Hello everyone, Shpelley here! Welcome to our continuing series of Unleashed Set Reviews. As our runner-up on the poll, the next Grand Alliance we’ll cover is… Order! Let’s get this all in Order and see what Unleashed has brought us. Spoiler: Aelves and Snakes abound!
The Champions of Order are an interesting bunch. From a flavour-level perspective, I think a lot of these feel good. However, there is a bit of clunkiness to some of the cards that doesn’t feel quite as good as Chaos did in our previous review.
- Bloodwrack Shrine – My feelings on this card are very mixed. The trait on this card is very good. An extra 2 damage per Spell in an Alliance that has access to plenty of 1-2 corner Spells has some potential. At 7 points / +1 life, the card is costed well, especially with the power of the trait. The problem is, as will become a pattern, the Quest line.
The first corner, Removal, is “encouraged” through pressure on the opponent to play across from it to avoid triggering the trait. That works in theory, but faces the same issue as Evocator Prime; most people favour preventing Quest completion, and when you have a Spell out, you can’t Remove anything (under most circumstances).
Early Ability corners on Wizards are easy to deal with now, especially when Forgotten Arts pushes it forward, all the way through the Spell corner and Order has Celestial Fate as a premium Ability to pack in Wizard-focused decks. The Ulgu Spell corner feels…oddly specific. I feel like with Removal as the first corner, having this also require specific Realm requirements is a bit much, and none of those Spells really has synergy with what else is going on. At least the Damage final corner gets resolved by either Geminids or other generic 1-2 damage Spells.
All of the griping about the Quest aside, it all comes down to one thing: how reliably can you trigger its trait? If you get 3-4 activations of its trait, you basically have a free Frenzied Order or Divine Blast. This one will need a lot of testing to see where it falls.
- Fanatical Handmaiden – Another okay Champion marred by an awkward Quest line. The trait on this card is pretty good, but Removal is still awkward for Aelves to get around without your opponent playing along. Presumably, Mutilating Witch, Sinister Sister of Slaughter and Devotee of Khaine (which are covered in the Units section) can help you trigger that Removal corner. Unfortunately, outside of Devotee, none of these belong in an offensive deck which Handmaiden is clearly hoping to be in. Made worse by the lack of Damage corners, meaning this is almost certainly a 4 Action Quest. Not a fan.
- Furious Hag Queen – A generic-Unit, low-cost Champion in Order with an okay bonus and even a +1 HP. The devil is in the details here. This is, again, another 4-Action Quest in Order. The generic, low-cost Warrior Quest in all the factions seems to be Unit->Ability->Damage->Unit or Unit->Damage->Ability->Unit, meaning typically 3-Action Quests.
On the other hand, I see them not wanting to repeat the mistakes of Bloodreaver Chieftain. Part of Bloodreaver’s issues though are in part due to how Last Stand: Deal 2 damage makes the second corner basically inevitable, which they have taken great pains to not give Order with their new Last Stand guys. The other weird part is that this is a strict non-combo with Last Stand, which just seems strange given the themes in this set.
Overall, this is still a good filler Champion, it just feels like a missed opportunity for maybe something a little better.
- Krylla, Slaughter Queen – I actually like this Champion reasonably well. Krylla’s trait is a great “on-demand” Last Stand enabler, and a reasonable alternative to the more expensive Morathi. At 9 points and no modifier, she seems well-costed for a Warrior/Wizard.
Her quest feels slightly awkward, however, as she doesn’t want you deploying anything on her for at least 2 corners. The Spell corner isn’t an awful start, as Mindrazor (discussed later) is a fine first play and encourages playing lots of Aelves which it wants to enabler later. The Ability corner next feels…awkward, but is also subject to Forgotten Arts at least. Unit is always good, followed by another Ability seems unnecessarily inefficient, though. It would have been nicer if the second corner was a Unit at least. Also seems strange that none of the corners are Removal considering this Champion can actually push through those well.
Overall? Seems like it could be interesting, especially if more Last Stand Units make their way into Order.
- Master of Warlocks – I love this Champion. While his trait has a downside, it can be worked around by keeping him in the middle or putting him next to a lesser-trafficked Champion (or just using Thunderstrike). Even his costs, 6 points and no health penalty on a Wizard is pretty good. His “real” trait, however, is that he Quests. Fast.
