Monarch turned out to be a set that went back to build on previously established classes. Brute, Runeblade, and Warrior all received new tools and, more notably, new Heroes that drastically expand the deckbuilding opportunities for those classes.
But what about the other classes? What new gems are hidden among the generic cards in the set? And which pre-existing cards have taken on new relevance in light of the changes Monarch's new Heroes bring?
Today I'll be taking a look at one of these overlooked heroes, evaluating his prospects in this new era and making a few speculative calls on cards that may pique his interest.
In a previous article, I expressed my opinion that Bravo may be the most one-dimensional hero in the game. I'm pleased to say that's changing. Slightly.
The modern Guardian may take a slightly more aggressive approach, and he may even choose his attack actions with the intent to play them! It may seem surprising that Guardian finds itself in such a transformational position after a set with no direct support for it, but what it comes down to is this: Bravo already had the tools to fight the heroes of Light and Shadow.
Bravo already has the tools to fight the heroes of Light and Shadow.
What's Old Is New Again
Bravo (alongside the Brute class) is ideally suited for dealing with the inflated attacks of the Illusionist, Prism. Bravo was already comfortable with blocking, and now the majority of his attack actions can block an entire Phantasm attack with one card. His swagger knows no fear.
Want to make more trouble for Prism? Why not take all those even-costing cards that Yellows pitch so nicely to pay for and make them a little more awkward? Cartilage Crush does more than ruin carefully calculated turns; it flat-out wastes an Illusionist's cards.
One of Bravo's most iconic cards, Crush Confidence, is a perfect foil to the machinations of the Levia. In red, the attack only needs Dominate to lock her into paying her debts that turn. The card was always on the cusp of relevance, but with the delicate balance of power Shadow Heroes employ, Crush Confidence is now essential.
Chane's whole gimmick revolves around throwing lots of attacks- but not necessarily powerful attacks. As such, Crush the Weak begins to look better. This is a sideboard card for sure- the Blue may stay in your deck for any game, but if you choose to run the Red version, you'll want to cut it when it won't be relevant.
While we're on the subject of countering Chane, let's talk about Bravo's exceptional counter to Go Again in general. Spinal Crush absolutely ruins Chane, along with Ser Boltyn and, to a lesser degree, Prism. This card was already effective against the 8 'original' Heroes; sometimes a good card is just a good card.
It can be hard to find effective counters for Warriors, but since Ser Boltyn has a thing about his attacks being above their printed value, anything that makes that target higher is going to be valuable. Debilitate raises the bar for Boltyn to tack Go Again onto that attack.
If you're a Blitz player, Disable is your new answer to the Mentor card type. This also happens to be a personal favorite build-around card, alongside Promise of Plenty, for a variation on the typical Guardian theme.
A Few New Tricks
To make all these Crush effects relevant, Bravo needs to make a few changes.
First off, we want Crush effects to trigger, we'll need their attack values to rise. I'd recommend using most of these cards in Blue regardless of your matchup, but shifting your Red copies in and out based on relevance.
Alongside those higher attack values, we're also going to need Dominate. And while we can get that from Bravo directly, it's not always easy to pull together the resources needed for that. Emerging Dominance becomes a key card for landing a Crush effect.
Because we're going to play more attacks, we need to adjust our strategy surrounding Pitch. No longer can we count on a steady stream of 3+ cost cards falling into our Pitch pile. Cards like Stamp Authority and Blessing of Deliverance have less of a role to play. More notably, the ol' reliable hammer Anathos isn't so reliable anymore. That's right. It may be time to consider Sledge of Anvilheim.
This shift in approach is backed up by a few incredible cards from Monarch's generic card pool. Rouse the Ancients rewards you for having a hand full of high attack values- which is exactly what Crush Bravo is trending towards. On the other side of the equation, Bravo's inevitable trend towards heavy Blue counts supports Exude Confidence, a powerful card that many are already calling the next Command and Conquer.
My rogue pick of the night is a new piece of equipment for the flex slot in Bravo's boudoir: Time Skippers. For 3 resources, Bravo can pick up an extra action point, a potent tool for an unexpected one-two punch (I'm always chasing that Bravo Encore dream!)
Can't Go Wrong With a Classic
Obviously, a new set with 4 new Heroes is going to inspire most people to pick up a brand new deck. But if you're looking for something familiar- or if you're simply locked out of Monarch until Unlimited releases in a few weeks- Bravo makes a strong case for himself as an answer to everything new.
Alex Truell is the editor for the Rathe Times. Alex is a casually competitive player living in the U.S. who was fortunate enough to come across Flesh and Blood before Crucible of War (and therefore, before the game exploded in value) and was hooked fast in no time. Alex is a player who cares about the competitive environment, but doesn't have to live in it; an optimist who loves the game, but can take a step back to critique it; and a deckbuilder who revels in novelty.
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