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Suit Up! Choosing the Best Equipment in Flesh and Blood

Picking the right equipment and weapons against different Heroes is an important first step to success in any Blitz game. With Skirmish season in full swing, today’s article is here as a quick guide to reference if you’re unsure about what to play in certain matchups in (and against!) the most popular decks. While some of these may be obvious to experienced players, I know when Blitz first started in earnest after the release of Crucible of War that I certainly struggled to get the right mix!

In specific matchups, I’ve provided multiple options for a particular slot where it either depends on your particular deck build for the Hero or there isn’t a strong consensus choice. In the latter case, I’ve put in bold the option that I believe is the default choice and likely run by most players.

 

Header - Dorinthea

Dorinthea

 

Ira / Dorinthea / Rhinar (and all other non-Arcane damage Heroes)

The explanation behind this setup is fairly simple. You want to utilize the full potential of the “Fridge,” a nickname for Dorinthea’s equipment derived from its ability to defend a single attack for up to seven damage. The chest, arms and leg slots also have relevant abilities that help Dorinthea to pull off massive turns for a ton of damage.

 

Kano

Against Kano, you want to have access to Arcane Barrier 3 to prevent up to three damage from their “spells” (Wizard non-attack actions) by pitching a single blue card. The armor isn’t relevant against Wizard, as they generally don’t play any attack actions. Refraction Bolters is the sole non-Arcane Barrier equipment that’s played, as it has the highest impact in the matchup. It allows you to give your weapon go again on a successful hit, which can really put the opposing Kano player under pressure when they’re trying to hold onto a good hand to burn you out.

 

Viserai

Keep in mind that you only need Arcane Barrier 1 to defend against any number of Runechants, as each Runechant counts as a single source of Arcane Damage. Arcanite Skullcap is the least impactful piece of equipmen,t as it doesn’t have any relevant additional abilities in this matchup beyond blocking. The most common form of Viserai in Blitz is the OTK (One Turn Kill) version. You’ll almost certainly be on higher life the entire game up until they go for their big kill turn, meaning Skullcap will probably only block for one anyway.

 

Header - Ira

Ira, Crimson Haze

 

Ira / Dorinthea / Rhinar (and all other non-Arcane damage Heroes)

These choices (outside of the weapons) are fairly self-explanatory. They give you access to a mixture of equipment that can block when necessary and also have relevant abilities in these matchups.

I’ve occasionally seen players run Breeze Rider Boots in certain matchups, such as Dorinthea, but Snapdragon Scalers should be your legs slot of choice. The Scalers allows you to pull off explosive turns with cards such as Soulbead Strike, Torrent of Tempo, Snatch and Enlightened Strike. It also allows you to skip combo lines for important combos such as Crane Dance into Find Center or Heron’s Flight.

Regarding the weapons, some players prefer to run a Zephyr Needle / Kodachi set up against Dorinthea and Rhinar. I can certainly see the merits in this, as both decks tend to run minimal amounts of defense reactions that can destroy the Needle, and Razor Reflex can be played in response to a defense reaction to keep your Needle alive.

This decision comes down to your play style and risk tolerance. Personally, I prefer the double Kodachi setup as it’s the most consistent and doesn’t require you to have Razor Reflex to bail you out of difficult spots. Zephyr Needle is better at putting more pressure on the opponent as the additional point of damage over multiple turns can certainly stack up quickly.

My issue with this strategy is that it can lose you an otherwise very winnable matchup by randomly getting blown out by a Steelblade Shunt, Reckless Swing or Springboard Somersault in the early stages of the game if you try to bluff a Razor Reflex and get called on it by your opponent. In saying that, if you feel like you’re playing against a more experienced opponent and need something that might help level the playing field, don’t be afraid to play Needle and go for gold!

You might potentially consider running Gambler’s Gloves in the Rhinar matchup, particularly if you’re also expecting a decent amount of Kayos in your local meta. This choice comes down partly to personal preference in both this and the Kano matchup. If you’re playing a slower Ira build, you’ll probably need four pieces of Nullrune for Kano and thus you won’t have space for Gambler’s Gloves in your 11 slots. Personally, I find that Gambler’s Gloves isn’t strictly necessary against Rhinar, but it does help protect you against variance if you’re expecting to see a lot of it over a long tournament.

 

Kano

You need an absolute minimum of Arcane Barrier 3 in this matchup in order to survive. Ira runs a ton of blue cards, so your deck has the resources to consistently be able to block at least three damage while still maintaining pressure.

