3. Key Concepts
There are plenty of Monsters-exclusive keywords/concepts to understand that revolve around interacting with your own units. They are as follows:
Thrive: Thrive is an incredibly powerful keyword and one of monsters strongest tools. It simply means that whenever a unit, with higher power than the card with thrive, is played (Not Summoned), it boosts itself by 1. (If a card has 2 power, playing 3 power card or above will activate it). This is why cards such as Nekkers and Endrega Warriors are powerful despite only having 1 strength. It means that they can be activated alot easier, as you only have to play a 2 power card to trigger them. However a card with a base strength of 9 and thrive would be worse as its thrive would rarely get triggered.
The main downside of thrive is that it gets harder to activate as the round goes on, units starting at 1 or 2 strength may end up at 8 and therefore almost impossible to activate their thrives later on, whereas other faction keywords aren’t as limited. This is one reason why monsters has alot of high base power cards.
However, thrive has the upside of being able to activate twice in one turn very easily. Units that create/play other units such as Dandelion: Poet or Gascon: Iron Falcon mean you’re playing two cards and therefore having the potential to activate thrive twice in one turn, which can help in a short round.
Dominance: This is a fairly basic one. It simply means if you control (have on your side of the board) the unit with the highest strength then the specified ability will work. If both you and your opponent have the same strength units as the highest then it will still still work. If the board is empty then playing a card with dominance will work, as it counts itself. As you can see with the example on the right (not visible for mobile users), Barghest can consume a second unit if you control the highest unit. The order icon will be red if you can’t use it, and green if you can.
Consume: Consume is a keyword that means to destroy a unit, then boost self by its power. If a 5 power unit consumes a 5 power unit, it will have a power of 10 and the other unit will be sent to the graveyard. Most consume cards are limited to consuming only allied units, which is useful for triggering deathwish abilities, obtaining dominance or setting up your graveyard.
In some cases (cards like ozzrell and ghoul) then you can consume from a unit from your graveyard. This is very powerful as you get the raw points without anything on your side being destroyed. When a unit is consumed from the graveyard, it gets banished and is removed from the game entirely. This is what I mean by ‘setting up your graveyard’, as if you have an empty graveyard then a ghoul will only be 1 point. If you consume a 5 power unit before playing ghoul, then that means ghoul is now playable for 6 points (1 Base power + Consumed unit from graveyard).
Ghouls are limited to consumimg bronze cards from your graveyard, and ozzrell can consume any unit from any graveyard depending on the row you play it. For this reason you can play a high-power gold card in round 1 without the fear of over-comitting, as you can get the points back later on by consuming it from the graveyard. Or you can deny your opponents strategies if you think they plan on using Renew or other methods to get a card from their graveyard back on the board.
Finally, if a card consumes a unit then it will count as having that updated power just before it hits the board, so its possible to activate thrive even if the base power might seem too low.
Deathwish: A deathwish ability is an ability that happens once a unit dies and is sent to the graveyard. If a unit is doomed, then it will not be sent to the graveyard, therefore the deathwish will not activate. The same happens when a unit is banished. Deathwish abilites can be activated by either consuming/destroying your units (or if your opponent destroys the unit) or by using cards that activate a deathwish ability without killing the unit, such as Maerolorn.
Insectoid: Insectoid isn’t a keyword, it’s a tag for a unit, however I’m bringing it up here because it has alot of interactions within monsters so this is to clear up some questions. You can tell if a unit is an insectoid, if not by the obvious art, by looking at it’s tag underneath its name. Example on the right. The most common insectoid interactions you will see are Arachas Behemoth and Kikimore Queen.
There are other tags such as Vampire, which also has some support and generally play a little differently to most monster cards, but it has the same concept as Insectoid in that they have some synergies and it is a tag. If I have explained one I have explained them all. The tags that don’t really have much synergies between them are Ogroids, Draconids, Relicts and Beasts. Possibly a couple more, but the point is they’re not as important as Insectoids or Vampires.
4. Leader Ability Rundown
Now most of the basics are out of the way, it’s time to chose the most important part of any deck. The first option presented when making a deck is what leader ability to use. Let’s go through them one by one:
Carapace (16 Provisions):
Order: Boost an allied unit by 3 and give it a Shield. Charge: 2.
This ability is an interesting one however it feels pretty underwhelming. For sure 3 points and a shield is great for protecting units (perhaps if you want a unit with Order to survive) and maintaining dominance, on the whole it’s only really used for meme decks that rely on one key card as it has little synergy with most, if not all, mainstream monster decks. However, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having a leader ability with multiple charges is nice as it allows you to generate extra points earlier in the game without losing it entirely.
