Opinion: Starhorn is warping Magmar


Since I got little response to my post in the previous thread. I thought I’d make it a full-fledged thread. I’m mostly looking for discussion or opinion on Starhorn and his presence in the Magmar faction warping it.

Short Summary:
I believe Starhorn is warping the Magmar faction away from the initial Magmar playstyle. Mainly because his BBS is not supported by any of the Magmar cards and the faction needs to have them artificially added, splitting the faction into two halves and warping the game in general because they keep trying to give him tech cards, in essence making a lot of the expansions and new cards for Magmar about trying to make Starhorn work instead of changing the BBS to suit the faction.

Longer: I’m reposting a long post I made here in response to Rayqee so I don’t have to type out another essay. Apologies for the length.

Why does the useability matter: In short because you still have the option of making Klaxon work in Lilithe due to how the Shadow creep mechanic pays out. The pay-out for Shadow Creep tiles is inherent (the 1 damage and area denial) but so is Starhorn’s BBS with the 1 draw. What does differ between these is that Shadow Creep also pays out in other ways: Darkspine Elemental, Abyssal Juggernaut, Nightfiend (though not used a lot), Ghost Azalea and last but not least Obliterate. Lilithe also has access to these pay-outs and multiple ways to generate Creep without Cassy’s BBS (Which includes Klaxon). It is possible to build a creep deck with Lilithe and still have it work using only Abyssian cards. You’ll just have less creep.

Thus the point is options. You can run a Creep Deck with Lilithe, you have the option to and there is synergy with the rest of the faction.

Now compare to Starhorn. His BBS allows 2 things, as you noted yourself, it draws cards and allows you to flood the board. Neither of these mechanics are inherent in the Magmar faction in synergy or design. The direct synergy with card-draw was added after the initial design of the faction in the form of a reworked Vindicator and later through Visionar. These are the only direct synergies with card-draw in the Magmar faction and they were tacked on later to suit Starhorn, not the other way around (opinion: as is healthy). There is only one other card that deals with card-draw and that is Dance of Dreams. DoD is very niche but could, for Vaath replace Starhorn’s BBS in regards to direct card-draw synergy. However this is the only card that allows this. If they want to allow Vaath to use Starhorn’s pool more/similar cycle cards need to be added to the faction, again altering it’s basic faction ‘fantasy’. This would warp the faction.

In my opinion, Magmar has a distinct fantasy, a style of play. The 4 archetypes that seem to stick out for the faction are Rebirth, Grow, Self-harm and Rush. This style of play is focused on playing on curve with big, beefy minions that can take a few blows or become beefy. This synergizes with their spells (Plasma Storm, Natural Selection, Fortitude, Amplification, Flash Reincarnation, Kinetic Equillibrium… ) and fits with Vaath’s theme of being a Bruiser himself. The intent is clear, Magmar is the faction that can take a punch and keep going, even to the point where they don’t mind taking a little damage to make that happen. They play solitary, strong minions and weed out weaker creatures through spells. (please note that this is only a short summary and not conclusive).

The second function of Starhorn’s BBS is to flood, to get more value out of playing many/multiple cards than the opponent. This can only be accomplished with ‘weenie’ creatures (low-cost, low power creatures). The Magmar faction currently does not contain or support many ‘weenie’ creatures aside from Young Silithar, Rex and Gro (also added later) (oh and Phalanxar, which wasn’t really played). The Magmar faction is more saturated with 4-drops than weenies, meaning with the current crop of Magmar cards Starhorn can’t effectively flood the board. At the current pace of the game playing more than 2 4-drops in a turn is a pipe-dream, a once every 15 games prospect. So either Starhorn plays mostly neutral cards, which was what Kara did, or more smaller cards are added to the Magmar faction, disrupting the fantasy slightly.

This in itself might not be a bad thing, allowing Vaath more small minions might not be that bad. However, due to Magmar’s distinct lack of card-draw aside from Dance and Starhorn’s BBS Vaath would never be able to utilize most of these ‘weenie’ cards succesfully. He can play one or two but then his hand is empty, effectively handicapping him with a small hand due to the factions inherent terrible card-draw. This can be resolved by adding more card-draw options for the Magmar faction in general but this effectively changes the faction’s design to something else and shifts the designer’s attention away from the already lackluster, existing Magmar specialties (Grow, Rebirth, Self-sacrifice and Rush.). This is what I mean with warping the faction.

