Crystal Games: First Impressions – Events and Resources

This is part 2 of 3 of my Crystal Games review.  You might want to read part 1 first.

Colorless Events

Finger Snap (Crystal Games-101 U) Event; 1, 0, 3
Main Phase: Choose a counter on one of your ready cards. Put another counter of the same type on that card.

I’m not seeing much where I’m happy to play this.  You can use it for a portion of a flip on a main, but either they’re not good mains anyway or they probably don’t need the help.  For Mailbox stuff, you can get two cards (which basically just cycles Finger Snap) or +2 power, and Watch in Awe has never much impressed me.  I think this one is not yet good, if it ever will be.

Ice Archery (Crystal Games-105 R)
Event; 1, 0 , 3
Main Phase: Your opponent chooses a card in their hand and you choose a card type. Then that opponent reveals their chosen card. If that card has that type, look at that opponent’s hand and banish a card from their hand.

Not going to lie, I hate mind games cards like this.  It’s easy to think of them as skill-based, but really they’re much more like the wine game from The Princess Bride: you’re unlikely to be able to come up with a good enough reason to pick any particular thing to make an educated choice.  Of course, sometimes you’ll just know (they only have one card in hand and you know it’s Ursa Vanquisher, or whatever) but most of the time, this is a coin flip that gives you the illusion of control.

The good news is, the payoff is hardly worth it over paying to draw a card, so unless you really expect your opponent to frequently end up in a position where you know their hand, it’s unlikely to be worth playing.

The only other two events are the Cadance/Shining double flip, and the Twilight/Spike one.  These kinds of cards barely see any kind of competitive play, and there are plenty of sweet, flexible combat tricks throughout this set (a good thing).  If you want one of these, you’ll know it, but I think it’s unlikely you will.

Colored Events

Burst of Speed (Crystal Games-95 R)
Event; 0, 4 Blue, 4
Faceoff: Gain [3 actions]. At the end of the faceoff, lose all of your action tokens.

This has a reasonable flip, and 3 AT for one card is a better rate even than cards like Heart’s Desire or the (in)famous Hooves/Pinny Lane combo.  It’s hard to tell just how much of a splash it will make, though, because the restriction is quite real, and it doesn’t interact well with banking AT for other cards like Ten Seconds Flat.  There are a lot more ways to use AT in a faceoff in this set than there were before, but you still want to be confident you’ll have a lot of them in order to ensure you get the payoff here.  With the high requirement, you also can’t use it early, when AT are most at a premium (and you’re most likely to not lose any additional ones you have banked).  Still, the power of +3 AT is high enough that it wouldn’t shock me if this saw some play.

Relay Race (Crystal Games-113 R)
Event – Showdown; 3, 4 Blue, 6
Main Phase: Start a faceoff involving your characters at a Problem and an opponent’s characters there. The winner of that faceoff may move a character they control for each of their Friends involved in the faceoff.

This is potentially a lot of movement for 3 AT, but it’s really hampered by needing you to already have your friends at a problem.  It is very good, however, for evacuating your friends from a problem where you’re unopposed, if you’re interested in that.  For example, if you think your opponent is about to flip a villain, and you have a bunch of Solar Winds and so forth there.  I think this is probably a fringe enough use that it isn’t worth it given blue decks usually have no trouble moving around in the main phase.

Unending Nightmare (Crystal Games-123 R)
Event – Gotcha; 1, 3 Blue, 4
Reaction: After a Friend becomes unfrightened, frighten that Friend.

Not a good card, but man, talk about kicking someone while they’re down.  It’s hilarious if you have a bunch of Rainbow Dash, Goosebump Giver.  Mildly annoy your friends!

Apple Juice Break (Crystal Games-94 C)
Event; 1, 3 Orange, 4
Faceoff: Exhaust an opponent’s character involved in a faceoff.

Probably not as much raw power as a Critter Cavalry unless something weird is going on, but still a very solid combat trick.  And since the exhaustion lasts the whole turn, you can use it with Showdowns to keep beating down on the poor victim for the whole turn.  (Sadly, this makes it great in One Pace, though also quite good against One Pace.)

Plowing the Field (Crystal Games-111 U)
Event; 1, 3 Orange, 4
Main Phase: Draw 2 cards from the bottom of your deck.

