Resource Retrospective - Earth
by Javelin Chimera
Welcome to the Resource Retrospective! In this series, I’d like to take a look at each of the resource symbols used in the Universal Fighting System and analyze some of the design philosophies and patterns that have manifested throughout the years. Along with this, we’ll take a look at a handful of powerful or popular cards that have represented these philosophies as well.
Just a bit of a disclaimer: the following is largely the opinion of the writer. By nature, UFS has a diverse system with a wide array of effects and strategies. With 99% of cards having at least 3 different resource symbols, you’ll see many of these themes spread across multiple symbols. What we’re going to take a look at are some of the more prevalent effects for each, both from the past and in today’s Standard format. So whether you’re a new player just starting their UFS journey, or a long-time veteran enjoying a trip through memory lane, thank you for joining me!
Today, we are going to be taking a look at Earth-
Stalwart - Strength
First, let’s take a look at some of the cards that are very specifically designed for this resource symbol to get some initial inklings into what Earth might be all about:
Strength of the Mountain (Legality: Legacy) - This Foundation of Power provides a modest damage reduction static effect, as well as an enhance that effectively turns any of your Earth attacks into a throw. This one is very on point for Earth’s themes.
Seal of Alluvium (Legality: Legacy) - So this Asset of Power is a bit interesting. For using on your own attacks, it’s actually a fairly under-powered damage pump ability. However, if you consider using it on your opponent’s attacks, you’re suddenly looking at a solid damage control piece. Use one of these, and you’re free to reduce the damage of an attack to your heart’s content.
Brute Strength (Legality: Jasco Eternal) - In keeping with the trend of the Attacks of Power we’ve looked at so far, the Earth Attack of Power fits in very well with the themes of the resource symbol. As a throw attack it’s a bit modest for its stats, but the response ability can effectively cancel an opponent’s attack if leveraged properly.
As is oft proclaimed some, Earth is the “manliest” of the UFS symbols. From the beginning, it has been pretty clear that throw attacks are part of the Earth game plan, tossing people around to deal damage regardless of whether your attack is blocked or not. To assist with this, you’ll often see Earth cards either pumping up some damage to make the throws sting a little more, or reducing damage to allow your character to live to throw another turn. More recently we have seen the strategy of flipping your opponent’s foundations face down, providing another element of control to the Earth symbol. So let’s break down these themes and take a look at some classic examples.
When you don’t want to worry about speed or your opponent blocking your attacks, leaning on throws is one of the best ways to go. As a built-in effect, any throw that is completely blocked still deals half of its damage, rounded up. Endeavor to play a couple of large throws each turn and you’ve effectively placed a timer on the game. Damage WILL happen when throws are involved.
Close Throw (Legality: Legacy) - One of the first throw attacks, which also came back to be legal during the 5-point shuriken era. Stun 2 lets you put some pressure on your opponent’s staging area while you ping them with damage. The static ability makes it playable at the end of strings as well for added versatility.
Flinging Half Nelson (Legality: Legacy) - If you want a big throw fast, this is definitely one way to do it. This attack is fairly simple, but works hard to earn its 2 check. There is even a solid number of useful high throws out there nowadays, making the combo requirement easy enough to pull of reliably.
King of the Ring (Legality: Legacy) - While a 4 difficulty foundation is on the expensive side to get into play, this particular one has full synergy with a throw-centric game plan. The bottom E provides a basic damage pump for your throws, while the top gives you a special form of control in reducing your opponent’s hand size. Dealing damage is almost guaranteed with a throw lineup, which should also help take card of the momentum cost as well.
Strength of the Land (Legality: Standard) - Another great foundation for a throw lineup. Extra damage at the cost of losing speed isn’t too much of a cost when throws tend to not worry about being blocked anyway. One problem that the throw deck type often has is card draw, which means if your opponent is able to counter one of your throws, you’re going to be able to draw a few cards off of it at least with this foundation’s R.
Let’s say you bulk up a bunch. Ideally, at that point you’re going to be strong enough to inflict more damage, while at the same time being able to endure more damage as well. This seems to be the idea behind this aspect of the Earth symbol, where one can not only buff the damage of attacks to an extent, but also make other attacks inconsequential.
Siberian Training (Legality: Legacy) - This is an example of an action card that will make people angry. During your opponent’s turn, it is fairly common to be in a situation where you have fewer ready foundations given that the other player has readied everything they have. Reducing the attack to 0 damage at the time of it being played means there are plenty of chances to make it dangerous again, but it’s usually going to take some resources your opponent wasn’t expecting to spend quite yet.
Enemies now Friends (Legality: Legacy) - On offense, you can use this to reduce an attack you know will hit (like a throw) so that your next attack gets sizeable damage pump. On defense, you can use it with other damage reduction to reduce an attack to 0 damage. Or, if you really want to get fancy on defense, reduce an attack, partial block, and then reverse with something beefy.
Stand Off (Legality: Legacy) - The Most Recent Printing of this foundation gives you two nearly identical abilities. One E lets you pump up an attack, the other lets you reduce an attack. This one really gives your opponent something to think about, having to decide if they want the damage manipulation to go through or commit down their foundations.
Immortal Knowledge (Legality: Standard) - A popular 1 drop foundation in Standard these days, the free damage manipulation on this one is relatively low impact, but the key word there is free. The response is an interesting control piece as well, stuffing unwanted cards back into your opponent’s hand before they draw on their turn.
Strangely enough, Earth seems to have become the primary symbol for flipping your opponent’s foundations in the more recent Jasco UFS sets. This gives the symbol a way to deal with pesky damage resets or anti-throw tech that would give it a tough time in the past.
Spinning Piledriver (Legality: Standard) - Having no block and being a 0 speed mid attack are a rough couple of downsides to have, however throws tend to not worry about too much about the speed aspect. The first E is strong though, giving you the choice of which foundation to flip.
Push the Limit (Legality: Standard) - One of my favorite pieces of spam in Standard currently. Whether you’re playing it to build some more or just blocking an attack, forcing the opponent to flip one of their pieces can often be infuriating.
Commander of Outworld's Armies (Legality: Standard) - A card from the recent Mortal Kombat set that is really growing on me. During the course of a game of UFS, chances are pretty darn good that you’re going to take an unblocked attack. This let’s you selectively flip an opponent’s tool afterwards, as well as reducing the damage of the potential next attack in the turn. This one will make your opponent pay extra attention when trying to go in for the kill.
There you have it, a short overview of some of the common themes you’ll see with the Earth symbol in the Universal Fighting System. As a bonus, here are some notable characters that also fall into these themes: