It’s Primals turn, and my early inclinations tell me this is going to be a win for the faction.
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. Most Set 1 Primal cards.)
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.)
I think Steely Resolve will mostly be a market card, but it will be a very powerful option. If you’re in Primal and scared of Bore, you now have one of the best answers in the game to the card. It can hit a number of other important cards, such as Cargo, Seek Power, Torch, and Defiance, though you’ll likely just want Steely Resolve for more specific situations as mentioned above.
There are a lot of x/1’s worth killing right now, which makes any Snowball generators very appealing. It is both a Renown user and enabler, giving you snowballs to either kill your opponents units or activate your own Renown triggers (as long as you don’t kill them.) 2/1’s for 1 haven’t been all that hot for a while now, but I think Mischief Yeti can serve a role in the right deck.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence we get one of the best recursion cards (this card) alongside one of the best recursion hate cards (Adjudicator’s Gavel.) You might even be used to just filter cards for a control deck, especially if it needs access to a relic. The summon ability is also great for the reasons mentioned above. I’m not sure how much longevity recursion decks will have, but any that do can probably make good use of Pitfall Trap.
It requires a bit of an investment, but putting a better Predator’s Instinct into Primal opens up a lot of doors for the faction that is known for having clunky removal. Killer and Overwhelm might only be matched by Killer and Deadly in their iconic-ness, and the combination helps give your deck a ton of reach. It’s also worth noting that Primal is often able to take advantage of giving cards abilities a lot moreso than other factions due to the ability to copy units, meaning you can make several savage units to tear apart the board. I think you have to be in a Primal-based midrange deck to make use of this, and while those words haven’t really been uttered in the same sentence much before, Defiance seems to be changing that.
In metagames or matchups where both decks are low enough, this can cause some pretty big blowouts. This actually reminds me a lot of Reinvigorate, where more often than not it will be pretty average if not just bad, but amazing when it is good. I’d stick to more impctful and consistent cards for most metagames but keep this in mind for if and when the time comes.
If you REALLY need to not lose to Torches or Hailstorms, this is a card for you, but otherwise, I just don’t see the appeal in playing Cold Adventurer.
This is another perfect option for a midrange Primal deck. Not only does the Goad combine with Scalebreaker to give you a 5/5 flyer on turn 4, it can be placed on other units in order to help them get over. As with any card that makes additional cards, you can throw either piece in the Market if you only really need one half. Power, versatility, card advantage? I think we have a good card, here.
A small aside on design direction before moving forward. Flying has been one of the main keywords for Primal since the beginning, but has been long overshadowed by Justice, which has gotten much better flying units (and just much better units overall.) This set is the first set where Primal was the clear winner in good Flying support. Not only is that exciting on its own terms, it’s also something to consider when building with and against Justice in Defiance.
Clutch of Talons
The only thing holding me back from rating this even higher is the triple Primal influence, which will severely limit which decks can play it. As far as raw power level goes, this is among the strongest cards in the set. At 4 with no Amplify, it’s not particularly good but still passable. At 6 and above, it just starts to get insane, and will win many games upon just being played. Though it will act more like a Great Parliament (and scales fairly similarly), it will need to be played more like a Sword of Unity. It’s been mentioned before, but following up Jotun Feast-Caller with this card on turn 6 is just devastating.
You probably never want to mainboard this card in any metagame except the most controll-y of metagames. In the Market, however, it is fine in control mirrors if you’re expecting any.
Adding Fast speed to Mirror Image is worth the cost increase. In addition to all the value Mirror Image provides, this now turns it into a combat trick that will lead to some insane blowouts. Hitting a Merchant also gives you Fast speed access to the Market. I don’t think I need to say anymore.
It’s hard to see what sort of Relic’s Matter deck we might end up with (if any), but I think even in that deck this might just be too slow. The best thing you can do with it is grab off-color Relics. Otherwise, the Market does a great job of giving you access to the real things you need.
I’m giving this a 2 only on potential. If there comes a time where a deck can amass absurd amounts of power and wants to go off in a combo-like manner, we now have a card that will enable it to draw 8-10 cards with only one single card. There and only there will this card be good.
The issue with mirror is that it costs the amount of power that is typically played by unit-light decks, yet it wants many units. That makes it a no for the majority of decks as a starting card. However, the inevitability is quite powerful, and I can see it as a card in the Market to win midrange mirrors and outgrind someone. Even then, however, I think Clutch of Talons will just be the card you’d rather cast in these situations.
Eilyn, the Rising Storm
Six is definitely an important number to hit, being able to hit Telut and a multitude of other cards. The lack of protection isn’t a big deal since you get value immediately. Rather, I think the big problem is that it just doesn’t seem like enough for an 8 drop. She is one of the better targets for copying, however, especially after getting 1-2 attacks in, but my guess is that you’d probably be winning at that point anyway. I’m leaning more towards here not being strong enough for all these reasons, but summon effects this strong are worth playing around with.
As far as individual factions go, I think Primal is probably the winner of this set. After many sets of struggling to have powerful solely Primal cards (and in general leaning on only a few powerful multifaction cards) it obtained several playable cards all across the curve. Clutch of Dragons is particuarly powerful here and gives a huge incentive for anyone to be in a Primal-based deck.