I’ve heard some talk about running this in Maud decks.  I don’t see it myself, since it’s just break-even on cards, but it does at least break even and get an event in the discard pile, so there’s that.

A Simple Mix-up (Crystal Games-92 U)
Event; 2, 4 Pink, 4
Main Phase: Gain control of an opponent’s Friend until the end of the Score Phase.

This will very likely make you win a problem faceoff on your own turn.  Unfortunately, that’s not really anything you want to do.  I’m pretty skeptical it’s really worth it.  It does have some fringe utility against things like Rarity, Truly Outrageous, but honestly, stealing that for one turn is unlikely to really solve your problem.

Catch Me! (Crystal Games-97 F)
Event; 1, 3 Pink, 5
Faceoff: Retire one of your Friends involved in the faceoff to dismiss an opposing Friend involved in the faceoff.

I enjoy that there’s removal in this set that can get you an advantage, but this one is hard to make work.  You have to be losing a friend that’s enough worse than the opponent’s that you don’t mind being down 1 AT and 1 card.  Most of the friends that are powerful enough to justify that aren’t likely to end up in a lot of faceoffs.

The one place this is potentially good is against One Pace, where if you only have one real friend on the board, getting rid of it is valuable even aside from the fact that you’d kill their Globe Trotter.

Juggling Routine (Crystal Games-107 U)
Event; 1, 2 Pink, 3
Main Phase: Each player shuffles their discard pile into their deck and draws a card.

Annoyingly enough, this is better than Changeling Infiltrator in some One Pace builds, though not One Shot.  Sigh.  I wish they’d stop printing cards like this that let you shuffle in over and over in the same turn, they never do anything fair.

Multi-Goof Off! (Crystal Games-109 R)
Event – Showdown; 3, 4 Pink, 6
Main Phase: Start a faceoff involving your characters at a Problem and an opponent’s characters at that Problem. The winner of that faceoff draws a card for each of their characters involved in the faceoff.

I can’t imagine what circumstances would have to hold for you to get more than four cards off of this, and if you don’t, you’re down on the transaction.

Yoink! (Crystal Games-124 R)
Event – Gotcha; 0, 3 Pink, 3
Faceoff: Dismiss a Friend with power greater than its cost.

This is very close to “dismiss target good card”.  Not quite, but it kills quite a lot of problem friends.  Annoyingly it leaves Truly Outrageous, but it’s still likely to find a good target against most decks, and unlike previous removal (outside Rock Paper Scissors) you likely end up spending fewer resources than they did.  The friend you dismiss doesn’t have to be involved in the faceoff (??) so it’s not quite as flexible as main phase, but pretty close.  I expect this to be a card people play.  Whether it’s better than Rock Paper Scissors is likely going to vary, but given that was the best removal in the game previously, that’s high praise.

 A Hasty Retreat (Crystal Games-91 F)
Event; 2, 4 Purple, 3
Faceoff: Put an opposing Friend involved in the faceoff on top of its owner’s deck.

This is a pretty serious purple combat trick.  Against most constructed decks it’s likely to be +4 to the faceoff, plus they lose a draw and have to play their best guy again.  Low flip for an event, but I’d be astounded if this didn’t see quite extensive play.  And like Critter Cavalry it works for any faceoff, including defending troublemakers.  The “put back on top” clause even means it has some play against One Pace and similar strategies.  It isn’t going to win you the game if you aren’t putting pressure on, but it effectively costs them 4 AT and a pump, which might prevent them from going off that turn, and it’s got enough play against other decks to make that all upside.

Cutie Pox Scare (Crystal Games-98 R)
Event – Gotcha; 3, 2 Purple, 5
Reaction: After the start of a Score Phase, move all characters at a Problem home.

