Call of the Archons House Review: Mars

Written by Andrew Grandstaff

Mars seems like a really strong house.  There are some competing forces within it though.  There is a strong “Mars matters” theme and that is usually expressed in by checking for Mars cards in hand or ready Mars creatures.  This can make it feel like you are either drawing the wrong half of your deck or everything is just working great. There is also a lot of strength in its unconditional removal, but it puts the removed creatures in your archive.  While this doesn’t synergies with other houses there are also a couple of cards in house Mars that try to add your cards to your archive. There are plenty of good Mars cards full of value that don’t fall into any of these categories and you will have to figure out which directions your Mars cards are taking you.

Top 5 commons Top 5 Rares
“John Smyth”: B Mass Abduction: B
Mother Gun: B Invasion Portal: B//A
Ammonia Clouds: B Feeding Pit: B+//A
Zyzzix the Many: B/B+ Commpod: B+/A-
Yxilx Dominator: B/B+ Chuff Ape: A-

Grading Rubric
All of these cards are graded in a vacuum. I firmly believe every card can be good in the right situation, but the goal here is to try and figure out how good the card is on average.  Without knowing anything about the rest of my deck and my opponent’s deck what is the expected value of this card.

A: Almost always provides an overwhelming amount of some resource and is generally difficult to remove or counter.

B: Almost always generates 2 aember or 2 cards or some combination of the two.  Creatures and artifacts get a bonus based on how immediate of a threat they are.

C: Almost always generates 1 aember or 1 card.  Creatures and artifacts get a bonus based on how immediate of a threat they are.

D: Cards that you are more likely to discard than play and gain you no aember.

F: Cards that are a trap and if you play are more likely to hurt you than help you.

Pluses and minuses are generally awarded for consistency or to acknowledge a powerful effect that will be relevant about half the time the card is played.

X//Y Grades: X is the grade of the card in a random deck Y is the grade in a deck it heavily synergizes with.

Ammonia Clouds: B

  • One of my favorite board wipes. It’s not on board like Key to Dis, it has no chains like Coward’s End, and actually does enough damage to take out most creatures.  It will have some trouble with Sanctum and Brobnar.

Battle Fleet: B
Battle Fleet

  • Kind of like Library Access in that it’s bad in a 2/2/2 hand but once you get to 3+ Mars/Logos in hand it starts to pay off.  Once you get to a 3/X/Y hand it’s good on just about any board.

Deep Probe: B
Deep Probe

  • I think with just random guessing you will get 1 creature and taking a quick look through an opponent’s discard pile you might be able to up it to 2. In a 2/2/2 hand, I wish it could affect the board more but again good at in a 3/X/Y hand at any time in the game.

EMP Blast: C/C+
EMP Blast

  • This asks you to potentially pay a high cost to destroy some artifacts.  Also, the one of the very few that gets better in the mirror match. It doesn’t lose value in a 2/2/2 hand and is better when behind, but falls in value when the board is even and you’re ahead.

Hypnotic Command: B
Hypnotic Command

  • Mars has this weird slow steal mechanic and it seems pretty good.  All this card ask is that you have a couple of Mars creatures on the board or in hand and your opponent has at least one creature.  This card really rewards you for having a large Mars board or the ability to build one.

Irradiated Aember: C/C+

Irradiated +åmber

  • Sometimes this card will be a one-sided Ammonia Clouds and most of the time it’s at least 1 aember.

Key Abduction: C+//A
Key Abduction

  • You will almost never get to use this card to forge an extra key but who knows.  Returning all your creatures to your hand to heal them is strong. That said this might be the strongest target for phase shift in a double/triple Library Access deck.

Martian Hounds: C
Martian Hounds

  • This will be a literal blank a good portion of the time, but it does count enemy creatures so it’s more likely to do something than at first glance. With large creatures like Tunks and synergistic artifacts like Mother Gun you could easily up the damaged creature count.

Martians Make Bad Allies: C+
Martians Make Bad Allies

  • It’s like a bad archive card. It lets you get out of house cards out of your hand and some value. In a 2/2/2 it seems ok gain 2 aember for one card is all I ask for. Hopefully, you don’t hit your best creatures. I think your better off discarding this card instead of holding out max value

Mass Abduction: B
Mass Abduction

  • Shouldn’t be too hard to at least cause a trade with this. Also combos well with Mother Gun. Using this kind of commits you to not using your archives as card draw so be aware of anti-synergy with Logos.

Mating Season: C-//B
Mating Season

  • This is an odd aggro card. You’re going to have to give up some significant board presence to get some aember.

Mothership Support: C+
Mothership Support

  • Needs at least 2 Mars creatures from a previous turn to be able to pick off most creatures but you could get lucky.

