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Building Big Blue Guardian Control with Bravo

With Everfest right around the corner and spoilers firing up, it’s a great time to explore an exciting new archetype shaping up to be a viable option for both Blitz and Classic Constructed: what I’m coining Big Blue. Based on the formats and strategies present, I expect this to be more powerful and viable in Blitz, and it’s certainly something I’m extremely excited and eager to experiment with.

The idea is relatively simple: create a strong ratio of blue to reds to pay costs, enable blocking, and greatly power up offensive all-stars like specialization cards, and Exude Confidence. Wherever possible, take advantage of big blues – blue cards that come in for large amounts of attacking damage that you are more or less happy to play at any point in the game. These big blues aid in paying costs, blocking, and empowering cards like Rouse the Ancients for added pressure and value. We will also have a much easier time paying the cost of Tear Asunder on top of whatever attack we hope to pair it with.

Exude Confidence (Regular)Rouse the Ancients (Regular)Righteous Cleansing (Regular)Remembrance (Regular)

Typically, with Bravo and Oldhim, I’ve run anywhere from 12 to 16 reds in my competitive lists over the seasons. For a Big Blue variant, the goal is to cut that down anywhere from six to eight, with a couple strategic yellows like Righteous Cleansing, Remembrance and potentially Tome of Fyendal tucked in the list for added power and utility.

Guardian is a resource-intensive class, the more blues we have in the deck, the more we can spend on creating power plays and ensuring we have the gas needed to pay for heavy hitters like Exude Confidence, Righteous Cleansing and Crippling Crush, as well as activate Tectonic Plating more frequently. Some of the strength in pitching big blues early and often is that they gain incremental value the longer the game goes on.

Because we run a lighter red count in hopes of getting constant value from roughly 29 blues out of the 40 cards, this will be a grindy deck that leans on Anothos as much or more than other Guardian lists. Of course, we jam the deck full of plenty of 3+ cost cards to empower the hammer from four to six power in the blink of an eye and grind our opponent down. Just be prepared to thin your own deck (increasing the threat density of your power cards) and block heavily with blues from hand on any given turn. We run fewer defense reactions than many other Guardian variants as the deck leans much heavier on the blues.

 

 

Header - Building Big Blue

Bravo, Showstopper (Regular)Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity // Shiver (Regular)Valda Brightaxe (Regular)

While we do not know all of the new cards coming to Everfest for Guardian, Big Blue is centered around getting value from our extra blue count and having the tools needed to beat out the competition. While it means cutting some reds from the list. I expect Big Blue to be viable for all three Guardian heroes: Bravo, Oldhim and Valda, though we will certainly need to see what other cards emerge to crown the king or queen of the archetype. As an added bonus, the sky-high blue count helps drastically improve our match against Wizard thanks to having excess resource fuel for our arcane barrier, provided of course we can still gain some life through the likes of Blessing of Deliverance, Tome of Fyendal, Heart of Fyendal and Sigil of Solace.

Of course, with much fewer red slots in the list, we need to get extremely strategic with the ones we want to include.

Assuming eight reds, in a Big Blue Blitz list, (with spoilers at the time of writing), I would typically try to include:

With this build, Pummel (Red) will typically get the axe, though it may be perfectly viable to include it and boost the reds to 10 instead of eight.

On the yellow front, we’d want to include at least the one-of Righteous Cleansing and a Remembrance, potentially carving room for Tome of Fyendal if the life gain package is going to provide additional value.

On the defense reaction side, we get more value from Staunch Response (Blue) in that we will have the resources to pay the optional additional cost. Cutting reds in the deck means trimming powerhouse defensive cards like Sigil of Solace, Sink Below and Fate Foreseen, though there may be reason to reintroduce Sink Below as it provides a way to filter hands, perhaps ones that have too many reds/yellows.

 

Header - The Core Staples

Exude Confidence (Regular)

Exude Confidence takes center stage in this list. When played from Arsenal and backed by a hand of four blues, this attack represents 12 damage that can be pumped up at instant speed. The text of Exude Confidence all but ensures our opponents will be unable to play their defense reactions to the chain. This really is a damned if you block, damned if you don’t type situation. Exude Confidence, when backed with enough resources, will either strip tons of cards from your opponent’s hand or push some massive damage through. In a pinch, this card also can be played as a reasonable zero-cost attack for four.

