This guide is mostly aimed at people who've played a fair amount of the base set. I don't think Everfrost is necessarily a bad faction for new players, but my advice would probably be different for them.
EVERFROST IN HIGH FORM
To understand Everfrost, I think about piece power and flare power.
Whenever you place or upgrade a piece, or you destroy or downgrade enemy pieces, you gain piece power. More pieces on the board is better for summoning faction cards; more upgraded pieces is good for summoning legends. Both are useful for claiming tasks and for keeping your opponent out of spaces.
Whenever one of your pieces is destroyed or downgraded, or your opponent's pieces are created or upgraded, you gain flare power, i.e. you get closer to playing a flare and your opponent gets farther from playing one.
These are, obviously, two sides of the same coin-- everything that happens in the game gives you one kind of power and takes the other away. So why talk about both? Because depending on the game situation, one of these probably matters more than the other. When using the Everfrost school, you need be aware at every moment which type of power you need right now. If you're down in piece power, do you need to claw your way back to parity (get piece power), or should you be trying to improve your board position without increasing your piece count while your opponent's formation grows (get flare power)? If you're up in piece power, should you push that advantage in piece power by piling up heroic pieces to summon legends or should you pace yourself to keep an enemy flare from stopping your momentum?
Everfrost has six beings with abilities that you pay for in piece power and three more that don't add a piece to the board when summoned (because you have to 'oversummon' them, destroying one of your own pieces). Sometimes the card gives you an explicit choice of whether you want piece power or flare power, like Everfrost Sentinel or Royal Reindeer. Sometimes the choice is about how to deploy a card (Snow Monster often wrecks your opponent's piece power but can be used more cautiously; Glacier Giant can destroy your own pieces on the way to a destination, and if those pieces aren't doing you any good that might be a good idea).
Now, I'm writing as if these two powers are equally good. They aren't. Piece power is more useful-- but if you've played much Tash-Kalar, you know that and know how to use it. I'm giving flare power equal billing because to play Everfrost you need to shift SOME of your attention toward it.
Some more notes about Everfrost's overall plan...
Pacing: Very often in Tash-Kalar, when one player exerts attack pressure in the early game, there will come a point in midgame where the momentum switches. For Everfrost, this 'flare bounce' can be particularly strong, turning what seems like a weak first half into a match that ends with an unbreakable wall of ice on the board. And you ARE more likely to be the weak side in the first half. Don't give up.
Positioning: Boldly putting pieces alongside opponents is a pretty good idea, even though you aren't great at aggression. You have some Sylvan-style regrowth (Frostweave Summoner, Crystal Mirror) and cards like Frost Imp and Ice Wyvern that help you grow outward from a contested area without having to banish the enemy presence, leaving their pieces stranded. The reason this is worth risking even though you don't have a lot of attack cards is that you can make use of flare power better than other factions-- you don't usually WANT your pieces destroyed, but you're more likely to be near flaring and ready to bounce back from that destruction.
Patterns: You like straight lines and blocks of pieces. A lot of your patterns have symmetries that give you a choice about where to summon them. You don't have a lot of movement, though; if an opponent cuts off part of your formation, weigh the cost of reconnecting those pieces against the cost of leaving them there for the moment. Reconnecting is easier if you've got regrowth in your hand (Frostweave Summoner, Illusionist, Frost Imp) to rescue those pieces.
Snow Fox is in the running (with Clan Axeman) for worst card in the game. But you probably knew that, on account of how little it does! So I'll mention its good points: an easy path to Red Summoning or Green Summoning, and a lot of flexibility about where you summon it (once you have the two diagonally adjacent pieces, the Fox can go in any of four spots).
Still, if you want to put any of your other cards under your deck (say, because you drew Deathbringer too early), discard this one without hesitation.
This card is a little better than it looks. When you start your turn with the pattern available, its spread-out pattern and two moves (if you thaw the frozen effect immediately) should be enough to set up a wide variety of other Everfrost cards. And if you summon it with your second action, holding the frozen effect until next turn gives you an easy recovery from an opponent chipping away at your formation.
