By Dimos Kallouppis As our seasons change on Earth, the winds of change blow across Rathe and Aria. We will have plenty of new cards to play with and plenty of exploring to do across Rathe. A new set means a new meta to solve, and new mechanics to learn. Rather than make some bold and certainly wrong predictions about what will be top tier, I want to discuss the mechanical and strategic changes that Tales of Aria brings us. There are a couple small observations I have about design within this set, but the biggest one is how the arsenal has changed. I think that if you are going to a pre-release event, you should give some serious thought to how differently the game will flow. Arsenal management is the most important piece of strategy for a new Flesh and Blood player. Different classes play differently, but they all get the same arsenal. Arsenal strategy is pretty universal (except for the Ranger class): you either arsenal a good combo card, a defense reaction, or a particularly efficient attack. If you put a strong combo piece in arsenal, it waits there until you see the other part of your combo. If you arsenal a defense reaction, it stays there until it is used to stop an important on-hit effect or until you have a combo piece to arsenal. You can also arsenal an efficient, easy-to-play attack as a placeholder, expecting to play it out the second you get a better card to put in there. Games can be lost by putting the wrong card in arsenal. Or by putting the right card in arsenal at the wrong time. But for all the Tales of Aria heroes, arsenal management becomes an entirely separate game. Fusion is the central theme of the set, and it requires revealing a card to buff another card. In a lot of instances, you will likely be Fusing a card and not have an action point leftover to play out the Ice, Earth, or Lighting card that you just revealed. Where is that going to go? Right into your arsenal. Odds are, that card isn’t amazing. Even though there are strong Ice, Earth, or Lighting cards, it is unlikely that the one card that you are revealing to buff your Fusion card is the one card you want to arsenal. There are some important exceptions, such as the Amulets and the non-attack actions that draw a card when played from arsenal. You will want to empty your arsenal nearly every offensive turn you have, or else your turn-ending Fusions will be inefficient. Either you won’t be able to Fuse your card and lose out on the buff, or you end your turn with an extra card in hand only draw three. Because of this arsenal cycling, if you do want to put together a very strong combo, I think the best way to go about it is to pitch all the cards. Holding a combo piece in arsenal for several turns is not an appealing prospect in Aria. Lexi has to do double duty on her arsenal management, dealing with the cards revealed for Fusion that end up there, and cycling her arrows through it. Lucky for her, she directly benefits from both of these through her hero ability and bow. If I end up playing Lexi during a pre-release, I’m going to be extremely cautious of any card that I arsenal that costs any more than one resource or does not have Go Again. Unlike Azalea, she cannot cycle her arsenal for free. Having to take a full turn off to play out a Heaven’s Claws that got stuck there will be a very disappointing turn. Earth has more arsenal interaction than the other two elements, and encourages the cycling of the arsenal to the bottom of the deck. This can be used in some very interesting ways, as a weaker blue arsenal card may be just what you want at the bottom of your deck to pay for that combo you just pitched. Or it can be used as a sneaky Sink Below effect so your opponent doesn’t see what power card they’ll have to deal with at the end of the match. I’ve largely ignored Crown of Seeds for now, even though it has the biggest impact or arsenal usage for Oldhim and Briar, because it’s unlikely to be relevant at pre-releases. Now on to the minor items. If you were only readying to get an edge for your pre-release events, you can probably stop here. We now have typeless damage from Lightning cards. Up until this point, all damage has either been physical or arcane. Those are technically different from loss of life, which can still happen as an on-hit effect, such as from Ode to Wrath or Searing shot. In Tales, this typeless damage exists to help make the on-hit effects of Lightning cards more explosive, as there are now cards that trigger from each source of damage. For example, Briar can trigger three different damage sources by using two cards. Pitching a blue for a Singeing Steelblade is four physical damage, one arcane, and threatening an extra source of typeless damage from Shock Charmers. Not only is that a very annoying split, it also threatens to create Embodiment of Earth tokens for her, bolstering her defence next turn. Today’s other small observation relates to cards being locked behind talents. It is now more muddled as to when and why a card is locked behind a talent. In Monarch, there was a clear distinction between class