Howdy y’all, my name is Just Add Bacon, finally revealing my true form and unleashing part three of my expansion review series! On the menu today are the Heart and Intellect prism, two of the prisms with some of the most game-changing additions. I’ll also be wrapping this one up with a bit of a reflection on how things have gone with the expansion as a whole, and what we might look forward to in the future. So, without further ado, let’s break it down!
Average Rating: 3.9
In contrast to Strength’s Armis archetype, Heart gains access to many Zomboid cards in this expansion. Frankly, I’m not as sold on the strength of the archetype as I am on Armis (Armor is just strong), but early results seem to be positive for it. Aside from Zomboids, Heart also gained some explosive spells, like Rebirth, Pharonis’ Command, and Empty the Undercroft, and some interesting hand-buff options with Hexed Surit and Humongoshroom.
BREACH THE GATES
A spicy one, but it may take some practiced deckbuilding to get it to work. Breach the Gates is a recurring option similar to Mechshroom, although while Mechshroom goes tall while this one goes wide. At each point along its curve, I believe the stats-to-cost ratio is good, although users will need to be careful since it doesn’t replace itself. While this usually isn’t a problem for generic cards, since Breach returns to your deck it can end up making your draw engine too slow, a problem Mechshroom users will be familiar with.
Aside from that issue, I think there are a few cases where this spell could be immensely useful. When played in full, Breach the Gates adds 27 zomboids to your discard pile. Aside from the comically good burn damage, this also (hypothetically) makes Breach the Gates an amazing partner for Maw Worm. Should the draw engine be worked out (probably with Axel), a control deck with these two could have serious staying power and inevitability.
It’s cool and I personally like it, but it also feels a little weird. A 1/3 with Dash isn’t great, even for just 2 mana, but it’s the secondary effect that could make this a 4/5. Triggering a Death effect is a volatile ability, as it depends on what you have in hand, on board, and the costs of other things. However, Heart has really strong Death units, including things like Eclipse, Flame Phoenix, Scarabot, and Festival Cannon. We’ll need to wait and see with this card (as Zoey Dark could also make fantastic use of it), but I expect its impression will improve overtime.
It’s a support option for zomboids. Usable, but a bit generic. 1/4 with Wither is pretty alright, especially since it will summon Zomboids, but it’s also pretty vulnerable to things like other Zomboids and Dash units. Not much else to say.
Surits (Tactician, Nomad) are one of the lesser seen races of Sky, but also one of my favorites. Hexed Surit continues the tradition by being a super cool Meerkat with an equally cool effect. Getting this to trigger will probably be hard, but there are a couple of interesting ways of going about it.
For Horik Dig, one of the decks I specialize in, there are several good ways, including B.F.R. and Bulwark of Armis, who’s Armor will also benefit greatly from the buff. Beloved (potentially drawn from Light Ranger) also makes a strong candidate, as buffing Surit will also make it easier to trigger its Lifesteal effect, generating more buffs. Balance-wise this isn’t the strongest, but I still quite like it despite that.
I’ve made serious attempts to use this, but it seems to only be effective in the late game, at which point there are better things to do. At high levels of mana this card can be huge, as it opens some disgusting plays with Dash units like B.F.R. and Chromeosaur. However, at lower levels this can be rather difficult to play, as having a board is usually not the most reliable play. Heart, and specifically Horik, may be able to remedy that with bulky units like Roothog and Humungoshroom and good swarm options like Jar of Souls and Undergrowth. This should still be watched for the next few metas, though the attached Shield does prevent the worst abuse cases with things like Festival Cannon and Timber.
The flavor is cool, but this is unfortunately just too weak to be useful. A 4/4 for 4 with Slay is getting removed by far too much common removal, and while the attached Moonbeam is handy, you’re probably better off just running the spell. If it had +1 health it’d be pretty strong, so I’m not sure if it could be changed without also looking at the spell.
