At Home in Aria: Matchup Guide
In Part 1 of this article, I introduced an updated decklist for Bravo in a more aggressive, Briar-dominated meta. If you haven't read that yet, I'd recommend starting there.
All matchups are different. You can use the following tips as starting points, but they may not represent the best cards to subtract from the deck based on your local meta or preferred playstyle. Feel free to experiment and see what works for you!
The core equipment set is Anothos, Arcanite Skullcap,Tectonic Plating, Crater Fist, and Mage Master Boots.
- Against Chane/Kano/Briar/Viserai, substitute in Nullrune Boots.
- Against Briar, sub in both Nullrune Boots and Nullrune Hood and Titan’s Fist/Rampart of Ram’s Head.
- Fist/Rampart will also be sided in against Dash.
Against either brute, we tend to run a high card count as this match will get grindy. Focus on blocks, leaning into Anothos and swing for six. Set up for late game when they are low on armor.
Rhinar will try to disrupt our ability to block through intimidate, so zero-cost defense reactions played from arsenal will have additional value. Brute can also present some tall sources of damage in which we want to have the ability to defend efficiently. Prioritize putting defense reactions into your arsenal so you can ensure you can play them and not have them intimidated out.
Levia will either be going super wide with Mandible Claws or presenting big attacks via attack action cards and Hexagore later in the game. Plan to block heavily, and search for an opportunity to pressure back and force Levia to take damage from Blood Debt by losing too many cards in hand. This is usually through either Pummeled attacks or cards like Crippling Crush, which can be catastrophic for the opposing Levia once her Carrion Husk has been destroyed. In my opinion, Levia (CC) is not consistent enough to pose a truly legitimate threat against Guardian in the current meta.
Against Oldhim, it’s crucial to put on the pressure and try to wear down Oldhim’s defenses. You want to get to a point where you can close out the game via Pummel and Tear Asunder in the late game. Don’t be afraid to play early Crippling Crush to try to eat through armor because you can likely use Remembrance to recur some threat density later in the game. Lean into your dominate, and try to play efficiently for time.
In the mirror, we want to shift to more of a midrange deck while still being able to grind it out and defend against our opponent. Holding up armor to try to avoid detrimental dominated crush effects is crucial to playing this match well. Cards like Pummel on undominated attacks allow us to punch back hard, while Anothos continues to chip in and wear our opponents down. Just be warned, their Anothos will be coming at you too.
Aim to put pressure whenever possible and hold up defense reactions to play from arsenal in a pinch. Use Remembrance to pull back big threats like Crippling Crush and Righteous Cleansing and use dominate to close out the game. Play quickly, but don’t get sloppy because this will be a grind for time.
Prism is a tough match, but will likely be falling out of favor in her current iterations thanks to Briar. Try to play quickly and efficiently, as this match can often take a lot of time to play and neither player wants it to end in a draw.
Aim to aggressively use Show Time! to tutor up a yellow card if your opponent plays an early Great Library. We run more yellows now to deal with this threat and prevent the opponent from snowballing too much value.
Destroy your opponent’s auras, and look to use Pummel and dominate your big attacks to break Spectral Shields before they get out of hand. This is a very grindy matchup, so play with the intent of winning in the late game. Try to hold up armor as long as possible for the late game, or for when you are trying to swing the tempo. Beware of Prism’s own Pummels in the phantasm attack builds, and assume they are red. Pummel cannot be used to power up Spectral Shields or aura attacks with Luminaris.
Soul Shield is our biggest obstacle to play around, since Prism doesn’t have a lot of armor or defense outside of her Spectral Shields. It’s often worth it to not dominate your attacks in favor of holding up a Pummel to make your opponent’s life more difficult.
Play as fast as you can timewise, but not to the point where you get sloppy and make mistakes you wouldn’t otherwise.
This is a match where our 2-block cards shine, as they can effectively block Pistol before additional effects. Look to pressure your opponent early and often, as Dash doesn’t do a great job on the defensive front. Pummel will continually annoy Dash and ensure the crush effect for Spinal Crush will shut down your opponent on their next turn.
Pressure your opponent’s life while keeping yours high. Look to set up a Tome of Fyendal + Mage Master Boots combo in the game to regain some life and stay ahead of your opponent. With all of the life gain and Rampart of the Ram’s Head, we can generate a lot of value by taking a defensive approach to this match.
This can be a tough match. Try to keep your life and equipment up until the late game. Lean into Pummel as a way to get around Flic Flak and push damage through. Your opponent will try to poke you down with Kodachi, which make blocking a hassle. Look to play Remembrance to bring back offensive threats and try to go in big with Spinal Crush and Crippling Crush to disrupt Katsu. We want to be swinging back with Anothos for six whenever possible. Remembrance can also be used to shuffle back in Blessing of Deliverance if you need more life gain.
Hold up defense reactions and be ready to use armor for Command and Conquer when protecting a valuable card in Arsenal. Play Sigil of Solace to arsenal and try to bait out the Katsu player into playing their C&C thinking they are targeting a Crippling Crush.
Beware the low-life zone against Katsu. The last place we want to be against Katsu is at or below four life, where a single Kodachi + red Razer Reflex represents death. Being forced to block Kodachi with a card from hand puts us in a situation that is very hard to escape without the help of Sigil of Solace.
Azalea is annoying to play against, but ultimately doesn’t have the consistency/power to pose a truly viable threat against us. Increase the Tension does prevent us from playing defense reactions- which can be extremely annoying- but we have tools to counter pressure.
