Written by Matt Greenleaf | Layout by John Kimmel

Hello and welcome. My name is Matt Greenleaf and I have been a developer on Battle for Sularia for the last year or so. Today I would like to talk to you about the Mercenary faction’s role in the game and one of their cards in particular. Sularia has very strong faction identities and does not allow cross faction play in constructed. The Mercenary faction is the sole exception to this and acts as a sort of glue holding the format together. Certain abilities we want to be available to all players and not just relegated to a single faction. Instead of printing similar cards in each faction often we will print a single version as a Mercenary card.

It’s a Trap is one such card. A perfect example of what a Mercenary card should be and the premier early game defense. There is no card better equipped with dealing with a turn two Oathki or Spartan Terminator. It is a turn too slow off initiative to come out of the exchange unscathed against the fastest openings, but no card comes close to its potency in keeping you in the early game.

I personally don’t play a lot of It’s a Trap for two major reasons. The first and by far the larger reason is I am a sucker for a proactive card and will only play reactive cards when obviously necessary. The second and less prejudicial reason is that in a longer game It’s a Trap is a card whose effectiveness can be largely mitigated through smart play. There are two major ways to play around It’s a Trap and neither avenue is generally open on turn three when It’s a Trap comes online.

A major rule that often goes overlooked in Sularia is that when a combatant attacks, if it is activated it is removed from the combat. This rule contributes to the outsized power of Centropolis but also can be exploited to get around the strength of It’s a Trap. If you think your opponent is holding an It’s a Trap and if you can take out the site with just combatants with activated abilities you have an obvious out. Attack with those combatants and when your opponent fires off their It’s a Trap activate your combatants for their abilities, removing them from combat. In The Battle Begins, activated abilities appear only on the Vassad Saboteur and Animus Vox but this group is only going to grow with time.  

The second way to play around It’s a Trap is to attack weaker sites that you can kill with non-combat damage if the It’s a Trap is played. If four of your combatants attack a site that is later taken out by direct damage than those combatants blast through directly to your opponent. This can be exploited by attacking sites which can be killed by sources outside of combat. If It’s a Trap is played and you damage the site in response that effectively negates the It’s a Trap. In The Battle Begins, this can be accomplished by the Vassad Saboteur, or Feedback and Sularium Tactical Assault Beam (aka, STAB).

We have seen through tournament play that It’s a Trap is one of the strongest cards in the Jotune mirror, but just remember with a little patience its strength can be largely mitigated. Fortune favors the bold and it is not always reasonable to play around the It’s a Trap. When it is feasible I hope I have given you the tools to think critically about how to walk into a trap and come out on top. Best of luck battle commanders!

A perfect example of what a Mercenary card should be and the premier early game defense.
— Matt Greenleaf