Spell -> Damage is very easy to pull off with all the 1-2 corner Spells Order can bring to bear. Even if they Remove the first Spell, one of your other ones can probably clean up the Damage corner immediately. Ability -> Spell as the final 2 means that Forgotten Arts can snag both for a quick flip, or Celestial Fate can help you pick up a Spell to complete the final corner.
There isn’t much else to say. It’s a really solid Champion who can help enable Order Wizards better than most others.
- Morathi, High Oracle / Morathi, Shadow Queen – Morathi is both an amazing Champion and kind of a frustrating one for me. Her Heroic Act is a powerhouse. Removing up to 3 Units to deal 2 each (up to 6) and trigger Last Stand effects (and clearing off Units to help speed up a Quest potentially) is probably the most powerful Last Stand enabler you can ask for. Add in Azyrite Halo for an absolutely vicious combo, and it’s easy to see the power potential of the card. I wish some of her Last Stand Units were a bit more up to snuff, but even without the synergy she is pretty strong.
As a 12 cost Wizard (initially, at least) and no health bonus, she comes with a pretty steep price tag for her power. I wouldn’t mind a 1 point decrease to let her play with some of the new 5-cost Champions, but otherwise she seems to justify herself.
Her flip-side is also fairly decent. The added trait is actually nice to have as an option in an otherwise aggressive deck if you find yourself needing to go on the defensive (it’s especially good vs. a flipped Total Carnage or Unrivalled Battle-Lust). Going from Wizard to Warrior/Wizard definitely helps, and has a really nice Quest. In fact, it’s so nice, I wish the front side had it! Being a Warrior/Wizard on the other half also means that you can get the full 3 Units in her effect without Leaping Sister shenanigans.
The only real issue I have with her, and the other Unleashed cards honestly, is the initial Quest line. If those first two corners were just switched, you might actually want to Unleash her! As it stands, by the time you end up Questing her, it’s often getting closer to the end of the game. It also doesn’t “flow” naturally. Instead of opening up with a Mindrazor or Halo, you’re encouraged to blow an early activation of her Ability or have a Leaping Slaughter Sister hop over to her (and delaying her playing any Spells). Outside of that initial corner, having 2 Spells in a row also feels a little hard to come by in a deck that already wants a bunch of Units to sacrifice to her Heroic Act.
Overall, a real build-around-me card that can help define an archetype.
- Triumphant Slaughter Queen – I’m not sure how to evaluate this one. Her Heroic Act is obviously quite strong. Being able to straight-up Remove a Unit across from her obviously is pretty strong. On the other hand, that kind of puts her at the mercy of the opponents to play in front of her, or play Beat Back. I can also see it being easier to trigger by running something like Helsabre Ishlaen Guard in a Lotann-focused build. At 10 points and +2 health modifier for a Warrior/Wizard, it’s actually pretty nice to have, though it does preclude using it with more expensive, premiere Champions.
Quest-wise, it isn’t too bad. Unit -> Remove when it has a built-in Removal is a lot easier to stomach than on other Champions. Ability -> Removal on a Warrior/Wizard means you can either skip the Quest via Forgotten Arts, or Beat Back into Heroic Act can do the trick.
Overall, not a true “build-around” card but I could see it being useful, especially as a 5th Champion in Pitched.
- Vengeful Gorgai – A pretty standard filler Champion for Melusai. The trait is relatively situational, synergizing best with the big discard Aelf Units, Heart Seeker Blood Stalkers and Units buffed with Striking Blood Sisters (which makes sense, considering the Melusai/Aelf crossovers, though this isn’t an exhaustive list). At 4 cost and 0 health mod, it’s pretty reasonable. We don’t have a particularly large list of Melusai to trigger her final corner, but many of them are relatively reasonable. The standard Unit -> Ability -> Damage -> (Melusai) Unit fits the costs fine. There isn’t a lot to say about this one until we get more Melusai, but it’s definitely a reasonable filler card.
