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How to Use : Crystal Shield

Hello everyone, as with my last post i would like to hear about your ideas for using a specific card, this time Crystal Shield
The first thing that comes to my mind is the Combo with Dread Wraith as the damage becomes an advantage.
Leech Warrior or FrostBack Bear with Crystal Shield can also discourage the opponent from attacking.
But putting this on big units is also a huge dice investment and defines a clear target for the opponents exhaust spells, which is why i usually do not end up putting it in my decks.

What are your favorite use cases for this card ? Are they good enough for competitive play ? Do you know any interesting interactions with other cards ?


  • My biggest problems with making Crystal Shield work:

    • The Cost

    In a game with very tight dice economy, 2 dice is a big investment. Is this card better than two Gilders with Unit Guard? I know the comparison isn't that simple, but still ...

    • The Risk

    We have a lot of single target removal/exhaustion at the moment (Fear, Sword of Virtue, Blood Chains etc). It gives your opponent a huge amount of value if they can knock out two of your cards for the investment of a single card one of theirs.

    • The Passivity

    Both the Leech Warrior and Dread Wraith examples require your opponent to attack to trigger their effects. A halfway decent opponent will be able to see that combination and play around it. So the 'value' of the combination doesn't really get to trigger, rather it acts as a relatively inflexible deterrent. Worst case, they have an answer for your Crystal Shield (Fear, Dispel etc) or a way around it (Hypnotize, Stalk) and your resources are wasted.

    • The Inflexibility

    The card also doesn't do much if the other player decides to play a wall up and burn strategy (Brennan).

    That said, I have seen the card do well in draft matchups; those decks often do rely on battlefield dominance and are less likely to be tooled up with removal. In those situations, Living Doll and Leech Warrior provide a good deterrent; as would any unit with Spiked Skin or Deathtouch.

  • I've always wanted to use Crystal Shield + Gobi Sunshield, but at that point you've sunk 6 dice into a 2/7/3, which is mainly useful only if your opponent isn't running any Frostback Bears (or really, anything that does more than 2-3 damage). Plus it's vulnerable to all the typical removal tricks ("Oh, you just spent 6 on that? Have a Fear!"), and I could spend 1 more die and just get an Elephant which is immune to practically everything.

    So I've never actually put it into a deck.

    If Crystal Shield cost literally any dice type other than Natural, I guarantee it would see play, if only because it can be so hard to find Unit Guard outside of [[natural]]. As is, though, if I want +2 health I'll just grab a Root Armor and if I want Unit Guard, I'll get myself a Summon Butterfly Monk (or half a dozen other Natural-based Unit Guard units).

  • So tried to put it into a deck with mostly minions and Card draw. This is what i ended up with.
    Obviously not perfect but i will try out with a friend how far you can get with a setup like this.

  • Obviously unit removal/lockdown is a big problem when alterations are considered because card value falls heavily out of your favor, which means Crystal Shield requires a certain degree of care when playing against Jessa Na Ni, Odette Diamondcrest, or anyone with a lot of [[Ceremonial:Power]] dice (Blood Chains, Regress).

    Units with built in Unit Guard are also generally cheaper than attaching a Crystal Shield to an existing unit. False Demon and Biter cost basically the same (1 [[basic]] and 1 class), but False Demons are too much of a pain to remove/poke, and Biters will kill almost anything on the way out. Turtle Guard may be more expensive at 3 [[basic]], but not only is it significantly thicker (5 Life, 2 Rec is much better than +2 Life), it's also not restricted by dice color. Alternatively, Gilder and Butterfly Monk only cost 1 die a piece, do the same job, and have some juicy extra benefits while still being in the same color.

    But if you do want to play Crystal Shield, it's good to know what its main advantages are:

    Crystal Shield is solid when attached to a unit with 3+ Life, 2+ Recovery, and some kind of annoying reactive mechanic. Leech Warrior, Gobi Sunshield and Celestial Knight are the best targets that come to mind, since your opponents definitely don't want to swing into those. In these cases, what you're actually making is basically a Super Turtle Guard. If you aren't taking full advantage of a unit's life, recovery and triggered damage abilities, you're probably better off just running Turtle Guard. Dread Wraith is okay since it fills two of those categories, but the lack of Recovery can also make it somewhat of a liability.

    The other thing is understanding that units with Unit Guard are not your win condition. They exist to protect your win conditions. Big threats are expensive, so it's easier to pair them with cheaper guards (my primary deck uses Gilders to protect my overall meatier units). If you're using Crystal Shield, it's gonna be expensive by default, so you need cheaper win conditions. That isn't a problem, necessarily, but you need to keep it in mind. Cards that work well for this style of play while also being fairly cheap are Three-Eyed Owl and Admonisher, and other generally cheap win conditions include Shadow Spirit, Blood Puppet and Weeping Spirit, Chant of Revenge (or Guilt Link, which is slightly worse color wise), and possibly Abundance. Ultimately what I'm getting at is the idea of balance: you can either have expensive units, or expensive guards, but you probably shouldn't have both.

    Finally, if you're going to play Crystal Shield, you have to accept that there are a few sources of disastrous counterplay against it. Obviously there's the few I mentioned earlier, but cards like Steady Gaze, surprise Molten Gold, and just all of Astrea can completely ruin you. It's for those reasons that I find it important to run a few counterspells of your own. Yeah, Angelic Rescue strains your color selection a bit and Golden Veil is pretty expensive, but these are cards you probably have to run to avoid losing 5+ dice to a well-timed Fear.

    I made this deck a few weeks ago that uses Gobi Sunshield as the foundation:
    Admonisher is my win condition, my answer for Blood Chains is Gravity Training, and the answer for everything else is Angelic Rescue. Other general exhaustion is answered with Flute Mage and Devotion.

  • I wonder if the value of a card like this is slightly enhanced by the addition of Angelic Rescue. I still think it's basically a bad card, but it's better when you can brush off that Fear or Blood Chains.

  • Good point.
    That may imply that the card is somewhat playable on seaside raven as well.