cards and talent cards. For example, the weapons of the set were not Light- or Shadow-locked unless it directly used a Light or Shadow mechanic. Hexagore and Galaxxi Black both care about cards in Banish, Luminaris and Raydn care about yellow-pitch cards and Soul. The Hatchets, Iris of Reality, Ravenous Meataxe, and Dread Scythe do not interact with those elements and are all only locked to their respective classes. When looking at the Tales weapons, Runeblade got Rosetta Thorn and Duskblade. Both are usable by Viserai and Chane, theoretically because neither interact with Fusion, Earth, Ice, or Lightning. However, both Ranger weapons are locked behind the Elemental talent this set and I have no clue as to why. Neither bow cares about any keyword other than “arrow” and “arsenal”, just like Red Liner and Death Dealer. The only other difference that comes to mind is that the Tales bows are Instants. But Ranger already has an instant in Feign Death. As such, I’m still confused as to why these bows break an established design pattern. I don’t think it’s for balance reasons, because then I would have expected to see Duskblade (most consistently activated by Chane) locked behind the Elemental talent before two bows that may have helped the ailing Azalea.
By Dimos A couple months ago, Legend Story Studios revealed their first ever ban list, consisting of a single card name: Drone of Brutality. They laid out some excellent reasoning for doing so. The card was not overwhelmingly powerful, although it was used in some powerful strategies. It was banned because it was out of sync with the rest of the game’s design. The specifically cited tenet in the article is that “Every Card Counts”. Drone of Brutality always stayed in your deck, so it could be used to block or attack indefinitely without running the risk of decking out, and the game’s designers wanted to force meaningful decision-making around either playing or blocking. I was a big fan of this ban because it showed a commitment to a game design philosophy that makes Flesh and Blood the calibre of game that it is. Knowing that every single card that I bring in my 60 card deck matters influences my deck-building significantly. In order for a card to be put into a deck I need it to meet all the criteria of pitch curve, block value, play or attack value, synergy with the other cards in the deck, etc. Unlike other games, deck building in FaB is not “put in an engine and fill out the deck with cards to let you get to the engine faster”. Flesh and Blood is clearly designed with this in its consciousness, as nearly all cards that allow you to search the deck are class-specific and all the good ones are locked to individual heroes (except Belittle/Minnowism, I guess). With all of these excellent design decisions made, and with every card distinctly mattering, why am I still wondering if Every Card Counts? In short, because of Chane’s hero ability. In a game of Chane vs any other hero, Chane can see every card in his deck before his opponent sees half of theirs. This is based on the current very aggressive strategy that nearly all Chanes are running as of today. Assuming Chane makes a Soul Shackle every turn, he will see 60 cards of his deck after eight turns, or 72 cards of his deck after nine turns (excluding the possibility of drawing from Art of War or other played cards). In contrast, the opponent will generally see between 32 and 40 cards in this same timeframe. Once Chane has seen every card in his deck, there are only one or two meaningful turns left in the game as all but four cards will be banished via Soul Shackles. So either Chane wins the game with a big 12-card turn, or he runs out of steam and cards in his deck. With no cards left to banish, Chane is left helpless and the remainder of the match will generally be his opponent repeatedly swinging weapons while Chane cannot block. By this end-game state, Chane has seen every card in his deck, and he has been allowed to complete his game plan and try to accomplish his end-game. Meanwhile, his opponent has seen, at absolute best, 40 cards from their deck. The game will be over one way or another well before any card that Chane’s opponent has pitched will become relevant (pending deck shuffling, which is a rarity outside of Katsu’s hero ability). I have played more than a few games against more than a few Chanes since the release of Monarch, and from the opposing side of the table, I can say that it doesn’t feel to me like Every Card Counts. It feels to me like all of his cards matter, and about half or two-thirds of mine do, because that’s how many cards get seen through the relevant parts of the game. Drone of Brutality was banned because the copies of it didn’t force meaningful game decisions. Playing against Chane, a significant portion of my cards do not force meaningful game decisions once deckbuilding and sideboarding are complete, because I can be confident that I won’t be seeing them all. I acknowledge that deckbuilding and sideboarding are important strategic elements to the game, and are some of my favourite