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Ascending to the Arknight – Viserai in Competitive Blitz 

The Blitz meta has been taking shape over the last few months in anticipation of the next The Calling event. Blitz is certainly an interesting format and around the Flesh and Blood world, players are sharing their Blitz builds, discussing theory and tuning lists to understand the format and find the optimal strategy. 

With a Blitz Calling just around the corner, today I’m taking a look at playing a “go big” Viserai build as a competitive option in the Blitz format. Can the Runeblade hero be the next powerhouse in the Blitz format? Let’s first understand exactly which heroes are prominent and need to be focused on in the developing meta.

The Meta Game Players

Ira, Crimson Haze and Kano have emerged as the two most successful heroes in the young Blitz format, putting up some strong showings with consistency and raw power on their side. Below are a few of their early credentials for the Blitz crown.

Ira, Crimson Haze
  • Winner of the New Zealand Blitzcon 2020 in Novemeber.
  • Four of the eight decks in the NZ Blitzcon 2020 top 8 were Ira.
  • Had the longest undefeated run during the Legend Story Studios 1st anniversary developers versus players event. 
Kano
  • Winner of the PTI (Professional Tournament Invitation) event at New Zealand Nationals 2020.
  • Ran the room at the NZ 2020 Blitzcon, going 6-0 in the swiss portion before falling to the eventual winner on Ira in the semi-finals.
  • Also had a lengthy run at the Legend Story Studios anniversary Blitz event, second longest by just one game.

The consensus among the competitive hive mind also seems to back these results up – these heroes are the ones to beat right now! While Ira and Kano have certainly cemented themselves as the tier one power players, the format is still young. At each event, there’s still innovation and players adapting to attack the metagame appropriately. Dorinthea, Bravo and Rhinar are lurking around the fringes and all have good ways to attack at least one of either Ira, Crimson Haze or Kano. Moving forward, I expect to see these three heroes show up in reasonable numbers come The Calling Auckland. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them put up strong results across premier Blitz events. 

What about the rest of the Blitz Heroes? Are they strong and viable competitive options? Some of them certainly could be. Heroes that have been known quantities before spring to mind such as Dash, while perhaps Kassai, Cintari Sellsword or Benji, the Piercing Wind are legitimate contenders. Other heroes have been scarcely explored and seem perhaps underpowered right now. Two such examples are Kayo, Berserker Runt and Kavdaen, Trader of Skins, both of whom could very well surprise and be viable competitive options, if not now then perhaps with Monarch. 

 

Viserai

The one hero that I’m most interested in right now for Blitz is Viserai. The Runeblade class didn’t find much success across the 2020 Road to Nationals and Nationals Classic Constructed season, but Blitz is a completely different beast than Classic Constructed. The lower life totals and a set 40 card deck can really play to the strengths of Viserai. A big tick in the Runeblade column is that in Blitz, as opposed to Classic Constructed, there’s no need to play a number of filler cards to help generate a sufficient Runechant count. You need half the tokens, but you have access to two-thirds of the cards still! 

Any opponent is going to find it a lot harder to set up for an opposing game plan that involves sitting back defensively and assembling a fairly noninteractive end game, another huge upside for big Vis. Viserai decks will likely be able to utilize the four cards each turn cycle better than most heroes simply by defending, playing setup cards and/or creating Runechant tokens. In Classic Constructed, if a player knows an opposing player on Viserai is solely focused on a big setup, they can board out their swath of defense reactions, go on the offensive and avoid having dead cards in their hands. With the set 40 card deck in Blitz, there’s no escaping some awkward hands containing defense reactions against a deck that doesn’t need or want to attack except for one or two big swings.

 

Building Viserai and Attacking the Expected Meta

Below is a “go big” deck list for Viserai in Blitz, with a focus on amassing Runechant tokens and beating the opponent with one big attack. In some circumstances, this deck can find lethal over two turns when necessary.

