Today’s edition of ‘Meet The Heroes’, features the enigmatic Prophet known as Sand.
In quieter moments, Sand could remember a time when he was a trader, a successful trader, with a different name. His caravan of goods would stretch a full mile along Samarkand’s Great Trade Road – and he would sit in pampered luxury at the head of it, utterly content, and utterly complacent.
Then the bandits came. There had been fire, confusion, blood (an awful lot of that), and then running – a desperate, constant, terror-fuelled flight into the desert, as one by one his companions fell to arrows at his side.
Sand’s lungs burned and exploded in his chest from the sudden exertion, but his arrow never came – when he finally collapsed through exhaustion, he found himself alone, agonizingly thirsty, and desperately cold as the desert night began to draw in. It was to be the first of many.
Somewhere in that endless procession, at the very limits of Sand’s exhaustion, there had been a series of strange old obsidian monuments, and a cave beneath them that led to a magnificently desolate forgotten city. Convinced he had finally gone insane, he collapsed to the impossibly smooth floor for what he was sure was to be the last time. As he fell, his fingers brushed against an object, a staff – he dimly recalled a burst of unearthly light, a flood of memories that were not his own:
A city of impossible technology, a city guarded by stone giants, a city that once commanded the sand to part for it, a city that stood timeless for generations, a city that fell, a city that was buried, a city that was forgotten.
A city that must be remembered.
He awoke to find the staff still clutched in his hand, and the unmistakable grinding of stone on stone from all sides. The city was waking, and Sand understood it had chosen him as the one true prophet to make it great again, granting him the power to command its long forgotten technology.
A full year later, a very different man took his first steps into the land of Albion. The great stone guardians of the desert city followed in his steps; the fierce desert sands now answered his call, and even time itself could bend to his indomitable will.
He needed true believers to make the city great again, he would find them, he would show them the power he had discovered, and he would lead them back to the desert…
Sand’s playstyle revolves around his staff’s innate power to Heal. Many of his creatures are more powerful when they have full Health and others trigger useful abilities when any damage on them is healed. Sand therefore is a Hero who excels at keeping his units alive, making him strong against enemies who have small units or use direct damage (Crimson, Marshall & Temple) and weaker against those who have larger units or the ability to Silence, steal, or otherwise remove his units from the board (Miracle & Barter).
Basic Hero Power – Heal:
Sand’s basic Hero Power is used to Heal up to 2 damage taken by a unit or Hero. This is very useful if his units are able to attack opposing units and survive, as Sand can Heal the damage and have the unit be ready to attack again next turn. It also allows his larger units to recover from direct damage from certain spells or unit abilities, forcing your opponent to deal with them in other ways.
Be aware that Sand can target a unit or Hero on full health, but if no damage is actually healed, and any abilities which activate when that target is healed will not trigger.
This Hero Power has great synergy with Sand’s Zeal mechanic. Units with Zeal have bonus abilities for as long as they are at full Health, so a constant stream of healing will be needed to keep them functioning at peak performance.
Evil Hero Power – Incite:
When Sand embraces Evil, he gains an ability to incite his units to do more damage, on one condition, that he Heals himself. Once he Heals himself with his Evil Hero Power, for every point of Evil, one of his units gains +1 Strength for the turn.
This power therefore has both aggressive (units gaining attack) and defensive (Healing Sand) qualities and is useful in a variety of situations. Remember that the Strength buff is only available for the current turn though, so use the powered-up units while you can.
Good Hero Power – Energize:
Sand’s other option is to follow the Good path, and when he does so, his units gain a permanent increase to their Health. As long as Sand Heals one of his injured units, for every point of Good he has, a random friendly unit will permanently gain +1 Health.
This is clearly a more defensive unit-based strategy than the Evil route, and should be used when you need to maintain control of the board with many units, as once they have been buffed a number of times, they will be really hard for your opponent to deal with.
However, if Sand is low on Health, this power won’t be so useful as Healing Sand himself will give no extra benefit at all. As another old guy in a desert cave once said: choose wisely!
