Blitzing from the Shadows
As the World Championship approaches, competitors are hard at work brewing, testing, drafting, making sideboard plans, and deciding on armor loadouts. With the recent Banned and Suspended announcement, CC remained relatively unchanged, with Iyslander, Oldhim, and Fai poised to remain this format's "Big 3" with Briar, Viserai, Dash, and Dromai right behind.
On the other hand, Blitz saw some real changes with the departure of Storm Striders, Bloodsheath Skeleta, and Mask of the Pouncing Lynx. While each of these changes negatively impacted the power level of certain heroes, I wholeheartedly believe these changes made Blitz a better format with fewer effective non-games. Even without Storm Striders, there is a real chance Iyslander still ends up being the most registered Blitz deck at Worlds, as the BullyLander lists seem to have translated just fine to this format. Runeblades have an embarrassment of riches for equipment, and the absence of Skeleta will simply reduce Briar and Chane's efficiency and ability to occasionally dumpster opponents out of nowhere.
Fai and Benji losing Mask of the Pouncing Lynx is arguably the hardest hit of the bunch. The meta will of course coalesce around a few of the strongest decks, but I wouldn't be surprised to sit down across from Iyslander, Oldhim, Chane, Kassai, Rhinar, Dorinthea, Briar, Bravo, Prism, Kayo (there's got to be at least one, right?), or Kano at Worlds.
With so many available options, there isn't enough time to thoroughly test absolutely everything, so there is definite value to be gained by playing something you already know. Runeblade is my favorite class in the game, making Chane the obvious place for me to start (and it doesn't hurt that I think Chane is one of the better decks in the format).
This is my current iteration of the deck, and it has changed quite a bit since I began testing. This Chane list is heavily reliant on a few synergy packages that blend together nicely along with a handful of power cards.
Each of these cards are just incredibly powerful. Soul Reaping could be ban-worthy if it wasn't Legendary, Art of War says "draw 3 and get extra value" in Chane, and Plunder Run was removed from Classic Constructed for a reason. These cards, often in tandem, are responsible for some of the strongest turns Chane is capable of.
The now-infamous duo of Belittle and Minnowism continues to find a home in Chane, capable of fixing resource-light hands or enabling our Runeblade synergies at a great rate.
These Blood Debt attacks allow us to get card advantage from both Soul Shackles and Art of War, as well as feeding to Soul Reaping for extra value. Red Ghostly Visit is the only attack in the bunch that doesn't reveal to Belittle, but it having no restrictions on when you can attack with it from banish make it too good to pass up.
Non-attack actions that give go again are part of Chane's bread and butter, and this list is no different. In late game scenarios where we have a few cards hanging out in our banished zone, these cards - often in conjunction with Spellbound Creepers - can let us unleash a slew of attacks that will stretch opponents' ability to defend to the brink.
The blues for this deck are all just solid value. Each of these cards can be revealed to Belittle; Shadow of Ursur and Mutated Mass augment our Blood Debt percentage; Vexing Malice can provide a bit of reach; and Shrill of Skullform is just generally efficient in conjunction with our ability to create Soul Shackles.
Astute readers may have noticed that I didn't include red Vexing Malice or red Nimblism in any of the above categories, and it's no coincidence that they're the three slots in the deck most subject to change.
Currently, red Vexing is there as a more efficient version of yellow Shrill of Skullform to better play through resource-taxing Ice effects while still revealing to Belittle.
Red Nimblism is currently getting the nod as Iyslander will often not let you go nearly as wide as we're accustomed to with Chane, and playing Nimblism off Creepers after they hit you with a Hypothermia is just slightly better value than yellow Captain's Call.
Here are a few key numbers for the deck:
- 21 cards that reveal to Belittle
- 16 blues (which is high, but necessary for fighting through Ice effects)
- 14 non-attack actions (I would not go below this number)
- 13 Blood Debt cards
The Blood Debt count is a bit low, which is something I am aware of even though it's felt fine in practice thus far. It's entirely possible that the three flex spots just end up being two red Unhallowed Rites and a red Howl from Beyond, but here are all the cards I'm also considering:
Notable absences from my considerations are both Revel in Runeblood and Swarming Gloomveil. The list currently runs 14 non-attack actions, and even though in practice with Belittle it operates more like 16, Revel requiring another NAA to be played before it is just asking too much when we're being taxed so frequently by the Ice heroes. Once we determine Revel isn't part of the solution, Swarming Gloomveil also loses a fair amount of its potency, as there are higher impact and/or Blood Debt cards we can play instead.