Big Shrooms go brr. This is a strong unit, as 5 health is absolutely essential for a 4-mana unit, and it’s one of the short list of Death units who don’t need their Death effect to trigger to be worthwhile. Healing and Guard are also a very helpful combo, as it makes the unit a natural inclusion for decks like Horik Dig or the more midrange Zoey builds. All-in-all it’s a good card; the only thing keeping it from 5/5 is that Coulter refused my suggestion to name it Humungus.
GERRY THE GOON
Gerry is a spicy one, and while it may not be quite to my tastes, I’m sure many will enjoy it. Gerry provides a boon to all your Zomboids for the rest of the game, giving them both the power to chew through Armor and also a much heftier sting on their Death effect. As a 6-mana 5/5 it’s on a fairly usable body too, although Dark and Wither are hard to search for in a Zomboid deck. Aside from turning Deadbeats into a 5-mana spell that deals 12 damage, Gerry also increases the damage of Zomboids in your discard pile, meaning Grave Roil will also be much more damaging. If you suspect your opponent is playing this, I recommend trying to avoid a long game. Finally, I should mention that Gerry will continue buffing the power of Zomboids each time he is played, but not their death effect. Thus, he is alright with revival effects, but it is not essential to recur him.
Another complicated card, but one of my favorites in the set. Command is hard for most decks to use, as it requires you to both have a unit worth playing and a unit of the same cost in your discard, but Heart has some potent targets for it, and a reliable way to find them. Because Command is so specific, it can be used to draw from outside of your deck before your deck is even close to being out of units. Thus, if we have a limited enough pool of cards, Command essentially summons whatever unit we want it to.
Taking Horik Dig as an example, by running just B.F.R. and Titanic we can guarantee an Undragon from the card. Discarding two cards to do so isn’t the most fun, but those cards could quite easily be something like Empty the Undercroft or Etherwail, which isn’t super useful in all matchups. With this type of usage, Pharonis’ Command can work like a type of bailout option. While it might be nice to have Undragon as a potential Summon for Etherwail, playing command in this way allows Horik, or any control deck employing this tactic, to hedge their bets against the matchup. Against aggro decks, Command may be used quickly to cheat out a large unit while cycling the deck. Against control decks, it may be played in the very late-game, potentially only discarding only useless cards, or even none at all.
EMPTY THE UNDERCROFT
Most people don’t think this is good, but I disagree. Empty the Undercroft is a new finisher option for Heart, functionally replacing the roll of Grave Roil in the closed beta meta. In practice though, Empty the Undercroft is much more like a balanced Wisdom card, and requires careful play to be used effectively. However, there are some great tricks for getting the most out of this card.
First, Dash units are amazing with this. Heart has access to many great Dash units like Scarabot and Harbinger, but cards from other prisms like Bulwark of Armis, Chromeosaur, Dessert Golem, and Pokey, Mailpig. Dash units allow you to immediately trade through the opponent’s board after the spell has been used. Secondly, units with controlling Summon effects are also great with this spell. Roothog and Hope in particular are quite effective, as they immediately reduce the opportunity of the opponent to respond. Finally, carefully selecting your spells to control the opponent’s grave also helps Undercroft flourish. Forest Fire can set up the opponent for a disaster, especially if they play 1-mana units, and carefully dusting key threats can also reduce the risk of this spell.
Aside from these tactics though, far and away the best one is simply using it while the opponent has a full board. When used this way the opponent gains far fewer, if any, units from its effect, making it much more one sided and reliable. Of course, you could still get blown out by AOE, but that’s what reliable bodies like Roothog are for. I recommend playing around with it, it’s just fun.
Average rating: 4
Finally, Intellect gains access to a new subtheme in Hexbound Invasion, that being a focus on big spells. Options like Mootichi’s Command, Spellbreaker, Hexed Beast, Storm’s Echo, and Tentacle Eruption dramatically expand the prism’s late-game, although all will require diligence to be used effectively.
