Buying cards in the shop is a bit less efficient than getting 3 random cards from a Noble book, but can be a good way to forgo randomness and to get important cards to a higher level faster.
This helps to prepare for the Diamond league and even Diamond 1 as early as possible. Just be aware that coins are a lot more precious since the July update, and unless you go for the coin cap on a regular basis, buying more than one copy of a card will take a large bite out of your weekly 700 coins from quests.
Cheap Core Cards
“Not every game has a late game, but every game has an early game.”
This old adage applies to Stormbound as well as anywhere. Your cards below 4 mana are your troopers, your opening gambit, the backbone upon which your strategy is built. In longer games, they are often played multiple times, so that 1 more strength can quickly add up over the course of a game. Definitely more than upgrading a more expensive unit.
This is why it is important to level up cheap units as soon as possible. Getting cards to level 3 is fairly quick and should be done naturally by buying Noble books, but the stretches from 3 to 4 and from 4 to 5 are much larger. So if you want to speed this process up, starting from card level 3, buying one or two copies (if possible) is recommended for the following cards:
- Green Prototypes is an incredibly cheap mover which is why it is included in many a deck given how important movement is early game.
- Gifted Recruits is also a cheap unit with movement without any penalty, which makes it an essential tool of most decks.
- Lawless Herd does not move but is cheap and robust, which is a good card to put units on the board.
- Westwind Sailors is a little more expensive than the aforementioned cards but has decent strength and one movement, making it very efficient.
- Confinement becomes invaluable at level 5 for a lot of non-rush decks against Elders.
- Unhealthy Hysteria: this is a really powerful spell for a low cost, but there is a caveat because it doesn’t always have a target. For this reason it is better in decks that are capable of setting up scenarios where it gets value—for instance in rush decks to clear blockers, or to send the defending units of your opponent into their own base.
- Fluffy Badboxers was buffed from 6 to 5 mana and is now, with a maximum of 12 strength at level 5, one of the strongest 5-mana cards. The confusion ability is just a bonus, but I expect the archetype to become both more viable and popular. I also definitely expect this card to get nerfed down to 10 strength at max level, so take this recommendation with a grain of salt, but for now you definitely want this.
Depending on your main faction, you might also want to consider the following cards.
Swarm tends to be used mainly for cheap and fast decks, so it only makes sense to invest mainly in these type of cards:
Winter on the other hand is quite late-game oriented, despite the aggressive nerfs to mana-oriented cards like Frozen Core and Gift of the Wise in July 2020. Some common and rare cards might be worth investing into depending on what strategies you like. But overall, until Winter either gets early-game cards worth mentioning (besides Yowling Weavers) or their mana manipulation capabilities back to pre-nerf levels, the list is reduced to:
Shadowfen is very versatile and can be played either rush or control, depending on opportunities and play-style:
- Toxic Sacrifice
- Dubious Hags
- Witches of the Wild (which is commonly considered the best 4-mana card in the game at level 5)
Ironclad relies a lot on its epic cards to shine, so there are not so many cards that are definitely worth purchasing when maining Ironclad:
Now, rubies are a little more scarce than coins, so you should think twice about spending them on the shop where you only get a single epic card for 20 rubies. That being said, you get 5 rubies per day from quests, and 5 rubies from an early Brawl milestone per week, amounting to 40 rubies per week.
In most cases, if you want epics, saving up to buy a Heroic or Mythic Tome is probably always the better investment. However, there are a few epic cards that are very good and spending rubies on them is not wrong per se. It might be different from player to player, depending on taste and play-style, and you definitely shouldn’t spread your rubies too thin among all of them. Like I said, books are better.
- Wild Saberpaws is the cheapest neutral runner in the game and can also be used to stay static which is sometimes needed—making it ideal for rush decks, mainly Swarm or Shadowfen.
- Hunter’s Vengeance is a very cheap spell which can bring a lot of value and easily finds its place in control decks.
- Beards of Crowglyph is a very strong neutral Elder with incredible strength at all level and offering solid board control.
- Trueshot Post tends to be mainly for Ironclad due to Doctor Mia but can be efficiently used in a variety of decks.
- Hearthguards is a great defensive and offensive tool for all decks running structures.
- Restless Goats is a cheap runner with a penalty that becomes more and more marginal as the base health increases, making it the perfect backbone of many rush decks.
- Devastators is an often overlooked card but has become more popular thanks to its presence in the highly-competitive Reckless Rush deck.
- Bucks of Wasteland is a very valuable Elder, even though it can no longer be spawned by Queen of Herds.
Winter is in a bit of a bad state after the July nerfs to the only remaining good Winter staples Gift of the Wise and Frozen Core, making it the true neutral faction. It remains to be seen whether a deck focused on confusion under the Winter-Feline alliance finds a place in the meta, where you can stall the game long enough to get access to the powerful Winter late game, but I am very skeptical. The only hope for Winter is some tender care and affection in the next patch.
- Linked Golems is a cheap construct providing a lot of value for a relatively simple condition, making it a de factor part of many Ironclad decks.
- Booming Professors is a strong Elder with incredible chip capabilities, giving a non-marginal edge in games lasting passed early game.
- Rain of Frogs is an incredibly cheap spell spawning a lot of units, opening a lot of combos with cards such as High Priestess Klaxi, Obsidian Butchers and Prime Oracle Bragda.
- Hairy Chestnuts is the only way for Shadowfen to do chip damage, and can be precisely controlled with self-harm and poisoning.
At the end of the day, you have to figure out what you want from the game to know how to best spend your resources!
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