The big blow that can’t be stopped. The rampage of a reckless Brute. A slicing arrow that pierces armor. The ability to get the last big laugh, and the last bit of damage in Flesh and Blood, is all that matters. It doesn’t matter how small your life lead was or how thick your deck was when you won, but if your opponent is at zero, then that’s all you care about. For some heroes, this finishing ability comes substantially easier than others, and allows them to be a huge threat in the late game should they have any sort of offensive window. Although there are different names for this concept, I’ll be calling it “evasion” today, which is a term that floats around the community often. In simple, evasion refers to the quality of a hero to have access to the ability to push through damage. In Flesh and Blood, this can be anything from interfering with blocking, arcane damage or even alternative damage sources entirely. Today, we’ll be exploring all sorts of evasion in Flesh and Blood and detailing out what heroes have access to what levels of it so those that love the ability/mechanic can jump right into them.
Fundamentally, FAB is a back-and-forth game. You’re generally supposed to get the chance to block your opponent’s attacks and stick around for another day. Games with heroes who don’t have the innate ability to evade can easily turn into a grind fest where each of you tries to set up a killing strike. As a result, having the ability to take your opponent’s defenses out of the equations is a valuable piece in this game. However, nothing is free; you must pay the price to gain the ability to evade your opponent. This usually happens by these cards being expensive, card inefficient or simply being a poor rate for damage compared to standard cards.
The simplest manner of evasion of the bunch here, dominate is an ability which only allows your opponent to block with one card from hand. A great and easy way to finish games, dominate usually doesn’t add heavily to the cost of cards and is fairly easy to access within each class. For example, Bravo, Showstopper, and Azalea, Ace in the Hole have the ability printed on them, with the former requiring you to pay a cost to gain the effect and the latter requiring a bit of card manipulation to pull off.
Although this doesn’t require a large cost on its own, dominate is also the most vulnerable form of evasion to alternative forms of defense. Defense reactions out of Arsenal, damage prevention cards and simply good armor blocking can take a lot of sting away from dominated attacks. Although one or two defense reactions here or there is expected, getting shut down at the wrong time, or simply being shut down by a defense reaction after you took extra damage to give an attack dominate, can be quite game-breaking. However, the low cost of this ability usually means it can flex into different game styles. Use dominates sparsely to surprise your opponent with it, or as a consistent addition to every attack you play to help push through on-hit effects consistently.
Currently only available to Brutes, intimidate occurs before opponents have a chance to block or dizzy you with defensive tricks. As a mechanic, it simply removes a card at random from the opponent’s hand this turn, which they gain back at the end of your current offensive turn. This places it in a unique spot to deal damage before your opponent can really block at all. It also means players will have to block with cards they likely weren’t wanting to. This allows for two major things. One is that Brutes can win games they have no business winning, especially if given an opening to play out multiple cards on their offensive turn. Two is that it injects randomness and instability into your opponent’s defensive game plan.
The cost to intimidate however is usually much higher than dominate. It’s quite card inefficient on offense and equally the Brute card pool isn’t equipped with on-hit effects to make the defensive disruption worthwhile outside of damage. Timing up your intimidates when your opponent wants to block, and similarly using them to finish or start games hot, is key to using this mechanic to its fullest.
Arcane damage is a form of damage that while entirely blockable, must be accommodated for. For most classes, this means swapping out their standard equipment for other pieces that have arcane barrier values attached. The more your total arcane barrier, the more you can block at a time. However, blocking arcane damage means you must pitch for each point you wish to block rather than defend normally. As a result, blocking six arcane damage means you need to have six arcane barrier available, and six pitch to spare. Simply put, this is no easy feat, and much more difficult to block than standard damage. Rather than taxing the spare card you don’t need, arcane damage is only efficiently blocked by taxing your blue cards, which represent the main resource pieces during each offensive turn. The difficulty of blocking large amounts of arcane damage, and the cost on offense of blocking any at all with your blues, means that most people tend to avoid blocking it all and will only do so when it threatens lethal damage. Similarly, running multiple instances of arcane damage forces you to lose your power equipment pieces, and many just opt of running much arcane equipment at all.
If you’re catching my drift, you’ll see that although arcane damage is entirely preventable, the cost of doing so is so high that it may as well not be in many cases. This is particularly true against Runeblades, who present lots of small instances of arcane damage over the course of the game. Similarly, its quite often you’ll be finishing games with extra bursts of arcane damage such as with cards like Vexing Malice or Rosetta Thorn.
Arcane damage also brings about the Wizard class, which all but survives on it. Whether playing the combo/burn-type gameplay of Kano or the slower control type of Iyslander, both heroes try to rely on the maximum amount of arcane damage a player can usually block at once being low. Generally, this is around three or less arcane damage at once. Although this type of strong arcane is extremely tricky to block, it does leave Wizards vulnerable to full damage prevention effects like Steadfast, Oasis Respite, Bone Head Barrier and so forth for when they absolutely need to connect with their arcane.
The final type of damage here is alternative types, usually referring to itself mainly as “damage” on any card text. A card that would deal damage to an opponent can’t be interacted with or blocked through any way outside of specific cards that can prevent all forms of damage when played. The general scarcity of these cards means that you can all but be sure this type of damage will absolutely connect once it hits the table. Commonly used as game enders or finishers, these cards are usually a very poor rate in terms of their cost for the damage they do, but they make up for it by providing your deck a way to close games unexpectedly.
Currently, no class specializes in this form of damage, but rather many classes have spurts of cards that allow them to access alternative damage if needed. However, it would not be surprising if in the future, LSS went down this design route and developed a class which could consistently present type of almost unblockable damage.
Evasion is a key piece in any card game. The ability to avoid blocks means you can be sure that your opponent can’t mess with your plans, a powerful ability in any card game. However, for those looking to access evasion mechanics in FAB, it’s crucial to know that there are varying degrees and subsequently varying costs associated with each type. If you’d like to learn more about damage evasion, and specifically about the play lines attached to it, feel free to message me on Twitter @a_dedanwala.