so in Limited where our cost curves are more diverse. Oldhim probably just shrugs. Making cards and abilities cost more the turn this is played also seems pretty marginal in Limited. I think you probably just pitch or block with this against Oldhim and you really do want to fuse it against the other heroes, as a 1-cost for 3 damage that can just be blocked from hand is not exciting.
Light It Up (ELE036): B-
Light It Up threatening up to 4 extra damage on hit if fused is pretty potent. Stopping activated abilities on equipment for a turn doesn't seem super impactful in Limited, though nearly all the equipment options do have them. I really want to fuse this and use Dominate off Shiver to force this through for the additional damage. The pitch value gives it some flexibility, but keep in mind that this gets worse as the game goes on and your opponents use their equipment.
Ice Storm (ELE037): C+
As I mentioned earlier, the dual fusions seem really tough to pull off in Limited. The same holds for Ice Storm, especially since none of your arrow attacks are Ice or Lightning typed. The fuse effect is very powerful and the fail case of +3 is fine, but in 90% of Limited games I expect this card might as well be Nimblism.
Cold Wave (ELE038-ELE040): C-/D+/D
Similar to Frost Lock, I think the ability here is more of an edge case in Limited. Instants can be played in response and while there are a few Defense Reactions in the set, they are mostly at Rare, so it won't be common for this to be super disruptive to your opponent's plans. In most games this will probably be a 1-cost arrow for 3-5, maybe most valuable because it blocks for 3.
Snap Shot (ELE041-ELE043): C+/C/C-
A 0-cost arrow for 4 is on rate. The effect here is interesting. If fused, you can activate your bow an additional time. Unfortunately (in this case), the bows in the set don't have 'go again' (being instants), so this doesn't allow you to recoup your action point. So to take full advantage you'll need a way to give Snap Shot 'go again' and have another arrow to load. There are a number of ways to do this in the set, including via Lexi's hero ability, but the upside isn't huge. I like the red best for hitting the 4-power breakpoint.
Blizzard Bolt (ELE044-ELE046): C+/C/C-
A 1-cost for 5 power arrow that can create a Frostbite token on hit is decent, but the requirement that this be fused means you are also looking at a minimum three-card hand to pull off--which makes it a little lackluster (you'll see this trend across a number of the 1-cost arrows). Other attacks would also create Frostbite tokens if you can manage to give this 'go again' but it's probably asking a lot to do that and fuse and have a follow-up attack. If you are trying to play a controlling version of Lexi this might go up in value, but otherwise I see it as mostly filler.
Buzz Bolt (ELE047-ELE049): C-/C-/D+
This is pretty similar to Blizzard Bolt in that you are looking at a minimum three-card hand to get the fuse effect. Without the fuse effect, 1 for 5 is fine but not exciting, and the one additional damage is marginal without other buffs. The effect does translate to other attacks as well but with no natural 'go again' this has a pretty high setup cost with marginal payoff.
Chilling Icevein (ELE050-ELE052): B+/B/B-
More than the previous 1-cost arrows, this hit effect seems worth playing off a three-card hand. Chilling Icevein promises to take at least one card out of the opponent's hand if it's fused, either in block, pitch, or discard. I'm happy to play all three versions as even the blue can get pumped to the 4 damage breakpoint with Shiver's buff. Dominating this for damage plus discard is also a great option to slow down your opponent.
Dazzling Crescendo (ELE053-ELE055): B-/C+/C
This is another fuse effect that seems worth the setup cost and is less likely to strand the card you use to fuse. Using Shiver's +1 buff gets both the red and yellow version to the 4 damage breakpoint and fusing this sets you up to play a Lightning attack you reveal to fuse with the 'go again'.
Flake Out (ELE056-ELE058): C-/D+/D+
Dominate as the fuse effect means this is primed for Shiver's +1 effect. But with Dominate readily available from Shiver anyway, this is not quite as valuable or unique an effect as it might be in other circumstances. This is on rate and blocks for 3 so it's playable, but I'm not seeking this out or thrilled to have it in my deck.
Frazzle (ELE059-ELE061): C/C/C-
Frazzle has some good synergies with a number of pings you can find in the Elemental Ranger and Lightning card pools: Buzz Bolt, Shock Striker, etc. These let you double up on the damage buff from Frazzle but do require you find a way to give Frazzle 'go again'. All require some setup and you might be able to net 3+ damage off this in an ideal scenario, but you can't plan on blocking the turn before.
New Horizon (ELE213): B+
It's hard to evaluate how impactful a second Arsenal slot will be in Limited without testing. Lexi does seem fairly card hungry though, with wanting to fuse and stack effects by giving 'go again'; so I can see scenarios where Lexi wants to take some setup turns before launching big turns and two Arsenal slots would certainly help with that. Overall, New Horizon seems helpful and a 2-block armor piece if pretty decent defensively in this set.
