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Bravo's Classic Kicks: Varying Your Attack Patterns

1 year ago

5:41

By: Tommy Mains

Tagged: Strategy, Bravo

There have been many conversations over the years about calculating and determining value in Flesh and Blood. Just at the Rathe Times, we've covered the topic with Roger Bodee, Frank Hung, and reigning World Champion Michael Hamilton. Informed by value analysis, I went back to Bravo looking for places to gain an edge- and I believe I've found them in Snapdragon Scalers and a few likeminded cards.

Card image of Snapdragon Scalers

Retro Kicks

Bravo has worn many pairs of shoes throughout his time in Rathe. Between Ironrot, Mage Master, and Nullrune, Bravo may as well be called a 'himboot'.
(Editor: Sorry, I let him have that one.)

Let me make a case for moving Snapdragon Scalers to the top of that list.

The Snapdragon Scalers have been a staple of several heroes by providing on-demand access to an additional action point when attacking with a low-cost attack. Many players have paired it with the likes of Exude Confidence, Snatch, and even odd choices like Coax a Commotion, but I don’t think anything compares with Enlightened Strike for maintaining synergy with Bravo.

Card image of Enlightened Strike (Red)

An Enlightened Strike represents an opportunity to fix an all-red hand by still being able to push seven damage with a single attack. When paired with Snapdragon Scalers, Bravo can draw a card, gain go again, and swing with another attack. Of course, these snazzy boots can also be used with the added power mode of Enlightened Strike. With enough cards and resources, we can present seven damage from E-Strike and attack with a Spinal Crush.

Card image of Spinal Crush (Red)

Calculating Value with Snapdragon Scalers

While trying to invoke my inner Hamilton, I think it’s safe to say that the value of Snapdragon Scalers is equal to whatever you do with the action point granted from go again.

I often utilize the 'draw a card' clause from E-Strike - effectively causing the attack to be a pure zero-cost attack for five with go again, since I’ve replaced the card used to pay its cost. Because we draw the card before breaking the boots, we can guarantee we’ll have something to do with the extra AP.

The lowest return on investment is likely swinging with Anothos with only one blue for four damage. The high end is a follow-up with a large crush attack, a fully-buffed hammer swing, or even going wide with an Out Muscle before the hammer drops (more on that card in a minute).

There’s also the added benefit of the looming threat that the boots present on the board. When I play an E-Strike, the opponent knows I can stretch the combat chain out further, causing them to re-evaluate their hand’s value against what I can present.

Therefore, adding Snapdragon Scalers to Enlightened Strike adds at least 4 points of damage/value.

So how does this compare to Bravo’s other options for the coveted legs slot?

Card image of Ironrot Legs

Ironrot Legs have been his go-to since day one. They provide an as-needed point of defense, which is handy for stopping something with a hit effect or simply being considered an extra point of health to start the game with. Christian Mendoza and Evan Peterson demonstrated on Vazerum Presents that a point of damage blocked is equivalent to a point of damage dealt, so when evaluating the value of Ironrot Boots, it depends on what it blocks.

The value of Ironrot boots, then, is a range with a minimum of its defense value: 1.

Considering the high-end for this equipment is nebulous. It’s easy to conjure situations when this pair of rusted metal could be the only thing standing in the way of a red Snatch hitting or death by Kodachi. Still, we would need a lot of data to see how often the block out-values the combination of Snapdragon Scalers and Enlightened Strike.

Card image of Mage Master Boots

When Bravo was the reigning brick wall of the format, Mage Master Boots were often paired with Tome of Fyendal to draw cards, gain life, and attack all in one turn. The cost of the boots and the Tome is relatively irrelevant to blue-heavy Guardian builds, and even contributes to the power of the Anothos Swing after sliding the bookmark into WTR’s favorite book.

This trick only works once, leaving any additional copies of Tome of Fyendal less valuable than the first one played from the arsenal. Alternatively, the other E-Strikes in the deck after one of them has been Snapped still represent a powerful attack that can help cycle cards from Bravo’s hand.

At a minimum, Bravo needs Tome in the arsenal and at least one card in hand to pitch for this combo, so we’ll use that setup to find our lowest value return. After pitching for Tome, we would draw two cards, gain two life, and gain an Action Point.

Therefore, this combination’s value is roughly 2 plus whatever is done with the AP - resulting in a minimum value of 6 as we can assume a follow-up Anothos for 4.

But that calculation is just the bare bones of this package. It’s also worth considering the deckbuilding opportunity cost of running Tome over other options, and the need to arsenal Tome over something like a Pummel.

Equipment choices like these are one of the most incredible things about Flesh and Blood. I’ve decided to take an offensive approach with my legs slot. With Snapdragon Scalers and Enlightened Strike in nearly every matchup, Bravo’s offensive threshold is pushed even higher, which is what I think he needs to out-value Oldhim, crush Fai, and shear Briar away from the legends.

An Overall Posture of Unpredictability

The Showstopper’s ability is deceptively simple: pay two resources to have attacks that cost three or more gain dominate. FAB’s earliest content creators labeled the ability to limit the opponent’s ability to prevent damage as evasion. To get around evasion, Rhinar has intimidate, runeblades have arcane damage, Dorinthea has reprise, and Bravo has dominate.

Bravo's access to evasion-denial is notable because he can activate it any turn he has the resources to do so. It also works with any attack that costs three or more resources, not just Guardian class attacks. Previously, the only three-cost generic attack Bravo would consider was Rouse the Ancients. But a recent change in mentality - fueled by Michael Hamilton's elevating Wounded Bull to the defining card of his World Championship decklist has drawn attention to a few other options.

