Neutral cards can be incredibly useful almost all the time in Splinterlands battling. They're always a great recommendation for new players with limited collections because they can be played in almost all situations.
These Neutral cards have no loyalty to a specific elemental magic, and although they usually come from one Splinter or another, they can be summoned by Summoners of any color. It must be nice, being able to wander the Splinterlands and fight for anyone and everyone who might need you. I like to imagine some of them as mercenaries whose services are available to the highest bidder.
Unfortunately you cannot always play with these versatile Neutral cards. They won't help you with a No Neutral Daily Quest, and you won't even see them in your collection when you face a battle from today's ruleset. It's time for Taking Sides.
Make Sure Your Collection is Prepared
When you start to scroll down in a Taking Sides battle, you may instantly be surprised at how many of your favorite go-to cards are Neutral cards. The first and best thing you can do to prepare for this problem is to prepare your color decks.
Being prepared with non-neutrals doesn't have to mean stocking up on every single card. Even if you are accustomed to using a lot of Neutral cards, you should look closely at each Splinter and pick some cards that have unique ability combinations whose roles are usually filled by Neutral cards. For me, that means things like making sure I have a solid Reach attacker in every Splinter, assuring that I've got some non-Neutral Poison damage prepared, and replacing the debuffs of some of my favorite Neutral debuff cards.
Search and Replace
It helps to look first at the Neutral cards on which you most rely, then to ask yourself how you can most easily replace what they bring to the battlefield. When it comes down to it, you're likely to run into this ruleset about 8% of the time, which makes it well worth powering up some non-Neutrals.
I find myself using certain Neutral cards very frequently. Some of the most common usages that come to mind are the Chain Golem (powerful Shield and Stun), the Sandworm (hard-hitting Sneak and Snare), the Grenadier (low-mana Blasting Range), and my beloved Horny Toad, with its Poisoning Reach attack and only costing 3 mana.
The Chain Golem has some big shoes to fill, but it can be done. There is always a high Health monster with Shield to choose from, like the Silvershield Paladin in White and Living Lava in Red. Both of those cards still leave a space where I'll miss the Stun of the Chain Golem, so I will need to insert the Stun ability elsewhere on my team. In White, I'll do this with Bila the Radiant, who also brings Life Leech (one of my favorite abilities) to the table. In Red, I'll replace the Chain Golem with Living Lava with the Rust ability, which can prove extremely useful against all tanks, especially since he'll almost definitely stay alive long enough to land a crippling blow or two.
Replacing the Grenadier is also a challenge. I have really enjoyed learning the strategies of implementing this newer card into my battles, with its Snare, Oppress and Blast abilities. If I'm playing with Black, I'm likely to use the Soulstorm (Headwinds and Snare) to fill in where I would choose the Grenadier. The headwinds whole-team debuff makes up for the fact that the Soulstorm costs two more mana than the Grenadier. If I was using the Grenadier for its Oppress ability, I may use the Grim Reaper instead. If I was using the Grenadier for Blast, then i'll almost definitely reach for the Screaming Banshee with her Blasting Magic attack.
Take a Break from your Daily Quest
This is piece of simple advice. If you run into this ruleset while you're trying to complete a Daily Quest (unless that Quest is No Neutrals), give yourself a timeout from the Daily Quest for that battle. You'll be severely limiting yourself by attempting to win a Quest battle while facing this ruleset, surprisingly, even more than in the Even Stevens and Odd Ones Out rulesets.
As always, your Daily Quest will still be waiting after that battle. If you're involved in a win streak, it would be tragic to interrupt your streak just because you became overambitious during a Daily Quest and tried to plow ahead in the face of Taking Sides. You have to assume in this situation that your opponent is better prepared and equipped than you are. Win the battle, then get back to your questing at your besting.
Play up the Strengths of the Splinter
Each Splinter has different strengths and focuses, and it's especially a good idea in Taking Sides to embrace them rather than go against them.
When playing with Life, focus on the buffs, the Healing and Resurrection. When playing with Fire, focus on hitting them with Blast combinations and super-powered attacks. When playing with Death, debuff their team until the enemy misses every shot and when they hit, the damage is negligible. When playing with Water, hit them with heavy duty Magic attacks and deadly defenses.
