Many people find themselves after the core asking “what should I get next?” This document will be the definitive guide on that subject. I will provide various details about the different expansions so that you can make your own decisions on what to buy first. Unlike with other games, buying in order of release doesn’t really help at all, so feel free to bounce around.
Format adapted from Ian Martin’s New Player Buying Guide at talesfromthecards.wordpress.com. Thanks Ian!
Do I need multiple cores?
Unlike FFG games, you only need one core to play the game. There is no reason to buy a second. Thanks Plaid Hat Games!
Card Power: The overall power level of the cards in the set. Note that this is averaging out the power of the whole pack, so having one or two super strong cards in the set but a bunch of bad ones as well will be rated lower than a set with 11 mediocre cards. That’s why I advise you to read the short review.
Card Fun Factor: How fun the cards in the set are to use. Bear in mind this is subjective, so read more into the reviews for more details.
Card Variety: How many decktypes they support, as well as how many decktypes they inspire.
Precon power: How strong the pre constructed deck is.
Precon fun factor: How fun the precon deck is to pilot.
Sphere Support: The types of magic supported by the pack.
Deck Support: The decktypes supported by the pack.
Phoenixborn/Unique Card: The Phoenixborn and their unique card. (In parentheses is the magic type needed to use the pair of cards)
Notable Cards: The most notable cards in the set. Note that when a Phoenixborn is listed in the notable section that is is implied that the unique is notable too.
Buy it first if: A quick overview of the benefits of the pack.
Then a short paragraph summarizing the pack will appear, followed by a sentence or two about the precon deck. New cards are in bold.
The Frostdale Giants
Card power: 5/5
Card fun factor: 3/5
Card variety: 5/5
Precon power: 5/5
Precon fun: 4/5
Sphere Support: Natural
Deck Support: Direct Damage, Hypnotize, Any Natural deck, Alterations
Phoenixborn/Unique Card: Rin Northfell/Rin’s Fury (Basic magic)
Notable Cards: Rin Northfell, Summon Frostback Bear, Crystal Shield, Frost Bite, Ice Trap
Buy it first if: You are a fan of natural. You want access to two of the most powerful cards in the game. You like alterations. You want to get into the competitive scene for little money.
Out of all of the packs, this is likely the strongest in terms of raw power. First off, you get access to the two of the most powerful cards in the game: Ice Trap and Summon Frostback Bear. Direct damage decks get a new tool, Frost Bite, which allows its user to continuously and consistently put damage on the opponent. This pack also has a huge focus on alterations. Frozen Crown enhances Hypnotize decks, while Crystal Shield enables cool combos, and Deep Freeze allows you to freeze an opponents unit in their tracks. Even the new Phoenixborn, the ever popular Rin Northfell, conjures his own unique alteration, and Summon Ice Golem works nicely in alteration-heavy decks. This deck also has the side benefit of being basically ready for a tourney out of the box, with only a Core needed to make it perfect. Just make a few changes, and voila! You have a tourney level deck. While there are a few duds in this pack (Frost Fang, Freezing Blast), it is definitely worth the money.
The precon deck is straightforward, and excellent for teaching new players the game. All of the cards are fairly simple, but the amazing art in this pack combined with the raw strength of the deck can make The Frostdale Giants a rewarding experience.
The Children of Blackcloud
Card Power: 3/5
Card Fun Factor: 3/5
Card Variety: 3/5
Precon power: 2/5
Precon Fun: 3/5
Sphere Support: Ceremonial
Deck Support: Self-inflict and Sacrifice Ceremonial builds. Direct Damage. Heavy Exhaust decks/Poison decks.
Phoenixborn/Unique Card: Brennan Blackcloud/Blackcloud Ninja (Ceremonial)
Notable Cards: Fire Archer, Choke, Poison, Summon Dread Wraith, Brennan Blackcloud
Buy it first if: You like Ceremonial decks. You love sacrificing your own units. You love Poison decks.
This is a mono-ceremonial pack, and thus continues the theme of self-infliction. The new Phoenixborn, Brennan Blackcloud, sacrifices his own units, making for an interesting deck when paired with the ceremonial dice power. Ceremonial decks finally get a Conjuration, and a powerful one at that, in the form of Summon Dread Wraith. The Fire Archer is an alternative to the Anchornaut in ceremonial engine decks. Crimson Bomber is one of the most interesting units in the game, and allows for some swarm control, something that is always welcome. Choke has a made a big hit on the meta, as being able to shut down a powerful Phoenixborn ability has proven to be a lot better than it would seem. And Poison allows for some insane combos with the Leech Warrior, and is probably the best card in the pack. However, despite the definite power of the cards, there is nothing here that you can’t live without, so unless you really love ceremonial, it is best to wait to get this pack.
The precon deck is a little weak at times, but for those of you who really love deranged ceremonial decks, this is definitely the deck for you.
The Roaring Rose
Card Power: 3/5
Card Fun Factor: 4/5
Card Variety: 3/5
Precon power: 4/5
Precon Fun: 4/5
Sphere Support: Charm, Basic
Deck Support: Charm-heavy decks. Mill decks. General charms decks. Hypnotize decks.
Phoenixborn/Unique Card: Leo Sunshadow/Anguish (Basic magic)
Notable Cards: Summon Orchid Dove, Beast Tamer, Leo Sunshadow, Amplify, Dispel
Buy it first if: You like the mill strategies first introduced in Saria Guideman. You want to balance out the power level of the spheres. You like charms.
