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Subject: Denver's Rankings Part One: The Gems rss

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Denver Hughes
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After beating every nemesis in Aeon's End, War Eternal, and each of their expansions on both normal and increased difficulty, I've decided to go through and rate all of marketplace cards, mages, and nemeses. This is part one: gems. I'm using a scale of 1-4:

Fantastic ****
Solid ***
Situational **
Weak *

Note that I play mostly 2-player games, and only occasionally play with higher player counts. That definitely informs my impressions of all of the cards.

Gems - Aeon's End + Expansions

Jade ***
(Cost: $2. Gain $2.)

Sure, it's nothing fancy. But its cost is equal to the amount of aether it provides when you play it, giving it a great cost:aether ratio relative to the other gems. Buying two jades on your first or second turn can help your economy get off to a roaring start.

V'riswood Amber **
(Cost: $3. When you gain this, you may place it on top of your deck. Gain 2 aether.)

The ability to get a V'riswood Amber quickly after buying it is nice and all, but most of the other 3-cost gems tend to be more impactful, all things considered. But! This can be useful when you want to turbo-start your economy a little bit, or if you need cash in a hurry.

Sifter's Pearl ***
(Cost: $3. Each player reveals the top card of their deck and either discards it or returns it to the top of their deck.)

Sifter's Pearl can be incredibly useful! It helps you cycle through the weak parts of your deck to get to that shiny new expensive purchase. Now, you may run into diminishing returns if you play more than one of these in a single turn, because sifting twice doesn't help you if you don't want to discard the top card of your deck. Still, picking up one or two of these and keeping them separated will help your whole team out for the entire game.

Leeching Agate ****
(Cost: $3. When you gain this, gain 1 charge. Gain $2.)

Arguably the best early-game gem. It's hard to afford charges early on when you're just starting to build your deck, but Leeching Agate allows you to upgrade your economy while also getting some early charges.

Diamond Cluster ***
(Cost: $4. Gain $2. If this is the second time you have played Diamond Cluster this turn, gain an additional $2.)

"Damn it, I split my diamonds!" Paired Diamond Clusters are a great value. However, whenever you buy a pair, you will inevitably be reminded of your lack of facility with basic mathematics, because you WILL split them, and you WILL feel like an idiot. Also, if either the Nemesis or another player screws with your deck or your hand, that can easily ruin your diamonds for multiple turns.

Searing Ruby **
(Cost: $4. Gain $2. Gain an additional $1 that can only be used to gain a spell.)

Searing Ruby seems great on paper, but the more I play, the more I prefer other gems. Sure, it's great for reaching that high-cost spell. But what about getting rid of that power card in a hurry? Or finally getting that +1 damage breach open? Or filling up on charges to get rid of a threat? Almost every time I get a Searing Ruby, I keenly feel the lack of flexibility at some point in the game, and wish I had instead picked up something like a Scoria Slag.

Burning Opal ***
(Cost: $5. Gain $3. You may discard a card in hand. If you do, any ally draws a card.)

These are a little pricey, but Burning Opals give you solid, consistent value. And the option to discard a card so an ally can draw is a great way to make use of extra, unused crystals or sparks.

Banishing Topaz ***
(Cost: $5. Gain $2. You may place any card in hand on top of your deck. If you do, gain an additional $2.)

Yes, it slows down your deck cycle. But holy cow, that's some reliable big money! Great for creating those big-spender turns when you really need them. But you probably don't want to buy more than one, lest they end up in your hand at the same time.

Clouded Sapphire ***
(Cost: $6. Gain $3. If this is the first time you have played Clouded Sapphire this turn, any ally gains 1 charge.)

Expensive, sure, but the 3 aether plus an ally charge is worth it. Clouded Sapphires are great in markets with Transmogrifier and one or two 3-cost cards, because you can leapfrog up to a Clouded Sapphire with just two uses of your Transmogrifier!

Gems - War Eternal + Expansions

Fossilized Scarab **
(Cost: $3. Gain $2 OR Destroy a card in hand.)

