With the Alice cluster rotation looming in Force of Will, I took the time to calculate what we’re losing. With many key control tools leaving, I found some cards first thought of as “bad” were in fact “good”. Some cards may shine now that Alice cluster doesn’t bump them out of the lime light. I’ll cover those later.
Alice cluster started with Seven Kings of the Land (SKL), followed by The Twilight Wanderer (TTW), The Moonlit Savior (TMS), and Battle for Attoractia (BFA). Alice cluster also included Vingolf 2. I’ll break down what we’ve lost by these sets.
Starting with SKL, we’re losing Keen Sense. This had been an important tool for Wind as it only costs 1 Wind and 1 Void and allows the player to protect their resonators, or nuke something from chant-standby. It was often brought in from the sideboard to combat control spells. This card had seen competitive play since it’s printing, and will be sorely missed due to how easy it was to play.
SKL also reprinted Gwiber, the White Dragon. This card had been meta defining for so long, even earning an errata. Gwiber had featured in Alice World decks back from Grimm and Alice cluster New Frontiers, and in the “Turbo Feithsing” archetypes that plagued the early days of Alice and Lapis New Frontiers. The printing of Severing Winds finally buried Gwiber, only just in time for him to rotate out.
When TTW was mentioned, the first resonator I thought of was Lancelot. Lancelot, the Knight of Mad Demon had been the staple 2-drop for Fire. Boasting Swiftness, and the automatic ability to nuke something when attacking, had seen this card run unchecked until they printed Down the Drain. They may have reprinted Rapid Growth, which was Lancelot’s partner in crime, but he was shown no such love.
TTW brought in Adombrali, the Unfathomable. This card had been part of the engine for many tier 1 and 2 decks since it’s printing. Sacrificing tokens and small resonators for a bigger body and some bonus’ (often draw a card), meant that it could refuel an aggressive deck or apply medium pressure for cheap. Eggs, Soldiers, Birds, Cats, and Elves will no longer be eaten by this Cthulhu in New Frontiers.
Guinevere, the Jealous Queen had been a staple one-drop Fire resonator for good reason. In the aggressive archetype you often needed to refuel your hand, and “Guin” was the perfect tool. You could park her down on turn 1, and bait removal, and then on later turns you could sacrifice any resonator that may be targeted for removal to draw 2 and discard 1. When paired with Rukh Eggs, she offered incredible card advantage.
The Moonlit Savior was loaded with cards that saw play, some more sporadic than others. Two chants that were staple were Seal of Wind and Light (Seal), and Space-Time Anomaly (STA). Seal meant that you can go one for one with any spell on the chase; locking out an important resonator or a board clear was often the target. STA was the card draw engine for Darkness. Playing this from the hand and then graveyard, whilst drawing a card both times, provided control a base on which they could build. TMS also gave us the taste of turn 1 dork, into Wall of Wind. This was the perfect first turn when going first, in an age before Energise. It provided a snowball that could avalanche. We played around Wall of Wind like we now play around Severing Winds.
TMS saw some great resonators too, including a Rukh Egg reprint. Tsukuyomi Noble found main board space in ramp oriented decks to lock out an unprepared mirror and an opponent’s’ Guinevere’s. Urthr provided Fire a much needed nuke, and was paired with Gwibers and other high costed cards to trade up upon entry. Finally, Pricia, Pursuant of Exploding Flame was the premium three-drop for aggro decks, in the same attributes as Lancelot and Rapid Growth. TMS also brought another powerful tool: Prison in the Lunar Lake. This card was worth running Water attributed stones to leash an opponents’ automatic ability, and then destroy the resonator who triggered it.
Battle for Attoractia gave us some much-needed board clears. In hindsight, maybe they were too good and we were spoiled. Interdimensional Escape, and Flame Trap were all we needed to keep swarm under wraps. Both were instant cast, allowing you to wait for the opportune time. None of the Lapis cluster board clears are instant speed, and so don’t stack up to these in the same way. BFA gave us another card that could not be chased, Black Moonbeam. This single card locked out potential J-ruler strategies without Swiftness. For double Darkness will, you could kill a J-ruler. It was not fun playing against it, but it felt so good when playing it.
BFA showed us a pair of Darkness resonators that would be the benchmark for all other resonators in the control archetype. Riza and Melder. Once released, control decks ran only 8 resonators. They also often cut another 1 or 2 of these guys. Riza could fetch another Riza, or a Melder, or another chant-standby card. Melder came in from chant-standby and nerfed something, often on the opponents turn. This duo offered Darkness not only control but burst potential. A match made in some dark heaven.
We’ve lost some important combinations with the rotation. So much so that it may affect the play-ability of current popular cards. One combo that has been broken in New Frontiers is “Bear and Bow”. Artemis, the God’s Bow, and Charlotte’s Water Transformation Technique was a two card and 1 Will answer for any non-barrier resonator and then could be reused. It was so incredibly effective.
Another combination was Rune of Sol and Black Moonbeam. This combo was the leader in countering a Laevateinn-buffed Pricia. You could run 4 Rune of Sol, and just 1 Black Moonbeam, and be able to play both on turn two to shut out “The God Hand” of Pricia. It’s an important combination that Alhama’at and other Ancient Magic rulers will have to learn not to depend upon.
The next page will detail Lapis cluster cards that may make an appearance now that Alice cluster has rotated!