The Prophecy Mechanic
The Elder Scrolls: Legends (TESL) is an award winning, online, multiplayer collectible card game (CCG); and rightfully so. TESL brings many new ideas and mechanics to the world of CCG’s. One of these new mechanics is the prophecy mechanic. The prophecy mechanic allows some cards to be played for free during the opponent’s turn; similar to Instant/Flash spells in Magic: the Gathering, but still different in their own way.
Runes and Prophecies
Before understanding fully how prophecy cards work, the idea of Runes must first be understood at their very base. Runes are also a new addition seen in The Elder Scrolls: Legends; players start at thirty health with a rune mark at every five health. When one of these runes is broken, the player who’s rune was broken draws a card.
If a player heals beyond thirty life, they will not gain new runes for each additional five life. Some cards, such as Mechanical Heart or Morokei, the Deathless can restore runes, but without them, only five runes can be broken.
How do prophecies or prophecy cards tie into this idea of runes? The mechanic is actually really interesting. If a prophecy is the top card on a player’s deck when their rune is broken, they get to play that card for free. They don’t have to play it, but often times it does help out. Similarly to instant spells or flash creatures in Magic: the Gathering, these can often win games.
Many decks use prophecy cards simply as an added bonus, but some decks utilize prophecies by being built around them. Control decks utilize prophecy cards such as Piercing Javelin or the above Shrieking Harpy to stall their opponent’s game plan. Prophecy Burn Assassin and Prophecy Battlemage (Prophecy BM) are the most common, but there are others.
Prophecy decks are aggressive for two main reasons. 1) Prophecy decks lack card draw options. 2) Prophecy decks don’t have the resiliency that other decks would like to have; their creatures tend to have low health and high attack. It is also for these reasons that prophecy decks run unconventional cards such as Ransack or even Cast Out.
One of the best card draw tools for prophecy decks is Fate Weaver. At worst this is a 3/3 body for 6 mana that replaces itself by drawing a card. It is at best a 6 mana 3/3 with the text, “Play the top card of your deck for free.” A Fate Weaver + Ransack combo for lethal is very unconventional, but it’s also what makes Prophecy decks so different from typical aggressive decks. They have to do things unconventionally.
Prophecy decks tend to be popular when aggro decks become prominent on ladder. Prophecies allow players to play cards for free, which is a great counter to aggressive strategies.
Prophecy Deck Matchups – Aggro
Every match up is different; as a prophecy deck against aggressive opponents, it is crucial to know when to attack and when to play defensively. Against aggressive opponents, if they are unable to properly identify the match up, prophecy players can play up to eight cards for free.
When an opponent tries to race, it is important to recognize if there is a potential of winning the race. If there is a high chance of winning the race, don’t worry about trading, just push as much damage as possible.
When there is a a low chance of winning the race, it’s time to start playing defensively. There are two main ways to determine your chances of winning. First, know your deck. Second, are you ahead or behind on board? If you are behind on board, don’t try to push damage, try to regain board control and stop the aggression toward face.
There is a time, when behind on board, to continue attacking, and that is when playing against a token deck. These decks run small creatures and often want to play defensively against other aggressive decks. Let the opponent make trades, whilst pushing as much damage as possible.
Prophecy Deck Matchups – Midrange/Control
Prophecy decks are almost always aggressive, because they don’t have the proper tools to play defensively. It is for this reason that piloting the deck in the Midrange and Control matchups can have almost no difference. The idea of midrange is to be able to adapt to almost any situation. Against aggressive decks, midrange always plays defensively.
Control decks almost always resist attacking face, which makes this matchup a little bit harder. Sometimes to stabilize with drain creatures, they may have to do some damage. Similarly, midrange decks will tend to do the same against prophecy decks.
This is not ideal for prophecy decks; they want to be playing cards for free off of rune breaks. A deck filled with prophecies is redundant if the opponent isn’t breaking runes.
With a lack of many card draw options, prophecy decks have to be careful not to dump their hand in either of these matchups. Prophecy burn decks have to worry less about this, but if the opponent begins to heal out of burn range, it’s game over.
Prophecy Deck Matchups – The Mirror Match
Some cards remain staple to Prophecy decks, but the ones that aren’t staple can easily be interchanged for anything else that makes sense. In the mirror match, the game usually goes to the player with better defensive options. The best way to pilot the mirror match is to focus on keeping cards in hand and trading. Eventually one player has to begin attacking, but that usually happens when they have developed a strong board. But, it is important to only break one rune after achieving board control.
Developing a strong board with prophecy decks can be hard, but it is definitely possible. Prophecy Burn decks win the prophecy mirror by attacking the opponent down to burn range, whilst also defending themselves enough to stay alive.
The prophecy mechanic is relatively new to card games, along with Runes. These mechanics can both be seen in The Elder Scrolls: Legends. Prophecies are very good cards that can turn the tides of a game in one turn. Most decks run prophecies because they are good, and even better when they can be played for free, but some some decks are built entirely around the prophecy mechanic.