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Cardiology: Wildform

Decision: Should You Play Wildform?

TL;DR: 

Unfortunately, this one probably isn't good enough.  And with only two warbands left to see the light of day in Season 3, it's probably not going to be good enough any time soon.

Factor: What does it even do?


This card is, admittedly, a little hard to get a handle on.  In it's most basic form, it gives you a chance to permanently increase the damage of your range 1-2 attacks, with the potential to grab some other bonuses.  Unfortunately, you're almost completely at the mercy of the dice as to which bonus you'll get: +1 move, +1 wounds, or +1 defense.  Assuming an unaugmented level 2 caster, your chances of getting each of the bonuses is as follows:
  • 25% - +1 move
  • 11% - +1 wounds
  • 3%   - +1 defense
The other 61% of the time, you're getting nothing.  Sorry.  Obviously, you can bump up the chance of success with other cards, but we'll have to see if that's worth your trouble later on. 

One thing that is really interesting about Wildform is that it gives a permanent buff to your caster without using an upgrade slot.  This is pretty rare in and of itself; there are only a few other gambits that can do this.  Perhaps more importantly, one of the buffs that it gives out is the equivalent of Great Strength, an extremely solid card.  If you're looking for more damage, but you're short on options in your upgrade deck, you might be tempted to grab Wildform.  But first, it's worth considering....

Factor: Who is this even for?


Well, since there's no way to give a non-wizard the ability to cast spells, you're already limited to nine warbands if you want to make use of Wildform; and eight of those bands only pack a single wizard.  For the majority of those casters, either the wizard itself isn't really that great or the the benefit they might gain from Wildform isn't really impressive.

No matter what you roll on a successful Wilform check, you're going to get an extra damage to your melee attacks.  For that reason, it might be best to focus on casters who use melee attacks for their primary damage output.  This will likely drop Vortemis, Ylthari, and Stormsire out of the running.  Fecula has a ranged attack, but it's base damage is lower than the above three, so she's more likely to gain a significant advantage from buffing her melee attack.  While you might want to cast Wildform with these fighters, it's probably not your best option.

Of the remaining casters, unaugmented Rastus and Ammis can't even hope to successfully cast the spell, nor can uninspired Theddra, Fellhoof, or Karthaen.  That's not to say they can't benefit from Wildform (in fact, we think those fighters are some of the best targets for it), just that you're going to have to invest extra cards into getting it to work.

Finally, we have Zarbag - who is likely too squishy and unimpressive to justify much spellcasting - and The Briar Queen.  The big green ghosty might make a solid target for Wild Form, but if you're looking to make a killing machine out of her, there are already a lot of options that don't have a chance to totally fail.

So who is it for?  If you're going to insist on using Wildform, you should probably be packing a wizard who is:
  • Melee focused
  • Important to your strategy
  • Relatively tough
In this case, it looks like our best options can't even cast Wildform without some help.  So let's dive into how we can make it a bit more reliable by examining...

Factor: How does it even work?


With a little help, Wildform can actually become pretty easy to cast.  If you use Blessing of Vytrix or some other innate-lightning source, the chance to get a successful cast with a 2-dice caster goes from 39% to 89% (with the whole of the increase being to the "+1 move" mode).  You'll even get a 50% chance to cast it off a 1-die caster this way.

Cards like Tome of Incantations - those that change a the facing of a single die - render similar results for 2-die casters but they don't do anything for your 1-die fighters.  The upside of using these types of cards over innates is that you can guarantee success by stacking more two of them on a single caster (or stacking one on top of an innate upgrade).

Finally, adding more dice to your fighters can make them vastly more likely to succeed, and even create some (extremely unlikely) scenarios where you get multiple bonuses from Wildshape.  Perhaps the least costly option in this field is Arcane Savant, at least for our level 1 casters; it's especially nice for Theddra, Fellhoof, and Karthaen, as they then turn into level 3 casters once they inspire.  Spirit Sacrifice and Well of Power are also options, but one is terrible and the other is restricted, so use with caution.

What if you really really wanted to cast this spell though?  Like maybe you have a half-Theddra half-frostsabre model you've cobbled together and you desperately want an excuse to use it, we don't know.  Let's say you invest a whole bunch of your cards into it and end up with a 5-die caster who has an innate lightning and a way to switch another result to lightning.  You're going to cast the spell successfully unless you crit yourself to death.  But could you get more than one bonus?  Sure!  Let's look at the chances:

Move and Wound +153.91%
Move and Defense +119.62%
All 36.61%


Not great, but honestly not as bad as we thought they were going to be!  So, with that said, we're offering up the second-annual Shadespire Bad Decisions challenge.  If you can manage to score all three benefits off a single casting of Wildform at any Grand Clash or any non-GC with an attendance of 64+ players and get a video of it as proof, we'll send you twenty American dollars.  Unlike last year's SBD challenge, there's no entry fee for this one - your entry fee is the money you wasted playing Wildform in a large tournament! 

Summary:

Wildform isn't terrible.  But it's not good, either.  It's utterly mediocre.  It's the Amy Klobuchar of Gambit Spells - kind of fun in the early drafts but not worth wasting time on for the big show. For casual play, it would probably be a blast to turn Karthaen into a 6-move, 4 damage machine.  However, it's simply not good enough for tournament play.  If you insist on bringing it to a tournament, you should probably (like most spells) stick with Cursebreakers; it's a decent boost for the Thunderbuddies, and you're probably packing enough innate/switch/extra dice to make it go off.

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