Honing Hood (ELE214): B
Getting cards out of your Arsenal and back into your hand can help set up some big Lexi turns. As an example: reveal a Lightning card from Arsenal giving your next attack 'go again', destroy Honing Hood reloading Frazzle, shoot Frazzle fusing with the Lightning card that started in Arsenal, reload Buzz Bolt with Shiver, fire Buzz Bolt fusing with the Lightning card again. Honing Hood helps set up some of these big turns making it a solid equipment piece for Lexi in Limited.
Seek and Destroy (ELE215): B-
In Limited there doesn't seem to be a great way to strand cards in your opponent's hand or Arsenal (except maybe Frost Lock at Majestic), so the value here is certainly less than in Constructed. Still, this is Nimblism with upside that threatens your opponent's Arsenal, which is a fine effect for Elemental Ranger to run.
Bolt'n' Shot (ELE216-ELE218): A-/A-/B+
This is my favorite arrow in the set. With the +1 buff from either of the bows in the set, it's very easy to turn this effect on, giving you a free attack that reloads you with another arrow on hit. I think a lot of your best Lexi turns will start with this. The red and yellow versions are best as they get above the 4-damage breakpoint but I'm very happy to have any version in my deck.
Overflex (ELE219-ELE221): B/B-/C
A buff and reload effect is pretty hard to turn down for Ranger. It helps enable multiple arrow shots per turn and is a significant power buff. If you don't have the ability to do multiple attacks, consider passing on the reload in favor of a Dominated Shiver shot to maximize your damage and force through your hit effect.
Briar gets a huge boost in Limited from Arcane damage being more or less unblockable in Limited. This means in addition to chipping in for damage, her attacks can often generate multiple Embodiment of Earth tokens per turn. Getting all your non-attacks to block for 3-4 is great, you just need to make sure you get enough of them for your deck. Getting the Embodiment of Lightning tokens seems more difficult in Limited, and I expect will just be a bonus rather than a central part of your gameplan. This bonus to defending you get from attacking makes Briar a great mid-range option.
Blossoming Spellblade (ELE064): C
Once again I'm reluctant to put any stock in getting the fuse effect to go off on these dual element fusions. The fuse effect here does seem very strong, allowing you to play non-attacks with 'go again' at Instant speed to gain an action point. But in almost all cases, I think this will be a vanilla 6 attack for 2 resources that also blocks for 3, which is on rate, but nothing special.
A free non-attack action that doubles up all your arcane pings--if you fuse it--and threatens to chip in for 2 itself. I expect you can set this up to threaten 4-6 Arcane damage, which is a good value. Similar to the defense reactions, I think fuse is less demanding on these leading non-attack actions as you can reveal an elemental attack to gain the effect 99that you then play or pitch. There isn't much Arcane defense in this set, outside of a few Legendaries, so Arcane damage is close to unblockable. In which case, a few points of late game Arcane damage off Flicker Wisp can be a great win condition.
Force of Nature (ELE066): C+
If you can buff multiple attacks above base in a single turn this becomes quite threatening. If you fuse, it also takes care of the buff and immediately threatens a draw on the next attack. You'll want to pair this with attacks with 'go again' to maximize your chances of getting the draw. Blue and block 3 is always a strong fallback plan, so I appreciate the flexibility here.
Explosive Growth (ELE067-ELE069): B+/B/B+
The split of damage across Arcane and physical is annoying for opponents and you don't even have to fuse to get the Arcane in this case. Fusing this and giving it 'go again' is the dream as it can pump itself to 4 power and potentially give your next attack +2, but don't be afraid to pop this off for the Arcane, especially late in the game. I like the red and blue versions for their breakpoints and flexibility, respectively. Pitching the blue early and getting a point of Arcane when it comes back around is great.
Rites of Lightning (ELE070-ELE072): B-/C+/C+
Rites of Lightning is another attack I'm strongly looking to fuse for the Arcane damage and 'go again'. This is a great lead attack that you can follow up with the card you used to fuse--or pitch said card for a weapon attack. I like red best at 4 power, but I'm not disappointed by any of the three. This also threatens two Embodiment of Earth tokens off one attack, so the payoff for fusing is really high here.
Arcanic Shockwave (ELE073-ELE075): B-/C/C+
Again I'm valuing Arcane damage quite highly as essentially unblockable in this set. Arcanic Shockwave can also threaten to create two Embodiment of Earth tokens off a two-card hand as a free attack, which is a pretty powerful recovery. Naturally, I prefer the red version, but I can't imagine cutting anything that deals Arcane from my Briar decks. The blue is also nice as an early pitch that can close out the game with Arcane damage late.
Vela Flash (ELE076-ELE078): C/C/C-
Vela Flash has some interesting implications if you can fuse it. Playing a non-attack with 'go again' as an instant after playing Vela Flash gets you back an action point to keep your turn going. It can also help get off a second non-attack to get an Embodiment of Lightning token. Without fusing it's an on rate vanilla attack: not exciting but playable.
