The Consume Mechanic and the Imbued in The Elder Scrolls Legends
Triggering the Consume Mechanic
For this to work, you will simply need at least one creature in your discard pile when you play the necromancer. This can be problematic when you are attempting to play a necromancer on-curve during the early game with no creatures in your discard pile. There is also a 5-cost card in the blue intelligence attribute, Memory Wraith, that your opponent can play to banish your entire discard pile. You should be aware of these intricacies when playing a deck with the consume mechanic.
Implications of Removing a Card from Your Discard Pile
The fact that you need to remove a creature from your discard pile also results in a small draw back. The creature you consume will leave play and will not be available for any discard pile recursion (see Discard Pile Tutors). Since you can most often control the card getting consumed, this should normally not be too much of an issue.
However, this naturally restricts the number of creatures with consume in decks with discard pile recursion. In addition, some win conditions like Flesh Atronach will also not be a good idea for consume-heavy decks.
But the game designers at Sparkypants have given us an additional trick for consume. A few newly released creatures provide an additional positive effect when they are consumed. This seems like a fair payback to players using consume mechanics and could make consume one of the most powerful mechanics in the game. But we are jumping ahead: more details on this mechanic will follow after a more detailed look at the benefits of consume…
Benefits of the Consume Mechanic
In terms of benefits, a wide range of consume cards have been revealed. Let’s look at some of them and compare them to similar cards that already exist in the game. Please note that the following subsections do not aim to provide a complete list, but rather a selection of options.
Buffing Creatures – Create Token Powerhouses with the Consume Mechanic
Mercenary Captain will give your other creatures in play a +1/+1 buff when he consumes a creature. This is similar to Empire Oathman (the Mercenary is easier to trigger, while Empire Oathman has better stats) and to Resolute Ally (Resolute Ally buffs creatures in one lane only, is cheaper but requires a very yellow-heavy deck to trigger). Both already see a lot of play and nothing less can be expected from Mercenary Captain.
Damaging/ Removing Creatures
Skeletal Mage consumes a creature and deals damage equal to the consumed creature’s power to an opponent‘s creature. Skeletal Mage allows you to select the creature you are targeting to damage. In contrast, Brutal Ashlander deals a fixed amount of damage to a random enemy. Another card to compare the skeleton to is Icy Shambles. The shambles deals 2 damage to and shackles a creature and only costs 4 magicka.
In terms of cost, Skeletal Mage is possibly best compared to the unique legendary Ancano, who deals 5 points of face damage or breakthrough damage to a creature. While Ancano is one of the best cards in the game, Skeletal Mage doesn’t allow you to deal face damage and comes with slightly lower stats. The skeleton does however have some upsides as it can deal more than 5 damage to a creature, can be played as a three of in your deck, and can be tutored with Wake the Dead. With some help from Imbued Minotaur (or other means, such as Berserker of the Pale), the skeleton can even get the breakthrough keyword, just like Ancano.
Dealing Damage to Your Opponent
If you are looking for reach, Enraged Dragonknight might be the necromancer you are looking for. The 4-cost Imperial deals 2 points of damage to your opponent’s face when she consumes a creature. As a downside, she also deals 2 damage to you, which you might like when playing a prophecy deck. Equipped with stats of 5/4, she also demands an immediate answer from your opponent. Unfortunately, she dies easily to Lightning Bolt.
When you compare her to Afflicted Alit, a 2-cost 3/1 with a similar effect, she comes with only slightly better stats for two more magicka. Fighters Guild Berserker can also provide these 2 points of reach, but requires an Expertise trigger. And finally, Camlorn Hero, a 3-cost 4/2, also deals two damage to your opponent (and only your opponent), when summoned. Both Afflicted Alit and Camlorn Hero are played in Prophecy Battlemage. Enraged Dragonknight, however, might be too greedy to include there, as the deck prefers to runs prophecy cards in slots above the cost of 4.
Shackle a Creature
Illicit Butcher consumes a creature to shackle an enemy creature. Maybe you want to prevent that drain creature from attacking, or a lethal creature from killing one of your own. The Wood Elf might help in these cases. Is she good though? Well, she is more easily triggered than Ash Oppressor and comes with similar stats. However, she costs one magicka more, and that’s really not great. Nix-Hound Fabricant sees no play despite him having drain because of his difficult trigger condition. And for 5 magicka, Giant Snake can already shackle an entire lane for you. Whether this leaves a spot for Illicit Butcher in tempo Assassin, Dominion, Empire or Dagoth remains to be seen…
Draw a Creature back from Discard Pile to Hand
When you have two creatures with the same name in your discard pile, Boneweaver can consume one of them and draw the other to hand. Not very easy to pull off? Slow? Indeed! When you try to do this for the Nereid Sisters or Belligerent Giant, for example, it will feel very clunky.
