Since taking the leap into Flesh and Blood in April, Guardian (and Bravo) has been my go-to class in both Blitz and Classic Constructed. I started playing the game at the perfect time – Monarch spoiler season was just around the corner. Going into the most recent Blitz Skirmish season, I had the opportunity to build my Guardian list from the ground up, utilizing new cards from the set and some traditional class staples.
As a Guardian player in Blitz, learning the Ira, Crimson Haze matchup was going to be key from the start. In all honesty, it’s a nightmare for Bravo to be facing an Ira player on the other side of the table, but if you know the matchup better than your opponent, know the lines of play that are your bread and butter, and put in the reps, it’s a winnable match.
In ChannelFireball’s most recent Blitz Skirmish, I put up a fifth place result after seven rounds of Swiss (there was no cut to Top 8 in this event), with my one loss being to Abbey Fong’s Bravo. My matches included going against three different Ira players without losing.
Fong’s Bravo is an impressive beast designed with the sole intent of crushing any Ira in his path. It was a scary and unpredictable match when I was facing down a Goliath Gauntlet and Command and Conquer for eight that had its sights set on the card in my Arsenal. Abbey knew just as well as I did that it was one of my two copies of Crippling Crush. I went into the match playing how I always would in the mirror, and that led me to be caught off guard by the Command and Conquer – a card not typically found in most Bravo lists.
I simply can’t detract from the power of Fong’s list or his skill as a player – especially with the incredible finishes he has put up in June’s Skirmish Season, as hard as it would be for me to ever cut Stamp Authority or Crater Fist from my list.
Though this Guardian list isn’t as specialized as Abbey Fong’s against Ira, it should lend to a better, more consistent overall experience against the other class matchups you are likely to face and is more akin to traditional control Guardian.
My list is designed with one of the most important and standard design elements of any good Guardian deck – the 3/3/3 rule. Simply put, most cards in the deck should pitch for three resources, cost at least three resources to play and should defend for three. Out of the 40-card deck list, 24 cards meet this exact criteria. The goal is to have the resources in the late game to pitch for extremely powerful (although costly) threats like Crippling Crush, Righteous Cleansing and Pummel (Red) on top of attack action cards.
The 10 red cards in the deck serve to threaten and pressure the opponent or provide excellent sources of healing and additional value to outlast the opponent as they hit us hard.
Guardian is a patient class – and it’s fine to sit back and block with three cards from hand then swing back with Anothos for four until the deck has been thinned of many non-threat cards and it is more likely that you can chain both copies of Crippling Crush or another powerful threat back to back.
I designed my Guardian list to maximize my consistency and power against the heavyweight contenders of the format. I found Remembrance to be key in many matchups, and especially so against Ira when pulling threats or additional copies of Blessing of Deliverance (Red) to keep me out of lethal range from Harmonized Kodachi plus a timely Razor Reflex (Red or Yellow).
Righteous Cleansing provides an additional source of damage to push through with dominate as well as a tool to disrupt your opponent and gain additional information on what they will likely be trying to do on their next turn. Of course, this is a card that gets better as you learn your matchups. Understanding the crucial cards to banish with the Crush effect will boost your mileage.
Exude Confidence has been an all-star in the format in most of my matchups. When played from Arsenal with a hand of four cards, it threatens 12 damage and does a great Command and Conquer impression in preventing your opponent from playing defense reactions or instants to the chain. I’m so confident (pun intended) in this card’s impact against Kano that I freed up an equipment slot traditionally reserved for Sledge of Anvilheim and made room for Helm of Isen’s Peak for the mirror match when one additional card can make all the difference in setting up an effective Crush attack against the opposing Guardian.
Opt to go first whenever you have the opportunity. Guardian can create a lot of value on the first turn of the game, often without giving your opponent a chance to “mulligan” and block with cards they don’t want in their opening hand.
Anothos is one of the strongest hero weapons in the game. The seemingly innocent hammer swings in for four damage at the cost of three resources or a single blue pitch. Because Anothos constantly checks the pitch zone for two or more cards that cost three or more resources, it can scale up in the blink of an eye when paired with a Pummel (Red) to quickly burst down the opponent.
There are many Anothos lines of play and these are the bread and butter for Guardian. Committing these to muscle memory gives you something to rely and fall back on if the game isn’t going your way. This weapon can be influential enough to sway the course of the game on its own, especially when paired with cards like Blessing of Deliverance.
- Pitch a three-cost blue to swing in with Anothos for four. Pitch another three-cost blue to play a Pummel (Red) once your opponent has under-blocked. Unless they have a defense reaction, Anothos goes from four to 10 damage at instant speed and will push some heavy damage through.
