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Review: The commons from Minerelves' seal
#1
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It's a little late (almost the 4th week of the patch), but I think it's never too late to share opinions. Since I'm bad at introductions so here we go :) It will be long, so take your coffee and milk (and refill packs if needed). If you're rushing, there's a Tl;Dr section at the end of each card. 

P/s: It's been a very long time since I last wrote card reviews (and the first time in EN), so if there's something to be improved just comment below. It's like starting again from a novice in terms of writing experience...

Enjoy :)



[Image: 60] Timid Prodigy - Sapphire 

One of the cards introduced for the new control-specific shields, she honestly gives that "a common card designed for a new shield and probably useless elsewhere" vibe when I first read about her skills in a content preview news. But...read a little bit more, and this is what you'll find: 

1. She gives defence to 0. 
2. She actually gives damage boost up to x2.6, but with a tricky condition. 
3. She has a surprisingly short CD of 5. Let's look at each point. 

Defence to 0 as a Water Elf is nothing new, we already know Jinnie and she's the conditional card we all only remember when there's a few billion of defences to break through, and you get royally screwed if you forget to dissolve heart runes. What Sapphire does better than Jinnie in this regard? First, you don't need heart runes for Sapphire to function, as long as the enemy is controllable you can use her. This is a nice plus, because that means you can use her in Abraham and Atlantis with Wen Zhong's active skill activated at the same time (and let's be serious, among the meta Water leaders we have now, none of them gives heart runes on the board when you need to burst). Less trouble reducing defences! 

The damage boost is where I find her usage becomes interesting, I'll talk about it with the short CD together. The condition for x2.6 boost is to have at least 4 seconds of spinning time left when you end your spin, which looks harsh, but is actually not really that bad with what we have currently. Use her in Diamond team, and paired with Diamond's active you get 16 seconds of spinning time to finish your spin and get 2.6x2 damage boost in total, which functions as a perfect burst. In Jade team, use her with Emerald and make a cheesy 1-combo heart group which still does amazing damage. In other Elf teams, you can still pair her with Rose, Amber or even Xi Shi to make an easy board to trick that damage boost out. She also works if you are just finding a burst assistant for Pupuro in Aqua/Shiva team (technically also works in Ophiuchus team if you have a million Elves in the team). Basically, when you use her alone for the damage boost, it isn't going to work well, but it works tons better when you combo it with something else for a burst. Best part? CD5. It is almost guaranteed that she's already up when the skill you want to combo with comes up. Basically, my Machina killer for Diamond team in Coliseum, either Sapphire-Emerald or Sapphire-Diamond combo will have the power to nuke them away. If it's in a real stage with way higher health, maybe I'll use a craft as well...it's Diamond's problems, not Sapphire's, so maybe ignore it for this context. 

Of course there's much to complain. Defense ignore does not work on uncontrollable, you cannot use her with another control skill (Urd, Yidhra, Poppy, etc) or one round after a previous control expired (Urd, Poppy, etc), extra damage boost does not work with time tunnel, actually requiring another active to possibly maximize the benefits of her active (although cases that make her a nice pair does exist, like pairing her with Xi Shi against Quintet shield), boost immediately becomes awkwardly low without forced spin time extension against 2-second round, etc. But considering she as a common card that everyone can (hopefully) easily pick up, it isn't that bad after all, especially for new players or players that have an awfully pitiful Elf deck. What can go wrong with a widely compatible booster + defense nullifier at a low CD? 

And she's quite a waifu material here...don't change my mind. I will say that you don't need dupes for her unless you really don't have anything else, but feel free to keep them for the yearly riddles event. 

Tl;Dr: 

+ You cannot screw the defense ignore up. 
+ Does not have much problems living with most meta teams for defense ignore. 
+ Actually surprisingly high x2.6 damage boost if you get the requirement. 
+ Works well with a lot of other Elf cards that we already know. 
+ CD5. 
+ Use cases for damage outside of Elf teams are sometimes questionable, but still works. 

- Ignore defense does not work if enemy is uncontrollable. 
- Defense ignore cannot be used if another control skill is active or used in the previous round. 
- Highly possibly requires another card to assist her in bursting (spinning simplifier). 
- Attack boost becomes low against 2-second round without forced spinning time extension. 

Dupes: Keep up to 3, but only train 1.