- Zealous Witch Hag – This card is very underwhelming for me. The trait is pretty lackluster, as it doesn’t interact with Last Stand at all (since it only triggers on Opponent’s Units being Removed), and most of the damage done in an Order deck is happening during rotation by Units. This means that outside of something like Helsabre, or a combination of cards like Triumphant Smash + Orgy of Slaughter, you aren’t going to be getting more than a 1 point or two out of its trait during a game. With a 5 points cost, -1 health Warrior price tag it’s already lackluster.
The final nail in the coffin is the Quest line. 3 damage corners isn’t terrible, especially with the number of 1/1/1 corner Aelves we have access to but that Removal corner means we need our opponent to work with us, or be running Beat Back (presumably on another Champion, as this one doesn’t want to be using Abilities). It’s also really strange as the trait cares about things being Removed, but by the time you want to use Removal, you’ve already completed your Quest and want to focus on questing with damage elsewhere.
Overall, probably my least favourite Order Champion.
The Blessings Order got this time are another mixed bag. We have 2 Blessings that I think are going to be staples in a lot of decks, 2 that are absolutely garbage, 1 that is so-so and 1 that doesn’t have a ton of support yet but has a lot of potential. Let’s break them down.
- Deathly Descent – The first of our duds. This card is what I’d call “emotionally taxing.” Killing everything sounds really good, right up until you realize you don’t have full control of your Blessings and when they flip. The fact that all it does is Remove stuff, without any other benefit, means that this card just has way too low of a floor value (not doing anything) to make its potentially high value ceiling worth it. If this did something when it missed, it would be a lot more reasonable.
- Fanatic Sacrifice – Now this is a great card. Drawing 3 cards instantly + minor upside is something Order wants. In aggressive decks, it helps you replenish without taking turns off, and in control it gives you more options. If you can squeeze a few points of damage out of it, all the better. I see this seeing play in a lot of decks.
- Idol of Worship – This is my “so-so” pick. It is very similar to a card in Chaos that doesn’t really see much play. With Morathi I can definitely see the appeal: saccing your guys fuels you up to sac even more guys. What it doesn’t do is help you close out a game you are winning or help you mount a proper comeback. Ideally, this is a sideboard card for a really grindy matchup, where it could end up drawing you a ton of cards. Probably not gonna see much digital play, but I’d love to see it used somewhere.
- Iron Heart of Khaine – The other possible-staple card. This card is a bit more specialized, seeing as reducing damage to 2 isn’t very good against lots of small damage. What it is good against is Spells, Chaos’s high-damaging Abilities, Royal Hunt, Unrivalled Battle-Lust, Total Carnage…. you get the idea. This card hoses a LOT of popular “game-ending” effects. This is exactly the power-level I think a defensive Blessing needs to be in this game: it actually makes a difference and can help you get back in a game. There will definitely be times where you flip this instead of Frenzied Order and are sad, but I think in a lot of places it is worth it. It probably also has a home in every sideboard ever in competitive play.
- Prison of the Gods – From one of the highest to possibly my least favourite card in the set. Prison of the Gods is awful. If you flip this early, you will gain between 0-3 health for a Blessing. I’d much rather have Healing Storm any day of the week. At least you know what you are getting with that. Do not play this card.
- Temple Nest Strike – I actually like this card, though it is a little under-supported right now. Dealing 9 damage over its lifetime is pretty reasonable, and drawing 3 cards is already Blessing-worthy. The issue it has now is that there isn’t a lot of call for a heavy-Melusai deck. As time goes on, if we see more good Melusai, I expect this will see play. Not much else to say, just keep this one in mind as time goes on.
Lots of interesting cards to cover here, with the addition of Last Stand as an Order mechanic for Aelves and the new Melusai tag which seem to be focused on card draw and bigger hits from what little we’ve seen thus far. Without further ado, let’s dig into it.
- Frenzied Witch Aelf – This is basically a Paladin Decimator who trims a damage off his final corner and trades it for the ability to return to your hand (after pinging you for 1) upon being Removed. I actually think this card isn’t too bad. It seems plain to me that this is expected to be used with someone like Morathi or Krylla to have a recurring damage threat.
- Grimaced Slaughter Sister – GSS probably has the single most powerful Last Stand effect in Order by drawing a card to replace itself with. It can be a little awkward to use properly, but with something like Mindrazor, Lotann and/or Battle Tactics (triggering it up to 3 times by itself), it can output a lot more damage than it seems. Has a lot of synergy with the card-drawing Melusai Units as well.