Rights of Replenishment (ELE079-ELE081): C-/C-/C+
Rites of Replenishment gives you two avenues to gain its effect: dealing Arcane or fusing. I appreciate the flexibility even if neither mode is particularly easy to activate. Briar seems to want a good mix of attacks and non-attacks so I imagine most decks will have a decent target for this and getting both activations is great. If you can't get either, it's on rate as an attack and blocks for 3.
Stir the Wildwood (ELE082-ELE084): C-/D+/C-
Two resources for a 5-damage attack is below rate so you really need to be turning on at least one of the buffs for this to be good. If you can get both triggers this is excellent but I expect that to be quite rare in Limited. It is a fantastic combo with Bramble Spark; on a four-card hand you could play and fuse both for up to 1 Arcane and 12 physical.
Bramble Spark (ELE085-ELE087): A-/A-/A-
I see Bramble Spark as the Seeds of Agony equivalent for Briar. The Arcane damage is good on its own and turns on cards like Rites of Replenishment and Stir the Wildwood. It's not restricted to Runeblade attacks though, so this can stack onto the same Lightning card you use to fuse it. I'm happy to play this without fusing, and it's excellent if you do manage to pull it off. I'm playing every copy I can get and taking it quite highly in draft.
Inspire Lightning (ELE088-ELE090): C-/C-/C
The upside of dealing 1-3 Arcane is nice in a format with no Arcane defense, but 3 damage is also a bit lackluster for a minimum three-card hand. And this card does nothing if you don't have a Lightning card to fuse it with, so there is certainly risk here. It's a nice combo with Vela Flash but that requires a full hand to pull off. Overall, this is probably the Arcane source I'm lowest on, but I still don't mind the blue's pitch card utility.
Rosetta Thorn (ELE222): B+
The upside here is pretty big. 4 damage for 1 resource, 2 of which is effectively unblockable in this set is one of the best weapons we've seen. It also rewards you for what Briar wants to be doing anyway: play attack and non-attack actions. This makes any attack with 'go again' a top priority for Briar. If you can't turn on the Arcane 1 resource for 2 damage isn't great but also isn't a disaster.
Duskblade (ELE223): D
I don't think Duskblade is very good in Limited. The criteria for turning it and Rosetta Thorn on are the same, but it would take four consecutive activations for Duskblade to start to exceed Thorn in total damage, which seems pretty unlikely to me in Limited; not to mention the downside of the counters falling off and the upside of Rosetta Thorn's unblockable Arcane. Save your 9 power Duskblade dreams for Constructed: in Limited, I'm sticking with Thorn.
Rosetta Thorn (cumulative damage)
Duskblade (cumulative damage)
Spellbound Creepers (ELE224): B
Similar to Vela Flash, Spellbound Creepers can regain you an action point after you've attacked by playing a non-attack with 'go again', allowing for some explosive turns. They also make Inspire Lightning more playable, but in Limited I think I actually prefer the more flexible common equipment. If needed these do block for 1 and can help stop you from dying to Dominate.
Sutcliffe's Suede Hides (ELE225): A-
This is a great equipment piece for Briar. Not many of her attacks naturally have 'go again' so this can set up your biggest turns or threaten to close out a game with 2 Arcane from Rosetta Thorn after you've played a non-attack and attack action. You do need to make sure you have enough non-attack actions but Briar wants that anyway.
Sting of Sorcery (ELE226): A-
Realistically, this probably represents 1-2 Arcane damage in Limited, but that's fine when it's guaranteed damage and doesn't have a fuse requirement. This also satisfies all your cards that care about playing non-attacks. The blue pitch makes this a good candidate to pitch early with the intent to finish your opponent off late the second time through your deck.
Sigil of Suffering (ELE227-ELE229): A/A-/B+
I expect you to almost always get the defense buff here. So a free defense reaction that defends 4 and deals 1 Arcane to your opponent is excellent. The yellow and blue versions aren't quite as good, but I like them all for the utility against Dominate and instant speed pumps. I'd rank them in order of their defense values but am thrilled to see any in my pool.
Singeing Steelblade (ELE230-232): B/C+/B-
You are getting 5 total damage from the red version here, which is on rate, including a point of Arcane without a fuse requirement. That flexibility puts it slightly above cards like Arcanic Shockwave for me. I like the red and blue versions for the breakpoint and pitch value, respectively, but all three are good.
All heroes in the set have the Elemental Talent so these cards are functionally generic but are often geared towards certain elements or elemental combinations.
Korshem, Crossroad of Elements (ELE000): D+
What a weird card. Both players can get the benefit of this by revealing cards to fuse or other effects. The hero best positioned to take advantage of this asymmetrically is probably Lexi, since she gains more value from arsenaling cards you use to fuse than the other two heroes. You still need to consider how regularly you deck is successfully fusing to determine whether or not this should make your deck since it doesn't block or pitch.
