Hello! Welcome to one of the most exciting periods in any card game! The spoilers are all spoiled and the set release is imminent.
It's time to brew!
What I want to do is take you through an overview of one of (in this author’s humble opinion) the most exciting Heroes in the history of Rathe! Dromai, Ash Artist!
What’s not to love? Conjuring gigantic dragons out of dust? Whittling your opponent down with an army of Aether Ashwings? Squeezing as many Red cards into your deck as possible with little regard for how you’ll pay for them? Sign me up!
So, I wanted to start by looking at all the (non-Legendary) dragons, and talking a bit about what they can do and what situations they’re useful in.
Before we can even get there, we need to discuss some painful truths. If you’re going to conjure a dragon illusion, you gotta conjure it out of something. In this case, Ash, and something everyone is going to learn the hard way very quickly is that Ash doesn’t grow on trees. There’s nothing worse than winning the die roll, deciding to go first, then drawing a hand of four dragons, with no ways to make Ash! Uhhh... Arsenal, Pass? Embarrassing!
Ash management is an important part of this Hero. You want a good mix of dragons/cards that make Aether Ashwings, and cards that generate Ash, either through their effects, or by allowing you to pitch your Red cards to activate Dromai’s Hero ability. Cards like Sweeping Blow are super important. It’s also potentially worth considering playing equipment like Mage Master Boots or Helio’s Mitre just to have a way to pitch cards to get the ball rolling.
Ok! So you’ve made yourself some Ash and you’re ready to conjure some dragons. But which ones? Well, let’s take a look!
Cromai, despite having pretty poor stats and costing 0, is one of the most impactful dragons we have access to. All our fiery friends are, after all, only illusions, and as such they can be destroyed by the Phantasm effect. Which as we all know, breaks the Combat Chain and can often stop your attack dead. However, Cromai’s ability gives us an action point! Which means even if one of our illusions gets burst by a pesky 6+ power attack action card, we still have an action point up our sleeves to keep the turn going. There are also all sorts of things you can do with an extra action point, drop a potion, play a Tome of Fyendal, the opportunities are there for creative deckbuilding! Your opponents are going to look to kill Cromai ASAP because of the powerful effect, and since you can’t defend it and it only has 2 health, you’ve got to be careful about when you play it. Sometimes it might be worth saving for a super important turn. In my opinion, every Dromai deck should run 3.
The other 0 cost dragon has a slightly bigger butt, but a much less powerful effect. Dealing arcane damage can be very nice, as the opponent may not have arcane barrier or feel like pitching cards to prevent 1 damage, but I personally feel this dragon hasn’t been as impactful as I would like. Super nice in limited however!
Moving on to the 1 cost dragons, we have another that I think will become a staple 3-of in every dragon deck. This is basically a Snatch-on-a-stick (and sometimes you’ll even get to steal an item with it!) and your opponent is forced into a difficult situation of needing to block a tough break point, while also keeping cards to swing back and kill Kyloria with. Because if they don’t kill this card quickly things can snowball out of control. Run 3.
You want something that sticks around? Look no further! Yendurai’s counter protects itself from damage and can be super annoying for a lot of decks to deal with. If they can’t kill it with Phantasm, they basically have to dedicate two attacks to getting rid of it, and the 3 damage a turn it presents can’t be ignored. That said, I feel like it’s probably a card you can get away with sideboarding out for a lot of matchups as it doesn’t have any super threatening abilities.
When illusions become real! Speaking of threatening abilities, Miragai’s is one of the best, though it may not appear so at first glance (what a flavorful card!). Miragai protects your other dragons from being easily destroyed with Phantasm, so you can attack with a Kyloria or Cromai (or if you’re really feeling spicy, one of the Legendary Dragons) without fear! An excellent utility card, and one I’d run three of in any Dromai deck.
Themai is a bench-warmer. A sideboard dragon. It costs more than the others I’ve mentioned so far, but its effect is only relevant in certain matchups. However in those matchups it can be absolutely devastating. Imagine dropping this versus a Kano, an Iyslander, or a Prism! Themai can be a total 'silver bullet' against those decks and hey, if you wanted to put it in the main deck, I wouldn’t fault you. There are certain cards and abilities that it shuts off which can be annoying for other decks too. (Crown of Seeds, anyone?)
The real Mother of Dragons. Ouvia’s ability is another that might seem innocuous at first glance, but can actually be a nightmare for your opponent if you can keep a steady supply of Ash coming. Her 1 power means often you won’t want to risk attacking with her and losing her to Phantasm, instead just continuing to create Ashwings every turn and chipping away with them. This forces your opponent to attack her directly if they want to shut the Ashwing factory down, and having to deal 6 damage to her can be a tall order for some decks. Definitely a build-around dragon, but the payoff is worth it.
Vinny (as he’s affectionately known around the studio) is a beast. His high power and damaging on-hit ability are sure to elicit a groan from the opposing side of the table when he hits the board. However, he is rather costly in a deck that wants to run plenty of red cards, and he is laughably easy for the opponent to take down. Best combo’ed with his BFF Miragai, or pitched early and saved until the late game when you can force precious cards out of your opponent's hand.
Another costly dragon, but a fantastic way to create a bunch of Ash to fuel Ouvia or Rake the Embers. Nekria excels at supporting other dragons. Often your opponent wants to kill a weaker dragon with a more powerful effect rather than hit Nekria and give you more Ash, so you get to chip for 4 a bunch of times, creating Ash as you do. Just be careful as Nekria getting popped by Phantasm doesn’t get you any Ash. I feel like I’m saying Ash a lot.
As a final note, we must talk about the unsung heroes of the dragon army, the footsoldiers, the Aether Ashwings! There’s nothing flashy about these little guys, but if there’s one thing RPG games have taught me, it’s that nothing spells doom like MANY WHELPS!
While many will be seduced by the big powerful abilities of the Legendary Elder Dragons, I have personally found a lot of the best Dromai builds focus around pumping out many many Ashwings and then chipping your opponent to death one point of damage at a time. It can be reminiscent of Prism Aura decks with all their pesky Spectral Shields, except these have to be killed individually. Just keep in mind you need to play a Red card to give them go again, and your opponent can still stop your turn dead by popping your first Aetherwing attack with a 6+ power card.
So there we are! With so many different dragons, and so many different effects, there are plenty of ways of building the deck, and tweaking and tuning to adapt to your specific meta.
I can’t wait to see how Dromai and her draconic pals shake up the metagame!