The alternate effect of a Scarab--destroy a card in hand--is definitely handy. But in practice, when I draw an aether-or-effect gem, I'm usually reluctant to forgo the aether. There's almost always a big spell I want to get, or a nasty power card I can get rid of. As a result, I don't find myself using the non-aether effect very frequently. This is maybe more of a mental hangup for me than anything else, but it's a problem I run into with all of the WE gems that give me a choice between aether and an effect. For that reason, I typically prefer gems that give you aether AND an effect--like Frozen Magmite, Leeching Agate, and Sifter's Pearl.

Haunted Berylite **
(Cost: $3. Gain $2 OR Discard a card in hand. If you do, gain 2 charges.)

See my comments on Fossilized Scarab. Haunted Berylite's effect is indisputably useful for when you need to charge up in a hurry, and the flexibility is certainly nice. But 90% of the time, I end up treating it like a jade.

Dread Diamond **
(Cost: $3. Gain $2. You may discard a prepped spell. If you do, gain an additional $1.)

With the right mage--i.e., one with lots of sparks and/or opened breaches, like Garu or Jian--you can get a lot of value out of Dread Diamond, and the design is certainly cool. But it will definitely slow down your damage cycle, and the upside is harder to access if you're low on breaches and/or spells. And there are almost always threats on the board that deserve your spells more than the extra aether. Accordingly, this is strictly a situational pick.

Volcanic Glass *
(Cost: $3. When you gain this on your turn, you may spend $2. If you do, any ally also gains a Volcanic Glass and places it on top of their deck. Gain $2.)

This is probably more useful in 4-player games, to help everyone else's economies get going when you have fewer turns to go around. But I play mostly 2-player games, and if I have 5 aether to spend, I'm probably not going to use it on the equivalent of two jades, especially if there are high-impact cards like Burning Opal or Aurora in the marketplace.

Frozen Magmite (or, as my Mom calls it, "Frozen Margarita") ***
(Cost: $3. Gain $2. You may place the next card you gain this turn on top of your deck.)

My wife swears by this one. I often blather on about the economic efficiency of Leeching Agate, but then when some horrible nemesis card comes out, I'm inevitably like "AAHH HONEY USE YOUR FROZEN MAGMITE TO DEAL WITH THAT BEFORE WE DIE PLZ THANK YOU." Anyway. Frozen Magmite is really good for time-sensitive situations where you need that spell, or that blasting staff, or that high-value gem RIGHT THE FUCK NOW. This is especially useful if your deck is getting a little big, such that it would normally take 3-4+ turns to get to your new purchases.

Breach Ore **
(Cost: $4. Gain $2 OR Focus your closed breach with the lowest focus cost.)

If you don't have room for a focusing relic or spell, Breach Ore can be a good back-up. It's just a little expensive for what it does, and it isn't great at powering the kind of big-money turns you need to get rid of nemesis powers. See my discussion of Fossilized Scarab. I would usually rather put a flexing dagger or a primordial fetish in the marketplace instead.

Scoria Slag ****
(Cost: $4. Gain $2. If the nemesis tier is 2 or higher, gain an additional $1.)

The minute you hit Tier 2--which happens pretty quickly in 2-player games, which I play a lot of--Scoria Slag becomes an incredible value. And Tier 2 is when you start hitting must-discard power cards with steep "TO DISCARD" costs. Sure, Scoria Slags are weak in Tier 1. But you can easily work around that by waiting to buy them until late in Tier 1. Great gem!

Alien Element **** or *
(Cost: $4. Gain $1. For each of your breaches with a spell prepped to it, gain an additional $1.)

Alien Element has the highest upside and the lowest downside of any gem in the game. And the design is fun! This is one of my favorite gems to play with. If you order your deck properly--and you have the right mage/market--then you can routinely get 3, 4 or even 5 aether out of Alien Element each turn. Alien Element synergizes fantastically with Feral Lightning, Eternity Charm, and really, any two-breach spell. You just can't screw up, or it becomes nearly useless. Also, if the nemesis messes with your deck (e.g., Crooked Mask), you probably shouldn't invest in these. So, use carefully, and you rarely want to buy more than one.

