Hero Focus: Istariel

Istariel has no time for the demands of others or even for the pleasantries that make society tick, even among the elves she is seen as arrogant and unbending. Typically, this attitude would have resulted in numerous physical conflicts until she bent…or broke, however she couples her contempt with one of the greatest natural talents at controlling flame that has ever been seen on Athien.

Contrary to the last Hero Focus, Istariel is one of the most straight forward Aggressors in the game. She has a pretty straight forward ability to just focus fire onto an enemy and to not worry about being stuck in melee too much.

Looking at her card, she has a fairly typical Elven statline (high MOV and AGI). Her MAG attack is a 7 which is typical for most Aggressors, and again with a fairly standard 2/3/4 damage track. Nothing here stands out as being a defining feature, just a solid and consistent Hero.

Moving on to her Abilities, however, things start to look more interesting – Starting off with Heat Conductor, she ignores 1 RES. This makes her quite a bit better into armoured enemies, effectively making her damage track 3/4/5. Like with Rakkir, she also has a 2S Combat Manoeuvre to inflict the Fire Condition which she can then leverage for some True Damage with Conflagration.

Unfortunately, unlike Rakkir, it is significantly harder to stack the dice with Magic attacks – she can’t get a charge bonus, and she can’t get an aiming bonus. Her only real option is to prioritise the Ring of Power Artefact for her, to take her up to MAG 8. MAG 8 should give her 4 dice against most enemies, but even then, the criteria for her Combat Manoeuvre rests at just under 40% (or just over 60% with a Fate Re-roll).

Coming back to Conflagration, this allows her (for a 1F cost) to inflict D3+2 True Damage to enemies within 8″ who are suffering the Fire condition. The significant difference here (comparing to Rakkir) is that this is all enemies! If she is fortunate enough to have set multiple Heroes on Fire over a couple of activations, this damage can mount up.

This is bolstered by her Level 2 ability, Wildfire. This prevents the Fire condition from expiring whilst within 8″ of her (it still applies the 3 True Damage from the Fire condition), so you will be wanting to play her forwards to make it harder for enemies to retreat out of her bubble. Alternatively, you can utilise this as a control aspect and attempt to place Istariel in such a way as to herd your enemies into locations advantageous to you. The prospect of even just taking 3 True Damage turn after turn is not appealing, ignoring the constant threat of Conflagration (as they both share the same 8″ range). Additionally, when she gets to Level 3, Intensify takes advantage of all this Fire.

Intensify gives her Burning Arrow basic attack a +1 damage modifier against Heroes suffering the Fire condition, making her damage track 3/4/5 for real, or even an effective 4/5/6 against enemies with RES!

In an ideal turn, she wants to be in a position to attack 3 times and then Conflagration to take advantage of the Fire that has been inflicted. Most often, those three attacks will be focus firing on a single target so that you can try to ensure that you get the Combat Manoeuvre to inflict Fire on your chosen target. That said, if you have the Fate to burn and the opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to attack multiple targets with re-rolls, looking for the 2S to set 2 or 3 Heroes on Fire to take Conflagration to the absolute limit.

The problems with playing Istariel far enough forwards to enable this is that it becomes a lot easier for your opponent to try and kill her, or engage her so that she cannot perform her attacks. Fortunately for her, she has some defence in this regard; Her naturally high AGI stat for being an Elf makes it difficult for most Heroes to apply consistent or high damage against her, and her Blaze ability gives her the necessary tool to get out of a melee without suffering any parting blows.

To try and enhance her defensive capabilities, there are a few options. Boots of Stability are usually the best option, as it can help prevent against your opponent negating her AGI. However, other notable mentions would be Blood Sucker (helps keep her HP topped up – up to 6HP/turn healing for “free” can keep her alive multiple turns in a row), or Astral Stasis Potion (For those turns when you can see a big counter attack coming!).

Heroes that she pairs well with often include those who can easily apply the Knocked Down condition – Sir Marcus is the usual choice here, however, Thrommel (at Level 3) and Zaffen are other decent candidates. Additionally, Bastian (once he gets to Level 2) can use Enhance Magic to give Istariel a bigger bonus from her Ring of Power – MAG 9 is nothing to sniff at!!

Heroes that she doesn’t like are mainly the ones who can remove or prevent her abuse of the Fire condition. Primary here would be Saiyin who can use Holy Shield to outright prevent a Hero from having Fire applied, or Bastian who can use Calming Waters to remove conditions from Heroes. Heroes who can consistently hit high AGI (and hit it hard) such as Zhonjya should also be avoided!

Card Version: 1.5

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