What does it mean to be aggro, play an aggressive strategy or to play the deck seeking to attack the game in Flesh in Blood? In other TCGs like Magic: the Gathering, the aggressive or “aggro” archetype typically means low to the ground, cheap and efficient creatures/threats. These aggressive decks look to end the game quickly over a few short turns by utilizing cards that are at their strongest early on, but often don’t scale well into late game. These decks play and seek to win all before an opponent can establish board presence.
What does being aggressive mean in a game like Flesh in Blood that doesn’t have lands and creatures and no permanents to setup or establish to gain board advantage in the early game? With almost all cards having the flexibility to be used defensively, how does a deck really situate itself to be aggressive from the first turn, keep that tempo and close out games swiftly?
There are a few elements that make decks in Flesh and Blood reflect and play like how you might imagine traditional aggro decks to do so. At a top level, it’s all about establishing pressure on the opponent’s life total from turn one, leaking damage through and keeping them on the back foot. Either you find a big turn that they simply can’t defend efficiently or effectively or the opponent draws a poor defensive hand due to cards like items, potions and two defense cards for which you force damage.
In this article, I’ll explore exactly what these elements that make up an aggressive deck in Flesh and Blood are. My hope is that, by the end, I’ve painted a picture of what it means to be the aggro in this game and how to replicate it in your deck building.
Red Line Decks
One way in which decks or heroes can be built to be aggressively and execute an aggro game plan is with a high density of red line cards. Red line cards have a higher level of power in general, trading off the resource value you get from blue and yellow line cards for extra attacks. Certain attack actions even trade away defensive power for offense. These cards will often be strong candidates for aggressive decks in the red cycle, such as Snatch (Red).
Snatch (Red) is an attack action with just 2 defense but with 4 attack, a number that meets the critical threshold for demanding a red defense reaction, a two card block or for an opponent to use equipment in order to stop Snatch from dealing damage. Red line aggro cards value power over all else and must be cheap to play due to the high density of reds in a deck which makes it almost impossible to reliably play cards with cost greater than two.
A number of classes in Flesh and Blood have very good red line attack actions suited for aggro decks such as Searing Shot (Red), Zero to Sixty (Red), Consuming Volition (Red), Savage Swing (Red) and Torrent of Tempo (Red). Take a look through each class and, in most, you’ll find good, cheap red attack actions. Certain classes like Ninja have a lot more than others, compared to Guardian, for instance, which is a class that has no low-cost red attacks.
While the red line attack actions shine in aggro decks, they can’t do it alone. Non-attack-actions, attack reactions and even certain instances make up a real supporting cast to these aggro decks. Plunder Run (Red) is one such non-attack action that’s a massive standout for its ability to give +3 attack to your next attack action but also enable you to potentially draw even more gas if an attack action hits.
Razor Reflex (Red) is another way to ensure you add damage and push it through on certain attack actions that have added value from on-hit effects, such as Snatch or Searing Shot (Red). Nibilisim (Red), Nature’s Path Pilgrimage (Red) and so many more non-attack actions that can supplement offensive, low cost decks already exist. On the generic attack action side, of course you have Snatch (Red and also the all-stars Enlightened Strike, Scar for a Scar (Red), Life for a Life (Red) and Ravenous Rabble (Red). These last three so important due to their go again ability, which leads us onto another key element of aggro decks…
Red line attack actions with go again printed on them are the real lifeblood of aggressive decks in Flesh and Blood. Attack actions with go again allow an aggro deck to play out full four or five card hands easily, presenting multiple threats on a turn that can, at minimum, push damage, and at best gain extra value from an effect such as Plunder Run (Red). Let’s use an example – an aggro Katsu player starts their turn with four cards in hand and a Plunder Run (Red) in their arsenal.
The Katsu player leads off by playing Plunder Run from arsenal and playing Head Jab (Red) from hand to attack for six. The opponent chooses to defend with two cards for six. The Katsu player, because of go again, can continue to play out their threats, this time playing Leg Tap (Red) by pitching Whelming Gustwave (Blue) to pay for it.
This time, the opponent uses one card from hand to defend for three plus an Ironrot Gauntlet to make it four total; no damage goes through. However, the Katsu player now plays out their Rising Knee Thrust (Red) which comes in for five thanks to combo. The opponent defends with their last card from hand but two damage goes over, triggering the card draw from Plunder Run for the Katsu player to draw another potential attack.
This is a very simplistic example of go again and its application in an aggressive deck, but it illustrates the point of how powerful a go-wide hand can be, especially when coupled with a powerful on-hit effect.
Making the Hits Count
Like Plunder Run (Red), there are many on-hit effects that aggro decks can utilize to their advantage to put together powerful turns, or at minimum, threaten and force defensive decisions opponents don’t want to make. From class cards like Searing Shot (Red) that have 4 attack and aren’t easy to defend and cause extra loss of life, to generics like Snatch (Red) that can draw extra gas to be put into arsenal even without go again as the last card on the chain.
Other staples include Command and Conquer and Life for a Life (Red). There are numerous great on-hit effect attack actions, but again, the non-attack actions play their part, such as Plunder Run, Nature’s Path Pilgrimage (Red) or Mauvrion Skies (Red), the last one being a personal favorite of mine for giving go again to a card and threatening a very powerful on-hit effect.