(Yes Visionar and Vindicator are bad, All the more reason to fear “Starhorn Support Cards” they design.)

Achknowledgement of possible hyperbole + hyperbole:
Now maybe I’m being pessimistic and CP can find a middle road somewhere. Entirely possible, but so far I don’t have much faith in them doing that, seeing as they dropped the ball on the Magmar part of Shim’Zar, hyperfocusing them into an aggressive faction. I hope we can agree that Shim’Zar was overall bad for the Magmar faction and poorly thought out. Another expansion like this for Magmar will ruin the faction.

Hopefully that clears up my point of view. I’d like to also state that we both want the game to be healthy and fun, which is why we’re having this discussion. So as long as we keep things civil I will not take offense to a dissenting opinion and your apology says you wish for the same thing.

I look forward to your (and everyone’s else’s) opinions.

The Golden Chrysalis: Magmar faction discussion
Will current Starnhorn BBS be ever "okay"?
The Future of Duelyst
Why is Sajj BBS so bad?

I like your reasoning when it comes to the state of Magmar, and how it hurts their pre-existing archetypes. Out of curiosity, how would you propose CPG change Starhorn, Vindicator, and Visionar? Which archetype do you think would fit them the best, while still having flexibility equal to Cassyva and Lillithe/the Abyssian faction? Personally, I would prefer the faction to keep card draw as its primary weakness (in order to give every faction something their weak against, such as Lyonar being minion/board-dependent and Vetruvian’s range weakness).


It will not take long and someone (if you know who I mean) posts that Starhorn is oh-so-S-Rank-proofed. (Meaning the Smashthings Floodhorn deck wich is fun to play (I did it - and it’s really fun!) but not competetive in any way.)
I’m a bit tired of discussing the badness of Starhorn because that doesn’t make sense. CP will not change his BBS and so we will always have a third of the Magmar-cards only designed for him and so being unplayable for Vaath. It’s so sad.
You get a like - because of your honorable afford. And I’ll read the text tomorrow. :joy:


I preface this by saying I am by no means a designer and haven’t thought about the subject properly:
My initial thought is that both Visionar and Vindicator are an alternative ‘Grow’, which is slightly more versatile since you can pump them up in your turn. If more Grow support is given, these could potentially be transitioned into Grow-keyword cards without much problem. However, then there are two issues to tackle:

  1. How does one support the Grow-Archetype?
  2. Should Starhorn’s new BBS still Synergize with the new Visionar and Vindicator or should he go a different route? (Seeing as Twin Fang is his weapon, maybe the Self-Harm route?)

1 Is hard to answer since Grow is in such a weak spot. I currently can’t really think of a way to make it work that isn’t massively overpowered (thoughts like: making dispel just stop the growing instead of removing it (OP as fuck), Giving Grow creatures good stats (also OP), Add more Grow creatures? ). Currently Abyssian does Grow better with the creep Synergy cards (Abyssal Juggernaut) and Deathwatch. They also seem to be working towards Zir’an having ‘Grow with healing’ cards. Maybe a similar interaction for Magmar that isn’t tied to turns would help Grow along? Maybe when Grow cards survive damage they Grow? (probably very OP as well)

2 If Starhorn should still synergize with Visionar and Vindicator and thus the ‘Grow’ Mechanic, you cannot give him a BBS that lets Grow creatures Grow, since you’re limiting Starhorn to another Archetype again. It is too niche and would be seldom used, hardly a proper BBS.

If you give him a BBS that buffs all creatures on the board with Grow-like stat-buff he might be thematically too similar to Kara, infringing on her specialty and opening THAT particular can of worms again.

If CP goes with an alternative way to Grow creatures as detailed above, his BBS might tie into that. But that would require Grow to be changed first.

The two other archetypes that remain are Self-harm and Rebirth (I’m leaving Rush out because giving him a Inner Focus BBS would be overpowered). Or possibly something else altogether, since vaath has no ‘direct’ synergies with Archetypes either but he does embody the Magmar faction with his BBS.

Again, this is just off the top of my head, don’t take this as stuff I WANT to happen, just spitballing and thinking out loud.


