Most of the time, it feels like we understand our equipment well, even the head slot. Heck, for most of us they are the centerpieces of our decks. The expensive legendary pieces we get to show off and place down at the start of each game. For the most part, a great equipment piece does usually two of these three things:
- Provides defensive value (Arcane Barrier, Spellvoid, Block)
- Provides a long-term value throughout the game
- Provides a short term burst of value
For most legendary equipment slots, they’re usually doing one of or both number one and two very well. The third number though, the short term burst of value is weirdly cast aside in Flesh and Blood. When looking at equipment pieces in a vacuum this makes sense, however, the moment you bring into the variety of gameplay and a well-built deck around these explosive pieces, the argument becomes much foggier.
The head slot has particularly fallen victim to this. Arcanite Skullcap has easily taken over as the de facto headpiece for many classes. Although this head piece does have its place, I would argue that in many cases, the explosive ability on other options is just in good if you have other defensive equipment. Look at Snapdragon Scalers, Goliath Gauntlet, Heartened Cross-Strap and so on. It seems the other slots have all found a medium to include these powerful explosive pieces to complement the consistent legendary ones. Personally, it seems to be that the head piece is the least understood spot in Flesh and Blood. Generally, equipment break down by these mechanisms:
- Head – card manipulation
- Chest – resource manipulation
- Arm – damage manipulation
- Legs – action point manipulation
Out of the four, card manipulation is the least understood in terms of its direct value. What does a mulligan, or Opt, or draw, etc., really do for me in a game where my hand is reset every turn? This fogginess in their use-cases makes players usually default to the steady Skullcap. However, as you’ll see in the few examples below, and the in what we shall discuss a bit later, this can many times be the wrong choice. Let’s take a look at some slightly forgotten headpieces that are actually providing more bang for the buck then we generally think they are.
Although in many matchups, Arcanite Skullcap will be the strictly better choice, there are few where Skullhorn can slide in for great impact. The card manipulation will theoretically allow you to perform a mix of the following:
- Fix a poor hand
- Turn on discard triggers (ex; Mandible Claw, Massacre, Intimidate)
In matchups where Rhinar must be an aggressor, Skullhorn is an incredible option. It allows for the Brute player to turn on Mandible Claws on demand and have a larger go wide turn outside of Bloodrush Bellow. Although in most cases the Arcane Barrier won’t matter, this explosive ability is extremely important during the midgame, where many Brutes can have a tough time getting a control-oriented opponent below the 15 to 20 life threshold. Paired with Mandible Claws, Gamblers Gloves, Scabskin Leathers and possibly a Tunic or Barkbone Strapping, equipping Skullhorn, to me, is the last piece to shift into a highly aggressive game plan in matches where you aren’t sure whether you’ll be able to close out the game very easily.
Make no mistake, Crown of Dichotomy is a powerful equipment piece. With the sheer amount of top deck interaction present in Runeblade non-attack actions, the ability to set your top deck, that too without having to waste a resources from your deck, is incredibly strong.
The challenge so far has always been how to use Crown’s ability with these non-attack actions rather than simply have Crown eat up your one action point. However, with the introduction of Spellbound Creepers, Crown of Dichotomy can now be extremely explosive. Playing a non-attack action with go-again at instant speed with the Spellbound Creepers effect allows cards like Sonata Arcanix, Tome of the Arknight and Tome of Harvests shine as they refuel your hand/resources and allow for extremely explosive turns.
The power to mulligan isn’t yet fully understood in Flesh and Blood. Since we get a full hand reset each turn, it isn’t close to as powerful as it would be in a fixed hand game like in Magic: the Gathering or Pokemon. However, the pairing of Levia and Hope Merchant’s Hood has been a valuable evolution of the hero’s equipment slots.
In the manner in which the top Levia decks currently play, they can’t afford to turn off the gas once they start accumulating blood debt. This means the Levia players need to manage their own graveyard, damage output and sculpt their hands all while defending so they can push their win conditions in the game.
Hope Merchant’s Hood is an incredible support piece to this strategy. The Hood allows for the player to destroy it at any point in time for an optional mulligan, allowing the Levia player to make sure that poor hands turn into decent ones and good hands turn into great ones.
Since Levia really relies on strong Bloodrush Bellow turns, the Hood can also be used to make sure that the offensive output on these turns isn’t a whiff. This flexibility also extends even further in the sense that the Hood can be destroyed without choosing to mulligan any cards. In a pinch, this could get your graveyard to that magic number of three that Shadow Brute cards desperately need so they can be played. Compared to the other two central options, Ebon Fold and Arcanite Skullcap, Hope Merchant’s Hood has an incredibly strong case as the go-to equipment piece for this hero in the head slot.
So what are these pieces providing? Consistency and reliability. Although they’re usually thought to be more random then other slots in their powers, the one-time use abilities of the head slots actually do the opposite – they interact with your deck and game plan in ways that improve your offensive consistency and allows you to make more certain offensive plays rather then being at the mercy of the luck of the draw. In addition, when you start to play these pieces, you open yourself up to greater design space for your hero and more options than you otherwise would have with just Skullcap.
However, as stated above, use them wisely. Due to the nature of card manipulation, these equipment slots have extremely high ceiling and very low floors, so pairing with a consistent game plan and/or other defensive equipment is key to maximizing their value. Next time you’re out playing, try out something unorthodox and put that Skullcap aside – you might just surprise yourself with what hidden power you find!