- Pitch a three-cost blue to activate Tectonic Plating and get a Seismic Surge token, floating two resources. Pitch another three-cost blue to swing in with Anothos for six, still floating the two resources. If you have a card in your hand or Arsenal, your opponent will have to assume it’s a Pummel (Red) when deciding how to block, even if you don’t have one.
- Pitch a three-cost card for Blessing of Deliverance, drawing a card and floating one resource that you can spend on Tectonic Plating for a Seismic Surge token. Pitch another three-cost blue to swing in with Anothos for six.
- Put a Blessing of Deliverance in your Arsenal. Block with up to three cards from hand, holding back a single blue pitch that costs three or more resources to play. Pitch the card to play Blessing of Deliverance from Arsenal. Spend the one floating resource on Tectonic Plating then pitch the blue you just drew from the Blessing to swing with Anothos for six.
Try to keep your life total and armor healthy during the early to mid-game. When you have thinned your deck and stored a Crippling Crush or Righteous Cleansing in Arsenal, you’ll be healthy enough to take a big hit without blocking from hand then prepare to launch your counter assault to flip the tempo in your favor. Don’t be afraid to swing in with Crippling Crush without dominate if you have a Pummel (Red) in hand. You can throw this on top to all but ensure that the Crush effect goes off and that your opponent discards an additional card.
If you’re playing first, don’t feel the need to attack if you can set up a number of value-add auras that will provide immense value going into your next turn. Some great examples of this are setting up a turn one Towering Titan or a turn one where you get a Seismic Surge, Blessing of Deliverance and Stamp Authority, putting one card into Arsenal then drawing five cards.
Look to play out your auras whenever possible but keep your life total healthy in the early game. It will matter in most matches.
Because most of the deck is blue and you can run four pieces of Nullrune, Kano has a tough time against this deck if you’re patient and don’t overextend. Against Kano, look to squirrel away a Sigil of Solace into Arsenal and don’t get too aggressive when it comes to attacking. Lean into Anothos, Pummel and Exude Confidence, gaining life with Blessing of Deliverance and using that as an enabler to power up your hammer swings.
Against Ira, always assume your opponent is hiding a Flic Flak (Red) in Arsenal. They’ll try to time it to stop your Crush effects from going off when they suspect a Crippling Crush is coming. Use Pummel (Red) without dominate on the attack to get around this. The goal in this matchup is to gain as much life as possible through Sigil of Solace and Blessing of Deliverance, then using Remembrance to recur either Blessing of Deliverance (Red) or your threat cards like Crippling Crush. Aim to block perfectly with Arcanite Skullcap and stop three damage. There’s very little room for margin of error in this matchup – each point of life matters.
Against most classes that don’t present heavy sources of arcane damage, I run Ironrot Legs. Defending for one is nothing fancy, but it lends to the staggering armor density of the class compared to most others. Against Prism, Time Skippers provides an opportunity or “reset switch” to prevent the opponent from getting ahead and gaining too much value by setting up two auras before I have the chance to destroy the first. For Kano, swap in the full Nullrune set. Against Chane or Viserai, swap the Ironrot Legs for Nullrune Boots.
Good luck out there with Guardian. Practice, practice, practice, and don’t be afraid to experiment with the list and tune it to best match your playstyle. Understanding your lines of play, strategy and what your opponent is trying to do to win the game is essential to getting the most out of a control-style deck like this. This list is well-rounded enough to beat even the most challenging of opponents and put up some impressive results. Until next Blitz season, I’ll be grinding out Classic Constructed with Bravo, but look forward to picking up this Blitz deck once the dust settles.
Drew Cordell’s Bravo Skirmish Blitz
1 Bravo 1 Anothos 1 Arcanite Skullcap 1 Crater Fist 1 Helm of Isen's Peak 1 Ironrot Legs 1 Nullrune Boots 1 Nullrune Gloves 1 Nullrune Hood 1 Nullrune Robe 1 Tectonic Plating 1 Time Skippers 2 Blessing of Deliverance (Red) 2 Crippling Crush 2 Exude Confidence 2 Pummel (Red) 2 Sigil of Solace (Red) 1 Remembrance 1 Righteous Cleansing 2 Blessing of Deliverance (Blue) 2 Buckling Blow (Blue) 2 Cartilage Crush (Blue) 2 Chokeslam (Blue) 2 Cranial Crush 2 Crush Confidence (Blue) 2 Crush the Weak (Blue) 2 Debilitate (Blue) 2 Disable (Blue) 2 Rouse the Ancients 2 Show Time! 2 Stamp Authority 2 Towering Titan (Blue) 2 Unmovable (Blue)