Shattered Alliances: Kalima and Haven!

cvh[ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Infernus the Immolator[/ccProd] are undisputedly two of the most powerful cards in the game.  They might not always see the most play, but when they're summoned, the game is affected in a major way.  As two of the five Monarchs in the world of Kaijudo, one would expect nothing less.  These Monarchs are said to be the most powerful creatures in each civilization, according to the show.  Now, the release of Shattered Alliances is quickly approaching, and with it comes two brand new Monarchs: Queen Kalima and Eternal Haven.  Kalima was spoiled at the first Kaijudo Championship event earlier this month, and Eternal Haven was just spoiled this past weekend at the celebration tournament for Bobby Brake's victory at the championship.

Since they have been shown to the revealed, Kalima and Haven have been the talk of the community.  Players have already begun building decks around each of them, taking ideas from decks the Wizards of the Coast R&D showed off using a couple of the new cards we already know about.  Of course, many things in these builds are subject to change since we know only a very small portion of cards from Shattered Alliances so far, but these are some pretty incredible cards we're getting and I at least want to give my initial reactions to them.  Now, this is the part where you all should be worried; for those who remember, I don't exactly have the greatest track record for predicting how good Monarchs will be (Tritonus definitely isn't bad).  Even so, I'm prepared to dive into these cards head on without having a clue what the future meta holds for the game, because I'm sure both of these creatures will make quite a splash.

Queen Kalima

As the first of the two spoiled, it's only fitting that it's the first I discuss.  A lot of people thought this card was underwhelming when it was first spoiled at the championship.  This seems to be a trend for the Monarchs, and I assume it's preferable to everyone worrying about potentially game-breaking effects, but the hype for this card quickly picked up.  Upon first glance, we have a fairly giant 16,000 power body 250px-Queen_Kalima_(9SHA)with Triple Breaker for the cost of ten, not bad at all for a Monarch as it gets over [ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd].  Now, let's take a closer look at the effects.

Gaze Into the Abyss: Kalima's first effect is potentially the most devastating.  With such a high level, it's important that all the time spent reaching that amount of mana pays off with an effect that can hopefully pack a pretty big punch the moment Kalima hits the battle zone.  This effect definitely delivers on that count as long as Kalima is placed in the right deck.  It's definitely the kind of card that needs to be built around, but the rewards are obvious for doing such a thing.  This effect can potentially be even more brutal than Infernus the Immolator's mass removal effect depending on what your opponent has in the battle zone.  If all he or she has is large creatures like [ccProd]Andromeda of the Citadel[/ccProd], Kalima is going to get a ton of value from this effect, and that isn't the end of it by any means.

Reanimate: Alright, so Kalima basically has a [ccProd]Dark Return[/ccProd] effect whenever she attacks.  Not too crazy by itself, but it's important to remember that we're talking about a primarily Darkness-based deck in the super late game, here.  Not only that, but Kalima herself just milled the top three cards of your deck with her first effect.  The potential is definitely there to mill a second copy of Kalima and then retrieve it with Reanimate, allowing for consecutive uses of Gaze Into the Abyss to possibly wipe out your opponent's board again and again; assuming, of course, that the constant triple breaks don't wipe them out completely first.

The last effect, "Darkness Monarch" is pretty standard.  It's pretty obvious that all the Monarchs will give a +4000 power boost to all creatures from their respective civilizations, and on Kalima, it's a nice bit of icing on the cake.

So, based on these effects, which decks might emerge to get the most out of Queen Kalima in the coming weeks?  One answer to this question that many players have gravitated towards, even knowing only such a small amount of the set, is Water/Darkness/Nature ramp control.  The deck was first shown off by WotC R&D members who played members of the community with it at the Kaijudo Championship and at GenCon Indy.  It uses ramp such as [ccProd]Sprout[/ccProd] to get to a comfortable amount of mana, and has many combos such as [ccProd]Ripper Reaper[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Necrose, Nightmare Bloom[/ccProd].  Though it utilizes two other civilizations, the vast majority of the deck is Darkness to get the most out of "Gaze Into the Abyss," which is a trend I'm sure will continue.  10 mana is almost impossible to reach consistently with just mono-Darkness, so other civilizations will have to come into play, but Kalima does add some restrictions to deck-building if you want the most consistent results possible.

Eternal Haven

[ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd] and Queen Kalima might have been doubted at first, but that definitely wasn't the case with Eternal Haven.  Yet again, decks are already being thought up around this card and have the ability to be quite potent.  As for the basic stats, Haven has 500 less power than Kalima, though it also is equipped with Triple Breaker and the effect, "Light Monarch."  In addition, it has Blocker, making it the current 250px-Eternal_Haven_(9SHA)largest creature with Blocker in the game!

