by Terence Jason Dorman
I don't know about the rest of you, but I am super excited for the release of Shade of the Devoured Emperor. While Seed Three: Fall of Marmothoa was an amazing set, the small size of thirty cards just wasn't enough to satiate my creative constructed juices. Plus, it is has been a while since we have had a new draft format to sink our teeth into, so I am eagerly awaiting the release of Shade!
When I saw that Ken decided to preview twenty cards from the upcoming set on OCTGN, I was sad. I didn't have OCTGN as I prefer to play CCGs in person, and I really didn't want to download and install a program just to see twenty cards.
In the end, though, my desire for previews got the best of me and I downloaded OCTGN just to see the twenty previews. For those of you who don't have OCTGN (and didn't give in to your preview desire like I did), today's Card Analysis is going to feature my favorite of the twenty preview cards, Backdoor Brigand!
Name, Art, and Flavor
I was fortunate enough to know the name of this card long before it had any text to be associated with it (back when I was the guy in charge of the rules and such) and I couldn't wait to see what kind of text got slapped on it. Thankfully, the text that got put on a card with such a great name is the kind of text I love, but I'll talk about that more later.
The artwork is classic Rogue style, showing the swiftness and speed of the Rogue trade while featuring a dynamic action moment. Add in the fact that it has absolutely flawless line work and appropriate colors and this becomes another Rogue card that I wish I had in playmat form.
The bits that really put me over the top with this card, though, are the two pieces of flavor text. The top features one of Eric Cartman's (of South Park fame if you somehow don't know) most famous lines, and one that has been repeated by myself and other Team Hopper members many times (usually while playtesting). The bottom flavor text, while not an exact quote (for all I know it could be an unintentional reference), immediately makes me think of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Last Action Hero. Being an action movie junkie this definitely tickled one of my soft spots and I couldn't help but chuckle when I read it.
Editor's Note: If you haven't seen Last Action Hero, go watch it! LOOK! ELEPHANT!
The Brigand slides into Shade of the Devoured Emperor as an uncommon, a rarity level not seen since Seed: Children of the Lingamorph. While I don't know how many uncommons will be in the set, or how many will be in the pack, I can't say for sure if this rarity is an appropriate choice. Judging by the card's text and power, though, I agree with making this card an uncommon as it would be a powerhouse as a common (ignoring the unknown set breakdown, of course). As a rare, this guy would probably be underpowered as, at first glance, he looks like a Limited juggernaut but not a Constructed contender.
That's just speculation, of course, and I definitely hope to prove myself wrong regarding this card's Constructed strength as I definitely plan on featuring it in a deck or two.
Trade, Card Type, and Subtypes
Without giving away my thoughts on the card's text and stats, this card is very obviously Rogue and I'm glad it didn't end up in another trade. While this character (the only logical choice for this card's type) would certainly be great in the Warlord or Arcanist trades, the flavor of the card, as well as it's playstyle, is just too Rogue for him to have ended up anywhere else.
At the moment, subtypes aren't much of an issue, so this guy being an Outlaw doesn't mean much. I may revisit this statement later, though, as Port Manteau definitely showed that we may see more subtype-referencing cards in the future.
Threshold, Cost, and Additional Costs
The total cost of one Rogue and three resources falls perfectly into the “cheap and easy” range. Decks that want to splash one Rogue threshold will be able to toss the Brigand in without a problem, although they won't get the full effect of the card (more on that later). His cost of three is fantastic for his stats (similar to Mustache Aficionado) and blows Agile Highwayman out of the water.
The Brigand has no additional costs of which to speak of, meaning you can play him without having any worries or stipulations.
The Brigand pops out of the booster with only one keyword, but it is a big one: Flip Up. For the same numeric cost, but one extra threshold, the Backdoor Brigand can join your forces from the resource row and wreak surprise havoc.
I REALLY like the fact that this card's numeric cost was not increased to compensate for the power of Flip Up. Instead, Ken and fellow designers opted to increase his threshold, which I think is a brilliant move.
