Since its change (alongside Celestial Tower), Wind Gate has fallen into a unique category of card design that provides invigorating decisions, and formidable tactical choices. Yet it does not get played, or very infrequently, and certainly not in decks considered to be strongest. This article explores the value Wind Gate brings to any deck, and along the way comments on the centrality of board control and tactical decisions for success in this game.
Wind Gate: 4 health, 2 faeria, 2 desert
“You can summon creatures on spaces adjacent to this structure.” Activate: Move Wind Gate.
This card offers 2 unique mechanics:
I stumbled across the significance of this while exploring a series on Structures in Faeria. Part of the series attempted to incorporate both Celestial tower and Wind Gate, neither of which is very strong on their own. But during the testing, a singular event stood out above all the rest: Wind Gate is immune to taunt. The value of this idea – that a card can bypass the taunt mechanic – is enough to make Wind Gate interesting to test and potentially worth playing. We have similar mechanics in Charge 3, 5, where a unit can move right past a taunt (charge 2 will never take a minion far enough to escape the effects of taunt). In addition, Shifting Tides, Sunken Tower, Prophet of Tides, and Flash Wind all provide similar utility – they either move a unit out of the way, or move the land it rests on. But Wind Gate is in its own category in this regard. It simply avoids the mechanic altogether.
On its own, this means that you can use Wind Gate as a blocker for other creatures, especially around your opponent’s orb where space is limited by the edge of the board. In combination with its ability to summon, you can move Wind Gate past a taunt and summon on the other side, bypassing the positional superiority that taunt provides.
As a structure, Wind Gate avoids a large swathe of removal and control elements that affect other minions; it is susceptible to a number of direct tools in red, most notably Firebomb, but the compelling thing about Wind Gate is that you can gain a lot of value from hand.
Value “from hand” grants a player flexibility and thus tempo over an opponent. Cards like Groundshaker or Tiki Caretaker are prime examples because their “Gift” can be anticipated but not entirely played around. In contrast, even if your opponent drops a Verduran Force, you still have a turn to react. These factors are what make the board and positioning such a vital part of Faeria. All green minions pose a threat if they are one space away, because Green possesses a large number of cards that increase health or damage from hand. You must account for more space against Blue, but less overall health and damage, because of jump and move land mechanics coupled with transform effects. Yellow is closer to Blue in this regard, with Flash Wind and Haste creatures, whereas Red is like Green in its relative immobility (made up for not with buffs but the Burn mechanic). As players we intuitively grasp the kind of “personal space” each colour needs to remain safe, but a more objective analysis reveals particular trends of land development that are worth considering (in a separate article perhaps!). These things help answer questions like: which direction should I build at the beginning of the game? Do I build the same as my opponent or opposite? Straight for their orb or to the side?
Wind Gate breaks apart such expectations with its own “Gift” ability (hidden in the wording of the card). While it is true that you cannot move the Gate on the turn it is played, you can utilize the unique summon feature straight from your hand. This is where the opportunity for dynamic, unexpected lines of play open up. Wind Gate props up the positional requirements of a number of very strong “from hand” cards, while also allowing for extra reach for value creatures. Consider the synergy of cards in the positional category:
Voice of Hunger
The strongest beneficiaries in this list are probably Bomb Slinger, Vampire, and Salamander, but a card like Daring Adventurer, which is severely hampered by its positional nature, suddenly looks much better with this kind of synergy. The chances of getting it as an 8/8 increase dramatically when you have Wind Gate in hand.
This list doesn’t address the other category: what we might call broadly “value” creatures. This includes Haste cards like Freedom Fighter or Ninja Toad, all Fliers or Aquatic creatures (who can suddenly be summoned on ocean tiles), and high impact creatures that are rather slow if summoned out of the action (i.e. Verduran Force). In addition, Wind Gate is a boon when defending against rush, when your opponent is sitting on the coloured lands you need. As a structure, it can be summoned on any land you control, so it is somewhat useful in allowing you access to any tile to get out the much needed taunt, or Salamander or whatever else you might need.
So where would Wind Gate fit, and why? Here are a few suggestions to get the creative juices flowing:
Yellow Rush: Does it need more help? Not really. But Wind Gate is a really nice trick to give your haste creatures the extra reach they need to close out the game. Defending against rush in large part is about denying forward lands, but every yellow rush should be able to get one desert within 2 hexes from the enemy orb. Dropping Wind Gate closes the gap by 1 hex, allowing a Follower or Monk to suddenly swing for face on a square that was once out of reach. This is especially potent because you can advance the Gate next turn while your opponent attempts to deal with the minions.
Yellow Control: This deck is already very good at relocating minions once it hits the 5 desert threshold. Wind Gate offers even more synergy for Vampires, ensuring that you get high value positions for it even on enemy land. Moreover, you can get Deathwalkers in very specific locations to threaten huge minions, instead of relying only on Desert Twisters/Windborne Champions to surprise your opponent.
Red Yellow Control: The splash of 2 deserts limits the effectiveness of Wind Gate (slowing down the heavy red land requirements of Bomb Slinger), but the upside is far more options in terms of locations for Bomb Slingers and Salamanders. In fact, teching into 2 deserts for the Wind Gate often allows a player to forgo placing a lot of unnecessary mountains in order to successfully use Bomb Slingers, etc…
Green Yellow: Many Green minions (especially taunts) like Verduran, Grove Guardian or Living Willow, benefit immensely from surprise positioning. Since Green’s comeback mechanic is heavily tied in with their ability to taunt and heal, adding Wind Gate tech essentially offers a much higher return on these kinds of plays while also offering the flexibility to go aggro and stay aggro. Wind Gate + Taunt is especially strong because it is very difficult to get rid of the Gate, allowing you to move it deeper into enemy territory while dropping big minions. In a sacrifice splash, you can maximize the positioning of Oalkings, Deathwalkers and Demon Wranglers, and potentially find a place for cards like Lord of the Wastes (which suffers from being so weak in HP it never gets to swing at the ideal target).
Blue Yellow: A somewhat forgotten archetype (with the loss of Azarai’s original power and Last Nightmare’s 2 desert requirement), splashing yellow into blue decks has largely been futile because of the tempo loss from splitting attention between the different colours. But Wind Gate offers better locations for Vampires, Toads (Ninja and Battle), Tyranax, Herald, Phantasm, and Wavecrash Colossus. The last 4 in particular often require a forward land to put any pressure, and Wind Gate grants that flexibility.
This is a sketch of the flexibility offered by Wind Gate, a card that brings together two rare mechanics (a movable structure and unrestricted summoning). Though I think it is unlikely to see play in what people consider the highest “tier” of decks, my contention is that this card is good enough to include in sideboards for a number of decks, and possibly deserves a spot in some main decks. It ensures good outcomes for many positional cards, and offers extended reach. It is also extremely hard to play around since it provides its value “from hand”.