Training Grounds is the Monthly Reward card for February 2019. The 4-cost, neutral support card comes as an epic. The card comes with a buff-effect for tribal decks:
When you summon a creature, give it +1/+1 if it shares a type with the top creature in your deckTraining Grounds’ special ability
If you made it into the top 1,000 Legends you received three premium copies of the cards. This is a great incentive from Bethesda, as these would otherwise cost 4,800 soul gems in total.
Now, let’s see – is this card any good? The majority of people on twitter and reddit said that it is currently not a competitively viable card. As usual, I will use Quadrant Theory to evaluate the card in detail and share some ideas for uses and synergies as well. But let’s look at some similar cards, first.
Comparison to Similar Cards
The most obvious card to compare with is Divine Fervor. The following table provides an overview.
|Divine Fervor||Fifth Legion |
|Buff||+1/ +1||+1/ +1||+1/ +0|
|When?||for a creature |
|for friendly creatures|
in play (before & after)
for a creature
|Buff after |
|Buff stays after|
|Buff removed |
|Buff stays after FLT removed|
|Buff after buff |
|Buff removed||Buff stays||Buff removed|
|Conditions?||Buffed only, if|
creature shares same type as
top creature in
your draw deck
|None. Affects all friendly|
None. Affects all friendly
| Willpower |
|Accessible for classes||All||Mono-Yellow, |
| Mono-Yellow, |
In other words: Training Grounds works only with newly summoned creatures, but is a little cheaper and accessible to all colors. It does require a deck that predominantly runs creatures of only a single tribe. It should be highlighted that the +1/+1 buff stays after Training Grounds is removed, while the buffs of Divine Fervor are gone.
You basically might consider to run Training Grounds in decks that have a vast, vast majority of creatures of one particular type, e.g. ideally an all-Imperials deck, an all-Dwemer deck, etc. Equally, you want the buff to be applied to as many creatures as possible, i.e. a wide board, like in Token decks.
A special case is not so relevant today, but might (hopefully?!) become more relevant in the future: when the top creature of your deck is a Double Card with two creatures of different types. In this case, Training Grounds already procs when one of them is of a matching type (see our article on Double Cards).
Training Grounds during Opening
A +1/+1 buff to lots of your creatures can be a big thing. Howerver, during Opening, Training Grounds is not having an immediate effect on your creatures (unlike Divine Fervor has). Thus, Training Grounds does not promote the same aggressive openings that Divine Fervor sometimes can provide. Additionally, there is a risk of the buff not being applied to your creatures, because they don’t match in type. In general: You always want to play Training Grounds first, and then summon loads of creatures of a specific, matching type thereafter. This is pretty similar to Fifth Legion Trainer, however, FTL is way cheaper and also promotes an aggressive opening. Training Grounds appears to be designed more for slower aggro/ mid-range decks.
Can you take the tempo-loss?
Training Grounds can often be a tempo-loss, which is significant when you are facing an Aggro-player. The additional one or two rounds or two of attacks during opening can make a big difference to your health points. It might not be such a big issue against a removal-based control player, as there is nothing for them to remove yet.
Training Grounds at Parity
At Parity, both players have run out-of cards and have to rely on their top-deck. In this situation, you can distinguish two cases: the board is empty or filled with a somewhat even amount of creatures.
If the board is empty, Training Grounds does not allow you to regain board control, but can set you up for a better tribal future.
If the board is filled, you will hopefully be able to clear out your opponent’s creatures and wait for your next top deck. You definitely will need some good card draw. In this case, Divine Fervor would have been the better inclusion for your deck.
Training Grounds when Winning
In the Winning phase of the game, you have already established some board control or at least control over a lane. In this case, Training Grounds does not affect the creatures you already have on board.
Sometimes you might have your opponent on a 2-turn clock, but your creatures are a little bit “worn out” from earlier fights. With a health between 1-3 they are potentially in danger of an Ice Storm board-clear. If you play Training Grounds with one or two cheaper creatures still in hand, you might be able to get the newly summoned ones out of range of an Ice Storm or a Lightning Bolt. This might allow you to keep pressuring your opponent.
To summarise, in this phase, Divine Fervor is a much better card to include in your deck, as it increased the fighting power of your creatures immediately.
Training Grounds when Losing
When you are in need of a turnaround, Training Grounds will also have no impact on your creatures on board, assuming you even have some there. In this situation, your opponent is likely going to start to break some runes and the cards being drawn from there will certainly be in a better position to fight, assuming they are Guards. Thus, in a more Guard-oriented tribal deck, ideally with lots of Prophecies, Training Grounds could have a positive impact.
If your deck can run Divine Fervors, you would probably be better off running the yellow support in your deck…
Synergies for Training Grounds
With the results from Quadrant Theory in mind, let’s look at the synergies. Definitely, Training Grounds ONLY makes sense in tribal decks with loads of creatures of the same type. After the release of Isle of Madness, we looked at Tribal synergies already for the card review of Ring of Lordship. Which tribes would theoretically allow you to build a deck of solely one tribe? The following pictures shows the available number of creatures per Class/ House and per type.
