Six cards to jumpstart your army in BattleForge

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Just having large, fire-breathing dragons that can burninate pathetic peasants on a whim is not enough for me. My fire-breathing dragons must be infused with unholy power and foaming at the mouth with bloodlust before I sic 'em on the enemy—if we're going to kill an entire civilization, we're going to do it right, dammit. So I give my dragons drugs.

I occasionally toss in a few burrowing bugs or ice elementals to back up my chemically enhanced dragons when the mood hits me. With almost 500 cards to pick from, there's plenty of tinkering to be done in my 20-card deck in BattleForge , one of our favorite online, card-based strategy games (read our full roundup of CCGs ). There are a lot of good strategies out there—and you'll no doubt invent your own in time—but here are a few surefire combos to get you started.

Don't own it? No problem! BattleForge went free-to-play awhile back, so there's nothing stopping you from logging in and starting the killin'!

Warstorm - Dominate PvE with a solid Nature deck

1. Breeding Grounds: You can't rush the enemy in PvE—you need to whittle them down with wave after wave of soulless drones who are ready to march to their deaths in your name. Breeding Grounds lets you do that on the cheap by reducing the summoning cost for all units near it by 25 percent.

2. Regrowth: It's fun to send armies to their deaths for no other reason than your own amusement, so why not let them amuse you a while longer? Regrowth will heal your troops and keep 'em alive—giving you more time to watch them get picked up and flung around by that impossibly large Stone Giant.

3. Giant Wyrm: You're going to have to end the match sometime, and there's nothing quite like a wall of Giant Wyrms gassing an entire town with their AoE acid breath to rein in that W. This guy's even more useful if you're building a hybrid deck—it only requires one Nature orb.

Head-to-head - Hit 'em hard with a strong PvP Fire deck

1. Skyfire Drake: You can rush early in PvP with a swift unit like Scavengers, but the heavy hitting starts as soon as the second phase, so don't dilly dally. The Skyfire Drakes are your key to victory, flying high and spitting splash damage below—the Mutalisks of BattleForge.

2. Ravage: Any healers you bring onto the battlefield might as well have a giant bullseye on their heads—players know to take out the healers first. That's why you need unkillable healers like Ravage, an unintuitively-named heal-over-time spell that'll keep your most important units alive.

3. Ice Barrier: This little popsicle isn't going to do much on its own, but the craftiest PvPers can use it as a tool to thwart their rivals.This ice pillar is built fast and cheap, can be used to block large creatures from taking certain paths and allows you to use abilities that were designed for defense, like Home Soil (40 percent damage buff near buildings), while on the offense.