Two of Darkness’ main strengths come in the forms of healing and denial. Nightmare mixes these two major concepts in one hand-altering spell. Upon being cast, Nightmare will fill the opponent’s hand with multiple copies of a target creature, while healing the caster for 2 HP for every card added to the opponent’s hand.
- Fills the opponent’s hand with as many copies of the target creature in question, preventing their draw.
- Heals 2 HP for every card added (up to a maximum of 16 HP if the opponent has no cards initially).
- Has no effect if the opponent’s hand is already full.
- The damage from Nightmare cannot be reflected by shields, but can be ignored completely from Sanctuary.
Nightmare is very cheap when it comes down to quanta usage; 2 (or 1 upgraded) quanta are all that is needed to cast the spell. Although it may seem somewhat limited in terms of its damage and healing capabilities, the denial aspect is not to be underestimated. If a player targets a creature that the opponent cannot play with Nightmare, the opponent may be forced to discard those creatures in order to free up their hand. Smarter enemies however will typically hold back cards to play to avoid Nightmare-chaining, where one would cast Nightmare each consecutive turn in order to fill the foe’s hand with an unusable creature. Regardless of how one plays the spell though, Nightmare will inevitably prevent the player from drawing their next card automatically, which can be effective against decks that rely on speed or card accumulation (i.e. - Fractal).
There are two major counters to Nightmare though; the first, subtler one is based on the enemy’s tactics as mentioned above. If a player using Nightmare plans on forcing the player to discard key cards (because they lack the quanta necessary to play them), they must also account the fact that any cards still in the enemy’s hand while Nightmare is cast could actually ignore the denial/discard strategy altogether. The second counter is a direct one: Sanctuary. If the opponent has Sanctuary in play, Nightmare cannot fill up their hand (as Sanctuary blocks all hand-disruption effects), preventing all damage, healing, and denial mechanics.
Also, unlike the major ‘bolt’-based spells, Nightmare cannot be reflected by shields such as Jade Shield or Mirror Shield, meaning that it will always be able to deal damage assuming Sanctuary is not in play. Using Nightmare on a creature while the opponent’s hand is full will have no effect as well.
An obvious card to pair up with this spell is Ghost of the Past | Ghost of the Past. Ghost of the Past (or ‘GotP’) is a time creature with the passive skill called ‘Obsession’, which will deal damage to the holder if they discard it. Players who fill up the enemy’s hand with GotP via Nightmare can put up a nasty form of denial; unless the player is willing to take damage, they must play or discard whatever non-Ghost cards are remaining in their hand. Over the course of the battle, using Nightmare on GotP against a player with no access to quanta can often become a death sentence, as the repetitive denial, healing, and damage from this combination will ruin the flow of their deck.
Reverse Time | Rewind is another card to use alongside Nightmare, effectively creating a duet of denial spells. After Rewind is used to send a creature (that the opponent has played) back to their deck, Nightmare can prevent the subsequent draw of that creature afterwards by targeting a different creature, filling their hand with dead cards. Combined with the aforementioned creature, Ghost of the Past, and it becomes clear how much of a synergy the Time/Darkness elements become.
Other Cards With Synergy
Some other interesting denial cards to pair up with Nightmare usually involve quanta denial, so as to force the player to be unable to play their key cards while discarding the ones they have no way of playing. Pests, Discord, and Earthquake are major denial cards to combine with Nightmare.
On the flip side, using cards that the opponent can play can also cause some unique strategies as well. For example; using Nightmare on a Spark while having a Bone Wall shield up will cause the enemy AI to still play those creatures (as they’re free), causing the counters of the Bone Wall to build per attack. If the AI is infected with Neurotoxin or if the player has a shield up, using Nightmare on cheap and weak creatures such as Photon will build up the poison (the AI will still play it) or fill up their field with useless creatures (shield blocks the damage) respectively.
When it comes to denial, Nightmare is a unique spell that has an invasive demeanor; unless protected from such hand-manipulated spells, players should try to watch out for this card, as its simple yet insidious mechanic can cripple their tactics immediately.
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