When a new set of Redemption cards is released, I like to see if I can find clever or potentially powerful combos with older Redemption cards. The constant release of new cards and the shifting of the Redemption “meta” as it adapts to trends in popular deckbuilding tends to leave a lot of once-useful cards in binders collecting dust.
I’ve never been satisfied playing only the “new cards” or building “meta decks” – I like the challenge of going against the grain. I am very excited about the Persecuted Church release; the new cards look to add new strategies not normally utilized in competitive decks before. And hidden within new card expansions, you can always find some reasons to brush the dust off of some of those forgotten cards!
The card I will be looking at specifically today is The Judean Mediums. His ability reads:
“If blocking and opponent has used a draw or search ability this turn, demons and magicians cannot be negated. May band to a demon or magician.”
TJM is a unique card that becomes much more powerful if your opponent has used a Draw or Search ability on his or her turn. Draw and Search abilities are very common on offense, but are not guaranteed to happen each turn. Banding to a demon or magician is already a good ability and making the band “cannot be negated” (CBN) is much better. But the big value I see in TJM is not in granting CBN to himself: it’s his ability to grant CBN to all demons and magicians, including the one he brings into battle with his band ability.
Now is our chance to sift through those old cards and find demons and magicians that have been forgotten about! I’ve compiled a short list of some demons and magicians that are not normally found in competitive decks but certainly would be if their abilities were CBN:
The big drawback for these 4 cards is obvious: all of them have abilities that can be both Prevented and Interrupted. It’s easy to see why this is a problem. Using Special Abilities is basically how you win Redemption games; therefore, stopping Special Abilities (usually via Negate or Protect abilities) is as strong as the abilities that are Negated or Protected against.
“Negate” abilities have come to rule the game of Redemption in a way. Fight By The Numbers heroes have always been powerful enough to be in top-tier decks – heroes like The Strong Angel and Moses negate all character abilities. Red Dragon can’t activate his immunity to stop Moses, for example. Other negating heroes have been printed, such as Daniel, Isaiah (with Isaiah’s Call), John, Ruth, all 3 Centurion heroes, etc.
There’s also Covenant with Death. I’ve found this to be more powerful as an offensive artifact than as a defensive one. And don’t forget about all the good battlewinners that now Interrupt the battle or negate an evil card: Striking Herod, Bravery of David, Counsel of Abigail, My Lord and My God, Mercy of James, Elymas Struck Blind, ‘He Is Risen’, Samuel’s Edict, Joseph Before Pharaoh, Valley of Salt, Zeal for the Lord – the list grows every year. Each new battlewinner printed that has an interrupt or negate ability is another reason not to use evil characters with Preventable and Interruptable abilities.
Enter TJM! TJM can now grant the powerful CBN qualifier to the ability of the demon or magician he brings into battle. From our list above, we can see that Red Dragon’s CBN Immunity will win any battle against human heroes, except for a small list of cards (Angel of the Lord, Grapes of Wrath, Plague of Frogs, side-battle cards, maybe a few others that I can’t think of). Prince of this World would have the same success against lone heroes, although your opponent might have a banding enhancement in hand.
Enchanter could instantly block a lone hero, as long as it is not protected from Enchanter’s Withdraw ability. This would cost you a Pale Green or Orange enhancement from hand as well, but winning a battle CBN is a cost almost always worth paying. And Trembling Demon would guarantee a successful rescue against any hero(es) of 7/5 or higher (so they don’t have the opportunity to play a good enhancement in battle), unless Lost Souls are protected from evil cards somehow, such as via Abigail or Miraculous Handkerchiefs.
So we’ve dug up some “hidden treasures” that TJM can turn into powerful blocks if your opponent uses a draw or search ability. What about cards that are still used in competitive decks? The four characters above can all be quite nice if TJM can get them in battle CBN, but what if you haven’t drawn TJM? And what if your opponent chooses not to draw or search? To see if we can build a defense around this, we’ll need to look into the realm of cards commonly seen in top-tier decks.
The first one that comes to mind is Foreign Wives. TJM does not band to her, but she is a CBN autoblock all by herself, if the opponent has drawn at least 5 cards. Mayhem also makes her a guaranteed autoblock. Another EC that comes to mind (and which would have been on our first list above if Gates of Jerusalem did not exist) is King Manasseh. He can be an autoblock, just like Enchanter, and already has a way to be CBN if Gates of Jerusalem is in play.
And if Gates of Jerusalem and Mayhem are going to be in our deck, King Abijam should be as well. He can always autoblock heroes of */3 or less, and Mayhem increases his power greatly. We’ve assembled quite a list of ECs that can stop a lone hero, so let’s add a way to deal with multiple heroes: Scattered (why wouldn’t you use it?), along with King Amon for recursion (if King Manasseh is in discard).
At this point, our list of evil characters is big enough to reliably block throughout the game. What about the offense? A good defense becomes a great defense when it has synergy with the offense and when the offense has some speed to draw the defense faster. I see two ways of approaching this: a Solomon’s Temple deck, to provide support for your Kings of Jerusalem, or a Clay offense.
I am personally leaning towards the Clay offense, for one reason: The new Clay enhancement Healings in Malta. HiM is an easy way to heal King Manasseh and the other human EC he discarded to block a hero, can also heal TJM (which will surely be the target of Angel of the Lord or Grapes of Wrath from time to time), and is easily recurred in the right Clay offense (Apollos comes to mind).
So what would our final TJM-based “hidden treasures” defense look like? Possibly something like this:
That’s a 17 card defense, including the support cards, which is about right for a balanced deck. This could be shrunk a bit, depending on which auto-blocks you want to focus on or think will be most effective. It could be shifted to focus more on Kings of Judah, possibly by adding King Rehoboam, King Zedekiah, Dungeon of Malchiah, and Gibeonite Trickery. If you go this route, I’d recommend using a Solomon’s Temple offense instead of a Clay offense.
The Amalekites’ Slave could definitely be a big help, as he could search your deck for TJM or the right King of Judah. Perhaps it could be shrunk considerably into a new compact and efficient defense. There was a time when King of Tyrus, Gomer, Sabbath Breaker, The Amalekites’ Slave, Uzzah, and Haman’s Plot was all the defense a competitive deck with a good offense needed. It faded from popularity as ways to Prevent or Negate evil characters preblock entered the Redemption card pool. Perhaps a similar defense (maybe a bit larger) centered around TJM, King Manasseh, and Healings in Malta could do the same?
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