Card Analysis #4: Torchlight District
by Terence Jason Dorman
I chose the following card for this edition of Card Analysis because there seems to be some confusion regarding what exactly this card does. As such, I've decided to take this moment to analyze the card and, in the process, explain what exactly this card does and why it is so cool.
Without further ado, Torchlight District!
Name, Art, and Flavor
Torchlight District is a preview card for the upcoming Shade of the Devoured Emperor expansion and I was extremely excited to see it previewed.
Name-wise, this is one of the cards that isn't terribly creative but suits the card well. This is one of the card names that is just a descriptor of what the card is, rather than some kind of joke or word that doesn't actually exist (like Redonkulus, for example). It also plays off the popular term “Red Light District” but takes it more literally, as depicted in the artwork.
As far as the artwork goes, I like the depiction of the District itself, but I kind of wish the card was a bit lighter. I understand that lighting a street by torchlight wouldn't show very much, but I feel like there is a lot of great artwork here that is hidden by the shadows.
The card picks up a little steam in terms of flavor text. The top line is a clear reference to Star Wars, more specifically Mos Eisley spaceport. I'll take a Star Wars reference any day, so I was certainly happy to see this. The bottom flavor text goes in a different direction, parodying the famous phrase that parodies the mullet haircut (“Business in the front, party in the back”). It also provides a little flavor for the Torchlight District itself, which is definitely appreciated.
This card, without discussing what it does, is unquestionably a rare and, thankfully, is labeled as such. If this card was anything less than a rare I would be questioning the sanity of Ken and his design team. Instead, though, Ken and his team got it right, so we can all be proud of the fact that we have an excellent design team behind our favorite game.
Trade, Card Type, and Subtypes
Torchlight District is a Rogue location and there really is no other place this card would fit. The flavor and artwork scream Rogue, and the effect of the card obviously fits well with the Rogue theme. As a location this card is vulnerable to attack, which certainly balances it play wise as it won't have as much direct hate as it would being an item, but it is still able to be destroyed in a variety of ways.
Threshold, Cost, and Additional Costs
There are no additional costs for this card as most Locations don't have additional costs to begin with. Instead, this card has a reasonable resource cost of four, which seems appropriate. The District also has three Rogue threshold, which slides it nicely into the Rogue environment. As far as play goes, giving this card three threshold means it will be difficult for other trades to splash in, which I think is appropriate. I certainly wouldn't want to see this card easily fit into decks such as Rage Sligh and the three threshold prevents that handily.
No Keywords on this one so nothing to discuss here.
“Characters you control can attack only once each turn.” - This line is fairly simple and puts a limit on the number of times a character can attack each turn. Under the normal rules, characters can attack as many times as they want each turn providing they have the means to do so. For most characters/situations this means they will only attack once as it is hard to restore a character during your turn AND still have the ability to attack again (aside from Peppers).
This changes this, however, making it so that a character can only attack once no matter how many times it may be restored via card effects.
“Characters you control with 3 speed or less do not deplete when attacking” - This is another line of text that overrides the rules of the game. Normally, characters that are part of the attacking party when it is formed are depleted as part of the steps of attacking. This card effectively ignores that rule, meaning that characters that form a battle party to attack do not deplete to do so.
This does NOT ignore card effects such as Catastrophic Betrayal, however, that add characters to the attacking party and depletes them as part of the effect. Also, be sure to remember that this line of text only refers to characters with three speed or less, so your Martial Artists still have to deplete to start the ruckus.
“Attacking characters you control do not deplete at the end of battle.” - This is the line that is confusing most people and I think it is because they are not as familiar with the rules as myself and other judges are.
The rules dictate that all characters that survive a battle deplete at the end of it. Normally, this applies only to members of the blocking party as they tend to be the only characters that are not depleted during battle. This is probably the reason why many people aren't aware of this rule as they were probably taught the rule as “at the end of battle, deplete the blocking party” since that is usually how the actual rule affects the game.
That is not the rule, however, and that is why this card is so powerful. With this card in play, all characters you control with three or less speed can attack (without depleting), deal damage, and remain restored at the end of battle. I don't think I need to tell you that this means your three speed or less characters can attack and then block on the next turn as that is fairly obvious.
This card also allows attackers you control to use their deplete abilities during combat when they normally wouldn't be able to. A card like Athalamund Mangod, the Iron Fist, for example, can attack without restoring. Then, during battle, he can use his Punch ability to inflict damage to a character. Normally, this is the kind of ability you'd use with Athalamund outside the combat to pick off a pesky blocker. Instead, Athalamund can be in the fight AND use this ability.
That seems pretty awesome to me.
First, and probably foremost, Inhibit is an amazing card to use with Torchlight District. You can attack with your characters (as you please), leaving them restored after battle. You can then Inhibit the Torchlight District, allowing you to attack again, this time under normal conditions. This can swing the game heavily in your favor if used correctly and make for some very interesting aggressive Arcanist/Rogue builds.
This same kind of combo can also be used with cards that destroy locations, but comes with the extra cost that you no longer have the Torchlight District.
Another fun combo that I think can come of this card would be found in Gearsmith/Rogue combos. With a Master Mud Whisperer in play your characters would be restored on your opponent's turn anyway, regardless of which speed they are. Combo'd with Torchlight District, though, now all of your characters (including Runic Tattoo Artists, TigerKaisers, PantherKaisers, just to name a few Gearsmith characters) can use their deplete abilities in combat to great effect.
To put it plainly, I don't think the magnitude of this card's greatness can be judged until we see the decks that thrive after the release of Shade of Devoured Emperor. As much as I like this card, it definitely seems like the kind of Rare that can be hit or miss. On one hand, this card seems powerful enough that it could impact the metagame in a huge way. On the other hand, this card also looks like it may fall to the wayside and only show up in “combo decks.”
Regardless of where it ends up in the long run, though, Torchlight District is definitely a very interesting card and I can't wait to see what else Shade of the Devoured Emperor has to offer!