Try to decide the strategies and methods of attack that make each Splinter unique. If you really play these up in a Taking Sides battle, you'll almost always be victorious.
Some Cards I Like
As always, these picks are cards that my experience has led me to use repeatedly in the Taking Sides ruleset. This doesn't mean that they're the best, but I'll give you the reasons that I like to use each of them in this specific ruleset. If you have cards that you prefer in the Taking Sides ruleset, please let us know in the comments below so we can all benefit from each other's experience. One thing I've learned in the course of my nearly 19,000 battles is that the more I play, the less I know. Another thing is that there are no right answers in Splinterlands, only best guesses..
There are several reasons I like the Fire Elemental, most of which come in the forms of abilities. The native Blast is extremely useful, especially if used with the Range attack buff of Selenia Sky (if you're lucky enough to have one). The Affliction ability can stop a Healing team in its tracks, as long as you make sure to give the Elemental enough protection for Affliction to actually be activated. Finally, the icing on the cake ability of Redemption can be extremely powerful in the Taking Sides ruleset, because you'll see a lot more low Health Monsters with specialized abilities, which is self-evident in the fact that I am recommending you use the Fire Elemental.
Phantom of the Abyss
For powerhouse abilities to replace those of my favorite Neutral cards, the Phantom of the Abyss has it all. First of all, Flying, Dodge and high Speed make the thing almost impossible to hit by both Melee and Range attacks, kind of like the Cocatrice. But honestly it's those last two abilities that locked in my attention on this card and led me to get it maxed quick. Demoralize and Headwinds are both entire-team debuffs that can ruin your enemy's day, and even 10 mana to summon the Phantom is a small price to pay.
The Seer is a very versatile card and one of my favorites in the Earth Splinter, which I admittedly play less often than all other Splinters. The nicest thing about this card is the rare Silence ability which lowers the Magic attack power of the entire enemy team. Throw in Poison at level 5, which anyone who has read any of my guides before should know is perhaps my favorite of all abilities. Plus, having a Magic attack of 3 while reducing the Magic attacks of the enemy team is a big deal. With this fungal warrior in play, you won't cry for your lost Neutrals in Taking Sides.
High Priest Darius
Resurrect is a tricky ability to master in the Life Splinter, especially with so many different options to put it to use. I think that High Priest Darius is one of the best, because he also comes with such a strong Magic attack of his own. With a Magic attack of 4, his Blast will often be able to take out an additional enemy in just one hit. The Weaken ability makes everything easier right away by lowering the Health of the enemy team. One crucial piece of advice: Make sure that Darius does not die first, or you'll waste his Resurrect and almost certainly lose the battle.
Here's another card with the Silence ability that I love from the Death Splinter. The Death Elemental can easily be wasted if no placed correctly or if you are thrown a curveball from your enemy. When played in Diamond and Champion Leagues at max level, the Elemental will Weaken the entire opposing team. I would not recommend using this card in Taking Sides unless you can get it at least to level 4, where it gains Silence. Otherwise, it will not be fast enough to get an attack off before it is killed by an enemy Opportunity card.
When I think of Taking Sides, one of the first questions I ask myself is how will I replace the Horny Toad? My second favorite Reach card has for a long time been the Manticore, whose Thorns and Flying make up for the fact that it doesn't have Poison like the Toad. It works great in the Earthquake ruleset, and it fits into a compact lineup anytime with its low mana cost of 4. Plus, it's a terrifying beast that probably makes enemy monsters wet themselves in the arena, so that's nice.
There it is! Hopefully this strategy guide has given you some new insights and considerations for the Taking Sides ruleset. Don't let any ruleset bring you down, and if you get fed up from battling and losing too much, go play outside for awhile and you'll feel better fast! But after that, head back into battle and you're sure to be victorious!
See you on the battlefield!
Previous Editions of the RuleSet Strategy Series
- Back to Basics
- Healed Out
- Heavy Hitters
- Silenced Summoners
- Aim True
- Super Sneak
- Melee Mayhem
- Keep Your Distance
- Weak Magic
- Up Close and Personal
- Lost magic
- Target Practice
- Fog of War
- Armored Up
- Reverse Speed
- Close Range
- Broken Arrows
- Lost Legendaries