elements, but actually playing the cards onto the table and making meaningful in-game decisions are both arguably more important. Now the discussion of “fun” will come into play, which is very subjective. But I do not think it is a bold claim to say that we play games, including Flesh and Blood, because they are fun and that it is more fun to beat someone than it is to watch them beat themselves. Conceptually, I think Chane is very interesting, but in Classic Constructed practice, I often find games against him to be unsatisfying, win or lose. Perhaps this is magnified by the fact that he is currently overrepresented in the meta. One could make similar complaints about an aggressive Boost Dash strategy, but that never became a meta force and did not force the issue. I also feel that because Boost dash could pivot to a slower end-game if needed, that the games held more variety. I think Chane in Limited formats is great and is a lot of fun to both play against and as. Even in Blitz, I think he is fine. The core difference between Classic Constructed and these smaller-deck formats? Chane gets to see proportionally more of his deck while his opponent sees less of theirs in Classic Constructed. I think that is where the pain point lies. I also want to take a moment to say that although I consider this a hiccup in the otherwise splendid game design of Classic Constructed, that does not take away from the game as a whole. A set of cards has hundreds of variables and countless interactions with all past cards, the fact that there have been so few missteps is very impressive. Just because I think there is a flaw does not mean that I think the game is lacking or the developers are any less great than they were a few months ago.
By: Dimos Kaloupis As discussed in a previous article, one of my core philosophies in Flesh and Blood is that you can generate a huge advantage by having usable cards outside of your hand. With the release of Monarch, each new hero acquired unique ways to build their board state. For example, Shadow heroes can interact with their banished zone and Light heroes can utilize their Soul as an alternative resource pool. The two heroes that build board state to create massive advantages the most interestingly are Chane and Prism. However, this board state is much more transitive than the strong board states built in previous sets. In contrast to Dash, an old powerhouse, whose item-based board state was as permanent as could be, Chane and Prism use their board as resources but those states can be interfered with by their opponents. (Yes, technically Argh, Smash could interfere with Dash, but that was only available to Brutes). As a brief recap to what I consider elements in a board state I offer the following list: Weapons, equipment, hero abilities, items, auras, and now, cards in soul and playable banished cards. Chane and Prism, in line with their Shadow and Light natures, build opposite boards. Prism builds herself a positive board. She creates new types of auras, and unlike auras in previous sets, these are not time-sensitive, but interact solely with the opponent’s attacks and damage. Chane builds himself a negative board, where he has access to one-time playable cards that deal damage to him if they are not played out immediately. There are few ways for your opponent to directly interfere with your banish zone, but by pressuring cards out of hand, it can be difficult to move all the Blood Debt cards out of the danger zone. What this dichotomy ends up meaning is that Prism is a hero who can easily snowball out of control, whereas Chane finds it easier to work into tempo swings to mount comebacks, but has a less powerful (but still strong) snowball state. Both heroes have weapons that are quite weak when viewed on their own. If Prism is on the back foot, she often has no weapon, and Chane’s most popular weapons (Nebula Blade and Galaxxi Black) when not supported by other cards only hit for one or two damage . However, Chane’s weapon is inherently stronger when combined with his basic hero ability and the frequency of being able to play cards from his banished zone. With one card in hand to pitch, Chane can still come in with a respectable weapon, which is the most basic board presence one can have. In contrast, Prism needs either a card in her soul and a card to pitch or an active aura to utilize her weapon. But enough comparing and contrasting, it’s time for a deeper dive into how each of these heroes build and use their unique boards to overwhelm their opponents defenses. Let’s take a closer look into Prism’s board state and how it offers such a strong snowballing effect. Neither of the Illusionist weapons can attack on their own, they require auras to present any threat. The Illusionist legendary equipment is really only useful if you have a four card hand (two cards to attack with and likely two cards to pitch with). Prism can only consistently build her board state through resource-intensive ways, but does have the benefit of doing it at instant speed. Her hero ability costs two resources