I had this card in three different prerelease decks.  (That statement says a lot about the number of prereleases I played in.)  Against any deck trying to play a fair game, this card is absurdly powerful, and it’s very strong against a lot of the unfair plans too.  The obvious use, of course, is to cost them 1 or more VP straight up by just denying a confront for a turn.  But you can also play it on your own turn to send home a large force sitting at a troublemaker, so it naturally fits in decks that want to lock people out of problems with TMs.  In decks like that it also seriously dulls the pain of a successful The Hard Way or Daring Do run, or especially a Snips and Snails, letting the control player put the shields back up on their own turn with a Bell Tower or similar effect.  If they are relying on a Monstrous Manual to get through, it triggers your Mayor Mare to trash the Manual, and prevents them scoring on the face-down TM as well.  I think this will prove to be one of the most powerful cards in the set, useful in a wide variety of decks.

Spell Off (Crystal Games-116 R)
Event – Showdown; 3, 4 Purple, 6
Main Phase: Start a faceoff involving your characters at a Problem and an opponent’s characters at that Problem. The winner of the faceoff may move each opposing character involved in the faceoff home.

I think this is probably the best of the large showdowns in the set, just because it gives you an effect that scales up well in power based on the size of the face-off, and unlike the pink and orange ones, isn’t likely to compare unfavorably to the AT draw in terms of what it actually accomplishes.  It’s also in the color of Studious, which helps.

That said, it compares quite poorly to Cutie Pox Scare in many decks.  The big advantage of this one is that you get to keep your characters at the problem, but in a lot of purple decks that’s not nearly as much of a priority as the truly filthy timing on Cutie Pox Scare.  The situation where this might be sweet is if some kind of purple aggressive deck that wants to use non-villains to cover an more active, confrontation based strategy.  In a deck like that, this card could potentially shine.

Telekinesis (Crystal Games-118 C)
Event; 2, 2 Purple, 3
Problem Faceoff: Move an opponent’s character involved in the faceoff home.

This is a fine card in draft or sealed, but I’m having trouble imagining ever running it over A Hasty Retreat if I have the option.  The only upside is a lower purple requirement, but that seems unlikely to come up often.

True Evil (Crystal Games-121 R)
Event; 4, 4 Purple, 2
Main Phase: Frighten all Friends.

A lot of people seem excited about this card, but I think it’s the weakest purple event in the set outside Telekinesis.  Frightening friends is rarely significantly more powerful than sending them home (and is sometimes worse), and this one costs a boatload, has weak timing compared to Cutie Pox Scare, and is indiscriminate enough that it almost always hurts you in some way, whereas Scare and Spell Off rarely will.  I don’t expect to run this one very often.

Destiny Drain (Crystal Games-201 UR)
Event; 3, 3 Purple, 6
Main Phase: Choose a card in an opponent’s discard pile. Search that player’s hand, deck, and discard pile for each card with the same name, then banish those cards. Banish this card.

This is another hard one to assess, but I suspect it is both better and worse than people think.  It’s easy to see both the upside (maybe I’ll hit [broken card X]!) and the downside (a lot has to happen to enable you to hit anything worthwhile).  That said, there are a couple of very important cards that end up in discard piles quite often, chief among them Snips and Snails, and if your deck is concerned about that card, it might be worth running this as an out.  For example, pre-Crystal Games, I found that almost all my Tower losses were to opponents who drew all their Snips and Snails very quickly, or those who could bring them back (like the What’s Old is New Again kill in Dream Quest).  Since the first one rarely kills, Destiny Drain is a great out to that.  It also works well on The Hard Way and some other key blue events.

That said, Daring Do isn’t particularly vulnerable to this card, nor are some of the other reasonable outs in this set (that’s a good thing).  As a result, I’m not sure it’s a must-run.  At the same time, it’s good enough against Snips and Snails I’ll probably be testing it, and a lot of decks do try to run a bit light on outs to control decks, which this card can certainly punish.

Fashion Upgrade (Crystal Games-100 U)
Event – Gotcha; 0, 4 White, 3
Reaction: After an opponent moves a character, that opponent must pay [1 action] if able.

This is the card Stand Still! should have been – less of a blowout, higher requirement, still probably good enough to play and throws off their math.  That said, Stand Still! is still legal, and I don’t think most decks want 4-6 of it, so while those things are both true, there’s probably not much reason to play this card.

Inspiration Manifestation (Crystal Games-106 R)
Event – Gotcha; 1, 3 White, 5
Reaction: After an opponent’s Friend is moved to a Problem, characters can’t be moved to that Problem until the end of the turn.

