Don't Settle With Starvo

by Drew Cordell, Mark Chamberlain 15th April 2022 9 : 02
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Today, I’m excited to share my take on Bravo, Star of the Show. This is a deck I’ve been calling 'Captain Crunch', and it's the Starvo variant I’ve been playing since day one of Everfest. Unlike most Bravo, Star of the Show decks floating around, my list does not focus on activating Bravo’s hero power regularly. In fact, my list tends to only activate the hero ability one time per game on average. Aggressive Starvo decks that try to fuse every turn must accept that the individual card quality is terrible; they run many block 2 cards that have no place in a competitive deck just to achieve the right elemental ratios!

While I haven’t been able to test it at a larger event yet, I’ve taken down multiple Armories, placed in the top 8 for various CC leagues, and enjoyed strong matchups against the field- including the mirror against Starvo decks that try to fuse much more often. I’ve been so pleased with the list, that I haven’t revised it at all since March 1st. It truly is the culmination of all of my Everfest testing efforts, and is a build I’m proud to take with me to New Jersey.

The Deck

The central idea behind the deck is to take advantage of the fact that Bravo, Star of the Show has the largest card pool available to any hero. While opportunity cost is certainly a consideration, I’ve found I could build a truly powerful Starvo deck simply by playing GOOD cards.

Of course, there's a lot of nuance to building a deck like this. As I shared in some tweets and early articles I was writing around preview season of Everfest, I’ve never found my deckbuilding skills challenged like I have with Bravo, Star of the Show.

I truly would pilot Starvo even if his text box was blank. As an Elemental Guardian with 3 affinities, I believe he’s exceptional even without his hero power. With my Starvo ‘good stuff’ list, you don’t have to rely on hero power, but instead can play something akin to a super-charged traditional Guardian plan that has more power than any Guardian lists of the past. Awakening is as devastating as ever. Having Crippling Crush, Oaken Old, Pulverize, and Tome of Harvests in the same deck is insane.

Crown of Seeds and Rampart of the Ram’s Head take center stage in my list. Months and months of muscle memory from using these two in tandem in my Oldhim lists have paid off in a big way. It turns out, these two cards can work together and do some incredibly powerful things with Starvo as well, even when you’re not trying to fuse. For one, Crown of Seeds allows you to put sub-par cards in your arsenal, with the understanding you can use them as resources to dig deeper in your deck and mitigate additional damage. It pairs extremely well with two-cost cards like Awakening and Staunch Response, and gives you the flexibility to get defensive on the fly and stretch the value of your cards while better weathering whatever offensive storm your opponent can generate.

We run Mage Master Boots as the preferred legs of choice to enable the single copy of Tome of Fyendal. This obviously pairs well with Earthlore Bounty, but also gives us a source of lifegain and yet another way to dig deeper in the deck while creating Seismic Surge tokens.

Crater Fist is the preferred arm slot of choice for its armor density, and Winter’s Wail takes center stage as our weapon of choice. With enough Ice cards in the deck, we can lean on the threat of Frostbite when taking more defensive turns and create constant pressure with the annoying breakpoint of 4 damage. Stalagmite comes out in the mirror to help prevent a swing of Winter’s Wail after a fused attack from Starvo.

I truly believe the majority of the Flesh and Blood community is STILL sleeping on Earthlore Bounty. It’s been a powerhouse in every Guardian deck I’ve built in Everfest across both Blitz and Classic Constructed. I’ve created some of the most powerful back-to-back turns I’ve ever played in Flesh and Blood with this card. Throughout a typical game, I’ll create 6-10 Seismic Surge tokens off this effect, which equates to drawing an extra two+ cards in resources.

Earthlore Bounty is supported by Tome of Fyendal, Tome of Harvests, Gorganian Tome, This Round’s On Me, and against Prism, Enlightened Strike. The three armor density is only held back by the fact that this armor piece has Temper instead of Battleworn like Tectonic Plating. Players who protect the blocks from Earthlore Bounty will be rewarded greatly. In general, I do not use my second block on Earthlore Bounty until I am at low life or really need to keep a card in my hand and avoid an on-hit effect. I also try to save my first block from Crater Fist and Earthlore Bounty as long as possible, as is standard for a traditional Guardian plan.

Tome of Harvests is beyond playable when backed with Earthlore Bounty. I’ve used this combo to play out true five-card hands, do things like ‘hard-cast’ and pay for Pulverize without any discounts or Pummel a Crippling Crush or Spinal Crush. Don’t be afraid to take a hit if it means playing Tome of Harvests and swinging back hard. Unlike ultra-defensive Guardians like Oldhim, we can lean heavily into a very proactive plan like this to put immense pressure on the opponent.

Awakening is as powerful as ever. While I have been singing this card’s praises since spoiler season of Tales of Aria, its power level is through the roof thanks to having Crippling Crush, Oaken Old, Pulverize, and Spinal Crush in the same deck. Awakening is extremely punishing and gives a lot of flexibility in how and when we can swing the tempo against our opponents.

One powerful Awakening turn tends to proceed another powerful turn on your next go, if you can hit another red card to generate more pressure and press the advantage. Don’t be afraid to take a big hit if it means playing something as powerful as Pulverize for free. If you can Earth fuse Awakening, this proposition becomes even more compelling. In most matchups, Pulverize is my favorite target for Awakening, but Crippling Crush and Spinal Crush are also great.

