Check it out now, the Light Soul Brother
Right about now, some of you might still be wondering where to begin with our first ever talented Warrior. Ser Boltyn, Breaker of Dawn is newest addition to our legion of Warriors, and he brings with him a new level of deckbuilding complexity and a capacity for more dynamic gameplay that has not been present with either of his predecessors.
Boltyn is a powerful fighter who is at his best in the heat of battle, cleverly represented by his first ability. Once he has charged into battle and forced opponents to defend with their attack actions, Boltyn's attacks become empowered (not unlike a certain pair of Sabers we're accustomed to seeing sellswords favor). This synergizes nicely with his second ability, which allows Boltyn to use cards from his Soul to give his buffed attacks Go Again.
Boltyn has access to the deepest card pool Flesh and Blood currently has to offer, getting to pick the best cards from the Warrior pool on top of the new Light Warrior and Light cards.
Boltyn's abilities give us plenty of direction when it comes to informing our card choices, but that isn't to say there aren't multiple ways to build him. Boltyn has access to the deepest card pool Flesh and Blood currently has to offer, getting to pick the best cards from the Warrior pool on top of the new Light Warrior and Light cards.
Boltyn's abilities affect attacks. Weapon attacks, attack actions, Light, Warrior, Generic, it makes no difference to Boltyn. Warriors have played all-star generics like Enlightened Strike or Command and Conquer in the past, but never with any benefit from Dorinthea or Kassai. In contrast, Boltyn can add Go Again to an Enlightened Strike for 7. Boltyn doesn't care how a card got its extra attack boost, as long as it's higher than its base value.
Rules Tip: Putting cards into your Hero's soul is not the same as Charging, even if those cards come from hand. Charge is a specific keyword mechanic. The trio of cards above all Charge; the trio below do not.
Getting cards into Boltyn's soul certainly still has value, but having charged with Boltyn makes everything else he tries to do even better. But as with any balanced mechanic, charging also has a downside: putting a card into your hero's soul is an expensive proposition in terms of resources. Even if the attack action with charge costs zero, that's still 2 cards at a minimum to charge a single time. Since we're playing Warrior, our cards will generally block for 3, so holding a card back to put into our soul could cost as much as 3 life. This means that when we use these cards from our soul, we need to make sure that it was worth the trouble.
When we use cards from our soul, we need to make sure it's worth the trouble.
What does a payoff look like?
Celestial Cataclysm is a quintessential payoff card. 0 cost for 7 attack lines it up squarely with Enlightened Strike; but rather than paying with a card from hand, Boltyn pays for Cataclysm from his soul. In Cataclysm's case, it doesn't matter how those cards got there, but that's not always the case. Bolting Blade aspires to that same 0 cost 7 attack, but it gets there by finding a way to Charge twice in a turn. That's a resource-heavy proposition, but even a single charge makes this a 7 for 2.
Beacon of Victory reimburses you for the card you used to Charge. Meanwhile, Lumina Ascension can be seen as both an enabler and a payoff. While it lets you get a lot more out of your weapon(s) if you've charged ahead of it, Lumina Ascension also provides a way to fill your soul up for future payoffs.
Boltyn is well equipped with enablers to make those payoffs happen. V of the Vanguard is in a league of its own as far charge cards go and should be maxed out in any Boltyn deck. And while it looks unassuming alongside V, I am of the opinion that Take Flight is a powerhouse and will be a staple of virtually any Boltyn deck. Playing Take Flight, charging our soul, then following up with Raydn or a potential pair of hatchet swings will be a common sight.
Bolt of Courage and Engulfing Light make up the next tier of charge cards. They allow us to charge with only 2 cards, and present potent on hit effects that will encourage our opponents to burn resources on defense. Express Lightning could be a consideration if we want some more zero cost blue charge cards, but I think it's the worst of the playable options.
These represent our best options for putting cards into our soul outside of the charge mechanic. Soul Shield is a potent defensive tool that helps boost our offenses later on. Red Illuminate lets us block heavily and still threaten to power up our soul from a one card hand (or just an arsenal). Seek Enlightenment does a solid Come to Fight impression while threatening to add to our soul as well.
Weapons and Armor
When it comes to equipment, Warrior still sets the standard for a top tier armory, and the addition of Valiant Dynamo only pushed them further in front of the rest of the field. Most variance in the loadouts for Boltyn will stem from the weapon or weapons we choose to play, and there are plenty to choose from.
