Not the best common cards, not the most heavily utilized common cards, but some of my favorites from each splinter! Death and Life were especially tough choices. What are your favorites from the Common set?
Fire: Exploding Dwarf
Even before the equalizer rule set was introduced, Exploding Dwarf was one of my favorite cards in all of Splinterlands. For five mana, the max level Exploding Dwarf packs in blast, piercing, retaliate, and trample with six melee. With six speed, there is a decent chance it will also have the first strike advantage. It is not uncommon to see an 8/8 or a 9/9 Dwarf after buffs. Whats the trade off? One health! Possibly the highest risk versus reward card in the game.
There are clearly plenty of counters to Exploding Dwarf. Thorns, redemption, or a faster hitting range card such as Vampire can knock it out quickly, leaving your side immediately down a five mana card. But when Exploding Dwarf has a perfect run, there is no other card like it. Even without equalizer, there are battles where it can cut through five cards in the first round. Piercing/Blast, then Trample, Retaliate, and Piercing/Blast again.
Honorable Mentions: Serpentine Spy
Water: Crustacean King
In reviewing the water commons, it is clear this is one of the strongest splinters at that card level. Spineback Turtle, Pirate Captain, and Sabre Shark are powerful originals, while Feasting Seaweed and Albatross see heavy play in Untamed. Crustacean King will always be one of my favorites though. With tank heal at level one and protect at level six, it is popular with both new and established players.
At three mana, Crustacean King fits into most water lineups, and the two range is a nice attack bonus. Consistently one of the most expensive alpha/beta common cards on the market. While tank heal has expanded to additional cards and affliction is a counter to heal, Crustacean King will continue to be valuable at all levels of play.
Honorable Mentions: Sabre Shark and Feasting Seaweed
Earth: Goblin Chef
Goblin Chef is probably not the first selection for many players, and definitely not the most utilized earth common. More popular choices would be Flesh Golem or Wood Nymph, but I think Goblin Chef is one of the most underrated commons in the game. At max level, Goblin Chef deals both affliction and poison through its 2 range attack, which is a perfect complement to the range and heal heavy earth decks. The low three mana cost allow it to be viable for most lineups, and the six mana health ensure it will last a couple rounds.
Going against Haunted Spirit or Cerberus? Hard to beat the possibility of landing affliction and poison in one hit without the damage from reflect or retaliate. It also is a key component in one of several Kron last stand counters. With an increase in return fire, my default use of Goblin Chef might suffer, but right now, I stack it in nearly every earth battle.
Honorable Mentions: Flesh Golem, Wood Nymph, Screeching Vulture
Life: Cave Slug
The Untamed set introduced several cards with both opportunity and scavenger, but Cave Slug is unique in its very slow speed but heavy melee attack. In reverse speed, it is deadly, but even in standard battles in pairs very well with Feral Spirit, Silvershield Assassin, and Elven Cutthroat. With scavenger boosting health, it can survive going last in most battles. At max level the slow ability conflicts with its use in reverse speed, but that is a minor issue.
Honorable Mentions: Divine Healer and Feral Spirit
Death: Skeleton Assassin
There are numerous sneak melee cards now, but few do it as effectively as the Skeleton Assassin. Combining speed, sneak, and poison for three mana, the Assassin keeps opponents concerned for their backline cards. While armor buys some time against other melee sneak cards, the Assassin's poison ability is difficult to counter. Have a tendency to place tank healers in the last position? Against a sneak combo of Skeleton Assassin and Elven Cutthroat, they might be gone before they get a chance to heal.
Honorable Mentions: Haunted Spider and Vampire
Dragon: Delwyn Dragonscale
There are only two common dragon cards. Dragon Whelp is a nice card with flying, magic, and thorns, but it is incredibly expensive to max out due to its low print run during the first kickstarter. Alternatively, the sesameseed promo introduced the first common summoner in Delwyn Dragonscale. Still very affordable for new players, Delwyn gave the dragon splinter a nice magic boost. Unfortunately, Delwyn was pushed aside slightly when Archmage Arius was buffed from six mana down to five. However, Archmage was limited to a print of 90, which still makes Delwyn the best option for new players.
Neutral: Gold Creeping Ooze
Not even close to the best neutral card, but before the gold Furious Chicken, the best meat shield / DEC bonus was the gold Creeping Ooze. Still a great filler card with a bonus of slow even though additional one mana cards continue to be introduced. Centaur, Elven Cutthroat, Parasitic Growth, Gelatinous Cube, and Sandworm are all much better cards, but I will continue to buy a little time for my other cards with Gold Creeping Ooze.
Honorable Mentions: Every Other Neutral