Today, let's take a look at the Noxious Fumes rule set in Splinterlands. Noxious Fumes inflicts poison on all monsters at the start of the battle, causing them to take 2 health damage at the start of each turn. Your normal teams may not be able to withstand this extra damage, but I am going to show you some effective strategies to mitigate its effect. For the most part I will avoid recommending specific cards and instead focus on broader categories that you can apply to your own collection.
Go Big Or Go Home
The most obvious way of combating Noxious Fumes is to simply fill your team with big monsters with plenty of health. The more health your monsters have, the more poison damage they can take before dying, and thus the more time they have to damage the enemy team. Having a health advantage over the enemy team can quickly swing a Noxious Fumes battle in your favor.
And don't dismiss the power of armor just because poison ignores it. Sure, armor won't directly protect your monsters from poison damage, but it will protect their health from the enemies, and give them extra survivability against the poison as a result.
Go Even Bigger
If having a lot of health is useful, then it stands to reason that being able to increase your monsters' health during the battle is too. Having an ability like Strengthen on your team lets your normally even-health monsters take one additional poison hit before dying. Life Leech can also help build up your teams health pool. But the real star ability is Scavenger.
Scavenger, which gives a monster additional max health whenever any other monster dies, is extremely effective in a Noxious Fumes battle, where monsters are likely to die early and often. It is not unusual to see Gelatinous Cube, a monster with no damage of its own but with the Scavenger ability, be the sole survivor of a Noxious Fumes battle. Of course there are plenty of Scavenger monsters that can attack as well which may be even more effective. Many of the monsters with this ability have quite low starting health, so you need to be careful not to lose them before they can start increasing it.
Once you've got that big health pool, you can try to keep it full for as long as possible with Heal, Tank Heal, or Triage. Since Heal restores 1/3 of a monster's max health, it can more than offset the 2 poison damage per turn when applied to high health monsters. Personally, I prefer monsters that can heal themselves, as relying on Tank Heal or Triage leaves you vulnerable if the monsters with those abilities are killed. Of course, having those abilities on a summoner like Byzantine Kitty or Chanseus The Great would eliminate that particular problem.
Take The Antidote
Possibly the best way of combatting poison is to remove it entirely. The Cleanse ability removes all negative effects from the monster in the first position, and that includes the poison effect. Cleansing once will permanently eliminate poison damage from that monster (unless the enemy team has the ability to reapply it), so if you lose the monster with the Cleanse ability, you still get to keep the benefit. Ideally you would like them to stick around to Cleanse the next monster in line if needed, but just getting them to take a single turn is often enough.
Cleanse isn't the only way of getting rid of poison though. The Resurrect ability revives a fallen monster with 1 health, and in doing so removes all of their status effects, including poison. One health may not be much, but as long as the enemies can't reach the resurrected monster with their attacks, it may be enough to turn the tide of battle.
And then there are the monsters that don't have to worry about poison at all. Monsters with the Immunity ability cannot be poisoned by Noxious Fumes, so they will by unfazed by this rule set. I have lost multiple battles where a well-protected Almo Cambo silently watched from the back line as every other monster succumbed to poison damage. Of course, Immunity monsters can also be more active participants in the battle, whether hurling attacks from the back or wading directly into the fray. Any monster with this ability has the potential to win a Noxious Fumes battle on their own.
The Best Defense...
Just like any other battle, if you can kill the enemy team fast enough then your own defense becomes less important. Simply taking hard-hitters into the battle can be as effective against Noxious Fumes as it is any other time. However, there are some special considerations.
Magic, which damages the same health pool as poison, may be useful, especially if your opponent brings monsters with heavy armor. Abilities like Sneak, Snipe, or Blast can help you damage some of the weaker monsters your opponent may be trying to protect, accelerating their demise to poison. And then there are abilities like Weaken, Affliction, and Cripple, which help to counter some of the health strategies we've discussed earlier. Any of these abilities can help shut down the enemy team quickly.
A Practical Example
Let's take a look at one of my recent Noxious Fumes battles. Here we had 99 mana available, so my natural inclination was to start with Llama-Kron for the extra health, Cleanse, Last Stand, healing, and magic damage, all of which are very useful in a Noxious Fumes battle. Unfortunately we also had the Odd Ones Out rule set, so Kron was unavailable. Okay, then who else can go with Llama? I decided on Spirit Druid Grog, whose Resurrect could remove poison, and Venari Seedsmith, who had Scavenger. In front of them I used some of my higher health odd-mana monsters, Nectar Queen, Centauri Mage, and War Chaang. Then I filled my team out with a Sand Worm to hopefully remove a threat from the enemy back line.
Our cleansed Nectar Queen's 11 health took the majority of the hits early on, protecting all of our back line attackers. My opponent and I scored our first kills at the same time due to the Centauri Mage returning fire on a sniper. However, our Mage was immediately resurrected, free from poison and ready to continue the fight.
Once the second round of poison tore through our teams, the battle was clearly over. Our opponent was down to 2 heavily damaged monsters, while we still had most of our team, none of whom were in any danger of dying to poison. We quickly dispatched the remaining enemies and claimed our victory!
I hope this has given you a better idea of how to handle the Noxious Fumes rule set in the future. Whatever cards you have available in your personal collection, you can always find a deck to maximize your effectiveness against the barrage of poison.
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