In all card games that have a neutral or colorless aspect to them, there has been a tough balance to implement fun and useful cards that can be used in literally any deck. Many games find a challenge in making neutral cards playable but not overpowered. This is a tightrope of balance that could end up making all decks neutral with a “splash” color/class and causes all games to play out similarly. The Elder Scrolls: Legends (TES:L), thus far, has done an excellent job in creating fun, playable neutral cards without making them too powerful. Since TES:L is releasing a new story-based expansion, Return to Clockwork City (RCC), I figured I would give my opinions on each and every neutral card that has been released up to now and we’ll see how new cards may change these opinions after November 30th.
The format will be in a list as they appear in the collection manager in-game with the card name followed by a brief opinion on the card (I will try to be brief but I tend to ramble). The cards that I believe are terrible are likely to break away from this slightly and I will just explain why it is bad in a sentence or two. Now remember, this is solely my opinion as someone who has played a lot with these cards and has experience with heavy neutral filled decks. My experiences with these cards and my opinions may differ from yours. Differing opinions are useful for civil discussion and I would enjoy hearing your opinions on these cards as well.
NOTE: Find all these cards on the legends-decks database for ease of viewing!
Close Call: This is a card that is seldom played outside of Swindler’s Market decks as a means to combo out Nord Firebrands while they are buffed from Northwind Outpost or while you can trigger Swindler’s Market. It is also notable that this card can be fetched with the pilfer trigger from Goblin Skulk. However, outside of this type of deck, the card is not very useful and there is seldom a reason that you would want to bounce a creature back to your hand.
Dwarven Spider: Now, this card is not played. Not even in the dwemer decks that I have made have I been able to justify the inclusion of this card. A 0/3 guard for 0 is pretty decent as far as stats go but since it has no offensive presence it is usually a dead card on board without Halls of the Dwemer. However, it is notable that this card is put into your hand through the effects of Halls of the Dwemer and by the damage effect of Dwarven Centurion. With this effect, the card actually becomes usable as you can freely play a 0/3 or 3/3 guard for no magicka cost and little to no drawback and without harming the draw potential of your deck.
Maple Shield: Useless garbage outside of meme decks that use Ring of Imaginary Might like PDMD’s Scout OTK.
Blackreach Rebuilder: This is another dwemer card that isn’t played, sadly. This is one of the weakest dwemer in my opinion as it can’t really see play in dwemer focused decks since even with the +3/+0 from Halls it still dies to just about anything, the heal isn’t substantial, and if you want something with prophecy that heals then Dark Harvester is better.
Enraged Mudcrab: This card has largely become a meme but as a 1 drop it loses out to other 1 drops and is only usable in decks like my mono-neutral that like having a 1 drop or want it for Dwarven Dynamo value.
Lute: This is a decent card and finds its way into some item decks as a gateway card for cards like Forsworn Looter to trigger its pilfer effect. It is a fairly well designed card that emphasizes what neutral cards tend to do, develop a niche use without being too powerful or too weak.
Shadowmere: This card is another weak neutral card. Although the charge aspect is nice and being able to highroll into a 4 cost 4/4 charge or a 7 cost 7/7 charge can be helpful, the drawback of including a 1 cost 1/1 charge in your deck is not typically worth it unless you are already playing weak 1 drops like Enraged Mudcrab or want another charge creature to either push lethal or trigger Illusory Mimic.
Word Wall: It is seen in Ramp Scout and Control/Altar Monk mainly and finds a nice niche there. The drawbacks of running a weak statted and non-aggressive card like this is mitigated in late game decks like these and the potential of crushing your aggro/token opponent with a level 3 Drain Vitality is devastating. In my opinion, any deck that runs 3 copies of both shouts in their class should be running this card. Too bad most of the shouts aren’t good enough to see much play.
A Night to Remember: Really this card is all but unplayable but can see some fringe use in meme decks as a way to trigger summon effects. More recently, it has found its way into some variants of ramp scout and seen some results there.
Forsworn Looter: This card is decent in item decks as a way to thin the deck, draw items, and place something on the board that the opponent pretty much needs to remove which leaves you with more of an opportunity to play cards like Skilled Blacksmith. However, outside of these fringe item decks this card is unplayable trash.
