Dawnblade and Dorinthea, a marriage as old as time for Flesh and Blood. For many, the two were inseparable, with the former using the latter’s ability to help build counters, and the latter using the former’s great ability to force blocks and damage through the opponent. However, with the damage ceilings in the game constantly increasing, it seems that the weapon hasn’t been able to keep up with the best aggro decks. Add in that Dawnblade Dorinthea can usually present only about six damage off a good two-card hand and you start to get a lot of issues with decks that use disruption on offense.
This is where the Axes build of Dorinthea, and to some extent its Saber sister build thrives. Off a two-card hand, ideally a blue and a card such as Blade Runner (Red), an Axe build can present eight damage off a two-card hand, with the added benefit of the damage being spread out over two attacks. The strength of the build also helps in making many of Dorinthea’s attack reactions into relevant damage dealers again. Since blocking is much more awkward in a wider Axe game plan, it’s easier to punish non blocks on your first axe with cards like Stroke of Foresight (Red) and Out for Blood (Red). In addition, if you’re able to tweak your deck to find adequate sources of go-again, then the build can easily attack three times in a turn should you be able to activate Dorinthea’s on-hit trigger.
Class: Warrior Hero: Dorinthea Ironsong Weapons: Hatchet of Body, Hatchet of Mind Equipment: Braveforge Bracers, Helm of Sharp Eye, Nullrune Hood, Refraction Bolters (3) Blade Runner (red) (1) Dauntless (red) (3) Hit and Run (red) (2) Ironsong Response (red) (3) Out for Blood (red) (1) Plow Through (red) (2) Rout (red) (1) Sharpen Steel (red) (3) Spill Blood (red) (3) Spoils of War (red) (3) Steelblade Supremacy (red) (3) Stroke of Foresight (red) (3) Warrior's Valor (red) (3) Hit and Run (yellow) (1) Ironsong Determination (yellow) (1) Shatter (yellow) (2) Singing Steelblade (yellow) (1) Twinning Blade (yellow) (1) Dauntless (blue) (1) Energy Potion (blue) (3) Glint the Quicksilver (blue) (3) Hit and Run (blue) (1) Ironsong Response (blue) (2) Steelblade Shunt (blue) (1) Timesnap Potion (blue) (1) Warrior's Valor (blue)
To some extent, this deck also currently benefits from the surprise factor. The current teachings around how to block out Dawnblade have been set in stone since the WTR age, and players now know very well how to adjust to the weapon. However, the same principles which allow a midrange/defensive game plan to beat Dorinthea can be punished in the Axes build. Since the deck doesn’t care about on-hit effects as much as it does pure damage, defense reactions are not as punishing to Dorinthea’s game plan as are smart overblocks. Rather, overblocking can be badly punished by a deck that can easily either go wide or tall from hand to hand.
Let’s talk about why the deck has so much inherent flexibility. First off is the superb new Blade Runner line from Everfest. Giving go-again in the reaction phase is always a tricky maneuver for your opponent to play around, and in addition allowing you to pump your next axe means any Blade Runner turn will at minimum come in for six damage, with a max of eight. Since Axes are usually two attack, they also present poor blocking value for the defender who must give up a three block to block the first one out. This means Dorinthea will very consistently have access to her ability should you be able to string together some go-again actions. Speaking of go-again, Blade Runner is only one source of many in this deck. Most Axes builds can easily run nine Hit and Runs and three Glint the Quicksilvers and Spoils of War as well to have an incredible amount of ability to go-wide.
However, just as go-tall Dorinthea builds in Dawnblade become easy to defend, so can the play patterns of go-wide Dorinthea. The real crux of the issue is when you start to play around with the one-cost attack reactions Dori has access to. This allows you to suddenly surprise and punish a “no-block” declaration on your first axe by quickly pumping up to eight damage off your cards. An opponent who was preparing for a second axe swing might raise their eyebrows as they are left with cards in hand they wanted to block with and now must play out a turn where they aren’t going to be dealing as much damage back.