Erratic Ingot **
(Cost: $5. Gain $2. Gain an additional $2 if there is at least one nemesis turn order card in the turn order discard pile.)

Who likes gambling?! This gem is fun, and can potentially give you tons of money, but the inconsistency is definitely a mark against it. And unlike Alien Element, you often have little control over whether you get the maximum value. So, there are stronger gems. But the design is great, and I'm glad this is in the game!

Pain Stone *
(Cost: $6. Gain $3 OR Gain $2 and deal 1 damage. )

Too expensive for what it does. I keep putting these in the marketplace, but neither my wife nor I ever seem to end up buying any. The ability to trade one aether for one damage is occasionally very useful--say, for Cauterizer, or to strip tokens off of Magus of Cloaks--but that's a pretty specific situation, and I would almost always rather buy a different 6-cost card.

Bloodstone Jewel **
(Cost: $6. When you gain a Bloodstone Jewel for the first time on your turn, gain $3. Gain $3. )

Bloodstone Jewel has amazing value--if you can buy it! In which case, it's effectively a 3-cost card. Pretty sweet! That being said, if you're buying a 6-cost gem early on, the ongoing value of Clouded Sapphire--a charge for an ally every turn--gives it more long-term value, especially if you think you'll be playing it at least two or three times before the game is over. But Bloodstone Jewel works really well with Transmogrifier-based markets. For example: (1) Buy a Transmogrifier. (2) Turn a crystal into a Leeching Agate and get a free charge. (3) Turn the Leeching Agate into a Bloodstone Jewel and get 3 free aether to spend. WELCOME TO VALUETOWN!

************

That's it for the gems. Lemme know what you think. Come back next week for a discussion of all the relics.
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Nicholas P.
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Always fun to see people's opinions. There's more ratings I agree with than I disagree with. Something that I feel is being undervalued however is the "roaring start" and card timings in general. Particularly regarding V'riswood Amber and Diamond Cluster which I feel are the best gems at 3 and 4 cost respectively.

V'riswood Amber: The value in this card has to be measured by the increased efficiency provided by the next card you bought vs the card you would have bought had you not placed V'riswood Amber on top of your deck. I generally only buy one Amber early on, then ride the boost from the next turn throughout the rest of the game.

Diamond Cluster: This card beats out Slag for me because Tier 2 is where things get real and having that 3 aether value just a couple turns earlier makes a huge difference. That first big spell gets online just fast enough to deal with those nasty Tier 2 minions that lots of nemesis have.
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Crazed Survivor
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I love my Erratic Ingot. A for me

Thanks for posting this!
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Christian B
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Razoupaf wrote:
I love my Erratic Ingot. A for me

Thanks for posting this!

I second Raz's comment- this is a great post. but I have to say that I believe E.I. is undervalued- no other card gives a 4-aether output with a single-card footprint in hand; in contrast, your 2nd Diamond Cluster needs a first, Banishing Topaz needs 1 card you are willing to delay a turn, and Alien Element needs to be paired with spells in hand, or else they need to be held in breach past your casting phase. Not to say this makes E.I. inherently better than these others, just that it has its own unique advantage making it at least as useful. On turns when it "misses", hanging on to it for a turn (particularly in solo and 2-player games) will often get you the big money on your next turn. Even in this case, it's not much worse than Banishing Topaz for slowing deck cycle to score spending power, and the turns when it "hits" more than make up for the trade-off, imo.
In any case, thx again for posting. Looking forward to the relics post.
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Kevin Walsh
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Erratic Ingot is brilliant in 3-player or if you're playing 4-player with the variant turn order cards. The reliability in those cases is very high.
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Ryucoo
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My notes on your notes on this game on this website on THE INTERNETS

Dread Diamond
Yeah. I like the cost and the slight flexibility to basically trade one economy (combat) into the other (money). But it’s not quite enough to be a common occurrence. I personally would like to have seen the price come down to $2 (in WE there is no 2 cost diamond) , or the spell convert to $2.

Volcanic Glass
Not a massive fan although gifting someone a free card is pretty cool, especially when in WE $3 is like the cheapest thing you can buy.

