WHICH STARTER SET SHOULD I CHOOSE?
To start, let’s go into some basics about each Sphere of Influence. Most players will want to make their decision based on the overall game play philosophies of Refess, Lawtia, Gowen, and Falkow.
Refess is the most balanced of all the colors. It contains powerful healing abilities, armored soldiers with plenty of offensive and defensive abilities, and by a slim margin, the best SP generation of your four choices. Refess Card Files don’t like to see their units go to the Cemetery, and thanks to all the healing, buffing and Revival at Refess’s disposal, they usually don’t have to. This color’s strategy revolves around consistency, solid front lines, units that buff each other, and versatile support cards. Refess tends to be below average in the AGI department, so expect to be slow against fast Card Files.
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Lawtia is probably the most extreme of the colors, but it can also be the most powerful. If a Lawtia Iczer wins with only 1 LP remaining, his first thought is “all that matters is that I won.” In fact, you could say that if he had too much LP to spare, then he wasn’t dueling in the spirit of Lawtia. Lawtia units have excellent offensive capabilities. While a few of them have strong defense, they often do almost as much damage to themselves, and their Iczer, as they do to the enemy (but with Lawtia, that “almost” counts for a lot). Lawtia units get bonuses at night, which means a little timing can really go a long way. The other thing Lawtia is good at is burning the enemy’s SP. Killing off a point of SP here or there can really cripple an opponent’s strategy, and no one is better at it than Lawtia. Combine SP burn with the night bonuses, and you can see that with a Lawtia Card File, timing is absolutely vital. Lawtia cards tend to have either average or very high speed and plenty of medium range but no exceptional archers.
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This Sphere is known for fighting, and that means they have big hit points, do big damage, or both. Their Grimoire cards generally do straight damage, and their support cards are the best at giving bonuses to AT. Their biggest advantage however, is not strength but speed. With stronger level 2 cards than anyone else, you’ll have a solid fighting force on the field quick. Also, Gowen units have a wide range of AGI values, from slow tanks to lightning fast swordsmen. When building a Gowen Card File, you’ll usually find you have more inexpensive AGI 4 choices than any other color, and those will make a big difference. Gowen cards also have Rankup, which means that when your Sphere Level in Gowen reaches a certain point, your cards essentially get a level up and become a little stronger. If you don’t have enough SP to pull out a card, you can drop a point or two into your Sphere level and get some quick payoff. To balance out all this power, Gowen has one big disadvantage: defense. If you play Gowen, you can count on having basically no armor and very little healing. Overall, Gowen’s strategy is simple: take control of the field early, and then hold onto it by hitting your enemy as hard as you can with a balance of power and speed.
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Some Iczers will consider Falkow to be the weakest of the four colors. It’s definitely the thinking man’s sphere, and has the potential to dominate any game… provided the Iczer plans everything out in advance and never makes a misstep. Falkow rewards card combos the way Lawtia rewards timing. Falkow is one of the best colors for defense. You might see less cards with a DF value than Refess has, but in practice Falkow has it in all the right places. Falkow cards don’t do much damage by themselves, but they are good at landing their attacks where they count, with a few different ways to target opponents and some very strong ranged fighters. Technically, Falkow cards have the highest AGI on average, but because a lot of their best fighters are AGI 1 or 2, Falkow can feel slow. Also, because Falkow’s strength is in the combos, setting up takes a bit of effort. Where Falkow really shines are special abilities. Falkow card skills are among the strongest, and they are the masters of key strategies like AGI manipulation and returning cards. If your idea of fun is to plan out all your moves and contingency plans in advance, you might be able to tap into Falkow’s hidden strength.
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By now you should be familiar with the Spheres of Influence. Basically, to play cards of a certain level, you need to spend SP to raise the appropriate Sphere Level. If you have two colors, you need to spend SP on two different Sphere Levels. This can put a multicolor deck at a big disadvantage. There are a few ways around this. The first one is the six Great Spirits. These are six cards spread out among the four colors that represent the six forces that make up the world: Light, Shadow, Fire, Water, Earth and Air. They all cost one SP and have a powerful Open Skill, in addition to being decent level one cards. Since they give you a lot of power for just one SP, it’s not such a big drain to include them even if they’re not your color. Salamanders are a great addition to a Refess Card File, and Sylph will make sure your slow Gowen tank hits first and hits hard. The second way to make dual colors work is use cards that specifically give bonuses to cards of another color. These bonuses are usually very high, and should more than make up for the extra SP cost to play multicolor. The third option is to use Soul Cards that raise your Sphere levels. There are even Soul Cards that raise multiple colors at once, and many of these cards are not too rare. The final option is to play unit cards that raise your Sphere Levels as a bonus. Generally, however, these are generally pretty rare. There is one more way to make multicolor work, and that is card combos. Simply put, if you can engineer a card combo with cards from different Spheres, and that card combo is powerful enough to be a game winner, then it doesn’t matter how much the added SP costs slow you down. With the right combination of blockers and Soul Cards you can hold off the enemy long enough to let your strategy unfold. Hopefully, that’s enough information to get you thinking. Good luck in the Arena.