Ebony Kingdoms Ratings – Library

For background on this exercise, see my post earlier today about ratings for vampires.

My system is to rate a card from 1 to 5 (number or stars).  I always liked InQuest Magazine’s system where 2 was an average card, 1 sucked, 3 was strong, 4 was “tournament”, and 5 was best-in-game level.  As long as one keeps in mind that these ratings center around 2 and not 3, then it should intuitively make sense. 

Where I had two ratings for many vampires because of how bland it would be to have a lot of 2’s, since many of the library cards are only relevant to specific decks, I’m only going to bother with a second rating when there seems to be a good reason.  There are a lot of 2’s, but another thing I run across often, again frequently on forums, is people who don’t seem to understand that most CCG cards are average in quality/power.  Most that see play are above the curve, of course.  But, I can’t see the value in labeling every card as either good or bad with nothing in between.

Also, this is just a first pass.

Library Bitmap

Rarity Stars
419 Operation   C *
Bamba   C ****
Brutal Influence   C **
Despiral   C **
Devil-Channel: Feet   C **
Dusk Work   C **
Exile   C ***/**
Familial Bond   C **
Invoke Poison Glands   C **
Jua Vema   C *
Kuta   C *
Mundane   C *
My Kin Against the World   C ***
Neebi   C *
Pallid   C **
Reliquary: Trinket   C *
Supernatural Resistance   C *
Taming the Beast   C **
Tunnel Runner   C ***
Unholy Radiance   C **
Aye   **
Orun   **
Bestial Vengeance   R *
Blood Shield   R **
Edge of the World   R *
Guinea-Bissau Carnival   R *
Hiding in the Open   R **
Ilomba   R **
Impundulu   R ***
Ishtarri Warlord   R *
Make an Example   R *
Mapatano Utando   R **
Nkishi   R **
Powerbase: Luanda   R **
Remnant of the Endless Storm   R *
Savannah Runner   R *
Sense Vibrations   R **
Taking the Skin: Minion   R *
Taking the Skin: Vulture   R **
The Bitter and Sweet Story   R *
Transcendent Laibon   R **
Well-Marked   R **

419 – One of those cards that excites players, even people like me, with how you can get it to work.  Also, one of those cards that requires way too much effort.  I’d compare with Choir.  I’ve built a lot of Choir decks.  I very quickly realized that I’d be far better off in every instance taking all of them out and just bleeding instead.

Bamba – My view that this is the one power card in the set.  Breed cards are superstrong, strong enough to generate hosers like Scourge of the Enochians.  I’ve only played it with a non-Magaji so far, but then, I wasn’t building around it.

Brutal Influence – See my tournament report for how disillusioned I’ve become with what seemed like such a boon to Potence.

Despiral – Arguing over the merits of cards like these is what burns me out on CCGs.  I love good analysis.  I don’t love less than good analysis.  Anyway, I see no reason for this card’s existence.  Bleed is easy.  J.S. Simmons, Tasha Morgan, and Camera Phone are not only free but can be moved around with Heidelberg.  Nevermind that Ishtarri have Presence which is only vying with Dementation as the second best bleed discipline in the game.  I don’t see where Despiral has any impact on Ishtarri or the game.  Still, it’s far from unplayable, so I can’t say it sucks.

Feet – I’ve seen it played.  It was unspectacular.  Lot of effort to put into a combat card.  I’m sure Abombwe would be a lot happier with an Earth Meld or a Majesty than with this.

Dusk Work – It’s not easy piling Aye and/or Orun on minions, even now.

Exile – It may not be easy to get 3, 4, or more Orun on a minion, but sometimes banishing a 4 cap is sexy, and the inferior is reasonable.

Familial Bond – Is it as complicated as it reads?  No.  Is it complicated to pay off?  Yes.

Jua Vema – Why does this exist?  I guess because there was a name in the RPG background that the CCG uses.  But, this is absurdly redundant, which just pains me when EK is only a 60 card set and Laibon deserve so much more.

Kuta – Yet another thing a lot of less analytical CCG players have trouble grasping is that every card has an opportunity cost.  A card may do something just fine until you realize that you could have played a vastly stronger card instead.  There are vastly stronger cards than Kuta, many of which don’t see much play.

Mundane – I despise cards like this.  I believe hosers (I won’t go into how I define hosers) make CCGs less fun to play.  If something is a problem – Laibon are clearly not, then deal with it with bannings or errata or by having the metagame shift “organically” to mitigate/remove the problem.

My Kin Against the World – I feel like this is overrated as I think all untap-on-my-turn effects are overrated, but we will see.  Openended effects tend to be abusable.

Pallid – See Mundane for what I think of this.  Where Mundane’s alternative effect is questionable due to the existence of cards like Direct Intervention, I can see transient master intercept being used to supplement other intercept in questionable decks.

Supernatural Resistance – Just too random with too much setup.

