Flesh and Blood’s Tales of Aria release presents the next generation of challenges for aspiring deckbuilders all over the world. In addition to determining the best cards of the new set to include in deck lists for each of the three new heroes, players will also have to optimize the elemental ratios in their decks between element-specific cards that interact with fuse, and elemental action cards that leverage those fuse single-element cards to enable powerful additional effects.
In fact, the deckbuilding challenge and necessity of getting the ratio right is amplified by the fact that most of the element-specific cards (earth, ice, lightning) only block for two points of damage. In a pinch, having access to block 3+ cards can be essential to staying alive in the late game as the battle approaches fatigue.
What we’re left with is two unique though complimentary problems to solve when looking to build the new Tales of Aria heroes: first, the elemental ratio should be optimized and adjusted to maximize the number of block 3+ cards and minimize the need of individual element cards required to reliably fuse your action cards. After that problem is solved, players can then determine the resource cost of their deck and select their color strips for pitches accordingly.
Oldhim and Lexi both use their hero power to interact with the individual element cards within their decks in some way. Lexi gains incremental value from flipping ice or lightning cards from Arsenal, and can activate her second arsenal slot via New Horizon at the same time. Oldhim can use his defense reaction to protect against additional damage, or force an opponent to put a card from hand on top of their deck. Briar, on the other hand, does not interact with individual element cards via her hero ability. Likely, Briar will be the Tales of Aria hero out of the three that will stand to gain the great benefit by prioritizing only earth or only lightning cards.
It would not surprise me to see the best versions of Lexi that will emerge in the new meta having some blend of both ice and lightning fuse cards. Of course, when more than one element is introduced, the consistency of being able to reliably fuse your attacks will decrease.
I’ve been heavily building and experimenting and optimizing my Oldhim lists for Blitz and Classic Constructed. You can check out my guide with the best day-one Oldhim you can sleeve up right here. While I prioritize a much greater ice to earth ratio, the importance of having some earth cards for Oldhim’s ability and infusing Oaken Old cannot be overlooked. Out of the three elemental heroes introduced with Tales of Aria, Oldhim will likely run the highest element card count so that he has reliable access to a blue ice-card to pitch toward Winter’s Wail.
The greatest challenge of deckbuilding with the Tales of Aria heroes will be consistency.
By far, one of the most useful tools for the aspiring elemental deckbuilder is the Hypergeometric Calculator. When calculating individual and cumulative probabilities for a model, this is the best, simplest tool to get the job done. This tool models the mechanics of TCGs in understanding the variance presented by shuffling the main deck (randomizing it) at the start of each and every game. It will serve as our starting point for understanding the mechanics behind fuse.
It should be noted that even with the help of this powerful tool on your side, there will be variance that will not go in your favor, despite the odds. After the release of Monarch, I used the Hypergeometric Calculator to great extent when constructing my Levia list for Blitz. Despite all my work, the variance and lack of true consistency remains the greatest roadblock for me to play the deck more competitively given the current card pool for the Shadow Brute “hero.”
- To use the Hypergeometric Calculator, select the population size of the deck. This will usually be 40 or 60 cards.
- Set the number of successes in the population – in this case, how many element-specific cards you are playing.
- Set the sample size to four – this will represent a hand of cards drawn from the deck.
- Set the number of successes in the sample (x) to 1.
Calculate and examine the results:
We see that with 15 element-specific cards out of 40, the chances of having one or more element-specific cards to use toward our fuse actions is 86 percent. To get to the 90 percent mark, that count needs to be increased to 17 cards. In my own version of Oldhim for Blitz, I run the 15-25 ratio of element-specific to non-element cards in the list.
You can tinker with the math on both the element and elemental card side to understand how the math changes with different compositions. When you land on a ratio that feels ideal on paper, experiment with the deck list and see how it feels to play against an opponent. Are element cards showing up too often to always make good use of them? Are they not showing up enough and you’re often using your elemental action cards without their powerful fuse bonus effects? Tinker the list over time and make adjustments as needed.
The beautiful thing about fuse is that it usually creates an excess card at the tail-end of the interaction. Element cards used to fuse are not consumed and are often left in the player’s hand at the end of the turn to either arsenal or pitch next turn for resources. Because of this, many cards used for fuse costs are often pitched and returned to the deck, improving the ratio in the player’s favor over time as they spend elemental cards that fuse for bonus effects and recycle the card that was fused for later use.
Though many of the individual element cards aren’t as strong as their elemental counterparts, the consistency and probability of fusing will gradually improve over time as the game draws on and players start to thin some of the threats from their deck.
In the case of Lexi especially, this could create a negative situation in that you no longer have enough arrow attacks to fuse with your elemental cards and are forced to attack with the much-weaker element cards themselves. Since Lexi doesn’t have a traditional weapon compared to almost every other class, beware the potential fatigue and be mindful of how you pitch for the late game.
Each element will have standalone cards that will provide greater value than others. These are the cards that hold up on their own, or lend to your deck’s overall strategy. Of course, different strategies will want access to different cards and pitch values. These are some of the standouts from each element that you may want to consider depending on which hero you are building:
For earth, look to play cards like: Autumn’s Touch, Channel Mount Heroic, Earthlore Surge, Tome of Harvests and Sow Tomorrow.
In ice, look to cards like: Channel Lake Frigid, Ice Quake, Polar Blast, Amulet of Ice and Winter’s Grasp.
For Lightning: Channel Thunder Steppe, Weave Lightning, Lightning Press, Ball Lightning, Heaven’s Claws and Electrify.
While this is by no means an end-all be-all guide on how to best build the new heroes and adjust them to the new meta, it will serve as a great starting point for aspiring deckbuilders as they look to explore the new heroes. The elemental ratios of each hero will likely shift over time in response to the changes in the meta as players discover what the best cards are to include, and how often they are attempting to leverage these elemental interactions on top of the other lines of plays and strategies present within their decks.
What other tools are you using to build the new Tales of Aria heroes? Join the conversation and let me know in the comments below!