Hello one and all! So I've decided to make a valiant effort at making a regular article! I began last week with Combo Cards I, but with no replies or comments I thought "well, discussing single card combos is neat, but I can do better." So I bring you a new article about an entire phase of the game - the first 5 turns. I'm going to try and make everyone's day by suggesting possible early game moves that are beyond the ordinary starter deck tricks and hopefully you at least enjoy reading the article.
I find the most difficult part of deck building is selecting the right soul cards. It's easy to envision a way for a Soul ability to become an integral part of your main deck (such as an [card=44]Invisible Druid[/card] and [card=31]Soul Bind[/card] combo) but these things require intricate timing and the later down the SC lineup cards are the more unreliable that timing becomes. This is mostly why I am going to discuss the early game because this is the time when you can do the most planning. I find that post turn 3 your strategy has to evolve with the game and any premeditation becomes increasingly useless as the game progresses.
So what are the best options for early game? Well, early game is all about field position. Having a solid set up lends itself to a more successful mid game where it's your rival who is scrambling to make up ground and not yourself. For this reason it is not uncommon to run across trick plays in which your rival wants
you to kill their [card=47]shade[/card] so that they can trigger the first soul card and clear your field. Sometimes sacrificing LP is a great way to get ahead - because Soul abilities can be devastating.
The particular trick I am referring to is placing [card=50]Strike Samurai / Thunderbolt[/card] or [card=51]Bounty Hunter / Elena[/card] as your first SC and dropping a unit very early on that you have no intention of reviving - such as a turn 1 [card=47]shade[/card]. The beauty of this SC is that it hits two units for 40 damage, and on turn 2 chances are the enemy only has two units so they both suffer, and probably both die. In the rare case that they do not die they are left severely crippled, and you are up SP - your throw away level 1 unit granted you not only an early field wipe, but also 1 SP, and since it only cost 1 in the first place your now up a net of 2 letting you drop two level 3 units in a row. So you can clear the board, then while they spend a turn reviving get a chance to drop some heavy hitting tanks that can handle the lowly level 2's your opponent still has on the board.
Of course, this is not a catch all trick - otherwise everyone would do it and it would be totally useless. [card=65]Blitz Soldier[/card] has a large pool of HP and will survive the blast, leaving your opponent with 1 more SP and 1 less unit in the graveyard. But Blitz is not a unit we like to destroy so much as we like to return it - which brings me to the next most awesome card to fit in that first SC slot - [card=2]Dragonrider / Wassier[/card]. Return a level 2. This also gives you an early game advantage if you have a sacrificial unit played early on (preferably one that has a nice open ability - such as the shade or [card=20]Will o' the Wisp[/card]). Dragonrider can leave a situation where you have a tough tank on the board and they either have nothing or a measly level 2 staring down your more powerful level 3. And it really punishes a Blitz soldier opening.
So now we have two possible ways to open up a game with an SC combo - either Dragonrider or Elana/Thunderbolt, determined by either the cards you have or your preferred play style. Now, as I had said I want something for everyone so here comes the short deck lists:
We will begin with Lawtia - the easiest sphere to use in this way (and this opening is probably old news): Turn 1
- 3 into Lawtia, set [card=36]Lycanthrope [Leonardo][/card] (or lilith, play to your style - like that Leo does more net damage and is faster, Lilith is more late game oriented for global -10 hp)
Leo will best almost any first turn play except maybe a combat monk if it rolls well on its skills randomization and Leo will not kill a Blitz - but he will maim it enough for your first SC to do the job if you run Thunderbolt/Elena. Be sure to place leo in spot 4 or 6, so that later on if you can get a magic doll beside him its possible and that he is in row 2 so you can protect him on turn 2. Turn 2
- Set [card=47]Shade[/card]
This does two things. 1 if they play a shade it protects you from losing any SP. 2. it goes anywhere on row 1 so that whatever they play attacks it and kills it saving leo. Turn 3
- Set a level 3 unit, [card=43]Crest Regenerator Knight[/card] or [card=40]Moonlight Warrior[/card] are always good choices. Then watch as your shade goes to the grave and your enemies line explodes.
I'm going to look at a possible beginning for the most underrated sphere, Refess: Turn 1
- 3 into Refess, set [card=9]Folrart Shield Knight[/card]. The usual move is [card=18]Blessed Acolyte[/card] which can kill an enemy unit, but the shield knight can take more hits, and because your turn 2 has to be what it is I think the shield knight is a better option - but if you prefer the acolyte then run with it instead. Turn 2
- set [card=20]Will o' the Wisp[/card]. HP buff to the first card you played (in my case the Knight - who will possibly down a few hp). This is the reason I liked shield knight, and unfortunately you should place the knight in row 2 on turn 1 because then the wisp goes to row 1 and takes that hit. A shield knight with 55 hp recovers 13 hp a round and takes probably 20 on average, meaning he loses 7 hp each round taking between 7 and 8 turns to kill it. Sure it packs no punch, but it draws attacks away from your more powerful units. Turn 3
- set [card=172]EX Lion Baron / Zagar[/card] because I like him, and next turn drop a [card=19]Ruby Carbuncle[/card] between the two (current mid liners). Of course your file will determine what you want to play this turn, but it should be a solid level 3 and with luck you get a second one next turn!
Now onto Gowen, a sphere with a more obvious trick (not to be played against Falkow!): Turn 1
- 3 into Gowen, set [card=65]Blitz Soldier[/card]. Place in row 2. Now, Blitz is a risk because everyone loves to hate and this also negates the ability to play two level 3 cards for turn 3 and 4. But, if your not up against Falkow the next move turns the big tank into a bigger tank. You could also start with a Combat Monk or even Kurina - but it's less of a secure field come turn 3 and 4. Turn 2
- set [card=70]Dryad[/card]. Now blitzy has (probably) 30 hp and 10 DEF!, his lifespan just got a boost. If it's Kurina or Combat Monk then this may have just saved their lives.. If they died and revived then this is an even better thing. Turn 3
- since you played Blitz (if you followed my plan) you shall have to go for another level 2 - no worries, because I am assuming you've got all the great cards so start setting up for a [card=59]Brave[/card] [card=56]Panther[/card] and let er' rip (you should have the 2 SP to clear the row next round).
Last, but not least, Falkow: Turn 1
- 3 into Falkow, set [card=92]Haste Soldier[/card]. What can I say, I'm old school Falkow, and starting with a [card=94]Witch[/card] is a great idea unless you are using Thunderbolt/Elena, because then you kill 1 less unit. But if you are running Dragonrider as SC 1, by all means go with the Witch, you will wipe the board clean. Turn 2
- set [card=96]Sylph[/card] or [card=97]Undine[/card]. Doesn't matter which one you go for, I prefer early game Undine's and late game Sylph's. Simply because late game there are more than one unit you want to beat in a race. Turn 3
- if you used the witch set the haste. If you used the haste set either [card=83]Magic Scythe Soldier[/card] or [card=87]Sea Hunter[/card] or something suited to your opponent.
So there you have it, 3 awesome Soul Cards for the first Life Point and a starting scheme for each deck that dredges the SC out by turn 2 for an early field wipe to give you a boost in early game prep for the mid game brawl and late game struggle.
PS: If there is anything you think I should write about, PM me with ideas - I am having issues coming up with things that seem like stuff everyone should know. Next time I was thinking I give the angel's some life, but if you have a better idea pass it along!