Beginner’s Guide

By Buggz · June 2020 · EssentialsBack to guides

In this straightforward guide, we will cover the basics of the game such what are the different abilities, as well as all the little pieces of trivia you need to know to be effective on the battlefield.

When placing a unit with at least 1 movement on the board, it resolves its direction following this pattern:

  1. If there is an enemy in the cell in front, attack it.
  2. Otherwise, if there is an enemy in the inner cell (right column when on the left side of the board, left column when on the right side of the board), attack it.
  3. Otherwise, if there is an enemy outer cell (left column when on the left side of the board, right column when on the right side of the board), attack it.
  4. Otherwise move forward.

This also applies to units with higher speed, which will never attack sideways into a tile unless there’s an enemy in it.

Units move their respective speed value (which is the number of tiles they move) on their first turn. Every other movement the unit makes will be 1 tile.

Units attacking a base always die right after the damage is done to the base, which triggers their “on death” effects immediately after, unless they destroy the base in which case the game is obviously over.

The term “bordering tiles” refers to the four tiles in front, behind, to the left, and right. The term “surrounding tiles” refers to the bordering tiles plus the corner tiles, effectively the 8 tiles around.

In front” of a unit means in the same column as the target unit, “most forward” (e.g. Trueshot Post) picks randomly between the enemy units that have been placed or have advanced the furthest (even ahead of the Post itself). For cards like Tode the Elevated and Edrik the Fierce that refer to the “tile in front” of an enemy unit, that means the tile the unit will attack/move into during the enemy’s next turn.

The bases do not count as structures. That being said, when a card ability states “enemy” without precising “unit” or “structure”—like Siege Assembly or Dark Harvest—the enemy base counts as an enemy and it enables these cards to do direct damage to the base. This mechanism is heavily used in some decks, preferring damaging the base without actually passing units through (called “chip”).

Decks can be made with cards from the Neutral faction and also one of the others (Shadowfen, Ironclad, Winter, Swarm).

Every unit belongs to a race and can also be an Elder or a Hero (Prime Oracle Bragda is the only Elder Hero but there is an Undead Hero, Frostling Elder, and so on).

Unit races are relevant in some situations if you plan to use cards like Kindred’s Grace or Ubass the Hunter. Note that both the Elder and Hero modifiers count as unit races for cards like Ubass the Hunter.

Token units can be identified by their name as it will always start with the word “Token”. They have no level, 1 movement, and cost 0 mana. This is relevant for cards like Harvesters of Souls and Collector Mirz—if Harvesters of Souls attack an enemy token unit, they’ll put one in your deck with 0 mana cost. The strength of token units varies with the level of Harvesters of Souls and Collector Mirz.

Token units and Qordia’s Eggs can’t be included in your deck, only summoned by other units.

There are four triggers of unit effects:

  • On play—when they’re first placed down.
  • On attack—shown by two swords above the unit.
  • On death—shown by a skull above the unit e.g. Chaotic Pupil deals damage to a random bordering enemy on death—the potential enemies are on tiles bordering the tile where it died. Units that die when attacking die on the previous tile, not the tile they attacked.
  • When surviving damage—only Elders have these abilities. They can trigger at any time, including during your turn, when they take any type of damage without dying. This includes during the enemy’s turn either through enemy units attacking the Elder or through Force Attack (see below).

Structure abilities (“at the start of your turn…”) will trigger before any units move, and they’ll trigger from back to front and left to right (even if they’re triggered by Doctor Mia), and units move in the same order.

Ozone Purifiers pushing the front unit instead of the side one which is blocked between Ozone Purifiers and the edge and thus cannot move

Cards always choose from valid options. For instance, in this image, the Ozone Purifiers wouldn’t have pushed away the unit in the bottom left since it was unable to be pushed. The only valid option was the Satyr in front.

When there’s a tie (Wandering Wyrms deals x damage to the strongest enemy unit, and there’s two with the same strength for example) the game picks randomly.

In-depth triggers

For more information about the intricacies of triggers, particularly death trigger effects, refer to the extensive guide on trigger effects.

Structures are effectively immune to all status effects but can still take damage.

Poison: units lose 1 health per turn. Lasts until the unit dies or gets vitalized.

Vitality: units gain 1 health per turn. Lasts until the unit dies or gets poisoned.

Confusion: a confused unit has ½ chance to move inwards and ½ chance to move outwards. If sitting on the edge of the board, the unit is guaranteed to move inwards. A confused unit will attack friendly units or structures if they’re in the target tile. It lasts only one turn.

Freeze: units don’t move at the start of their owner’s next turn and they lose their “on death” and “on survive” ability for this turn. Lasts until the owner’s next turn starts, so frozen units can still be commanded forward during the next turn.

Disable: disabling a card’s ability means removing it. It lasts until the card dies or gets destroyed, essentially making it a “vanilla” card up til then.

Conversion: the unit now fights for the enemy and starts going the opposite direction as it was previously going.

Pushing/pulling: the unit will be moved along a row or column (depending on what is doing the pushing and where it was placed) and stops when it hits a base, unit, or structure. Damage, if any is done, happens after the unit is pushed (so for example, Shady Ghoul will spawn a satyr on a random tile bordering its new position, not the old one, when it dies).