However, what if you had a Mentor’s Ring in hand and desperately needed a Nord Firebrand back to give your creature(s) charge? Or maybe a Baandari Opportunist to add more card draw to your deck? Or a Back-Alley Footpad to give one of your creatures in field lane cover? Maybe you can find some other interesting synergies here…
Deck-Cycling to Fill Your Discard Pile
It could be challenging to have a creature already in your discard pile to trigger a necromancer’s consume ability early on in the game. Dro-m’Athra Reaper, for example, is a 2-cost necromancer. Played on curve, you might have issue triggering her consume effect, as you have to have played a creature on the previous and it must go to your discard pile before you can trigger the consume effect. Pretty challenging if your opponent doesn’t play anything into field lane to trade into.
But there is help. Deck cycling cards allow you to discard cards from deck or from hand. This puts creatures into your graveyard even earlier on in the game, without putting up a fight. Scout’s Report and Studiosus Greybeard are 1-cost cards that can do this trick for you. Intelligence has another option to achieve this with Palace Conspirator, a 2-cost Dark Elf. Agility has the famous Cornerclub Gambler, and Endurance is now getting Seeker of the Black Arts. Merchant’s Camel is probably the Ferrari among the deck-cycling cards in Legends, but each one of them will do the trick.
Consume the Imbued
The consume mechanic has additional synergy with a few special creatures, “The Imbued” (as well as Ill-Fated Scholar and Crocodile Brute). They can equip your necromancer with a buff, a keyword or provide additional synergistic effects when they are consumed.
The Imbued Argonian is a 1-cost 1/3 guard in Endurance who provides the consuming creature with a +1/+1 buff and guard. This can be particularly helpful when your opponent is going face and you have no other guard in hand.
The Imbued Bosmer from Agility functions in a similar way, but provides the consuming creature with lethal instead of guard. This can be helpful if you need to remove one of your opponent’s threats.
In Willpower, we get the Imbued Khajiit who provides the buff plus drain. In Strength, we get the Imbued Minotaur who provides your necromancer with +1/+1 and Breakthrough, and in Intelligence, we get the Imbued Breton, who provides your consuming creature with ward.
Neutral Consume Targets with additional Benefits
Finally, Ill-Fated Scholar summons a 3/2 Insidious Spirit directly to the board when you consume her. A nice tempo play that saves three magicka and immediately improves your board presence.
Crocodile Brute, a 2/2 Reptile with prophecy allows you to draw an extra card when it gets consumed. While a 2/2 for 2 is certainly not the greatest body, the card does provide an interesting option to increase your prophecy count and can also provide additional resource extension at a later stage in the game.
While running a wide range of imbued creatures provides a bit more flexibility when you get all of them to the graveyard, certain necromancers combo better with specific imbued creatures. Here is a (deliberately incomplete) list of synergies you might want to consider:
- Skeletal Mage consumes Imbued Bosmer to remove a creature of any size that is not immune to lethal.
- Skeletal Mage consumes Imbued Minotaur to deal 5 points of breakthrough damage. This can remove a guard, while still pushing for more face damage.
- Black Worm Neophyte consumes Imbued Bosmer to summon a lethal 1/1 Skeleton that can trade favorably into an opponent’s creature.
- Black Worm Neophyte consumes Imbued Argonian to summon a 1/1 skeleton with guard that can potentially prevent one attack to your face.
- Boneweaver consumes Imbued Bosmer to ideally summon two lethal creatures.
- …and there are definitely more…
Retriggering the Consume Mechanic
The summon effect is arguably the strongest effect on creature cards to date. It triggers immediately and unconditionally after you play the creature. Most consume effects are also triggered as summon effects, in the form “Summon: Consume a creature…”. This allows you to re-trigger the consume effect using cards such as A Night to Remember, Dark Rebirth, Fleeting Apparition, Winterhold Illuisionist, Doppelganger, Abnur Tharn or Ulfric’s Uprising. With Ulfric’s Uprising in particular, there is a good chance that you will end up banishing your entire discard pile before the triggers resolve.
However, there are also consume effects that are not triggering via a summon effect. Senche Graveprowler, for example, triggers its consume effect through the Pilfer mechanic.
Consume vs. Last Gasp
While consume effects trigger when a creature is summoned and a creature in your discard pile is removed, a last gasp effect is triggered when a card (usually a creature) is destroyed. Although there are a few exceptions, last gasp effects are usually seen in control decks. You can use powerful creatures with a last gasp effect to control your opponent’s game plan.
The consume mechanic, however, incentivizes a proactive game plan. Your necromancer enters play to fight next turn and to survive for another, as this will get you additional value. Note, that last gasp effects can be counter-played by silencing the creature, while most consume effects take immediate effect when triggered via summon successfully.
Summary – Quo Vadis, Necromancy?
Moons of Elsweyr provides many new cards with the consume mechanic. They are themed around necromancy, which many players find intriguing in of itself. Some of them will work better in consume theme decks, as they rely on synergy with the imbued creatures. Others, however, will work as standalone inclusions in existing decks. One prominent example is probably Alfiq Conjurer who is designed as an inclusion to an Atronach deck.
With so little time before the release of Moons of Elsweyr, I am sure you have already wrapped your heads around some of the necromancers you might want to use. This article hopefully provided a good overview of the mechanic and the cards you might want to include in your deck. In less than a day, we will see how it feels to be a necromancer in Legends! Please do leave a comment, if you find other consume effects even more interesting and tell us what you think about the mechanic in general.