While Monarch has added some new variables to the Blitz format, it should come as no surprise that the dominant players of the last season are still part of the conversation: the ruthlessly efficient Ira and the unblockable Dorinthea. Anyone hoping to place well at a Skirmish event will have an uphill battle if they don't have a good matchup against both.
As a Guardian player at heart, I feel pretty good about my 50/50 matchups going into Dorinthea and Kano, two powerful players in the Blitz meta. The Ira matchup, on the other hand, is actually just awful.
Not one to give in, the question was never "Who do I play to beat this field?" That answer was always going to be Bravo. Instead, I looked at what I could change to beat this field.
Identifying Ira's Strengths
In a post-Drone world, Ira is a faster, more consistent beast- but she does come with a few minor flaws. She plays less defense reactions, more red attacks, and the biggest vulnerability: you can now run her out of threats.
When building to beat a certain deck, you need to look at the play patterns. Flesh and Blood does not have a traditional curve, but a deck like Ira does have a few clear sequences that happen frequently throughout the game. Take this example:
Each of these plays is extremely efficient and often take 3-4 cards to block- and still leak damage! The good news, though, is that an Ira player still loses cards from their deck on these push plays. When you break the game down into how many plays they can make like this, you will find that they're actually limited to 7 key cards to push blowout turns: 2 copies each of Command and Conquer, Enlightened Strike, and Razor Reflex, plus their Snapdragon Scalers.
These 7 cards are crucial, because each one likely represents a turn where you are blocking with all 4 cards and still taking chip damage of some. The good news? Outside of these 7 threats, the majority of the matchup falls into a very simple 1/2/4+ pattern. The 1/2/4 pattern normally means you're blocking with 3 cards whilst swinging for 4. They answer that by blocking with 1 card and leaking 1.
The net outcome sees both players lose 1 point of damage, they burn 2 cards, and you burn 3. In short, every red attack in their deck is worth 2 cards from your deck! While life total matters, you won't win this matchup that way!
Building a Smarter Bravo
With this in mind you should set about building your deck to force the Ira player into making 2-3 card blocks, reducing their efficiency and therefore increasing your own deck size. If you can keep that pressure on, you ease Ira's pressure on you!
Guardian does have a few push turns of its own. Early Show Time! or Stamp Authority can put the opponent on the back foot while allowing you to still block with 2 cards. Pummel on Disable can actually blow them out, while Rouse the Ancients from the arsenal can force their hand and tax their plays.
But the most important card in Guardian Blitz is Blessing of Deliverance. Playing this from Arsenal and turning your hammer into a 2-card block is huge, considering it still allows you to block up and offset damage with its token life gain.
Remembrance closes the attrition game. Calling back a Crippling Crush to force a few blocks, or a pair of red Blessing of Deliverances to stablize your life total, can be decisive- so much so that I would consider the match unwinnable without it!
With the right build, extensive knowledge of the matchup, and a focus on the endgame, you can start hammering some of these Iras! Patience and discipline are key, and while I lack both, this list has enough to compensate!
Cayle McCreath is a name associated with Bravo from the earliest days of Flesh and Blood. He was the first player to hit 1000xp, and has been a staple of the upper tiers of competitive play.
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