Boltyn's true weapon of choice (have you seen the art on his specializations?) relies entirely upon his ability to charge his soul. A zero-cost attack for 3 is great, but decks will have a finite number of times they can charge their soul in a game. If your opponent hunkers down to try and attrition you out, eventually you could end up like a Ranger out of arrows…
The reason to play hatchets stems from two things. One is the new Warrior majestic Spill Blood that specifically only works with axes, and the other is the bonus damage on the second attack not being reliant on what our opponent decides to block with (unlike Cintari Sabers). The hatchets are a solid choice, but be warned: they are resource intensive, and there isn't a Courage of Bladehold for axes.
What's not to like with a pair of swords that come with Boltyn's damage buff already built in? He doesn't get Kassai's second sword attack discount, which means these will be resource intensive similar to the aforementioned hatchets. The real draw here is the powerful combo to be had with charging, Lumina Ascension, and Courage of Bladehold, which we'll examine more closely when we look at the Sabers decklist below.
(Boltyn is not built to take advantage of Dawnblade the way Dorinthea can. Leave that one to the original Warrior)
The shiny new additions to our armory. Valiant Dynamo can be a key part of a more defensive, attrition-oriented game plan, but only makes sense to run in Hatchet and Saber builds. Vestige of Sol is really cool, but unfortunately for Boltyn, the current rules in the Hero's Handbook state that additional costs (like charging our soul) are paid AFTER resource costs. This means that starting our turns by pitching to charge with a V of the Vanguard or Take Flight won't net any extra resources, which is why my lists below either run Fyendal's Spring Tunic or Courage of Bladehold instead.
Without further ado, here are three Blitz decklists that demonstrate some of the different ways to approach playing Boltyn. Inevitably, as players refine the Monarch meta, these lists will evolve into even more competitive versions or be rendered competitively obsolete. Each one plays powerful cards and presents a coherent game plan that plays to Boltyn's strengths. Though these lists are for Blitz, each has aspects that can translate well to Classic Constructed (although I don't think the Sabers build will hold up as well there, since it relies on Courage for its most powerful combo).
These lists each play a good number of attack actions. We'll leave the 'weapon first' approach to Dorinthea and Kassai.
- This Hatchet build of Boltyn is as close to midrange as I think a Warrior can get. We have solid offensive capabilities, every card blocks for 3, and we have a few great defense reactions to go with our stellar equipment options.
- Use Fyendal's Spring Tunic resources to maximize V of the Vanguard's charging capability.
- Valiant Dynamo helps the deck try and play a more attrition game plan when appropriate.
- Take Flight pitching a blue, charging, then playing Command and Conquer is an extremely powerful turn.
- As long as there has been a weapon attack, Hit and Run can buff the power of any subsequent attack.
- Beacon of Victory is great for getting on-hit effects to connect and helps you setup for a powerful follow up turn.
- Try and set up Spill Blood to serve as a finisher in the late game.
- This build features Cintari Sabers and is looking to be a bit more aggressive than its hatchet counterpart, evident in the presence of Bolting Blade over Command and Conquer.
- Similar to the hatchet build, Valiant Dynamo is there to let us play more attrition style as needed.
- This deck is looking to take control and/or win the game via an explosive turn featuring Take Flight, Lumina Ascension, and Courage of Bladehold. The combo is as follows:
- Two cards in soul.
- Get Lumina Ascension or Take Flight in arsenal (with the other in hand + two random cards).
- Play Take Flight and charge.
- Lumina Ascension to buff Sabers and let them attack an additional time.
- Break Courage of Bladehold, attack 4 times.
- Since we've charged and are using sabers, blocking a Saber attack for 3 with an attack action pumps the Saber to 5, which is a bad blocking proposition for our opponents.
A more 'Magical Christmasland' version of this combo exists where we have a 5th card, we're able to pitch a blue for our Take Flight, and play Biting Blade with Reprise active on our first Saber attack to pump the damage up even further
- This deck has a few more cards that try and add to our soul, but notably it's less interested in using the cards in our soul throughout the game.
- Using Raydn means we've got a limited number of weapon attacks we'll be able to make as we'll eventually run out of charges. Instead of trying to finish our opponents off, we use Raydn to tax our opponents' hand throughout the game while we setup for our own big endgame turns.
- We play more defense reactions to help us survive setup time with a healthy enough life total. Late game we're hoping to use our armor to buffer some damage so we can come back with a monster attack, ideally featuring multiple Celestial Cataclysms with an Enlightened Strike or Command and Conquer to finish them off.
Kevin Brayer (@Hannibal in Discord circles) is an author for the Rathe Times and has been playing Flesh and Blood since the release of Crucible of War. A Software Developer living in the US, he is a competitive player with a background in MTG. He loves putting time into mastering archetypes and is looking to make his mark by bringing everyone's favorite Arknight into the competitive scene. Kevin is excited to give back to the community by sharing his insight, humor, and love of all things Demonastery.