Lurking Crocodile: So far in this list, I would say that this is the first card that can see decent play. This is mainly due to its prophecy tag and its statline which work well for more aggressive prophecy decks like prophecy battlemage or prophecy heavy midmage. This is a card that is decent enough to find its way into more popular and higher tier decks while not being overpowered.
Midnight Snack: This is a card that was experimented with a lot in the early days following the Heroes of Skyrim expansion in dragon themed decks. However, even its relatively ok statline and keywords couldn’t help it as it is not that common for you to have many dragons to profit from its last gasp and there are just better 2 drops that you could play instead.
Mudcrab Anklesnapper: This card has a decent statline and a good summon ability. If it weren’t for the strong competition among the 2 slot in most aggro and midrange decks I could see this card in the meta. But alas, twas not to be.
Raging Horker: This card is interesting but a 1/3 for 2 with an unlikely triggered ability is just as unlikely to see any play in a more competitive magicka cost slot.
Ravenous Crocodile: This is a well statted card with a very inefficient summon ability. Although there are some fun plays with this card like damaging your horker in order to give it a buff or to trigger Dwarven Centurion’s ability, the card is overall fairly lackluster. It is also worth noting that it can sometimes be played in Merric Battlemage as a way to break your wards.
Reachman Shaman: Although this card is weak and borderline unplayable, its ability can cause problems for opponents when they can’t deal with it. I use it in my mono-neutral deck and it does a decent job when you can get it out early or if you can keep it protected for a few turns which is great value.
Spider Worker: Not a great card but its ability to cycle and its prophecy tag means that it can be used in decks like wrothgar forge archer. Also getting one for free with Mechanical Ally is great since it gives you two dwemer to buff with Halls. Granted, that is more of a plus for Mechanical Ally but at least due to that it sees play, unlike Blackreach Rebuilder.
The Night Mother: This card is a meme card to be sure, but it can be played as an alternate win condition in late game decks. It isn’t a great card but at least it is fun.
Adoring Fan: The only time I have heard it spoken well of is in some Altar decks and I disagree with using it there too.
Barded Guar: Neutral doesn’t have many good 3 drop creatures so this finds its way into neutral decks based on that alone. The ability to give guard to one of your creatures is nice, however, and due to this it can protect cards like Reachman Shaman so you can get more value from it. Largely though, this card doesn’t see play and isn’t that great when there are much better 3 drops you can choose in different classes.
Crushing Blow: This is a decent card that has found its way into decks like aggro battlemage as burst potential and control mage as a removal card in the past. Nowadays though, it doesn’t come up as often as it once did but still has potential as a tech choice due to its flexibility in control mage and in anti-aggro variants of ramp scout.
Dwarven Sphere: This card has a poor statline for its cost and has a moderately useful ability. However, shackling a single creature isn’t as good when it comes at the cost of 3 and doesn’t have prophecy. Even so, as a dwemer this card has a bit more use than other neutral cards due to Halls of the Dwemer.
Elixir of Conflict: The cost is too great for its meager effect even though support synergies could make this a fun meme card.
Flesh Sculpture: Only used in meme decks that focus on RNG effects.
Forsworn Guide: Terrible effect for gaining a subpar statline.
Frenzied Witchman: Meager effect for a 3 drop and a weak statline keep this card from seeing play.
Heroic Rebirth: This is another RNG meme card that can have devastating highrolls much like Mundus Stone but is unreasonable to play in nearly all decks.
Horned Helm: This card has a low effect for its cost but can be helpful in places like arena. This card is unlikely to see much play since it is underwhelming.
Mechanical Ally: This is arguably the strongest neutral card and the strongest ally. When its ability triggers, it is effectively a 3/4 that draws a card on summon that gets 2 buffs from Halls. This is a great card and will always see a place in heavy neutral decks in my opinion.
Young Dragonborn: This card doesn’t see play due to the low number of dragons and its inability to kill pretty much any dragon (let alone survive the encounter) without a buff.
Ageless Automaton: A terrible card for its cost and the worst dwemer card in my opinion.
Dreugh Shell Armor: Solid neutral item but unplayable.
Dwarven Dynamo: Another contender for the strongest neutral card as well as the strongest dwemer alongside Mechanical ally. This card gives a body alongside the buff that Dreugh Shell Armor gives as well as guard. The best part is that the +3/+3 is immediate damage or health to be used for pushing damage or making favorable trades. If neutral synergy ever gets better, this will be an easy auto-include in any heavy neutral deck or even with a small neutral package to curve into.