Cool, but a slow and disreputable removal option. The biggest issue with this unit is that whatever you attach the Hex to can simply trade into your Hexswindler, making this more like a spell than a unit. You could have a guard unit in the way of course, but then it just attacks the guard. As a spell this is alright, but enchantment removal options are common with cards like Righteous and Buster, Squire. Other than that, it’s pretty alright.
A card focused on wishful (fishful?) thinking that pays off big time when it hits. School of Fish is a spell that is often overlooked but is actually quite powerful; even at base, summoning two 1-mana units from your deck is handy, especially when paired with Overdrive. Cetacean, however, works best when played while ahead, or early in the game before it can be answered easily. Don’t expect its effect to trigger; it’s much more likely to simply be good as a pressure option.
I’m not quite sure about this one, but it seems a little volatile. 2 power isn’t a ton to trigger a Slay with, and 5 mana is a bit pricey, but it will allow you to do stuff like Kha’s Wrath on turn 6. It probably isn’t great for just any deck, but it may find a home in some specific builds like Mira Water, where it would benefit immensely from Glorious Mane and Nurtured Bond.
This is a cool design, but in general I don’t like volatile options like this. Its placement in Intellect at 6 mana means it’s probably a bit hard to abuse, but it does open ]some nasty stuff like turn 4 Amaruath or Cryogen. Cards like this also require the meta to have more hard removal, which generally slows down the game and makes finishers less powerful. I hope others enjoy it, but I don’t think I will.
Bears are cool, and Spellbreaker is extra cool. Another Water finisher for Intellect, Spellbreaker pairs beautifully with numerous decks, including 1-mana-focused decks, Floodwater decks, Midrange and Zoo decks like Mai Aquarium, and other combo-focused decks. Of all of these though, far and away Spellbreaker’s best deck is Mira Surge, which aims to use its effect with either Sonic Signal or Ethersurge to play a large number of high mana spells in a turn. At its peak, a copied Ethersurge can draw Tiamat’s Rage, Storm’s Echo, Stand as One, and Mass Confuse. With all of them reduced to 0 mana, the user can then play Confuse, Rage, SaO, and all back to back before playing them a second time with the 0 mana Storm’s Echo, thus wiping the opponent’s board entirely, playing 6 units with +1/+1, and dealing a heft amount of burn damage to the opponent’s face. If ever there was a card for breaking spells, this papa bear is certainly it!
Super cool, but Cytus will probably break it. Because it draws from your deck it’s a bit predictable, but you’ll also need to be careful to avoid accidentally destroying your own board. Barrier makes this a bit easier though, as it means the unit can absorb things like Extinction Event. This is probably best as a soft-finisher in Banjo, using cards like Gigabloom and Gift of Aya to draw spells like Mass Confuse or It’s a Trap.
Aside from using it as merely a draw/removal stick, Hexed Beast also has some disgusting combos with Mootichi’s Command. For 6 mana, Command can draw Beast by hitting Ethersurge or Sonic Signal, who will then dust Command to play either Mass Confuse or Gigabloom. If Sonic Signal has already been played, Beast will dust it to play Ethersurge, though this actually isn’t as good since you’ll lose the discount Ethersurge provides. I’m sure a deck focusing on stuff like this will be relevant in the future, so keep an eye on these guys.
Either fun and neat or a set-up for wacky stuff. However it’s played, Sonic Signal is a 0-mana draw option, and also highly specialized, making it a great option for decks focusing on cards like Amaruath’s Will, Shields Up, or Glorious Mane. Other than that, there aren’t too many great targets for it, but options like Volcanic Potion and Whelm are also good for it. Aside from this generic use it also pairs quite well with Spellbreaker, as it will always count the second copy as being played for 8 mana. This is a very powerful interaction, as it means that a doubled Signal is functionally its own Ethersurge, potentially even drawing Ethersurge and setting up the aforementioned combo.
