Shout Out to Theft - Gwen
Horsethief shares his takes and strats.
Welcome to the pasture! This is meant to be my first installment in a series of my thoughts and takes on Storybook Brawl. Presumably some of you know me as a weekday Twitch streamer and as an everyday YouTube creator. I play a LOT of Storybook Brawl.
For those of you who don't know me my main goal is to laugh. I go for the most ridiculous nonsense. I play high risk/high reward therefore anything I like will be very swingy by nature. Consequently: Use this information at your own risk!
Very quickly I identified Gwen as my absolute favorite hero. And while there are several reasons for this, there is one primary reason. Polywoggle! I'll share some ideas I've collected playing Gwen and answer the age old Gwen question: What should I Knighthood?
Despite my favorite Polywoggle game plan, Gwen is a VERY flexible hero. There are some great opportunities for strong early/mid game plays. This leads me to believe Gwen is an evergreen hero regardless of meta.
I'll break this down into how I'm thinking at various phases of the game, highlighting a few key cards along the way. Afterwards we'll wrap this up by looking at some interesting strategies you may not have considered.
Quick Abbreviation Guide
|Spike||Using the Knighthood spell to upgrade a unit.|
|HLT||Happy Little Tree|
|TLK||True Love's Kiss|
|Levels||Since each level consists of 3 experience I'll commonly discuss game state in terms of how early or late it is in that level. An abbreviation of 3.0 refers to the first turn on level 3. 3.1 is the second turn on level 3 and 3.2 is the third turn on level 3. The .1/.2 refers to how much experience you'll see if you hover over the experience pie chart.|
Early Game (Levels 2 and 3)
Let's highlight a few key Knighthood targets and things to think about if you start going that route.
High risk/high reward is the name of the game here. I'm perfectly happy to spike Poly on turns 1 and 2. However, I personally will spike a Poly all the way through level 3. The payoff potential is just too high.
Early in the game most heroes are building a fairly similar board. Some have stronger hero powers and can accelerate a lot quicker like Hoard Dragon, Wonder Waddle, and Fallen Angel. Even with that, an upgraded Polywoggle turning into an upgraded 3 or 4 cost unit offers so many potential benefits.
Best case scenario you manage to flip Poly on turns 1 or 2. This gives you an upgraded level 3 unit while you're still level 2. Even the least useful level 3 units still battle just fine at that point in the game. The best level 3 units include Princess Wight, Brave Princess, Vainpire, Ogre Princess, and Lucky. The common theme here is either access to early treasures or early stats or early economy. All three of these are different sides to the same coin. They allow you to acquire extra units and start finding treasures. This gives you additional power and information.
I've dedicated a segment at the end of this article to highlight some interactions that make the early Polywoggle play even more appealing. Transforming your upgraded Poly unit into upgraded units of a higher level can be so powerful it can define what you'll play. If you happen to get lucky enough you can have an upgraded 6 cost unit before hitting level 4.
The name of the game with the Polywoggle spike is flexibility. There are far too many angles to discuss them all here. If you opt to go this route expect to be continuously fluid until you find the unit and treasure combination that works very well in the current meta. Every now and then you'll hit something so early that you can save enough health to build into whatever you want.
Happy Little Tree
Happy Little Tree is an interesting one since we've seen this card be both meta and not meta over the last few patches. Provided trees are strong, an early upgraded HLT can go a LONG way. I'm happy to spike HLT on turns 1 and 2. I'm hesitant but probably still willing to spike it on turn 3 as well.
If you're going the HLT route, you'll benefit from Mad Mim's attack support on level 2. Entering level 3 there are two things that can set you up for quite a bit of power.
An upgraded Happy Little Tree and Darkwood Creeper are best friends. Scaling up the attack on HLT can result in it being able to kill two, three, or sometimes four units on its own. Ring of Meteors in conjunction with the Creeper will often give your board +7 attack per turn. Don't forget to play the Falling Stars spell if offered in these situations for additional attack scaling on the early levels.
While this can set a solid foundation you'll still need to remain flexible going into level 4 and beyond. Ideally you'll find a Heartwood Elder and be able to double down on the HLT scaling. In a perfect world the shops will continue offering tree synergies and supports so you can stay the course. But this is a game of RNG. If the shops are offering you powerful units that lead in another direction don't be afraid to build a solid board with one big HLT helping out along the way.
I'm perfectly happy to spike Wizard's Familiar on turn 1. I'm a little less excited to do it on turn 2. I won't use my spell if I find one on turn 3 but there still may be an argument to do that. Familiar can be a strong route since Mages are a solid game plan. There are two particularly powerful level 3 treasures. There's also one very good level 4 unit that plays perfectly with Familiar.