Orbital Bombardment: B
Orbital Bombardment

  • Less potential upside than Mothership Support, but requires less setup work.  In a 2/2/2 you might get lucky and pick something off but in a 3/X/Y hand then you should be able to pick something off for sure.

Phosphorus Stars: D+
Phosphorus Stars

  • The two chains are too hard to overcome when this can also hit 2/3 of your creatures as well.  Also stun is not removal so this has to do more than just stun 3 of their creatures.

Psychic Network: B
Psychic Network

  • If you can steal 2 off of this great. I think the average case for this card might be around there. Should be considered the Bait and Switch of Mars.

Sample Collection: C+/B-
Sample Collection

  • I’m assuming the average case is around 1 and any standard archiving is going to not combo with it. Targeted almost unconditional removal is hard to find in this game, so this card is getting a bump.

Shatter Storm: C-/C
Shatter Storm

  • This might be the best aember loss card. For the cost of 2 or 3 aember you can probably take out all of your opponent’s. Also, you have a lot of control over this with no additional downsides. It will still likely be a dead card in your hand half the time.

Soft Landing: C
Soft Landing

  • It will almost always earn you an extra reap. Don’t forget about the artifact option.

Squawker: B

  • The worst case for this card is you have no Mars creatures in hand and the only creatures on the board are your non-Mars creatures.  Then you would be stunning your own creature for 1 aember. I think in most cases you will be able to ready one of your Mars creatures and gain an extra aember.

Total Recall: C//B+
Total Recall

  • I’m scared to give this a good all-around grade.  The fact that your creatures have to be ready for this to give you aember means your only gaining value from non-Mars creatures which could cause you to not draw cards until you re-deploy them.  It could generate a lot though. I’m thinking this is a better version of Mating Season. It’s not really as much card disadvantage and especially in the right deck with a lot of play effect creatures, this could generate a lot of value.

Combat Pheromones: B/B+
Combat Pheromones

  • One free aember and at least up to 2 extra.  It might cause your opponents to prioritize killing off your Mars creatures but due to this being a one time use I think your opponent should just take their lumps.

Commpod: B+/A-

  • This is a very interesting way to generate value off your more time-sensitive cards like Ammonia Clouds or Phosphorus Stars.  So long as you have a Mars creature on the board each Mars card in your hand is worth 1 extra aember.  This card will take over the game if given the turn or two it will take to set up.

Crystal Hive: A
Crystal Hive

  • This card dramatically changes the game. It turns just about every Mars creature into a must kill.  This in combination with cards like Soft Landing or Commpod will generate so much quick aember it will be hard to stop.

Custom Virus: C+
Custom Virus

  • This card goes up in value for each house you have that matches your opponents.  There doesn’t seem to be too much sharing of creature traits between houses. This card is very match-up dependent.

Feeding Pit: B+//A
Feeding Pit

  • Every Mars turn this has a good chance of getting a card and 1 aember. It should make it more likely to keep calling Mars but being limited to only 1 card a turn makes this a little too slow for an A. There is also some cool synergy with Arise! or any of the Untamed cards that care about discarding or the discard pile.

Invasion Portal: B//A
Invasion Portal

  • Draw a Mars card every Mars turn and fill up your discard pile.  Sure you could put your whole deck in your discard pile but that’s not the end of the world and you should know when you’re going to miss.  Again big synergy with Arise! and Untamed.

Incubation Chamber: B
Incubation Chamber

  • This will help set up the big turns Mars seems to be defined by.  It almost lets you draw an extra card every turn until your ready to start the invasion.

Mother Gun: B

  • Great removal card.  Should enable trades if you need them can get past elusive and taunt.  Might be a little slow sometimes especially against Brobnar and Sanctum.

Sniffer: C+/B-

  • I’m not sure how much use you’re going to get out of this card.  If you can activate it once for value then it’s definitely worth a slot in your deck.  Will be strong against Shadows.

Swap Widget: B-
Swap Widget

  • It’s like a Soft Landing on a stick if you have at least 1 Mars creature on the board with upside.  You need 3 Mars turns to get to the B range but you do get the upside of getting more play effects and healing your creatures.

Blypyp: C-

  • Too low power to survive very long, and an okay reap ability.  You might be able to let this guy slide for a turn or two because it only interacts with 1/6 of the deck and less the later this card shows up.

Chuff Ape: A-
Chuff Ape

  • This is a must answer creature.  The easiest answer is to just throw 2 or 3 +4 power creatures at this, but if your opponent doesn’t have that then you can just sac any creature or treat any Mars creature in your hand as a full heal.  All of that and it has taunt so you could be protecting something like a Grabber Jammer or Zizzix the Many.