The more controversial decision in this matchup is whether to play Snapdragon Scalers or Nullrune Boots. As mentioned earlier, if you’re running a more control-focused build then you may need the full four pieces of Nullrune to allow you to consistently chip damage while still having the maximum amount of defense possible against Kano.

On a more aggressive build with cards such as Leg Tap (Red) and Snatch (Red), I find Snapdragon Scalers to often be the stronger choice. It allows you to be proactive in the game and look to end it quickly before they can set up their big turns to power through your Arcane Barrier. A turn that goes something like Kodachi, Zephyr Needle, Snatch/Torrent of Tempo (Red)/Soulbead Strike can be very difficult to block correctly for the Kano player as you can represent go again every single time through either Razor Reflex or Snapdragon Scalers.

Finally, if you know your opponent is playing two Unmovable (Blue), a decision played to great success by Jasin Long at The Calling, you may want to consider running two Kodachi to avoid the possible early blowout by them destroying your Needle.

Again, this will often come down to your deck build. More aggressive strategies may be comfortable with ignoring this threat and relying on their damage output to win on a turn where the Kano player is required to use two cards to destroy Needle (pitch card + Unmovable). Additionally, if they don’t draw it until later in the game, it may be too late to be relevant. For slower Ira builds, double Kodachi is the safer choice as you have fewer powerful attacks to fall back on if your core strategy of Kodachi chip damage is disrupted by Unmovable.

 

Viserai

Similar to Dorinthea’s equipment choices for this matchup, you want to take out the least impactful piece of equipment for a single Nullrune. In this case, Breaking Scales is weaker than your other choices as it tends to only represent one armor and +1 damage at some point in the game. Your other equipment slots have either passive or activated abilities that can threaten Viserai throughout the game. 

 

Header - Rhinar

Rhinar

 

Ira / Dorinthea / Rhinar (and all other non-Arcane damage Heroes)

In these matchups, the head, arms and legs slots are generally accepted choices amongst Rhinar players. Skullcap provides solid defense, Gambler’s Gloves lets you re-roll Scabskins on a critical turn when necessary, and Scabskins gives you both solid defense and the ability to generate multiple Action Points for huge turns.

The chest slot is the biggest point of contention. The most common options in these matchups are Barkbone Strapping and Fyendal’s Spring Tunic and again, this comes down to your playstyle and personal preference.

The benefit of Barkbone is that it allows you to defend with it at any point in the game while still sticking around to give you additional resources when you need it most. Unlike Tunic, it also can potentially grant you two to three resources on any turn you need it with a good roll, which can be absolutely game-changing on your big Bloodrush Bellow turns when you need as many resources as possible. Keep in mind that there’s a chance you roll a one and get nothing – c’est la vie!

Fyendal’s Spring Tunic has Blade Break, giving it less flexibility in the early to mid stages of the game for defending on a critical turn. The advantage of it over Barkbone is that, in a long game, it will tend to net you more resources than Barkbone Strapping, and it’s guaranteed to grant you one resource when it gets up to three counters. 

My personal favorite is probably the least-played of the three options – the humble Heartened Cross Strap! Full credit for this idea goes to my fellow CFB writer (and Blitz Rhinar enthusiast) Hayden Dale, who mentioned it to Karol when we were testing Rhinar for The Calling.

HCS doesn’t block but, in my opinion, it’s the most consistently explosive of the three options. It allows you to almost always get off a big attack such as Pack Hunt, Smash Instinct, Riled Up or Alpha Rampage on your Bloodrush Bellow turns after swinging twice with your Mandible Claws. HCS is the most “all-in” chest slot and it takes a bit of getting used to, but if you’re struggling with Rhinar and want to try something new, I’d highly recommend giving it a shot!

 

Kano

You need a minimum of Arcane Barrier 3 in this matchup to survive long enough to get off a big turn that can win you the game. The head and arms slots are standard across all builds, while the chest and legs slots may differ depending on your overall equipment choices and playstyle preference for this matchup.

I believe the most common setup used by most Rhinar players is Barkbone Strapping and Nullrune Boots for these slots. This gives you access to Arcane Barrier 4, allowing you to fully block a Lesson in Lava or Sonic Boom buffed by Crucible of Aetherweave, which is very relevant in the matchup. Barkbone Strapping gives you access to somewhere from zero to three resources at instant speed, which is extremely versatile as it can be used both on offense and defense. The random number of resources it can generate can make it difficult for a Kano player to calculate lethal damage as they don’t know how many resources you’ll have available to defend.