This card will sometimes utterly end your opponent’s dreams, but unless they have no cards in hand, you’ll probably never know that it will when you have to decide to play it.  If you go for it and they can just finish the confront out of hand, you’ve just lit a card and an AT on fire.  I suppose there might be some clever use for it, but I’m not seeing it right now.

Poetry Slam (Crystal Games-112 R)
Event – Showdown; 3, 4 White, 6
Main Phase: Start a faceoff involving your characters at a Problem and an opponent’s characters there. The winner of that faceoff may banish a Friend that was involved.

You can banish your own friend with this if you want, unlike a lot of removal.  That might someday be something someone wants for some reason?

I’m not convinced 3 AT to banish a friend involved in a faceoff would be a particularly great card; a lot of good friends either never get involved in a faceoff, or cost 3 or less anyway, leaving you unlikely to get much of an advantage off this.  The fact that you have to beat them at the faceoff and they have to be present at a problem on your turn (and if you lose the faceoff you get punished) makes this card a definite miss.

Social Networking (Crystal Games-114 U)
Event – Gotcha; 1, 3 White, 5
Faceoff: Banish a Friend from a discard pile. Add that Friend’s power to one of your Friends involved in the faceoff until the end of the faceoff.

White clearly isn’t much of a combat trick color.  Get your trick out of your other one.  This one only works in faceoffs where your friends are involved, and requires you to have a high power friend in the discard pile.  That’s way too many if’s for me.

Doctor’s Orders (Crystal Games-99 R)
Event; 2, 4 Yellow, 4
Problem Faceoff: Put the Friend with power higher than any other Friend involved in the faceoff into its owner’s hand.

There’s a lot of room to be worse than A Hasty Retreat and still be good, but this is a lot worse than A Hasty Retreat.  It doesn’t make them re-draw the thing, it only works in problem faceoffs, and it has a very fiddly targeting restriction (it can’t even work in the case of a tie!)  I think there’s probably not room in most yellow decks for six tricks, and I cannot imagine a universe where I want this in my deck instead of Critter Cavalry.

Fire in the Sky (Crystal Games-102 U)
Event – Gotcha; 1, 2 Yellow, 6
Reaction: After the start of your Troublemaker Phase, uncover an opponent’s face-down Troublemaker.

I guess this punishes incredibly greedy players who put a face-down TM at your problem where your guys are, planning to send them all home on the next turn after flipping it face-up?  But if you don’t know it isn’t a villain, using this on it is an incredible gamble, and the timing on it isn’t right to let you use Winona first and find out.  Any opponent playing troublemakers poorly enough to get blown out by this card probably would have been blown out a turn later by their own play.

Stay Quiet the Longest (Crystal Games-117 R)
Event – Showdown; 3, 4 Yellow, 6
Main Phase: Start a faceoff involving your characters at a Problem and an opponent’s characters there. The winner of that faceoff reveals a number of cards from the top of their deck equal to the number of their characters involved in the faceoff, puts each Friend revealed this way into their hand, and puts the rest of the cards on the bottom of their deck.
(This card has received errata)

This card was barely worth my effort to read.  In terms of poor text to effect ratio, it rivals Pinkie Pie, Element of Laughter.  In a game where you couldn’t just pay 3 AT to draw three cards…I’d probably still never play this card, but at least it wouldn’t compare so flagrantly poorly to just doing something you can always do per game rules.

The Soup Incident (Crystal Games-120 U)
Event; 1, 4 Yellow, 4
Reaction: After an opponent plays a card, exhaust all opposing Friends with Resources attached to them and banish all cards in a discard pile.

If played at the correct time, this card does significant damage to One Pace, and is pretty reasonable against Dream Quest.  Unfortunately, since there’s no stack in Ponies, you can’t just wait until One Pace plays their discard pile shuffler and then get them with this card; once they play it, you can’t respond until it’s already happened.  So you need to play a game of brinksmanship, waiting until they have enough cards in there that this will do significant damage, but not so many that they’ll just shuffle in again.  If playing against One Pace were actually fun, that’d be fine, unfortunately the best way to figure out the optimal time to play it is to play a bunch of games with or against One Pace, and there are so many things I’d rather do with my life.

