Rhinar has been my main hero for quite some time now, and although I intend to continue playing him for quite some time, my interest has been piqued (like many other Brute players) by Levia.
The community consensus of her in the early Monarch meta seems to be quite middling. Unlike her other class counterpart, she does not really have a sure-fire way to push through damage (such as big intimidate turns) outside of her high attack totals. As a result, most Brute players have not been able to justify a proper switch over to Levia, or even been able to justify trying her over Rhinar in any sort of competitive environment.
While Boltyn, Chane and Prism seem to have gotten their starts in the meta, Levia is slightly lagging in terms of players piloting her decks. In an effort to try and get some more action for our only Shadow Brute, let’s outline a few thought processes we need to adjust to, or start with, before we start building for Levia.
Intimidate is a hero-defining mechanic, arguably the strongest individual ability in the entire game. Not only does intimidate allow hand-disruption on defense, but it allows for massive blowout turns connecting for 15 to 20 damage. This is the Brute we’ve all known so far, and although Levia has some of these properties, she’s not going to be able to play into this playstyle as well as Rhinar due to her limited intimidating ability.
I’ve also seen a lot of players play “Control Levia” recently, where they try to block up and then eventually switch gears and hit for big damage and dominated attacks to win the game. Although I think this idea has some merit, it hasn’t really shown the potential to break through this strong meta, and really, I think this is just a worse version of Bravo. Bravo’s control ability and blocking ability is much stronger, and his hard-hitting turns are equally, if not more devastating due to powerful crush effects. Another big issue with this archetype is that a lot of Shadow cards really don’t block well, or at all. This is a massive hole in control playstyles and will hurt you much more then it will aid you on offense with this archetype.
Okay, so she doesn’t have the swinging power of Rhinar, and neither does she have the control ability of Bravo. So where do we start with Levia? For myself, I personally like to look at the lore. For almost any card game, main characters are designed with a certain design space, archetype and playstyle in mind. Using our above examples, Rhinar’s lore involves him destroying an entire group of soldiers in the blink of an eye as he goes on an Alpha Rampage. This is the explosive Brute playstyle we all know well. Bravo, on the other hand, is praised for bringing the crowd in and unveiling massive showy turns. This once again is paired with his slow playstyle along with some of the hardest hitting cards in the game.
So, what’s in Levia’s lore? In short, Levia is an unrelenting Shadow Brute, ravenous in her pursuit to fulfil her hunger for flesh. Levia is presented as someone who can take on even the largest foes by simply hitting faster, harder and better then her opponents. This nonstop attack, controlling tempo of the match and simply winning in a fistfight is the design space I believe Levia will best be built up from.
In essence then, we want out Levia deck to absolutely control the match simply through raw damage output. Since Brute has no on-hit effects, our damage output must be substantial. I’m talking about at least eight to 12 damage every turn when things are going well. As you’ll see below as well, this will require us to almost micromanage our Blood Debt to manageable levels where we can be comfortable giving up tempo and taking some damage from it if things go wrong.
So, we understand the basic premise of what our deck should look like. Now how do we implement this in an efficient manner?
Ideally, we want cards that hit hand and are not banishing our entire graveyard away very quickly. A substantial amount of blood debt means our opponent can plainly play defense until we have a slow turn and are forced to eat the life loss. This means is that we must be careful of playing cards that banish cards from our graveyard, and only use those that truly have very strong benefits for doing so.
If we look at Levia from far out, we see a bunch overtuned cards that love go-again and multiple action points. Pairing two of these in a single turn is going to be what allows Levia to win toss-up matchups. In terms of doing this, we can of course use cards from Shadow Brute like Dread Screamer (Red), but there are many Brute cards as well that could very well contribute to allowing these strong turns.
This is going to be the crux of Levia, fueling the discard of 6-attack cards to hit hard first, and then hit harder later with overtuned blood debt cards. Cards like Pulping are going to be key, as they replace the discarded card with another, so you never lose a great deal of card advantage. Cards you can play out of banished, like Deep Rooted Evil, also help mitigate card advantage loss, as you have access to them outside of hand. If you’re feeling lucky, then I think rolling Scabskin Leathers often is going to be of great benefit to Levia as well. Make sure you have Gambler’s Gloves but be sure to have that backup game plan for one action point if you roll less then four.
This is going to be another important part of most Levia decks. Once in a blue moon, you’re not going to have the double action points, and when this comes around, you’re going to need ways to mitigate current blood debt/do big damage.
These cards allow for great damage buffs, along with ways to leverage the cards that are discarded/in banished. These are useful non-attack actions and sidepieces to have in your deck and will be key in certain matchups as well.
Finally, we should talk Doomsday. Doomsday is far easier to pull of then it is Shadow counterpart, Eclipse. In most cases, I think Levia should be running Doomsday and getting Blasmophet, the Soul Harvester out as soon as possible. You’ll essentially be getting a free turn when your opponent decides to attack it, and if they don’t get rid of it immediately, they’ll be in big trouble, nevertheless. Rolling Scabskins for action points and then hitting with Blasphomet and a weapon is a great, low risk way to negate blood debt as well as do almost 11 damage a turn for little risk.
This is going to vary heavily from deck to deck, but I personally feel the choice goes down between Romping Club and Ravenous Meataxe for the most part. Depending on how frequently you’re going to be banishing from graveyard, Ravenous Meataxe may be the play if you need to fuel the random discards often.
Personally, I feel the Meataxe can put you on odd positions at certain times, discarding cards you would rather Arsenal. This luck-based discard makes Meataxe rather situational as a second attack as you could potentially discard the card you intend to arsenal at the end of the turn. In most cases, as Levia runs through her deck rather quickly, I feel like Romping Club will be a solid weapon which will allow her to keep cards in her deck by pitching for it, along with provide a consistent damage source outside of her attack actions.
For me, and I think as an overall sentiment around this hero, Levia is a challenge to build. Getting the balance right of 6 attack, attack actions and blood debt cards, along with other “buff” cards is a tricky act. She doesn’t have the innate explosive power of Rhinar, nor the on-hit effects of heroes like Bravo or Ira. This makes her gameplay style contingent on simply being more consistent and powerful on a regular basis then whomever she’s against. Building an unrelenting attack, alongside making sure she doesn’t deck out or gain an uncomfortable amount of blood debt is key in succeeding with her gameplay wise.