Keep in mind that sequencing is very important when using Barkbone Strapping! Kano is able to respond to you cracking Barkbone for resources by going off at instant speed before it resolves, meaning that you need to be careful with when and how you use it. All in all, this equipment set up offers a strong defense with an additional element of randomness to throw off those pesky calculating Kanos!

If, like myself, you prefer to try kill Kano as quickly as possible, give some thought to trying out Snapdragon Scalers in the legs slot. The sole reason for this is that it enables you to get off a guaranteed Savage Feast with go again at some stage in the game (assuming you don’t die first).

Savage Feast with go again can function either as a mini-Bloodrush Bellow turn to get damage through to set up a kill turn or just outright win you the game with a good enough hand. Savage Feast deals six damage, intimidates a card from their hand, turns on go again for Mandible Claw and draws you a card to boot! This matchup is all about a race of who can get to their big turns first, and Snapdragon Scalers with Savage Feast gives you an additional option on top of your Bloodrush Bellow to win the game.

If you decide to run Scalers, you can go with the safe option of Nullrune Robe to give you Arcane Barrier 4, or the all-in build of Heartened Cross Strap and risking it with Arcane Barrier 3. I’m a fan of going Scalers with HCS as it gives you the absolute maximum damage output possible, but in choosing this option, you make an already high-variance matchup even more random.

The great thing about using this setup, however, is that against a Kano without a lot of experience in the matchup. you can often intimidate cards halfway into a kill turn before they realize what’s happening. Opening your turn with a Barraging Beatdown or Bloodrush Bellow can put Kano immediately in a spot of deciding whether to kill you or figure out if they can survive the turn. Scalers and HCS changes up the traditional math on this as it offers you more explosive turns than the traditional Arcane Barrier 4 with Barkbone builds.

Pro tip: Don’t forget that Skullhorn has an activated ability when playing this matchup! Generally, you don’t want to use it unless you’re either certain you can kill your opponent or you have to risk it in order to have a chance of winning the game. You lose Arcane Barrier 2 once it’s gone and you’ll find it extremely difficult to win the game. Despite this, if your opponent has one card left in hand and the final (potential) intimidate from Skullhorn will allow you to get lethal damage, don’t be afraid to crack it and go for the throat!

 

Viserai

As explained above, the chest option is up to you and depends on your preference when playing Rhinar. Skullhorn has been chosen for the head slot here as it allows you to play proactively against an inherently defensive deck. The activated ability will generally allow you to intimidate an additional card on your big turns. This is often critical for ensuring the bonus damage from Barraging Beatdown if it’s active or simply pushing through the final few points of damage you need.

Remember that you also need the Nullrune Gloves as Skullhorn has Arcane Barrier 2. This means that you’d need to pitch two resources to prevent each Runechant, which makes it significantly easier for your opponent to reach a critical mass of Runechants to push through lethal damage if you don’t have access to Arcane Barrier 1 equipment!

 

Header - Kano

Kano

 

Every Matchup Except the Mirror

Fyendal’s Spring Tunic and Storm Striders are fairly self-explanatory as these are clearly the BIS (best in slot) options for Kano.

While it may be temping to run Arcanite Skullcap in the head slot against decks like Dorinthea and Ira, the instant speed Opt 2 offered by Talismanic Lens at any point in the game is simply too much to give up for additional armor in these matchups. Similarly, the additional damage offered by Metacarpus Node to push through a big Forked Lightning, ensure a Lesson in Lava or Sonic Boom can hit through Arcane Barrier 4 or buff multiple spells on a big combo turns is too strong to give up for something like Ironrot Gauntlet.

Kano is a hero that relies on its high-impact equipment to win games. Diminishing the power of the deck by running more defensive options will only serve to hurt you in the long run, even if it makes learning the deck a bit more difficult. 

Metacarpus Node conveniently has Arcane Barrier 1, meaning you don’t need to run any additional Nullrune pieces of equipment for the Viserai matchup!

 

Kano Mirror

The Kano mirror is inherently a high-variance matchup due to the explosive nature of the deck and the fact that both can play at instant speed, as well as the power of early Energy Potions.