This will probably end up being frustrating with combo decks, but I like its lovecraftian design too much to knock its rating down. While Water has lots of options for finishers, it has thus far had few good finishers, hampering the effectiveness of one of the coolest elemental cards in the game, Floodwater. Serpent helps solve that problem quite well, by being a well-statted finisher option with Shroud. On top of that, it’s a rather powerful ability, reducing its cost as the game drags on. Between options like Kha’s Wrath, Mass Confuse, and Skychannel, this should be tempo-efficient most of the time.
Ohhhhh boy, this one is wild. As a general rule I like stupid big cards, and this one is potentially up to four of them. Its value will be extremely variable, but basic options like Mass Confuse, Gift of Aya, Whelm, Forest Fire, Kha’s Wrath, and Hydrate should make this fine. As a user, always be planning ahead for this, as you’ll want to avoid playing a Storm that fails to address the opponent’s board. However, you should really only need one or two cards for this, so sneaking in some extra ramping or draw should be quite handy.
Another big spooky option, although it and Storm don’t play well together. Having Barrier on the Tentacles is good, but no guard means this will usually fail to save you from aggro decks. Against control decks it may seem more tempting, but Whelm is almost certain to be in every Wisdom deck for the foreseeable future. It could be good, balance wise, and certainly is design wise, but it’s not quite at Storm’s level.
Well, that’s finally done. And oh what a ride has it been. Thus far, we’ve only seen one balance patch, used to address cards like Nakamoto, Shogun, Mechshroom, and Mass Confuse, so the meta has continued to develop mostly unhindered. Despite this, how the meta will end up remains obscure.
Armis has had a bit less of an impact than I imagined it would, although it’s by no means bad; the math on cards like Medic and Bulwark are just good, they’re just waiting for the right home. At the same time, Zomboids have also been popular, although with even more armor in the meta they may have been crept out a little.
Aside from that, Soulpyre Titan and Vile Deal have emerged as a surprise boon to Agility, granting big buffs to heroes like Fox, Iris, and Zoey. What’s become especially apparent is the ease with which Titan is reduced to 0 mana. This has numerous implications. First, its attached Burn Out makes it essentially a 3-mana + 4 on raw value, with more potential if it finds a unit to kill. This on its own is wild for Agility, a prism that historically struggles with both resource generation and large removal in the late game. Secondly, because Titan is so easily reduced to 0 mana, countless combos exist with it, including Warden’s Command -> Norsudovest for 6 (Speed Boots can be added for 3 mana), Titanic’s Command -> two 5-mana units (like Roothog, Epic Eagle, or Garuda) or even just Vlad, whose attached Enrage can become what is functionally 2 mana for 7 damage. Because of these features, Soulpyre Titan is currently submerged in balance conversation, although I will not be getting into that here.
Finally, I think it’s interesting enough to note that my initial calculation for Blight’s value was incorrect, although I don’t think that the results change. Aside from what I’ve already discussed, I’ve also realized that Blight also has some minimal immediate value, since it can interfere with Spell Searchers like Kook Book and also changes the player’s calculations for inevitability. I’m pretty sure it’s still bad right now, but other talented players are exploring it, so we’ll have to wait and see.
And with that, it’s time to wrap things up. This month y’all can expect to see some more regular content, as well as a new series I’m working on rolling out. I’ve also got more interviews lined up (how is beyond me) so y’all can look forward to those too. Until next time, this has been Just Add Bacon, and I’ll see y’all in Sky!
Just Add Bacon is a PHD student at Texas A&M, studying International Relations and Game Theory. In his free time he’s a member of the Skyweaver community, commentating tournaments and co-hosting the Seeing Sky podcast with BlankHandle and Cytus. His favorite heroes are Fox and Horik.
“Basically, anything I can put a fox or a dragon into. Or both.”