Fulminate (ELE091): D-
Fulminate is the first in a cycle of dual 'and/or' fuse cards that give variable effects depending on the elements you fuse with: Earth and/or Lighting in this case. Two resources plus a fuse is a LOT to pay for either of these effects if you are only getting them once and getting both in Limited seems like a stretch. To get even one of the effects twice in one turn you are looking at a four-card minimum hand and one of your attacks would have to be free. This probably comes closest to finding a home in Briar where you get value from playing this for 'go again', attacking, and swinging your sword, but even then it's not great.
Flash Freeze (ELE092): C-
Flash Freeze is cheaper than Fulminate, but I'm still not optimistic about ever triggering both the Ice and Lightning abilities. Dominate that your opponent can pay to get out of doesn't seem that great. I'm more interested in the 3 damage effect, as Lexi already has access to Dominate via Shiver and Oldhim's pool has some natural Dominate also. Adding the Lightning clause to two attacks is powerful, and it naturally synergizes if you can flip a Lightning attack up with Lexi for 'go again'. Overall, it's still situational and needs a well-stocked hand to be good.
Exposed to the Elements (ELE093): D-
Our Earth/Ice entry in the cycle seems appealing with the idea of sniping a key piece of equipment from your opponent, but I'm not convinced it's any good in Limited. There isn't really much equipment in the set that's great at blocking to begin with and destroying a piece isn't likely to be back breaking. Your opponent also has an option to pay to keep it, further limiting your timing window to pull this off. It doesn't block and doesn't help you fuse, making it a huge whiff if you get it without an Earth or Ice card. This can maybe fit in Oldhim because he probably wants all the blue's he can get, but even then I'm not excited to put this in my deck.
Entwine Earth (ELE094-ELE096): C-/C-/C
The next set of cards is also a cycle for 'entwining' each of the elements. They're class agnostic attacks that give you each element's basic bonus for fusing. Entwine Earth comes in on rate for attack power before the fuse effect, 2-cost for 6 power at red, with an additional +2 on offer if you fuse. If you have a good Earth card to Arsenal I don't mind it, and it's fine but not great as a three-card hand. This is probably filler for Briar though it does work well with Force of Nature. Oldhim probably wants the blue for the resources.
Entwine Ice (ELE097-ELE099): C-/D+/D
Instead of a +2 buff, a fused Entwine Ice grants Dominate. As I've mentioned, I'm lower on Dominate in this set than I would be normally because Shiver has it built in and Guardian has two cards at common with it built in. Again this is on rate. Oldhim might play the red if he is light on finishers or the blue for the pitch, but 3 power Dominate doesn't excite me. In Lexi, you can Arsenal the leftover Ice card you fused with for a Frostbite token, but I'd rather have almost any 1-cost arrow for the block flexibility and ability to pump with Shiver.
Entwine Lightning (ELE100-ELE102): B/B-/B-
I like Entwine Lightning the best of the cycle by a good margin. It's free to play and gets 'go again' if you fuse which is the effect I'm most looking for in this set of the three. Both Briar and Lexi would love to have this as an attack that can be followed by a sword swing in the former or a good piece of a go wide strategy in the latter. These can still be a little clunky with the fuse requirement if you whiff on Lightning cards, but I don't mind putting any of these in my deck.
Invigorate (ELE103-ELE105): B-/C+/C-
Invigorate is a great buff for any hero that plans to be fusing regularly. At +4 on a 0-cost card this is above rate for a pump (see Niblism as a baseline). I think Lexi and Briar want this slightly more than Oldhim (except for the blue version). Lexi doesn't mind having a card left over after fusing as much and her arrows all need to fuse to get their hit effects. Briar loves this as a high-value non-attack action. I like red best, but see all three versions as playable.
Rejuvenate (ELE106-ELE108): C-/D+/D
The fact that this costs 1 is bizarre to me when Sigil of Solace and Sun Kiss are free. It costing 1 and being an action rather than an instant hurts. This is probably the closest we get (below Legendary) in this set to dealing with Arcane damage, even if it is just offsetting it. Playing this as your only action is not where you want to be, but the fuse requirement also makes it very difficult to play on your opponent's turn. Briar probably wants this most as a non-attack if you can play it at instant speed and control Oldhim might not mind it. The red is perhaps playable but then these really start to fall off.
Before we get to the regular Ice, Earth, and Lightning cards we have one more cycle of cards that each have two elements, making them potentially very valuable for their flexibility in fusing.
Pulse of Volthaven (ELE112): A
This is only playable by Lexi, but it's fantastic for her. This hits every attack that could be in your Lexi deck except Bolt'n Shot and +4 at 0-cost is super efficient. It also helps make sure you can fuse your arrows to turn on their hit effects. I'm not really sure why it's an instant; since it only applies to your next attack, you can't use this as an attack reaction, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best cards to open for Lexi.