That said, the good news is that if you have 4 yellow on the table they probably have to worry that this is in your hand even if it isn’t, which might buy you some time.  Of course, it’s garbage against most decks, so you don’t want it anywhere near yours unless you expect One Pace to show up.  I’m glad we have a tool against the deck, but this card creates the worst kinds of weird, obscure side games that have nothing to do with the skills normally needed to play ponies.  This is a common effect of dumb solitaire decks that I personally hate, so I’d still rather they’d just banned the thing into the ground.

The good news is, it’s possible there are enough random cards in this set that are bad for One Pace that no one will bother to play it anymore.  That’s my hope.

Bottom Line, Events: There are a lot of good, or at least interesting, events in this set, with the big winner being purple.  It has a long list of good events, with few of them worse than “maybe” and two clear powerhouses in Cutie Pox Scare and A Hasty Retreat, plus lots of cards in-color that want you to play them.  Orange also did well, at least partially because its previous event offerings were so weak.  Apple Juice Break is a completely playable flexible combat trick that the color sorely needed.  Pink also got a fine removal option.  The other colors did less well, with a few potentially interesting cards but no real stand outs.  There are several events that are reasonable in combo decks and several that are good against them.  Unclear where that balance really lies, but as of now I’d say combo is a bit behind where it was just because previously virtually no events interacted with it, whereas now some do, so at least once you’ve started going off you have to worry about things your opponent might have to do, which makes the decks harder to play and more prone to error-based losses.

Resources

Seabreeze’s Flower (Crystal Games-147 C)
Resource – Asset; 1, 0 , 3
Play to your home.<P>Main Phase: Retire this card and pay [1 action] to dismiss an opponent’s Resource. <p> Main Phase: Retire this card to give one of your characters [yellow] until the end of the phase.

There’s a whole cycle of these, each of which you can either use to fix into a color, or to get an effect that’s normally characteristic of that color without needing to actually use the color.  I’m going to talk about them all here rather than quote them all.

First, I like the overall idea a lot.  They serve as useful color fixing, which the game as a whole is still sort of short on, and some of them also are a welcome way to get important effects in decks that previously couldn’t unlock them.  None of them are particularly efficient at it, but that’s okay if you really just need the effect.

Of the specific cards, I quoted this one because I think it’s the one most likely to see play outside of providing entry.  Before Crystal Games resources were extremely tenacious, with Sunset Shimmer the only card that could really interact with them outside yellow.  As a result, Nation’s Monstrous Manual tore up both Charlotte and I in the Champs top 8, and if you’ve read my Tower articles, you’ll know I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out something reasonable to do about it.  While purple now also has access to new Mayor Mare, this card is also a nice way for any deck to deal with a resource.  Monstrous Manual remains the big one, but I think it’s overall healthy for the game to have expensive solutions to problem cards spread among many or even all colors.  Paying 2 and a card to get rid of one resource isn’t a great rate, but I’d gladly do it rather than be unable to remove something like Monstrous Manual.

Of the rest, the pink one is the most disappointing, because it doesn’t actually leave you up any cards, so the only real on-color effect you get is “both players shuffle” which I view mostly as a down-side since it shows up on a bunch of pink cards and rarely does anything other than waste everyone’s time.  I could see any of the rest seeing play in the right circumstances.  Though many are pretty marginal, all of them do something you might someday want in your life, so they’re nice additions to the game.

Fake Crystal Heart (Crystal Games-132 U)
Resource – Asset; 2, 0 , 4
Play to your home. <p> Main Phase: Pay [1 action] to gain control of an opponent’s non-attachment Resource. That opponent gains control of this card.

I initially read this card before I read Seabreeze’s Flower or Mayor Mare (since the full list in the OCR was purely alphabetical) and whooped in joy that I had a way to deal with the opponent’s Monstrous Manual in purple.  (You trade it back and forth every turn, but because the trade is main phase, no one gets to use it.)

Now that those cards are around, I can’t imagine ever playing this one.  I suppose you could turn it into a 3 AT true steal on a resource if you combined it with Mr. Beaverton Beaverteeth or Mayor Mare or something, but I’m having trouble coming up with cases where you’d want to, and they certainly seem rare enough that you’re not going to want to run those cards in your deck to enable it.