Blockade: Eternal Haven's first effect is one that benefits from running a lot of blockers.  Whenever it is put into the battle zone or attacks, you may draw a card and then "cheat" a blocker from your hand into the battle zone for free!  Since "Light Monarch" gives power to all your other Light creatures, it's also important to factor in that the blocker you play is likely to be huge.  Fortunately, the level restriction prevents Haven from putting another Haven into the battle zone with its effect, which would create some absolutely ridiculous scenarios, but there are plenty of good targets nonetheless.  [ccProd]Twilight Archon[/ccProd], a recently spoiled card from Shattered Alliances, assures us that Light/Water/Darkness Haven decks will be attempted.  Playing Archon off of "Blockade" basically equates to getting nineteen mana worth of creatures into the battle zone for the price of ten.  One card I'm predicting we'll see a lot of again is [ccProd]Saracon, Storm Dynamo[/ccProd].  It's one of the best late-game blockers in the game, with the ability to generate a +3 when its banished.  Dropping Saracon off of Haven can make for a force that's almost impossible to deal with efficiently.  Since decks with Haven are sure to run a lot of blockers and want to be able to have blockers in hand consistently, [ccProd]Panopter[/ccProd] seems like an obvious choice as well.

Aurora Armor: Now we have yet another creature with the "can't be targeted" ability.  In Magic: the Gathering, the equivalent of this effect is "Hexproof", though it is called many different things in Kaijudo depending on the flavor of the creature that has it.  [ccProd]King Neptas[/ccProd], and especially [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd], have made quite an impact on this game as the other creatures that share this ability.  In fact, many would say that [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] has defined the meta for the last few months, and its Hexproof-style effect is one of the major reasons for that.  I don't think Haven will dominate the meta as completely as Laws, since it requires much more dedication in deck strategy to pull off, but "Aurora Armor" goes a long way to ensure that it will be played.  Very few creature in Kaijudo have more raw power than it, and with Triple Breaker and the ability to drop more creatures into play for free, this effect makes Haven a blocker that can easily go on the offense.  When it does with the right setup, it will probably be near unstoppable.

Possible Impacts

[ccProd]Infernus the Immolator[/ccProd] and [ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd] are great cards, but the thing I like most about Queen Kalima and Eternal Haven is that they promote thoughtful and dedicated deck-building while not making it too far-fetched.  The argument can be made that Immolator works best in a dragon deck, which is true, but Kalima and Haven lose a huge amount of their playability in decks not designed for them.  Summoning Queen Kalima and whiffing off of "Gaze Into the Abyss" is sure to be depressing, and players will be doing whatever they can to limit the number of times that happens, focusing their decks more on Darkness.  Eternal Haven does the same for blockers; we haven't really seen a deck focused on them yet, and maybe this Monarch will give them the tools they need to succeed.

As for answers, there are significantly less for Haven than there are for Kalima.  This is due to "Aurora Armor" being proven through [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] and [ccProd]King Neptas[/ccProd] to be such a good effect.  That being said, though Haven is sure to be insane in some situations, i don't think there are so few answers that there is cause for alarm.  [ccProd]Crimson Wyvern[/ccProd] has been discussed as a potential answer to those types of decks if they gain enough popularity, and while it does shut them down without question, I think there are even more universal answers.  For example, creatures with Slayer could very easily rise in popularity.  Many people still discount [ccProd]Umbra[/ccProd], but it's proof of the power of Slayer even in the current metagame, and dragons already have access to that card along with [ccProd]Stormspark Blast[/ccProd].  Even against the most daunting field of Hexproof-esque creatures, that's a board wipe.  Besides Slayer, there are also effects which make your opponent choose which creatures to banish, thus getting around "Aurora Armor."  Queen Kalima herself has one such effect, and I think it's both interesting and very smart to have one Monarch in the set answer the other in this way.  [ccProd]Gregoria's Fortress[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Ripper Reaper[/ccProd] might also be seeing an increase in play if the meta calls for them.

Answers aside, these two cards are still sure to be two of the most powerful creatures in the set, which is expected of Monarchs.  Hopefully no one will be surprised as they start to make places for themselves in decks all over the next season of Kaijudo Master Challenges, as these are the kinds of cards one has to prepare for in order to do well.  Simply knowing they're out there is a good start, but as the set premiere and KMCs draw nearer, more and more ideas will take form and become some devastating builds.  I'm looking forward to seeing which ones have what it takes to compete!  If you have any thoughts on these cards or how they might impact the game, feel free to leave a comment down below, and until next week, Play Hard or Go Home!