and a card from soul, Prismatic Shield costs three resources and the card itself to play, and all of her Light Illusionist auras cost a minimum of four resources. At its absolute cheapest, Prism’s weapon will cost her two resources to make, and it may be destroyed by the opponent. Add to this the low block values of Prism’s cards and her equipment, and she has difficulty mounting a comeback. Herald of Protection can be an excellent way to build a board state and is often a good way to fight some tempo back, but it is very dependent on your opponent and lacks consistency. On the flip side of all of this, if Prism is in the driver’s seat, she is nigh unstoppable. If she does have a four card hand to make the most use of her Phantasmal Footsteps and Luminaris, she can mount strong pressure just from her hand. Add in a few auras poking for one damage at a cost of zero to attack with, and any opponent will begin to feel the pressure. If a Prism is running an Iris of Reality, maintaining a strong board state is even more critical as Illusionist attacks will not have nearly-default go agains. Prism also has access to some amazing breakpoints, both her weapons attack for annoying amounts (one and four), and her basic red attacks hit for seven, all with on-hit effects that allow her to further develop her board state. I predict that there will be very few Classic Constructed games featuring a Prism that will be nail biters, as her advantage and disadvantage states are quite extreme. Success with Prism will come down to a good player debating with themselves when exactly to commit hard to building their board state, and how much damage they take for the privilege to do so. One or two well timed plays from an opponent can bring it all crashing down, but once the ball starts rolling it is difficult to stop. In the exact opposite form to Prism (LSS does an excellent job in theming their game), Chane’s Shadow cards build himself a negative board state that he is incentivized to burn through quickly. As an additional contrast, Chane can swing tempo better than just about anyone else in the game and can choose when to move from defence to offence with devastating consequences. When Chane is behind and blocking with three or four cards from hand, he is likely not too worried and will often be waiting until he has a critical mass of Soul Shackle tokens to unleash a 10 card turn by playing cards from his Banished Zone. But before we get into nonsensical 30 (or more) damage turns, I want to talk about Carrion Husk. Carrion Husk adds a new dimension to the idea of board state in that it comes with both its own clock and its own time bomb. It blocks for six, an absolutely insane number for a single card, but requires specific management. It is an excellent coach for new or less experienced players to learn about the idea of pivot turns. Chane ramps up his lethality over the course of the game as he increases his Shackle count. Therefore, using the Husk to block a big attack coming at you when you have decided to go hard onto the offence (and swing at your opponent with four cards in hand and six cards playable from your banished zone) is something that every Chane will do, every game. Because Husk gets automatically banished once Chane falls below 13 health, players are forced to consider a proactive timing in the block, rather than saving it for a very late Hail Mary play. Once you do block with Husk, you had better be presenting very strong damage in return because the Blood Debt is unavoidable. Chane develops his most threatening turns in two ways: by pitching cheap Blood Debt cards early to banish them when he has many Soul Shackles, or by keeping cheap Blood Debt cards in his Banished Zone for a few turns to build up a strong head of steam. The most common candidates for this are Seeds of Agony and Rift Bind, because of their synergy. Both of these strategies are pricey, either in tempo or in direct life loss. The payoff, however, is the highest of any hero in the game. Chane can present over 60 damage across three turns once he gets into the swing of things. The trade off is that after those three turns he is most likely going to have zero cards left in his deck, and therefore the dependency of banishing cards means his board state fizzles instantly. After he runs out of cards to banish, his most-used weapons will be threatening two damage per turn. Chane is the ultimate example of “use it or lose it” in Flesh and Blood. Overall, the release of Monarch has brought new complications and depth to Flesh and Blood, and to how cards and the strength of a board are evaluated. The movement away from a generally-static strength from board state, like that in Welcome to Rathe, into a much more dynamic and transient strength from board state in Monarch will show itself in how tempo moves and shifts in the games that you play. But at the end of the day, having cards on the board in addition to in your hand in any form is still a massive advantage and can provide a winning game plan, or just that little edge you need to close a game.