Its a hard one. Problem is what would you change the BBS to, if we are to discard his current both players draw a card if his BBS is that badly warping Magmar. Also do we change the cards that “grow” with card draw if it does get changed?

Personally, I can see where you are coming from and I don’t think Starhorn need cards to support the current BBS, and CP shouldn’t force cards to fit to his BBS either. Just like Kara doesn’t really need Vanar minions to be good with her BBS (but of course it does help).


Already gave my opinion last time but I think that after seeing your reasoning, I’d rework Starhorn like this
Deal 1 damage to your General, give +1/+1 to all friendly minions. Works with Grow as it fastens the growth, Rebirth because… It works in general and could help eggs surviving Skorn. And Self Harm because he harms himself. HEY @devs , can I join the balancing department ? I deserve a job already

I’d rework Visionar and Vindicator like this,
1/3 Grows at the start of the enemy turns

Grow minions gain +1/+1 boost to their growth

s long as this minion is on the board, friendly minions gain Grow +1/+1

Now Grow is good. The Vindicator change looks like it’s nothing but it would allow him to survive A LOT more when he’s played.


I like these grow changes you propose.

I also think Starhorn’s BBS should remain unchanged and for now, abandon the idea of adding synergy to it and focus on ‘fixing’ the already existing Mag play styles.

I think a world exists where grow/rebirth is made viable and Starhorn’s strength becomes spitting out two hard to kill minions a turn. That could be terrifying…


I think the thread starter is reading to much into his feeling on the topic.The proof is here

Thumping Wave, Mandrake, Razor Skin,Visionar these are shimzar cards that aren’t grow or rebirth.

Out these four cards only one is directly related to Starhorn.If counterplay was pushing Magmar in new direction don’t you think they would have add more than one card for Starhorn.

I will end with this Vaath and Starhorn are two different classes that share a card pool.If the game had started with two general they would be 50/50 split of cards.So basically if you see the current cards as Vaath specific(which they aren’t) CP needs to add that amount of cards for Starhorn.The sooner Starhorn has a working build the sooner they can focus on general good cards for both.It doesn’t matter if you think Starhorn changing what Magmar should be then lets say

Vaath-Rush,Grow,Rebirth,Self Harm
Starhorn-Pets,Card draw Grow, Flood,Aggro

Your playstyle/flavor isnt going anywhere you just have to deal with a focus on Starhorn for awhile (which isnt happening but needs to happen).


(Morning post, not fully awake yet so might edit this later tonight when I have a clearer head:)

I believe you are misreading my intent, I’m trying to argue that Starhorn is pulling Magmar away from their original design archetype.

My argument about the playstyles Starhorn fits are in the original post, I have also detailed my worries about how these playstyles will change Magmar. In your post you provide 4 cards that aren’t Grow or Rebirth. (why it matters that they are not these, I don’t know). 3 of these cards (Mandrake, Razor Skin, Visionar) are perfect example of CP adding cards to Magmar to support Starhorn’s style. (Aside from Visionar, these cards and Gro are also the ONLY cards Magmar currently use from Shim’Zar.). As I pointed out, there are more ways than direct synergies to support Starhorn’s Flood style.

I agree with you that the current pool of cards isn’t Vaath specific, they are Magmar cards. (something which I also described in my opening post). Both Starhorn and Vaath can take from this pool. However while Starhorn can take from his (potential) pool and the regular pool of cards, Vaath cannot. Vaath lacks the card-draw to use Starhorn’s pool. The only way for Vaath to be able to use Starhorn’s pool is to include more card-draw cards in Magmar. This shifts Magmar away from their initial weakness, Bad Cycling, and from their ‘faction fantasy’. Currently Starhorn has acces to both pools (however small his may be currently) and is still not a great general, Vaath only has acces to the ‘regular’ Magmar pool.

The scenario you’re describing with the faction split is exactly what I want to avoid. If this goes through, there will be no other faction that has this large of a split in their faction. Abyssian is currently the faction that has the largest split. But, Abyssian can still utilize both sides of their faction due to the way the pay-out of Shadow Creep and Deathwatch work. (Again, as detailed in my initial post). Unless Vaath gets a way to employ the cards in Starhorn’s pool properly, Magmar will be the most divide faction in the game if they choose to keep supporting Starhorn (Hyperbole).