It’s average value is 7 points. Of course it only has 6 in terms of power but a shield blocking damage or a random ping is not to be understimated. The flexibility of a charge based leader is also nice. A good card to use with this leader ability is Ge’els or Mourntart as they are powerful cards that can generate insane value if they’re not killed.
Death’s Shadow (16 Provisions):
Order: Destroy an allied Monster unit, then Spawn and play a base copy of it.
This ability is a really interesting one that makes for some great combos. It’s great to activate a deathwish ability whilst keeping the unit, but more importantly it is perfect if you want to repeat the deploy ability of a unit which is useful for many reasons; firstly, if a deploy ability is powerful then now you get to use it twice. Secondly, being able to re-play a unit means it will activate thrive on units that have it (if the card base power is high enough), and finally it can reset a units power back to its base power or purify it, as it plays a base copy of the unit. I’d say this is definitely one of the best abilities in terms of both power and flexibility. It’s also fairly costed in terms of the provisions it gives you so you aren’t limited when it comes to deckbuilding.
It’s average value is hard to calculate as it doesn’t represent a set number of points, but it’s definitely on the high side. A good card to use with this ability is Caranthir Ar-Feiniel, as it allows you to set up multiple units with strong order or passive abilities. While caranthir sets the units power to 1, this is great for thriving cards, especially the earlier mentioned Kikimore Queen.
Force of Nature (16 Provisions): Order: Boost a unit in your hand by 8.
This is another fairly underwhelming ability that’s almost a direct downgrade from carapace. Hand interaction is usually interesting however 8 points plays heavily into tall removal cards such as Geralt of Rivia. It’s only main use is to make sure you have dominance however carapace does a much better job. I would generally avoid this ability due to how strongly it plays into tall removal and lacks synergy or flexibility – as it all gets used in one go.
It’s average value is 8 points, and while I wouldn’t reccomend using it atall, if I had to pick a card to combo with this leader it would be Werewolf. Since that card is immune then it can’t be interacted with/targeted once on the board so it’s a nice bank to hold your points but it doesn’t do much else. It has seen use in the past with no-unit decks however these are no longer viable due to the 13 Unit limit.
Arachas Swarm (15 Provisions):
Order: Spawn a Drone on an allied row. Charge: 5. Whenever you play an Organic card, Spawn Drone on a random allied row.
This ability is a very interesting one and designed for use with insectoids as mentioned in Section 3. A ‘Drone’ is simply a doomed token card with 1 strength and the insectoid tag. It’s extremley flexible as you have 5 points stored in a “bank” of charges that you can use at any time for an exact value. Not only this, but spawning a 1 point unit whenever you play an Organic Card (A tag/category of special card) also gives you some nice passive point generation. It synergises well with insectoids, as you’d expect, and can also find use when playing cards that destroy/damage other cards such as Griffin of Pugo Boom Breaker to minimize lost value as only 1 point is sacrificed.
It’s average value is about 11 points, assuming you play 6 organic cards in the game, but it can easily be more depending on how well you make use of the drones or if you play more than 6 organic cards. A great card to use with this ability is Glustyworp, as it makes a great finisher and has high potential if you have even more 1 point units to gobble up. Kikimore queen, as you’re probably familiar with by now, is also a great choice if you want to spam the 1 point drones on a row to get boosted by the thrive effect.
Blood Scent (15 Provisions):
Order: Give an enemy unit Bleeding for 3 turns. Charge: 3. Once all Charges are used up, Spawn an Ekimmara into a random allied row.
This is the ‘vampire’ ability and has great value when played alongside them. Having multiple charges, as I’ve said many times, is great. The Ekimmara spawned is a 2 Power doomed token unit with the vampire tag. Overall having 9 points of damage is really handy even if it isn’t direct removal. It is especially good for countering Northern Realms units that need to be boosted. Remember: Bleeding instantly counteracts Vitality instantly, so sometimes being able to cancel 3 points of vitality on a Tridam Infantry (which damages a random enemy unit by 1 upon recieving a boost) will end up resulting in 6 points of value rather than 3. Obviously this is very situational but it’s good to keep in mind.
It’s average value is about 11 points, and works incredibly well with the card Orianna. She can reach huge value by not only applying bleeding of her own, but also gaining boosts based off of how many enemies are bleeding. Being able to get 3 units bleeding from your leader without any chance for your opponent to counteract it means that Orianna will buff herself and likely survive more often than not.
Overwhelming Hunger (14 Provisions):
Order: Destroy an allied unit, then Spawn an Ekimmara in its row and boost it by the destroyed unit’s power.
