In Part 1, we discussed the general overview of team trios events and the three most perceived popular decks in Oldhim, Kano and Rhinar. But what can we expect looking past the most popular heroes of the format? Let’s waste no time and jump into it starting with Kassai, Cintari Sellsword
With the release of Everfest, Warrior got a lot of new tools. Slice and Dice, Blade Runner, In the Swing, Outland Skirmish and, best of all, Blood on Her Hands were all released during Everfest. Even before the release of Everfest, Kassai was a solid hero that could hang with the rest of the top heroes, but after the release, she has turned into an absolute powerhouse.
Two Cintari Sabers, a red Blade Runner and a blue pitch means that you can attack for seven damage (Braveforge Bracers for an additional point if your first saber hit) with just one card utilized and one blue card pitched. This allows you to block with two cards while still being able to maintain an Arsenal. Overall, that’s a six damage block plus a seven or eight damage output, leading to a massive 13 life point swing for four cards. The cherry on top is that the Cintari Sabers get additional +1 buff if your opponent chooses to block with an attack action!
However, the real cherry on top is not the damage, but the Copper tokens made. Even if you connect for only one point of damage, you still make a Copper token due to Kassai’s ability at the end of turn. This Copper fuels a massive turn with a game-ending Blood on Hands. The goal here is too build up to six points of Copper so that you can choose all the modes for both Cintari Sabers in combination with Courage of Bladehold, which means that you can attack each Saber twice for a total of four attacks to equal 12 points of damage for zero resources! If you’re up against a fatigue Oldhim, you can also play a Gallantry Gold to buff that number up to 16 points of damage for free! Combine this with any combination of attack reactions or pump spells you desire and you’re looking at a 20+ point damage turn for very minimal cost.
In addition to Everfest, the most recent release of the Classic Battles: Rhinar vs Dorinthea gave Kassai a nice little present in the form of Run Through, which acts as a functional two additional copies of yellow Blade Runner, bringing the total up to a whopping eight copies of the powerful effect in Blitz!
The one weakness that Kassai has is Kano. The inherent need to always pitch/play two cards in order to fully utilize two Saber attacks means that they will often be left with only one or two cards in hand to arcane barrier against instant speed Kano attacks. This can often lead to less than optimal outcomes where the Warrior player is stuck with a red/yellow in hand and is left helpless versus the barrage of spells coming their way. As such, it is my opinion that it’s much better off to lean into your aggressive plan, trying to end the game as quickly as possible.
To do so, I have Nullrune Hood and Nullrune Robe to ward off the majority of chip damage early, looking only to pitch one blue/yellow card per turn cycle, allowing me to offensively utilize the other 3 – 4 cards at my disposal. The big innovation is playing Spell Fray Gloves and Leggings, allowing us to fully lean into the game plan of putting as much pressure as possible while simultaneously letting us block four damage coming from Aether Wildfire with just a single yellow pitch. I recognize that this game plan is not foolproof and that Aether Wildfire can be pumped all the way up to six damage, leaking two damage, but that asks significantly more of the Kano player in order to lethal you. The logic also follows that the faster you force your Wizard enemy to go off, the less time they have had to “chip” damage your way, so the healthier your life total should be. It’s not a perfect plan, but it is a plan that leads into our strengths and forces our opponent to act quickly, and precisely in a situation they might not be prepared for.
You can find my list below.
Class: Warrior Hero: Kassai, Cintari Sellsword Weapons: Cintari Saber Equipment: Arcanite Skullcap, Braveforge Bracers, Courage of Bladehold, Gallantry Gold, Nullrune Hood, Nullrune Robe, Spell Fray Gloves, Spell Fray Leggings, Valiant Dynamo (2) Blade Runner (red) (2) Hit and Run (red) (2) In the Swing (red) (1) Nourishing Emptiness (red) (2) Out for Blood (red) (2) Outland Skirmish (red) (2) Push Forward (red) (2) Rout (red) (2) Slice and Dice (red) (2) Spoils of War (red) (2) Stroke of Foresight (red) (2) Blade Runner (yellow) (2) Blood on Her Hands (yellow) (2) Run Through (yellow) (2) Blade Runner (blue) (1) Driving Blade (blue) (2) Glint the Quicksilver (blue) (2) Hit and Run (blue) (2) Push Forward (blue) (2) Slice and Dice (blue) (2) Minerva Themis (undefined) See the full deck at: https://fabdb.net/decks/xJjdLXAg/
I will speak generally about both decks as I feel they share very similar strengths and weaknesses when talking about the broader Blitz metagame. Having some of the best armor in the game, coupled with some of the best split damage aggressive cards means that Runeblade reigns supreme in the aggro mirrors, maybe only a close second to Kassai (citation required).