The Roaring Rose had the highly difficult task of making Charms viable again. It more or less succeeded, and while charms is still a little weak, it is not unusable anymore. What charms needed the most is new conjurations, and this pack delivers excellently in the form of Summon Nightshade Swallow and Summon Orchid Dove. Both of these conjurations are quite playable, and in the right deck can be amazing. While Nightshade swallow is a deadly defender, Orchid Dove is a super cost-efficient card that taxes your opponent for attacking you, and is one of the best cards in the game. Meanwhile heavy charms gains a neat alteration in Amplify, and the mill strategy is continued in several cards. While Memory Theft and Mind Probe are more or less duds, even in mill decks, Leo Sunshadow brings an interesting new approach to the mill deck, while also being a great Phoenixborn for a variety of builds, particularly Hypnotize builds. Every sphere gains access to the meta card Dispel, which may prove very useful if alterations become a thing. But possibly the most powerful and definitely the most interesting card in the pack is the Beast Tamer, which completely shuts down Aradel swarm attacks, while still significantly hurting other decks, all at a reasonable cost.
The precon deck is arguably the most intriguing yet. Leo uses Memory Theft and Glow Finch to slowly, casually, mill out his opponents deck, while the conjurations and the Beast Tamer make your opponents attacks quite lackluster. However, the stalling nature of the deck leads to some long games, and may be seen as an NPE (negative player experience) by some people, so enjoy responsibly.
The Duchess of Deception
Card Power: 1/5
Card Fun Factor: 4/5
Card Variety: 5/5
Precon power: 3/5
Precon Fun: 4/5
Sphere Support: Illusion, Basic.
Deck Support: Heavy Exhaust decks. Illusion splash decks.
Phoenixborn/Unique Card: Victoria Glassfire/Illusionary Cycle (Illusion)
Notable Cards: Vanish, Summon Shadow Spirit, Victoria Glassfire
Buy if first if: You love heavy exhaust decks. You want a powerful card (Vanish) that counters the meta. You want some of the most intriguing cards in the game
Illusion has been the meta-counter sphere since the core, and this pack is no exception. This pack should be considered simply for Vanish, which can counter the ever popular Molten Gold and Sympathy Pain, as well as a variety of other effects. However, one can live without Vanish, so don’t be too hasty, especially since a future meta could see it drop in value. Also in this pack are two new conjurations. Summon Shadow Spirit is quite strong, and is the most cost-efficient attacker in the game, as well as having surprising resilience against the ever popular direct damage cards. However, Summon Shadow Hound is less justifiable, as it is only really good in decks running the “illusion attachments”, meaning Bring Forth and Body Inversion, decks that have not proven to be very good. Victoria Glassfire however shows lots of promise as the quintessential home of the heavy exhaust deck. Both her ability and her unique card produce power symbols, which is extremely useful in the exhaust deck. But unfortunately, the rest of her cards are subpar. From the over costed Flash Archer, to the difficult to use Secret Door and To Shadows, to extremely questionable cards like Figures in the Fog, this is not a deck to get for power cards. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this pack unless you plan on playing heavy exhaust decks.
The precon deck included in this pack is a nice way to teach beginners about the illusion sphere. The effects are all simple enough, and the deck isn’t too hard to pilot. That said though, while the deck is simplistic, only hardcore fans of illusion will likely find it super fun.
Promo card packs are available as tourney prizes, as free add-ons to a web store order, or available from the website at decent prices (US only on the decent price thing). I will simply provide a short overview of each one, and you can make up your own mind on buying it or not. Bear in mind that these packs only contain the Phoenixborn and their unique card, so that is only four cards.
Unique card: Rayward Knight
Decktypes: Big units. Hypnotize.
Power Level: 2/5
Fun Factor: 2/5
Buy it if: You love buffing up units and then using hypnotize. You like big units in general.
Tourney Prize: Yes
Everett’s Recommendation: Don’t bother.
Dimona has the powerful ability to unexhaust any unit in play. However, her unique is uninspiring, and her life value is too low to really be viable, as the designers overrated the benefits of a 5 spellboard.
Unique Card: Phoenix Barrage
Decktype: Used to create a variety of decks.
Power Level: 4/5
Fun Factor: 3/5
Buy it if: You like Bolster. You want a strong alternative to the usual top Phoenixborn.
Tourney Prize: Yes
Everett’s Recommendation: Only if you really like her.
Lulu has the ability to boost the attack value of all of her units. Yet she only has a four battlefield, so the ability isn’t as good as it seems. Yet her unique is arguably second only to Blue Jaguar, and she has a very high life total, so she is quite viable, and a refreshing alternative to Jessa and Rin.
Unique Card: Gobi Sunshield
Decktype: Four-sphere decks.
Power Level: 2/5
Fun Factor: 5/5
Buy it if: You like four sphere decks. You are a casual player who is bored with the usual (some might say sane) decks.
Tourney Prize: No
Everett’s Recommendation: Great fun, but not really a top priority.
Orrick Gilstream allows you to roll 12 dice instead of 10 if you run a four-sphere deck, which leads to hilarious games, and his unique card, the Gobi Sunshield, can make some awesome combos. That said, Orrick is not the most competitive PB out there, so if you are looking for a PB to bring to the next tourney, better skip this guy.
I hope you enjoyed the buying guide! This will be updated after every card in a release is spoiled.