This ability is designed to allow you to consume your own units without playing a consume card, pretty much. It is great at activating deathwish cards (with an extra 2 point body!) and can be used throughout all the rounds due to having multiple charges which makes it very flexible. Since it’s giving you an extra 2 points as well as the power from consuming, then in some cases it can also secure Dominance for you. Oh, and it also happens to synergise with Vampires slightly as an Ekimmara has the vampire tag. I would still consider it fairly on the weak side but it definitely has some great combinations, but the 14 provision bonus is fairly low in my opinion, when you could be using better abilities that also give more provisions.
It’s average value is about 14 points, as you can get 6 from the units alone and many more from deathwish abilities, but then again if you’re playing deathwish cards you will also have consume cards anyway so perhaps not all credit can be given to this leader. It combos well with cards that you want to guarantee that their deathwish will go off on the turn you play them, though, to stop it being interrupted. A good card to use is Detlaff: Higher Vampire as you can have a very high point swing (21) in one turn if you use all 3 leader charges on it.
Fruits of Ysgith (11 Provisions):
Order: Spawn a Gernichora’s Fruit on an allied row. At the start of your turn, refresh this ability if you do not control any Fruits.
This ability is very expensive as it only gives you 11 bonus provisions to work with, however it can pay off if used correctly. A ‘Gernichora’s Fruit’ is a 1 point doomed unit with “Thrive”. While this may seem simple on the surface, being able to get an extra engine on the board at all times, in all 3 rounds, can be very powerful. (By engine I mean a card that generates large value over time). You can either leave the fruit to thrive, let it grow slightly and then consume it for dominance, use it similarly to the Arachas Swarm ability to take hits from your units such as Pugo Boom Breaker. The choice is up to you.
It’s average value is about 15 points, under the assumption that you get 6 points from it in round 1 and 3, and a couple in round 2. However it’s easy to get much more value from it since the fruit can be re-deployed after being killed. A good card to use with this is Griffin, as it allows you to get it’s full 8 strength value which can be consumed by a Ghoul later on. There aren’t many big chunky gold cards that work well as it’s more passive and gets its value over time.
Overall It’s safe to assume that Fruits of Ysgith, Arachas swarm and Death’s shadow are among the best. Blood Scent is up there too but only works in a very specific type of deck (Vampires) and the other 2 have little to no synergy and rely on gimmick value, but can still be fun.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
What’s going on with the Wild Hunt units? Why are they in monsters?
It’s been confirmed that Wild Hunt will never be their own faction, however it’s expected that they’re due an upgrade soon! Right now they are useful tools that support the dominance side of monsters, but they might become more defined in the future – hopefully to the level of insectoids and vampires.
What are the best cards/combos?
Aside from all the ones mentioned in Section 4, which are among the best, some strong plays are Kayran with Dettlaff: Higher Vampire, allowing for huge point swings since he can be consumed multiple times. Frightner: Dormant can find use in deathwish/consume decks since it provides an immune 12 Strength body. Ozzrell is a great card to be used with Yghern (or any high-strength card that dies in round 1/2) as a finisher. As for bronzes, Drowner is a pretty nice thrive card with distruption aswell as removal. Endrega Larva is a great protected engine, and Foglet / Wild Hunt Riders are nice deck thinning tools. The beauty of monsters is that they all work well together so there aren’t many good combos that are concise enough to be 2 cards only.
Why are some deathwish effects so bad that I lose points when activating them?
If you’re thinking this, then its likely that you’ve seen noonwraith or golyat. These both result in your opponent gaining points if the deathwish is activated, and it’s an interesting take on the mechanic to allow for stronger cards that have a risk to them. Golyat has 10 Power but only costs 8 provisions, so it’s a way to make “High risk high reward” type cards. Generally (Meme deck exceptions do exist) there is no strategic reason to purposely activate these deathwish abilities, it’s more of a balancing thing, however they can still be used to your advantage if played correctly. For example glustyworp can be used to destroy the rats spawned on your opponents side of the board.
Is this factions strategem, Urn of Shadows, worth crafting?
No. Please no. It’s a conditional 5 points whereas the default Tactical Advantage is a guaranteed 5 points and it helps you get dominance. Until there is a bronze unit with a deathwish ability worth more than 6 points then it’s never worth it.
That completes the Monsters for Dummies Guide. If you have any more questions then comments are open and I’ll be happy to continue updating this & responding as frequently as possible.
I also want to note that, despite mentions of people wanting to un-invest in this faction, they are by no means weak and changes to the meta could result in them being among the best. It’s impossible to tell but they have had extremly strong standout moments in the past.
The last update of this guide was: 16/05/2020 for Patch 6.2.1.
Thank you for reading.