Pulse of Candlehold (ELE113): A-
Pulse of Candlehold is only playable by Briar and it is an effect she'd be happy to have. This turns on your cards that care about non-attack actions and let's you stack the top of your deck so you can have both an attack and non-attack, or an attack plus a fuse element for next turn. Your opponent will know what's coming, but getting to play your best combo the turn after to play this is very strong. It also lets you fuse any Earth or Lightning action and blocks for 3 if you're desperate.
Pulse of Isenloft (ELE114): A+
Pulse of Isenloft is like a bigger, more flexible version of Flic-Flak for Oldhim...that also pitches for 3 and can fuse all your other cards to boot. As a defense reaction that blocks 6 I already love it. It also pumps up any other action cards you use to defend this turn (including any that you blocked with this chain link before the reaction step). This is a great way to stonewall your opponent and get around big Dominate swings, making it one of the best cards in the set.
Earth is all about offensive and defensive buffs. It also has the biggest attacks of the three elements but is the most resource intensive. I'd say Earth lends itself best to mid-range strategies that try to win with smart, efficient blocks and incremental advantage.
Crown of Seeds (ELE115): C-
This doesn't strike me as incredibly high value in Limited. At the cost of a resource you can trade your Arsenal--maybe a leftover card you used to fuse last turn--for a card from the top of your deck. The timing is awkward though: on your turn you're giving up the point of damage prevention, but on your opponent's turn you are probably inefficiently using your resources and ending up down a card from the exchange. If you have 2-cost defense reactions you can pair this with or are playing against Briar and looking for some Arcane prevention this goes up, but otherwise it's not too exciting.
Plume of Evergrowth (ELE116): C+
This is my preferred Earth headpiece in Limited. If you can pitch a blue this is card neutral and can let you replay your strongest Earth attack or pump. The card gets better late, when your deck has more blues that you've pitched throughout the game. I think this is good for both Oldhim and Briar because who doesn't like playing their best cards twice.
Channel Mount Heroic (ELE117): A-
The cycle of Channel cards are auras that stick around for multiple turns as long as you can keep pitching an increasing number of their respective elements. Generally I'm hoping/expecting to get two uses out of each of these in Limited. Three uses is possible but not really likely. That means I'm expecting Channel Mount Heroic to net you +6 power across two turns at a cost of 3 resources. At that rate I'm pretty happy with this, though the turn you play this you'll probably need a four-card hand. The upside is slightly higher in Briar as she's more likely to be able to play multiple attack actions in a single turn (in which case this starts to feel broken) and this also meets her non-attack action careabouts.
Tome of Harvests (ELE118): C+
Tome is at best card neutral for you (pitch + Arsenal + Tome to draw three) but it does have some things going for it with the Earth heroes. It's a non-attack which helps for Briar and a blue which means Oldhim can't hate it. You could also use it to dig for the element you need to fuse or to cash in the card you Arsenaled last turn after fusing but really aren't thrilled to play. All this adds up to a decent card, but not a great one. Don't make the mistake of putting this in your Arsenal.
Evergreen (ELE119-ELE121): B+/B/B
I love Evergreen for Limited. Normally the card you would use to try to fuse your last attack in a turn is stranded in hand, but since Evergreen pays you off for putting it in Arsenal anyway, that cost isn't really felt. Recurring this gives you a really strong late game and the rate is good, with the red version taking 3 cards to fully block. I think this is great for both Briar and Oldhim though it may fit Oldhim's cost curve better.
Weave Earth (ELE122-ELE124): C/C-/C-
Hitting Earth and Elemental cards makes this pretty flexible. I'm fine playing this just for the basic buff and letting the bonus for fusing be an occasional perk. Briar likes this as a non-attack action and Oldhim might want the blue, but it's less of a priority for him.
Summerwood Shelter (ELE125-ELE127): A-/B+/B+
With so much Dominate in the set I think Summerwood Shelter is great in Limited. It's a little less flexible than a defense reaction for defending multiple small attacks or responding to instant speed pumps--since you need to have committed a card already but being able to effectively defend with two cards from hand whenever you draw this is clutch. I like red best for the defense value, but the yellow and blue are fine too. If you get a good situation to use them, great: if not, pitch them and be glad to have them when the defending gets more desperate at the end of the game.
Autumn's Touch (ELE128-ELE130): C/C-/C+
As an on-rate vanilla attack that blocks for 3 this is playable but not really exciting except for fans of Raging Onslaught. The red comes through at the 7 power breakpoint and the blue has good flexibility. It's maybe a better fit for Oldhim at 3 resources. This is a good late game target for Plume of Evergrowth if you block with it early.
