An In-Depth Look at Attributes – Part 1: Strength
“‘Grutsug,’ people ask me, ‘What weapon should I use? There are just so many choices!’ Why, yes, my less-battle-savvy little friends, there are! But not to worry; you don’t need to choose just one. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have much more fun with two!”
Crush, Slash, Bash, and Stab
Ah, Strength – The Attribute of pure and unadulterated power! If you are looking to charge into a match swinging, brandishing maces and scimitars, caving in skulls and taking names, then look no further than Strength. But don’t be fooled by its brutish display! Strength is about far more than ruthless slaughter. It’s about the mastery of one’s might, the proper application of force, and utilizing every tool at your disposal to clear a path to victory.
Let’s talk about some of Strength’s distinctive characteristics.
Time to Fight!
More than any of its peers, Strength is the attribute of aggression. While you may find a smattering of Agility based Aggro decks here and there, the majority of aggressive decks in Legends prefer to wield Strength-based classes. The reason why becomes clear upon a quick examination of Red’s card pool: Charge, Breakthrough, Unsummon and Silence!
If you are piloting an aggressive deck looking to make every single ounce of power translate into damage, Charge and Breakthrough are likely some of the most important Keywords you will be looking for. You don’t want your opponent to be able to react to your creatures before they get their swing in, and you certainly don’t want their Guards soaking up all your damage. Fortunately for you, Strength has Charge and Breakthrough in spades! There are currently 13 cards with Charge and 26 cards with Breakthrough in Strength based classes, making Red the go-to color for hitting your opponent hard and fast without interruptions. Cards like Underworld Vigilante and Wood Orc Headhunter represent unprecedented amounts of damage that your opponent may not anticipate.
However, simply slamming your creatures into your opponent’s Guards is not the only way Strength can deal with obstacles. One interesting ability that is rather unique to Strength is the ability to unsummon your opponent’s creatures. If there is a sturdy Guard blocking the route to your opponent’s face, or perhaps a pesky Drain creature in the Shadow Lane just waiting to regain some precious life, a well timed Cast Out or Belligerent Giant can bounce them back to your opponent’s hand in a jiffy.
Silence is one of the most powerful effects in the game and another handy way to deal with Guards and Drain creatures, and it is an effect most commonly found in Strength! Outside of a couple Class-specific cards, the only other Silence effects in the game are found in Endurance or at a premium cost in Neutral. This is one of the reasons that Warrior is such a powerful class for aggressive decks. Powerful cards like Earthbone Spinner and Hlaalu Sharpshooter are the bane of every Control deck looking to block damage and stabilize.
Let’s Heat Things Up!
Aside from the already massive amounts of reach Strength has available in its many Charge creatures, it also has many cards that can inflict direct damage to your opponent or their creatures. Some creatures like Fiery Imp or Afflicted Alit can deal damage directly to your opponent even if they don’t land an attack! Other cards like Skaven Pyromancer and Cradlecrush Giant can deal massive AoE damage to your opponent, although these blasts do hit your side of the board as well. There are however many ways to turn this “drawback” into your advantage. A well timed Afflicted Alit may break one of your own runes, drawing you a card and potentially triggering a Prophecy for your trouble. Or perhaps you use your aforementioned Skaven Pyromancer to hit a Fearless Northlander in the same lane, who becomes more powerful when he takes damage!
Another way that Strength can spice things up is by buffing their creatures on the fly, providing additional unexpected damage or allowing your smaller creatures to trade up into larger threats. Some common inclusions are Steel Scimitar, a 1 cost item that gives +2/+2, or Morkul Gatekeeper, a Prophecy Guard that can buff and protect your creatures! Speaking of Steel Scimitar, Strength is also one of the more common colors where you will find Items and creatures that have unique synergy with them, such as Rihad Horseman who gains power and Breakthrough when equipped with an item.
One more interesting ability that is almost entirely exclusive to Strength is the Battle keyword, which allows your creatures to attack your opponent’s creatures directly, ignoring lane restrictions and summoning sickness. While it isn’t the most common ability Strength decks tend to utilize, it’s just one more trick up their sleeve to make unexpected trades and clear otherwise safe creatures out of the way.
Come On Then! I’ll Even Let You Swing First!
Strength isn’t always about trying to aggressively beat down your opponent. In fact, Strength has a lot of control options available and some really interesting and unique abilities to change the rules of the game.
Unlike Willpower and Intelligence, Strength’s removal suite tends to be very creature centric, which can make it a lot more situational. Cards like Unstoppable Rage can be absolutely game breaking at the right time, but they require a bit of setup and a creature on hand. Charge creatures can be used as pseudo removal, but only if their targets are not hidden in the shadow lane or behind Guards. As mentioned before, Strength has access to a plethora of AoE damage, but it often also targets your side of the board as well, and sometimes has strict limitations (such as with Burn & Pillage requiring broken runes).
But there are other ways to keep your opponent’s gameplan under your thumb. Strength has access to precious support removal in the form of Dushnik Yal Archer and Belligerent Giant. Also, as Justin Larson often likes to point out, Strength is the “rule setting” attribute. It has some cards with abilities that change the nature of the game for your opponent – whether it is limiting your opponent’s max magicka to 7 with Garnag, Dark Adherent, or making their actions cost 2 more with Withered Hand Cultist, or preventing your opponent from gaining health with False Incarnate.
The Hunter Becomes the Hunted!
Every attribute has its strengths (ha) and weaknesses, and Strength is no different. Strength’s creatures are often powerful and fast, but what they have in power they often lack in survivability. Its removal suite, as mentioned above, is often situational and limited with severe drawbacks. Strength’s card draw is also often dependent on the board state. It has no native Drain creatures, which makes some classes like Battlemage almost entirely reliant on proactive strategies to survive. Strength by itself can often struggle with removing threats it can’t reach in the Shadow Lane or heavily Guarded or Warded creatures. And Charge, while a powerful effect, also leaves your creatures vulnerable to attack as they can’t benefit from the Shadow Lane. All of this means that Strength often requires the aid of its second (or third) attribute in a class to provide some sustainability.
For Guild and Glory!
As you can see, Strength can be a powerful attribute in your arsenal. It’s a color that lends itself well to all major archetypes, from the most aggressive of Aggro decks to even grindy Control decks. It’s an attribute with many unique and game changing abilities, but it also leans heavily on other attributes for versatility and sustainability. In a later series, we will take a closer look at the classes that include Strength and how the interplay of colors can create some powerful archetypes. For now, whether you are wanting to bash in your opponent’s face or make them play the game by your rules, Strength is the blood-red color of choice. Time to fight!