Before you can find Hat and Ball, you'll spend the level 2 turns picking up the strongest fighting units and playing cheap/free spells. It's typically a bad idea to play a spell that prevents you from buying a unit before level 3 but there are some exceptions. You might find a Cinderella to go along with your Familiar to pick up an additional level 2 treasure since you'll want to play spells anyway.
Getting into level 3, an early Merlin's Hat will give you the ability to play a free spell most turns, continuing your Familiar scaling. The Familiar itself should be large enough to trade into two or three of your opponent's units fairly early. If you happen to find both Hat and Ball early enough on level 4 you may end up keeping the Familiar around all game.
Another great thing to add to your board is a Monster Book. The extra spell cast during combat will continue to make your Familiar grow. This can result in a very large unit that may be able to trade with three or four of your opponent's units.
Once again I must issue a disclaimer. Wizard's Familiar may just end up being a large unit on your board while the shops guide you into a different direction. However, level 4 supports (Sporko/Lady of the Lake) are very powerful and socket directly into mage builds. In a perfect world you can find Hat and Ball (and Forking Rod) in order to play Mages all game long. Or perhaps you can luck into a Treasure Map giving you an early 9th Book of Merlin. However with any round of Storybook Brawl remaining flexible and not tunneling into a specific strat will usually mean you get more done with the gold you spend.
Other Early Game Units
Being perfectly honest, at the time of this writing there are very few level 3 units I'm willing to spike. There are only two I would consider right now. The common theme here is the immediacy of the payoff.
I could be tempted to Knighthood Princess Wight provided the following:
- I came out of level 2 with a fanny or two on the board.
- Princess Wight is in the shop with at least one Dubly and one other dwarf.
In the absence of Dwarven Forge this line has become a LOT less attractive. However you can squeeze a lot of power out of the early game stat buff from Wight in conjunction with treasures.
Similar to Princess Wight, I'd only look at Vainpire in the following situations:
- I found the level 2 treasure Bounty Board.
- I found the level 3 treasure Bad Moon.
- It's turn 3.0 or 3.1 at the VERY latest.
Typically a Vainpire just doesn't make it into your final slay comp. It's not the most attractive slay piece except for one thing: its slays do scale health/toughness. Slay is a build that benefits greatly from having extra gold around to find very specific pieces. However, starting so early it's important that Vainpire can slay every single combat. Bounty Board can give you the gold to get more chances at Bad Moon (and other key treasures later). Bad Moon allows your Vainpire to become large enough to typically survive a bad early hit while being able to slay most opposing units.
Mid Game (Levels 4 and 5)
If you've managed to save your spell this long, which usually I have not, there are a few powerful cards you might look at on levels 4 and 5. At this stage of the game you've already started finding pieces that fit together. Your Knighthood here should either provide a great boost to what you've been building or hit a unit that can allow you to build into a different strat on its own. The latter often requires enough health to take a few hits over the next two turns as you set up.
Heartwood Elder is a powerhouse tree support. Making giant trees even more giant often offsets having a very weak backline tree. Look for this if you've already been working on a Happy Little Tree early. The best case scenario is that you already have three solid trees on the front line and a Horn of Olympus treasure. An upgraded Heartwood Elder giving buffs to a full front line of trees can be VERY strong.
In the era of Sky Castle only requiring two copies to upgrade a Royal, Prince Arthur is king! Look to spike Arthur if you're coming out of level 3 with powerful upgraded Royals or lines on easy upgrades to powerful Royals. Arthur can be a very clunky option if you never manage to upgrade important Royals so use this with caution.
On level 4 specifically, and with the right starting kit/treasures, an upgraded Riverwish Mermaid can help your slay accelerate. This is VERY situational but can take off with a single Lightning Dragon. If you already have Bounty Board or Bad Moon this is much more attractive. I probably would only consider this option on 4.0 or 4.1 since Baba Yaga on level 5 offers a lot more power than the mermaid.
To be fair, if I'm in a spot to spike Aon I've probably already spiked Wizard's Familiar. Aon is the attack scaling powerhouse of Mage builds if you have the ability to play multiple spells per turn (whether via Crystal Ball or Monster Books). Aon shines because typically you're increasing attack on back line ranged units. Mages can be a powerful end game comp that can fight against anything. However Mages are one of the trickiest tribes to pivot into and an upgraded Aon alone is not an indicator that you should be playing Mages.
The beating heart and soul of slay comps is Baba Yaga. If you've got a solid slay build running Baba is a no brainer. One upgraded Baba and a Lancelot can accelerate so quickly they're worth looking at if you find them early enough, even without a Knighthood. An upgraded Baba might allow you to consider pivoting into slay.