The table above (full version here) certainly does not specify whether the tribe has particularly good or synergistic creatures. But it provides a comprehensive overview of what to consider first. Also, the table does not show any creature pseudo-tutors that summon only creatures of a specific type. Please use it only as a first indication.
Mono Neutral Tribal Decks
|Mono-Neutral Tribe||Maximum Available Number of |
Creatures for a Tribal Deck
Dwemer, Reachman, Factotums and Imperfects are the 4 tribes that currently only exist in Neutral (grey color). As of this writing, there are 19 different Dwemer creatures (including Reflective Automaton that has all creature types). Since one of them is unique, you have a maximum of 55 Dwemer creatures available for your deck. Theoretically. For Factotums it is 13, thus you would need 37 items, actions or supports to build a valid dual-color deck. Thus, all mono-neutral tribes, except for Dwemer, will most likely not be viable at this point in time. For Dwemer decks, however, you already have the explosive +3/+0 support Halls of the Dwemer that is your win condition in all Dwemer decks.
Imperial Token Decks
Imperial Token decks have a yellow core around Fifth Legion Trainer, Marked Man, Scouting Patrol, Crassius’ Favor, Priest of the Eight, Penitus Oculatus Agent, Imperial Reinforcements to name a few. The unique Legate Rikke has amazing synergy with Imperials. And with a wide board, Imperial Siege Engine can become a pretty big threat as well. As discussed above, Divine Fervor is probably oftentimes much more effective for Imperial Token decks, as it affects an existing board of tokens in the same positive way than one that has been built already before.
Skeletons can be found in Endurance and Intelligence. With 43 – 46 of them, you can build Skeleton Training Grounds decks. Similarly to the Imperial tribe, Skeletons also have a few ways of summoning multiple Skeletons at once, e.g. Prophet of Bones (although he himself is a Dark Elf), Bone Colossus plus they have one of the best creature tutors in the game: Wake the Dead. One could even use Wake the dead to include a few copies of some Spirits in the deck to have greater versatility.
Nord / Werewolf Crusader Training Grounds
Unsurprisingly, Crusader has a very high density of Nords to pick from. With Werewolves, like Child of Hircine and actions like Unstoppable Rage, these decks are already pretty strong and fun in a mid-range or control build. Adding Training Grounds might allow for an additional buff to both the Nord. You could build a deck similar to Aela’s Companions deck that can be acquired with gold in the store. Below is an example with a Skeleton-flavour where you attempt to tutor your Skeletons with Wake the Dead to thin your deck for some additional versatility via Hallowed Deathpriest, Skinned Hound, or Bone Colossus as a finisher.
Deck code: SPAHovdRhNafcmrrcdAFfRkahUflqRALmGdepDlqduhEirrjagrI
Dark Elf Conscription Decks
In general, Dark Elves are a pretty strong creature type, as they have powerful Summon or Last Gasp effects. A Telvanni Training Ground Conscription deck that runs Dark Elves only is an interesting option to explore. Equally, a Rally-and Exalt-based Dark Elf Tribunal is another interesting option to experiment with. Below are a few first ideas – please don’t use them for laddering straight away – they only show ideas.
A Goblin deck can definitely benefit from Training Grounds. In the past, Goblin decks have been extremely explosive and were able to win the game by turn 4 or 5. With Balance Patch 2.5, however, the cost increase of Goblin Skulk has made the class suffer a lot. Nowadays, you need to play Goblin decks a little bit slower than you used to. You can plan to play Goblin Skulk on turn three, fetching Murkwater Goblins, followed by a Training Grounds on turn 4. This can create very wide boards quickly, and the Ring of Lordship can add a nice twist as well. Below is a first deck idea. You may want to check our Goblin Archer article for more info on this archetype.
The 6-cost Dragon Mound turns all creatures in your deck into dragons. Sometimes, your opponent can disrupt the game plan of your Token deck. For example, they might be able to clear one lane or even both of all your creature tokens and have effectively stabilized the board. Usually, at this point of Parity, your opponent will start to get bigger (Guard) creatures onto the board that your tokens, even in combination with Divine Fervor cannot really harm, because they are too small. In this case,
Orc Warrior Training Grounds
Orcs are another tribe that already provides pretty strong decks today. Usually the game plan of this aggressive tribe relies on lots of good fighters being played every turn. Many decks of that type are already the 3-cost support Chieftain’s banner, that adds a +0/+2 buff allowing you to trade your Orcs more favorably. Similarly to Divine Fervor, Chieftain’s banner also buffs an existing board. Replacing maybe one copy of Chieftain’s banner could probably be an alternative consideration for Orc Warrior decks.
Training Grounds is not as aggressive as Divine Fervor. I think of it more as a neutral Fifth Legion trainer for mid-range tribal decks. The Legends card pool has a few tribes that are big enough to leverage this design space. As more creatures are being added to the various tribes, additional decks might emerge. The card is an attempt to push dual-color tribal decks a little bit higher up. I personally doubt, that the design of the card is enough to have a competitive tribal deck emerge next month or so. But with more double cards (Dark Elf, Nords, Imperials, Orc, …) this can be an interesting design space for the folks at Sparkypants.
Please let us know your ideas. Did we miss anything? Please share your comments below!