The Big Blues

In addition to having the resources needed to pay our costs, we also want our big blues to stand their own when played or used for their flexibility in enabling Rouse the Ancients into a swing of the hammer.

Disable (Blue) (Regular)Cranial Crush (Regular)Glacial Footsteps (Blue) (Regular)

Disable (Blue), Cranial Crush and Glacial Footsteps (Blue) make up the biggest of the blues available to us as guardians, with Glacial Footsteps being only available to Oldhim.

Macho Grande (Blue) (Regular)

Perhaps the most exciting new big blue we have seen in Everfest previews thus far is Macho Grande. In the blue slot, this is a seven-cost card that comes in for eight power with built-in dominate. Perfect for the type of strategy we are trying to build with big blue. On it’s own, this represents a very strong turn one play to throw at our opponent and gives the incentive to go first in many matches.

Firebreathing (Regular)

Another new card spoiled in Everfest is Firebreathing: a two-cost red attack that comes in for three with three defense. As an instant (any number of times) you may give Firebreathing +1 attack for one resource, only while it is attacking. This gives us yet another exceptional outlet to sink additional resources and present a situation to our opponent that creates an attack that is difficult to block well. Unlike with Exude Confidence, however, our opponent will be able to use defense reactions in this case. But, Firebreathing can also be Pummeled thanks to its base cost of two.

Medium blues such as Buckling Blow, Debilitate and Chokeslam, all with six power, help bridge the gap and supplement the big blues as both fodder for Exude Confidence and Rouse the Ancients, and for popping phantasm attacks.

Notably, we need to make some trade offs for this type of build and strategy. With Command and Conquer being used in so many decks and strategies, excessive defense reactions become a liability, even powerhouse cards like Sink Below and Fate Foreseen (Red) lose value quickly. We opt for Staunch Response and Unmovable blues as defense reactions to meet the three-cost criteria of Blessing of Deliverance, Stamp Authority and Anothos while providing some extra defense capability against anything not named Command and Conquer.

Cards to Explore

Show Time! (Regular)

Sigil of Solace (Red), Show Time!, an additional copy of Righteous Cleansing, Command and Conquer, Pursuit of Knowledge, Thump (Blue), Lunging Press and anything else coming out of spoiler season may be viable candidates to boost this type of strategy and empower the list.

Perhaps Everfest will bring some exciting new Guardian boots – something Guardian mains have been eager for having no class-specific equipment in this slot. If that were to occur, there could be reason to explore strategies outside Mage Master Boots/Tome of Fyendal in this build.

While this is certainly a rough draft and something bound to change after Everfest spoilers are revealed, this would be my first crack at Big Blue in Blitz as Bravo:

 

Bravo Big Blue - Drew Cordell

Class: Guardian
Hero: Bravo
Weapons: Anothos, Titan's Fist
Equipment: Arcanite Skullcap, Crater Fist, Mage Master Boots, Nullrune Boots, Nullrune Gloves, Nullrune Hood, Nullrune Robe, Rampart of the Ram's Head, Tectonic Plating

(2) Blessing of Deliverance (red)
(2) Crippling Crush (red)
(2) Exude Confidence (red)
(2) Sigil of Solace (red)
(1) Remembrance (yellow)
(1) Righteous Cleansing (yellow)
(1) Tome of Fyendal (yellow)
(2) Blessing of Deliverance (blue)
(2) Buckling Blow (blue)
(2) Chokeslam (blue)
(2) Cranial Crush (blue)
(2) Debilitate (blue)
(2) Disable (blue)
(2) Embolden (blue)
(1) Heart of Fyendal (blue)
(2) Rouse the Ancients (blue)
(2) Pummel (blue)
(2) Stamp Authority (blue)
(2) Staunch Response (blue)
(2) Tear Asunder (blue)
(2) Unmovable (blue)
(2) Macho Grande (blue)
See the full deck at: https://fabdb.net/decks/jVZaJbNM/

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