By: Dimos Kaloupis Some of the strongest cards in Flesh and Blood are cards that can provide go again at reaction speeds. Snapdragon Scalers is one of the best pieces of footwear in the game. Glint the Quicksilver is a core card in Dorinthea, often touted as one of her best. Razor Reflex can be a lethal attack reaction to extend turns and catch opponents off guard. Induction Chamber provides attack reaction go again on Dash’s pistol and will leave opponents wondering if you will extend the current turn or preserve steam counters and arsenal a card for a future, bigger turn. Each of these cards are some of the most important cards to track within your opponents deck. Ira is much less threatening once Scalers and Razors are gone. Dorinthea becomes a lot easier to play around once Glint is gone. But Boltyn’s go agains can happen at any time. Which can be a huge concern when going up against him. Well, they can’t happen at any time, but they can happen with a lot less warning and a lot more frequently than any of the other instances (except Induction Chamber). This is where the strength of the ability comes from - if he chooses not to use the ability, his soul sticks around and likely grows during the turn, making him only more threatening next turn. I think Boltyn’s access to reliable attack reaction go agains will make him a formidable force in any format. A well-tuned deck will be able to reliably give attacks at least +1 power with any number of non-attack actions, attack reaction cards, or new mechanics specific to Light Warrior. Boltyn can have turns as big or bigger than any Ninja in the game, and often enough his opponent will not be able to do anything about it. Whelming Gustwave and Mugenshi Release can be blocked to deny their on-hit effects, where a lot of the damage ultimately comes from. Boltyn has no such issues. A V of the Vanguard turn can present over 20 damage with no way for the opponent to block or stop it. Every attack will be buffed, and getting enough cards into soul is not a challenge for him. Trying to block the attacks out will often lead to Boltyn dealing even more damage from his first ability. Boltyn’s explosive turns are truly explosive, and can often be set-up turns on their own. A single Tunic counter can fund, at worst, a 14 damage turn. With a V of the Vanguard in arsenal, paid for with Tunic, and 4 cards charging into soul from V’s additional cost, it comes in for 7 damage. Attack react to give it go again, since it is already over its base power, then swing Raydn, which is also coming in for 7. At the end of the turn, you have three more cards in soul than you began with. Alternatively, you could charge three cards instead of four and finish off with a free Bolting Blade for 6 attack, 6 attack, 10 attack. All for one resource from Tunic. Plus, you still end up with one more card in your soul than what you started with. There are even more insane combos that he can put out, such as by cashing in cards from his soul to use Beacon of Victory, finding a strong attack and continuing your turn. Boltyn’s weaknesses, like many Warriors and aggressive classes in general, are his one or two card hands. Boltyn, running Raydn, has no stand-alone weapon, as it is attacking for zero damage if you have not charged that turn. Even with his Hatchets, pitching a single card only deals an easily-blocked two damage. However, he has better set-up opportunities with low-card hands compared to many other classes. In addition to generic tools such as Energy Potion and Snatch, Boltyn has Light and Light Warrior tools that can help advance his game plan. Illuminate is four damage on a one card hand that threatens an on-hit effect. Engulfing Light and Bolt of Courage do the same on two card hands, putting out below-curve damage for two cards, but still threatening on-hit effects to set-up future turns. Plus, by charging you are advancing your board state without your opponent having any say in the matter. It is not all upside though, Boltyn’s biggest failing with low-card hands is when he does not have on-hit effects or an effective way to charge soul, he can also draw awkwardly and not see a Take Flight, V of the Vanguard, Lumina Ascension, or other reliable combo starter. In contrast, Prism’s on-demand ability requires a card to be banished from her soul and a card to be pitched to pay the two resource cost. It happens at instant speed, but is weaker and more expensive because of it. It seems that the developers put a significantly higher premium on instant-speed events than reaction-speed events. Additionally, an opponent has ways of denying Prism cards into her soul. Other than Halo of Illumination (a one-time use), Soul Food (a heavy price to pay), and Soul Shield (actually pretty great), the only way Prism can get cards into her soul is by dealing damage with attacks. An opponent also has ways of eroding Prism’s board state by dealing damage and destroying her auras, which also eliminate her weapons. Boltyn has neither of these issues and, I believe, will have a more flexible in-game strategy. When he is on the defensive he can set up for the future more effectively than prism, and on the offense he can put out more total damage, although his offense does not come with built in defense like Prism’s does. Overall, I think Boltyn has very strong access to every element of value in this game. As I have discussed in previous articles, the ability to build a board state, push damage in awkward-to-block intervals, and prevents the opponent from having too much knowledge on his plan during any given turn. Boltyn can build a board state through his soul for explosive turns. His conditional +1 power on attacks allows for a lot of 3-attack cards to come in for 4 damage depending on how they are blocked. His on-demand go again happens at reaction speed and keeps the opponent unsure if the turn will continue. Should they block this damage right now, or wait to block an on-hit effect that may be coming next?
