Justice has always been one of the best factions in the game. How does it fare in Defiance?
This is my rating scale. It is highly similar to other set reviews from other card games, with considerations for Eternal. Note that cards intended mostly for market usage see a rating comparable to normal cards due to how frequently Markets are accessed in normal games. For the constructed review, I won’t talk about cards that are obviously bad for constructed, meaning no draft cards. Lastly, number ratings don’t give the full picture. Be sure to read the full explanation for the rating.
Card Rating Scale
5.0: Format warping card. The most powerful cards in the game. (Valkyrie Enforcer. Torch. Merchants.)
4.0: Powerful cards used in multiple decks that often enable or define archetypes. (Haunting Scream. Cauldron Cookbook. )
3.0: Good cards that will show up in many decks or be very powerful in a few. (Sherriff Marley. Dusk Raider. Shakedown.)
2.5: Roleplayers that help certain decks but aren’t quite mainstays. (Quarry. Nocturnal Observer.)
2.0: Niche or fringe playable card, especially in the Market, or generally just a “maybe”. (Cloud of Ash. Back-Alley Delinquent. Unstable Form.)
1.0: Extremely narrow usage. (Back in Set 2, I played a Magma Javelin in my Skycrag sideboard specifically to hit a Silverwing Familiar as I otherwise had no reasonable way to kill it if I was on the draw and it got a weapon played on it, and Charchain Flail had just gotten nerfed. I still stand by my decision.)
Well, I guess we won’t be doing much screaming anymore. Anytime recursion becomes just a little too popular (or even when it isn’t) just put one of these Gavel’s in your market and lay down the law. It’s not the end of days for void recursion, you can always play some relic removal or just wait until it’s unpopular to bring it back out, but this gives us a much-needed answer to Fall of Argenport’s constant void shenanigans.
Our set’s namesake card is quite a good one. Spending 1 power to kill 3 power units is quite the deal, and it’s never fully dead against more expensive units. I’m happy to put at least a few copies of this in most Justice midrange and control decks. It’s also a nice market card in aggro mirrors.
In the right decks, this is just pre-nerf Protect. Making sure weapons are on your units is a bit of work, but proper planning can ensure you have a solid way to protect your threats for only 1. That is great, and I expect weapon-based Justice aggro to get a lot of legs thanks to this card.
The biggest issue with this card is that you probably don’t want to play it early most of the time in order to save the pump effect for combat or a removal spell, but you also want to get your influence early. Still, getting influence is great, and if you have early costed Renown units you might not hate just throwing this down in order to cash in those effects.
The repeatable effect is nice, but it gets a lot weaker given that you can only have one at a time. It’s also limited in that it’s quite bad in multiple. However, it’s one of the cheapest unit generators in the game, which is something we have very few options for. It looks at it’s best alongside constant sacrifice effects in Shadow, of which there are many.
Justice has lacked decent two drops for a while and Hojan fills that gap. What really makes Hojan sweet is his Renown ability, ramping you and synergizing with himself. The lack of combat abilities means he can’t navigate combat with anything other than size. His base one health also makes him pretty vulnerable, and given that there are now many playable 1 HP units, someone is going to figure that out and start taking advantage of it with all the ping effects in the game.
This will often just be Slay, which is obviously pretty good. Preventing others of the same name both shuts down combos and will inevitably lock people out of 1-2 cards in their hand from time to time, which really puts this over the top. What will make or break this card is how frequently relic removal will be played, and reviewing this set has made me think the answer to that is “a lot more than it currently is.” It’s for that reason Avigraft gets only a 3.0.
I think this is just too frail to see a lot of regular play, even if the effect is totally bananas. Alongside Tavrod, it could be a decent grab for fast-speed Bloodletters, but that seems like a lot of work for a little payoff. Three drops, especially in Justice, have to do a lot to see play in such a clogged up slot, and I don’t think our cow friend has what it takes.
A lot of the new aggressive justice (and Time) cards need empower in order to really be effecive. This, while underwhelming, ensures you can usually get a constant stream of power, while also giving you a unit to help you establish that. However, it’s very soft to control, and keeping an opponent at 2 or less units will result in this being a 3-cost Distract Infantry, which is just miserable. If you can reliably go wide and need the power, Siraf’s Beacon might make the cut. I wouldn’t count on it, though.
I think this is really just a combo enabler. I can’t think of anything this currently helps you do, but the fact that it exists is important and worth keeping on the backburner in case something shows up. Otherwise, it’s too minor and frail to see play in a normal deck.
Five-costed weapons need to do a lot to be playable, but I think this gets there. Silence on summon means you’ll often be able to shut down units holding you back from attacking, such as Deadly units or opposing Flyers. Making an Exile on death means you’ll have a great target for future weapons (such as more Xulta Foils, perhaps.) Just make sure you have enough evasive units to put this on as otherwise, you’ll just be foiling your own plans of winning.
Reyna, the Unwavering
This will accidentally hose some decks that lean too hard on shadow removal, and when that happens, it will be hilarious. Otherwise, Reyna costs a lot and doesn’t pack enough power or utility.
This is very good at stopping your opponent from winning the game, but unlike Pit of Lenekta, it doesn’t outright help you win the game as you do need some units to play alongside it. As such, I see it as an option in Big Combrei-based decks, but probably only an occasional option for control or ramp decks. Of note, Martyr’s Chains is one of the best followups to Telut, where attacking with a unit snags you two kills (on top of potentially a third one from your power drop for turn.) Some people might call that “win more”, but with how hard it is to lock down games at times, I think this can be a reasonable play to fully secure the game.
Justice started strong but sort of tapered by the end. Its biggest gains were in the beatdown department, gaining a nice 2-drop and a handful of tools to help weapon-based strategies. Defiance and Martyr’s Chains should also help more controlling strategies. The most important card might just be the Adjudicator’s Gavel, being able to shut down entire Void strategies in a way we haven’t seen since pre-nerf Steward of the Past.