Oldhim is the new Guardian hero released in Tales of Aria. He is an Elemental hero that has the essence of Earth and Ice. What makes Oldhim unique is that he is the first hero with a defense reaction as a hero ability. The ability reflects his earthly endurance with damage prevention and icy disruption with hand tax ability. The hero ability alone can give you an idea of what Oldhim is trying to do. Outplay, outlive and outlast his opponent. Other than defensive tools, Oldhim also has some powerful offensive tools in his toolbox, finding the balance between defense and offence is the key to building a strong Oldhim deck.
When it comes to the weapons and equipment available to Oldhim, the main options we have are Anothos for the more aggressive Hammer swings and Winter’s Wail plus Rampart of the Ram’s Head for a more defensive playstyle. The choice between Anothos and Winter’s Wail can also be decided by the Element you decide to delve into. Anothos lends itself better to an Earth-heavy deck, because Earth cards have a higher cost – many cost three, satisfying Anothos’s pump ability. Ice, on the other hand, does not have any cards with cost three, and is essential to grant Winter’s Wail’s Frostbite ability. While focusing on an element of Ice or Earth can be a good indicator for deckbuilding, I find the general gameplay is more indicative of the direction you want to build your Oldhim, rather than the focus on Ice or Earth.
In a traditional Guardian fashion, Oldhim has some great control tools. Cards like Rampart’s of Ram head and Crown of Seeds, as well as his hero ability, help Oldhim prevent or defend damage, without losing cards. Withstanding his opponent’s attacks throughout the game is a viable strategy for the Elemental Guardian.
A defensive strategy like this synergizes nicely with his Hammer, Winter’s Weil, and helps to put pressure on the opponent’s life total, while disrupting them with the threat of a Frostbite. Playing a defensive game helps Oldhim sculpt the bottom of his deck through pitching and using Crown of Seeds, so that the next cycle of draws are powerful when it matters – late game. Setting up an Oaken Old next to Pulse of Isenloft can be extremely powerful.
Some of the other key cards for this particular strategy are the different defensive tools. Defense reactions like Sink Below, Staunch Response and Barkskin can be useful. Disruption cards like Winter’s Bite and Channel Lake Frigid do a great job at slowing your opponent down as well. This strategy is effective against pure aggro decks and can have a strong game against other control matchups, but be weary of giving combo decks time to set up their powerful interactions.
Whether a whole strategy or just a sideboard plan, going midrange can help when you want to lean more into Oldhim’s disruptive properties, rather than pure defense. Setting up interactions like Thump and Pummel, or the range of fusion Elemental attacks like Mulch and Snow Under, can force an opponent to defend when they would really prefer to keep their hand.
Going for a more midrange strategy can help you become less predictable. When all you’re doing is defending, your opponent is given free reign to set up their own powerful interactions, but if you have a way to pressure them as well, it is much harder to do so. Some other card options are Command and Conquer, Spinal Crush, Ice Quake and Frostfang.
Looking at some of the cards Oldhim can play in Tales of Aria, there’s room for powerful card interactions. Cards like Amulet of Ice, Embolden, Awakening and Exposed to Elements give Oldhim interesting game play directions. Older Guardian cards like Towering Titan can also be included. All it takes is setting them up. One of my favorite things to do with the hero is utilize Awakening as a toolbox tutor. All you need to do is take a hit, drop your life a bit and you can access interesting one-off Guardian attacks like Righteous Cleansing, Spinal Crush, Mangle or even Chokeslam to put pressure back on your opponent.
The most important tip I have for beginner Oldhim players is figuring the order of your pitch. Both your hero ability and Winter’s Wail work of cards that you pitched to them – if you already had resource points from an Earth or Ice card floating, those don’t contribute to the ability. For example, If I pitched an Ice card to play a Strength of Sequoia, then pitch a yellow generic card to attack with Winter’s Wail, the previously pitched Ice card does not contribute to Winter’s Weil’s Frostbite effect. The same goes for Oldhim’s hero ability, only cards directly pitched to activate the ability grant the bonus. This becomes very relevant when you’re also thinking of using your shield and Crown of Seeds.
Oldhim has a range of tools and directions to go for in terms of deckbuilding. Each direction opens up new and exciting game play options and when rigorously tested, I’m sure you’ll find success with. I hope this guide has helped you get started on the new Guardian and gave some clear ideas on the different objectives an Oldhim deck can have. As long as you focus on which objective you want to accomplish, you’ll find a list that wins some games.