This is a great example of how Everfrost's flare power dynamics work. Like Sylvan's Woodland Druid, this gives each player an upgraded piece. But your opponent gets an upgraded piece right now, which benefits you if you were on the verge of flaring; you don't have to take yours until you need it.
Also, if you're interweaving your pieces with enemy pieces as much as you should, you can almost certainly destroy a piece with the summon.
One of your few direct piece power abilities. The fact that you can use this to clone your pieces AND enemy pieces makes it great for regrouping after early aggression. Less often, everything will line up so that you can use it to drop a heroic piece right on the colored space you need for a Conquest task.
Versatile though it is, you don't want to hang on to it waiting for the perfect moment. If you've got a weak board position, use Crystal Mirror to get two extra commons as soon as you can; if you've got a strong position, check for ways to enable a legend (or Conquest task) with it, but don't feel bad only using it to fill in one gap in your formation.
Compare this card to Sylvan's commons for a moment... you get to choose whether to make this an awkward three-piece Sapling, or a lower-power Charging Buck. But you get to choose based on whether you need piece power or flare power, which puts this card on a par with either of the aforementioned (which is to say, it's okay, not great).
Also I like how Crystal Grower, Crystal Mirror and Royal Reindeer are all good at getting you a heroic piece off at a distance from your main formation. Everfrost's ability to claim Conquest tasks even when low on piece power is an excellent secret weapon against opponents who attack too hastily.
Like the Ice Princess, only... worse. A lot worse. This is a fragile pattern-- building it this turn, hoping to do the summon next turn, is just asking to have one of its corners bitten off. And the restriction that its combat move can't go to the heroic piece you've just created gets in the way too often.
BUT if you have a strong board position (strong enough to summon this on your first action without stress) and one or two other heroic pieces around, this can be a good legend enabler. It's just a pain to use effectively outside of ideal Queen conditions. The combat move is also useful in the rare cases (usually against Sylvan) where you have enough piece power but are lacking flexibility because you have enemy pieces hemming you in.
First of all, remember that unlike Royal Reindeer, you CAN destroy a piece with this summon and not trigger the penalty clause. You only have to destroy the Wyvern if you leap it onto an enemy heroic piece (or an enemy common, but: don't do that).
But, also unlike Royal Reindeer, destroying a piece with the Wyvern's leap is a very marginal use, only worthwhile if you need to avoid giving your opponent flare power or if that piece you destroy was crucial to their formation (i.e. the damage to their board position is disproportionately high for the loss of one heroic piece).
This frozen effect is one of the best in the deck; it lets you postpone committing to where on the board you want to build up to a legend or other difficult summon. Also, the free piece placement can often get you Side/Corner Chain, Envelopment or Line Dominance a turn before your opponent, if the two of you are running even.
Few cards scream "put me under your deck" like this one. If you draw it late you can do all kinds of neat tricks with it, but if you get it anywhere in the first half of the game it will weigh you down (unless you drew and summoned Frostweave Summoner even earlier).
On the other hand, Everfrost (more than most other factions) can do quite well with a row of four or more pieces in a straight row, so you may have some flexbility about where to summon this.
An Everfrost player who's doing well will often have their pieces up close or intermingled with enemies, which can make this hard to summon. But it's an excellent way to hobble your opponent if you're in the middle of catching up in piece count or racing them for a task. Alternately, if you are too far away from an Imperial or Highland opponent-- so you growing your formation toward them is opening you to attack-- this can keep them from devastating you on the turn after you get close.
Just remember to plan ahead; it won't fall in your lap.
I basically always use the ability when possible; it's too good not to. The few exceptions would be when my opponent is already likely to flare-- the game is designed around two-action turns, and a turn where they get a flare and 1 action will not feel like much of a letdown for them.
A hugely powerful card if your pieces are right in the opponent's face; and a hugely flexible one if you've got a nice 2x3 or 3x3 block of Everfrost pieces all together. If neither of those is true, you're already in trouble; summon this or discard it. (But don't forget that you get one move with it no matter what.)
