IRON PAN - BEWARE THE BABYLONIANS
by Bryon Hake
The northern kingdom of Israel was a rebellious and sinful nation. God sent prophets such as Amos and Hosea to warn the Israelites that their disobedience would not go unpunished. The nation smugly refused to repent. God's judgment came in the form of Assyrian siege armies, which destroyed the gates of Samaria, Israel's capital. Its people were captured, carried away, and dispersed though many lands.
After their victory against the northern kingdom of Israel, the Assyrians turned their attack toward the southern kingdom of Judah, and its capital city, Jerusalem.
Judah was not quite the sinful nation that Israel had been. Though they had fallen into some periods of rebellion in the past, they had often repented of their sins and turned back to God. Some of Judah's recent rulers, such as King Amaziah, Uzziah, and Jotham had been righteous men, and had rid their land of many wicked practices. The good King Hezekiah was king of Judah at the time of Assyria's attack. When Hezekiah heard that the Assyrians were advancing on Jerusalem, he prayed and asked for God's mercy. God heard and honored that prayer. Thanks to an angelic protection of Jerusalem, the kingdom of Judah was spared.
Sadly, Hezekiah's heir, King Menasseh, became one of the most evil kings Judah had ever known. His people followed him into all manner of sin, and within a couple generations, the destruction of Judah began to be prophesied by several prophets, including Ezekiel.
The people who witnessed Ezekiel's prophecies might have thought him a bit odd. While most of his prophecies were strictly verbal, some of his more memorable prophecies involved symbolic skits, performed solo and complete with props:
4:1 - a clay tablet with the city of Jerusalem drawn on it
4:2 - miniature siegeworks, ramp, and battering rams
4:3 - an iron pan
4:9 - a vegetarian meal cooked over "coals" made of cow manure
5:1 - a razor (not the same as the Razor card from The Prophets expansion, which has an Isaiah reference and is reprinted in this set as a green/pale green enhancement. More on that in a later article.)
12:4 - baggage - worn to symbolize the coming exile and captivity
37:16-17 - a stick - symbolized the reuniting of Israel
The clay tablet, the miniatures, and the iron pan were used by Ezekiel to model the coming siege by the Babylonians. Many of the people of Judah who passed Ezekiel "playing with his little war toys" probably gave him the same kinds of looks that mall shoppers give to the grown men playing with tabletop miniatures in game shops.
Ezekiel used the little siege engines to besiege the clay tablet Jerusalem. He set up an Iron Pan facing the mini city to symbolize the strength of the coming attack.
The coming Babylonian soldiers could not be ignored. There would be no protection from their armies. No drawing on outside resources. God was using Babylon as His drawn sword - His weapon of war - to punish the wicked nation that Judah had become.
For a long time, Redemption decks were dominated by characters with Negate abilities. There were decks in which every hero negated all other special abilities. Moses, The Strong Angel, Captain of the Host, Benaiah, and Ira, the fight-by-numbers heroes, won most of their battles and were the most valuable heroes of many, many games for many years.
In response to this, some evil cards were given Cannot be Negated abilities. Those reduced the effectiveness of the Fight by Numbers heroes. When enough "cannot be negated" abilities had been introduced into the game, decks were filled with cards with those special abilities, and the Fight by Numbers heroes fell into disuse. Decks filled with "cannot be negated" battle winners replaced the Fight by Numbers decks as the most popular type of deck.
Then, to deal with the abundance of battle winners with "cannot be negated" abilities, some cards with powerful protect and ignore abilities were released. Players quickly noticed their effectiveness in shielding against the common "cannot be negated" battle winners. So now, especially in the last few years, these protect and ignore cards have taken their place in the most popular decks. Current popular offenses are Disciples (protection), The Garden Tomb (ignore), Prophets (some protection), and Priests (protection).
While we were developing cards for the 2011 set, we decided to make a couple cards that could put some cracks in the armor of protect and ignore decks. A wholesale dismantling of protect abilities would not be good for the game, since that would take us back to the days of the dominance of "cannot be negated" battle winners. We didn't want to upset the entire apple cart. We just needed a few cards to tip the power a little bit away from protect and ignore. One of those cards is Iron Pan.
Dissecting the Card
"If a Babylonian is in play, ..."