Ferocious Dreugh: Just a weakly statted creature with no place in any deck.
Glass Helm of Remedy: This is a solid healing item in neutral but only finds play in item decks that want a couple to gain health and make it long enough to combo out against aggressive decks. It is a decent tech choice as a 2 of but nothing more.
Greybeard Mentor: This is a staple in the more shout based decks much like Word Wall. If you are relying on your shouts then this card is good as a 2 of or 3 of. However, if your shouts aren’t as important in your gameplan for the deck then this card is useless.
Knife to the Throat: I have seen this card played in other people’s neutral decks but in my opinion the card is too high of a cost to warrant any play at all. The ability to silence is often negligible and 4 magicka to draw a card is terrible.
Merchant’s Camel: This is a good cycling card which works well with combo decks like Swindler’s Market decks and item decks. Outside of decks that rely on cycling and card draw to see their combo pieces, this card is hardly useful due to its high cost and bad statline. Granted, this is obviously a card that serves its niche and wasn’t meant to be in decks that didn’t make use of its cycling potential.
Mundus Stone: This card is used just for its effect of giving keywords and highrolling the better ones on your creatures in order to outvalue your opponent or to stabilize based on luck. I do not like this card just from the randomness and nature of it. I also think that it is not a particularly good card due to tempo loss and reliance on luck.
Slaughterfish Spawning: This card is a nice aggro tool since it requires an answer in the form of removal or guards. However, since its nerf to a 4 cost it is not nearly as good since it comes out later and your opponent can more easily deal with it. If you are playing a mono-neutral deck (which is the only place I would play this card) it only finds its way in due to its aggressive nature and low competition among other 4 drops.
Sparking Spider: As a prophecy this guard is not too bad, albeit worse than Dark Harvester, but its statline is weak and I couldn’t even justify it in a dwemer themed deck. However, I could see it finding its way into a neutral deck in a more aggressive meta if neutral ever got more defensive prophecies.
Vicious Dreugh: This card is one of only 5 support removal cards in the game of which the others are limited by class (2 in strength, 1 in endurance, and 1 in spellsword). As a result, if you want support removal in a deck that goes outside of those classes you are forced to run this card. This card is fairly weak but it fills its use perfectly without being too strong or too weak.
Barbas: This card is a well statted neutral given its diverse effects and even found its way into decks like token mage as a sort of utility card that could defend, give burst, or give a random draw. This card is always worthy of consideration, in my opinion, due to its utility and how well it represents a balanced neutral card. Also, he is a very good boy.
Forsaken Champion: 5 cost 3/3 with summon: name a creature type, creatures of that type have +1/+1. This is a weak card whose effect is fairly lackluster for its poor stats and high cost. Even in a tribal deck I could not see this card finding its way in.
Gristlehide Dreugh: This card is a decent draw mechanic, but it comes at the expense of a weak statline and high cost. If you are lucky you can get a lot of value out of this card but most of the time you are unlikely to draw more than 1 or 2 cards unless you play a deck that can get the most greed with it. It isn’t bad, but you have to build a deck a certain way to be able to justify its inclusion.
Portcullis: This is an awful card that only sees play in decks that abuse Ring of Imaginary Might and High Hrothgar. That being said, this card is very good in that specific deck type due to its large health and prophecy tag.
Prized Chicken: This is a meme card and nothing more. If you seriously play this card for anything other than meme potential you really should cut it. But, it can lead to funny occurrences like desperate conjuring it into Merric that then gives all the villagers an item which I saw once.
Stronghold Eradicator: This is a strongly statted card for its cost that can allow for interesting plays by giving your opponent’s creatures with cover guard. You can also pressure field lane in the early game so that you can drop this card in the shadow lane without the drawback. This card has found its way, at times, into various midrange decks due to its statline and is a very good card in mono-neutral due to neutral synergy and Halls of the Dwemer.
Stronghold Incubator: This is an interesting card but outside of dwemer based decks (i.e. mono-neutral) it is useless. This card can allow you to get some semblance of card draw and can help synergize with cards like Dwarven Dynamo and Halls of the Dwemer. However, I do not like the idea of playing more than 2 of them in any mono-neutral deck.