Card image of Out Muscle (Red)

Out Muscle has a lot going for it that could make it the next formerly-bulk chaff to climb to the big leagues. James Adams gave his take on several cards that could be the next “Wounded Bull” in his Unlikely Utility article, but I believe Out Muscle is one he missed, and it's the one that advances Bravo's game plan the most organically.

Some key characteristics of Out Muscle that could appeal to several heroes are its ability to pop phantasm against Illusionists and its conditional go again. Other cards with similar dependent effects can be more controlled - like Scar for a Scar - but one particular matchup makes Out Muscle a particular treat to include.

Against Iyslander, Out Muscle either allows Bravo to go wide and present at least 12 damage or forces the opponent to block with one of their key offensive pieces. This rare generic from Monarch can even be enhanced with Pummel to punish the opponent further.

When employed by Bravo, Out Muscle has the added benefits of feeding Anothos and synergizing with the Showstopper’s ability.

Out Muscle joins Zealous Belting and Rouse the Ancients as tools to help Bravo attack more than once a turn. I believe that the offensive benefit far outweighs the defensive deficiency so often tied to generic cards - just like Snapdragon Scalers over Ironrot Boots.

Taking a Different Stand

Overall, we're leaning into a posture of variable attack patterns in exchange for the now-standard defensive posture of Guardians. And as arcane damage continues to flourish and wide attack patterns attempt to overwhelm our robust defenses, I believe turning the dial up on our offensive options is a way to gain an edge.

Discussion (3)

Author Maxd
Author

Max Dieckmann

1 year ago
This was a very interesting article and I agree with your point that Snapdragons are a very viable alternative to Ironrot or Magemasters in Guardian, but I believe that your numbers are off.First of all, I agree completely with your assessment of Ironrot as being worth 1 Point and the caveat that this might be worth more when actually played out, as it can sometimes cover on-hit breakpoints.However, I disagree with your evaluation of Snapdragon Scalers:Let's examine the two possible scenarios where you would use them. The first is off a three card hand, choosing the +2 mode of E-Strike and then following up with a swing of the hammer. This means we are coming in for a total of 11 damage off three cards - which is a good rate. It's pretty obvious that Scalers provided exactly 2 points of damage here, as they allowed us to select the +2 mode instead of the go again mode of E-Strike.The other scenario has us choosing the draw mode of E-Strike with a two card hand. If we draw into a blue card, we can activate Scalers and swing the hammer for a total of 9 damage off two cards - an excellent rate. Again, we can see that Scalers provided 2 damage, as the other damage maximizing option that this hand provided us was to simply use the +2 mode of E-Strike to come in for 7 damage instead.All of this can also be deduced by the fact that E-Strike itself already tells us what the value of go again is since the +2 damage clause on it is supposedly an equally valuable choice.For Bravo, the discussion ends here, but for Oldhim there is another extra value hidden in this play, as swinging the hammer (as opposed to just E-Strike for 7) also potentially threatens a frostbite.Now let's look at Mage Master Boots:The best way to examine this is considering a two card hand, one of which being the Tome in Arsenal, and the other a blue card in hand. Assuming that one of the two cards we draw is blue, we get to gain 2 life, make a seismic surge token, swing the hammer for 6, and arsenal a card. This means we get 8-9 points of value out of just 1 card - this is represents a whopping 4-5 points of value coming from the boots (the other 1-card play - just swinging Anothos - is worth 4 points by comparison). We have to mention however that this is only true for Bravo - Oldhim would only be able to turn this into 6 points of value (2 life and a hammer swing), as he cannot make use of the extra resource and having an extra card in the pitch zone is meaningless to him. So in this case, the boots are only as good as Snapdragons by repping 2 points of value. This makes sense as Mage Master Boots provide go again to something and as we learned from our previous examination, this keyword is worth 2 points.Now 5 points of value from a piece of equipment is game winning amounts of value, but we have to consider a couple of factors before we get too excited: In order for this to happen, a lot of things have to shake out in our favor, some of which are basically impossible to control:1. We have to set up Tome in Arsenal2. We need to draw a blue card off of Tome3. Both blue cards that we pitch have to cost 3 or more4. The other card that we draw is something we want to put into Arsenal5. We have to make use of the Seismic Surge token to make it's value count6. Any additional copies of Tome will be bad draws that essentially take 1 point of value away again (one less pitch and one less block than any card we would play instead) Some observations:For both Guardians, there is the potential to get more out of your boots than what Ironrot Legs provide.Oldhim plays Snapdragons better, Bravo plays Mage Master Boots betterYou can always get 2 points out of Snapdragon Scalers (think of them as Goliath Gauntlet)Mage Master + Tome is risky but potentially very powerful for Bravo.Mage Master Boots has you committing your equipment before you know what you are going to drawE-Strike draw lets you choose whether you want to activate Scalers and gives you the option to arsenal if we draw a red.In conclusion, for Bravo I would advise to consider sacrificing two slots in your 80 for a single copy of Tome with Mage Master Boots for the slow matchups (i.e. Guardian mirrors). I would also advise to consider playing Snapdragon Scalers over Ironrot if you're happy to play E-Strike. For Oldhim, I would (and have been for a while) always play Snapdragon Scalers, unless you are a very defensive Rampart-focused list that needs additional ways to convert an extra resource into value (blue pitch activating crown and shield will float one), in which case Ironhide Boots are another viable alternative.
Author
Editor

Alex Truell

1 year ago
This was a strong analysis... so when are you submitting an article for us? ;)
Author Maxd
Author

Max Dieckmann

1 year ago
Feel free to hit me up if that's a serious offer ;)

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