Oldhim will always be the natural enemy of Runeblade so long as Rampart of Ram’s Head and Crown of Seeds remain viable tools at the powerful Guardian’s disposal. The silver lining to Oldhim style is that it’s boring and predictable so that we may study it and try our best to exploit it. To break it down, Oldhim is usually able to block for somewhere in the range of 12 to 14 points of damage split between arcane and physical damage per turn cycle based on defense reactions drawn. With that in mind, we have to break this metric several times in a game in order to win.
Let’s start with Briar. Since the nerfs, Earth Briar has emerged as the clear favorite in contrast to its now neutered cousin Lightning Briar. I’ve had the pleasure of discussing the deck with Briar expert, and all around fantastic Zach Bunn over at Team Covenant. Here is what I have come to after weeks of testing briar.
Class: Runeblade Hero: Briar Weapons: Rosetta Thorn Equipment: Arcanite Skullcap, Bloodsheath Skeleta, Crown of Seeds, Fyendal's Spring Tunic, Grasp of the Arknight, Nullrune Hood, Nullrune Robe, Shock Charmers, Snapdragon Scalers, Spellbound Creepers (1) Captain's Call (red) (2) Channel Mount Heroic (red) (2) Command and Conquer (red) (2) Enlightened Strike (red) (2) Exude Confidence (red) (2) Lightning Press (red) (2) Lightning Surge (red) (2) Nimblism (red) (2) Plunder Run (red) (2) Ravenous Rabble (red) (2) Revel in Runeblood (red) (2) Scar for a Scar (red) (2) Snatch (red) (2) Swarming Gloomveil (red) (2) Plunder Run (yellow) (1) Pulse of Candlehold (yellow) (1) Autumn's Touch (blue) (2) Earthlore Surge (blue) (2) Force of Nature (blue) (2) Sow Tomorrow (blue) (2) Tome of Harvests (blue) (1) Gorganian Tome (undefined) See the full deck at: https://fabdb.net/decks/gPVKKQeL/
Against the aggro matchups, you run Bloodsheath Skeleta and Snapdragon Scalers with the standard Grasp of the Arknight and Arcanite Skullcap combination. Against Oldhim, you would opt for the more grindy combination of Fyendal’s Spring Tunic and Spellbound Creepers. Against Kano, my preference is AB2 + Shock Charmers + Snapdragon Scalers.
One of the advantages to playing Briar is its very strong matchup into Kano. If given the choice choose to go second, remember that the deck is built so that each of your cards output roughly three to four damage per turn and that Kano only starts with 15 life. This means that an average hand can present almost lethal results starting on turn one! If you want to play safer, you can swap the Gambler’s Gloves for Nullrune Boots but I think the offensive potential that Snap gives you in combination with cards like Snatch and Enlightened Strike is worth the lack of one extra arcane barrier that you may not even be able to be utilize if you have not drawn a blue!
Against Oldhim fatigue, we first have to understand our key cards in the matchup. These cards are Exude Confidence, Lightning Press and Channel Mount Heroic. As stated above, the Oldhim’s maximum capability is to block roughly 12 to 14 points of damage with four cards and 15 to 17 points of damage with five cards. Luckily, we have Channel Mount Heroic, allowing us to output 28 points of damage on the back of only four attacks!
The key is to play CMH as you normally would through the course of the game, chipping in damage where possible. At some point, you will have a Sow Tomorrow and a blue Earth element. Pay for Sow Tomorrow with a powerful redline attack (preferably Exude Confidence but it can be any attack action), putting CMH on the bottom of the deck. Continue to play out your turn by pitching a blue elemental for additional actions and you will have set up the bottom of your deck as CMH and a redline attack, with a blue elemental behind it.
At this point, your goal will be to continue to play out the game chipping damage as the opportunities present, while continuously pitching Redline attack actions to Rosetta Thorn to sit directly behind your CMH setup with the ultimate goal to draw a hand of CMH, blue earth pitch, two attacks, into a four redline attack hand. Saving Spellbound Creepers for this moment is also critical as it reduces the burden of your attacks requiring go again naturally, such as Swarming Gloomveil, Ravenous Rabble or Scar for a Scar, but it is not necessary to always save Spellbound Creepers for the endgame if you pitch optimally with the aforementioned cards.
Another potent combo is Exude Confidence with Lightning Press and redundant blues. Exude Confidence puts your opponent in an extremely tough position where they need to make the decision to overcommit to blocking (risking a go wide turn) versus blocking only for four, risking an instant speed go tall effect that they can no longer respond too. The goal here is to park Exude Confidence in your Arsenal and wait for a turn to pair it with redundant blues or a Lightning Press and a blue. This will allow you to present nine to 11 points of damage at instant speed in the blockers step, meaning your Oldhim opponent will leak between five to seven damage should they only block for four! Don’t be afraid to mix it up to keep your opponent guessing by ending a turn with an Embodiment of Lightning token, thus creating the illusion of going wide with Exude Confidence before quickly growing it to nine (or more) attack, allowing you to leak valuable damage so that your CMH can deal the coup de grâce.