Iyslander is a tough nut to crack, as she constantly makes you think about what she might have in her arsenal for your turn while slinging disruptive offensive cards like Aether Icevein or value attacks like Scar for a Scar and Enlightened Strike on her own turn. Iyslander's wealth of arcane spells makes Carrion Husk a risky proposition, capable of nullifying Chane's best defensive tool.
Knowing what you can and can't afford to play around on a given turn is important, as sometimes you just have to pick your poison. A steady stream of Frostbites is one thing, but the trio of Chanel Lake Frigid, Hypothermia, and Blizzard can freeze our turns in their tracks. Lucky for us, our equipment can help fight back. Spellbound Creepers can be used after a Blizzard or Hypothermia hits the table to let us regain our action point, and our density of blues can allow us to still mount respectable offense in the face of a CLF.
Given her propensity to prevent subsequent attacks beyond the first, it's often wise to frontload buffs like Minnowism and Nimblism to make sure you threaten that damage.
The absence of Crown of Seeds changed this matchup pretty drastically. Oldhim pitching cards to invest in defense is now much worse value, which means fatiguing Chane is no longer trivial. Husk and our equipment suite shine here, helping absorb the early attacks he'll throw out or avoiding a key Frostbite from Winter's Wail in the late game. You need to keep consistent pressure on Oldhim to prevent him swinging back too hard while also working to build up towards one particularly massive turn. Be wary of Blizzard and his Ice reaction! (At least he can't play Channel Lake Frigid as an Instant!)
The Chane mirror is always interesting. In CC Chane mirrors, you could usually tell who was in the lead by who had to use Husk first, but with the magic number 13 being much closer to Blitz starting life totals, it's not as good of an indicator here. In Blitz, I think it's less about who uses Husk first and more about who uses Husk to buy the better rebuttal turn. Also, get good at not banishing your Art of Wars.
You need to put Kassai on a clock from turn zero. If you let her sit and get value from Valiant Dynamo while building up Copper, you are going to be in for a hurting - so make sure you get your Husk value and push with Creepers as early as you reasonably can. Do your best to minimize the window for them to set up the vaunted Blood on Her Hands turn.
If you are unlucky enough to lose a die roll to Rhinar, Husk can at least keep you from taking enormous amounts of damage on turn 0. This one is a straight race though, as they're going to try and kill you with Mandible Claws before you can finish them with Rosetta Thorn. Their ability to race relies heavily on them drawing Bloodrush Bellow though, so Chane should be able to put out consistently more damage on average. Use your fridge and Creepers to take tempo and never give it back.
I've heard Prism proposed as a potential "anti-meta" hero for the Worlds Blitz format, and if enough players flock to Iyslander and Oldhim it very well could be. Unfortunately for people looking to prey on the Ice heroes, Brutes and Runeblades likely remain problematic matchups for her. Chane should continue to be favored into the Light Illusionist, but you need to stay disciplined as you can never write Prism off. Hang on to your Grasp of the Arknight and Crown of Providence blocks until they attack with a Herald of Erudition, and try not to end turns with too much Blood Debt in case an untimely Arc Light Sentinel follows a Blood Debt-heavy set of banishes.
Chane is currently my leading contender to register for Blitz at Worlds, but it's not a done deal yet. If I can't get the Iyslander matchup to a point I feel comfortable with, Rhinar is also on the table.
Regardless of which hero I end up playing, you can expect a Blitz Rhinar deep dive coming to the Rathe Times just after Worlds.
Kevin Brayer is an author for the Rathe Times and has been playing Flesh and Blood since the release of Crucible of War. He is a competitive player with a background in MTG, and spends his time honing his Runeblade skills. He enjoys giving back to the community by sharing his insight, humor, and love of all things Demonastery.
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