The ability to calculate a card’s value in Flesh and Blood is one of the best things that Legend Story Studios has implemented. It shows that the designers have a framework from which to tweak several levers (including card text) to create a tremendously wide card pool with homologous value.
Now we’re 6 sets in and there are dozens of cards that go beyond the standard value calculations of 8 for Attacks, 7 for Non-Attack Actions, and 6 for Reactions. However, understanding the core principles of value, the color cycle, and cost-curve is vital for building your foundation in Flesh and Blood.
In this series, I’ll be diving into each hero in Flesh and Blood and examining how they operate within the framework of value and cost. Let’s start with Bravo, Showstopper, the Guardian hero from Welcome to Rathe.
The Guardian class has been ever-present in the meta of Flesh and Blood. Bravo Showstopper was a premiere midrange deck that has received various levels of support in every single set of Flesh and Blood. To begin to understand the ins and outs of this hero, let’s start with the Welcome to Rathe card pool to see what the designers wanted Bravo to do.
Bravo, Showstopper has a very simple design. Like no other hero he can sink resources with his hero ability to load the pitch zone with cards to activate Anothos’ +2 power while simultaneously curating the bottom of his deck for the 2nd cycle. Anothos, the Everfest Carnival performer’s trusted high striker mallet, is a beauty of design. Like I’ve stated before (as so many others have), the average points of value that you want out of a card from your hand is 3 (either in the form of damage, defense, or resources). With Anothos, you can turn two cards into a 6-power attack. While that is on-curve, it is incredibly efficient because none of those cards are going into the graveyard.
That also brings us to Tectonic Plating. While Bravo’s ability is great for sinking resources and setting up the hammer, the incipient Legendary Guardian armor can provide more utility while still loading the pitch zone. Seismic surge tokens are a crucial piece of Bravo’s math and thematic for what he wants to do.
Bravo may be happy to swing his hammer all day, but if you only follow the pattern of blocking with 2 cards to prevent 6 points of damage and then you swing for 6 with Anothos, you may find yourself losing against the decks that can easily exceed 6 points of damage on their turns. To diversify his plan, Bravo utilizes his connection with The Flow to spend energy on one turn that he can use on the next turn.
For example, on turn x, Bravo activates Tectonic Plating to create a Seismic Surge token, pitching Blue Cranial Crush before activating Anothos, pitching a Blue Show Time!, to threaten 6 damage (with 2 resources floating). At the end of his turn, he places a card in his arsenal and draws back up to 4 total cards.
On turn y, Bravo defends with 1 of his cards to block 3 damage. Sure, he took some more damage, but he’s about to swing hard and steal the tempo.
With the three above cards still in hand, he activates Bravo’s ability to give his next cost 2 or more attack dominate, pitching Yellow Blessing of Deliverance. Then, from Arsenal, Bravo plays Crippling Crush, one of his specialization cards, pitching Blue Crush Confidence and Blue Disable to complete the payment alongside the Seismic Surge token from the previous turn.
Now, the defender has an attack coming at them for a blistering 11 that they can only use 1 card from hand to block. Of course, they can also use defense reactions from their arsenal, their equipment, or instants to sop up some of the damage. Then, there’s the Crush effect to contend with. If Crippling Crush deals 4 or more of its damage, the opponent discards 2 random cards from their hand—a significant blow to leave them bloodied and deteriorated on their next turn with a lack of resources and stamina to do much.
Crush—Are These Huge Attacks Even Fair?
When you face down your first dominated Crippling Crush it’s easy to wonder who allowed such a powerful card through the design process. But fret not, let me show you how such a card could easily be predicted with FAB’s intuitive design calculations.
Let’s examine what I’ve deemed the quintessential Flesh and Blood attack—Wounding Blow. It’s a generic attack action that, on red, attacks for 4 at 0-cost and defends for 3. The Yellow version increases its pitch value by 1 and decreases its attack value by 1. The Blue version makes these alterations again. So, if you weren’t aware, you can see the basic idea of the color cycle in FAB. As the number of resources you can gain from a card increases, its primary stat decreases.
What happens when we add an additional clause to an Attack Action. Let’s use Snatch and its on-hit effect as an additional example.
Nearly every stat on Snatch matches Wounding Blow. However, we can see that it defends for 2 instead of 3 and has game text instead of just game text. These 2 generics from the Welcome to Rathe set helped to teach FAB players about the math of the game. Drawing cards is almost always an incredible value in card games, FAB is no different. In Flesh and Blood, this additional line of game text counts as a bland 1-point of value to replace that 1 point of defense that the card lost compared to Wounding Blow.