- Mutilating Witch – This card has all points against it. This card could have been a huge help when dealing with the preponderance of Removal corners on the new Order Champions, but it has been sabotaged. While Bloodfury Wrathmonger is a rare compared to this being a Common, it still has far too many downsides in comparison to see any real play. Being inactive on the first turn is probably okay, but not dealing any damage until the 3rd corner means this won’t end up seeing reasonable play. I’d have much preferred X/2/2, which would still be significantly weaker than Warmonger but still playable.
- Heart Seeker Blood Stalkers – A good, if somewhat generic, Unit. 5 damage over 3 corners is about or slightly above average, and the 4 on the end is clearly meant to trigger Vengeful Gorgai’s trait (and makes a well-placed Triumphant Smash even better). The passive effect likely doesn’t matter often, but is a nice bonus anyway. Overall, I like this.
- Spiteful Blood Sister – This is basically a “fixed” (weaker) Feasting Vargheist for Order. It draws cards sooner than Feasting does and can potentially draw 3 total, but trades that potential for not triggering any Quest corners except for the initial Unit one. It also has clear synergies with Grimaced Slaughter Sister. I’m not sure just how great it is right now, but drawing cards is a powerful effect. Not too bad all things considered.
- Stalker Krone – This is a WAY worse version of Feasting Vargheist, and actually worse than Spiteful Blood Sister most times. Not doing anything for 2 turns is basically glacial in this game. I suspect the interaction they are expecting to see is waiting one turn, followed by an Orgy of Slaughter to spin it quickly. Outside of that, however? This card is just too slow, even if it does draw 3 cards.
- Striking Blood Sister – This is a nice, offensive Last Stand enabler. Setting it up can sometimes be a little annoying, but if it triggers even once, it is 5 damage over 3 corners. If it triggers Last Stand, it feels a lot better. Personally I would have liked to see it do maybe a point of damage on its first corner, but overall I think this Unit could see some play (especially with more Last Stand).
- Bloodthirsty Witch Aelves – This card seems…weird to me. Between it and Spiteful Blood Sister, I guess there is a mini-theme of “when an opponent’s creature Exhausts, do X” but that isn’t a particularly strong mechanic to hinge something off. At X/2/2 the card itself is playable, and if you can get a backwards rotation off, it can certainly dish out respectable damage. The timing on this card can be kind of awkward, especially against 2-corner Chaos Units, but maybe it’ll find a home somewhere in a more mid-range build.
- Devotee of Khaine – This is clearly supposed to be our other offensive, Unit-based Last Stand enabler alongside Striking Blood Sister. At rare, however, it feels a bit weak. On a rare card, I was expecting to see Devotee deal at least 1 damage on her first corner. Heck, maybe make that corner a 0 so it can benefit from being played alongside other Aelves! Devotee also suffers because the Last Stand Units Order has aren’t particularly amazing, outside of Grimaced, so the demand for a Unit who can mass self-Remove isn’t super strong, especially when Morathi does it better (and isn’t on a Unit prone to Removal). Overall, it’s decent but not exciting at all.
- Leaping Slaughter Sister – I really like Leaping Slaughter Sister! 5 damage over 3 corners? Check. Helps with Questing? Double-check! It can even hop on over to Morathi before she flips to help deal with her first-corner-Damage problem! Being able to complete a Unit corner in one place and handle a damage corner in another is a really nice effect to have for basically free. One of my favourite Order Units.
- Sinister Sister of Slaughter – This Unit is just weird. It is a non-offensive-oriented Aelf, when every other Aelf is geared towards offence. It heals a decent amount, but nothing to write home about (5 over 4 turns). The Heroic Act is what confuses me the most, however. If this Heroic Act put an Aelf from your Discard pile into your hand or something, it’d be a real winner. Putting 2 Units into your deck is just…not really needed in most places. I guess this could work as a sideboard card against mill? It also helps deal with Removal corners by Purging itself, but is using an Action to put up to 2 Aelves back in your deck actually worth it? I don’t think so.