Pile of Presents (Crystal Games-139 U)
Resource – Resource, Asset, Unique; 0, 0 , 3
Play to your home. <P> When your opponent draws a card during their Main Phase, if that opponent has drawn at least 4 cards this turn, score a point. <P> When an opponent draws a card during their Main Phase, you may exhaust this card and one of your Friends to draw a card.

Good news!  One Pace and similar decks cannot possibly win the game while this card is on the table.  Of course, the generally positive increased ability of all colors to deal with resources means that this doesn’t force them to add yellow fixing like it would have before, but it’s existence is somewhere between grim news and the apocalypse for that deck.  While there are outs, the usual One Pace plan of putting a single copy in the deck and just drawing into it mid-combo doesn’t work here.  If you’ve been scoring any points at all, you’ll win the game off this before One Pace can reliably dig to an answer.  I’m not sure if the possibility of this card will prevent people from playing the deck, but I think it might, which I obviously like.

As for the utility as a whole: initially this looks good against DJ main, another card you’re probably aware I think is too good.  Unfortunately, it’s much less of a solution than it might look.  Once you get it out, you can piggyback on the extra draw per turn, which certainly helps mitigate the advantage DJ provides.  The problem is, you’re still falling behind for every turn you don’t draw it, and unless literally everyone is playing DJ, you can’t be confident that you’ll be able to get the cards off this.  They can also flip it without triggering the extra VP, since it hits on four not three.  The extra card per turn is only a small part of DJ’s power, or rather, a lot of the power of the card per turn is that you can be 100% certain you’ll have it, so you can be incredibly greedy while building your deck.  Playing this card lets you keep up in the game, but it doesn’t let you keep up in deckbuilding.  Quite the opposite, it costs you three slots.

And against other decks, those slots are nearly completely wasted.  I can’t think of another deck I’d ever want to draw this against; it’s an instant mulligan against any fair deck.

So we’re left with a question with an uncomfortable answer: what kinds of decks can best afford to sacrifice a deck slot to a card that sometimes doesn’t do anything?  The answer, of course, is decks that can be 100% sure they’ll be drawing an extra card every turn starting on turn two if they’d like.  So if this card is powerful against DJ and One Pace, the decks that will most be able to afford to run it are other DJ decks.  Oops.

Honorable mention, as always, goes to Maud, who rather likes having a free resource.

So, let’s recap.  Very annoying for One Pace: great!  Best when used with the two mains that were already clear best and probable second best in the game: depressing.

Feedbag (Crystal Games-133 U)
Resource – Accessory; 0, 4 Orange, 5
Play on an [orange] Friend. <P> Main Phase: Discard a card to give that Friend +1 power until the end of the turn.

This is probably a card a lot of Maud decks are interested in, at least the more aggressively-minded ones.  Zero cost is great, and you can use this to easily both flip Maud and confront your opponent’s problem on turn 2, or even turn 1, all while feeding your discard pile.

Of course, at that point you’ve cost yourself a lot of late-game potential (in the form of the cards) for an early lead, but early leads are really important in a lot of matchups, and you have a lot of power on the table.  I don’t think you just jam this in any Maud deck you ever make, but I think you will want it in some of them.

Out of Action (Crystal Games-137 R)
Resource – Condition; 1, 2 Orange, 3
Play on a Friend. <P> Exhaust that Friend. That Friend does not ready during the Ready Phase.

This is pure removal for a lot of friends, including some very good ones, and is the card Bed Rest wishes it were.  It shuts down a lot of cards for very cheap.  Removal in general isn’t strong enough in MLP that you want to jam this in every orange deck, but it’s very nice.

It also, of course, flips Maud, though you have to get some more orange on the table to enable it.

Stone Cold (Crystal Games-152 U)
Resource – Condition; 2, 3 Orange, 5
Play on a Friend.<P>That Friend can’t be frightened.

Clearly this card is much more powerful than Out of Action, and totally justifies costing +1 at +1 Req (okay, enough sarcasm).

Seriously, I get that some cards are always going to be better than others, but that’s a statement of fact, not something you have to actively go for.  Did anyone ever look at this card and think it was anything other than a waste of cardboard?  (I know there are a lot of other dire cards in this set, and this game, but this one came right after Out of Action and so provoked my ire.)

