This week, Dire Wolf Digital announced the newest mechanic, Mastery. This mechanic rewards you for having Units and Weapons stick around and deal damage. Let’s see what the TRS fam thinks about this new addition to the arsenal and some of the cards we see with it.
Mastery is probably going to be a starter deck theme. I’m already thinking way past that and the first direction I’m going is a Parry: Mastery deck. Skycrag and Hooru aggro specifically.
I wonder if another of the new mechanics is going to be the opposite of Mastery? Damage that the unit receives triggers the mechanic instead of damage dealt. It could pair pretty well in limited.
Mastery has the potential to be super busted, and it makes me very excited to brew. Plus, I’m always looking for ways to abuse Haunting Scream and other similar strategies, so that’s where I’ll be starting with this.
I think the mechanic is sweet. Being able to keep track even when it changes zones while also refreshing if you’ve already hit the ability is a great boon. My first thought is that we might see a resurgence of Scream Queen with this ability fueling some cool new synergies.
The cards themselves are lackluster, except for the legendary. I could see them all being passable draft cards with cool synergies like pump effects so we might be in for a draft format like Defiance. The new set has been hinting at a Curse-matters theme and the Raven is another hint at that, but it really depends what Curses they have at common to see if the ability is any good.
The legendary is very exciting in constructed for Oni tribal alongside Jishu and Shogun’s Scepter. They don’t run recursion in Oni’s, so the changing of zones is less relevant, but the the raw stats it receives should be enough to warrant constructed playability.
Mastery is a mechanic that, in my opinion, promotes two key agendas. On one hand, Mastery will facilitate increased unit interaction (of both the between-unit and targeted spell variety) because it’s risky to let a unit with Mastery connect more than once. On the other hand, Mastery will incentivize aggressive strategies to incorporate more evasion tactics so as to increase the likelihood of a Mastery unit connecting. While these incentive structures for Mastery seemingly prioritize unit interaction on a surface level, what they really prioritize is a Voltron-style gameplan. The only effective thing I want to do with these Mastery cards is slap some buffs on them and go to town. Whether that style of play is enjoyable depends on personal preference, but I really don’t expect there to be much nuance beyond this with the Mastery mechanic. Either the payoffs and costs will be too costly to make a card viable (see Relentless Combatant), or the conditions for triggering Mastery will be slightly too convenient (see Akko, Inspired Artist). I’m personally unimpressed with this mechanic, and I hope that The Flame of Xulta will introduce other mechanics with more robust and interesting incentive structures.
I think this is a really interesting mechanic, although it feels like it will shine mostly in limited unless a card is very pushed. The fact that this mechanic persists in different zones is a big deal and is what could help push it towards constructed viability, maybe with cards like Haunting Scream to recur the cards for value.
Relentless Combatant: Definitely a limited card, as this card is under-stated and it isn’t easy to get his Mastery off. I don’t see this card seeing play in constructed, and if we wanted to combo this style of card with Haunting Scream, I’d just play Aika, Whirling Death.
Thunderclaw Raven: similar to Relentless, this card’s rate and pay off do not come close to accounting for its Mastery activation. Although an interesting card, this one is doomed from the start in constructed.
Sword of Judgement: Hit the broken record. This card’s rate is so poor that triggering its effect is nowhere near the investment. Specifically, as a weapon, this doesn’t affect the board besides stats and so this card doesn’t really have a payoff either. +5/+5 total is not worth 4 power, without any upside.
Akko: The most viable card today, Akko is a unit that can triggers its first ability after its first attack making it a 1 cost 2/3. Despite this, I confess that I think this card is too much work to make viable. Ultimately, he needs removal with him to clear the path, and the Mastery 9 is extremely unlikely to occur. This being an Oni is relevant, and maybe having 3 x 1 cost mono Fire Oni’s helps, but that’s the only home I can really see it in currently.
Sorry for being a negative pain in the ass :^(
Mastery is definitely a cool mechanic and another one that will excel in the digital space. Having constructed and draft cards that are ultimately underwhelming in the stat department become lightning rods for removal as we scale into the late game. Akko, Inspired Artist is clearly meant to be the premiere hype card for the mechanic. It’s not as good as Oni Ronin of course, but I definitely think this is a step in the right direction for the Oni tribal deck they’re slowly seeding in. It’s a reasonable one-drop that incidentally pumps itself up with a weapon. Also, a reasonable consideration to test in a Rakano Plate style deck. Should be a fun mechanic to explore!