Breach Ore
Aye, its nice to have a gem that can do breach admin, so you could in theory have relics that do other shite but its pretty expensive and the relics do the same job but better.

Scoria Slag
Best name, and best gem. Great value, a must for any market setup. Pull out your best Eastenders accent.

Erratic Ignot
In my boring card-by-card review of WE, I basically said this sucked and everyone was like “woooah”. Playing it again It triggers more often than you think, and you can mitigate the luck element of it by holding it back – which is FINE buy it’s still 5 bucks for a f/&%g gem.

Bloodstone Jewel
It’s the right name as getting any sort of value out of this jewel is like getting blood from a f&$%% stone.
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Denver Hughes
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mynameisthis wrote:
V'riswood Amber: The value in this card has to be measured by the increased efficiency provided by the next card you bought vs the card you would have bought had you not placed V'riswood Amber on top of your deck. I generally only buy one Amber early on, then ride the boost from the next turn throughout the rest of the game.


That's a good point about V'riswood! I'll have to put it in my next marketplace and try it out again.
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Denver Hughes
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LuckySweep wrote:
Razoupaf wrote:
I love my Erratic Ingot. A for me

Thanks for posting this!

I second Raz's comment- this is a great post. but I have to say that I believe E.I. is undervalued- no other card gives a 4-aether output with a single-card footprint in hand; in contrast, your 2nd Diamond Cluster needs a first, Banishing Topaz needs 1 card you are willing to delay a turn, and Alien Element needs to be paired with spells in hand, or else they need to be held in breach past your casting phase. Not to say this makes E.I. inherently better than these others, just that it has its own unique advantage making it at least as useful. On turns when it "misses", hanging on to it for a turn (particularly in solo and 2-player games) will often get you the big money on your next turn. Even in this case, it's not much worse than Banishing Topaz for slowing deck cycle to score spending power, and the turns when it "hits" more than make up for the trade-off, imo.
In any case, thx again for posting. Looking forward to the relics post.


Thanks!

And you make a good argument for EI, especially as compared to Banishing Topaz. I'll have to give it another go! Part of the fun of writing posts like this one is to find out what you might have over- or under-valued
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Elliot Davis
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Thanks for posting this! Great read. I am looking forward to your analysis of the Relics and Spells.

I'd be really interested in seeing them all rolled together in a strategy guide format, too. What combos work best? What is best versus what Nemesis? What should particular mages focus on?
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Nicholas P.
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denverhughes wrote:
mynameisthis wrote:
V'riswood Amber: The value in this card has to be measured by the increased efficiency provided by the next card you bought vs the card you would have bought had you not placed V'riswood Amber on top of your deck. I generally only buy one Amber early on, then ride the boost from the next turn throughout the rest of the game.


That's a good point about V'riswood! I'll have to put it in my next marketplace and try it out again.


Yea I especially find this true on Mages that have two Sparks at the bottom of their starting deck. It jumps their turn 2 from 3 aether to 5 aether which is absolutely huge. It also delays the double Spark turn so you don't have to open an extra breach right away.
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Anon Y. Mous
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Searing Ruby is a +2 gem with a perk, comparable to the other 4-cost +2 gems with a perk. Comparing it to +3 gems (which always cost 6, with the exception of the 5-cost Burning Opal which you say is overcosted?) is blatantly unfair.
 
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Denver Hughes
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Ethereality wrote:
Searing Ruby is a +2 gem with a perk, comparable to the other 4-cost +2 gems with a perk. Comparing it to +3 gems (which always cost 6, with the exception of the 5-cost Burning Opal which you say is overcosted?) is blatantly unfair.


chill bruh, you can like whichever imaginary rocks you want, and it's all good with me.

I usually like slags better because they cost 4 and give you a flat +3 for most of the game (esp. in 1- and 2-player games, where you get to Tier 2 pretty quickly). And Tier 2/3 is when you need the biggest money bombs to get rid of brutal nemesis power cards.

And if you can keep two diamond clusters together, each of them is effectively worth +3. But diamonds only cost 4, too. So, I usually favor diamonds and slags over searing rubies--but hey, that's just my opinion.
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