So. How about that [Edwin VanCleef]?
What about him, you ask? Perhaps you missed his price hike over the past weekend. He went from the high 20s to the low...uh, 80s. That's quite the price jump! So, what's up with that?
Part of it is distribution ratios. Epics in the Dungeon Decks, according to early reports, are going to be rough to get in a case. From what it's sounding like, you can expect to see around a play-set of Edwins in each case of the Dungeon Decks. Just a heads-up, cases aren't cheap. Therefore, expect secondary single prices for Edwin and any other epics that take off to go up. That certainly makes the epics fun lottery tickets if you expect the price to jump after a big tournament! Come one, come all, try your luck on [Archmage Arugal]! I hear he can steal a [Mazu'kon]!
Although he can't touch Edwin. A lot of things can't. Seriously, have you seen this guy? He's unreal! He's good enough to be played in Classic Constructed, and that's saying a lot! In fact, the Dungeon Decks have a couple of solid playable cards alongside Edwin that should be shaking up the format a bit.
Normally I do deck run-downs, but so far all of my decklists are fairly rough with the new Dungeon Decks. I instead just want to spend some time talking about two things: The VanCleefs and their format-defining role in Core, along with one of the new locations.
The VanCleef Bandwagon
I think that, if you remove just one of the effects from Edwin, he'd be good, but not absurd. As it stands, this guy has a lot of text, and while people are drawing comparisons of him to [Nathanos Blightcaller], the fact is that he can go into Alliance and Monster decks as well. His “protectors” also aren't as good, but if you're trying to be an aggressor on the play, then that's fine.
However, the line of text that truly makes him ridiculous, and perhaps warps Core around his existence, is [Vanessa VanCleef].
I want to emphasize that. Alone, if he doesn't put his daughter into play when he dies, he's manageable. Any sweeper, from [Fan of Knives] to [Bottled Spite], is a fine way to deal with Edwin. Armor can soften the blow. Weapons make attacking with him a liability.
However, there's that last line of text that involves Vanessa which makes all of these plays fairly dangerous. Let me give you a scenario that has come up a couple of times:
-I play a turn 4 [Edwin VanCleef]. Certainly not as frightening as a turn 3 Edwin, and I'm on the draw. My opponent has a little damage on him. Like 5.
-My opponent plays a [Scimitar of the Sirocco], with no other solid players at his disposal. He declares into Edwin, expecting me to protector.
-I don't. He takes 5. Goes to 10.
-Edwin triggers, and puts [Vanessa VanCleef] into play. Vanessa nails the opposing hero for 4 more. He's now at 14.
-I ready up, send my guys in. He goes to 20. I play another fatty. My opponent concedes.
Sure, my opponent misplays here by even attacking into Edwin. However, let's look at a scenario where my opponent may have a board sweeper, or perhaps some allies. I protect against one with one of my thugs, I let the other trade with Edwin, and I drop Vanessa into play for free and nuke the other ally that attacked first.
What if my opponent just goes at my hero and I'm on the draw, so I can't race with the 7 ATK I made with my neutral four drop? I'll just send Edwin into one ally, get my free Vanessa to take out another ally, then drop another threat. Say, [Zudzo, Herald of the Elements]. Maybe I can accelerate into [Cairne, Earthmother's Chosen] or [Mazu'kon] (the former plays quite nicely with Vanessa, by the way, especially if your hero is a Tauren and your opponent is being uncooperative on exhausting anything). Maybe it's turn 5, and I do this sequence of plays before dropping [Dulvar, Hand of the Light] onto the table. Or I follow this up with [Commander Ulthok], naming whatever I don't want my opponent's deck to now play against me.
Horde, Alliance, or Monster. It's hard for me to find some sequence of plays where I'm actually unhappy with my tempo and card advantage gains.
This is partially why Edwin is demanding such a high price. He's really good. Especially on the play. Especially when played early. He also has a way of fitting into a lot of decks. [Grand Crusader] as he makes little tokens that can grow, Hammer Shaman as he's sweet on turn 3, Hammer anything because he's sweet early and curves well with most of your allies. Admittedly, he fits less well in more streamlined control decks, and encourages aggression (although he and Vanessa could power up a sweet Shalug'doom and create some sick board-swinging effects). He makes targeted removal worse (as does Vanessa), and encourages sweepers as well as Stealth generated attacks.
I could go on. But, given what all Edwin can do in a lot of decks, it wouldn't be surprising to see a lot of him in the future. He's definitely one of the easier cards to build around, so we'll see what sorts of answers are developed by players testing for DMF Los Angeles and the Realm Qualifier season.
Keeping Ourselves Redundant
One of the things I highlighted was that an early Edwin was better than an on-time Edwin. Playing this dude on turn 3 is where it's at. Aside from [Devout Aurastone Hammer], what else helps this?
Why, the new location, [Shadowfang Keep]. That's what!
First of all, I do have to comment on R&D's flavor home run. [Shadowfang Keep] is the home for [Archmage Arugal], who steals and ally when he comes into play. You only control that ally while the Archmage stays in play, so it makes sense that his home location makes sure that the ally gets sacrificed for the greater good just in case he bites the dust.
However, you'll probably be seeing [Shadowfang Keep] alongside [Devout Aurastone Hammer], and you'll probably be seeing a lot less Arugal. The trick is things like early Edwin, early, five drops, and early [Mazu'kon]s. I have to note how this location plays extremely well with a lot of cards in Core. Namely, [Mazu'kon]. Ever sacrificed your [Mazu'kon] in response to something like [Censure] in order to keep the pressure on the opponent? How about sacrificing one affected by [Sap]? How about just sacrificing it for 12 damage the turn you play him? They're two great flavors that go well together!
Destroying your own allies is also a huge boon to [Obsidian Drudge] and [Obsidian Drakonid], as both black dragonkin play very nicely with [Shadowfang Keep]. Playing these cards together gives you cheap and effective non-ally control, assuming you have an ally to follow up your location activation.
[Shadowfang Keep] also plays nicely with [Dagax the Butcher] and [Vakus the inferno]. Those sorts of rush decks are all about tempo anyway, and using the location with these allies when they are going to be destroyed anyway is a pretty efficient use of your early turns.
The location also plays nicely with the Stash epics, Cairne and Magni, along with [Bottled Life]. The right draw, involving [Devout Aurastone Hammer], an heirloom counter, and a [Shadowfang Keep] activation also enables the dreaded turn 3 [Mazu'kon]. Turn. Three. Yuck!
The Core Threats Going Forward
The Dungeon Decks will have an impact on the format. These new cards, I feel, do push the format more towards ally acceleration and less [Grand Crusader], which may be a relief to people. I definitely see Hammer Shaman increasing in play with their release. Be ready for them, and make sure to have a plan against these types of cards going into Realm Qualifier season.
What are you thoughts on Edwin, Vanessa, and the Dungeon Deck cards as a whole? Let us know what you think of them over in our forums, or on Facebook.