Welcome to our second ‘Meet The Heroes’, this time focusing on Crimson the Shapeshifter.
Young Crimson listened as the village doctor gravely pronounced her grandmother’s death, citing the likely cause as a combination of old-age and massive wolf-related injuries leaving nothing but a picked clean pile of bones.
It was frankly a miracle Crimson survived. They’d found her huddled in the corner of the ruined cottage, wrapped in her favourite red hooded cloak, so traumatized by the incident that she couldn’t remember a single thing about the attack – only that now she was uncomfortably full…
The villagers caught on eventually of course, it only took six more tragic disappearances and the unfortunate lynching of ‘Hairy’ Johnson the Tanner before someone recognised the little red hood wrapped around the 9-foot slavering Balverine tormenting the village.
Never ones to pass up an opportunity to crack out the torches and pitchforks, Crimson was chased into the deep dark and dangerous forest surrounding the village – and the forest, recognizing the young shapeshifter as one of its own, embraced and protected her.
But now a terrible hunger is building, and Crimson is struggling to keep control…
Crimson is all about direct damage. She is able to use her Hero Power and spells to dish out the pain, and her units either amp up her ability to tear into her foes, or gain power with each swipe of her claws. Having a repeatable source of damage therefore makes her strong against classes that favour many smaller units (Marshall & Temple) but weaker against those who create fewer, larger units (Miracle, Sand and Barter).
So, let’s look at her Hero Power:
Basic Hero Power – Rend:
Crimson’s basic Hero Power allows her to Rend her opponent or an enemy unit for 1 damage Fundamentally it is great for clearing the board of a stubborn Peasant or Hollow Man, but not so useful vs a giant Sentinel or Troll!
Evil Hero Power – Ferocious Rend:
Once Crimson has performed an Evil deed, her Hero Power will now heal her whenever she uses it to deal the killing blow to an enemy. Against the right opponent at the right time, this Hero Power can really turn the tide of a battle. For games where Crimson has dropped behind and has low Health, the later versions of Ferocious Rend allow Crimson to regain a lot of Health over the course of a few turns. There is a catch however, as it only heals her if the target subsequently dies. This is especially useful again small 1/1 units created by a Hero such as Marshall, or the unending hordes of Hollow Men spawned by Nostro, but is not so useful vs larger enemies. At higher levels Crimson gains 2 and then 3 health every time it is used successfully, which is great for keeping yourself healthy in a more prolonged game.
Good Hero Power – Focused Rend:
If your opponent is not using smaller units, or if you currently don’t need the healing from Ferocious Rend to survive, then Focused Rend is a great choice. With this power Crimson still Rends a target for one damage, though if that target has enough Health, she rends them for two damage instead. With one point of Good, the enemy must have at least five Health to trigger the bonus damage, with two points, it must have four, and once you have 3 points, it only needs to have three Health.
One thing to bear in mind with the Good Hero Power is that you can also target your opponent directly and do 2 damage, as they will usually have enough Health to trigger the effect. This is a great way of accelerating to a win once you’re already ahead.
Deck Building & Play:
Now that we know how Crimson’s Hero Power works, let’s see what other tricks she has up her robe with a couple of her possible deckbuilding options.
Rend It Like Crimson:
Much like Miracle, the first of Crimson’s deck options uses her Hero Power to combo with a number of her other cards. The keyword we are interested in here is Rend, so let’s see what cards trigger off it being used:
The Blooded Balverine and White Hart both improve your Rend ability, either by increasing the damage or stunning the target, and the Squirrel (one of my favourite cards in the whole game) increases its Strength every time Rend is used. Now, once these units on the board, using your Hero Power to Rend once per turn is useful, but what if you can do it more than once?
The Predatory Balverine is a great card to do a hefty chunk of damage to an opposing unit, but with a Blooded Balverine or White Hart on the board it is even potentially devastating. The White Balverine, meanwhile, is a great late-game card that can tip the balance if you’re able to chain a few cheap spells together. However, in this deck, the best card is probably the initially weak looking Wild Rend. At face value, Wild Rend can do one damage to six enemy creatures. However, with a Blooded Balverine in play, that jumps to two damage, and with the White Hart, you can also Stun them all while you’re at it! To top it all off, a single Wild Rend can also pump your Squirrel for an extra six Strength! This is why the Squirrel is so dangerous, and sometimes why it isn’t such a good idea to bring it out on turn one when you could perhaps save it for later in the game when you have another unit in Guard to protect it.
So, you have cards that trigger when Rend is used, and you have cards that trigger extra Rends on a turn, that’s the deck finished isn’t it? Not quite…:
These cards have the keyword Feral. This ability is triggered when you play the card if any enemy has already been Rended during that turn. Choose wisely as to which cards to add to your deck, as depending on how construct your own version you may want more stunning, more unit damage, or simply more damage to the opposing hero’s face!
To The Face!:
The following deck if played correctly can be particularly brutal, but is also quite fragile. It revolves primarily around smacking the opponent in the face, over and over again. The core cards that allow you to do this are:
All these cards when used together allow you to Rend your opponent multiple times in a turn for two or more damage each, and then finish them off with a Snarling Lunge or two. You will also generally want to choose the Good Hero power, as then each Focused Rend will do extra damage until your opponent is basically dead. But what if you don’t have enough Blooded Balverines?
Fortunately, these cards allow you to summon even more Balverines, each one improving your ability to Rend your opponent’s face off.
As you are concentrating on your opponent and not their creatures, you should also look to use Stun to protect yourself, so again the White Hart, Brown Bear and Howl of Despair are great additions to this deck. You should also consider using some high Health units to go in Guard and take the heat off your weaker Balverines.
As mentioned though, this deck is fragile. If your opponent has a few board wipes (Broadside, Surge of Claws, etc) they can probably wipe out your Balverines, but hopefully a couple of turns doing 10+ damage with your Rends will win the day.
Crimson is a great ally in Co-op games vs Nostro as she is fantastic as pinging off many of his smaller Hollowmen. She works well with Temple as between them they always have damage flying around the board and can control what they are facing, but beware if the Co-op boss has too many larger units.
Crimson doesn’t play as well with Miracle or Sand because her units are quite fragile and don’t benefit from being buffed or healed as much as some other Heroes’ units.
Crimson will have trouble vs large units as her Rend simply won’t have the power to punch them out of the way. Her best tactic is to try and reduce their health to four, so she can use a Surge of Claws to wipe the opponent’s board, but often this card can come too late or not at all. The Predatory Balverine is also a useful ally, but should often be saved until a dangerous enemy is on the board, even if she is winning.
When playing against small creatures, Crimson will have a much better time of it as her varied direct damage can keep the board clear.
The longer a game continues, the more under threat she can be, so she should err towards having a more assertive approach to try and put her opponent on the back foot, potentially winning with Focused Rend in the late game, although Ferocious Rend can keep her alive for longer.
She should also look to include neutral units that can do damage directly to targets as they will allow her to combo with her Rend and pick off enemies as she chooses.
Finally, depending on her speed of deck, units with Rush or a few decent defensive units should be added to push out more faster damage or protect her weaker units. Try experimenting with different options!
Crimson is very easy to play as a starting character as her Rend ability is quite simple to use, but you’ll also find that to get the best out of it, you often shouldn’t do the most obvious move. Set up combos in your hand, and don’t play certain creatures too early. Try to wipe the opponent’s board when you can destroy the most creatures, but don’t wait so late that you have taken too much damage.
In short, she is always competitive, but only in the hands of a true expert will she be able to triumph against some of her stronger opponents.