[Image: 60] Unbridled Ego - Ruby

Almost the same as Sapphire. Same benefits as Sapphire on the defence ignoring part (and she's the only defence ignore card I can think of for Fire now, I'm not even sure if others exist because the solution for me had always been "bruteforce with Delta"), same drawbacks. The part worth discussing for her will be her conversion and damage boost, which sits at CD6 (awkwardly slightly longer than Sapphire).

Trying to not convert away your heart runes makes her well-compatible with almost all teams (the only exception I thought of will be in Chessia team after you use Chessia's active, since it's highly likely that you won't get 4 dissolvable colours after Ruby's convert which can really kill your chance of winning the burst, and you will want to convert after Chessia's convert for the sweet Elf runes), and it only works better in Elf teams since they more or less depend on heart runes for damage. What's not that sweet is that there isn't a meta Elf leader that does attributive runes = other attributive runes for team skill or leader skill, so you will be sacrificing some other damage for her Fire attacks. This can be an acceptable situation or not, depending on what you're doing, but most of the times it should be negligible (since you're getting enchanted Fire Elf runes for Ruby in which the damage given will be noticeably better than raw Fire runes). It will even result in a better situation if you are using her in a team with noticeably more Fire members (mainly Sakura, but who knows if you have no cards to use and have to really use her in Phanes or some trollish Fire leader...)

The damage boost from her comes from extra attacks, which can happen up to 6 times if you have 6 heart runes on the board the moment after you finish your spin. This part is important, because it gives you more flexibility on how you want to ensure the 6 extra attacks - either you convert it beforehand, or you use Emerald to drag it out. Damage boost from extra attacks is a little bit weird, because most of the times they will be weaker than direct multiplication due to the effect of enemy defence values. This isn't a problem for Ruby as she nullifies defence (if enemy is not uncontrollable), so for most of the times you can treat her as a self x6 at CD6 plus some convert, which is actually not horrible for a common card (compare to Menthuthuyoupi which is a collab biweekly card with CD6 self x6 without convert). Being a card that gives out extra attacks also has a small perk that you can play with - equip a craft that charges by launching attacks on her to experience the power of quick charging (with 6 extra attacks you are basically gaining charges worth a little less than two rounds in one). This perk can be noticeably useful when you need it, so maybe just keep that in mind :)

What will be her problems? Most noticably, you have to get heart runes to maximize her usability. DO NOT think that you can slot her in Sakura and ignore the problem, Sakura is in fact more likely to give Ruby a bad time with her ability to dissolve heart in doubles (how many heart runes can you have on the board after skydrops take them all away?). To use Ruby properly you are almost guaranteed to slot in a converter, which can be a big problem at times. Emerald and Rose are probably going to be good friends with Ruby for this reason. I'm actually quite looking forward to see how she performs if Rose gets a buff in the future, but let's see if people remember her until that day then. Her role as a burst provider is also easily questioned in non-Elf teams. Not because 6x is too little, but 6x as an Elf is indeed a little too little. A 6x from her just feels like giving 3.5x to Tyr. Doesn't mean you can't use her outside of Elf teams (she converts Elf runes for herself so it's still possibly borderline acceptable if you just want single-entity damage for whatever reason), but it will not be a popular option and only will happen if the player has nothing else better to use, or you're just desperate for some defence ignore. 

Just like Sapphire, she's a decent option if you have the chance to combo her with something (most probably Rose or Emerald), but just doesn't work that well alone. And also just like Sapphire, dupes are only for riddles and probably nothing else.

Or oh well, you can go full meme to run triple Ruby and a Morris plus Diamond/Jade/Daji as dual leader...it will work, but why would you even try to do that?

Tl;Dr:

+ Same defence ignore effect as Sapphire, which makes her equally compatible as her in meta teams.
+ Reasonable conversion that does not take out heart runes.
+ Elf runes, what could go wrong.
+ With defence ignore, attacking 6 extra times is almost similar to having 6x self attack (in most of the cases).
+ Works well with crafts that charge based on attack count.

- Actually does not work too well with Chessia (why would you use her with Chessia anyway?).
- Relies on heart runes for extra attack count, tying her relationship with heart converters.
- Extra attacks on self with a low attack base value isn't amusing in non-Elf teams.
- Also the same drawbacks as Sapphire's defence ignore (does not work against uncontrollable and other ongoing controls)

Dupes: Can keep up to 3, but only train 1. There's the meme value if you train all of them, but proceed at your own sanity.


