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Learning Flesh and Blood — Guardian Master Class Intro

Part One // Part Two

Welcome to the luscious lands of Aria, where Guardians channel the surrounding powers to unleash powerful blows that crush their foes. Guardian is the class that packs the biggest punch of them all. Sometimes all it takes is one heavy attack to send your opponent spinning. Therefore, setting up big turns and resource management are key components of having success with the class.

This is a comprehensive guide where I will break down every aspect of how Guardian operates, so you have a one stop shop for all your queries and a solid platform to start your Guardian journey.

Class Mechanic – Crush

Crush is how Guardian generates an advantage in the game. All of Guardian’s attacks have a powerful on-hit effect that triggers if it deals 4 or more damage to your opponent. Making one of these hits land can win you the game. Therefore, a lot of Guardian’s gameplay centers around setting up these powerful hits and creating windows of opportunity, where your opponent’s defenses are down.

Crippling CrushRighteous Cleansing

The cost of these attacks are some of the most cost-intensive cards in the game. Therefore, you have powerful auras help you utilize resources on one turn to power up your attack on the next turn. This makes it easier to get the crush effect to hit.

Towering Titan (Blue)Emerging Dominance (Red)

Guardian also uses several defensive auras to protect your resource cards for next turn, as each card matters to unleash those huge attacks.

Stonewall Confidence (Blue)Stamp Authority

Advantages

Other than having the most powerful attacks in the game, Guardian’s weapons hit for the most damage in the game. Anothos is a great tool to maintain control in the game and helps in fatiguing your opponent – something I will discuss further down.

Anothos

The class shines on the defensive side as well. All class cards that block, block for 3 and there are a few options the class has for different types of threats.

Staunch Response (Red)Blessing of Serenity (Yellow)

Disadvantages

With great power, comes lots of charging up. Guardian attacks are very resource intensive; thus, they require you to have lots of cards in hand to use them. This also means your list will be very resource heavy – often running substantially more blue pitch cards than red or yellow pitch cards.

Guardians will often have one big attack per turn, and it’s a rarity seeing the class fire off multiple attacks in one turn. This gives your opponent quite a bit of time to prepare their defenses and respond accordingly to your line of play. I would argue that the skill of a great Guardian player is to mix up their plays between big attacks, hammer swings and set up turns, in a way that leaves your opponent with too many defenses at times and vulnerable to attacks in other times.

As mentioned before, having so many blue pitch cards limit your spaces for threats. You must really distill your big attacks and know what works in what matchup and save these in the game for when they really matter.

Example: Let’s say you have three Crippling Crush in your deck. Early game, you tried to pressure your opponent by throwing out two of these powerful attacks. If they didn’t connect, you are now left with only one copy of the card, and your opponent knows that. This might make closing the game out difficult.

Hero Ability – Bravo

The only Guardian hero for the time being, Bravo helps your attacks connect. For two resources you are drastically limiting your opponent’s ability to block. Although 2 resources is a hefty cost, do note how well it rounds out with some of the most popular blows:

BravoBravo, Showstopper

Bravo’s ability is even more reason to maintain a high blue pitch count in your list.

Dominated attacks are not only a great way of ensuring your crush effects work, but also, it’s a great way for finishing your opponent off. In the later stages of the game, your opponent should start running out of Defense Reactions leaving them more vulnerable to dominate. Also, the effect is just exponentially better the lower life your opponent is.

An interesting aspect of Bravo’s ability is that it dominates all your 3+ cost attacks until the end of turn. Which means there is some room to set up multiple attacks on a single turn to greatly benefit from this ability. This, combined with it working on both Guardian cards and generics, makes it a great way to set up a late game lethal attacks with Last Ditch Efforts.

Example: Picture this, you’re versing Guardian mirror match. Both you and your opponent have been trading blows and defending each other well. Most of the threats are gone, with both decks running low on cards. The life totals are similar on around 10 life each. You have an energy potion out and you’re closing in on running out of cards.

You pitch to pop your Helm of Isen’s Peak and place a Last Ditch Effort in Arsenal drawing your remaining five cards. Your opponent panics tries swinging with hammer, but you just take the damage and drop to 4 life. You sacrifice the energy potion to activate Bravo’s ability, then proceed to Last Ditch Effort your opponent twice with dominate.

