And so we begin our third edition of ‘Meet The Heroes’. By popular demand, it’s time for you to meet Albion’s most successful Merchant, Barter!
He grew up on a dull grey spike of land jutting out of the ocean, a day’s good wind from the mainland, with little to offer its unfortunate residents other than the Albion’s angriest goat population (official) and a strain of bramble so poisonous that even the goats thought twice before inevitably butting it.
He had arrived alone on the island as cargo, barely more than a toddler –a tag secured around his neck with ‘BARTER’ scrawled on it in a barely legible hand, whether it was intended to be his name, an instruction, or the ultimate delivery address, he took it anyway, it was as good as any.
He held no memory of his family, and his only possession a single gold coin of unknown origin. He made it a singular point that no matter how desperate those first years were as a homeless dock-rat, he would never spend the coin. He survived on his unerring ability to strike deals, for food, for warmth, for shelter, for his life – for whilst it has been said that Barter could charm the birds out of the sky, he was far more interested in charming gold out of noble’s pockets (birds fetched a terrible price on the black-market, after all).
It has been fifteen years since he washed up on these cruel shores and against all odds ‘Barter the orphan’, ‘Barter the dock-rat’, ‘Barter the nameless’, has become a merchant of substance.
Yet he has grown too big for this bleak spit of land, and spurred on by the stirring tavern stories of adventure on the high-seas, he has finally earned enough to secure his own vessel and crew.
He clutches the gold coin tightly. His fortune calls to him, and as always, he intends to strike a good deal…
Barter is a Merchant by trade and his keen sense for a potential bargain is reflected in his playstyle, with many of his cards improving the rate that he earns Gold or lowering the costs of other cards. This means that Barter can access powerful late-game spells and units much faster than other Heroes, but that he is also weaker at the beginning of the game when he is busy gathering Gold.
Barter’s unique mechanic is Invest, which allows Barter to pay a higher price when playing a card in order to power it up. This allows him to benefit from having more Gold than other players,and gives him the flexibility of either playing a card RIGHT NOW in order to keep up with his opponent, or saving that card for later until he can Invest into it.
Heroes such as Marshall & Temple can be tough to beat when playing as Barter as they have a tendency to flood the board early on, but Barter can prey on some of the slower Heroes such as Miracle or Sand by overpowering them with devastating late-game cards.
Let’s take a look at Barter’s Hero Powers and see how he gains Gold faster than anyone else:
Basic Hero Power – Haggle:
For two Gold, Barter can add a Gold Piece card to his hand, which he can cash in later to add one Gold to his Gold pool for that turn. Initially this can seem like a pretty bad deal, as you lose a Gold on the turn you use the power, but it allows you to store up Gold for the future and to ramp up to high cost cards later in the game.
An experienced player will look at their starting hand and decide if they want to play a unit or spell on their first turn, or if they want to gain a Gold Piece instead. This requires you to plan multiple turns in advance, but can result in a devastating series of plays on key turns during a match. Deciding whether to gain a Gold or put a unit in Guard is also often a vital decision to make.
Evil Hero Power – Plunder:
When Barter switches to Evil his Plunder Power gives him a Trophy card as well as a Gold piece. As his Evil grows, he gets to choose from multiple Trophy cards giving him a wealth of options.
Beware however, Barter’s hand will quickly fill up with 0 casting cost cards, and a novice player could end up reaching their hand limit and be unable to draw new cards into their hand! Be sure to use these Trophy cards whenever you can.
Good Hero Power – Trade:
If Barter chooses Good, then he has the option to Invest into his Hero Power by paying more Gold, but gaining even more Gold Pieces in return. This is useful for longer term strategies and allows Barter to play one slow turn, but really ramp up the Gold on the next. Again, new players should be careful not to fill their hand with too many Gold Pieces!
Deck Building & Play:
Due to his ability to acquire more Gold, Barter has access to a larger number of the more expensive Neutral cards than some of the other Heroes. This gives him a wider array of choices when it comes to building his decks. This, combined with his flexible Invest cards, allows more strategic deck building, but you need to be careful to shore up your early-game weaknesses so that you don’t get run over by a more aggressive opponent.