The Element of Honesty, Faithful and Strong (Crystal Games-203 UR)
Resource – Artifact, Unique; 2, 3 Orange, 7

Play to your home.<P>You must control Applejack to play this card. <p> At the start of your turn, put a Harmony counter on this card. <p> Reaction: After one of your [orange] Friends enters play, put a number of +1 power counters on it equal to the number of Harmony counters on this card, then remove all Harmony counters from this card.

I don’t think this card is going to be worth playing in constructed, but I put it in my first prerelease deck just because it was a 7-flip and it was much better than I expected.  It does very quickly start making your friends unreasonably large, which is nice.  I think most constructed games are going to be over too quickly for this kind of long-term investment to be a good idea in a deck that cares about the size of its friends, but I wouldn’t write it off in casual or sealed just based on the Element resources from CN being so bad.

Party Bomb (Crystal Games-138 R)
Resource – Asset; 0, 1 Pink, 3
At the start of your turn, you may put a Party counter on this card. <p> Main Phase: Pay a number of action tokens equal to the number of Party counters on this card and retire it to dismiss all Friends with printed power equal to the number of Party counters on this card.

The only pink resource in the set, but it’s a nice one.  Almost straight-up better than Very Startling (though granted that doesn’t say much) this is the first meaningful mass removal card in the game.  It’s pretty slow, but it doesn’t cost you anything until you cash it in, and if you do so, you’ll likely be up a fair number of resources, though of course the opponent will have gotten some use out of the friends first.

I’m not going to lie: I have no real idea how good this card is.  The effect is without a doubt powerful, but it’s weird enough that I’d have to play it a lot to see how good it is.  It’s obviously best against some of the cheap friend aggro decks, with things like blue pegasi losing a lot of important friends to either 1 or 2 point explosions.  It’s similarly basically useless against One Pace and hardcore control, and mediocre against the DJ-based midrange decks.  Right now I think the latter are the more dangerous, with only things like Dream Quest really heavily suffering to it of the decks that were on my radar before Crystal Games came out.  But if Games changes things, that of course could shift pretty quickly.

Study Session (Crystal Games-153 R)
Resource – Asset; 2, 2 Purple, 4
Play to your home.<P>Opposing Friends enter play exhausted.

I’m not happy this card got printed just because, oh man, people are going to be so upset playing against it.  Friends being able to do things on their first turn is a critical part of MLP, so shutting that off for your opponent is just going to feel awful for them.

As for how good it actually is: with the two purple requirement, it’s unlikely you can deploy it before the opponent has at least a few friends out, though if you do get it online on turn 2, they’re almost certainly in dire trouble, to the extent that if it sees significant play it might become correct to drop early friends against purple decks even if you can’t immediately confront.  But overall, this is unlikely to hit the first wave of friends.  What it does do is completely shut down the surprise value of both Snips and Snails and Ursa Vanquisher (among no doubt others) while it’s on the table.  It also leaves them exhausted, and so easy prey for Rock Paper Scissors or the like.

Both the slow-down effect and the anti-S&S/TSUV effect are fringe, but they’re probably good against different decks, and might together cover a fair bit of the environment.  I think this has a chance at seeing play, to the general rage of a large number of players who just want their cards to do things.

Dressed Up (Crystal Games-131 U)
Resource – Accessory; 1, 1 White, 3
Play on a Friend. <P>That Friend has +1 Power, is also [white], and loses and can’t gain abilities.

I wish this card had zero requirement so it was more relevant that it turned the friend white, but it’s still an awesome card to play with Rarity, Dressmaker, and that’s something I can always support.

Pony Charm (Crystal Games-140 R)
Resource – Condition; 3, 5 White, 4
Play on a Friend.<P>You control that Friend.

My gut feeling is that this card is probably not going to be worth the cost.  A lot of good friends dodge it, like Ursa Vanquisher, Snips and Snails, and Mare in the Moon, and a lot of other friends are valuable mostly as part of a strategy, so taking them won’t be much better than just removing them.  There are obviously some juicy targets, like Truly Outrageous or Carbo-Loader, so if they see tons of play, this might be a good response.