They can only block with 1 card per attack, and even if they survive, you swing with Anothos for 6 to really put the pressure on. Even if that’s somehow not enough, chances are they don’t have any cards left for a swing back and on your turn, you can go for your final last ditch effort backed with Anothos to seal the deal.

Weapons

Anothos

This is core of your attacking power and plays a pivotal role in the deck. Anothos performs two core tasks. It threatens up to 6 damage without losing any cards in the process. It also helps to filter through your deck, setting up threats for late game. Attacking with Anothos for 6, means you have pitched two cards for the attack, while on average your opponent would have to block with two cards to stop the attack. This gives you a net gain of two cards over your opponent and serves as the key way of achieving the fatigue strategy.

Do this multiple times over the course of the game, and your opponent will run out of cards! Anothos can also apply significant pressure of 4 damage with a single blue pitch. This means that you can still deal some damage, even if your opponent left you with only one card in hand.

Anothos

Sledge of Anvilheim

This weapon option differs in two ways from Anothos. Not having to rely on 3 or more costs cards means you are a lot more open to the cards you can play in a Sledge based list. Also, the weapon can attack as many times as your resources and action points allow.

For a Blitz list that focuses on Sledge of Anvilheim, check out my other article.

Sledge of Anvilheim

Equipment

Helm of Isen’s Peak

In the same vein of your Auras, Helm of Isen’s Peak helps you set up a big turn. for a single resource, you can pitch, create a surge token, and pop the helm to draw an extra card at the end of your turn. This gives you a similar effect to Showtime that you constantly have in play. In late stages of the game, when your opponent is slowly running out of threats, this can be the means of getting an advantage. You pop the helm, set a powerful attack in Arsenal, while getting an extra card to block with and secure enough resources to push through the damage following turn.

Helm of Isen's Peak

Tectonic Plating

This is the staple of how Guardian starts most of their turns. By being able to channel your resources in current turn into the next turn, you can salvage those situations where you were left with extra resources. Also, the surge token works well with several Guardian attacks to make it easier to dominate them – Spinal Crush and Disable can now be played and dominated with two blue cards, or outright play them – Crippling Crush can be played with two blues or Mangle can be played with a single blue pitch. on top of that, the total of three blocks with your armor makes a lot of matchups more bearable.

Tectonic Plating

Crater Fist

Even with just the block for 2 followed by the block for 1, this would have been the staple for the class arms slot. This is what you will be using it 95% of games for. The added Goliath Gauntlet-like ability gives you an option to push through a bit more damage if you have the resources. This would mainly happen if you have some energy potions out or have generated some extra cards in hand with things like Show Time.

Crater Fist

Ironrot Legs

This is the go-to equipment for matchups with strong on-hit effects, such as Warrior and Ninja. When paired up with Crater Fist, Arcanite Skullcap, and Tectonic Plating, it gives you the strongest combination of armor in the game when it comes to defense.

Ironrot Legs

My Current List

Deck List via fabdb.net

Class: Guardian
Hero: Bravo, Showstopper
Weapons: Anothos
Equipment: Arcanite Skullcap, Crater Fist, Ironrot Legs, Mage Master Boots, Nullrune Boots, Nullrune Gloves, Nullrune Hood, Nullrune Robe, Tectonic Plating

(3) Command and Conquer (red)
(3) Crippling Crush (red)
(2) Disable (red)
(2) Mangle (red)
(3) Pummel (red)
(3) Sigil of Solace (red)
(3) Sink Below (red)
(3) Spinal Crush (red)
(2) Staunch Response (red)
(2) Remembrance (yellow)
(3) Righteous Cleansing (yellow)
(3) Springboard Somersault (yellow)
(1) Tome of Fyendal (yellow)
(3) Buckling Blow (blue)
(3) Chokeslam (blue)
(3) Cranial Crush (blue)
(3) Crush the Weak (blue)
(3) Disable (blue)
(3) Emerging Dominance (blue)
(2) Energy Potion (blue)
(3) Last Ditch Effort (blue)
(1) Lunging Press (blue)
(1) Potion of Strength (blue)
(3) Show Time! (blue)
(3) Stamp Authority (blue)
(3) Towering Titan (blue)
(3) Unmovable (blue)
fabdb.net

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General Strategy

This segment discusses my list down below. It leans towards the control/midrange deck type, with some explosive turns when needed. The aim of the game sounds simple – crush your opponent with big attacks. In practice this is a little bit harder. First, most players know what you are trying to do. Defense Reactions like Unmovable and high defense armor makes it tricky to land those powerful attacks. The big question is, when is the best time to strike? Try and work out if your opponent is playing aggressively or defensively.

