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Art of Desire: An Early Analysis of Nuu

In what can only be described as the most savvy marketing of a Blitz deck in Flesh and Blood history, LSS released strategy guides and full decklists for the heroes of Mistveil with absolutely no warning and well in advance of spoiler season. In doing so, they've given us a good look at the core gameplay of these new heroes.

Zen's Crouching Tigers arrive well-defined; it's a niche strategy that's already existing across two prior releases. Similarly, Enigma's Spectral Shields had been a part of Prism's gameplay, and much of the Illusionist card pool had pointed toward a rise in their prominence that the Mystic Illusionist now delivers on.

But the revelation of Nuu's deck broke ground on the fresh direction LSS is taking with Assassin. The youngest class in FAB today, Assassin has scarcely had time to develop beyond the shadows cast by Arakni and Uzuri. From what we've now seen of Part the Mistveil, Nuu's drawn tools from both - and then moved beyond them.

Early speculation surrounding Nuu focused too much on her Chi-powered ability, and I heard many question whether there were enough blues in the meta to actually feed a banished zone and create meaningful payoffs. While card theft is always a neat trick, you can't really build a strategy that banks on your opponents' cards being better than your own. There will certainly be appealing targets once in a while - with the most appealing being opposing Mystics' cards - but the true purpose here has to do with the inherent flaw of Inner Chi in the late game. As the second cycle hits and you start to draw into resource cards, the option to turn them into more meaningful cards - the cards your opponent would have been seeing in their second cycle - represents a significant improvement. Of course, we'd rather fuel our own playlines with those 3 resources, but the option is important.

Understanding that the Chi ability here serves as Nuu's late-game insurance policy paints her in a different light. Her remaining ability - which banishes action cards used to defend her stealth attacks - effectively blends the existing contract and stealth packages into one unified package. But to achieve that, Nuu needs something that no Assassin to date has really had: consistent access to 'go again'.

Slither opens the Assassin card pool wide open. With the ability to give any attack action card go again, we can spread contracts across multiple attacks, stockpiling silver to re-purchase our equipment. We can also use Slither with generic staples like Snatch or Command and Conquer. With wider potential for silver acquisition, we can start looking at some of those underutilized legendaries like Redback Shroud and Shriek Razors -  or silver can simply act as a way to cycle our Inner Chi late game. 

Card image of Redback Shroud
Card image of Shriek Razors
Card image of Snatch (Red)
Card image of Command and Conquer (Red)

But even beyond Slither - an Ephermeral card that must be generated by other effects - Nuu has reliable access to go again thanks to her dagger, Beckoning Mistblade. Following the familiar template of Assassin daggers, this 2-cost 1-damage attack has natural go again; but on hit, it gives your next blue attack go again as well. We could cycle back to the chi-ability we noted earlier, but I think much more interesting is the idea of playing blue contract cards for this role. This creates a playline of dagger>blue contract>red contract/stealth attack that will, over time, drain the opponent of armor blocks and feed their banished zone while, ideally, scoring silver and prepping our late-game. Imagine a blue Fleece the Frail into Leave No Witnesses versus those pesky Death Dealer Azaleas...

Unexpectedly, Nuu also brings the most concerted life-gain strategy we've seen in FAB yet. Utilized as a reward for banishing the right things, Nuu can draw out a game long enough to make those missing cards matter to an opponent. Cards like Sigil of Solace and Fyendal's Fighting Spirit have shown the significance of even minor life gain; featuring it throughout the Assassin kit gives it unexplored prevalence that could end up defining Nuu's gameplay.

Attack reaction cards have been one of the strengths of the Assassin class since Dynasty; but while they serve as key tools in many decklists, they've never been the focus of Arakni nor Uzuri. Nuu looks to change that with signature cards like Hiss and Double Trouble. The former acts as a Razor Reflex without the limitation on card cost (and with a notable improvement on block value); while the latter, not itself an attack reaction, grants incredible value when it becomes the target of one.

The final shape of this strategy amounts to a wildly unpredictable attack pattern that hides much of the information until the reaction step. There are shades of Dorinthea, to be sure, but with more disruption. Builds that lean into contracts will have the potential to disrupt combo decks and keep pace with slow fatigue decks. Aggro decks may find Nuu's life gain to be challenging to overcome- especially as their red-attack-focused decklists are easy to target with a contract sideboard.

The key to making all this work, however, is going to be in refining Nuu's blue-heavy endgame. Decklists will have to incorporate high-cost cards that are worth pitching early on, to take advantage of the flood of blue cards left at the end of the game. Inner Chi can quickly overwhelm even those plans, so deckbuilders will have to be discerning with their transcendence cards.

In sum total, it's the gameplay I wanted from Assassin all along - and I'll be dedicating significant time to refining Nuu with Part the Mistveil's release. Arakni has struggled with a strict card pool and narrowly-defined strategy; and for all Uzuri's unpredictability, she's still locked into that number 6. Nuu, however, is free to explore all angles of the class, making her strategy anything but rote.

I'm eager to see how Nuu takes her place in the meta, and anticipate a newfound relevance for Assassin that hopefully sees all three heroes rise with the strength of a new influx of cards.

Discussion (3)

Reader

Toqtamish

2 months ago
No warning? We’ve known for weeks May 6th decks would be released as people will be playing them in Japan in four days.
Reader

Skulthuggery

2 months ago
I’m excited to try these life gain and double banish assassin cards in full fatigue Arakni.
Reader

Uzuri Teklo

2 months ago
As Spongebob would say, I'm ready!

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