Icy Shambles is a new card that will be available with Isle of Madness. The Skeleton creature was already revealed during the Festival of Madness a little while ago. Today, it can already be generated and played using Madness Beckons.
Icy Shambles is a blue 4-cost 2/3 Skeleton that deals 2 damage to a creature when summoned. In addition, any creature that’s damaged by Icy Shambles will also be shackled. Let’s evaluate the card, using Quadrant Theory (see Quadrant Theory in The Elder Scrolls Legends Deck Building).
Icy Shambles – Great Tempo-Play during Opening
During the Opening phase of the game, Icy Shambles is very powerful. Granted, for a cost of four magicka you are not getting the greatest stats onto the board. Sure, your opponent can remove a 2/3 easily with a Lightning Bolt or Crushing Blow. But, Icy Shambles has an immediate impact on the board to either remove or damage and shackle a creature. This provides tempo and can help you deal with threats in the Shadow Lane very elegantly. Even cross-lane interactions are possible, which might be important as Mania and Dementia become a thing after turn 5 or 6. All in all, Icy Shambles is a card your opponent wants to remove pretty quickly, as it has some dangerous synergies.
Slowing Things down at Parity
At Parity, Icy Shambles is not necessarily the most powerful card, but it can still have some pretty good uses. It does have an immediate impact on the board and can remove or slow-down one of your opponent’s creatures. Of course, if your opponent has no creatures on board, then you surely have to consider keeping Icy Shambles in your hand for a little bit longer. Definitely make sure to remove something or or leverage the Skeleton’s shackle-effect, whatever is tactically more viable.
So, while Icy Shambles is not the best at Parity, it still can find good uses at this stage of the game as it can basically buy you time, while your are looking for your big finisher.
Keeping Momentum when Winning
What’s true for Parity, similarly applies to the Winning quadrant. Icy Shambles is definitely not the perfect draw or play, but in certain situations, it does allow you to shackle something big or to remove something small. Applied properly, this can help to nail down one of your opponent’s creatures to the board, which they could otherwise use to trade into one of your threats. This might buy you that second swing with your full board that you might need to close the game.
Slowing Things down for a Turnaround
When you are losing the game and need a turnaround, Icy Shambles ideally allows you to get one or two additional turns by shackling your opponent’s most fearsome threats. The Skeleton is a really great tool to deal with threats in the Shadow Lane. First turn, you get to shackle a big creature hiding in the shadows. Second turn, you can attack that creature again and shackle or even remove it. This can substantially slow down your opponent’s creatures.
With the new Mania lane effect, Icy Shambles can also help you to regain control over that lane. You can even play it to the other lane and still reduce the health of a creature in Mania.
Icy Shambles has good use across all phases of a game. Particularly, it is a great tempo play that can let you gain board control during Opening. If you are facing an aggressive deck, the Skeleton can substantially slow-down your opponent. This can not only help during opening, but also when you need a turnaround or if you have stabilized the game at parity. The weakest quadrant for Icy Shambles is the winning quadrant, although it can provide some utility there. when it can shackle a creature that your opponent would otherwise you to trade against your creatures. Based on this assessment, we can surely expect to see a good amount of play. Particularly, because Icy Shambles is a good tool to deal with threats in the Shadow Lane or across lanes.
With this, let’s see what other cards have some synergy with Icy Shambles. The following section should offer some ideas as you are attempting to build a deck to give this new card a permanent home.
Dres Tormentor, the Dark Elf that deals 3 damage to a creature being shackled, has always been a source of inspiration for Shackle decks. If equipped with Assassin’s Ritual, Dres Tormentor is safe from Lighting Bolts and even removes most creatures, due to the Lethal attribute. Icy Shambles can fit nicely into Tormentor decks and help in removing multiple even bigger threats.
With Quicksilver Crossbow and Sword of the Inferno, Battlemage or Dagoth have multiple items available, that allow Icy Shambles to “ping”-shackle another creature. Even in Dagoth, Archer’s Gambit can help out. This is another option for cross-lane interactions to slow-down your opponent. Also, this might help to gain or switch control over Mania or Dementia as these two new lane effects get available.
Skeleton Tribal Synergy
Since Icy Shambles is also a Skeleton, it will benefit from Skeleton synergy. Bone Collossus, who we lovingly call “Bone Daddy”, gives all other friendly skeletons a nice +1/+1 buff while he is in play. Similarly, but only when summoned, does Skeleton Champion buff the Skeletons in play when he is summoned. However, the shackle effect of Icy Shambles might allow for some favorable trades. And with Grim Champion in play, Shambles removal might actually buff him up a little bit. Thus far, Skeleton decks have not been particularly viable in ranked or tournament play. Adding Icy Shambles into the equation might push these a little bit, but it’s probably not enough.
Tutoring Icy Shambles
Since Icy Shambles does slow down your opponent, control decks might want to pull Icy Shambles from their deck or revive the Skeleton from their discard pile. For blue decks, Genius Pathmage and Laaneth can fetch Shambles directly from your deck. In Sorcerer or Telvanni, Falkreath Defiler and Odirniran Necromancer can revive the Shambles from your discard pile.
There can obviously be more options for Icy Shambles. Depending on the other cards we will get from the new Isle of Madness expansion, it is possible, that Shambles does see some play in midrange or control decks and it certainly fits well in some fun meme-decks as well.