Enjoying Commoner with Uncommon Decks
Commoner is a format that I am really excited about, and I’m glad that it’s official now. It isn’t something I’ve thought about for a while prior to the FaB 2.0 announcement, but I’m glad it’s here now. In short, it is Blitz rules with only Common cards (plus up to two Rare equipment or weapons). I forgot how fun it was to try and make something out of very little. It also reminds me of when I was a budget player. That feels like a long time ago now. I hold a nostalgia for those days; scraping my collection together by flipping every armory promo I won to afford what felt like the big-ticket items of class majestics. I think Commoner will scratch that itch for me and many others while providing a great in-road for newer players and long-term budget players alike. I also love a format that cannot be net-decked.
The small bit of negativity that I have seen online towards this format is related to potential homogeneity. It seems that a lot of people are worried that deckbuilding will not present a meaningful amount of options and that aggressive decks will dominate. I do not think that is necessarily true. I think that aggro decks are the easiest to convert from their full-power blitz counterparts, but bringing the game to a common level opens the door for so many other heroes and archetypes to shine. In this new environment, there are a few big changes I think we’ll see. Firstly, equipment suites change drastically. Losing access to Legendary and Majestic equipment changes how many heroes operate at a core level. No more Skeleta combos for Runeblades, no more Crown of Seeds for Oldhim, and no more 10-armor fridges for half the classes to hide behind. Heartened Cross Strap, Goliath Gauntlet, and Snapdragon Scalers are all perennially strong options, but the format will push the power of some class commons. Of the current class common equips, Runeblade and Shadow Brute are a few miles ahead of everyone else, boasting multiple pieces that are stronger than the previously-mentioned generics. Runeblades also hold the most available weapons and common cards in general. Such are the advantages of being in three different draftable sets. However, while they have more options, they are not necessarily stronger than the other classes. Below are some ideas (not decklists, which would defeat the “no net decking” appeal of the format) to get you started for those upcoming Commoner events.
As a direct opposition to the many viable aggro decks in the format, I believe that Guardians will be able to survive and play a long game, including fatigue. I am a Guardian player, so maybe I am a bit biased, but the strength of hammers and strength of late game blues is not to be underestimated. Anothos will consistently hit for four or six damage, an individual attack card will hit for about eight, and nearly every card will block for three. That’s great value while keeping your deck full of cards. Of the three guardians, I think that Oldhim is the most interesting to play in this format because of the toolbox that his hero power and equipment provide. The deck building tension of adding elemental cards while also needing to block well is an interesting one, and the games can play out in a number of ways. Oldhim also has the unique power to negate the strength of Ira’s Kodachis, which is a massive advantage. Kano will struggle very heavily in commoner, losing access to all of his card draw and the majority of his instant-speed combo tools. This means that a lot more decks will be running defence reactions, reducing the relative power of Dominate. Oldhim can get around this by building strong combos with his toolbox. Plume of Evergrowth makes a singleton copy of red Earthlore Surge always available in the late game. Giving any big Guardian attack +5 power can be game-ending. Add in the fact that Anothos makes it very easy to pitch red Guardian attacks, and a consistent game-ender will be a buffed Macho Grande coming in for 15 damage with dominate. You can add a Goliath Gauntlet in there to push it to 17 and close some games from nearly anywhere against unsuspecting and prepared opponents alike. Outside of Dominate, the on-hit effects of Guardian cards demand blocks from opponents, forcing even more cards out of their deck. Oldhim’s Snow Under and Entangle are great ways to force multiple cards out of an opponent’s hand. But despite all of that thinking and planning, at the end of the day, repeatedly swinging Anothos (or Sledge of Anvilheim) will be enough to win many games in any format of Flesh and Blood.
Levia has a lot of strength in her commons, having what I think are her two best class cards at that rarity. Dread Screamer and Graveling Growl combine to deal 13 damage off of three cards while only losing one card from her graveyard (likely refilled by the card she blocked with to leave her a three-card hand). Hooves of the Shadowbeast further extend her explosive combo potential. Without having to sideboard, she pivots fantastically from a two-card fatiguing value game into explosive and aggressive combos. Ghostly Visit and Void Wraith let her play a very effective long game, particularly when combined with Dread Screamer or Unworldly Bellow. Hooves of the Shadowbeast’s unique trigger timing means that Levia can choose to pivot mid-turn about whether to go for a closing combo, or to hold off and keep playing a strong value game. Levia has at least a half-dozen hands that let her deal between eight and ten damage with only two cards, something that is very difficult for other classes to do without sacrificing blocking power.
Ranger, as a class, has been designed as an anti-aggro control deck. Historically they have suffered against high-armor classes and in slower matchups. But in a format where there is so much less armor, the on-hit effects of arrows are much more likely to either hit or demand multiple cards to block. So many of Azalea’s and Lexi’s good arrows are of common rarity. My personal favourites are Fatigue Shot, Sleep Dart, and Chilling Icevein. There is a fantastic article about why Fatigue Shot is an insanely good arrow written by Yuki here. In a format where the strongest, higher-rarity cards are excluded from decks and equipment suites, the relative power of hero abilities increases. This makes Sleep Dart, an already-good arrow, even better. While Honing Hood has no defense value, it works fantastically well with both Rangers’ hero abilities. As with all ranger builds, the deck building challenge of tuning pitch ratios to arrow ratios to buff ratios is always a fun tension and provides a lot of levers to play with.
Kavdaen will be very interesting in this format, despite his frighteningly limited card pool. He struggles to find 40 cards that block for three or more. Despite this, he is an absolute defensive powerhouse with his hero ability, being able to prolong games and whittle down opponents while setting up strong end-game states with Sloggism and Regurgitating Slog or a buffed-up Surging Militia (try it with Warmonger’s Recital). His hero ability has no downside in this format, as all cards that interact with Copper tokens are of higher rarity. Additionally, his previous weakness to Command and Conquer is not relevant in the format, and his weakness to powerful combo decks is also heavily mitigated. Very much a “fun” choice rather than a meta-defining deck, I think Kavdaen has high potential at any Commoner event that doesn’t have too many Guardians or Brutes running around.
Some other ideas for the format: I would love to see a Commoner format that allows for generic items (potions, amulets, and talismans) all of which are currently Rare. I think it opens up some very interesting deck building decisions and potential combos because of the uniqueness and variety that the items hold. Additionally, it won’t create a massive power spike, which introducing other Rare cards would (looking at you, Plunder Run and Flic Flak). This may be a fun homebrew set of rules to really stretch the creative options in the format.