This is my first card of the week after the official launch, and I wanted to do something with power. My pick always goes first, he can bypass armor, he does lots of damage, he can choose his targets, he has range, he can stop an enemy card from being revived, and he’s kind of a dragon. Did I mention he’s also a level 1 card? This week, let’s take a close look at one of the strongest cards in the Gowen arsenal, [card=71]Salamander.[/card]
Salamander has an open skill that does 10 damage, bypassing armor to any unit of your choice. Careful, though. If you don’t have an enemy, you’ll have to target yourself, and that’s no fun. He has AT 30, which is tied with Animated Dead for best damage of a level one card, and a range of 3 which is tied with a bunch of other Great Spirits for best RNG of a level one card. He has 10 HP, but I’d say his biggest weak point is his AGI of 1. It’s not too often that having 20 hit points over 10 is a huge advantage, although it does happen.
Offense is what Gowen is all about. A good Gowen player is one who knows how to do more damage, and more damage faster. Also, to play Gowen hitting hard isn’t enough. You have to hit hard enough to kill. Salamander is a level 1 card with enough damage to take out nearly every level 2 card in the Basic set with one hit. He’s got plenty of range, so he can sit in the back, and when Katrina’s on the field he’s a terror even to level 3 cards. Still, he’s slow and needs support if you want him to do more than take a hit and trigger a Soul Card. Of course, in a fast Gowen deck, that could be enough.
Let’s talk about the real start of the show, Emissary of Flame. It’s an Open Skill, so it takes effect when Salamander is first revealed. It’s ability to get around armor is especially nice for Gowen, a Sphere whose most elegant answer to DF is Bear-killing Axeman’s Charge attack. Since you choose the target, you can use it to cherry pick quite nicely. Any turn that ends with an enemy Unit having only 10 HP left is a good turn to Set a Salamander. This idea brings me to another great strategy, using pre-Action Phase kills to disable the enemy. Okay, so you blow away the enemy with an awesome combination of a Soul Skill, your heavy hitter and a 2 SP row clearing Slash. You took out 5 guys, and are ready to run over your rival with some serious Iczer attacking next turn. But, then you realize that he’s been saving up SP and can Revive all five Units, leaving you having to face his entire army again with two units, 2 less SP and one less Soul Card. To avoid that, don’t always look to clear the board. It’s better to do your killing early in the turn, not late. Early in the game when Rivals are a sure thing, killing a Unit after he’s taken his turn is practically a waste. Next time, when you could have your Bear-killing Axeman finish off that wounded enemy Unit who’s already taken his turn, think twice. Have your brute Standby to recover some HP, then finish off the wounded enemy Unit with Salamander’s Open Skill at the beginning of next turn. Sure, you can do all that will a Grimoire card, but let’s face it, those are expensive to use and don’t leave a handy-dandy 30 damage ranged attacker behind after they’re done.
Salamander’s final word is Blazing Flames, a unique Soul Skill that hits all low level units. Since it’s damage is stoppable by armor and it only effects Units of a certain level, it’s a good thing to know is coming. If you plan for it, you’ll be affected minimally. Your enemy, however, will not be able to… Um, unless he knows what the Gowen starter deck is like. On second thought, maybe he makes a better soul cards for non-Gowen decks, something that has a lot of great high level cards, like Refess, or a lot of DF, like Falkow. Coincidentally, both those Spheres can have trouble dealing enough damage on their own.
Okay, that’s enough for now. So far, this column is one of the most popular sections on the site, which is very cool. Except for the fact that now everyone knows my strategies…
"Scissors are overpowered. Rock is fine." -Paper