I’m a pretty decent fan of the Spells Order got in Unleashed. Some of them are a bit narrow, but in general they all have some redeeming quality and I can imagine decks that might want to have them on hand, whether that be the maindeck or sideboard.
- Arnzipal's Black Horror – This isn’t the best Spell in the world, but it feels pretty playable. Dealing 5 damage over 3 corners is pretty akin to a Unit. I have never been a fan of X/X/<effect> anything, but a mass-Purge effect might actually be worth the wait. Even with no Units on board yet, this can have an effect on tempo as opponents have to decide on whether to commit to the board, spend a Removal on it or play stuff out and hope to rip the Removal.
- Doomfire – This Spell is deceptively strong. At first glance, a ()/()/()/8 spell seems absolutely awful. Being able to speed up this spell, along with it still having smooth corners (unlike Roused to Wrath) means this thing can basically be a X/8 spell in a lot of places. Combined with either Dance of Doom or Steed of Shadows, this Spell can quickly overwhelm an opponent. This, along with the other 2 mentioned cards can help define a proper Wizards archetype by themselves. A stellar Spell overall.
- Enfeebling Foe – Defensive Spells have a bit of a high bar to climb; Mystic Shield is the gold-standard for defensive Spells, and I don’t think this quite meets that standard. Leaving 2-3 highlighted lanes and relying on Removal to Restart just doesn’t really pass muster here. Maybe in an Immortal Order-style of deck this could theoretically find a home, but honestly I’d rather just use Mystic Shield.
- Mindrazor – Another really great Spell. This is basically a souped-up Lotann trait on a Spell. An extra point of damage for Aelves likely means they are doing 50% – 100% more damage per corner. Giving Units Rend can also come in handy versus incidental damage prevention. Hint: Use it with Grimaced Slaughter Sister and Battle Tactics for a lot of fun. A great Spell in any aggressive Aelf deck.
- Mirror Dance – For the life of me I can’t figure out what this Spell is supposed to be all about. Switching lanes is occasionally useful for Questing, but only in niche circumstances. The Heroic Act is just a repeat of the first, and “refunds” you the Action you use on it by drawing you a card. I have a hard time imagining any competitive deck really wanting this. My least favourite Spell, bar none.
- Pit of Shades – This effect is nasty. If this Spell is allowed to rotate around, it basically represents a 1-for-3 Action advantage as it strips away cards. If you can hit someone with this when they are already low on cards, you can keep them card-starved for a while, giving you a large advantage. Purging is also relevant here, especially against Sylvaneth recursion strategies and Death Act-heavy Death decks. There is probably a mid-range deck out there that will make use of this card very well. A really nice, non-aggressive Spell.
- Shroud of Despair – Another solid control/mid-range Spell. The fact that it does something the moment it comes down is very valuable, either locking down an already-Deployed Unit (and eventually killing it) or preventing placement. This feels very much like a Stormcast card, which is nice to see it getting even some tangential support. The fact this card does 2 damage also helps with Quest-completion. Another really fun, not-particularly-aggressive Spell.
- Steed of Shadows – Probably my favourite new Spell. Steed of Shadows ticks so many boxes that Order wants. Card draw? Check. Lane control? Check. Effectively gets out of the way as though it were a 1-corner Spell? Check! It even has amazing damage potential. By having this Spell to the right of another another Unit/Spell, upon resolution you can move the already-activated Unit/Spell to a lane to the right of Steed, where it will trigger again. Combined with Doomfire, Thunderstrike, or any other high-impact Unit/Spell this can effectively duplicate the effect. Even without the lane-trickery, I think many Spell-based Order decks want this effect just for the draw. An amazing addition to Order.
- The Withering – This Spell is situational but potentially has a lot of upside. If the opponent’s strategy is to flood the board, even triggering this once or twice per active corner could represent 6-8 damage. Ideally, the more you flood the board yourself the better it becomes. I think this is too match dependent for common use, but might be a decent sideboard card for some deck.
Probably the most polarizing set of cards we got for Order in Unleashed are their Abilities. Some of them have amazing potential, while others are very lackluster. Here are my takes.
- Dance of Doom – Let me get this out of the way: I love this card. In a Wizard-focused deck, this gets to duplicate powerful effects like Doomfire, Thunderstrike, Light of Sigmar and others. For Unit-focused decks, anything with a high top-end can be a potential target. Obviously this requires both a Wizard and an adjacent Spell/Unit, but the setup is often very worth it. I expect this will see lots of play.
