I’m sure you’ve had many of these moments in Flesh and Blood, where if only you knew what your opponent has in their Arsenal, you’d know whether you can win the game on the spot or not. Arsenal is a zone where most powerful cards end up because of how impactful they are for any player to win the game. This is why cards like Command and Conquer are so powerful; they don’t just make your opponent discard any card, they target that one specific card your opponent is stashing away for later. But how can you figure out what is hiding face down in your opponent’s Arsenal? Today, I’ll be going over the three key ways you can work it out.
Each matchup has its own unique key cards that become useful in the Arsenal. These key cards are what I mean by “the Arsenal range.” Both you and your opponent will aim to place specific cards in Arsenal throughout the game, depending on what your strategy is to beat the other.
The classic example is playing Dorinthea. As a Dorinthea player, your opponent’s Arsenal range more often than not mainly consists of defense reactions, with some other high impact cards in there as well. Usually, if you know the small range of defense reactions and potential threats they might have in the Arsenal, it’s much easier to play around these cards and avoid getting blown out.
In this game, you’ve got two main options. You can pitch the Singing Steelblade and play Out for Blood, which is great if they don’t have a defense reaction or you can play out Singing Steelblade, grab Glint the Quicksilver and keep going with your turn.
However, you know your opponent’s Arsenal range includes many defense reactions. Also, the way they blocked indicates they’re prepared for a reaction. By putting them on a defense reaction in Arsenal, you can weigh up your options. Out for Blood gets blown out and you end your turn. Singing Steelblade, on the other hand, at least forces the defense reaction and lets you draw a card with Glint the Quicksilver grabbed from the Singing Steelblade, allowing you get to end your turn with Arsenal. With a little awareness like this, you have gained an Arsenal, where the other main option would have had the same outcome but no Arsenal for you.
Some decks have a wide Arsenal range, while other decks’ are quite limited. Compare Bravo with Briar. Most of Bravo’s list is filled with blue pitch cards that have little impact (with exceptions) from Arsenal, relying on the big crush attacks to get the job done. It’s mainly the red pitch cards, like Spinal Crush, Crippling Crush and defense reactions that a Bravo player would happily Arsenal. While for aggro Briar, the threat density is so high that a very wide range of cards can happily end up in the Arsenal zone. Even then, Briar would prefer to keep attacks with natural go again, like Plunder Run and other non-attack actions, in their Arsenal. Regardless of the deck, knowing the Arsenal range of your opponent’s deck will help you hone in on what card awaits you in their Arsenal zone.
Being able to narrow down potential Arsenal slots based on limited information is what separates great players from the good. The question you have to ask yourself to get more information about the opponent’s Arsenal is: how would they have played out their turn with X card in Arsenal, and how with Y or Z? Each decision point, whether an attack or defense, is a piece of information for you to solve what lies in their Arsenal zone. The more information you have about their Arsenal can dictate the way you should be adjusting your play patterns to come out on top. Players play differently, depending on what’s in their Arsenal. Picking up on these subtleties isn’t easy, but it can help you win the game.
You attack opposing Bravo with a powerful set of attacks, ending on a Snatch (Red). They keep the card in Arsenal and use their two pieces of equipment to stop the final blow. If they had a red defense reaction like Sink Below or Fate Foreseen, it would have made a lot more sense for them to use it, instead of wasting their equipment. It most likely is not a defense reaction and their play pattern gave you a lot of information on how to best play out your next turn. What could it be? Maybe a red pitch attack or a red Sigil – either way, on your next turn, you can play out Lightning Presses more freely and adjust your playstyle accordingly, as they most likely don’t have the defensive card tucked away in Arsenal.
The longer a game goes, the more cards each player sees of what their opponents pitched, played or defended with. Combining this information with having a good grasp of your opponent’s Arsenal range, it’s easier to work out your opponent’s Arsenal.
Let’s say they’re playing Dorinthea and you remember them pitching an Ironsong Response (Red). They haven’t shuffled their deck and they also played out two in previous turns. When faced with a Dawnblade attack for six, no cards in hand, no pitch and only their Arsenal, you know that they cannot go over for three damage with an attack reaction, because Ironsong Response (Red) is the only attack reaction that costs zero. However, you also know they might be running a blue version. You can either be safe, and overblock by one or defend for the six you’re getting attacked for. Either way, thanks to tracking opponent’s pitch over time and graveyard, you know that an Ironsong Response (Red) is not a threat to you.
This skill is not only great for figuring out the optimal play on your own turn, but also comes in handy in more direct ways – such as playing out Chains of Eminence. The disruptive card is great when you’re paying attention to what’s going on on your opponent’s side of the arena.
There is a very easy way to practice this skill. The next couple of games you play, whether it’s a friendly with your buddy or a local Armory, be mindful of trying to put a range of cards on what your opponent might have in their Arsenal. Each time they play it out, you can see if you were right or not. If not, what made you believe it was a certain card?
If you put conscious effort into practicing this skill, it will become second nature. Once it’s muscle memory, you won’t even notice when you’re calling opponent’s Arsenal card and playing around it correctly. It does take some time and conscious practice. If you do want to improve this skill, ask a friend to do it with you. You can even turn it into a minigame. Each time someone Arsenals a card, write down your best guess before they play it out, and the person with the best guess ratio wins!
The art of predicting your opponent’s Arsenal is yet another skill to get an edge in games of Flesh and Blood. It’s one of many, but when combined with things like pitch tracking, being mindful of an opponent’s graveyard and so on, it can really be that extra edge to help you turn a potential loss into a win.