Alongside the Blaze Hounds and Sojourners of the world, Spelljammer is one of the more popular neutral card draw engines in Duelyst. Heavily featured in Kara lists as well as other aggressive archetypes such as Songhai, Spelljammer is relied on by many to refill their hands due to its consistency, its mana cost, its ability to punish slower hands, and the way it forces awkward plays from your opponent.
A neutral 3-mana 2/4, Spelljammer at first seems like an underwhelming, no-frills card. After reading its text, “Each player draws an additional card at the end of their turns,” it still yearns to be interesting in any way at all on the surface.
Spelljammer’s text reading “Each player” means that its effect is mutual, and both players will draw an additional card at the end of their turns. However, unlike most mutual card draw, Spelljammer can be used to draw more cards than your opponent, making it more in line with a 3-mana 2/4 that reads “Draw an additional card at the end of your turn” or something similar mathematically. This is a powerful effect that gives the player of the Spelljammer an advantage in terms of their hand size, and if we want to succeed competitively we must seize every advantage within reason.
Assuming you played the Spelljammer (SJ), at the end of your turn you will draw one additional card. This will leave you with one draw from the SJ and your opponent with zero. After your turn is over, your opponent may choose to kill the SJ. This will deny them the SJ’s additional card draw effect, leaving you at a one-card advantage. If they do not kill SJ before ending their turn, they will draw an additional card and you will both arrive at one draw from SJ. During your turn you can move and attack with SJ; as long as it does not die you will continue to receive a one-card advantage until your opponent decides to remove the SJ. You can even bait your opponent into removing the SJ by using it to defensively block one of your more threatening minions off from your opponent. If you decide to trade the SJ away on your turn, you will not gain a one-card advantage, but this is sometimes correct anyways. Every turn, you should consider whether or not your opponent’s drawing another additional card could compromise your victory, and whether or not you simply need the SJ’s body for a trade on board more than you need the one-card advantage.
Friends With Benefits
This trait is unique to Spelljammer and cannot be found in most other mutual effects, such as Blaze Hound, a 3-mana 4/3 that reads “Opening Gambit: Both players draw a card.” Both players will always draw exactly one card each, but Blaze Hound can still be used to gain additional advantage if your opponent’s hand is full. A player in Duelyst can only hold six cards, so keeping your opponent’s hand size in mind will reveal opportunities when you can use mutual draw effects to mill, or destroy by means of overdraw, their precious cards. Spelljammer also tends to mill slower opponents’ decks that run more high-cost cards when played during the early game, potentially destroying their win conditions and/or removal, making it extremely powerful in this situation.
Learning to use Spelljammer and other mutual effects to yield every possible advantage available to you is another one of the facets of Duelyst that should be studied, practiced and mastered in order to be the most competitive player you can possibly be. There are many ways to use these and other cards creatively and as you become more acclimated to habitually watching your opponent’s hand size, available mana, and even their behavior, you will take your plays to the next level and be one step closer to reaching your goals on the ladder.