Plastered on top of the FABTCG official site is the banner for the Classic Battles product coming soon to Flesh and Blood. By all intents and purposes, the product promises to be a flashy new box with two semi-competitive Blitz decks sporting new young heroes. This is a perfect pick up and play product for new players, but also may include a few more interesting pieces for both heroes as well. Let’s look at what we know so far about this product and what we can expect to see from the release this May.
Bringing back heroes of old, but in new form, this classic battles product sees Dorinthea and Rhinar take the stage versus one another as they once did in the Welcome to Rathe meta. However, this time around, we see brand-new young versions of them both. Currently, we only have the Dorinthea young hero spoiled, as Dorinthea, Quicksilver Prodigy. For those familiar with some of Dorinthea’s lore, this looks to highlight her younger days as a fantastic young warrior, learning the art of battle with Dawnblade at her side. The new hero also provides an interesting spin upon the original Dorinthea’s ability. This time around, the new Dorinthea gains the ability to swing her new weapon, Dawnblade, Resplendent, a second time when it gains go again the first time each turn. This is the first time a hero text has directly referenced a weapon, and this brings about some interesting implications.
The first and foremost implication of this is that the battle box heroes may be insular in their scope. This may be to cap the overall power of these heroes by limiting them to certain weapons which also have a certain power cap. Although we haven’t seen Dawnblade, Resplendent just yet, chances are it won’t be on base power level of weapons like Rosetta Thorn or Anothos, but rather be a conditionally strong weapon that can interact with this new young hero. Keeping these two (hero and weapon) tied together is nice not only thematically, but also from a perspective of game design, as it allows an intermediate level of complexity to be built with different combinations and interactions, but also allows the designers to not accidently create a powerful combination with other heroes wielding this weapon or hero in other scenarios.
In terms of Rhinar, I imagine we see a similar spin on his lore and ability. Although we haven’t seemed him just yet, we can make some solid predictions. Having played a lot of Rhinar, I think an interesting new interaction between his damage output and his discard ability might the way the company goes. Giving his attack actions a buff upon the discard of a card with six or more attack would be a neat bow on his card pool alongside being simple enough of an ability for beginners to pick up and enjoy. However, I would be surprised if his weapon integration was as strong as Dorinthea’s simply since Romping Club isn’t really a headliner in his lore. Rather, I think a new weapon based on dice rolling would be an interesting piece to throw into a beginner/intermediate product like this. Not only can you generally ensure it doesn’t break the balance of the game due to its inherent variance, but it also interacts nicely with some of the new dice rolling payoffs in Brute such as Skull Crushers.
So far, we know that each hero seems to be getting a new mentor and specialization. Although mentors are extremely cool and collectible, they’ve never had a solid ground in the blitz meta, and I think this is on purpose. Using your Arsenal is a key part of higher level gameplay, and mentors taking that slot up indefinitely is a great stop gap to them ever taking over. However, in a fairly insular product such as this, I would love for the mentors to continue. This product is trying to tell a story, and the actual playing of the game is the realization of Dorinthea and Rhinar’s meeting on the battlefield. Having mentor’s pop into the battle and aid either young hero is a great story piece that will make beginners enjoy the theme of the game even more!
The cards I am really excited for are the specializations, however. As per the writing of this piece, only Glistening Steelblade has been spoiled so far, and aside from being a beautiful card, the specialization also specifically refers to Dawnblade. The non-attack action gives Dawnblade an automatic go-again on it’s first swing, perfect for the new Dorinthea. In addition, however, it adds to very relevant on-hit of giving free +1 counters to Dawnblade whenever it hits this turn. This is particularly interesting in the realm of the old Dorinthea, who has a hard time forcing blocks and turning on reprise recently. This card can easily threaten to permanently give the old Dawnblade at two counters in a turn, easily letting Dorinthea snowball the game from there. If respected however, it now brings back the old tricky suite of Dorinthea to start really punishing with reprise, particularly with her other specialization Singing Steelblade.
In terms of Rhinar, I’d be fooling you to say I have a good idea as to what they are going to go with as his specialization. However, I do hope the Brute is able to get some more interesting interactions off his discard. A six-attack specialization card that mainly triggers its ability upon it’s discard would be a really interesting piece for him.
That about wraps up my overview as to the new Classic Battles set releasing late May will bring. Although it is a fun, beginner tabletop experience, make no mistake that LSS will deliver to the enjoyment of competitive players as well. Until the release, enjoy your Skirmish season and happy theorycrafting to all you Dorinthea and Rhinar fans out there!