My argument is that Magmar is already lacking variety in their decks, Shim’Zar was a bust in regards to adding variety and expanding Magmar’s current Archetypes. This is a direct result of trying to support two different design needs in the form of regular Magmar and Starhorn, who needs cards specifically tailored to him to be viable. This desire to make the faction work with Starhorn instead of making Starhorn work with the faction is warping Magmar.


Seems to be a valid argument. But when I understand @misanthropovore right his point is that
a) Starhorn needs specific cards due to his BBS while Vaath doesn’t.
b) These cards will most probably not be playable with Vaath.
c) This splits the faction in two parts (more then other factions) - making the faction weaker because of a smaller card-pool for each of the two Generals.

Well - I agree with the three points listed. (I hope they are - in short - what @misanthropovore was saying.)
What I’m thinking of is if I can find peace with accepting this as “given”. The downside of balancing BBSes with cards is that this leads in less variance of playstyle because you have to use specifically designed cards for one General to make him good (talking about Starhorn: cards that have synergy with card draw have to be used in all decks with Starhorn or he is bad).
I think the better way is going to design BBSes like Overload that are not depended on special cards to be good, leaving more space in a deck and so the decks itself have more variance. This also would give the designers more space to create more cards that have synergy with Magmars identity Grow, Rebirth, Self Harm.

I also agree (@kirabi) that it’s better to give Starhorn some cards so he become competitive rather then leave him alone. But for me that’s the second choice. The first one would be changing the BBS.

Edit: Hups! I’m a bit late and @misanthropovore already answered by himself.


I will be short, because I think the topic has already been discussed many times, but I commend the author for the thorough analysis.

I think BBSs should be good in isolation. More situational spells like the one of Zi’ran or Kaleos may require more help to work great, but they are okay in a vacuum. The problem with Starhorn is that it can easily give the opponent an advantage AND there is no obvious synergy for it, like healing or positioning, so this synergy has to be forced on the cards in a pretty strange ways. Drawing cards is good for the opponent, no matter what. Also, having such a BBS will always be a major drawback in gauntlet, where one cannot build a deck around it.


Magmar bbs aren’t syngery specific so basically Vaath and Starhorn can run the same builds.Starhorn bbs has draw back so you need create specific cards if you aren’t changing the bbs.

CP games in shimzar try to make flood/zoo/battle pet decks for every faction.Flood isn’t Starhorn specific thing it just happens in case of Magmar that Starhorn is slightly more suited for flood decks.I don’t see anything being warp because to date Starhorn has gotten 2 cards Vindicator and Visionar .Zoo/flood isn’t Starhorn specific thing.


To be honest, I think Magmar has on the whole been very bad for the game, Vaath’s BBS invalidates small minions, and allows him to snowball with Earth Sphere, Claws, Fangs, and BLF. Not to mention how insanely that stacks with multitudinous Rush minions. Fundamentally, if you change Starhorn, you have to change Vaath as well. Cassyva was changed because she was simply too strong, and Vaath was never far off- and the creep changes were changed to function with Lillithe more fluidly.

The issue I have with the suggestion, is that “buff Magmar” doesn’t fix what’s wrong with Starhorn, but exacerbates every one of the problems Vaath causes to the larger game.

My suggestion would be something like…

Your general gains +1 ATK until end of turn, and is healed for 2 points of life

Seeker’s Swiftness
Your general can move an additional space this turn

In this model, Vaath becomes more focused on being able to face-tank than just gobble up everything in his path, and cheese out the opponent by having too much ATK, and Starhorn becomes difficult to range out. It gives Vaath better redundancy with Rebirth, while still making him do something similar to Grow. In the lore, Starhorn used to be “Starhorn the Swift”- so it is only sensible that he gets to “move faster” than other Generals, which does allow him to make better use of Warbeast.

But with those, Elucidator would really also need to change to be absolutely broken…

4 mana minion 5/4
Opening Gambit: Activate a nearby minion you control. Deals 3 damage to your General.

Instead of unconditional Rush to stick a Frenzy or Thumping Wave on, he allows you to create pseudo-Rush for smaller minions or minions that have stuck around- or allows you to Double Strike if your opponent doesn’t answer something important. An indirect buff to Veteran Silithar and Dreadnaught, even though it costs the redundancy of bursty Rush guys.


