FAB Math³ Bravo, Star of the Show

Welcome to the Everfest, have a look around. Anything that LSS has, our MC he has found. We’ve got mountains and voltage and Frigidy shores. If you haven’t been high-rolled, you’d be the first.

Welcome to the Everfest, come enjoy the show. Would you like to see some acrobats or the firebreathing girl? There’s no need to worry, you will need your best. Just nod your head along, and he’ll do the rest.



Table of Contents

  • Basics
  • Above-rate Qualities
  • Thematic Love
  • Weaknesses?
  • Iterations On the Horizon
  • The Star of the Show, an Introduction to FAB 2.0
  • Related
  • Support

Basics

Everfest is a tremendously thematic set—at least on the Generic side of things. Bravo, Star of the Show became the first adult hero to appear in a supplemental set. Deck builders around the world were immediately intrigued by the triple elemental classic Guardian remake with the largest available card pool in the game.

Savvy Starvo players quickly found ratios for their three elemental suites of cards to activate Bravo’s ability as frequently as possible. Many have already put more than a dozen of each element into the deck to trigger Brostar’s ability as frequently as possible. Of course, it’s the 3+ cost attacks that really make the deck sing.

Knowing LSS, I assume that Oaken Old started as an Oldhim Specialization, but as they tested Starvo, they felt that he needed an additional weapon to really put him over the top, so they opened up this powerful attack. When his ability is active, the above 3 cards each come in for a staggering 9 with dominate and go again. The opponent can typically expect a Winter’s Wail to follow the initial assault, but it’s perfectly common to also face down an additional 3-cost attack for 7. This kind of volley has usually only been seen from a Briar when channeling Mt. Heroic.

Naturally, Oaken Old can also be fused to power up even more and add a devastating hit effect. Paired with Crippling Crush, the Star of the Show can disrupt their opponent while pushing remarkably tall damage.

Some top players have scoffed at the “bad” cards that this Bravo has to play to synergize with his hero ability. But I think there’s some wonderful thematic beauty that brings the Tales of Aria set to life. We’ll discuss this further soon. For now, let’s crunch some numbers to see how far above-rate Starvo really is.

Above-rate Qualities

As many of you have experienced or read Bravo, Star of the Show is a ubiquitous force in the meta right now. HIs play pattern is very linear which offsets his high financial cost to play. Few heroes can match the Legendary drip that this Everfest hero can show up to battle in. He has access to 3 Legendary chest pieces, not to mention a Majestic, and the scores of commons as well as 2 incredible Legendary helms.

Players can use this calculator to tinker with their deck while determining how often they’ll align the stars of Bravo’s ability. In testing, I’ve used Charles Dunn’s list from Philly most often, but plenty of other lists have been configured around the globe during the Pro-Quest season, like Cayle McCreath’s list.

So, how does Bravo swing above the average rate of other heroes? As many have outlined, and how I began to explore in my previous FAB Math series, a card’s value can be calculated fairly easily in this game—as can certain abilities like dominate and go again. Yet, with heroes like Briar, Chane, and Brostar being able to unlock these abilites with conditional costs, things can get messy pretty quickly.

Let’s look at Break Ground, an otherwise rarely played Earth attack action that is just below-rate with an optional filtering effect. The designers count this optional effect as an additional value point for this card, allowing them to subtract 1 point from its defense value.

The former “you may” clause was deemed too valuable to be free on the card. Yet, Fusion, like several conditional class features, is a free add-on to cards that feature it—like Entangle above. With a blank textbox, Entangle would be perfectly at-rate: a scaled-up version of Wounding Blow. With the Fusion effect, this Elemental Guardian card tells the deck builder how to enhance this card. Simply by building with additional Earth cards and having one in hand after paying the resource cost for this card, the player can land a punishing hit effect on the opponent.

Bravo, Star of the Show becomes the first hero to have such a powerful, resource-free, conditional effect that gets to be on the table for an entire game of Flesh and Blood. Bravo’s hero ability is virtually a combination of the Fuse effects from Entwine Earth, Entwine Ice, and Entwine Lightning. This power is an all-or-nothing opportunity. If Bravo has all of the elements in hand, then he can harness each of their energies to empower his next 3-cost or higher attack.

Prior to Aria, each of these effects would have come from an additional card. Even the exchange on Bravo, Showstopper involves pitching a card to access dominate. However, with Starvo, the balancing factor of his ability comes from the construction that the deck must take on. To unlock all of the effects, you need all 3 elements in hand. Of course, this effort is supplemented by the 3 Pulse cards. It seems that most builds can achieve this feat just over 50% of the time with the help of Crown of Seeds.

So where does that leave our new hero? He’s certainly been performing well during the early Pro-Quest season. Like Briar and Chane before him, he seems to be the new kid on the block who is causing trouble for the other kids.

Let’s examine some possible hand configurations.