Be Afraid: Viserai's Archetypes By: Dimos Kaloupis Viserai has not seen mainstream success in the year that he’s been fighting across Rathe. He struggles due to the interdependence of his cards on one another as he tries to balance non-attack and attack actions. However, he has seen multiple interesting decks built for him. He is generally the only hero to have diverse aggro, midrange, control, and one-turn-kill (OTK) decks. These decks also have differences other than their number of defense reaction and blue cards, which most others use to differentiate their aggro and control builds. This difference lies in the lack of information you have about his deck.When I sit across the table from a Viserai player, I get frightened because I don’t know what’s in their deck. This article is equally applicable to Classic Constructed (CC) and Blitz even if the relative power of each archetype changes between formats. For example, OTK is currently viable in Blitz but not in Classic Constructed. I will be speaking mainly to the Blitz decks due to their current popularity. In the set-up phase of the game, I need to make a decision that could make or break the game. In CC, I have to sideboard in the right cards. Do I bring Sink Below to block pesky four-attack cards like Meat and Greet and Consuming Volition? Do I bring Unmovable to block a Sloggism and Arknight Ascendancy combo? Or do I bring no defense reactions and all the offence I can muster to delay their Runechant-building opportunities, expecting an OTK? In Blitz, even though there is no sideboard, the same considerations must be made with your equipment. Do you bring extra armor to survive an Arknight Ascendancy or to cover all four damage from small attacks with on-hit effects? Or do you bring your combo equipment? The answer to all of these questions depend on the meta of the moment. If I see a Viserai in Blitz today, I assume it is either OTK or a very slow control build that aims to use Sloggism and Arknight Ascendancy, with a Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath to follow up. If someone were to play a Meat and Greet, Razor Reflex, and Consuming Volition against me on the same turn, I would need to entirely reconsider my game plan. The aggressive playstyle I was angling for earlier may now cause suffering as the dual on-hit effects of physical and arcane damage add up. I still don’t know if they’re planning on using their Bloodsheath Skeleta to hit me with a one-off Sloggism and Ascendancy. Further, I have to guess if they are running Pummel to back up that combo. Although I can assume that they aren’t because I’ve already seen a Razor Reflex, I won’t know for certain. What all this culminates to is hesitation. My confidence in my play wavers because I can’t predict what is coming next. If I were playing against a Bravo, I could be 99% sure that I would see a slow deck reliant on big hammer swings and the occasional dominated attack. Against this or any other Viserai, however, I can’t be sure. I have to spend a few turns of the game playing cautiously as I try to see what they have. What are they blocking with? Do any of those cards give any indication of other cards that I can expect to see later? Overall, what I think this means is that even though Viserai may not be the strongest hero in the game, he has so many avenues for surprise that it becomes its own significant advantage. This will likely get you some significant mileage in the Swiss rounds, especially earlier on. The strength of surprises will fade as rounds progress, or as the Top 8 decks become the subject of discussion and someone tells their buddy to keep an eye out for the rogue Viserai deck.