The real MVP of the deck is Valiant Dynamo, which has come back with a storm after a quite release in Monarch. This card provides such incredible value over the course of a game that it’s mind-blowing. Blocking out weapons like Winter’s Wail and other relevant on-hit effects at breakpoints are a breeze when you get this leg piece’s block value back almost every turn. Over the course of a long match, the Dynamo can help you save over five to seven life easily. This is the other huge aid this build gets in playing out cards like Blade Runner as well. Not only did you deal anywhere from five to eight damage on your turn, but you also gained a life point back in the form of the block value of Valiant Dynamo, essentially comprising of a nine-life swing off two cards. This is very strong indeed.
In addition to this, Dorinthea also finds more value out of cards like Braveforge Bracers and Fyendal’s Spring Tunic in this build. The deck is always looking to squeeze every ounce of value it can out of its equipment slots, and hence extra resources from Tunic don’t stay around long and extra floating resources can easily be dropped into Braveforge for the attack buff. Finally, we have the choice of Arcanite Skullcap and Helm of Sharp Eye. Although Arcanite is the strictly better defensive choice, I think Helm is yet an unsolved card that presents an interesting option for the deck to cover up some of its weaknesses, which as we’ll see shortly, relates to its high-end damage output.
Although the Axes build makes Dorinthea a new challenge on the defensive side of things, the deck still has some of the inherent flaws that come with the Warrior class. One of these is very much the lack of high-end damage that the top decks in the format can put out. This makes it incredibly difficult to get back into games once you’ve fallen behind by a large margin of health and makes it incredibly difficult to win against hyper aggressive decks once they’ve plowed their way through your equipment.
Since the deck doesn’t have any inherent disruption, you really rely on your Spill Blood and Steelblade Supremacy turns to be very potent, to the point of presenting three solid attacks with your axes to really throw down the damage. However, these are difficult to set up, and aggro decks can blow by you before you do so. Really, as the Warrior player, you want to be able to lure opposing decks to playing midrange into you. With unassuming weapons and an equipment that recovers you one hit point every turn, it’s easy to fool someone into thinking they are doing well when they start to trade cards with you. The moment you can do this, you’ll be able to gain a life lead and whittle them down to those lower life totals where now they need to start respecting your plus 3 attack reactions.
Another weakness of the deck is that there is a relatively poor one-card hand. For the most part, the deck is extremely flexible, putting out great numbers at two cards and above in terms of hand size. However, the one-card hand is almost always an Arsenal play in this Warrior build since the base power of the first axe at two is simply non-threatening in 99 percent of game situations.
I think one of the most interesting things about Dorinthea Axes is that it blows the whole scope of her deckbuilding wide open. Cards like Cash In are viable with Spoils of War and Outland Skirmish being staples in this build. In addition, disruption items like Talisman of Warfare are great to annoy aggro decks and force blocks. If you’re really feeling spicy, attack actions like Pursuit of Knowledge, Snatch and Command and Conquer are also great options to mix it up against aggressive builds and force them to play the midrange game you want.
Lastly, I think Helm of Sharp Eye is legitimately a great sideboard piece in this deck and maybe even main deck depending on your builds. Cards like Stroke of Foresight, Fate Foreseen and Eye of Ophidia, all have incredibly synergy with the headpiece for obvious reasons, and if the deck and player plays this piece well, then it can be the source of that extra high-end damage that this deck needs to put it over the edge and really become a monster.
I really think that as this deck starts to get figured out by the wider community, the latter half of the Everfest meta will be seeing a lot of it. I haven’t felt so excited about the prospect about a deck’s potential since I was building Viserai in the middle of the Tales of Aria meta. In play, the deck functions incredibly and simultaneously has an incredible number of tools available to it in the defensive and offensive sides of it’s card pool to adjust to many metas. Let me know below what you think below about Dorinthea Axes as of now or feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @a_dedanwala if you’re looking for more on the deck.