- Frenzied Fervour – From a card I love to a card I absolutely hate. There is no 2 ways about it: this is bad Rallying Cry (which wasn’t a Rare, mind you) when played “properly”, and a one turn kill enabler when abused. There is no middle-ground to this card, and that’s why I hate it. I would have much preferred a Last Stand-enabling Ability in its stead. Hopefully, PlayFusion will hear the complaints about this card and fix it up.
- Orgy of Slaughter – Another card that has extremely high potential in the right deck. Rotating Units twice is, for a lot of Units, basically just a Gordrakk activation for them. Given the number of available buffs that Order has access to (Lotann, Mindrazor, etc), I would be very surprised if there isn’t a deck that can put together an absolutely vicious alpha-strike with this card. I haven’t seen too many decks using this one yet, but I think that’ll change once more people see its potential.
- Pact of Blood – Another VERY narrow card. Pact of Blood simply doesn’t do enough damage to run in anyone’s main deck. Not enough people are running damage reduction (at least that comes from Units/Spells) on the regular for this to be worth a valuable card slot. If Immortal Death/Chaos/whatever becomes a popular trend, this would still only really want to be in a sideboard slot. Had this been at least 2 damage (and ideally, Rend with a “if this would have been reduced” clause) I could see it maybe making the cut in a damage-reduction meta. This so far hasn’t been the case, however, leaving this card in the dust.
- Touch of Death – Our last card we’re taking a look at, and it is…kinda mediocre. In theory, I love that it is a Last Stand-enabling Removal Ability. My issue comes with how conditional it is. Beyond needing a Unit, the fact that this is a Wizard-specific Ability really hurts it I think. If the Removal effect had a cone, allowing you to pick not just the one directly across from it, it’d be an easier card to include. As it stands now though, it is a Wizard-specific card that wants you to play lots of Units and hopes the opponent plays across from the Wizard.
I think it just needs a bit too much to come together a lot of the time. If we get more quality Last Stand Units this might be worth the hassle, but I don’t think that time is now.
So that was a wild ride! Order this set has been a real treat to analyze, as there are a lot of things going on with Order right now that make it feel a little weird compared to the other Alliances.
Some of the design decisions feel pretty good to me. Morathi basically gives all your highlighted Units a conditional “Last Stand: deal 2 damage” to parallel Chaos without ripping it off. The Melusai seem focused around card draw and bigger single hits which Order has been fairly weak on. Aelves got a lot of love in the form of Champion and Spell support to flesh them out a bit more, giving them more than 1 or 2 fairly obvious builds. A generic, lower-costed, filler Champion (Furious Hag Queen) finally exists to help bridge some of the disparate tags.
But there are also a lot of decisions that make me scratch my head. Why do some of these Aelves feel so “slow” with so many dead first corners? Why are Mutilating Witch and Frenzied Fervour just worse versions of existing Units in other Alliances? Why do Order’s medium-costed Champions seem to have a lot less Questing potential than other Alliances? I also think the Last Stand enablers outside of Morathi and Krylla feel a bit weak.
All of it comes together and makes Order feel a little scattered. I like the additions they got, I really do, and I think a lot of it remains unmined or under-tested because of the simple fact that Order feels like it just needs more work to get right. The synergies aren’t as clean and simple as Chaos, Death and even Destruction. The corners aren’t quite as intuitive. But I think there is a lot more there than people give it credit for.
Do I think some of Order’s cards need work? Clearly I do, based on the above. But in the end, I’ve decided I like Order’s offerings more than when I started out this review. The few Last Stand Units we got and their enablers seem more interesting than pure raw damage that Chaos gets (even if raw damage might be a bit more straight-forward), and something like Morathi and Krylla represent a major payoffs for those strategies. The decks based on the new cards feel different than what we’ve had in the past for Order, which is what I want when they introduce new mechanics to an Alliance.
Only time will tell what changes, if any, PlayFusion feel are needed (cough Frenzied Fervour cough) but I’m actually pretty hopeful for what the community manages to create out of the beautiful mess that is Order right now.