Welcome back to my Flesh and Blood Fundamentals series, another article geared toward helping you improve your own understanding of the game. This article is intended to hold its own as standalone content, however, it will provide even more value to you as a reader when paired with the other content in the series. Many fundamental concepts in Flesh and Blood tie together to create synergies. Better understanding of one single fundamental concept will aid in your understanding of others – and how they tie together. Ultimately, when you make these fundamentals a mindful part of your play and practice, you will improve as a player. For today’s piece, I’ll be breaking down the concept of weapons, and how they’re used to augment or even create central strategies.
Flesh and Blood Fundamentals Series Articles:
- Flesh and Blood Fundamentals: Bread and Butter
- The Economy of Flesh and Blood Combat
- Improving your Clerical Upkeep
- Learning How to Pitch in Flesh and Blood
- Card Advantage
Unless you’re playing Ranger, Illusionist or Wizard, weapons represent an iconic and powerful piece of every hero’s kit that give an on-demand attack. Think of them as a floating ghost card that you can use as often as you would like, something to rely on to bolster powerful turns or just give you a reasonable counterattack on turns that you had to block with three cards from your hand and only had one card remaining to pitch toward resource costs.
Weapons help augment strategies or even generate entire strategies by themselves. Let’s look at some iconic weapons that make up the bulk of a hero’s strategy:
Harmonized Kodachi, Dawnblade and Anothos are three weapons that see much more frequent use when compared to other heroes. Entire deck strategies revolve around the frequent use of these weapons to grind and whittle down your opponent over time.
Ninja players want to try to set up the recurring attack pattern of swinging both of their Kodachi’s for one followed up with a more powerful attack. The idea is simple: it’s hard to block many instances of one damage spread out across a turn. Death by 1,000 cuts.
If you’ve played against or as Warrior, you know how strong Dawnblade can be when backed by an array of non-attack actions and attack reaction cards. The Warrior’s Reprise mechanic punishes opponents if they do block, and Dawnblade will snowball out of control if the opponent lets it hit too often.
Guardian players wielding Anothos will block with two or three cards from hand on most turns, then swing Anothos back at the opponent for either four or six damage. Over time, Anothos will erode the defenses of the opponent through constant (and efficient) pressure while allowing the Guardian hero to get defensive with the other cards in their hand.
The functional class identity of Warrior is built around weapons and empowering them, even in the case of Boltyn who can be built around attack action cards. Boltyn still wants to swing his preferred weapons when possible, either Radyn, or his dual-wield axes or sabers depending on the build. Some of the most powerful builds revolve around Boltyn’s Lumina Ascension combo to chain an incredible flurry of weapon attacks to generate some staggering damage output.
Does this mean that these are the only weapons that are core to a deck’s strategy? Not at all! While these heroes may use their weapons more than others on average, weapons are important to all hero strategies and building out powerful turns with your cards. Generally speaking, most weapons in the game can attack for a single blue pitch or less (with the exception of Sledge of Anvilheim). If you block with two cards from your hand and only have two left, it’s generally more efficient to save one card for your Arsenal and pitch the other to swing your weapon, unless there was a compelling reason to play out both cards in your hand that turn.
Rangers, Illusionists and Wizards appear to get the short end of the stick in this equation. Unless they choose to play Talishar, the Lost Prince, then their weapons can’t attack by themselves like all the rest in the game. In each of these cases though, their weapon can be used to augment, generate or provide utility for their other offensive mechanisms.
Bows, for example, allow rangers to load and empower their arrow attack cards (which must be fired from their Arsenal in order to attack). Wizards can use their staff to augment the arcane damage from their spells. Illusionists can use their weapons to turn their auras into powerful weapons of their own. For the most part, the weapons are balanced around this reality, but it’s something to keep in mind if you play one of these classes.
Classes like Runeblade will reward you for playing some mix of attack and non-attack actions during the turn before swinging your weapon. You will of course need an attack with go again, but can capture some powerful additional effects for your weapon swing if you can meet this criterion. Rosetta Thorn is a great example. If you manage to play both an attack and non-attack action, you’ll push an additional two arcane damage across the table in addition to the physical damage of the blade.
Efficient use of your weapon(s) is often governed by how you build your deck and what your opponent is doing. Many times, in the case your opponent has a very strong turn, you’ll either just full block, Arsenal and pass or swing back with your weapon.
Attack reaction cards like Razor Reflex and Pummel can be used to empower your weapon and even sneak out a win when heroes are at low life totals. Of course, Warrior has access to an abundance of different attack reaction cards, but these two generics are the ones most widely available to other hero classes. The threat of simply having either one these cards must be respected by your opponent at all times. At low life totals, they need to either over-block or look to hold a lifesaving defense reaction. With Pummel (Red), Anothos can go from four to 10 damage in the blink of an eye. Each Harmonized Kodachi can represent four damage thanks to Razor Reflex (Red). The fact that these can empower always on-demand weapon attacks makes them even more deadly the longer the game goes on.
Weapons give you access to an extra floating “ghost” card that is technically always in your hand. No effect in the game (at the time of writing) can disarm or otherwise destroy your weapon(s). For now at least, your weapon slot is glued to your hero.
Weapons don’t block, but they do typically allow you to attack for a nominal amount by pitching a single card from your hand. When used efficiently, they can dictate the outcome of entire games.
Learning the nuances of your preferred weapon will pay dividends – know the attack patterns and the bread and butter lines that you can fall back on if you run into trouble. More often than not, if your opponent is pressuring you hard, weapons can be one of your greatest tools to dig out of the hole before it gets even deeper. Swinging back for even a little bit of damage will force your opponent to either take some damage and start to close the gap between life total differentials or give you one of their valuable cards from hand and reduce the offensive capability of their next turn. Either way you look at it, you’re better off.
Lean into your weapons correctly and watch them influence the outcome of your games in ways you never thought imaginable.