Briar is the new Ruleblade hero introduced in the newest set, Tales of Aria. Briar is an Elemental hero with the essence of Lightning and Earth. Lightning helps Briar go-wide, spitting out a bunch of attacks, while Earth gives her access to big hitting attacks and a graveyard recursion package. Briar is the only Elemental hero that does not explicitly rely on her Elements – Earth and Lightning – to function. Combined with one of the biggest, if not the biggest card pool, this gives Briar an extremely wide range of deckbuilding possibilities. In this article, I will outline key tips for starting your deckbuilding journey, as well as some general Briar gameplay tips.
Briar is possibly the most challenging hero to build a deck for out of the new Tales of Aria additions. With a huge array of Equipment, weapons and card pool, mixing and matching these can be overwhelming. Unlike the other two Elemental heroes, Briar’s build does not focus on her weapon and equipment, which is why I recommend those as secondary considerations in the deckbuilding process. When deciding what direction you want to take, the best thing to do is have a clear idea of what unique characteristic of Briar’s toolbox you want to focus on. Is it her access to Embodiments of Earth? One of her powerful majestics? Or maybe her access to Lightning arcane damage and damage multipliers? Having a clear goal of what you want to achieve can help you focus and streamline your deck list.
Briar has access to some powerful Majestics, but are extremely specific to obtain their full power – these often demand full build around. Specifically, cards like Fulminate, Blossoming Spellblade and Flicker Wisp are great examples of cards that require a lot of card support to make work.
Let’s take Flicker Wisp for example. First, this card is a Lightning fusion card. Second, it amplifies arcane damage dealt from action cards – not just attack action cards, all action cards. This means cards like Inspire Lightning, Rites of Lightning and Arcanic Shockwave all gain arcane damage boost. Streamlining the list to Lightning only can help with fusion consistency. Cards like Ball Lightning and Amulet of Lightning are great at enabling fusion and work well with the overall strategy of the deck. Looking at older cards, Monarch has interesting options like Vexing Malice and Arcanic Crackle that not only can help you make the most from a fused Flicker Wisp, but can help enable Embodiments of Earth to set up your combo. I hope this example can help you to streamline your deck building process. This works for any deck concept for Briar you might think of.
Once you settle on a streamlined strategy, refining the deck list can come down to getting some game practice. What might look great on paper, for Briar, might not play out the same in practice. This is because most of the time, Briar requires four or five-card hands to shine.
In order to create and then utilize an Embodiment of Lighting token, you need to play two non-attack action cards, then play an attack action card and be able to follow it up with another attack action card or a weapon swing. To get a good flow to your turn, you’ll need a good mix of non-attack action cards, attacks and on top of that the Elemental mix of fusion or Element cards to pull it off. One of the common ways of achieving this is to first focus on zero-cost non-attack action cards and two-cost attack action cards. This way, you can play the two non-attack action cards for free, play your attack for two and then swing with either Rosetta Thorn or Reaping Blade with a blue pitch card. This is a good start to the play pattern of one type of Briar deck, but there are so many patterns for this hero that it’s very context dependent. All in all, the refinement stages can be the most challenging. Finding the right mix of cards, Element ratios, pitch ratios and on-attack to attack card ratios is a lot of variables and will require testing. This, again, is why having a strong initial deck strategy will help you to stay on course.
The challenge to build a strong and consistent Briar deck is something I’ve definitely found extremely fun. The trial and error to not only figure out your strong starting 60 and then working out the pre-board options will take time. Equipment and Weapons come secondary, but be aware of how much these can change depending on the matchups.
If you have no idea where to begin your Briar journey, and want to explore her play patterns first, I recommend starting with a non-Element approach. Cards like the Belittle and Minnowism package could be a good start with simple interactions. Another great way to get an idea of how Briar plays is to play Limited formats like Sealed and Draft can help you familiarize yourself with different card interactions and play patterns. Ultimately, the complexity of the hero is lots of fun if you like a challenge and the unique Elemental cards give a fresh new feel to what a Runeblade can be.