Viserai Blitz

Class: Runeblade
Hero: Viserai
Weapons: Nebula Blade, Reaping Blade
Equipment: Arcanite Skullcap, Bloodsheath Skeleta, Crown of Dichotomy, Grasp of the Arknight, Ironrot Legs, Mage Master Boots, Nullrune Boots, Nullrune Gloves, Nullrune Robe

(1) Amplify the Arknight (red)
(2) Arknight Ascendancy (red)
(1) Come to Fight (red)
(2) Mordred Tide (red)
(2) Oath of the Arknight (red)
(2) Rattle Bones (red)
(2) Read the Runes (red)
(2) Reduce to Runechant (red)
(2) Sink Below (red)
(1) Sloggism (red)
(2) Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath (yellow)
(2) Read the Runes (yellow)
(2) Reduce to Runechant (yellow)
(2) Become the Arknight (blue)
(2) Dread Triptych (blue)
(1) Energy Potion (blue)
(2) Meat and Greet (blue)
(2) Oath of the Arknight (blue)
(2) Potion of Strength (blue)
(1) Sloggism (blue)
(2) Spellblade Assault (blue)
(1) Tome of the Arknight (blue)
(2) Whisper of the Oracle (blue)

See the full deck at: https://fabdb.net/decks/GBQLnONY/

 

The strategy of the deck is to build a number of Runechant tokens through cards like Read the Runes, with the aim being to amass between eight to 15 tokens while preserving your life total. The number of tokens needed will vary between match up and depends on which combo line is played out on the final turn. The best way to learn how many tokens you need and what cards you need is to just play as many games as possible!

This deck really aims to attack the meta by taking advantage of the the inability for players to adjust their deck prior to the game as mentioned above, meaning they’re left with few options on how they can interact with this build. A number of cards are used to help pull off the combo-esque kill and some setup is required, with each card filling certain roles as described below.

 

The Engine

Read the Runes (Red)Read the Runes (Yellow)Mordred TideReduce to Runechant (Red)Reduce to Runechant (Yellow)Become the Arknight

In order to throw a handful of Runechant tokens at your opponent’s face, you first need to make them! Read the Runes on its own help move your game plan forward. It can provide even more value in getting to your magic number of tokens when combined with a card like Mordred Tide. Played alone, a Read the Runes will generate two or three tokens, but played after a Mordred Tide, it’ll produce five or six tokens thanks to Viserai’s hero ability. 

Reduce to Runechant serves as both great defense and enabler. One extra token might not seem like much but it is when it’s also prevents three or four damage.

Become the Arknight is a card that can help setup the final kill turn but is equally as impactful on turns where you have three or four cards in hand and want to make a nice big stack of Runechants. Have one piece of the Mordred Tide plus Read the Runes setup? Simply use Become the Arknight to find the other! The best part is that playing Mordred Tide into Become the Arknight to find and play a Read the Runes (Red) creates eight total Runechant tokens!

 

The Finishers

Arknight AscendancyNinth Blade of the Blood OathRattle BonesOath of the Arknight (Red)Sloggism (Red)Come to Fight (Red)Potion of StrengthBloodsheath Skeleta

On the final turn, you’re going to need a combination of a few of these cards to playout alongside your amassed Runechant tokens. Potion of Strength is a card that’s going to buff the damage on your attack and is important to get into play as the game goes, ideally having both in play before the final turn.

The final “one turn kill” or OTK hand is going to look something like the below:

Hand:

Arknight AscendancyOath of the Arknight (Red)Come to Fight (Red)Meat and Greet (Blue)

Arsenal:

Rattle Bones

 

Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be this exact combination. However, it does need to be one of Arknight Ascendancy or Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath plus a blue resource card plus one or two attack buffs (Sloggism (Red), Oath of the Arknight (Red) and/or Come to Fight (Red)) plus Rattle Bones. Any one of these cards can be pre-set in your arsenal and you can have a full hand with the extra card being the second attack buff or even a Mordred Tide. You’ll need the Energy Potion set in play already if you want to play two attack buffs (unless they’re exactly Oath of the Arknight and Come to Fight).

