Just as many Death cards revolve around dealing poison and gaining benefit around creature death, Aflatoxin provides a direct way of killing creatures over time. After applying Aflatoxin, the targeted creature becomes infected with two poison counters; if said creature dies from that poison, it becomes a Malignant Cell. This alone makes Aflatoxin one of the few alchemy spells that can generate creatures when used.
- Aflatoxin poisons an enemy creature for 2 damage per turn.
- Creatures that die while afflicted with Aflatoxin produce a Malignant Cell.
- Malignant Cells generate a new Malignant Cell after each turn; they deal damage upon being generated.
- Malignant Cells do not carry status effects or bonuses to new Malignant Cells, such as Momentum, Adrenaline, or Blessing.
- The Aflatoxin effect can be removed by Purify.
Aflatoxin is a single-target version of Plague that inflicts a target with two ‘Aflatoxin’ counters (the poison icon is significantly darker in color once applied). Aflatoxin stacks with other creature-poison effects, such as the Infect ability from Bloodsuckers or the reactive infection from Thorn Carapace. Either way, once a creature dies with this special Aflatoxin debuff, it leaves a Malignant Cell within its place. These Malignant Cells are not standalone cards (can’t be bought from the bazaar), and are also from the Other element, meaning that they’re one of the most unique creatures only obtained by this spell. Malignant Cells have an ability called Infest, which at the end of every turn causes them to regenerate (duplicate) themselves (with Adrenaline, they spawn up to 4 new Malignant Cells after a turn ends). Over several turns, the person with the Malignant Cell will eventually find themselves unable to play creatures due to them infesting the board, and because of that, Aflatoxin is also a form of creature denial by essentially forcing the enemy to either kill the cells to make room for their own creatures or use other tactics to defeat the enemy. Malignant Cells only have 1 attack and 1 HP for stats, so most shields can stop their damage easily.
Note that Malignant Cells cannot duplicate status effects or stat boosts from itself; if one Malignant Cell is afflicted by Momentum or Blessing for example, its copies will not have such effects when generated. Infest can be lobtomized in order to prevent the cells from spreading across the field. Note that killing or removing the first Malignant Cell/infected creature on the field generally prevents Aflatoxin’s effect from becoming useful. Immolation however will generate a Malignant Cell on death when used on the poisoned creature. Mutating a cell will cause the mutated creature to return to a Malignant Cell upon death (Aflatoxin is automatically applied to the mutated creature, but does not deal poison damage - the poison icon has no counter on it).
Similar to Nymph's Tears, Aflatoxin's cost is moderately high costing 6 quanta when non-upped. Upgraded it only costs 5 quanta, but in most cases, having one or two in a deck is generally enough, unless a player specifically needs it to ensure the enemy's field is swarmed by mid-game.
Because Aflatoxin can take a long time setting up (in case the player wants to generate several Malignant Cells on the opponent’s field to prevent creatures from spawning), certain cards can simplify the process. For example, Flooding | Innundation does not kill the Malignant Cells (since they’re a non-elemental creature) or Water creatures, which means that if the enemy is unable to remove the Malignant Cells in time with their own forms of CC, they’ll eventually cover the entire area (including the center spaces if Aflatoxin is used early enough), making it nearly impossible to dish out new creatures for damage or abilities.
While almost every shield can prevent the exponentially increasing damage of Aflatoxin, Skull Shield | Skull Buckler has more synergy in avoiding damage compared to Bone Wall, as it reduces the 1 damage dealt by cells to 0 (Bone Wall is in fact weak to Aflatoxin’s mechanic of creature spawning). Other shields can also be used, but Skull Shield is a Death card that can be used for cheap alongside Aflatoxin when necessary, especially as it acts as CC towards other creatures.
If a player manages to fill their own field with Malignant Cells, this usually results in a game over for that person, assuming they don't have tricks to remove cells for their own creatures or alternative ways to win the game (deck out, poison damage, etc.). Of course, the previous statement assumes that the cells are weak and unable to bypass the challenger's defenses; Shard of Patience | Shard of Patience works as a risky but impressive comeback move to improve the damage dealt by the cells. As each cell duplicates and gains +2/+2, the opponent will need to act quickly or use CC to remove the cells, or else an exponentially-increasing field of spawning Other creatures may take them down unexpectedly.
Other Cards With Synergy
Because of Aflatoxin’s creature spawning mechanic, other forms of AOE damage can be immensely useful to reap the benefits of trigger-on-death effects. A single Thunderstorm, Plague, or Rain of Fire for example, combined with a Vulture, can kill an entire field of enemy cells instantly while boosting the Vulture to have over 20 attack and health, making it very difficult for the opponent to kill it. Unstable Gas can also kill off Malignant Cells while dealing spell damage to the opponent - and if such AOE damage spells are combined with a Graveyard, one could spawn a field of cheap attackers to whittle health away.
For denial tactics, Nightmare can also provide a major form of denial, as placing multiple Malignant Cells in the opponent’s hand will make it harder to stop the infestation unless they discard or use up their other cards. Finally, using rewind on duplicate Malignant Cells will also prevent the opponent from drawing any useful cards (unless they have Hourglasses to increase their draw rate); of course, using Rewind on a creature infected with Aflatoxin will remove the poison if played again, so it’s important to remember the distinction between the usage of such CC.
Aflatoxin is a situational but unique form of CC that can be a major nuisance to players if untaken care of, and is the only spell capable of creating another unique and situational creature, Malignant Cell. Despite being a slow CC effect, players should watch out if this noxious alchemy spell is played, because hesitation may ultimately create an overwhelming burden.
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