Ether Spider: B
Ether Spider

  • Big enough that you should be able to get at least 1 reap out of it and it should eat at least 2 attacks.  This creature must be removed and gets better the later in the game it is played. Just be careful playing this guy against any Shadows deck as you will lose all your aember to Bait and Switch.

Grabber Jammer: B
Grabber Jammer

  • Big nuisance.  While not quite a must kill at first it will become one once it’s captured +2 amber.  Just about every part of this card synergises with itself. The increase key cost will make it more likely for your opponent to have aember to capture.  The armor makes it easier to fight with so you don’t miss out on that value.

Grommid: C+//A

  • The downside is a big one.  I think it gets better the later the game goes as you will have more opportunity to remove it once it becomes a liability. If you have a creature-light deck then this isn’t much of a downside and depending on the rest of the Mars cards in your hand, there are enough other cards in the house that make use Mars cards in hand.

“John Smyth”: B
GÇ£John SmythGÇ¥

  • Elusive is good especially on a creature with a reap ability.  This is a must kill creature. If you ever get to activate this card getting to use another Mars creature a second time is significant.

Mindwarper: B-

  • It’s like a slow steal 1 that also requires an enemy creature.

Phylyx the Disintegrator: C
Phylyx the Disintegrator

  • It is fairly difficult to get more than 3 of a single house of creatures on the board at once considering that is normally half of that houses creatures.  So this will be lucky to cause more 2 or more aember loss at the cost of not reaping. I would recommend ignoring this creature and going after the other more threatening ones.

Qyxxlyx Plague Master: C-
Qyxxlyx Plague Master

  • This feels like an anti-Sanctum card.  It will do good work bypassing their armor but you will need to have this down first or some way to protect it or else they will just kill it before you get a chance to activate it.

Tunk: B

  • So long as you can keep drawing Mars creatures this card is great.  Just having 1 to heal it up once should be enough to get this guy to earn you a 2 for 1.

Uliq Megamouth: C
Ulyq Megamouth

  • Depending on what else is on the board this could be a must kill creature, but thankfully it’s not that costly to remove.  The fight/reap ability is great. While at its worst is 1 extra aember it could be letting you use some powerful abilities outside of Mars.

Ulix the Zookeeper: B+
Uxlyx the Zookeeper

  • This is a must kill threat with elusive so it shouldn’t need to much more support to get at least one reap off.  Its reap is everything you could want aember gain and targeted unconditional removal.

Vezyma Thinkdrone: C//B-
Vezyma Thinkdrone

  • Maybe in the right deck, this reap ability is good, but it’s slow and commits you to pick up your archives which is the exact opposite of what the rest of Mars wants to do with it.  If it is in the right deck it is still a slow ability to replay your creatures or artifacts.

Yxili Marauder:  C//B-
Yxili Marauder

  • Gets better the later the game goes as you are more likely to capture some aember, but it will be rare that you can get this to even a 5 power creature.  Maybe with Sanctum, you could get this guy to a large threat.

Yxilo Bolter: C+/B-

  • 3 power isn’t quite enough to assure it will survive long enough to be activated, but if you do then it will be very good.  The ability is probably strong enough to be considered a high threat that it should be dealt with quickly.

Yxilx Dominator: B/B+
Yxilx Dominator

  • Even if this card is stunned it is still doing its job protecting your valuable creatures. With its armor and power, it should be around long enough to get at least one attack out of it.  Your opponent will have to commit some serious resources to take this card off the board.

Zorg:  B-

  • Unkile Yxilx this creature does nothing until it can be activated.  It can be ignored for the turns leading up it giving your opponent plenty of time to find a solution.  This card is a ticking time bomb of a threat but shouldn’t be taken seriously until the stun in removed.

Zyzzix the Many: B/B+
Zyzzix the Many

  • This is a must kill threat.  Most hands will have at least 1 creature in them so you should count on this card growing every turn.

Biomatrix Backup: C-
Biomatrix Backup

  • This feels like Yxili Marauder.  It sounds like a good thing but this is not card advantage and you only get 1 aember.

Brain Stem Antenna: C
Brain Stem Antenna

  • At a minimum, you will get 1 aember if you have a Mars creature in hand.  This also adds one to your count of ready Mars creatures for cards that care about that.  It, unfortunately, doesn’t do anything to offset the risk involved in upgrades.

Jammer Pack: C-
Jammer Pack

  • While increasing key cost is nice and so is the 1 aember this doesn’t feel like enough to offset the risk.

Red Planet Ray Gun: C
Red Planet Ray Gun

  • This has the potential to take something out the turn you play it and gains you one aember.  It creates a reasonable threat out of almost any creature.

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