Playing to the Heroes’ Strengths
Certain heroes and classes lend themselves to aggro decks more so than others. Katsu, of course, is one such hero, as used in the example above, and is especially potent due to the on-hit ability to search up combo pieces to continue a devastating chain. Azalea is also a good aggro option due to her cheap arrow attacks and Red Liner weapon. Dash is a strong, aggressive choice for her ability to have guaranteed go again from Boost and even Runeblade with Viserai due to the low-cost attack actions and on-hit effects that can create big turns of added damage.
While you could go ahead and throw a bunch of red generic attack and non-attack actions into a deck, and even use Kano as your hero if you desired, it really isn’t playing to the Wizard hero’s strengths. Playing a hero like Katsu and leveraging the plethora of aggressive Ninja cards like Leg Tap (Red), Head Jab (Red), Torrent of Tempo (Red) and Soulbead Strike (Red) are going to be so much more effective. You’ll have a higher threat density, a relevant Hero ability and the threat of go-wide combo turns that can inflect hefty damage to an opponent. Lastly, you have access to a much more appropriate suite of weapons and equipment.
Weapons and Equipment Make a Difference
Just as certain hero abilities and class-specific cards are more appropriate for an aggressive deck, so too are certain weapons and equipment. Using the Ninja example again, the Kodachis have the ability to easily gain go again and spread the damage wider, making it inefficient to defend against. Ninja also has access to one of the best equipment pieces in an aggro deck in the form of Mask of Momentum. Mask provides a relevant on-hit effect to your turns for as long as it remains on the table, with the massive threat of a go-wide turn potentially drawing another card and dealing even more damage. Paired with Kodachis, it’s even more threatening.
It isn’t just the Ninja weapons and equipment that are more suitable for aggressive decks. Plasma Barrel Shot in go-wide aggro Dash decks is a great way to end a chain with some big damage. Mandible Claws that can gain go again are great one-handed weapons for an aggressive Brute deck. On the equipment side, you have Vest of the First Fist and Heartened Cross Strap that are great for aggro decks that might not get to six turns to get the equivalent two resources of value out of a Fyendal’s Spring Tunic.
Instead in Vest or Cross Straps, you have access to two resources for the right single big turn, which is really important in decks that are filled with red attack actions and low on resources. Snapdragon Scalers and Bull’s Eye Bracers also great equipment in aggro decks. Scalers gives threatening attack actions like Snatch (Red) go again and Bracers allows a Ranger deck to get an arrow into arsenal and present another attack on a key turn.
Aggro Decks in the Meta
How could I close out this spotlight on aggro in Flesh and Blood without some deck lists? Below I have shared two examples of what aggro decks that utilize the elements of an aggro deck in Flesh and Blood look like. These are both decks that use the above fundamentals and have core strategies that see them look to be the aggressor in almost all of their games.
Katsu Aggro – Classic Constructed
Class: Ninja Hero: Katsu, the Wanderer Weapons: Harmonized Kodachi, Harmonized Kodachi Equipment: Breaking Scales, Fyendal's Spring Tunic, Mask of Momentum, Nullrune Gloves, Snapdragon Scalers (3) Ancestral Empowerment (red) (1) Blackout Kick (red) (3) Enlightened Strike (red) (3) Flic Flak (red) (3) Head Jab (red) (3) Leg Tap (red) (3) Plunder Run (red) (1) Pounding Gale (red) (3) Ravenous Rabble (red) (3) Razor Reflex (red) (3) Rising Knee Thrust (red) (1) Scar for a Scar (red) (3) Scar for a Scar (red) (3) Soulbead Strike (red) (3) Surging Strike (red) (3) Torrent of Tempo (red) (3) Whelming Gustwave (red) (3) Art of War (yellow) (1) Leg Tap (yellow) (2) Mugenshi: RELEASE (yellow) (1) Open the Center (yellow) (3) Springboard Somersault (yellow) (2) Surging Strike (yellow) (3) Energy Potion (blue) (1) Fluster Fist (blue) (3) Lord of Wind (blue) (3) Plunder Run (blue) (3) Rising Knee Thrust (blue) (3) Whelming Gustwave (blue) See the full deck at: https://fabdb.net/decks/WMMDYJbw/
Red Line Azalea – Blitz by Jason Chung
Class: Ranger Hero: Azalea Weapons: Red Liner Equipment: Bracers of Belief, Bull's Eye Bracers, Fyendal's Spring Tunic, Heartened Cross Strap, Perch Grapplers, Skullbone Crosswrap, Snapdragon Scalers (2) Coax a Commotion (red) (1) Command and Conquer (red) (2) Eirina's Prayer (red) (2) Endless Arrow (red) (2) Enlightened Strike (red) (2) Nimblism (red) (2) Pathing Helix (red) (2) Plunder Run (red) (2) Ravenous Rabble (red) (2) Ridge Rider Shot (red) (2) Scar for a Scar (red) (1) Scour the Battlescape (red) (2) Searing Shot (red) (2) Sigil of Solace (red) (2) Sink Below (red) (2) Snatch (red) (2) Take Aim (red) (2) Take Cover (red) (2) Feign Death (yellow) (2) Pitfall Trap (yellow) (1) Remembrance (yellow) (1) Gorganian Tome (undefined)