@misanthropovore can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think what he meant is that card draw was never inherent to the Magmar Aspects identity as a faction. For instance, most BBS’s from other factions, with the exception of the old Kara one, had something to do with pre-existing faction mechanics.

Take Faie for example: her BBS takes great advantage of the positioning pressure that was already characteristic to Vanar Kindred in cards like Avalanche, Infiltrate minions, Hearth Sister and so forth. Vaath’s Overload also fits with his faction’s theme of growth, big creatures and late-game snowballing.

The big problem with Starhorn is that he is incompatible with prior archetypes so, in order to make him belong to the faction, CP has recently added a considerable amount of cards that have nothing to do with Magmar’s original approach, therefore warping it’s identity in favor of what is, IMHO, an uninspired BBS design.


I don’t follow why you believe that if Starhorn needs changes then Vaath does as well. You’re saying that Vaath has a BBS that is functioning correctly, With upsides (a lot of damage over a long game), downsides (he tanks this damage himself) and counterplay (you can dispel his BBS easily)? Persistent BBS are not exclusive to Magmar, Reva’s heartseekers stay forever, Zirix’s Iron Dervishes stay forever, Argeon’s BBS is infinitely stackable on the same minion and doesn’t expire, Lilithe’s Wraithlings are also persistent.

Your example of Cassyva also doesn’t follow, Cassyva was NOT changed she stayed the exact same. What changed was the Shadow Creep mechanic. If you want to change Magmar like Cassyva, a change of a particular Archetype is required. Vaath’s BBS seems fine to me.

Question: If Vaath was never far off, why didn’t the Shim’Zar expansion catapult Magmar to the top of the ranks? Currently I’d say Lyonar and Songhai are the top factions, with Magmar still being midling. (this is my opinion of course and you’re free to disagree)

That being said, I don’t believe I suggested Magmar should be buffed. (since you didn’t quote anyone in particular I’ll assume it was directed at the Original Post). What I want in regards to the Magmar faction is not an increase in power but an increase in breadth. Currently you can only run fast/aggro Magmar. I’d like there to be different types of Magmar decks based on the currently available but lackluster Archetypes (Grow, Rebirth, Self-Harm) that provide a different but thematically similar experience to ‘normal’ Magmar. This is not mutually exclusive with a buff, but not necesarryly the case either.

I’m also not sure your proposed Elucidator change does what you think it does, it still allows Thumping wave to be played… it just makes it worse for the opponent.
Example: You play Thumping Wave on Healing mystic, 7 damage to your general. You play Elucidator and reactivate the Healing Mystic. 7 to your General. 14 damage + whatever else you have on the board and the next turn a 5/4 looms.
And that’s just with small minions, imagine if you do that with something with a little more damage.
I really dislike this proposed change because I don’t want Magmar to be just a ‘Rush to Face’ faction.

You’re free to discuss this of course and I’ll engage you, but this might not be the thread to discuss a complete overhaul of the faction.


Star horn’s BBS inherently synergises with a few strategies. However, these strategies are usually not very strong in Magmar.

  1. Minion Spam:
    This strategy involves playing as many minions as possible and using the BBS to refill your hand. It has synergy with Magmar’s ramp cards, such as Kujata, and small minions such as young silithar and Gro. The problem is, the opponent is also likely to be playing a deck that dumps their hand equally fast. This meta has things that may benefit from the extra draw more than you, such as aggro Lyonar and Spellhai. Furthermore, Magmar small minions lend themselves more to value than damage potential. While Gro and Young Silithar are great, hard to remove minions, they do not threaten as much damage as the small minions of factions like Lyonar and Songhai.