I’ve found two copies of Awakening to be the correct amount for the list, and find it to be a priceless card in almost every matchup. With so many attack options in our deck to target, it adds a lot of offensive flexibility. I also want to note that it is possible to generate Seismic Surge tokens with Earthlore Bounty on the same turn you play Awakening. This can help you overcome ratios and ‘trade up’ with your Awakening into an attack you may not have the life deficit to fetch otherwise. I’ve pulled cards like Pulverize into my hand without being 5-10 life below my opponent thanks to this fact. It’s an obscure line, but an extremely powerful one that will show up in your games from time to time.

Of course, Guardians need to be able to get defensive, and plenty of cards in the list support that strategy when it’s needed. Rampart of the Ram’s Head and Crown of Seeds will be used frequently for added defense. The list has as many block three cards as possible to support better blocking capabilities. Staunch Response, Pulse of Isenloft, Sink Below, This Round’s On Me, and reasonable armor density make up the backbone of our defense. Because this is such a well-rounded deck that’s capable of creating strong proactive plays, it is less defensive than Guardian lists of metas past.

Against go-wide strategies, This Round’s On Me provides ample defense as well as additional card draw and Seismic Surge Tokens through Earthlore Bounty. It’s been a welcome addition to the list.

Lines, Tips, and Tricks

  1. This deck will close out many games before the second cycle, but it’s always good form to try to preserve your element cards, Tear Asunder, and Oaken Old for the late game. Pitch these as able to setup an extremely potent second cycle that is capable of activating Starvo’s hero power and having the gas needed to win games.

  2. Always try to bank Pulse of Volthaven and pitch it for the late game. It can empower Winter’s Wail with +4. With a two card hand, you can come at your opponent for 8 damage which is huge in the late game.

  3. Always try to play your Gorganian Tome second against Runeblade. If you draw it too early before they play their copy, simply put it into your arsenal and ship it off with Crown of Seeds.

  4. Pulverize can enable Rouse the Ancients all by itself. Otherwise, you are often incentivized to try to get Rouse the Ancients into your arsenal to make it easier to play.

  5. Always check to make sure you are getting your Seismic Surge tokens from Earthlore Bounty whenever you draw cards. It takes some getting used to tracking the triggers.

  6. Strike a balance between offense and defense. It’s perfectly acceptable to defend with lower-value cards and simply swing back with Winter’s Wail if you don’t have a powerful offensive hand.

  7. If you Heave Pulverize, you need to be prepared to take a hit to play it out. Crown of Seeds cannot remove it from your arsenal since it is a face-up card. The only two ways to get it out of your arsenal are to play it or ship it off with Tome of Harvests which doesn’t care if it’s face up or down as part of the additional cost.

  8. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to play Pulverize off even a single Seismic Surge token—try to keep the Earthlore Bounty engine churning. This deck excels at sending this devastating attack across the table, and it’s designed to.

  9. Don’t be afraid to heave Thunder Quake then use the Seismic Surge tokens to play a different attack. It only costs six resources to play this, and it’s a reasonable attack in its own right if you are having an off turn.

  10. It’s perfectly fine to play Tome of Fyendal with your Mage Master Boots from hand and lose the life-gain. If you need to quickly filter it through your hand to try to dig deeper for either another blue to pay the costs of a power card or find a power card itself, this can be a perfectly valid strategy. Try to get this card into your arsenal for the powerful life-gain potential if you can, though.

  11. Try to Pummel your attack action cards. Pummel is extremely punishing in this shell when you can empower your on-hit and crush effects and force discard effects on your opponent. Now more than ever, most decks prefer to keep a lot of cards in their hand rather than block in hopes of playing out 4-5 card hands as frequently as possible. Pummel puts a hard stop on that plan.

Sideboarding

I’ve enjoyed how simple the sideboarding plan is for this deck. In every matchup, we tend to play a very similar proactive strategy that tries to take advantage of all the powerful things the list is capable of doing. If you don’t see a hero mentioned here, just stick to the standard strategy!

Guardians: Equip Stalagmite
-2 Spinal Crush
-3 This Round's On Me
+3 Staunch Response (R)
+3 Sink Below (R)

Prism:
-3 Staunch Response (R)

-3 Pulverize
-3 This Round's On Me
+3 Blink
+3 Enlightened Strike
+3 Sink Below (R)

Briar/Chane:
Equip Nullrune Gloves
+3 Sink Below (R)

Katsu/Boltyn:
+3 Sink Below (R)

Kano:
Equip Nullrune Gloves
-3 Pulverize
+3 Enlightened Strike
+3 Blink

Viserai:
Equip Nullrune Gloves

Conclusion

Overall, this Starvo list is some of the most fun I’ve had playing Guardian in Flesh and Blood. It’s fun, it’s interactive, and it’s skill intensive. It’s less luck dependent than variants of the hero that try to fuse each and every turn. You can create powerful, fun turns, while generating more powerful attacks than Guardian has ever been able to do in the past. With Starvo racking up so many Living Legend points, enjoy this deck while you can! Assuming Starvo is still legal for New Jersey, this is the list I’ll be piloting!

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Background music is I Walk With Ghosts | Sanctuary | by Scott Buckley | Music promoted by Chosic | Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Drew Cordell

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

Mark Chamberlain

Our narrator, Mark Chamberlain, is a long-time card game player-- but they're all sitting on the shelf while he practices Guardian in Flesh and Blood. Mark is based out of Colorado Springs, USA.

Discussion (2)

Josh
MEMBER
2 months ago

Excellent article. It’s a great point that the Starvo ability takes focus away from the available/extensive card pool. Will try this build, as I find fusing (or failure to fuse) to be frustrating.

Derrick Cantu
MEMBER
2 months ago

This looks like a fun powerful deck to play. I love decks that employ this rounds on me and other type of bar themes hope Starvo's days aren't too numbered. Great work!!

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