Break Ground (ELE131-ELE133): C-/D+/C-
Similar to Autumn's Touch, but worse in defense and with the ability to cycle out your Arsenal for a card from your deck. I prefer the defensive flexibility of Autumn's Touch because without 'go again' there isn't really a good way to use the card draw except to Arsenal the card you drew instead, and there's no guarantee it will be any better.
Burgeoning (ELE134-ELE136): C+/C/C+
Burgeoning is another attack that combines very well with the fuse mechanic. You can use it to fuse an Elemental attack at the end of one turn, put it in Arsenal and then play it as an above-rate attack the following turn. It's not a disaster to play it from hand either if it comes down to it. I like the red version for 7 power and think it's a fine card for both Oldhim and Briar.
Earthlore Surge (ELE137-ELE139): C+/C/C+
+5 power on the red version here turns any attack into a major threat and can pump a 1-cost attack to 10 power on a three-card hand. I might like the blue version even more as an early pitch that can pump some of your weaker late game attacks. Pairing this with Thump in Oldhim is a crazy combo/finisher and Briar doesn't mind it as a non-attack either.
Sow Tomorrow (ELE140-ELE142): D/D+/C-
The fact that this draws a card when played from Arsenal makes it playable and a good candidate to fuse with. From hand I think this is pretty bad as you are down two cards to put a card on the bottom of your deck. As a non-attack it has some decent utility and Oldhim is happy with the blue as anything he'd want to return costs at least 2 anyway. This might go up a bit if you have some game breaking bombs as well, but the effect itself generally isn't worth a card in my view.
Amulet of Earth (ELE143): B-
This is the first in our cycle of Amulets, which are Items that can be destroyed for an effect, similar to potions. You must have already fused Earth this turn to activate it, so I expect to be leaning much more to the offensive side of this ability in Limited, as it's rare to fuse on your opponent's turn. +1 to all attack action cards is good if you can get more than one off, which makes me like it a little more in Briar. She also likes it as a non-attack with 'go again'. It is also blue which gives it some appeal for Oldhim as well. The threat of activation is real here as well. With low life or key on-hit effects your opponent will need to start overlooking with this on the field if you've fused.
Ice is the element of disruption. It makes your opponent pay more for their attacks and actions and tries to strip cards from their hand to limit their offensive output. Ice is looking to play a long game where you control the tempo.
Heart of Ice (ELE144): A+
As the only card with Arcane Barrier in the set I think Heart of Ice is probably the most game altering card you can open. This dramatically changes the Briar matchup for Oldhim or Lexi. The activated ability doesn't seem super high impact in Limited when instants and defense reactions are less common, but this can really impede Oldhim's hero ability. It also can block for 1 if needed to help with Dominate. All that is secondary to the Arcane Barrier though, which alone might make this the most valuable card in the set.
Coat of Frost (ELE145): C
Coat of Frost can certainly help disrupt your opponent, but getting the timing right will be tricky. Burning this on a turn your opponent had an extra resource anyway will feel pretty bad. I think you have the best odds of making life difficult for your opponent if you can pair this with another effect that creates a Frostbite token or if your opponent seems to be tanking all the damage on a given turn. Overall, it seems fine in either Lexi or Oldhim but not a premium pickup.
Channel Lake Frigid (ELE146): C+
The Ice edition of our Channel cycle, this is like a Frostbite token that doesn't break. You're likely to only have this active through one of your opponent's turns, but it will slow them down significantly while it is out. This probably fits best in Oldhim given the cost, but Lexi would be happy to have it too as a blue that blocks for 3 with utility in the right matchups/situations. In Oldhim the flexibility is fantastic and it fits well with a controlling gameplan.
Blizzard (ELE147): B-
Blizzard has some pretty exciting Constructed implications and I think it pulls its weight in Limited as well. This can stop a big turn from your opponent in its tracks or at the very least throw off their resource plan. It only hits attacks so this falls off quite a bit versus Oldhim who is usually only looking to attack once a turn anyway. As a blue I can't imagine Oldhim cutting it, and I think Lexi wants it in the mirror and versus Briar.
Frost Fang (ELE148-ELE150): B+/B+/C+
Frost Fang is guaranteed to take at least one card out of the opponent's hand, more likely two unless they want to take 4-5 damage for their trouble--at least for the red and yellow versions. It's slightly below rate, but the hit effect is significant enough that it's still well worth it. The blue version does fall off significantly since it can be fully blocked by a single card. A control effect I'm happy to have in both Lexi or Oldhim.
Ice Quake (ELE151-ELE153): B+/B/B
Ice quake is solid, giving you an attack buff plus a bonus for hitting is a nice combo. The fact that this can apply to multiple attacks per turn, makes me slightly higher on it in Lexi, where it also pairs nicely with her lower costed attacks. This is another good card to fuse with then play at the start of your next turn, Lexi's ability even gives you an extra Frostbite token in this line. Oldhim still likes the blue for the bonus on hit effect.