The play sequence is pretty straightforward and after a game or two it should feel pretty natural to go through. Start by playing out the attack buffs, then the attack action card triggering the Runechant tokens. The reason the number of tokens needed varies is because you’ll always need to ensure that your opponent takes at least one point of Arcane damage, otherwise the combination with Rattle Bones won’t work. You can use the activated instant ability of Bloodsheath Skeleta to then play Rattle Bones at instant speed before the attack chain closes and select the attack action to play next. If your first attack was an Arknight Ascendancy and you’ll be creating a large number of tokens from the on-hit effect, then often the best follow up is Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath as it’s the most damage. The cost reduction from Skeleta stacks with the card’s built in cost reduction as well. If you create four Runechant tokens from Arknight Ascendancy, plus the token from Viserai’s ability as a result of playing Rattle Bones, you have a free nine damage attack!

Note that if an Arknight Ascendancy will be the second attack off of the Rattle Bones and also not the first, then it’s often correct to hold some or all of the attack buffs back to ensure you get the best value out of them in the form of tokens from the on-hit effect. Just make sure you can still pay the costs for everything.

 

Role Players 

Sink Below (Red)Amplify the Arknight (Red)Energy PotionTome of the ArknightWhisper of the Oracle (Blue)Mage Master Boots

The remaining cards in the deck are resources and role players. Sink Below is there for the defensive aspect but also to allow you to tuck key combo pieces to the bottom of your deck for later in the game. Amplify the Arknight (Red) is an attack that can be played off Rattle Bones if your first attack needs to be Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath and you can’t afford to pay for Arknight Ascendancy post Rattle Bones or there isn’t one in your graveyard. 

Energy Potion is a resource you can get into play early that will help smooth out the final turn, but isn’t necessary to always have in play, especially if you begin that final turn with the four cards plus arsenal. Tome of the Arknight is primarily a resource but the deck plays one as late game. It can grab two cards off the top as you cycle through the deck, placing pitched cards in order and working towards the kill turn. Whisper of the Oracle (Blue) doubles as both a resource card and to help filter your deck while enabling Viserai’s hero ability. Finally, Mage Master Boots allow for turns playing two Read the Runes or for getting into play a potion or two. 

 

Why Viserai is Viable – Matchup Overview

This build of Viserai specifically targets the weakness of one of the top decks in the format – Ira, Crimson Haze, since Ira is primarily a control deck and stacked with defense reactions. This deck is able to exploit the inability of Ira to pressure decks with big turns that utilize the full hand of cards consistently, allowing this deck to be able to defend where necessary and set up the backbreaking combo. This build is favored against the current crop of control decks and even has reasonable match ups against the aggressive decks like Azalea, Warrior, Katsu and certain Dash builds.

Where this deck is unfavored is playing against Kano. The Wizard matchup is very difficult, as this deck applies no early pressure, allowing the Wizard player to use their hand as they like. The Kano player can either throw damage turn after turn or set up their own big turn involving Stir the Aetherwinds (Red). Unfortunately for Big Vis, Kano’s combo can also be played at instant speed.

Bravo is also a difficult matchup as they have access to a high number of blues, big defense reactions (Staunch Response (Red) and Unmovable (Blue)) and can also set up their own big attacks with Towering Titan (Red) and Crippling Crush. Rhinar can be tricky and depending on the Brute build, if they can deal significant unlockable damage over two turns, it’s likely they will do so before your combo is set. 

 

Conclusion

Viserai is inherently a strong hero, with tools capable of seeing him consistently setting up and carrying out these big attacks. With this build we have a deck that can attack the meta in a specific way. If you’re having trouble beating Ira then I recommended giving this build a crack and if you do, then please leave a comment and let us know how you find it. I’m optimistic that Viserai can and will be a strong player in competitive Blitz and I’m excited to see it at the top tables in the near future! 

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