Let’s look at a couple of ideas:
Gang Up On ‘Em Lads:
This deck attempts to play an early Pressgang and cheat a large unit into play as soon as possible, as getting lucky with Pressgang can result in you playing a 10 Gold unit for the low low cost of 5! With a good enough opening hand, you can play Pressgang as early as your second turn, far outpacing your opponent. Let’s take a look at some of the cards that can make that happen for you:
The Cabin Boy is an excellent turn one unit. Firstly, it will allow Barter to put up a unit that he can put in Guard, but even if the Cabin Boy is destroyed, you’ll still get a Gold Piece to spend later. If your opponent doesn’t destroy him on their turn, you can still smash him into the opponent’s units to trigger it. On turn two you will then have 4 gold, plus the Gold Piece from the Cabin Boy and be ready to play your Pressgang.
If you weren’t lucky enough to have a Pressgang in your starting hand, then a turn one The Art of the Deal or a turn two Trade Secrets will help you dig deeper into your deck to try and find it. If you have the Cabin Boy’s extra Gold Piece to work with, then a Black Market Dealer can also give you a shot at finding an extra copy of Pressgang to use.
You should be able to play Pressgang on turn two, but even turn three is not a disaster as long as you have something on the board. Play it, cross your fingers and hope for the best! The rest of your deck should be built with Pressgang in mind. Fill it with terrifying large creatures like the Quartermaster or Wise Spellweaver. Remember that Big Entrances will not trigger, and neither will Morality shifts so those cards are less useful in this deck. You’ll likely be putting the summoned unit in Guard as soon as possible to prevent your opponent pummeling you any further, so units with a Safeguard ability are an excellent choice. With that in mind casting Pressgang when you have 6 Gold to work with is also a great idea to get that Guard in place immediately.
Other cards such as the transformed Bank Clerk or Auroran Conjurer will help this deck get larger units from your deck or hand onto the board sooner, and the Ship’s Cook will help Barter make any unit terrifying later on in the game. Beware, the more utility units like these you put in your deck, the more likely Pressgang will summon them instead of your high-cost powerhouses, taking away from the power of the Pressgang strategy. It’s a careful balancing act!
I’ll Have That!:
Barter is also great at stealing or neutering his opponent’s best cards, and this deck revolves around that.
These cards all help deal with your opponent’s bigger threats, and are especially useful against Miracle, Sand or an opposing Barter. Wait until something big appears on the board and then steal it or send it back into their deck. Then cackle while you imagine their irritation.
Although this tactic is strong against large units, it will have trouble against the hordes of enemies summoned by Temple or Marshall. Be sure to put in some cards which can deal damage to all enemies, but remember to steal their best units first!
The final element that should be added to this deck are cards that assume that you’ll have more cards in your hand (thanks to your hoard of Gold Pieces) and that it is probable that, early on at least, you’ll be losing! The Bloodstone Blackguard and Abbot of Avo will help you stem the tide, but with the extra Gold Pieces in your hand, the Voice of Avo should give a unit or yourself a much needed Health boost!
This is a deck that requires a lot of patience until it starts working, but the longer the game lasts, the better the position you will be in!
Barter works best with a Hero who can hold off the damage early game while he gains Gold and Sand is a great choice for that. Also, Crimson or Temple can take out enemies while Barter prepares to lay down some major units. Sand and Miracle are also great for ensuring his ginormous units live for longer once they slam down onto the board.
Be aware however that some of Barter’s decks are very weak against Nostro. His ability to summon a unit that he has killed means it may be Nostro that takes control of your biggest units and uses them against you. Be careful!
The core of Barter’s strategy is to survive the early game and win the late game. Don’t worry about taking damage early on as your larger units will stem the tide, although a well-timed removal spell may mean that even the biggest of your units may not be a strong enough defence!
Save up your Broadsides and Horn Of The Deep until they can do the most damage, often they can mortally wound Marshall and give Temple or Crimson a major headache.
Use your cards with Silence wisely against Miracle and Sand, normally in the late game when they’ve had the most opportunity to lay down their stat-increasing effects, or just steal/copy their best threats and use them against them!
Barter is one of the most challenging Heroes to play due to needing to plan out your turns in advance and decide when you want to stockpile some Gold. The fact he can Invest in many of his own cards adds another dimension to his play, but mastering the use of the Gold Pieces, the Invest mechanic and Silence can lead to your completely outsmarting your opponent and trumping their best cards with giant ones of your own. Buy low, sell high, swashbuckle always!