Oaken Old (red), Heaven’s Claws (blue), Frost Fang (yellow), and Autumn’s Touch (red)

This is one of the more ideal hands that Starvo could muster. To start, Bravo would reveal the 3 elements from his hand to unlock his ability. Then, he has several lines of play. The best of which is playing and Fusing Oaken Old. By pitching Heaven’s Claws, we still have the necessary Earth and Ice cards needed to Fuse Oaken Old—bringing the attack to a staggering 11 with dominate, go again, and an astonishing hit effect that would strip the opponent of two cards from their hand.

The two cards remaining are an awkward combination for Brostar, though. With a combined 3 resources, he could still swing with Winter’s Wail and threaten a Frostbite token. However, without an additional card to put into the Arsenal to filter with Crown of Seeds, he may best-served by forgoing his second attack to set up for the next turn. I would be very tempted to still swing the hammer if Oaken Old hit and decimated the opponent’s hand.

If Autumn’s Touch or Frost Fang had been blue iterations of their elements, then Bravo would have had even more options available. With those two cards still in hand after Oaken Old, he could pitch the blue Ice card to attack with red Autumn’s touch for an additional 7 (damage output of 18 for the turn). Or with a blue Earth card, he could attack with yellow Frost Fang. Not every Starvo runs that card, but on the aggregate, it could be seen as better than Winter’s Wail. Many opponents will eat the Winter’s Wail follow-up attack to arsenal their 1 remaining card, but if Frost Fang would hit, they would lose that card anyway.

More often than a Fused Oaken Old or a supercharged Crippling Crush, you may see Bravo strike out with a red Evergreen, Autumn’s Touch, Break Ground, or, perhaps, Entangle. However, this Everfest MC can also draw into lackluster hands.

Blizzard, Heaven’s Claws (blue), Lightning Surge (blue), Polar Blast (blue)

For example, the above hand certainly doesn’t lack resources, but its offensive output is found wanting. A Bravo staring down this hand would be hoping to filter with Crown of Seeds and hope to find one of those red 3-cost Earth attacks. If that’s not possible, or the draw is a flop, then he has to think about some different lines of play. Ultimately, he’s going to want to keep 1 of the blue Ice cards to use with Winter’s Wail and 1 additional card to arsenal.

With that in mind, Bravo will likely be looking to block with Heaven’s Claws and pitching Blizzard or Lightning Surge to enable Crown of Seeds and Rampart of the Ram’s Head.

Some have said these turns make Bravo function like a non-optimal Oldhim. To an extent, I certainly agree with that sentiment. Unfortunately, the tuned Starvo decks can so consistently filter their hands that they end up presenting double-digit damage nearly every turn of the game.

There’s always going to be that game when the stars just don’t align and Bravo starts eating damage while trying to set up some elemental Flow for down the line. If only Bravo had a way to swing tempo back in his favor even when he’s not drawing Crippling Crush or Oaken Old.

If only…

Awakening is a game-changing card that can shift the balance of power in any match. Usually, Bravo will tutor out a Pulverize, Crippling Crush, or Oaken Old. Opponents will be wise to keep a running tally of these cards as they’re pitched or played throughout the game.

Additionally, because Starvo runs so many blues, he can even play a tutored Oaken Old on the same turn since its cost is so low—Especially if he has a Pulse of Isenloft in hand. At that point, he’s likely hoping to YOLO a Guardian attack card for his next hand to make use of the abundance of Seismic Surge tokens that Awakening has generated.

Awakening makes the Brostar matchup feel so much worse. The deck has the power and the tools to compete in the meta for a long time to come.

Thematic Lore

Even with the unyielding power that Bravo, Star of the Show brings, I can’t help but marvel at his thematic beauty. The lore of Aria consists of beautiful landscapes and wondrous creatures. Bravo is help play out all of these elements through his playstyle.

As future sets release, we’ll see how the tearing of the veil that has protected Aria leads to consequences for the people of this land. Bravo stands as the ultimate champion of this land that radiates The Flow. Before his release, several cards from Tales of Aria rarely saw competitive play. Now, 2021’s second draft set has a renewed interest as players continue the hunt for alt-arts and cold foils from the 1st edition packs.

Seeing Bravo summon the powers of not only the elemental forces of his land but also the creatures to aid him in battle is intoxicating to my narrative brain. Chane is our clearest big bad, so it’s easy to imagine the shadowy figure conjuring forth his Demigons to infest the land and Bravo, surrounded by Frost Fangs and the Evergreen Deer, standing tall ready to defend the land.

At the end of A Grand Adventure, Lexi, Briar, Oldhim, and 3 companions (Yorick, Thawne, and Māra) are about to head to the Everfest Carnival to seek out the answers they need. We now know several named characters who could be helpful to the band of heroes.

Bravo, of course, will prove to be a tremendously powerful ally should Aria become threatened (of course this will happen).

