Laziest Peon #3 – Shiv

Last week I spoke about the Stoneclaw Totem and how one of its advantages was that with its 5-health it avoided a lot of the 1-point damage abilities that often remove a totem. This week I thought I would look at Shiv – a staple of many rogue decks and a fine example of a totem remover.

Lets cover the basics, before we delve into some finer points about the card. Shiv is a 1-cost rogue ability from the Through the Dark Portal set. Its also a combo card – so its already great with other cards like Slice and Dice and Eviscerate. Its also part of a loose cycle of cards which also include Arcane Shot (Hunter), Fire Blast (Mage), Zephyr (Druid) and Rend (Warrior).

Additionally its not an instant. This has caught plenty of players out from my experience. The card just “feels” like it should have instant speed. Having access to instant removal is so powerful – but even without it you can wave goodbye to Apprentice Teep, Leeroy Jenkins and Sha’lin Nightwind – heck even the annoying Warden Tonarin can be removed before it can do anything. On the Horde side, it pings Voss Treebender and Vesh’ral before they hurt your board. And that only covers many allies from the first set.

Sneaking in there are the Devilsaur Leggings. Is Tewa Wildmane getting you down? Shiv. Hear those Thundering Footsteps? Shiv. For the leggings to work the rogue usually has to stab away with a dagger and get his face punched. No longer.

But alas, for this card at least, the rogue must prepare, organise and plan. Which should be its forte anyway, stealthy little buggers that they are. Lets not overlook the fact though, that there is a very good reason why its not instant. The second part of the card reads “that damage counts as combat damage”. Such a small sentence, but just a large ramification. “Combat damage” may not look significant but lets look at the other cards in the rogue’s stable. How much better would Deadly Poison and Crippling Poison be if you could lay them down during your opponents turn – they’d begin to work a turn earlier and would have a significant impact on the pace of the game.

I mean, the card is so nice that UDE gave its power to a Hero – Rotun Daggerhand. For an additional 2-resources you can Shiv at instant speed. From the most recent World Championship, 5 of the top 8 decks were using the stumpy rogue in solo builds, so its obviously a powerful ability. While we haven’t seen a competitive poison deck, they cant be far away.

Phew, that was a lot of discussion for such a small card. So how does it compare to the MMO ability of the same name?

“20 Energy. Instant. Requires a Melee Weapon. Performs an instant off-hand weapon attack that automatically applies the poison from your off-hand weapon to the target. Slower weapons require more Energy. Awards 1 combo point.”

Shiv is an ability rogue’s gained with the Burning Crusade expansion. As a level 70 ability it should be significant, and it is – there are some nasty poisons in the game. First thing to notice is that the game’s ability is instant – so things don’t match up there. But for TCG balance, I think its acceptable. Look at the text though! Its clear that Shiv (in the TCG) was always designed to go with the poison cards. I think its a subtle clue, and one that players of both the MMO and the TCG could have realised without needing the “combat damage” set of dots to connect. Another nice design decision seems to be that since damage dealt in combat is “combat damage”, that those two words can easily replace the requirement for a melee weapon, and serve a second purpose to link to poison at the same time. Its a nice change from cards like Sinister Strike and Backstab that should use a weapon.

Another point of difference is that Shiv itself doesn’t do any damage. It does, however, perform and off-hand weapon attack which in addition to applying poison does damage. So in a way we’re covered. About the only thing you could argue is that the damage an off-hand weapon does at level 70 is going to be more than 1 – but for a 1-cost ability I think its balanced. Anymore damage and the focus move away from the core of the ability – applying poison.

That wraps things up for this final Laziest Peon for the year. I’ll be back in the new year to look at some more commons and uncommons and explore their MMO equivalents. Until then, may you dodge the Hardpacked Snowballs.

Laziest Peon #3 – Shiv

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