Welcome to the 7th article in our Lost Lands spoiler series. (If you've missed any of the preceding ones, be sure to head back to the article that announced the set and then follow the links at the bottom of that for the subsequent articles.)
As you might have guessed from the title, today we're going to focus on the Homunculus alignment, which currently (as of Shattered Fates) has the unique characteristic of providing differing groups of aligned allies to all 32 heroes in the game, spread across both factions and also the dual-faction Mage class.
But I think it's fair to say the Aldmor have been stealing the spotlight so far in this Lost Lands spoiler series, so I figured we could take this opportunity to even things up somewhat, especially when we can reveal three new Homunculus cards to join Entangled Wisp and Sword Gobbler in Lost Lands Part 1!
With that in mind, I'm going to present an overview of the known Homunculus card pool available for each group of heroes, which will include three brand new cards from Lost Lands.
But, before we start proper, I want to address some general feedback we've received about the apparent lack of focus across the Homunculi and limited explicit synergy.
Purpose and Focus of the Homunculus Alignment
Yes, it looks a lot like the Homunculus tribe is all over the place. But that's the point! The huge variety of damage types and abilities is very much intentional and that variety forms one of their main themes, which is that of beings created from all manner of sources in all manner of ways by all manner of creators. The other main theme, of course, is that of growth (often in non-uniform ways)!
Sometimes, we see both of these themes in one card - e.g. Aetherborn Wisp is apparently made from the aether ("fresh air", "clear sky") and has a passive ability that allows it to grow. Other times, it's shown in the name, artwork, abilities and attack type - e.g. Cinderborn Fatebreaker and Flameborn Defiler both have fire attack, since they were created from fire, and the latter enhances fire damage to also set opposing allies ablaze.
As we'll see as we look over the card pools, the wide ranging differences can pay off in different ways for different heroes to form different types of homunculus tribal decks or fill gaps for certain heroes. With regards the latter, these created beings can offer abilities that might not be traditionally suited to their faction - e.g. Growing Bog-Dweller eating your own Human allies; Thunderstrike Construct having a damage-like on-summon ability as opposed to a pacifying one. And, for building damage-type pseudo-tribes, the Homunculi provide key allies that can work well there, with the fire damage variant being the most successful to date.
Another criticism of Homunculi has been that there is not much explicitly holding them together, with Splicer's Crown the only full neutral card that even refers to "Homunculus". This is true, but by depending on so few explicit links, it allows for splash allies outside Homunculus - e.g. Falseblood Cultist, Tenacious Buccaneer - and gives more room for deck-building ingenuity.
Quite literally, players are encouraged to work on their inventive combinations, much like a Dr. Frankenstein might, combining this and that in clever ways. Hybrid builds with other alignments or unaligned allies are very much expected and may even be the most potent. And, to reduce the chance of hindering your creativity, there are currently no cards that have a requirement of running all Homunculus allies (compare to Templar or Wulven), so you can absolutely toss in an Aldon and then splice him with Splicer's Crown to buff a Homunculus when he dies, for example.
Hopefully, those insights have been useful in understanding why certain cards are the way they are and confirming there is a direction we are aiming for with the Homunculus alignments. As we move through the overview, that rationale and intended direction should become even more apparent.
Homunculus Neutral Pool
As of Shattered Fates, there is just one fully neutral card explicitly for Homunculus, Splicer's Crown. How about we double that right now, with Spontaneous Growth!
On the surface, these two are quite similar. Splicer's Crown, a 2-cost armor, can allow you to permanently grow an ally by +1/+1, providing you have an ally to exile. It could stick on the board to block up to 2 combat damage for you, or get used again for more growth. Spontaneous Growth, a 2-cost attachment, gives +1/+1 and steadfast while it is attached to the Homunculus ally of your choice, and it provides a cantrip (draws a card when summoned).
Based on feedback of using Homunculi in Shattered Fates, that cantrip on Spontaneous Growth will prove to be invaluable, since Homunculus decks have a habit of running low on cards. When combined with other attachments and the fully neutral Confluence of Fate, you can create quite the engine with which to grow your allies and bolster them with attachments, to create humongous "tower allies" to dominate your opponent.
That's all well and good, I hear you say, but are there really only going to be two cards available to all heroes for Homunculus builds? Of course not! Let's double that number to four, with two new fully neutral Homunculus allies.
These two polar opposites on the resource curve are here precisely for that reason, offering a very cheap ally to all heroes and an absolute beast of a fattie, that also serves to provide some Location interaction that has only been seen with Rest for the Weary so far.
Let's start with Barrenland Gremlin since he's not eaten for a while and I'm rather keen to keep my wireless keyboard and mouse in tact for the rest of this article. He has unprecedented health for a 1-cost ally, at 3HP, but he's going to need to grow his attack somehow to start dealing Claw damage. Perhaps with his ability that can be activated with 0SE? What would be good targets to consume, do you think?
At the other end of the summoning cost spectrum (assuming there are no Locations in play), we have Void Wretch. As we will soon confirm as we continue the overview, the biggest Homunculus allies so far hit the board for 5cc as either a 3/6 Human ally or 4/5 Shadow ally. Will this finally be the card to take Gravebone to Tier 0 on test server and beyond? We hope not, but Tier 1 would be nice.
The fact that Void Wretch is not unique should be of particular interest, for avoiding situations where big unique allies can get stuck on the board (e.g. Ogloth with a Captured Prey) and also for the combo opportunities. With multiple Void Wretch's out, each exile by whatever means will deliver 1 damage to the opposing hero per Void Wretch, and summoning multiples on the same turn becomes easier as more Locations are added to the stack.
Due to having two different Location interactions, there's arguments for calling this both an anti-Location card and pro-Location card. For the former, it can hit for cheap if your opponent is using Locations and it can also exile the active one from the stack to remove its benefits for the opponent. For the latter, it will hit for cheap if you are using Locations and it could, for example, exile the opponent's active one to leave your own back on the top.
Side note about Void Wretch's ability: Whilst Soul Reaper and Eternal Renewal do remove cards from the game, they are not considered to have exiled those cards.
OK, so we now know 4 cards that all heroes could use in their Homunculus decks. Unfortunately, there's no more spoilers to be revealed now, but I can confirm at this point that there will be 3 more Neutral Homunculus allies in Lost Lands Part 1 and a Location explicitly designed to support them. Look out for them in future weeks!
If you're still interested in that overview of the Homunculus pool, and some Design Team insights along the way, let's split off to look at some individual pools for different heroes.