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Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin» Forums » Strategy

Subject: A Detailed Look at: Weapon Type rss

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Will M. Baker
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Thunderstone currently features 51 weapons (inclusive of Dagger, Longspear, and two treasures). Weapons typically have a 'type' keyword, e.g., Edged. Does weapon type matter, or is it just thematic flavoring?

Original Thunderstone

The original Thunderstone base set laid the groundwork for weapon type. The set included 7 weapons, all but one of which were edged (Spear and Polearm, originally just edged, have now gained the Polearm keyword per the print-and-play revision). The blunt Warhammer was the solitary non-edged weapon.

At the time, there were only two references to weapon type: Grimhold (aka Dwarf) received a hefty bonus from edged weapons (i.e., anything but Warhammer), and the Ooze's big bad, Noxious Slag, was immune to edged weapons (i.e., everything but Warhammer). That was it.

So from the onset, did weapon type matter? No.

When playing with the base set, Grimhold's edged bonus is almost guaranteed, because:
1. The starting deck includes two edged weapons.
2. The village contains more extra Daggers than players could ever collectively want, just in case those starting Daggers are destroyed, or the deck becomes diluted.
3. The chances of drawing a village with at least one edged weapon is 96%.

So at the time, Grimhold's trait was effectively an equip bonus, rather than an edged weapon bonus. The only tough decision might be in a setup with Grimhold + cleric + Warhammer + undead: Do I clog my deck with clerics and Warhammers that won't help Grimhold, or do I use Grimhold and edged weapons to vanquish the undead the old-fashioned way?

I must confess to drafting the occasional Warhammer to help defeat a lingering Noxious Slag, but in general, it's a weak play to tailor my deck to defeat just two specific monster cards, even when they're among the juiciest in the dungeon. The average monster VP in the base set is 3.5; so if I eschew the Noxious Slag for some other random monster, I'm really only losing out on 2.5 VP on average, and with the additional savings of not having to avoid edged weapons.

So in the base set, Grimhold mostly likes weapons, rather than just edged weapons; and Noxious Slag provides an interesting challenge, but not one worth bending over backward for.

Subsequent Classic Sets

In subsequent sets, weapon type gathered dust. Though weapons continued to feature keywords, not a single type-sensitive card was added in the Wrath of the Elements or Doomgate Legion expansions.

Dragonspire added a single monster, Medusa, who punishes heroes for not having an edged weapon equipped. On the one hand, this isn't much of a punishment, since the best weapons tend to be edged anyway. On the other hand, with all four sets in the mix, edged weapons are proportionally more difficult to come by at this point: the chance of randomly generating a village with at least one edged weapon drops from 96% to 72.5% (Of the 15 weapons added in the first three expansions, only 4 of them are edged.) But again, there are only two copies of this card, and she's worth 1 VP less than is the Noxious Slag, so not really worth deck-building around.

The last two expansions in the classic series each added one type-sensitive hero, but no additional type-sensitive monsters. Nightblade (Thornwood Siege) has a stiffer requirement than Grimhold, in that his edged weapon must be Weight 3 or lower. Assuming I haven't sacrificed my pride to purchase a Magical Aura, my Nightblade will find slim pickings in the village. Other than my starting Daggers, the only qualifying weapons are Hatchet, Polearm, and Thieves' Blade. There are some cases where I'd draft a Nightblade over a Grimhold, but not many. Nyth (Heart of Doom) is the first card to explicitly care about bows (it should be noted that Noxious Slag likes bows and polearms as much as it likes blunt weapons). Bows are tough to come by, though, representing just 4 of 92 village cards at the time, for a slim 31% chance of drawing a village with at least one bow. (Not to mention that half of those bows are too heavy for a Level 1 Nyth.) Besides, Nyth's bow-bonus is fairly weak: Light +1 at all levels.

If the series had ended here, Grimhold would still reign as the card most likely to get the weapon of his choice.

The Tala Arc

Thunderstone: Advance made a big splash with the most important type-sensitive card to date: Regular. His ability to draw a card when equipped with a polearm is more volatile but also more exciting and flexible than the attack bonuses conferred by the type-sensitive heroes of previous sets. Towers of Ruin's Pike received the new polearm keyword, as did Spear and Polearm via the print-and-play revision, but those aren't great odds to build a polearm-laden village (20%). Luckily for Regular (and unluckily for Grimhold and Nightblade), the starting deck now includes a polearm instead of an edged weapon. This makes for great synergy: the starting deck includes both cards we'd care to pair together, and as the game progresses, we'll be thinning our decks of both, so the chances of drawing one without the other should remain relatively low.

The Tala arc also introduced 7 type-sensitive monsters. Ghul and Ifrit (Towers of Ruin) are immune to edged and bow weapons, respectively. That's four cards from the same monster group who discriminate against weapon type, which might make it worthwhile to focus on blunt and polearm weapons. . . but probably not. Coupled with their dislike of specific hero classes, these monsters court an all-spell attack strategy, which could be useful in other situations as well. Contrast to Noxious Slag, who muffles this back door, and Medusa, who doesn't mind spells, but will punish heroes who come equipped with nothing but. Rounding out Towers of Ruin, Withered Dryad is immune to blunt weapons.

Just when newcomer polearm thought it was getting off easy, Caverns of Bane's Ooze•Cavern monster group has three monsters (though only one copy of each) who are immune to polearms (they are also immune to edged weapons): Blue Viscoid, Green Viscoid, and Black Viscoid. When this monster group is in the dungeon, 10% of the monster cards pressure us to take up bows and blunt weapons; but these monsters are worth very few VP, and so not worth the effort.

Scree (Root of Corruption) is the most recent monster to care about weapon type. Scree is immune to edged weapons.

Of the 7 new monsters, the 5 who are immune to edged weapons are the ones to watch out for. The 3 Ooze•Cavern monsters should be easy enough with their low health, but the other two will be tougher, like Noxious Slag. Ghul has the additional fighter immunity; Scree has a spirit-crushing 10 health (there are some non-Guardian monsters who offer 7, 8, or even 10 VP for the same health). Again, though, those will be but a few monsters in the dungeon deck. All other things being equal, they might warrant avoiding edged weapons; but otherwise, the odds will favor the deck with high attack, even if it means forgoing these few juicy monsters.


Considering all ten Thunderstone sets to date, here are the numbers of weapons by type, and the chance of at least one weapon of that type being randomly included in the village (ignoring the restrictive setup rules for Thunderstone: Advance, which makes the math more difficult).

Edged: 21 (71%)
Blunt: 15 (58%)
Bow: 6 (29%)
Polearm: 5 (24%) (inclusive of Spear and Polearm, per the print-and-play revision)

(6 weapons have no weapon type.)

So Grimhold has more than double the chance to be paired with an edged weapon that Nyth has to be paired with a bow. Nightblade has a 24% chance of being paired with a weapon he likes, thanks to the later addition of Short Spear and Cursed Dagger. But both Grimhold and Nightblade are severely nerfed by the change in starting deck.

So where does that leave us? Of more than 800 cards to date (inclusive of the Starter Set), only 19 care about weapon type: 10 heroes (from 3 hero tribes, plus Regular) and 9 monsters (from 6 monster groups). Although most of those monsters come from recent sets, I don't think weapon type will really matter until an entire monster group features a type restriction, the way some entire groups feature Strength or Magic Attack restrictions.

In short, at this point weapon type is only of mild concern, and is mostly just for theme. I might spend my idle moments wondering why the Magi Staff is blunt, while the Divine Staff is not; but I will seldom look to weapon type to guide my strategy.
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