This leads most high-level Kano players that I’ve spoken to choosing to play Robe of Rapture in the mirror to give them access to Arcane Barrier 4. Critically, this stops buffed Sonic Booms and Lesson in Lavas from connecting. It also gives you the ability to sometimes survive a few bad draws by blocking as much damage as possible until you’re able to threaten large amounts of damage. This is my preferred set up when playing the Kano mirror as it allows you to efficiently pitch away a blue and red card to prevent up to four damage. It gives you the maximum amount of flexibility to play defensively until you have the right combination of cards to pivot and go on the attack.

There are a few Kano players (some of whom are widely regarded as amongst the very best in the world on the hero), however, who make the case that Fyendal’s Spring Tunic is the superior choice.

The argument is that the additional resource is more important in the matchup than Arcane Barrier 4 as it allows you to deal more damage in a matchup where every single resource is critically important. Furthermore, Metacarpus Node allows you to ensure that a Lesson in Lava or Sonic Boom will connect through Arcane Barrier 4 if you absolutely need it to as it can buff these up to five Arcane damage when combined with Crucible of Aetherweave.

Arcane Barrier 3 is also the most efficient when it comes to resources, as it allows you to pitch a single card to prevent damage rather than requiring a double pitch when choosing to prevent four damage. I believe this option requires a lot of time and practice to play successfully in the mirror and is a riskier choice, but it’s definitely a viable option if you wish to pursue it.

Some people have experimented with Arcanite Skullcap in the head slot to have up to Arcane Barrier 6 in the mirror and Talishar as a method to strip cards before going for lethal damage at instant speed. Neither of these options is considered optimal by high-level Kano players though, to the best of my knowledge. Losing Talismanic Lens and the consistent damage from Crucible of Aetherweave just isn’t worth it in the matchup.

 

Header - Viserai

Viserai

 

Ira / Dorinthea / Rhinar (and all other non-Arcane damage Heroes)

You want to run the maximum amount of armor possible in the non-Rhinar matchups. In the Ira and Dorinthea matchups, Ironrot Legs is generally the better choice as the additional armor. The defense it provides can be critical in shutting down their turns at critical points in the game where you need to defend above a certain break point or defend without turning on reprise for Dorinthea specifically.

Mage Master Boots enables you to accelerate your Runechant generation by giving go again to Read the Runes or Runeblood Barrier. It can even give Sun Kiss go again if absolutely necessary to turn on Viserai’s hero ability to reach a critical number of Runechants, or on the rare occasion where you may need to gain enough life to play around a card like Reckless Swing. This is useful against Rhinar which doesn’t have many/any on-hit triggers.

 

Kano

In all honesty, this is pretty much an unwinnable matchup no matter what equipment you run. Your best bet is still to run the max Arcane Barrier 4 to give yourself a chance if the Kano player misplays or runs out their threats too quickly.

 

Viserai Mirror

Yes, you’re reading correctly – that is, in fact, Hope Merchant’s Hood! Hood performs the vital function in this matchup of letting you reset a hand where you have four defense reactions  (or three with a Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath in a spot where it’s too early to play it) and can’t pitch them away to Grasp of the Arknight. Without Hood, these situations the game are effectively lost as you’re stuck with a hand that can’t do anything while your opponent goes about their business generating a big enough Runechant stack to eventually OTK you. 

The rest of the equipment here is just the standard Viserai equipment setup. Bloodsheath Skeleta is a bit weaker than Mage Master Boots. It does give you an additional two life to survive through their OTK turn, but the Boots are the stronger choice for the non-Nullrune slot, as it allows you to accelerate more quickly to your critical mass of Runechants.

 

Header - Conclusion

I hope this guide provides some help to players either just starting off their FAB journey or those who might be a bit uncertain about what to play in particular matchups.

On a final note, feel free to experiment with different choices if you have an idea of some tech that you think might work in a particular matchup! This article is to provide guidelines as a quick point of reference rather than rules set in stone. People called me crazy for running Snapdragon Scalers in Brute against Kano until they realized it was actually pretty decent! Try different combinations, even if more experienced players tell you it won’t work, as you’ll never know unless you try.

P.S. I’m convinced Hope Merchant’s Hood in Classic Constructed Dash Control is the secret tech that’s been flying under the radar. If someone wants to give it a shot, please let me know how it goes! With three Plasma Purifiers, three Spark of Genius and two Induction Chamber (as one starts in play), you have an 87 percent chance of getting out a turn one item with Hope Merchant’s Hood. Just some food for thought!

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