Many of the class-only effects/card abilities that are conditional often do not add to a card’s overall value. As we can see from Buckling Blow, the overall value of the card is 8, so its conditional Crush effect is free. We can also see that adding 4 to the card’s cost also increased its attack power by 4 (compared to Wounding Blow).
Now, we can examine Crippling Crush in all of its glory. As a Bravo-only specialization, this card is expected to be a high-power threat, but it still is on-rate with the power and cost curves that FAB has presented. We know that Crush, Combo, Intimidate, and Reprise, the class abilities from Welcome to Rathe, are all free, conditional effects that do not go into a card’s value. So, hopefully, that shows you how the designers at LSS can play with and tweak the 4 stats and text abilities to create a great multitude of unique cards.
It’s no secret that Bravo loves the blues. With his cost-heavy actions, Bravo tends to have a high resource curve in his deck. In Classic Constructed, most Bravos present a deck with 30-45 blue cards. With that in mind, let’s look at an average hand for Bravo.
As we evaluate this hand (which we would have drawn at the end of our last turn), we have several things to evaluate. Through different combinations, we could block for a total of 8 or 9 using 3 of our cards or 11 using all 4 cards. We should also look at our potential maximum offensive output before we decide to start blocking.
We have a few options for offense:
a) We can pitch Staunch Response to activate Tectonic Plating and Bravo’s ability and then pitch Blessing of Deliverance and Cartilage Crush to play Spinal Crush for a 9 attack with Dominate and a critical Crush effect;
b) We can play Blessing of Deliverance, pitching Cartilage Crush, which would let us draw a card and have 1 resource floating. From there, we can activate Tectonic Plating or pitch another cost-3 or more card to utilize Anothos, or, we can still go for the Spinal Crush Play. If our Blessing draw was red, then we would have exactly 5 resources to play Spinal Crush. If it was yellow, then we can activate Tectonic Plating and play Spinal Crush. If it was blue, then we can activate Bravo’s ability and play Spinal Crush with Dominate.
c) We can do the same Blessing play as above, activate Tectonic Plating, swing Anothos, and arsenal Spinal Crush for the next turn.
d) Let’s say that we needed to do some blocking on our opponent’s turn. We could have used Staunch Response, pitching Blessing of Deliverance, to block an attack with 5 defense, and then pitch both of our remaining cards to activate Tectonic Plating and swing Anothos for 6.
The Hand Value
Let’s now re-examine the above hand examples. In option a, we’re spending 4 cards to attack with a value of 9. At face value, this is not a great exchange. We also created a Seismic Surge token and added Dominate to our attack, so we can increase our value to 11 with a powerful Crush effect. It’s also worth noting that only 1 of our 4 played cards ended up in the graveyard.
In option b, we had several options that would yield different levels of value. The card drawn from Blessing of Deliverance would completely dictate our turn. As I laid out above, there are at least 3 sub-options within this one. The first one is extremely efficient, we pitch a number of cards that we need to have another 3-cost or higher card in the pitch zone while also gaining another 2 resources to swing Anothos for 6. Since we’ll draw back up at the end of our turn, this is a standard Anothos for 6 play with the added potential benefit of gaining life from Blessing of Deliverance.
Options c and d, in my opinion, have varying situational values. If your opponent utilizes a lot of go again, then it could be extremely disruptive to their game plan to prioritize sending over a Spinal Crush with Dominate. Normally, this line of play would cost 7 resources—which can be a clunky number to produce, especially if you need to block at all on your opponent’s turn. More often than not, the best move may be to prepare your Spinal Crush in the Arsenal, so that you can have a Seismic Surge token to help make the cost an even 6 (two blues).
The Second Cycle
The efficiency of Bravo comes into play in the late game. By being able to pitch so many cards while still presenting a decent amount of damage and Crush effects. Savvy Guardian players will also pitch some of their most powerful attacks early in the game, like Crippling Crush, in order to see them late in the game. Paired with Seismic Surge tokens and Bravo’s ability to add Dominate, late-game tall attacks can be a great way to seal out a game of Flesh and Blood.
If they reach the second cycle of their deck, most heroes are flooded with blue-pitch cards. Bravo is one of the few that can use those resources with the greatest amount of damage per card; between Anothos, adding Dominate to already pitched red attacks, or even attacking with high-attack blue-pitch cards like Cranial Crush, Thunder Quake, Macho Grande, or Disable can be devastating for your weakened opponent to contend with.