Burning Tree is a relatively new card and its prominence is already clear. Even with Sporko support Burning Tree alone can allow you to pivot into trees. It's strong enough to fight well in the process meaning you can also minimize health loss. If you're already rocking a tree board happily Knighthood Burning Tree in a heartbeat. Even if you're not, trees only require a handful of, admittedly contested, six cost trees to come online. This is one of the strongest mid game spike options.
Spike a questing unit? What about Baba Yaga? While Baba is probably going to be the more interesting slay piece to upgrade, don't ignore a 5.0 Lancelot. In its upgraded state Lance has base stats of 18/18 requiring only one Queen's Grace to complete his quest. Level 5 treasures are strong and augment most any board. Once upgraded, a Lancelot can team up with Baba Yaga to start building strong slay even late in the game. Typically this requires treasure support but Lance can sometimes give you Evil Eye which pairs perfectly with Baba Yaga to get the party started. Lance fits well into Royals boards and just might allow you to transition into slay.
I'll put Tweedle in as a level 5 honorable mention. Arguably the most important dwarf in the game, Tweedle Dee is also solid on its own with supports or treasures (think Sting/Haunted Helm). Tweedle doubles its starting stats and adds that to the second half as a last breath effect. This means it might be able to trade with multiple opponent's units at this stage of the game. If you have a dwarf start already, Tweedle's the perfect addition. If relatively healthy and close to level 6, I might still be tempted to save my Knighthood for Lordy. Tweedle alone will not allow you to pivot into dwarves but just might save you some health.
Late Game (Level 6)
I've probably only made it to 6 with Knighthood in hand once or twice over the many Gwen games I've played. If you've somehow managed to make it to 6 without a hero power you should already know what level 6 units to consider. I won't go into detail on each one of these. Here are the cards most likely to help you take over the game depending on what you've collected so far:
Let's return to where I began: Polywoggle. The main reason I prefer the Poly line on Gwen is because you can have an upgraded 3 cost unit on turn 2. This is before ANY other hero in the game. That's pretty cool but it's not necessarily going to win you the game. But there are two spells that just might empower that. Both of these spells unlock once you hit level 3.
This spell doesn't necessarily require Polywoggle although Poly certainly benefits from it. Mixa is an interesting spell in that it may or may not provide any long term value. Sure you might get lucky and mixa your early upgraded level 3 unit into something like a Greedy for a fight. That would give you a chunk of gold to spend which is certainly nice.
Isn't Mixawizzle a one turn effect? Yes it is but it also might not be. If you upgrade a unit via mixa AND THEN transform it via one of these three spells, you get to keep it. This works on any hero but is especially good on Gwen with Polywoggle since you can start with an early upgraded unit. Since Mixawizzle is a cantrip you're allowed to play an additional spell after playing it this turn. This gives you a few options:
- Mixawizzle a unit into a higher level good unit. Find a Shard of the Ice Queen. Transform that unit into a random evil unit of that level and keep it.
- Mixawizzle a unit into a higher level unit. Find a True Love's Kiss. Transform that unit into a random unit one additional level higher and keep it.
- Mixawizzle a unit you haven't upgraded yet into a higher level unit. Use your Knighthood on that unit and keep it.
True Love's Kiss really gets honorable mention here because most of these ideas hinge on finding more than one transformation spell in the same turn. The reason I love Polywoggle so much is that it only takes a handful of TLKs to upgrade your 3 into a 4/5/6. Let's say Poly didn't manage to slay on level 2. No problem! Get it to slay into an upgraded 4 on level 3 and then TLK that into an upgraded level 5 unit!
Some people prefer to let Polywoggle slay first and then spike the unit it becomes. This is a safer line of play because you don't end up investing your hero power into a level 2 unit. However, I much prefer to get an upgraded Poly slay on level 2. Then I can TLK Polywoggle into an upgraded level 4 unit the very first turn on level 3. If you wait to Knighthood Poly you won't have that option. The luckiest version of this is finding both a Mixawizzle and a True Love's Kiss the first turn on level 3. This allows you to have an upgraded 5 cost unit immediately on level 3.
If you leave yourself open to this line of play any hero can find a level 6 unit on level 3. Gwen has the best shot of that being an upgraded level 6. Imagine having an upgraded Hercules or Jormungand before you can even buy a Sporko!
Ultimately your goal in any game of Storybook Brawl is to be the last player with health at the end. When playing Gwen I'm not overly precious with my Knighthood spell. I can find more once I reach level 6 anyway.
Your primary goal is to use it in a way that gets you to the end of the game. This can manifest in finding something stronger than you're supposed to have early while you build into whatever the game has offered. In the rare scenario the early spike may just build your game plan for you.
Good luck out there!
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