This can be a powerful oversummoning attack if an opponent sends a lone heroic piece into your formation. The frozen effect's usefulness varies wildly from "amazing" to "never quite works out" depending on your opponent's faction, their play style, the tasks... this one is hard to evaluate. When it's good, it's often with a card like Snow Monster or Deathbringer that loves having Everfrost pieces intermixed with opponent pieces.
The conversion power is best early on, when you can surprise an opponent or seamlessly bounce back from them overextending to attack you. But it's hard to summon early on because of that awkward pattern. I don't love this as a general-purpose card.
Some very specific tricks (like, maybe useful once every 40 games) with this: If you've got one too many pieces to flare, and you oversummon one of your own pieces with this, presto! You can flare before your second action. And this can get you an enemy piece in the middle of your formation for Imprisonment, Envelopment or Isolation.
Amazing card. Also a cue that Everfrost can make use of long lines of pieces all in a row better than most factions.
One thing to remember, though, is that you can't flare on the same turn as you use her power. She's great for coming back from a small deficit or for surprising your opponent with how much you accomplish in one turn when you're ahead... but if you're low enough on pieces to look for a flare bounce, this might not quite help. (Having this ability in the bank for next turn is pretty good too, though.)
In a close fight this can get you Heroic Devastation all by itself (if you destroy a piece with the oversummon). Also good for Red/Green Conquest, though be careful when separating your pieces much.
The main downside of this card is that while its shape is pretty easy for Everfrost to make, if you wait for the pattern to fall into your lap it will probably be pointing sideways rather than at your opponent. So plan ahead.
For legend-killing: It took me embarrassingly long to notice that the "three other pieces" can be the three that form the base of the Deathbringer; make this pattern with an enemy legend in the center and you're set.
For tasks: Getting double credit for a heroic piece makes End Of Legends trivial and Heroic Devastation not too hard.
For stopping enemy momentum: If the one lone piece in this pattern is an enemy piece you're using with Frostweave Summoner, and you oversummon another enemy piece, this can reshape the board pretty fast.
If none of the above are relevant: Discard or summon it ineffectively. And if you summon just to get it out of your hand but don't want to give away flare power, it can always take out one of your own superfluous pieces.
If drawn in an opening hand with Destruction/Devastation showing, you can often straightforwardly trap unsuspecting opponents. This is a good card but a difficult one-- if you use it when ahead in pieces, you're giving up a lot of flare power; if you use it when you're behind, having to oversummon one of your own pieces may hurt. This is best against an opponent applying slow pressure; summon it and they've suddenly wasted the last few turns.
This is a little more general-purpose than most legend-killing beings. But when you think you're slowly building toward it, always take a second to confirm you've lined it up right. It's easy to be off by a space and then oops. (Also, probably ends up as an internal legend-enabler or a way to snag a Conquest task much more often than it kills a legend. And it's WAY more work than it's worth for those purposes, but hey, that is the price Everfrost pays for flexibility.)
This is a very good early being; if you put down two diagonally adjacent pieces, you can extend the line in either direction next turn, and when you do you can summon in FOUR different spots, often destroying one enemy piece and sending another across the board to uselessness. In midgame the Imp is pretty good for 'regrowing'-- solidifying your formation when enemy pieces are tangled up in it. And late game it is at least an okay legend enabler.
Everfrost doesn't seem to have preferences for specific legends as much as some other factions. Instead, the question of whether to try for legends at all varies more. You often can't pull a legend together unless you're in heavy piece power mode, or you get lucky with the puzzle pieces of a clever combo.
So: keep your eyes open for chances to get an unexpected legend (especially with Crystal Grower or Frostweave Summoner) but I would advise you to focus on other things unless you're dominating the board.
One of the limits on Everfrost's power is the "only one frozen effect at a time" rule. When drafting, frozen effects are a little better because you're less likely to run into that limit. On the other hand, Everfrost's oversummoning and other pay-in-piece-power abilities get slightly worse in draft, because unless you have several of those in your deck, they aren't supporting a "do lots of cool stuff without your opponent getting to flare" game plan like they are in Everfrost-- they're just slowing you down.
- Last edited Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:27 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:25 pm
Thanks for taking the time to put this together.