More problematic is the ol’ Crystal Games syndrome.  While this effect is splashy enough that 5 requirement at least makes sense, there are currently no white mains that seem to me at all exciting.  Without a white main, reaching 5 power is no easy feat, at least not without playing either more or worse fixers than a lot of decks want.  It looks to me like your deck would have to sacrifice a lot either in the main or in the rest of the deck to have a very good chance at actually playing this card.

The Equestria Games (Crystal Games-202 UR)
Resource – Location, Unique; 2, 5 White, 6
Play to your home.<P>At the end of your turn, put a Victory counter on this card.<P>At the start of your turn, you may retire this card. If you do, each player puts a number of Friends from their discard pile into play up to the number of Victory counters on this card.

There are two ways one might try to abuse this card: getting a bunch of friends out of the discard pile, or getting one.

Either plan involves involves deploying it as early as possible (probably using a fixer event like Getting Hooves Dirty), discarding a bunch of big friends, then bringing them into play.  In practical terms, this probably means playing DJ, flipping her turn 2, and playing Getting Hooves Dirty turn 3 to play the Games.  (You can do it a turn earlier by playing Let’s Get This Party Started on the turn you play Getting Hooves Dirty, but you probably can’t get all three in your opening hand all that often.)  You then just discard to hand limit thanks to the DJ feeding your hand.

At that point you either discard something giant and get it on turn 3, or discard several things over the next few turns and then bring them all back.

None of those plans are actually good.  The best single friends you can get back are Elements or Tall Tale, none of which seem worth it to me and many of which you could play by turn 4 anyway, so you’re getting them a turn early at most.  Getting a bunch of these friends is of course better, but also even less reliable.  More generally, it’s unclear what you’re going to do with them that makes up for spending your first few turns durdling around with Equestria Games nonsense while your opponent was probably either scoring points or otherwise advancing an agenda with a clear goal other than “big things are fun.”

The Element of Generosity, A Beautiful Heart (Crystal Games-204 UR)
Resource – Unique, Artifact; 2, 3 White, 7
Play to your home.<P>You must control Rarity to play this card. <p> At the start of your turn, put a Harmony counter on this card. <p> Score Phase: Remove 2 Harmony counters from this card to reduce the confront requirements of a problem by [3 wild].

In a weird rules note, under the current OCR this effect doesn’t ever end, so the problem’s confront requirement is lower until it flips.

Does that make this card good?  Not as far as I can tell.  But it’s interesting.

Magical Mailbox (Crystal Games-136 R)
Resource – Mailbox; 1, 3 Yellow, 5
Play to your home.<P>Main Phase: Remove a counter from one of your ready characters to draw a card. If you remove the counter from a Dragon or Pegasus, draw 2 cards instead.

I find Spike’s expression in this art utterly hilarious.

In terms of the actual game: this is the clear best of the weird mail sub-theme cards, though I have no idea why you have to remove counters from ready characters, that just seems like a weird clause.  In any case, if that deck is playable, this is the reason.  The first use of this is basically neutral (-1 card -1 AT -> 2 cards) but every one beyond that is probably basically free cards, since the cards that get the tokens get them for free for doing things you want to do anyway.

I’m not sure you can really convert those cards into a win, because you’ve got a bunch of weird counter stuff in your deck, but it’s at least an impressive amount of cards.  I think I’d run white secondary and just try to use Matilda and Truly Outrageous to catch back up.  Maybe that gets there?

Ponyville Mailbox seems pretty uninteresting to me, but once again has the perplexing issue where the seemingly worse card costs more AT.  I suppose the ability means you can confront your opponent’s problem with Rarity, Truly Outrageous very easily, so that supports that as the catch-up method.

Bottom Line, Resources: We have a lot of weird stuff here.  Everyone gets access to resource removal and some fringe tools from the Key cycle.  One Pace gets hate, but it probably works best with DJ or Maud.  Orange is a big winner here – Maud of course likes resources, and especially free ones, but orange also got the lion’s share of clearly good cards.  Everyone else got at least one card that’s at least got potential, except sort of yellow, where the only potentially good cards rely on the extremely suspect mail subtheme.

 Concluded in Part 3

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