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(This is a guest article by kamman13.)

You should know what damage-efficiency means before reading this article- it refers to the amount of damage achieved per resource spent. Typically, a 1-1 ratio indicates good damage efficiency. Read here for more info.

In previous version, I claimed that mages were the best death-racer around. Although true then, we now have both new hero abilities and new weapons available, and the story has changed.

Amber is currently recognized as a great counter to Eladwen, which is strange because Eladwen is without a doubt the fastest mage death racer. Is this because Amber counters the death race? No, it is because Amber offers an even faster death race than Eladwen. Amber beats Eladwen at her own game.

Amber has several key elements that aid her death racing. First as a human, she has access to a great selection of damage-efficient and cheap weenies. Plus, she has War Banner, a great boost to her damage efficiency. At 3cc, if you get 3 allies to attack after using War Banner, you've hit damage efficiency- 3 damage for 3 resources. You can usually achieve much more than this in a typical game.

Amber's second strength is her ability. The +2 permanent attack to her weapons makes any weapon damage efficient, even after 1 attack. Even if her weapons is destroyed or run down by allies during the opponent's turn, that one first attack makes it worth the resources. If Amber can get multiple attacks in with a weapon, her damage ratios go off the chart.

Amber's final jewel is having the resource acceleration of Jeweler's Dream. This increases your effective resource pool each turn, giving you more resources to convert into damage than your opponent. And when buffed with Amber's ability, Jeweler's Dream gives this resource acceleration while being damage efficient by itself. Pretty awesome.

The addition of new weapons in 1.29 includes one that deserves special interest- Rusty Longsword. In the turn it's cast (if buffed), it does 4 damage for 3 resources- even if you subtract the damage it does to your hero upon casting, it's still damage efficient at a 3 life swing for 3 resources. This, if anything, makes Amber even faster a death-racer than she already was in 1.28.

So how fast is Amber? Consider this ideal play (damage noted after each turn).

T1- Kris (1 damage)

T2- Puwen (1 damage)

T3- Aldon (5 damage)

T4- War Banner + Kris (14 damage)

T5- Jewelers Dream (17 damage)

Opponent is dead by turn 5 with 3 resources to spare. Even if an aldon is killed, you can recast it.

A more conservative starting scenario that includes card draw:

T1- Kris (1 damage)

T2- Puwen (1 damage)

T3- Jasmine (3 damage)

T4- Jeweler's Dream + card draw (9 damage)

T5- Aldon + War banner (15 damage)

Still enough to take down an opponent by turn 5, while taking card of card draw.

Even the most ideal mage draw can't expect to consistently take down an opponent before T7. Also consider that going second, a mage doesn't even have a chance to clear the board with Nova before losing all their life to Amber.

Of course these are ideal scenarios, and a typical opponent will be clearing the board of allies along the way, preventing the onslaught of damage from Amber's beefed up allies. But even this won't help much, as by T5 Amber is just getting going. At T6 with Jeweler's Dream, Amber essentially has 8 resources to cast, plus is doing 3 damage per turn with her weapon in addition to whatever she does with her resources. With War Banner out and no allies, Amber can still cast Aldon the Brave and Kristoffer Wyld to attack for 3 damage- 3 damage for 4 resources is as damage efficient as a Lightning Strike AND it leaves a threat on the board. You opponent will have to do everything they can to halt your onslaught of allies fueled by your resource acceleration, while you continue to damage them with your weapons.

So it seems settled then, go Amber if you want to death race, right? Not so fast. Although faster that any mage, Amber has a weakness which hits her hard- weapon destruction, armor, and attack prevention.

Although Amber's weapons are damage efficient after one attack, they are only as damage efficient as a typical mage spell- it's only when Amber gets in multiple attacks over several rounds that her damage efficiency really flares up. And Amber doesn't have the shadow energy to cast a damage efficient weapon every round- she needs time for SE to build up.

Also, armor can prevent Amber's damage, slowing her death racing. Currently, there is no way to prevent damage from mage spells, so there is no way to slow their death racing (though there will be soon!). So in this sense, mages are a little more consistent than Amber in the speed of their death racing.

Last, all of Amber's damage has to result from attacks, either through allies or Amber herself. She doesn't even have allies that can connect for DD, like shadow heroes do. Attack prevention, such as Lay Low or Moonstalker, can put Amber is a real fix and slow down her racing. Mages can switch between allies and DD spells, making them much more versatile.

The end result- Amber has taken the reigns as the new fastest death racer around. But this speed comes at a cost- her speed is tied into her weapons, and fails hard in the presence of item destruction. For this reason, Amber loses to her fellow warriors as often as she defeats mages. More speed, less consistency, thus is balance in a game like Shadow Era.

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