This powerful, broad effect needed some sort of requirement. We selected a thematic restriction. Babylonian capture defenses are declawed by protect abilities on many cards: Characters like Thaddeus, Bartholomew, Lydia, and Phinehas, son of Eleazar. Fortresses such as Zerubbabel's Temple and Obadiah's Caves. Babylonians were known in the Bible for capturing Judah and taking its people as prisoners to Babylon, yet in the game of Redemption, they were getting fewer and fewer opportunities to do any capturing. Iron Pan is just the thing to allow Babylonians to be the capturing culture they once were.
Note: All that is required is that a Babylonian be in play somewhere. Iron Pan works even if another player controls the Babylonian, or if the Babylonian is converted to a hero.
Another note: Iron Pan negates the protect ability on your own Headquarters at Riblah, so keeping at least one Babylonian character in play is not quite as easy with this artifact active. You may have some turns where you would rather deactivate this artifact so that your Headquarters at Riblah will begin working again.
"Negate all protect, immune, ignore, ..."
Rather than limit the negation to protect abilities alone, we decided to cover the entire triad of "rock" abilities. For a long time in Redemption, decks were dominated by negate/prevent abilities. The recent shift toward powerful protection/immunity/ignore abilities has gone a bit too far. We'll be tilting away from that a bit in these next couple years. Iron Pan is a start.
The strategy of a siege is to cut off the flow of food, water, and other goods into the city. This ability reflects the story, and stops up the flow of extra cards, except by draw abilities that cannot be negated.
"and play abilities."
This was primarily added to stop the Ethiopian Treasurer/ Authority of Christ combo that would have been devastating while all the protect abilities on fortresses are negated. It does stop other things as well, like Jacob, Hidden Treasures, and the various horses.
"Opponent may discard a good fortress from territory to discard this card."
This was a later addition to the card. Iron Pan proved powerful in playtesting, and it was decided that the opponent needed another recourse to discard this card. An opponent with a deck built around The Garden Tomb or Zerubabel's Temple or Obadiah's Caves will need to decide whether it is more beneficial to keep his weakened fortress, or to discard that fortress to reinstate the negated abilities on some of his other cards. The decision will likely be determined by the immediate situation, but the long-term effects of that decision must also be considered. "Do I have another way to discard Iron Pan? Can I afford to wait until I draw a different way to discard Iron Pan, or should I just discard my fortress now?" Some strategic decisions about this last sentence will decide the outcome of games.
"Identifier: May be activated on Ezekiel."
Artifacts are inherently limited because of the rule that only one can be active on your artifact pile at a time. Having the option to activate Iron Pan on Ezekiel gives Babylonian users the opportunity to activate an additional artifact as well. Not only will this open up more strategic combinations, this can also keep Iron Pan safe from Captured Ark (since you can choose to shuffle the other artifact instead of Iron Pan). If you decide to include Ezekiel in your Babylonian deck, you might want to use an offense that Ezekiel can be useful in - perhaps a green prophet deck or a teal priests deck - or a combination. Tin 20 includes a reprint of Cherubim which can band to either a green prophet or a teal priest - perhaps making a green/teal/silver deck worth trying, especially considering the number of existing green/teal heroes and Seraph, who bands to green prophets and cannot be interrupted. Tin 20 also includes a couple green/crimson enhancements that may give you yet another reason to include Ezekiel in your Babylonian deck. More on those enhancements in a later article.
Will the decreased reliability of protection and ignore cause some players of today's common decks (Disciples, The Garden Tomb, Prophets, Priests) to try a different offense in the coming year?
Will the decreased reliability of protection cause an increase in the desire to gain initiative? Will we see more small-stat characters played this year? Or will small-stat characters also have new threats to worry about?
The full impact of Iron Pan is yet to be felt, but I imagine we'll see more characters captured this year than last.
Now, a word from our sponsor:
Do you have a headache caused by your opponents' pre-block ignore, super-protection, speed-drawing, and play abilities? Ask your deck doctor if this Iron (Pan) supplement is right for you. Combined with a diet of Babylonians, Iron Pan has been proven in laboratory tests to reduce the risk of losing due to common strategies such as ignore and protection.
Warning: Iron Pan may cause an unsafe drop in protection for your own cards. You should not use Iron Pan if you use are a Thaddeus user or may become a Thaddeus user. Do not use ignore cards in excess while Iron Pan is active, as Iron Pan may reduce the effectiveness of those cards.
Get your Babylonians back in the game. Try Iron Pan today.