Other ideas I’m considering is swapping the Gambler’s Gloves for Crown of Seeds to provide me with more agency in controlling my arsenal and pitch stack. This will also allow me to get to my CMH turns that I set up with Sow Tomorrow much faster. It can also set up combo turns with Pulse of Candlehold where it allows me to set up two CMH on the top of my deck, use a Tunic counter to draw the CMH by activating Crown of Seeds and playing it the same turn, generating an Embodiment of Lightning token!
Class: Runeblade Hero: Chane, Bound by Shadow Weapons: Rosetta Thorn Equipment: Aether Ironweave, Arcanite Skullcap, Carrion Husk, Ebon Fold, Grasp of the Arknight, Nullrune Boots, Nullrune Robe, Snapdragon Scalers, Spellbound Creepers, Vexing Quillhand (2) Bounding Demigon (red) (2) Command and Conquer (red) (2) Exude Confidence (red) (2) Ghostly Visit (red) (2) Howl from Beyond (red) (2) Plunder Run (red) (2) Razor Reflex (red) (2) Rift Bind (red) (1) Soul Reaping (red) (1) Unhallowed Rites (red) (2) Art of War (yellow) (2) Bounding Demigon (yellow) (2) Captain's Call (yellow) (2) Plunder Run (yellow) (2) Bounding Demigon (blue) (2) Captain's Call (blue) (2) Mauvrion Skies (blue) (2) Plunder Run (blue) (2) Shadow of Ursur (blue) (2) Timesnap Potion (blue) (2) Vexing Malice (blue) See the full deck at: https://fabdb.net/decks/eVXkvXag/
Like his Runeblade counterpart, Chane offers the same resilience to Kano in the form of Ebon Fold instead of Shock Charmers. All of the above principles stand true in this matchup and I am a big believer in presenting as much damage as possible with AB 2 for chip damage and Spellvoid 2 for the combo turns,
I have tried a lot of variations of Chane ranging from hyper aggressive strategies featuring minimal blood debt with high potency generics such as Flock of the Feather Walkers to Belittle/Minnowism with Enlightened Strike, but those versions are quite susceptible to the fatigue strategies that Oldhim can present. As such, I have opted for a more mid range version of the deck, allowing myself to lean on arguably his biggest strength, Armor, in the aggressive matchups while allowing myself to tech for the fatigue matchups.
Let’s talk about some of the unique decisions I have included into my version of the list. Exude Confidence is an extremely good anti-fatigue card but not one you see often in Chane builds. Its play pattern in this deck follows very similarly to the discussion I had with it above in the context of Briar, however instead of Lightning Press, you have Razor Reflex.
Although these two combat tricks look similar, there are some key differences. Lightning Press being an instant means that you can play it in the blockers step, thus never giving your Oldhim opponent an opportunity to react to your attack buffs. In stark contrast, Razor Reflex is an attack reaction meaning that it must be played during the reaction step and therefore affording the Oldhim player the opportunity to respond to the attack buff before the attack reaction resolves. It’s not all downsides however, as Razor Reflex carries a very powerful, but conditional, go again if your attack hits allowing you to set up very deadly go wide turns.
Timesnap Potion is another odd inclusion you will find in my list compared to the normal Chane Blitz decks. I have often said if it comes down to needing to block with every card in your hand, the Chane player has probably already lost. In most full defense scenarios, the ideal is to block with three cards, holding a blue in hand in order to try get lucky by banishing a Howl from Beyond and a Bounding Demigon in order to create an 11 damage turn off of a single blue pitch! So with this in mind, I enjoy having an extremely high utility blue pitch in the deck. It is simply one of the best turn one plays Chane can have against either aggro or fatigue, and it allows you to start damage stacking midgame by carrying action points through turn cycles.
The final oddity in the deck is Razor Reflex. In addition to its synergy with Exude Confidence, it plays extremely well with the six Plunder Runs in my list. For the low cost of one resource, it provides three damage and a chance at rebuying my action point to fully allow me to utilize the draw effect off of Plunder Run.
Just missing the cut was Boost Dash, starting with Teklo Pounder in play and Plasma Barrel Shot. While the deck has a pretty good damage output it unfortunately has close to zero percent chance of beating a competent fatigue Oldhim while simultaneously having roughly a coin flip into the other aggro decks mentioned in this series.
Anyways, that’s all for this week and I hope everyone enjoyed this two-part series on my perspective on the Blitz metagame and my thoughts on what the six best decks are in the format. At the time of writing this article, my team is currently trying to decide between Kassai, Oldhim and one of the Runeblade heroes, but I would not fault anyone for going with a combination of any of the six aforementioned Heroes, as familiarity with a strategy is very important and their power levels are all very similar.
I will be in attendance in Vegas this weekend playing with my good friends Saint Hung and Rob Cygul. I’m extremely excited for the world premier this weekend and will look forward to taking part in the legendary event hosted by LSS and ChannelFireball. It’ll be an awesome weekend to remember and I hope to see everyone there!