Had this card's cost increased for Flip Up, it would have had what I consider detrimental effects on the card's power level. Decks that are splashing only one Rogue would be gaining an amazing four speed character that would be worth the (theoretical) Flip Up cost of four or five. In the same vein, decks that are committed to Rogue would be almost punished for doing so as, at a four or five threshold, Rogue would have much better options for that price.
Instead, this card can't be Flipped Up by decks without two or more Rogue threshold, and decks that do have it are rewarded for doing so. This should certainly help the Rogue-meta shift from the Ass/I Drink Your Milkshake “Do Nothing” decks to ones that are more aggressive and ready to fight. Personally, I welcome that shift and look forward to it.
Stats and Rules Text
This, like more characters, is where the card really shines.
Backdoor Brigand has an absolutely amazing stat line of 2/3/4, the same as Mustache Afficionado and for the same cost. These stats completely decimate many other three cost characters, primarily because of the three life and four speed. To be honest, though, I really can't see any other stat line for this card without making it over or underpowered. In essence, I think these numbers are perfect for what this card is meant to do.
It's Rules Text, though, is what really causes my creative juices to flow. For the low cost of one, and a not-so-restricting stipulation, you can flip the Brigand face down as a resource. On the most basic levels, this means you can save the Brigand from destruction/bounce/removal for a cost so low it is refunded by the effect of the card
Personally, I love characters that can be saved from destruction, and the fact that he gives you something (a resource) for doing so is icing on the cake. He is like a Delusive Strumpet on steroids (another card I like) and satisfies a similar role without making the Strumpet obsolete.
While many players will wish his ability could be used after assigning damage, I'm sure everyone can agree that the Brigand would be one of the best cards in the game if he could do that. Even without that game breaking power, though, this gentleman still provides tons of combat tricks via his ability. I don't want to go into them just yet as I want players to discover them via play, but I will certainly share my two favorite synergies that came to mind immediately.
Mistaken Identity – I absolutely love this card but, unfortunately, find myself cutting it from my Rogue decks as it simply isn't as strong as I want it to be. Mistaken Identity is one of those cards that is game changing when it works but, more often than not, is a dead card in your hand.
In my humble opinion, though, Backdoor Brigand will shift Mistaken Identity firmly towards “awesome card” status.
Take a look at this scenario to see what I mean: You have a Fired Hand and Backdoor Brigand in play. Your opponent, looking to deal with your biggest threat, plays an Extravagant Contusion (or another kill card of your chocice) and picks your Fired Hand. You respond with Mistaken Identity, diverting the Extravagant Contusion to the Brigand. Assuming your opponent doesn't respond, the Identity resolves and it is your chance to respond again. With that opportunity you respond by using the Brigand's ability to hide himself as a resource. If you get away with this, you saved your Fired Hand, gained a resource, and your opponent wasted a kill card and the resources to play it.
Seems good to me. Oh, did I mention you can now use Flip Up to bring the Brigand back into play, re-establishing your board position to what it was fifteen seconds ago? Yeah, seems good to me.
Gear – This synergy is much more obvious than Mistaken Identity and not as tricky, but still worth talking about. To put it plainly, you can load up the Brigand with a ton of cheap gear (preferably with Flip Up) and then pay one to turn them all into resources. Even if your opponent responds to kill the Brigand, you can simply pay one again and still get the resources.
This probably isn't a viable resource acceleration method but I am oddly drawn to it. It is certainly something that is worth testing out, especially if there are new cheap gear cards found in Shade of the Devoured Emperor.
If you can't tell from this article, I am absolutely in love with this card. Expect to see it in any deck I build that features two or more Rogue threshold, and it will certainly be an early pick in any drafts that I take part in.
I know this is early to say, but I definitely expect this card to be featured on many “Top Shade of the Devoured Emperor Cards” lists, unless of course the rest of the set somehow blows this card out of the water. With that said, though, I don't expect many cards, if any, to grab my attention as much as this one did.