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Deadly Spectra and Allies in Monarch

Monarch is gearing up to be hugely impactful on the Flesh and Blood meta, and what stands out the most to me from a gameplay perspective are the addition of some new card types and hero types. In particular, I want to touch on how allies and spectra cards fundamentally change tactics, because allies in Monarch add a powerful new dimension to games of FAB.

 

Header - Spectra

Cards with spectra have the following ability: Can be attacked. When [this] becomes the target of an attack, destroy it and close the combat chain. The attack does not resolve.

This comes with a few implications right off the bat.

  • Cards with spectra tend to be aggressively costed when you look at their effects – that’s balanced by the drawback of the opponent getting to kill them with any attack.
  • They’re instants, which means you don’t have to use action points on them, and you should almost always get their benefit at least once before they go away (because you can play them whenever is most beneficial for you).
  • Because they pop when the opponent attacks them, the attack doesn’t resolve. Critically, this means that if the attack has go again, the opponent will not get that action point since that’s contingent on the attack resolving. This is a huge implication, and one that is not obvious on the face of things.

Spectra cards offer a powerful new angle of attack, and look like they will make Prism (the new Light Illusionist hero) a difficult hero to fight against. They tax the opponent when they’re in play, as they have powerful ongoing effects and in order to get rid of them, the opponent has to burn not only an attack, but possibly the rest of their turn.

In some cases, they don’t even have a choice:

 

In what I find to be a very flavorful conclusion, spectra cards look both powerful and extremely aggravating to play against. The opponent is summoning these illusory foes and you have to keep swatting them down, taking damage, losing cards and losing actions in the process. The illusions sap your strength, give the opponent various benefits, and there’s no clean way to defeat them. There are a few things that might help, however.

  • Small attacks are the most effective because it doesn’t matter how little damage your attack would deal. The easiest way to clean up a spectra card is to end your turn on a one or two-point attack aimed at their most annoying aura.
  • Doing it at the end of turn is critical because you aren’t getting go again from the attack that hits the spectra card, meaning you usually want it to go last. That does suffer the drawback of letting them get their benefit for longer, but the alternative is missing out on attacks – sometimes that will be worth it, sometimes not.
  • Depending on the spectra card, you also may be able to just ignore it. You aren’t forced to attack it (Arc Light Sentinel aside) and it’s definitely possible to defeat an opponent with multiple spectra cards in play by just going face.

Overall, this is a powerful mechanic, and these cards look quite impactful. We will learn more once we see how they fare in games, and I can’t wait to try them out.

 

Header - Allies

Allies are the closest we’ve gotten to summoning another hero to fight on your side so far. They attack each turn, have their own health and offer a huge amount of power to anyone who jumps through the hoops needed to get them into play. They operate almost independently of your hero, as you can’t defend them, and really do play and feel like a separate entity. I love the flavor, and the gameplay impact is not small either.

First things first – you can’t just play Blasmophet or Ursur in your deck. They are both created by other cards, each of which is a specialization of a different shadow hero.

 

Note how costly it is to even play these cards. They both require six blood debt cards to play (albeit with a slightly different condition). Doomsday asks that those six cards be in your banished zone, and Eclipse that you’ve played six cards from your banished zone, but either way it’s not a small number. That gives you some hint as to how powerful these two allies are, and let me spoil it for you – they are very powerful.

The opponent is in a tough situation once you have an ally in play. Your ally crashes in for six a turn, and gives you another benefit as well. Blasmophet eats cards from the opposing hero’s soul (flavorful and delicious) and Ursur has go again against heroes with cards in their soul, both benefits that have a big impact. They sound especially good given that new heroes will be more popular than the previous ones at release, since who won’t want to try out the new cards?

Here are the main gameplay implications I see from allies:

  • Decks that want to play them will be very focused on doing so. These allies are designed to be a centerpiece of decks that use them, given how difficult the trigger conditions are to summon them. It’s a high reward but it comes with a high cost.
  • The opponent will likely have to attack your ally right away. They provide too big an advantage to let stand, and have a huge target on them as a result.
  • Allies heal up to max at the end of each turn, meaning that the opponent has to kill them in one turn or not bother attacking them at all.

Most of the time, your ally will hit the board, smash the opponent for six, and then eat six or more points of damage on their turn. That’s a big swing, especially since both Doomsday and Eclipse cost zero once you meet their condition, but I don’t foresee allies sticking around for too many turns. If they do, you’ll win the game in a landslide, so I’m mostly anticipating a short but sweet time in play.

Allies very much punish decks that can’t make big attacks, and especially arcane heroes like Kano. As far as I understand it, cards like Scalding Rain (or any of Kano’s offensive actions) can’t target these new allies, leaving him wholly undefended against Blasmophet and Ursur. That’s a sizable weakness if they become a popular strategy, and certainly a reason to reconsider playing a hero that can’t directly attack.

 

Header - It's Good to Have Friends

Both allies and spectra offer a new angle of attack, and I’m very curious to see what their impact is. We’ll find out soon, and I’m excited to see what effect spectra and allies in Monarch will have on the game.

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