[Image: 60] Gem of Vitality - Emerald

I think I referred to her use for quite a number of times up there. Indeed, she's one of the members that you cannot go wrong with when it comes to Elf teams that rely on heart runes for damage (and she combos well with almost every card in this series, for real). At first sight the ability feels super underwhelming (since we all know that similar abilities are available for other attributes and none of us cared to actually use them), but she seems to quite suit the rainbow nature of Elf teams that relies on heart runes as a universal damage source, and the enchanted Elf runestones just make it better. Due to the nature of the skill, you also get the choice to (somehow) choose what you want to convert so that you can make the most out of the conversion. Some IQ might be required for it, but you know what I mean. Like, moving away attributes that aren't in your team, attributes that aren't helpful, etc. Limited, but still kinda acceptable in most cases.

Emerald like the others with similar skills can be considered as a damage buff, although she creates heart runes and also gives a x1.5 bonus to recovery. The recovery bonus might not really be noticed in most Elf teams anyway, unless you're doing huge overheals against Nidhogg or something similar. Whether you're going to use her or not probably depends on how she proves herself to be useful as a damage buffer...and honestly, she does the job pretty decently, and only gets better under certain circumstances. The main reason for that is still due to the rainbow nature of Elf teams, in which having a bunch of stuff in which everyone can get benefited from is really great.

If you fulfil the condition of having your health at 1 at the time of skill activation, you can enjoy the effect for two rounds, which is something that I find myself asking "do I need it"... the answer can be highly subjective and depending on your situation and overall game plan. With proper planning and stage support (you really need an enemy to reduce your HP to 1 if you intend to play like this in Diamond team), you can use her to execute fun stuff like two-round burst for a single enemy (CD2 Trojan, for example), or two-round burst for two enemies on different floors. Of course it isn't always as optimistic as this, but having a trick to play just makes a card better.

You can probably find Emerald useful in almost every Elf team that welcomes her (which probably means every except for Diablo and Cornflower, but they are hardly in meta anyway so we can put them aside for the time), and Rose/Jade/Diamond might find her extra useful due to that they rely on heart runes for damage and can go as rainbow as they want. Due to how her skill works you can even cheese puzzle shields/burning trail/sticky trail/masked trail with it and some planning. In Rose, you can also use Emerald to get a headstart row of hearts if the board is bad, and thanks to the Elf runestones you can almost consider it to be a less good version of Rose's active (because you cannot clear weathered with Emerald) when used it that way. If the ancient Elf Babylon leader aka Lucy is still alive in the meta, she would love Emerald as well because you can cheese a column with her too. If you think in this way, you will also realise that the two-round effect is actually generous and useful if you planned it right. But oh well, they are old leaders anyway, so you might not find yourself doing tricks like these, but with these examples you should have a rough idea on what you can do with her. Quite versatile and fun card to me.

The biggest drawback will be that she will almost never find a place outside of Elf teams, due to that the current meta does not really rely on heart conversion for healing or damage (except for Elf teams), the fact that she only buffs Elves, and a condition for two-round effect that you can only probably execute properly in suitable Elf teams. Surely you can still use her in generic Earth teams, but it will be a last choice for players that really don't have anything more suitable for a stage that demands healing. Even Matryoshka might work better for healing purposes in generic Earth teams, so there isn't really a reason to play weird stuff like that.

In overall, you can find Emerald as a wild card to put in most Elf teams when you don't know what to do with the empty slot there and it will probably work, and if you know what you're doing you might enjoy using her a lot. Before Jade/Diamond's damage fall out of meta anyway, after falling out of meta she'll get the same fate as a lot of other Elf cards, finding no home in any place outside the inventory.

Oh, I trained two copies as well. Just in case, she has that dupe value for speedfarming and just as a generic wildcard member for Elf teams in general. Too bad I don't have Jade, or I'll really abuse that active all day every day.

Tl;Dr:

+ Actually combos well with almost every card in this seal. Almost works in every meta Elf team.
+ Heart runes in rainbow Elf teams = Profit. (Except in Cornflower and Diablo)
+ Can be used to cheese masked/burning/sticky trail, puzzle, and maybe others as we get them.
+ Can be used to give headstarts in teams that rely on a specific spinning pattern (Rose).
+ A you-choose-what-you-convert conversion skill, very versatile.
+ Two-round effect gives a lot of power when the situation allows, or if your plan allows. Also includes some speedfarm potential.