Deck Building & Play:
So, Sand is great at Healing and keeping his units alive, but what does that mean for the decks he can create? Let’s take a look at a couple of options:
No Pain, No Gain:
The first cards that go into this deck are a staple of Sand’s arsenal, namely units that have abilities which trigger when they are Healed:
Once these units have taken damage, there are many neutral and Sand-specific cards that can be used to Heal them in order to activate their ability. However, what if you opponent has no units out, or if they only have giant units which your own units can’t safely attack? Well, the answer is to damage them yourself!
All of these cards do a very small amount of damage to your own units, and the Screaming Skull and Apprentice Will User also have the added benefit of damaging your opponent’s units too. The Minion, Replicating Shard or Kalin can now be Healed, triggering their abilities and giving you a huge advantage.
If you’re already going to be doing damage to all of your own units, then there are a number of other cards that you can use which benefit from being damaged:
The Reformed Criminal and Flagellant both get stronger when they take damage, though be careful not to Heal the Criminal before he attacks, as returning him to full Health and triggering his Zeal ability will once again make him unusable! Both of the Hardened Criminal’s Morality abilities work on friendly injured units, either buffing them or returning them to your hand, both of which are very useful in this deck.
This deck is an interesting one to play with as you alternate between injuring all of your units and then Healing them all again, triggering their on-heal abilities and allowing you to slam down the terrifying Sentinel at a very low cost.
If the previous deck is about injuring your units and then healing them, this deck is just about ensuring they are at full Health as much as possible as possible. Let’s start with his cards that have Zeal:
These cards are pretty powerful as long as they are at full Health, but much weaker if injured as their Zeal ability gets disabled. Therefore you should look at including cards which can combine with your Hero Power to keep them Healed, such as:
As your Zeal units lose a lot of value when they take damage, you should should also look to add some units that have a lot of staying power and can be put into Guard to protect the Zeal units from being attacked:
All of these have great Safeguard abilities and high Health for their cost, meaning they are fantastic at keeping the Fanatic and other units safe.
To round out the deck, you can look to other cards which help you to maintain control of the board, either by pumping up your creatures, destroying your opponents’, or simply get more value out of your already potent Hero Power
This deck will be able to absorb a huge amount of damage over time, but beware, if you don’t get enough units out on the board then a hand full of buffing cards won’t be much use, so always ensure you have enough units to cast them on!
Sand works best with other Heroes who have units with larger amounts of Health, making Miracle and Barter particularly attractive allies He is especially strong when working with Barter, as Barter often has a slow start and needs an ally who can shrug off some of the incoming damage in order to buy time for him to deploy his powerful late-game threats.
Sand doesn’t always play well with Temple or Crimson, as the former relies on swarming the opponent with expendable units which often die of their own accord, and Crimson is too busy worrying about damaging the opponent’s units to care about maintaining her own.
As Marshall gets a lot of units on the board, Sand is a good choice if he is planning on using his buffing strategy. Working with a Good Marshall that is pumping out Peasant Medics, can enable them to stand together against the fiercest of foes.
Sand’s Hero Power is quite reactive and more situational than many of the other Heroes’, so ensure his deck has a reasonable number of lower cost unitsto prevent a stall at the start of the game. Depending on which type of deck you go with, both the Reformed Criminal and Apostle are good to get out early.
Sand’s strategy often revolves around protecting his weaker units with stronger Guards so often it can be advisable to wait to play a fragile utility unit until you also have another powerful unit to protect it with.
Sand, along with Miracle, is one of the few Heroes who can buff a unit above its initial Health and therefore even fragile units can become very difficult to kill given enough time and resources. Use that to your advantage and keep some of those powerful units like The Guildmaster alive for longer than anyone else!
Using Sand as a Healer who allows his units to absorb damage before restoring them to full Health is a sound strategy which will serve him well in his battles against the other Heroes. However, Sand also has hidden depths, and many devious combos which he can use to generate incredible advantages and devastate his opponents. You haven’t lived until a Minion has drawn you six or more cards during a game, or healed yourself for 20 or more during one epic turn! Now get out there and give him a go!