Top Ten Cards from Clash of the Duel Masters

cvhAnticipation is at an all-time high for the next set, Shattered Alliances, which is only a few weeks away!  Spoilers of cards in the set have already started going up on the Kaijudo Facebook page, and it's safe to say players everywhere are looking forward to a change from the Clash meta.  That being said, Clash was a great set that broke the meta wide open compared to the one before it, and I found it very enjoyable.  I actually remember people being worried that it didn't bring enough playable cards to the table, but looking at deck lists from recent tournaments, it's clear how big of an impact the set has had.  Since the next season of KMCs doesn't start until after Shattered Alliances hits shelves, I figured I'd take this article to reflect on how Clash has affected these past few months by giving you a list of what were, in my opinion, the best cards released in the set.  Obviously there were a lot more than ten cards being used and different cards will realize their potentials over time, but for the sake of the last few months, here is what I believe to be the top ten cards from Clash of the Duel Masters:

10. [ccProd]Humonculon the Blaster[/ccProd]

Coming in at number ten, we have Humonculon.  This Light/Nature dual-civilization creature was part of the "Battlemage" cycle featuring cards such as Kronax the Brutal and Gorim the Striker.  Humonculon was by far the most played of the cycle during the past few months, largely because of the rise of Megabugs.  Humonculon proved itself time and time again to be one of the most versatile and powerful creatures in the deck, being able to bypass blockers with its "Stun" effect or tapping something and attacking over it outright thanks to the power boost it can give.  There were very few times when a Megabug player didn't want to play it off of [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd]'s effect, and Humonuclon served as a wonderful support card.  The LWN "Leap of Faith" tempo deck that won a KMC before Megabugs gained popularity as an archetype is proof that Humonculon didn't need the whole Megabug engine to be beneficial for those kinds of decks.  Its effects are just useful, and its relevant races are an added bonus.  I think we'll be seeing Humonculon in top decks for a long while to come.

9. [ccProd]Grip of Despair[/ccProd] [ccProd]Grip of Despair[/ccProd] is one card in the set that made [ccProd]Veil Vortex[/ccProd] look rather silly.  Though it costs one more, the ability to force a discard is good for a number of reasons.  While [ccProd]Veil Vortex[/ccProd] generates a -1 in card advantage, Grip evens out at +0 which is good, but the real bonus to this card is what happens when your opponent has no cards in hand.  In that situation, Grip basically turns into a [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd].  This card is extremely brutal against aggressive strategies in particular.  Having 250px-Grip_of_Despair_(8TRI)another Shield Blast is never bad, especially one that gets rid of opponents' threats in the battle zone while taking away their cards.  In addition, many aggressive strategies such as rush are more prone to running out of a hand, so Grip will be able to effectively banish the creature it targets more often.  Grip is a very versatile option for decks looking for another removal outlet.

8. [ccProd]Steamtank Kryon[/ccProd]

Ok, admittedly, we didn't see decks using [ccProd]Steamtank Kryon[/ccProd] doing too much work in the past few months, but I felt like it just has to be included for its potential.  Of course, it was included in a few decks; many Megabug lists made good use of the card before they mostly turned into LWN, and a LFN dragon midrange strategy did top eight a KMC.  This card, coupled with cards like [ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Tatsurion the Unchained[/ccProd], can generate some pretty nuts plays.  It's a card that basically says, "You have to deal with me this turn."  If you don't do that, Steamtank can pave the way for an army of small creatures or a fast attacking Double Breaker coming at you on the very next turn.  I only see the possibilities for this card becoming more numerous as the card pool expands, and I'm sure Shattered Alliances will give it more chances to shine.