Mainly, Azalea cannot defend well. It’s much easier for our crush attacks to land. Gain life with Blessing of Deliverance and Tome of Fyendal and put loads of pressure on your opponent. Since we run a higher red count in this match, look to use Sink Below to draw into another blue when it’s needed.
Against Lexi, look to block out and counter efficiently. We can lean into the defensiveness of the deck here to pile on the pressure and win the game more or less with Anothos alone. Because it’s tough to determine what variant of Lexi the opponent is playing, it’s usually best to just use Anothos instead of Titan’s Fist and Rampart.
The most popular variant of Viserai at the moment is the Sonata builds that are going around. To win this match, we need to be able to gain life while they build up their engine, as well as constantly put on the pressure to close out the game. Get aggressive, hit hard, and look for opportunities to close out the game and survive a big Sonata turn. Thankfully, we have a lot of armor density and can survive the ‘big turn’ better than most other classes.
Chane is a challenging match, even after the bans. You have a few choices, and you usually need to decide within the first four turns of the game which you are going to take. As you practice this match more and more, you’ll learn the crucial signs of when it’s time to commit one way or the other, usually from either your draws or your opponent’s plays.
First option, get aggressive and pressure Chane relentlessly. Thanks to Carrion Husk and Grasp of the Arknight, Chane has a ton of defense and can invalidate one of our giant crush attacks. Often times, that can be all Chane needs to completely flip the tempo back in their favor. Hit hard and often until your opponent is forced to block with Carrion Husk, and try to get to a point where you are pushing massive damage at your opponent each and every turn so that their blood debt stacks and they take more and more damage from being unable to play their cards.
Another option is to turtle up completely and make your opponent deck themselves before they can kill you. With this strategy, you will almost always be looking to shuffle three copies of Blessing of Deliverance back into the deck with Remembrance and keep your life total and armor as healthy as possible (or look to get more threat density if you are ahead). It’s okay to block with all four cards from hand if you think you can hold out until your opponent burns through their entire deck. This option is likely less effective/neccesary now that Chane doesn’t have access to Seeds of Agony and will be looking to play a more modest, and conservative approach to their Soul Shackles.
Play Sigil of Solace to arsenal and try to bait out the Chane player into playing their C&C thinking they are targeting a Crippling Crush.
Against Briar, we want to get lean into defense reactions, and grind with Titan’s Fist. Rampart of the Ram’s Head (as well as Nullrune 2) makes it extremely efficient to defend against Briar’s Rosetta Thorn and try to deny as many Embodiment of Earth tokens as possible while still advancing our game plans. Play clean, and search for value in every line you play with the ultimate intention of closing the game with dominated Crippling Crush, Tear Asunder, or Pummel for the win. This match will require you to gain as much life as possible so that you can take a hit and swing the tempo when it’s time. While Righteous Cleansing is not a valuable card in this match in terms of its crush effect, it still pitches for two, blocks for three, and enables Rouse the Ancients. Because of the higher shift in reds after boarding, it is essential that it stays in to keep the deck from redlining too often.
We run a high card count in this ~50/50 match, as the games can go long and we want to ensure we still have plenty of gas in the tank. Look to block out Dorinthea, store defense reactions in Arsenal, and prevent Dawnblade from getting a +1 counter for as long as possible. Don’t be afraid to let Dawnblade get a counter if you are confident you can retaliate with a dominated Crippling Crush that your opponent won’t be able to defend. They more than likely won’t be able to hit you with Dawnblade with only 1-2 cards in hand and will lose the counter.
Block a ton in the early game to thin the deck and increase your threat density, then look to flip the switch and put Dori on the backpedal.
Watch out for Rout, Ironsong Determination, and Steelblade Supremacy. Understand their deck, how it works, and what damage your opponent could present at any time. It’s fine to overblock if it means you keep Dori from snowballing too early in the game.
Treat Boltyn as a go-wide hero, and respect his ability to put out some staggering damage in the biggest turns of the game. Thankfully, we run a lot of non-attack block three cards that do a good job of getting around Boltyn’s hero ability and giving him a harder time of giving attacks go again, even if he has charged this turn.
Use Spinal Crush to hinder Boltyn for a turn and turn off his go again.
Play proactively, but keep your life up as much as possible. If Boltyn pressures too much, look to flip the tempo with cards like Crippling Crush later in the game. Boltyn’s weakness is his reliance on high card count to play efficiently. If we can counterpressure often and consistently enough, he will have a hard time regaining the tempo.
Kano is a lot less rampant in CC than Blitz.
Try to kill Kano as quickly and effectively as possible. Gain life with Sigil of Solace and Tome of Fyendal, and try to store a Sigil of Solace in arsenal for a pinch. Your opponent may miscalculate what they need for lethal if you time the Sigil right and are patient enough with it.
Drew Cordell has been casually competing at high levels of Magic: the Gathering for over a decade before discovering Flesh and Blood and playing obsessively. While he specializes in Guardian, Drew also writes about a wide range of Flesh and Blood concepts and classes across all skill levels. You can get full access to ALL of Drew’s decks, one-to-one mentoring designed to take your play to the next level, and much more at: https://www.patreon.com/DrewJCordell
Your Dash deck changes don't match the description. You say take out Anothos but encourage us to pitch for a surge token to buff Anothos.
You're right. Corrected that line.
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