  2. Combo
    Historically, Magmar has had one great combo deck; trilucidator/ Lucifer. This deck revolves around stalling the game until turn 9 and playing Flash reincarnation + Elucidator + Amplification + fractal replication for a whopping 24 damage (amplification used to give +3/+0). However, this combo soon died out since cards that were required to get to a point in the game where this combo could be played were nerfed. Things like Plasma storm, Emerald rejuvenator and Silhuette tracer are key components to staying alive with this deck and all of them were nerfed. As such, the closest thing we have right now are Dance of memes, which is terribly inconsistent, and Mechaz0r, which Vanar probably does better after the loss of Vindicator rush. The problem with introducing more combo elements is their wildly variable power levels. Combo decks might be utter garbage, or they might break the game.


lol “Engage”- this isn’t a military encounter, friend :smiley:

Simply put, I agree that Magmar’s space is too narrow- but a big part of that is that Vaath is the ultimate super-unit general, something that is fundamentally powerful on it’s own- and since Vaath shares a cardpool with Starhorn, the changes are lateral.

For the Elucidator change, I did know that cheap minions make Wave do more. But, the combos become more card intensive, and the opportunity cost to making string combos with buffs is increased. The idea is to make Magmar have 2 Super Unit generals (similar to Sajj, Zi’Ran, and Cassyva.) This encourages more midrange, control or combo-control oriented play. Where in the current environment, Vaath will just push any changed tools for additional face pressure. The redesigned Overload means that he gets free healing bursts, but doesn’t punch the enemy general for 3 turns staight to set up an Elucidator or Warbeast combo. Instead, the face damage is stemmed, but the General behaves more defensively. Similarly, giving a general the ability to move further, enables Starhorn to make very aggressive plays, or milk things like Twin Fangs too hard with the abundance of Rush.

IE, Adding a few steps to hand damage to encourage more interactive play, but letting both Generals have a super-unit ability to give Magmar more definition- without enabling aggressive Vaath decks to be any more ridiculously aggressive without burning up a significant portion of their hand (discouraging it as the first strategy.)

Shim’Zar gave Magmar powerful tools (Huntress, Thumping Wave)- but was wisely made with not over-enabling the existing Vaath decks. It isn’t a matter of Vaath’s BBS being “functional”, it’s a matter of what it does to the game as a function of time. Healing adds persistence to the BBS, but just being able to gobble up 4 and 5 drops makes it impossible to actually go long against Vaath without Smorcing him before he Smorcs you.


Personally i think that Visionar and Vindicator are just pointless cards for Magmar, they aren’t good in Vaathdecks and imo they are even worse in Starhorndecks. The main issue here is that both are by nature value cards, but Starhorns BBS demands a very aggressive and tempooriented playstyle to reduce its negative sideeffect. In a game such as duelyst, with the abundance of Dispel and hard removal, slowly growing value cards aren’t that good in the first place, and they only get worse when used with a BBS that helps the opponent to find an answer to them. The whole thing is just a big misconception on CPs part.

If they want to make Starhorn better they should print cards that can be used in fast and aggressive decks, rush minions, good buffs, some opening gamebits maybe. The best Starhorncard in Shimzar was probably Mandrake because he is exactly the kind of card Starhorn is looking for, a cheap and efficient tempo play.

Regarding Visionar and Vindicator, they should just turn them into normal grow minions. That way they would find a home in a deck that likes strong value plays and they could be used with a general who is actually value oriented as well, Vaath. Getting more and more attack over time is also something that has more value if the game drags on. Just like grow minions.


i just wish starhorns BBS was something like “deal 1 damage to a minion. the owner of that minion draws a card”

i think this would work in all the existing magmar archtypes. self harm- you hurt your own minion to draw a card. rush eggs- a rebirth minion can attack from 3 health, ping the rebirth minion, then use something like wild inceptor, morrin kur, or egg morph to hatch it (or flash out a veteran, ping it, then hatch it for rush). you could damage an enemy and force your opponent to mill a card while activating visionar or vindicator. get cards off of grow minions who can easily shrug off that damage.

while i dont think they will change starhorns BBS, i can dream.


I do not agree with the notion that Vaath’s BBS is integrated any better in the magmar faction. His ability is just as generic as drawing a card. It was added in because every general was going to get a BBS. It happens to be better “supported” with the healing spells in magmar. The BBS does have a thematic connection to grow, but it has no mechanical synergy.

Other than that, Starhorn’s ability does not really need a lot of support. It creates its own type of deck. Any deck that is going for something combolicious like the twin fangs/dance of dreams/kujata deck or a deck that is about arcanysts would prefer running starhorn. And that is fine. I do not know why you would want more linear “put this in a starhorn deck” cards than the ones that are already here (dance of dreams, visionar I guess?).