Push back/forward (Flaming Stream, Sound Drivers) means towards the enemy base. “Push away” (Ozone Purifiers) means away from the unit with the ability (so it can be pushed in any column or row in any direction).

Pull (Armed Schemers) means towards the unit with the ability, in any direction. Note: Armed Schemers will only pull units in the same row or column as itself.

Draining health: Cards like Feral Shamans remove x health from the target unit and add x health to themselves. Hairy Chestnuts drains health similarly, from the enemy base.

Destroying units: Cards like High Priestess Klaxi and Wetland Deceivers destroy specific units by doing damage equal to their current health, pretty self-explanatory. This of course does not trigger elder abilities as the target units do not survive.

Gain mana: A Winter Pact-exclusive mechanic, the card gives its owner a certain amount of mana when a condition is met. For Rimelings, the card is played and then the player is given back 3 of the 5 mana. This does not mean the card costs 2 mana as it cannot be played until mana 5. Dawnsparks can be made to attack on an enemy turn (see Force Attack below), and when this happens, the mana is given to the owner of the card during the enemy’s turn, and is able to be used by the owner when their turn begins.

Commanding forward: Cards like Herald’s Hymn and Forgotten Souls can make friendly units move during your turn when they (the commanding cards, not the targets) are played.

Spawn other units: Cards that “randomly spawn” units or structures and don’t specify a location do so only inside your frontline and can’t advance your frontline, like Rain of Frogs, Summon Militia, Tegor the Vengeful. Other cards can advance it, and these include Dreadfauns, Doppelbocks, High Priestess Klaxi, Marked as Prey, and Rockworkers.

Fly forward: Eloth the Ignited and Xuri, Lord of Life, can pass over friendly and enemy units and structures depending on where they’re played.

Reduce a unit’s strength: Siren of the Seas and Confinement damage don’t trigger elder abilities.

Jumping: Tode the Elevated moves to the tile in front of a random enemy unit or structure after attacking.

Force attack: Unhealthy Hysteria and Hair-Raising Cats force a target unit to attack a random bordering enemy, which can be behind them (and therefore can be the enemy base). Laurus, King in Exile has a similar ability. This triggers any “on attack” abilities the target unit may have.

Area of Effect (AoE) damage: Mostly applies to spells like Flaming Stream, Toxic Sacrifice, Midwinter Chaos, and some units like Victors of the Melee and Crimson Sentry. Damage is done to all units at once, so if all the affected units die, certain on-death effects like that of Green Prototypes will not trigger (depending on the situation).

Add: Harvesters of Souls and Collector Mirz add cards randomly to your deck, not to your hand, but there is a (really low) chance of playing Harvesters of Souls or Mirz, recycling another card in your hand, and then drawing the newly added card into your hand.

Play: Queen of Herds plays random satyr cards from your deck, and Archdruid Earyn random spells from your hand (that does not cost more than Earyn’s mana cost), and both play them for free. Queen of Herds’ draws aren’t affected by weight.

Discard: First Mutineer removes a non-Pirate card randomly from your hand and does not draw a new one, limiting your options for that turn unless it’s your last played card.

Replace: Snake Eyes actually replaces them, as does Goldgrubbers.

Draw: Freebooters draws new cards which allows you to play 5 cards (or 6 at higher levels) in one turn if Freebooters is one of them.

Learn more about drawing

For a more in-depth look at the intricacies of drawing, cycling, playing and all around card manipulation, refer to the complete guide on drawing mechanisms.

Broodmother Qordia’s eggs are actually structures until they hatch. This can be asserted by noticing the structure strength icon on the card. Because of this, they can be hatched by a Doctor Mia (stolen with Harvesters of Souls or in the Pure Amalgamation Brawl), which hatches them on the same turn they were played on.

This also means they will trigger Siegebreakers’ and Hearthguards’ abilities, and are able to be used with Fortification Tonic (although then again, both cards are not from the same faction so Harvesters of Souls would be required).

Qordia’s Eggs are not available to put directly in your deck or be held in your hand. They exclusively exist during the turn they are summoned by Qordia’s ability.

Tegor the Vengeful’s death effect either gives x strength to a random friendly unit, deals x damage to a random enemy unit or spawns an x strength unit within your frontline.

If Tode the Elevated has no enemies available to jump in front of after attacking (or if she is already in front of the only remaining enemy), he will still gain strength after attacking.

Flaming Stream pushes back all units first, then deals damage to all. If a unit survives but was in front of a unit that doesn’t survive, it’ll be on the second tile from the back after Flaming Stream is used.

Beasts of Terror deals damage to all other enemies with the same unit type when attacking, not including the one it’s attacking. The ability will also trigger when it attacks a friendly unit (through confusion, a feline enemy, or Unhealthy Hysteria), but the ability will only affect enemies. Similarly, Victors of the Melee will damage all friendly units surrounding it before attacking a friendly unit.

Units attacked by Laurus, King in Exile will have all bordering units under a certain strength attack them, one at a time, until either the target unit dies and then Laurus will move into its tile, or all bordering units have attacked it.

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