Weave Ice (ELE154-ELE156): C/C-/C
I like Weave Ice less than Ice Quake despite it costing less, largely because Dominate seems fairly replaceable across the set. +3 for 0 resources is on rate so I don't mind the red; and the blue is probably fine for Oldhim for the late game possibilities but this isn't super high impact.
Icy Encounter (ELE157-ELE159): C+/C/C+
Icy Encounter is on rate for power and comes with a nice hit effect in the form of a Frostbite token. Limited curves are pretty variable so it's hard to say how impactful a single Frostbite will be on any given turn, but I expect it to occasionally put your opponent in a bind. I think The blue coming in at 4-power gives it some good flexibility. I think this fits decently in any mid-range or defensive Lexi or Oldhim builds.
Winter's Grasp (ELE160-162): C-/C/C+
Another vanilla on-rate attack that defends for 3. I think any version of this is playable if you are trying to regularly fuse Ice. I like the blue best for its flexibility as a pitch or defensive card that can also come in at 4-power in a pinch.
Chill to the Bone (ELE163-ELE165): B+/B/C
Chill to the Bone seems awesome in any mid-range or control deck. Three Frostbite tokens threaten to brick your opponent's entire next turn and make every attack a must block. I especially like the combo with Shiver to force through an attack with Dominate for Lexi. The yellow is still pretty threatening and the blue has utility, though I'm not as excited by it.
Polar Blast (ELE166-ELE168): D/D+/C-
I view this similarly to Sow Tomorrow. It pays you back a bit with the card draw for using this to fuse, but the effect itself isn't something I'm really looking for on its own. This does threaten to take an extra card out of hand if your opponent needs to block fully, which makes it decent in the late game. You do get benefit from putting the question to your opponent before they know what attack is coming. I like the blue best, as forcing them to pitch 3 instead of 1 isn't that much better: both net you a card.
Winter's Bite (ELE169-ELE171): D+/D+/C-
Discord went a bit nuts when this was spoiled but I think it's actually pretty narrow in Limited. This is card neutral for you at best, since you played this to force your opponent to pitch or discard. It doesn't block well but to want this effect you really need to be playing a defensive game where you are exhausting your opponent's threats and trying to limit what they are able to do on their turn. With that in mind, this fits best in Oldhim, where the blue version seems decent.
Amulet of Ice (ELE172): C+
The Ice version of our amulet cycle offers a similar effect to Winter's Bite, but the ability to carry this across multiple turns makes me prefer this as a way of effectively giving you an extra card in hand for a given turn cycle. Again, you must fuse to activate the ability so I'd expect to use it on your offensive turn the vast majority of the time. Using this to strip cards with the possibility of forcing through damage is nice. The blue pitch flexibility means both Oldhim and Lexi don't mind including this.
Lightning is the most aggressive element. It focuses on dealing extra damage and getting multiple attacks a turn by gaining or giving other attacks 'go again'. You're trying to overwhelm your opponent's blocks and defenses and punish them for trying to hold cards in hand.
Shock Charmers (ELE173): A-
Shock Charmers really capitalizes on the threat of activation. Once your opponent goes down to 3-4 life and you have these in play, every attack becomes a must block lest you get multiple activations off of these for lethal. They also have Spellvoid 2 which can come in handy when Briar is trying to close out the game with otherwise unblockable Arcane damage.
Mark of Lightning (ELE174): B-
Threat of activation is important here too as your opponent can never really go to 1 with these on the battlefield. It's also a cheeky way to trigger a key on hit effect for your attacks and a nice combo with Ball Lightning. Lightning seems aggressive so these work well in that gameplan.
Channel Thunder Steppe (ELE175): A-
The final in our cycle of Channel cards, the Lightning version offers 'go again' so long as you pay 1 additional for each attack. Getting two instances of 'go again' across two turns seems like pretty good value on this. I think both Lexi and Briar are happy to have this. The yellow pitch and 3 block also make it really flexible if you find yourself behind.
Blink (ELE176): A
A free way to gain an action at Instant speed that also pitches for blue is a pretty sweet deal. You can fuse an attack with this then play this to keep your turn going. This will enable some big turns out of both Lexi and Briar that really swings the momentum in your favor. The only knock on this is that it doesn't block, but sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
Flash (ELE177-ELE179): A-/B+/B
Another great way in Lightning to give your attacks 'go again' and set up some big turns. There's not a ton of natural 'go again' in the set so these Lightning cards will be key pieces of a go wide strategy. Lexi probably needs the red or yellow version to fit with her cost curve but I think Briar is happy to play all three versions.
Weave Lightning (ELE180-ELE182): B-/C+/C+
This elemental weave I am really looking to get the bonus of having it applied to a fused card. That's asking a bit in Limited however. The fail case of +3 is on rate for this effect t which is fine. I'd look to lean heavily into Lightning to more reliably get the bonus if I opened or drafted a couple of these as I think the payoff is worth it.