- Condition for 2-round effect is quite harsh to get for most teams.
- Almost no use outside of Elf teams, drops out of sight after Elf meta goes out of sight. Which is inevitable at the end.

Dupes: Can train up to 2. Keep at most 3. 


[Image: 60] Dorky Dreamer - Opal

I was quite hyped when I first read her skill, because that means we are finally getting a good weathered explode for Light and for Elves in general. Remember the days trying to let Sakura generate an easy board just because the next enemy is going to shower it with weathered runes? Say hi to Opal, the cheap and efficient solution to this problem. Why cheap? Because uh...you can do the same with Jade's active, but she's just easier to get. Efficient? Because Rhodochrosite does it too but at a longer CD (although to be fair she gives team-wide damage boost so it's justified).

But most of the times my hype doesn't really go well...and she's really a little bit underwhelming. On first sight, I had the thought of "holy yes a Dyna for Elves" but let's see, she's far from there. Two of what she explodes can be solved by enchanting (which Aquamarine also does that at CD6) or converting (Nyx is a thing), so that makes her not that important if all you want to do is to kill some weakened runes. Weathered exploding is what really defines her value here, because there are just a little too less cards that does that especially in the Light or Elf arena (remember using Lucifer's mass convert to deal with initial 9x weathered?). Her conditional self x5 is decent with a condition so easy that you can probably ignore, although it also suffers from the same problem as Ruby's. Not attractive if you have members with higher attack than her (1090 x 5 is barely a x2 of an ancient Light Demon card), but of course, feel free to bring her for the weathered explode in cases that you need her because that is like what she's exactly designed to do.

You can easily put her in most Elf teams for simple board hazard solving, but I think Diamond/Daji/Ophiuchus will love her the most. Jade and Amber have their own actives to deal with these hazards, and while Sakura/Rose can give her a home, you are probably going to deal with those hazards yourself with spinning in Sakura and Rose is barely played these days (but Opal fits in really well with Rose to be frank). Diamond who doesn't know how to deal with board hazards apart from spinning will find Opal useful, same for Daji (although arguably Daji can use better options). Ophiuchus is a special face here, but we all know how he struggles with weathered runes and Opal will work with him happily after his buff that saved him from oblivion. Besides that, due to Ophiuchus' special nature of God/Elf setup, Opal's self x5 does not look awkward or restricted there because she works independently. You're not leaving anyone out resulting a less optimal burst active, and there's no one to leave as well - just Opal and her small nuke. Opal also works with TSZ, although you clearly have better choices over there (Sirius). But in a desperate situation, everything works, eh?

Although I do hope that her nuke is going to be powerful enough. Hopefully yes, or just slap a few more actives in...

Regarding dupes, I trained two copies. The idea is that I might need some quick help in Diamond team when doing JOs and Opal just sounds like the answer to that. However just train to your liking, and don't decompose too much :)

And it's not like you're going to use Diamond in JO anyway, YZ is always the correct solution to that.

Tl;Dr:

+ Weathered explode, a first-of-its-kind for Elves.
+ Condition for self x5 is quite low, plus CD6 makes it an okay choice.
+ Works with most Elf teams, and some others like Ophiuchus.
+ Damage boost is independent, no tying down to other cards or have to care about other cards.

- Jade actually already does exploding.
- Not much of a use unless it's really for weathered runes, weakened and locked can be solved by enchanting/converting to race runes/simply converting which there are cards that already do so.
- Base attack is so low that the self x5 gets disappointing in non-Elf teams. 

Dupes: One is probably enough, but you can train a dupe just in case. Keep at most 3. 

[Image: 60] Volcanic Blade - Obsidian

Finally, an unlock for Elves. Her purpose is so straightforward that I think we don't need to go deep into details for this - unlock for Elves, and that's it. Also, unlock for only Elves. Do you see what's the problem now?

Yes, that kinda restricts her use of unlocking to only Elves...which is pretty bad, although there isn't much reason to create a universal unlocker considering that Birdcage and Brynhildr are there. The good thing is that her unlock is available at CD5, so there's less trouble if there's a lock at R2 or some crappy cases that might happen in this game. And, she gives combos upon activation and gives even more if she manages to unlock something, up to 12 combos...well, maybe not that bad after all considering that 12 combos give quite a hefty buff to the damage dealt! You do need a full team of Elves for that to happen, but why wouldn't you let her work with a full team of Elves anyway?