Jezabelle is called some combination of a Healer, a Wisewoman, an Allsorts, an Alchemist, and a Ringmaster on 4 out of the 6 potions found in the Everfest supplemental set. Her vast knowledge could be exactly what the team is looking for.

Astier, the clown from Bingo could be helpful. Maybe.

The Grey appears to be some sort of Wizard from the digital tile reveal of Arcane Lantern.

And of course, Valda Brightaxe, Isylander, and Genis Whotchuneed could all prove useful as well.

Ultimately, they’re looking for a seer with the ability to decipher an ancient language. I, for one, can’t wait for more official lore articles to be released.

Weaknesses?

The Star of the Show does have some chinks in his armor. He’s tremendously skilled at going tall with an occasional second attack to maintain tempo, but he’s not nearly as defensively skilled as the other Elemental Guardian Oldhim. So, decks that can more effectively go wide or tall can keep enough pressure on Bravo to bait him into blocking with even more cards out of hand than he’d normally be comfortable with.

Due to his lack of consistent defense that we’ve come to expect from the Guardian class, he is also susceptible to on-hit effects from other Guardians and Rangers. There have been reports of several Lexi pilots reaching the top 8 of various Pro-Quest events. Her knack to have an arrow for myriad situations is helpful in keeping her prey suppressed.

Of course, the greatest threat to Brostar is likely Prism, the Light Illusionist. Her ability to accumulate an inconquerable board state often leads to Bravo dying of a thousand prismatic cuts. Naturally, as the meta shifts to engage with this new threat, Bravo will also prove to be a malleable hero.

Iterations On the Horizon

Most of the current builds are trying to optimize Bravo’s hero ability, attack twice per turn, and rest on the laurels of Crown of Seeds and Rampart to absorb some damage while on defense. However, with such a massive available card pool, surely there will be other iterations of this hero seen in competition this year and beyond.

In my very early testing with Brostar, I opted to focus on a few cards and lean into a more typical defensive Guardian build.

I wanted a list that could make the best use out of Ice Quake—a copy of Come to Fight that also buffs weapon attacks and threatens a Frostbite token on hit. If the deck would also be using Winter’s Wail, then Chill to the Bone and Pulse of Volthaven could be used to threaten a turn-stopping amount of frost and extra damage to contend with.

This list among others rests their theory on the simple notion that Bravo, Showstopper decks just get better with Crown of Seeds, Winter’s Wail, Rampart of the Ram’s Head, and the occasional elemental card.

What iterations have you brewed or seen in the wild that you think have promise?

The Star of the Show, an Introduction to FAB 2.0

I began to flesh out this idea in a previous article about the potential of seeing Azaela as a Mechanologist Ranger in a future set. Here’s a sample:

The release of Bravo, Star of the Show has my brain buzzing about the future of talented heroes. The new Bravo feels a little bit about what Bravo’s original conception was—his essence if you will. The Guardian, Elemental, Ice, Lightning, and Earth card pools all seem to have had this hero’s release in mind.

Bravo has three Pulse cards that each combine two of the elements to synchronize with his ability.

Bravo also has access to a card in each of the three elements that draws a card when it’s played from arsenal to proc Earthlore Bounty.

Additionally, the Star of the Show is able to outfit himself in some of the strongest suites of equipment imaginable. Crown of Seeds paired with Winter’s Wail and Rampart of the Ram’s Head has already proved to be a powerful combination for stopping damage with Oldhim. And unlike Titan’s First, Winter’s Wail will always swing for 4. Awakening can assist him if he falls behind in the game by granting him free swings with his strongest attacks. Ice Quake becomes a powerful buff that can boost huge Guardian attacks or even empower Winter’s Wail to threaten more damage and possibly an additional Frost Bite token. Blink brings Tome of Fyendal turns to life in a similar way that Mage Master Boots always have for Bravo. Lastly, Oaken Old becomes a beautiful compliment to Crippling Crush in Bravo’s quest to fully disrupt the opponent’s plans.

Could we have predicted Bravo’s elemental debut? From his lore and his art, particularly Showtime, we certainly could have seen the writing on the wall. Bravo harness the power of the Flow. In Show Time, he’s clearly seen manipulating lightning, so as a Guardian wielding Elements, of course, he should arrive as a fully Elemental Guardian with the essence of earth, ice, and lightning. 

I am certainly of the belief that we’ll see the other non-talented heroes emerge in later sets with a talent associated with their region of Rathe. Since we don’t know what talents await us over the years, it’s hard to make too many predictions, but surely we’ll see some draconic or fiery Kano, some kind of vengeance Runeblad for Vis, some version of Katsu that unlocks more of his family’s ancient ways, etc.

These revamped versions of previous heroes will help keep the back catalog of the card pool alive for decades to come.

Here are some articles and videos from around the Web to help you better understand Starvo:

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