Mikey Mouse Club #27 – Who Is Bucky Diablo?

Back when Rise of the Floodborn was in the early reveal stage, there was one card in particular where I thought, “Okay, that’s gonna be a thing.” I had a conversation about Bucky, Squirrel Squeak Tutor with a good friend that plays in more competitive circles (he’s one of those immoral monsters that won multiple store championships) and he kind of shrugged at it. But he ran a Bucky deck up in Chicago a couple of weeks ago at the Challenge event there, where Bucky was in his estimation heavily teched against. Because, it turns out, Bucky is a problem.

I’ve heard “Bucky should be banned” now from multiple angles- even more than I’ve heard my own “Madam Mim should be banned” pleas echoed from others. I’ve not even seen as much hue and cry over Be Prepared. Maybe A Whole New World, but I digress. Bucky has emerged as a key Emerald card in the meta, especially in the Emerald Steel discard archetype. And especially with Diablo, Devoted Herald flying around to make for an extremely effect combo.

Bucky is a minor character from The Emperor’s New Groove and I especially love it when Lorcana digs in for deep cuts like him. There’s only so many times you can redo Aladdin and Moana (at least one would think). So it’s nice to have the more offbeat, unusual, and marginal characters highlighted. But Bucky is more than highlighted in Lorcana because the game is his superstar breakout moment.

I think most players likely underestimated Bucky at first because at face value, the card seems a little meh, especially if you come into it with “who’s Bucky?” His stat line is as vanilla as they come- 2 ink, 1/1, 1 lore. No Shift target, at least not yet. But there are not one but two differentiators that are tremendous early game advantages. One is that he’s got Ward, which means he can’t be Smashed, Dragon Fired, Madam Medusa-ed, Fire Your Cannons-ed, or anything else where he’s chosen for removal or damage. Ward is already, an especially powerful ability but he’s also got Squeak, which triggers a discard for the opponent when you play a Floodborn character.

I tried to make Bucky work back in set 2 and had some pretty great results, using him to get that last discard to make Flynn Rider, His Own Biggest Fan max out his questing potential when the opponent has no cards in hand. Playing Flynn triggers that discard whether you shift him or not, which was pretty handy. Or un-handy as the case may be. But with set 2, there were far fewer options to handle Bucky or to really leverage his Squeak ability. I found myself waffling back and forth on including him in decks but I always felt like I should use him. There’s a vibe.

But Bucky really needed a partner to go from yeah to hell yeah so to speak and that buddy is Diablo, another deep cut landing in Ursula’s Trouble. For those wondering, it’s Maleficent’s raven that originally appeared in Amethyst for Into the Inklands and also has  so-so but now essential vanilla card in set 4. The Floodborn version is the one under scrutiny here. Now, I have to confess that with the demise of Pixelborn, the fact that the Legendary Diablo is a $50 card as of this writing, and that I have yet to pull an Enchanted let alone what would currently be possibly the most desirable Enchanted, I’ve never played with him. But I’ve certainly had him played against me and I’ve seen games with it and boy do I have opinions.

Devoted Herald is a hell of a card, and it is absolutely the kind of card I like to see as a Legendary. It’s extremely specific in its usage, and it is tremendously powerful if you can pull it off. As a Floodborn, he has the new Shift option of discarding an Action card rather than paying ink. He’s also Evasive, meaning he can only be challenged by other Evasives. Circle Far And Wide imparts an ongoing ability to draw card during the opponent’s turn whenever they draw a card. Lorcana has very few off-turn actions or abilities, but this is one of them and it’s surprisingly incredible- card advantage is always good, and when this bird lands on the table  and the opponent isn’t able to answer, the extra draw can be decisive- especially in Emerald Steel where ideally you want to your opponent’s hand to get to zero as quickly as possible while increasing your hand as much as possible.

So Bucky’s Squeak is triggered by Diablo’s shift. That doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, really. But here’s the neutron bomb- Diablo can be played turn one if you mulligan your way into the 1 ink Diablo, Maleficent’s Spy with a Devoted Herald or two in hand. This gives you that extra card literally on the third turn (as Devoted Herald must be tapped). Since he’s evasive, the opponent has to answer with either direct removal or another Evasive with 2 strength. Alternately, you can wait for turn two to drop Bucky and then shift Diablo with an action card discard, which you replace with the extra draw. And you force a discard for the opponent, quickly achieving that goal of making their hand go to zero while yours goes up.

The velocity of these plays are what make it so powerful, moreso than the discrete effects. It quickly sets a tempo and demands response before things get out of control. With two or more Devoted Heralds on the board, the opponent loses footing simply by following the turn order.  The only real downside is that hardcasting Devoted Herald is 3 and he’s uninkable, but even then that’s a turn after Bucky and there again you still get that card draw and you don’t have to discard an Action card so I’m not sure that it’s a downside at all.

If I ever have a FOMO/YOLO moment and drop $200 on a playset of Devoted Heralds, I would definitely have to give this a try in my Emerald Steel discard deck, which still be heavily geared toward those Flynn Riders (still my favorite card in the game) but tempered in such a way that I don’t wind up with too many discard options- typically where my builds go wrong with this archetype. Anyone looking for 10 foil league promo Buckys? $20 each, will not separate!

Next time- Who are we missing?

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