Cases that will make you want to put her in non-Elf teams does exist, but we'll get to that later.

Let's discuss a little on her combo buffs and how that affects Obsidian's general usability - you're probably going to use her a little bit more, even if you're not going to unlock anything in the stage. She gives "real combos", aka combos that are taken into account for enemy skills like 9+ combo shield. Ignoring the extra damage from the 2 combos (it diminishes so much when you spin properly that it isn't really worth doing the maths for it), she's actually great to have when facing an enemy with 7+ combo shield or more. If you use her against a 7+ combo shield enemy, you effectively reduced the difficulty of the skill to 5+ combo shield, giving you more freedom on conversion and spinning plans. For 8+ up to 10+ combos, you can still use her to reduce that to a level in which you don't need to deal with board RNG to actually deal with it without skydrops. We all know that it isn't always possible to get a 8-combo board even with time tunnels, so Obsidian can help a little on this. Taking Malachite's stage as an example, the 9+ combo shield on Amber is actually better solved with Obsidian + Diamond/Daji rather than trying to spin 9+ combos after doing a conversion with Amber since the latter is significantly harder due to the vortexes. Spinning 7 combos in 20 seconds after both skills sound like a better plan in every way I can think of (although I cleared the stage with the latter solution... but with skydrops).

Until now, we're still putting Obsidian in the Elf-team context. Try pulling her out...well, bad news, because we have Brynhildr, Zhuge Liang, and even without considering other cards these two cards already gave enough reason to not use Obsidian outside of Elf teams. Comparing to another restricted-unlock card, Miku EXPO, the latter gets her chance in non-Miku teams as well due to how she combos well with Pierrot Miku, so even if only two cards gets unlocked they will still contribute godly damage to cover up what's lost (see how people clear Malachite with them). For Obsidian, it's not likely you'll be able to whip up something similar for her since bursts for Elves are scattered around every attribute instead of her Dark (except for Daji, but I think if you have Daji SR you should have probably better options other than her, unless it's an early lock, which is still very rare). There are also some rarer use cases that might be helpful, such as unlocking Obsidian and Morris only to allow you to grind past a skill lock in the very unlucky case of not having Brynhildr, but they should be treated as creative plays instead of what you'll go for the standard. Plus, Brynhildr is free to get, so it is extremely rare to meet a situation that requires you to do that. 

Weirdly I still think of Ophiuchus on the topic of "unlocking only Elves". Ophiuchus is the kind of leader that you can put in a bunch of Elves and he only rewards you for doing so (as long as you still get enough health) despite being a God himself. If you want to use Obsidian for 2 more seconds of spinning time instead of Brynhildr, you are always free to do so because they actually have similar health without considering Brynhildr's dragonware. If you can unlock Shyplant, you can highly possibly grind through that lock. Or, even better, have enough Elves in there so that the bonus combos can be high enough to warrant you a proper burst with your Elf members. So, there's something for you to play around if you're desperate, although it still doesn't change the fact that Obsidian is still strongly conditional if you aren't going to use her for her unlock in an Elf-only team.

You won't probably need dupes for this one, at least I decomposed mine. Not like you need a bunch of them to build a portal to the Nether of Salt, being able to do it does not mean that you should do it. 

Tl;Dr:

+ Actually an Elf unlock.
+ Gives huge damage boost if you unlocked a bunch of Elves.
+ Gives "true combos", which can help in reducing difficulty of combo shields even if you aren't unlocking anything.
+ Health is actually high enough to be compared to Brynhildr, not counting Dragonware. This is important if you want to cheese achievements.

- Actually an "Elf unlock".
- Damage boost is nonexistent if you aren't unlocking anything.
- Not much to combo with, not much use other than unlocking.
- Probably useful for creative plays outside of Elf teams, which you probably won't care anyway.

Dupes: No, you only need one. Unless she's your waifu and you're willing to train 5x of her.



Well that's it! Hope that it's helpful to discuss on how you can use (or abuse) these new faces in your inventory. I might sound very optimistic in my sentences but then that's what I generally think about cards, there's almost always a use case for a certain card to shine. It's TOS after all. Also, apologies if there are mistakes throughout this post, it isn't easy to not accidentally misfire when writing thousands of words -w-

Now, time to eagerly wait to see how the girls perform after we are out of this patch. 

:)

~

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