7. [ccProd]Shadeblaze the Corruptor[/ccProd]

Dragons weren't the focus of Clash, but that doesn't mean they didn't get some neat tools.  Shadeblaze always had a potentially game-winning effect, but it didn't start seeing much play until the end of the meta.  In a game dominated by control decks, Shadeblaze is often hard-pressed to find something to banish, but when everyone picked up Megabugs and dragons with Fire Birds, Shadeblaze suddenly found its time to shine.  This card can be the worst nightmare of a Megabug player, using its effect to banish a [ccProd]Mana Tick[/ccProd] or something similar and then gaining Fast Attacker to swing over [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd].  It's also a dangerous card to just let sit in the battle zone; subsequent summons of [ccProd]Tatsurion the Unchained[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Infernus the Awakened[/ccProd] will grant Fast Attacker to everything you have on board, as will casting something as simple as a [ccProd]Bone Blades[/ccProd].  The combos with this card are numerous, and when something big happens involving its second effect, the end of the game is usually near.  As [ccProd]Steamtank Kryon[/ccProd] proves, Fast Attacker is an ability that can never be underestimated, and when you couple the potential for Fast Attacker with removal, an 11,000 power body, and an incredibly relevant race, you come up with what is quite possibly the best dragon in the set.

6. [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd]

Now, we get into the real reason Megabugs saw play; Clash gave them an insane finisher.  Level 6 for 8000 is a very strong cost-to-power ratio, and [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] can come out even earlier with ramp such as [ccProd]Manapod Beetle[/ccProd], which fits 250px-The_Hive_Queen_(7CLA)perfectly into the deck.  As soon as [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] comes out, things begin to get out of hand.  While putting enormous amounts of pressure on an opponent who was already probably being beaten down by Megabugs thanks to Double Breaker, this card has the potential to give you a free creature from the top of your deck every turn that it's able to attack.  Unless it misses hitting a creature when it activates its effect or the opposing player is able to answer it immediately, [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] can easily generate more board advantage than its possible to come back from.  This card was a very welcome support card for a deck that needed a push to become tier-1.  It definitely got it with Clash, and Megabugs formed what was undoubtedly the best tempo deck in the meta.

5. [ccProd]Piercing Judgment[/ccProd]

Now we're really getting into the heavy hitters.  [ccProd]Piercing Judgment[/ccProd] is easily one of the most versatile cards yet seen in the game, combining the tapping power of Light with the bouncing power of Water.  It proved to be devastating as a Shield Blast, being run in control decks in threes for the entirety of the last few months.  Sometimes, it's possible to form loops with this card and [ccProd]Keeper of Dawn[/ccProd]; Piercing could bounce a player's own [ccProd]Keeper of Dawn[/ccProd] back to his or her hand while tapping an opponent's creature, then that person could re-summon Dawn to get back Piercing for use on a future turn.  Using the bounce effect to re-use [ccProd]Andromeda of the Citadel[/ccProd] is even done a lot to stabilize, and this is all added onto the fact that it can simply remove two threats from the battle zone when used only on your opponent.  Bouncing a dragon for a turn and attacking over a bird is an easy way to slow a dragon deck's momentum.

Piercing's use went far beyond just control decks; it was also used widely in Megabug tempo and dragons.  It became the prime way to tap enemy creatures aside from [ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd] for [ccProd]Herald of Infernus[/ccProd] to get its effect off.  Being part Water also helped the deck's mana base since [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd] is such an important card to see on turn three.  Usually I don't like using a card's ability to provide a certain type of mana in my reasoning for its strength, but the fact that it could aid the summoning of [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd] while being one of the best spells in the deck deserves mention.  There's a reason this card was probably the most widely-used Spell card from Clash, and I foresee it retaining its popularity for a long time.

4. [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] wasn't used in as many decks as [ccProd]Piercing Judgment[/ccProd], as it really only has one purpose, but it accomplishes that purpose exceptionally well.  Basically, this card is good for every reason [ccProd]Razorkinder Puppet[/ccProd] is good, even though it's not a +1 like the puppet.  It more than makes up for that aspect by being a level three, allowing its user to disrupt early progressions of decks like dragons or Megabugs easily.  Its effect is always relevant in the control mirror matches as well, as picking away cards like [ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd] before they can be played is crucial.  In addition, [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] gives its user a huge amount of knowledge at a very early point in the game.  If you cast [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] against an aggressive deck on turn three, not only can you get rid of their best plays, but you then know what to expect for the following few turns.  Sure, their draws will affect what they play, but simply knowing what they have and remembering to play 250px-Mesmerize_(7CLA)around it gives you a huge edge.  The only time when this card is really bad is when [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] is on board for your opponent, but Laws seeing so much play just makes this card even better as it can get rid of Laws before it's even summoned.  Control got a huge boost with this card and it sets the bar incredibly high for all future discard effects.

