What shield has such ludicrously strong defensive power that it can block up to 23 damage from every single attack? Hope is a shield with mitigation equal to the number of light-emitting creatures the wielder controls at the end of each turn, making it potentially one of the most powerful shields in-game.
- Hope's defense is equal to the number of light-emitting creatures the user controls. More creatures strengthens the defense provided by Hope.
- Hope is Immaterial, which means it cannot be targeted by permanent control.
- Does not block poison, momentum, or spell-based damage effects.
- Hope's defense only updates at the end of each turn, giving the player a chance to get it back up if their creatures are killed.
First of all, light-emitting creatures are creatures that have the ability Light, or Bioluminescence, that produce Light quanta each turn. The unupgraded Firefly and the upgraded Ray of Light have this ability naturally.
Hope by itself is quite useless, blocking 0 damage normally and only 1 damage when upgraded. However, its power increases drastically as soon as the owner has light-emitting creatures on the field. The shield with the second highest defense points is Diamond Shield, which blocks 3 damage from every source; but as soon as the caster summons 3 light-producing creatures, Hope instantly becomes better than Diamond Shield. And as more creatures are summoned, Hope becomes stronger still, with its defense increasing with every creature brought forth. Elementals can have up to 23 creatures on a field, so the maximum defense Hope can achieve is 23, or 24 when upgraded. Such defensive power is massive, because it literally stops all opponent creatures from attacking: the creature with the highest ATK is Ruby Dragon (15|2), and even that cannot penetrate Hope; only creatures with growth-based skills that boost ATK or Momentum can even dream about punching through such defense. And on top of that, Hope is immaterial, which means the opponent cannot remove it by permanent control cards such as Steal or Pulverizer.
Having read all of the above, Hope may seem overpowered, but this is false. Just like every other card in the game, Hope can be countered in several ways. The first and most obvious way is to remove the light-emitting creatures: a simple AOE creature control (CC) card, such as Rain of Fire or Thunderstorm, can instantly decimate an entire field composed of Ray of Light. Another way is to give a creature Momentum, so it can ignore shield effects; however, most Fractal-RoL-Hope decks carry Lobotomizer, which can remove Momentum from a creature. A third way is to use spells, as Hope cannot block spell damage; no matter how high one's defense is, spamming multiple Fire Bolts (given enough quanta) or using Psion will bypass the shield's effects. A fourth way, similar to the third, is to use Poison; Hope cannot block poison that targets the user directly.
However, there is one thing about Hope that might not be obvious: Hope's defense only updates at the end of each turn. That means if an entire field of Rays of Light get decimated by a Rain of Fire, Hope-wielders may still be safe as long as they can summon more Light-emitting creatures before ending their turn. For example, if one's field is completely wiped of creatures, but the elemental manages to place down 6 more light-emitting creatures before ending their turn, the defense will be 6 instead of 0, and the foe will either have to clear the field again with more creature control, or find another way to cause damage.
One way to achieve a near-impenetrable defense is to use Fractal to create numerous copies of a light-emitting creature, such as Photon | Ray of Light. Ray of Light is the ideal candidate for this combo, because it requires no quanta of any elemental type to summon; no matter how many copies are created in one's hand, they can all be summoned instantly. This combo will also generate massive amounts of Light quanta, enough to summon a few Dragons or other major Light creatures at once; near the end of the game, players with a huge storage of quanta can use Fractal on a Light Dragon for a devastating final attack.
Another way to obtain a powerful shield is to use the unupgraded Firefly Queen | Elite Queen, which generates light-emitting Fireflies. This combo is slightly slower than Fractal-RoL mentioned above, but will provide a renewable source of light-producing creatures in case they're destroyed by creature control. The added requirement of quanta can also grant players access to other healing Life cards, such as Empathic Bond and Heal to form a wonderful trio-deck of offense, defense, and healing.
A third method, perhaps the slowest, is to summon a swarm of vanilla (no abilities) creature, and then use Luciferin | Luciferase to grant them the Bioluminesence ability. This combo is rather dependent on good draws, making it not as effective as the previous two combos. However, Luciferin also provides a small burst of healing for the player, healing up to 10 HP (helping to recover any damage taken while building up the defense); this alchemy spell can also be granted repeatedly by a Light Nymph to counter Lobotomization tactics, a rare creature that can also be generated by Nymph's Tears.
Other Cards With Synergy
It's important to note that Hope's main weaknesses are due to CC; thus, having Fractal by one's side to mass-generate a creature is important, if not vital in a Hope-based deck. Cloak can prevent Lobotomization from occuring, so that the shield's defenses aren't slowly chipped away. Against Flooding, players should consider cheap or versatile PC options such as Deflagration or Shard of Focus to remove ongoing mass CC effects.
In other cases, Light creatures such as Crusader, Archangel, and Light Nymph are great alternative choices for last-minute damage once enough quanta is accumulated. Miracle can swing the tide of a battle to one's favor should they have taken too much damage while building up Hope. Sanctuary also provides gradual healing and blocks attempts at having a player's hand or quanta changed, which can be agitating when one needs quanta for their various cards.
Just as Hope is a concept, its immaterial quality and incredible ability to block (most) damage is an inspirational shield for the Light element. Unless the foe has a way to crush such thoughts with spells and other tricks, Hope can be as easy to build up as it is to break.
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