Wabbajack: This card is useful as a meme and has also seen some use as a way to “remove” creatures from a players graveyard by transforming them into something else. It can also work as ok removal but random. I personally, do not like this card but it could be played if you have no other good removal options or if you are playing support mage. In support mage it is a reasonable card but I still detest the randomness partly due to my bad luck.
Altar of Despair: This card has only seen play in specific altar based control decks with the most notable being Altar Monk. This is a good card in order to trigger summon effects as well as last gasp effects and works well in decks like Altar Monk that use these abilities to control the board. Overall, this card has a niche use in which it is very good but outside of that use it is not a good card.
Dragon Mound: This is a meme card that has a huge tempo loss. That being said, it is fun to play even though I would never put it in any serious deck.
Dwarven Armaments: This card isn’t played but it is a nice highroll off of Merric. This card is statted well for a neutral item and I use it in my mono-neutral deck as burst potential. Other than that, this card isn’t all that useful.
Dwarven Ballista: This card isn’t good. I only played it in my mono-neutral deck because the breakthrough can be nice when trying to close out a game. However, it is usually the first card I cut when changing the decklist I have.
Halls of the Dwemer: This card is why dwemer cards are often understatted as well as the reason why they can be good. Halls allows for great burst potential when you have a few dwemers on board and it can also help in stabilizing with the free Dwarven Spider that it gives you.
Illusory Mimic: This card was used for a little while in some midrange decks, notably scout, that used Mimic’s ability with cards like Fighter’s Guild Recruit and Giant Bat that would give it useful keywords. When Mimic hits multiple keywords it can be great but when it whiffs and hits no keywords it is very lackluster. This card hasn’t seen much play but if we get more cards with multiple keywords, we might see Mimic find its place in the meta.
Orb of Vaermina: This card is not very good due to its cost being high and its draw potential being spread over multiple turns. Also, copying an opponent’s card is largely a luck based method of drawing that can make it difficult to make use of. That being said, it is a decent draw mechanic in support mage.
Dark Harvester: This is a card that has found its way into late game decks due to its defensive nature and prophecy. This allows the card to help control decks survive the early and mid game more easily against aggressive decks that are breaking your runes. Also, in an Altar deck, this card fills out the 7 slot nicely and with cards like Desperate Conjuring you can gain immense value. However, in other decks this card’s very high cost and low stats make it unusable or difficult to play directly from hand. I think it is a good drawback to offset its high control potential.
Dwarven Centurion: This card is pretty good when paired with Halls of the Dwemer since its statline is good and its ability to give (with Halls) 3/3 guards for free when it takes damage. It is a good late game option in dwemer decks but sees no usability anywhere else.
Goldbrand: This card is an ok budget option in control based decks and finds a place in Support Mage. However, the card is fairly weak and needs support benefits like Cauldron Keeper to make it usable. It is not a very strong card on its own, but these synergies lead it to be a very good removal option in Support Mage.
Journey to Sovngarde: This card didn’t initially see much play but has seen more as time has gone on. This card is useful in control mirrors and has notably found places in decks like Rage Archer and other late game decks. However, in most matchups this card isn’t great but has found a niche inside certain tournament settings and its usefulness as a 1 of gives an out in certain matchups while not impacting others as much.
Odahviing: This card is a staple in many control decks due to it removing your opponent’s board as well as giving a high statted creature that your opponent then has to deal with. Not much to say other than that it is a great card in late game decks.
Paarthurnax: This is another card that was a staple in control decks for a little while. Now in is seldom played outside of Ramp Scout. It is a good card since the shouts that it gives can highroll into Soul Tear or maybe even removal if you need it. With Soul Tear, your opponent might even have to remove Paarthurnax multiple times in order to win, which they will likely have a hard time doing. This card is good but cards like arrest are good ways to prevent it returning over and over again with Soul Tear.
Alduin: This initially seems like a good card but to get it in the range of being playable you need to either have a lot of dead dragons (of which not all that many are playable) or ramp a lot. Due to this, the card is seldom played even in Ramp Scout which has the tools to potentially get their magicka up high enough or have enough dead dragons to actually play it. It also has the drawback of killing your own creatures which it most comparable alternative, Odahviing, does not. Odahviing is typically better than this card since it is easier to play and can often clear the board without clearing your own.
So, here are my neutral card opinions for TES:L. Feel free to comment here with your own opinions or if you see me around on twitch I would be happy to answer any questions about this article.