3. [ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd]

For a few weeks, [ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd] was the king.  People were running it in threes left and right.  It's still an amazing finisher with two game-winning effects, even though most control decks have been running less copies with the exception of Bobby Brake's Leviathan control list.  It's actually an shockingly good card to use alongside [ccProd]King Coral[/ccProd]; as a Leviathan, it will trigger Coral's effect, allowing you to hopefully bounce a bunch of your opponent's small creatures.  Then, Squillace's effect goes off, discarding everything you just bounced!  Fellow Kaijudo writer Aiden Thorne did a great review of this card in a recent article which I encourage everyone to check out, so I'll keep it brief with this card.  It generates a +5 on summon, which can give you a huge leg up in the control mirror match and basically win the game against other decks if you're already in a decent position, and it has the potential to lock down entire fields.  If you're playing Tritonus from your hand, you already have at least ten mana, so playing multiple cheap spells such as the aforementioned [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Piercing Judgment[/ccProd] in a turn shouldn't be hard at all, especially with all the cards Tritonus nets you.

2. [ccProd]Squillace Scourge[/ccProd]

I absolutely love this card.  I may be a little biased because I was able to preview it, but it's definitely come to light as one of the best cards in the set.  [ccProd]Squillace Scourge[/ccProd] is the nail in the coffin in a lot of situations, locking a game down just by being summoned.  Its ability to discard both players' hands can be great, but most of the time, I eat a minus when I summon Squillace; I'm using it for the ability to win the game on my next two turns.  Without my opponents having the ability to counter-strike, there's nothing they can do short of miraculous Shield Blasts to stop the assault.  Squillace is also an excellent follow-up to an aggressive progression, as ARG writer Zach Hine talked about about when he did a deck profile of his brother Tyler a few articles back.  After breaking shields and giving your opponent excess cards in hand, dropping Squillace not only potentially sets you up for game, but it also sends their hopefully large hand straight to the discard pile.  Squillace has a pair of unique and incredible effects that, I think, ensure its continued use.

1. [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd]

It might not be as flashy as a few of the other cards on this list, or even some I didn't include such as [ccProd]Infernus the Immolator[/ccProd], but [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] has earned its spot at the top of this list for a reason.  It's used in control.  It's used in dragons.  It's used in tempo.  It's even used in the mono-Light rush list I used at the championship.  Not only is it used in everything, but it completely changes the nature of the game when it's in the battle zone.  Though it was created to give aggressive strategies an answer to spell-250px-Keeper_of_Laws_(7CLA)heavy control decks, much like [ccProd]Spellbane Dragon[/ccProd], it far surpasses Spellbane in playability because its effects are so universally good.  You don't have to be running an aggressive deck to benefit from drawing cards every time your opponent plays a [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd].  Not only does this punish players for activating spells, it usually can't be banished by them either, unless it happens to be the only creature you have in the battle zone.  This immunity from targeting effects makes Laws as good as [ccProd]King Neptas[/ccProd] when a control player finally starts going after shields and gives the deck truly deadly offensive capabilities.  Its power in decks like LWN Megabugs and mono-Light rush should come as no surprise; after all, it was made to be good in those types of decks.  Even so, Laws has found use across the board in decks that include Light and is poised to continue appearing in top decks for a long time to come, barring a huge shift in the metagame.

There you have it!  As I see it, these cards all impacted the meta in a big way, and played huge roles in developing the metagame.  A good amount of them were expected, but a few of them surprised the vast majority of players, myself included.  Not much is cooler than watching previously overlooked cards like [ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd] and [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] become integral parts of decks that take over the tournament scene.  I can already tell that Shattered Alliances will bring us many more surprised that will shake up all the top decks yet again.  If you have any thoughts on my list or your own opinions regarding the top cards from this set, make sure to leave a comment down below.  Until next week, Play Hard or Go Home!