Tunnel Runner – As I said on White Wolf’s forum, this is my kind of card, but I can’t get too excited due to playing around with Ananansi Vampirephiles a fair amount.  I do think it’s better than AV.

Aye & Orun – Prior to this set, it would be a nobrainer to give each of these one star.  I almost never played them in my Laibon decks, having to go way out of my way to build around them and still not seeing any point.  Individually, they still don’t do hardly anything, being pretty much just enablers.  With too many of the cards that use them being of less than high quality, it’s questionable how much value they are adding.

Blood Shield – The question here is why I rated it above one star.  It’s a fairly annoying permanent once it gets into play.  That could be said for a lot of bad cards in this game and other CCGs, but I don’t think it’s too much effort to throw into a decent number of Osebo decks.

Edge of the World – “Win more” cards – cards that don’t help you get into a winning position but help when you are already winning – tend to be awful in CCGs.  Now, I’d say this is less true in V:TES, where frequently needing to recover after getting a victory point occurs.  Still, too narrow for this clan.  For Malks or some such it would be far scarier.

Guinea-Bissau – Way too much setup.  Master slots are so precious.

Ishtarri Warlord – I was hoping for help for Ishtarri combat decks in this set.  So, what’s the problem?  The problem is that the reason I’ve never seen an Ishtarri combat deck is because they have no good way of avoiding being ousted.  This card doesn’t address real weaknesses, it just adds marginally to a strength.  It’s also overcosted.  Should be free and a trifle.  Much rather have seen a decent Ishtarri ally to help Jibade and the clan.  As for its defensive uses, it’s ridiculous to be wasting master slots on this.

Make an Example – Where Warlord does nothing to address the Ishtarri’s weakness of survivability in the absence of vote bloat, this card actually does address the Guruhi problem of how to get actions through.  I’m curious as to whether it will work.  I doubt it will.  For all that Perfectionist and The Guruhi Are the Land exist, playing a bunch of cards to discourage blocking without hurting oneself strikes me as far too much effort.

Remnant – Splashy, to be sure.  Easily restealable for three of the Laibon clans after someone steals it from its owner.  But, what hole does it address?  Two of the Laibon clans can bloat well assuming their actions aren’t blocked.  The other two can defend well enough to retain their pool assuming enough cards are put into defense.  So, this isn’t unplayable.  But, other than being cool, how is it helping you win?

Savannah Runner – A card that combines the effects of intercept and untap would seem less junky than I rate this.  Of course, people often overlook with cards like Diversion that you only get one of the effects on the card at a time.  This is overcosted intercept *or* a complicated wake.  I’m not seeing this make Ishtarri intercept combat a worthwhile deck.

The Bitter and Sweet Story – I’m no fan of hand size.  I mostly just don’t care.  I think there are two reasons other people care far more than I do.  The first is that I think people don’t really do the math on hand size and grossly overrate the value of having a larger hand size.  The second is that some other people build decks differently to where hand size has more of an impact. 

The value of a larger hand size or not having a smaller hand size is in starting a chain of card play – in comboing cards.  I don’t tend to build complicated card chains in my decks.  My usual plays, especially in serious decks, are things like:  wake + bounce; stealth + bleed pump; vote + Voter Captivation; combat ends or dodge; maneuver to long with my .44.  My better decks also run Dreams of the Sphinx, The Barrens, Heart of Nizchetus, and/or other ways of moving cards to tune my hand as necessary. 

While I have a hard time imagining putting this card in any deck, I do think it has some amusing psychological effects.  Those people who value hand size will on the one hand want to get VPs to get the larger hand but will also fear opponents more who get VPs.  It’s almost funny enough to play just to see if I can get people to punish anyone who is close to getting a VP or who gets one while I play my usual slow, inoffensive game.

I left out comments on some of the other cards that would have been entirely predictable.  Who wants to read 2000 word blog posts?


3 Responses to Ebony Kingdoms Ratings – Library

  1. Bill Ricardi says:

    I’ll tell you right now, I hate this set. It is a bunch of small effects that supposedly add up to more than the sum of their parts. I scoff at this set. Scoff.

    As far as your card analysis, I’m pretty much in agreement. I would give Tunnel Runner a 2 not 3, and Edge of the Word 2 not 1. And Remnant of the Endless Sun needs a smiley face, because striking for 6 is just hilarious.

    I hate this set.

  2. iclee says:

    I need to change my settings so that I see people’s comments earlier.

    Having seen Tunnel Runner in action, it’s amazing how much better it is than Ananansi Vampirephile, which is not a terrible card. A bleeder with built in stealth? Regeneration to pay for the stealth? Unlimited access to Animalism?

    The set feels really, really small. That was okay (kind of) with themes I never cared about, like Black Hand. It’s painful when the Laibon should be getting so much more love.

  3. […] Ebony Kingdoms Ratings – Library […]

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