Against Aggro

An aggressive player will try and race you down and use pressure to stop oncoming attacks. This often includes classes like Ninja, Ranger and Warrior. Aggressive classes tend to forgo their Defense Reactions for more offensive cards; hence their defenses are lowered. In this kind of matchup, you want to block the attacks that matter, stay reasonably on par with the life totals and create a window to get a big hit in, that regains you the momentum of the game. Usually, you will have to rely on your equipment blocks to stop their attack, while saving cards in hand to deliver a powerful blow back.

Example: You are facing an aggressive Ninja. Turn after turn, they’ve been laying down multiple attacks to get chip damage through. You tend to block with two to three cards a turn and swing back with the hammer, while laying down Defense Reactions in Arsenal.

Halfway through the game, you draw a Spinal Crush, which you put in Arsenal after generating a Surge token. Your opponent goes for another big turn, you use up the two cards you don’t need in hand to block up the attacks alongside some equipment pieces. Now with 2 blues, you can dominate your Spinal Crush and hit the Ninja to shut down their next turn. If your attack lands, they’ve taken a bunch of damage and the crush effect significantly slows them down. Now you can draw up and set up another huge blow for the next turn.

Against Defense

Defensive decks tend to rely on big Defense Reactions to stop Guardian’s big hits. Since you don’t have many, this can be quite troublesome if they get constantly shut down. The game plan in a situation where you can tell your opponent is sitting on a big Defense Reaction is simply to wait it out. If you don’t use a big attack to attack into it, you’re clogging up their Arsenal, forcing them to rely on four cards to put pressure on you. This makes it easier to block and often leaves you with 1-2 cards to simply pitch and swing with your hammer.

While the game goes on, those hammer swings start stacking up, either on their life total or by forcing blocks, thus fatiguing your opponent. While you are pitching your big attacks to the bottom with a decent cushion of blues and not expending any cards, they’re slowly losing cards in their deck. Also, they keep drawing these Defense Reactions, which are not helping them pressure you. Eventually, your big attacks start coming back, with a bit of skill you can spread those out in a way that you draw one big attack and three blues, which means you consistently get the “dream draw”. They might finally use their big Defense Reaction on the first attack, but chances are they won’t be able to deal with the follow-up attacks.

Auras are also a great way to push over resources from one turn onto the next to punch through the big defenses. Cards like Towering Titan and Emerging Dominance help you set up those huge attacks that should punch through even the strongest of Defense Reactions.

Adding an Element of Surprise

As mentioned before, Guardian is a slow class. Many of your plays are quite predictable. Auras land a turn earlier, giving your opponent time to prepare for what’s to come, your big hits require lots of cards, so not blocking is a bit of a signal that you’re gearing up for a play. Even Pummel is quite predictable – got two spare resource points or an extra card in hand? Chances are it’s a Pummel. To add a bit of guesswork for your opponent and leveraging a bit of bluffing is a great way to create an advantage for you. This is where instants come in.

RemembranceSigil of Solace (Red)

Having instants in your deck can create situations where it’s hard for your opponent to read what you are trying to do. You might be holding up a Sigil of Solace with a card in Arsenal, making your opponent think you have a Pummel. This can make their blocks a bit different and can lead to them overextending their blocks, while you simply gain some life and relieve some pressure for their next turn. Remembrance plays a similar role. You can bluff Pummels with it, you can use it to pitch to Staunch Response, but most importantly, you can use it to get back those precious big attacks from your graveyard as you start running low. Another use for instants is countering the Command and Conquer play. Sitting on a red Sigil of Solace in Arsenal can make your opponent think they have a prime target for the Command and Conquer. They attack, you block with a card and pop the Sigil of Solace, and their plan is cancelled.

Next up, I will discuss the different archetypes of Bravo and their matchups!

Thanks for reading.

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