An Argument for Command and Conquer in Tall Warrior Decks By: Dimos Kaloupis Update: Since I initially drafted this article several weeks ago, it seems several warriors have started running Command and Conquer. Thus there is now some in-field data out there for people to see how it performs. It is no secret that Command and Conquer is one of the best cards in the game. It is a strict and absolute improvement over its cost base equivalent. It blocks 3, costs 2, pitches 1, and attacks for 6. It has the same base stats as Brutal Assault, but with two potent effects. The devastating effect that it brings against both control and aggressive decks is fantastic. Aggressive decks want to block with two cards to prevent the loss of their combo piece and card advantage in arsenal, and control decks want to block to protect the valuable defense reaction in their arsenal. Control decks may also have a hard time blocking due to their density of defense reacts, which cannot be used against Command. I am of the belief that Command and Conquer is one of the best two-card hands in the game. One card to pitch, one card to play. You nearly guarantee two cards out of your opponent’s hand, significant damage to their armor or you force them to lose the card advantage of their arsenal. I think Command and Conquer offers unique advantages in the currently popular tall Warrior Blitz decks. Warrior generally has very weak two-card hands. The best you can hope for is a sword swing and a react for about six total attack. Command is much better than this. The plentiful unconditional go agains from Spoils of War, Hit and Run, Glint the Quicksilver, and even Driving Blade, are tough to exploit in the currently common decks if the first attack is blocked. Usually this can only be done with either Twinning Blade or an Energy Potion. Command provides an excellent follow up in this scenario. Command can provide very useful information and serves the Warrior player best when it is arsenaled and can be brought out at an opportune time, as explained below. I will admit Command will weaken the dream turns, but I am of the mindset that those are tough to bank on to begin with. If you play Command off a two-card hand, your opponent will likely block with two cards from their hand, leaving them a maximum of three to respond to you with. This can provide an intermediate turn of regaining tempo, rather than the common solution of “I’ll take all the damage you can throw at me so I can respond with a five-card hand next turn”. Effectively, it functions as a way to regain tempo without taking too much damage. Where I think Command really shines is when it is played after a sword swing with go again. Either they will block the initial swing with strength from their hand or use their defense reaction in arsenal to do so. If they are overblocking from hand, it indicates that they are unlikely to have a defense reaction in arsenal, and it is more likely to be a key combo piece for them. This is the ideal scenario, as your sword cannot swing again because it hasn’t hit, but they are now two or three cards down from their starting four in hand. Command can also shine when your opponent seems comfortable taking everything you can throw at them so they can respond with their big combo. Command and Conquer at both points is devastating, as it is now targeting their threat, and they are unlikely to have the hand or want to defend against it anymore. Their choices are now to lose their arsenal, or to block with their equipment. And as any warrior player knows, once an opponent’s equipment is compromised, the game becomes much more dangerous. If the arsenaled card is a defence reaction and it sees play against your sword swing, you still get to arsenal Command for next turn to threaten them. Additionally, if you did not have Command, it is likely that your sword would not have hit in the first place and your go again would go to waste. Obviously, there are a million different possibilities as to what you could have had instead, and maybe that extra attack react would have pushed it over, but I like the versatility of the Command threat. Overall, Command’s threat to defence reactions in arsenal pairs well with Warrior’s weakness to defense reactions in arsenal. Information can be gained on the first sword swing and exploited with Command to follow up, hitting either a combo piece or a defence react that your opponent is being careful with. Disclaimer: I do not think that Command and Conquer is a no-brainer choice to put into this type of Warrior deck, and I do acknowledge it dilutes the reactions that the deck thrives on, but I also believe that this warrants some thought and experimentation. Give it a shot, see how it goes. It can act as a surprise, which is valuable in itself. And if it becomes meta, then it further complicates how people must block against Warrior.
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