Lightning Press (ELE183-ELE185): A/B+/A-
This is the closest thing to an attack reaction we have in this set (good try Amulet of Earth), which makes it quite powerful. All the defense reactions in this set are at Rare, so while they will be around, generally your opponent won't be playing much at Instant speed. That makes Lightning press incredibly powerful as a finisher or means of going over your opponent's blocks to land your hit effects. This hits the vast majority of attacks Lexi is playing, and while Briar is happy to have these she is a bit more limited in which of her attacks can be targeted by this. Happy to play all three versions, but like red and blue best.
Ball Lightning (ELE186-ELE188): B+/B+/B+
I really like Ball Lightning as a free attack with 'go again' that buffs the rest of your attacks for the turn. Lexi and Briar should both really like this effect. There are a lot of 2-blocks in the set, so the red version is a bit more of a problem to block, but all three versions are roughly equivalent in my eyes as this doesn't even have to hit to gain the effect.
Lightning Surge (ELE189-ELE191): B+/B/B
Lightning Surge is another card that pays you off for using it to fuse and then putting it in Arsenal. I'm unlikely to play this from hand given that upside. In Lexi you can easily use this to string together three attacks by flipping this up in Arsenal, attacking from hand, playing this and then loading and firing an arrow. Briar also won't mind playing this as a way to try to create multiple Embodiment of Earth tokens. The red is best for the power, but as as free attack I'm happy to play all three.
Heaven's Claws (ELE192-ELE194): C/C/C-
Finally a Lightning card that I'm lukewarm on.
This is a vanilla on-rate attack that blocks for 3. Like Autumn's Touch and Winter's Grasp. I'd say this is playable but not exciting. The blue falls off a bit for me at only 3 power.
Shock Striker (ELE195-ELE197): C+/C+/D+
Shock Striker is pretty reasonable. It has a nice internal combo with Ball Lightning and some good synergy with Lexi and Briar. In Lexi, you can fuse and Arsenal this, then flip it up and play it with 'go again' the following turn. In Briar, this is a fantastic way to threaten to create multiple Embodiment of Earth tokens off a single attack. Again I like the red and yellow better than the blue for breakpoint considerations.
Electrify (ELE198-ELE200): C/C-/C-
Three additional damage on hit is usually significantly worse than a +3 pump. However, this effect has good synergy with Ball Lightning and Frazzle and again works toward getting multiple Embodiment of Earth tokens with Briar. I'm not thrilled to play this from hand but it's decent coming out of the Arsenal and Lexi can use it to also give 'go again'. I think the red is best here but only marginally.
Amulet of Lightning (ELE201): B-
Continuing my trend of generally liking the Amulets, Amulet of Lightning is pretty good. I prefer it in Briar for the non-attack synergies and the fact that you can use it to lead into a weapon attack, whereas Lexi needs to hold another attack in hand. It still has the blue pitch flexibility and getting 'go again' is a strong ability for the two heroes trying to go wide.
Ragamuffin's Hat (ELE233): D+
Ragamuffun's hat is pretty low impact. Being restricted to when you only have one card in hand really limits the upside here. The best use I can think is to ditch a card that doesn't defend when you need one that does. Otherwise it's just giving you a chance to potentially upgrade your final attack or Arsenal card. It's better than nothing but I prefer Plume of Evergrowth for Briar and Oldhim, and Honing Hood for Lexi.
Deep Blue (ELE234): B
Deep Blue is aptly named and basically serves to turn any card in your hand into a blue pitch when you destroy it. Given that Limited resource curves can be a bit iffy, I think this is great for adding some consistency to your deck. I prefer it to Coat of Frost across the board, and as Briar it's really your only option. The universal appeal of this means I expect you'll have to take it highly.
Cracker Jax (ELE235): C
I prefer Mark of Lightning for both Briar and Lexi, but if you can't get one, this is a fine substitute. And in Oldhim this is your only option. There are a couple cards in this set that care about attacks being above base power, and this checks the box for that. It could also help you hit good breakpoints for key on-hit effects.
Runaways (ELE236): C
Runaways offer another sort of pseudo Arcane barrier, but unfortunately the timing is a bit awkward since Arcane damage is dealt first. I prefer Sutcliffe's Suede Hides for Briar but I think these are a good option (really the only option in slot) for Oldhim and Lexi. There isn't much equipment that blocks in this set and Runaways should be able to save you a point of life versus Briar and Lexi. Oldhim's single big attacks aren't phased by these really.
...and that concludes our Tales of Aria Set Review. I'm really excited to see how the Elemental drafting combines with the different heroes. Will each hero have three archetypes (one for each element and a mixed build) or will the heroes play pretty similarly regardless? It seems like a great approach to Limited on the heels of Monarch that will feel very different. As always, let me know what you think in a comment or on Discord at AnthonyJ#4980 and check back at FAB Foundry for more content and Tales of Aria singles.