FAB101: Lexi and the Ranger Class
Lexi’s hero ability is powerful and versatile, and is capitalized on by prioritizing ending every turn with a card in arsenal. Your turns become much more powerful if you are able to flip up a card at the start of your turn, gaining the benefit of whichever element you reveal.
If you reveal a Lightning card, your next attack this turn gains go again. This applies to any attack! Opening your turn with a Snatch or Exude Confidence and giving it go again is a great way to apply a lot of pressure.
On the other hand, revealing an Ice card and consistently giving your opponent at least one unpreventable Frostbite token every turn is a great way to steadily hamper their ability to play to their full power. It is important to remember that Frostbite applies to instants and defense reactions as well, which taxes your opponent’s ability to block with their most powerful defensive cards.
A bow and arrows are the bread and butter of the Ranger class, and give you access to uniquely powerful hit effects. This mechanic can feel difficult or clunky at first, but with some practice becomes as seamless as any other hero’s gameplay. Arrows would be well above curve in power if they did not have to be first loaded and then fired from your arsenal zone using a bow. This can add additional resources costs and limit the number of arrows you can attack with in a turn, but also grants bonuses to your arrows. This process must be considered when deckbuilding, as well as mapping out your strategy each turn.
If you're new to the Ranger class, it might be worthwhile to stop over at the Azalea article! As Azalea has no talent aligned with her class, the piece is more focused on the core gameplay of bows and arrows- giving you a solid foundation to build off of as you continue into Lexi!
You have access to an array of very powerful bows, and while they don’t attack on their own, each has a unique effect. Which bow you choose will drastically change your game plan. Voltaire gives go again on demand, Death Dealer gives card advantage, and Shiver gives dominate. There are powerful builds and applications for the different bows available, and part of the fun in playing as a Ranger is exploring the different lines made possible by each bow.
Reload is a unique keyword to the Ranger class, and can aid you greatly in creating some of your more powerful turns. Reload reads:
If you have no cards in your arsenal, you may put a card from your hand face down into your arsenal.
Understanding the applications of reload is an essential Ranger skill, as it can be used on any card, not only arrows! Reloading a Lightning Surge is as good as an arrow. While powerful, the downside to reload is that you will not get the benefits of loading your bow if you do choose to reload an arrow.
Lastly, it is very important to understand that your arsenal slot operates very differently than for every other class in the game. For most characters, effective use of your arsenal involves saving a defense reaction or a combo card, sometimes for multiple turns, until the opportune moment presents itself. This strategy is offline for a Ranger, as you must fluidly use your arsenal slot to execute your game plan every turn. While Lexi has introduced slight flexibility when effectively managing your arsenal zone, you will still most likely be unable to park an Unmovable and wait until it is optimally playable.
Lexi’s play patterns are dictated by one piece of equipment: New Horizon. Her anti-synergy with Skullbone Crosswrap means you only have one choice in headwear, and it benefits you greatly. Ranger is now the only class in the game with access to 2 arsenal slots- and thereby consistent 6-card hands. Learning how to take advantage of this requires a bit of practice, and is highly enabled by Voltaire. While there are some very powerful Lexi builds that make use of other bows, the majority take advantage of the synergy between these two pieces of equipment.
Tip: If you're a newer player, don't sweat your lack of a Legendary for Lexi! While playing a Ranger to its maximum potential requires their Legendary headgear, you can play Lexi at a casually competitive level using Honing Hood. However, because Lexi is committed to playing out whatever ends up in her arsenal, you'll need to be judicious in your decision-making when placing a card there!
Access to multiple arsenal slots also allows you to arsenal any card at the end of your turn. Unlike with Azalea (who wants to activate her Death Dealer during her turn), arsenal-ing an arrow is actually beneficial. Now you're are able to reveal an arrow, use Voltaire to fire another arrow around it with go again, and end your turn by firing off the last arrow from arsenal. This lets you fairly easily and consistently fire three arrows in a turn. This same mechanic also allows you to ‘float’ a card in arsenal- such as a defense reaction or Blizzard- while operating around it and saving it until an opportune moment.
Voltaire’s activation is an instant rather than an action, and there are some important implications to understand about this mechanic. When going second, you are able to set up one or even two arrows in arsenal during your opponent’s turn, giving you a 5- or 6-card hand to start the game! Be careful when considering your play here, however, as your opponent can then attack you while you have less cards to defend with.
Activating Voltaire at instant speed also allows you to load and fire multiple arrows, all while never breaking the combat chain. This means that your opponent is unable to block multiple times with their equipment. It also has relevance when playing a card like Exude Confidence followed by two or even three arrows, as you maintain the same combat chain the entire time. Finally, if you find yourself with one extra resource in a turn but not enough action points to fire that second arrow, you can set up a 6-card hand instead. Pitch a blue card to load and fire a one cost arrow, giving it +1 attack. With your one extra resource you can now load an arrow at instant speed (even though you have no action points left), and then arsenal a card alongside it.
Shock Charmers and Elemental Hit Effects
Along with Lexi, LSS introduced us to Elemental attacks and the Fuse mechanic. While No-Fuse Lexi is certainly a viable archetype, elemental arrows are integral to many of her strategies. When sequencing their turns, many Rangers must now prioritize firing an elemental arrow first, since its effect will be applied to every attack throughout the turn. This is an incredibly powerful ability, especially when considering your opponent does not know what attacks are coming afterwards.
This conundrum your opponent has to solve every turn is magnified by the presence of Shock Charmers. This Legendary piece of equipment has the ability to multiply the on damage effect of any card. This is important to understand, as it will apply the hit effect of a fused Blizzard Bolt again for every two resources you pay, in addition to dealing an extra damage. It will deal two damage for every two resources paid when applied to a fused Frazzle, as well as when applied to a Searing Shot that is played after a fused Frazzle. (It will not, however, have any effect on the hit effect of Sleep Dart, as an example.)
Activating Shock Charmers does create a layer, however, so your opponent could play a defense reaction after you activate, therefore wasting your resources. The Shock Charmers effect would stay around for the whole turn in this case, potentially applying to any attack that hits down the chain.
This situation creates a huge problem for your opponent every turn. They have to weigh the current attack and likely hit effect, the unknown following attack, and the threat of you activating Shock Charmers, potentially multiple times. This resource sink is highly applicable to Three of a Kind turns, when you oftentimes not be able to play out all of the cards you have drawn.
Shock Charmers are particularly powerful at the end of a game. If your opponent is at 3 life, they cannot afford to let an attack hit, as then you could simply activate Charmers twice and kill them. I really love this card. Often as a Ranger player you will have to read and be very adaptable to what your opponent does on every one of your turns. This piece of equipment is a great enabler of this fluid way of playing.
Tip: Once again, budget considerations should be noted. Shock Charmers is a strategic choice that you can simply choose not to include in your deck. Notably, the well-known Lexi pro Yuki Lee Bender chose to run the common Bull's Eye Bracers instead, which enables a wider turn once per game and doesn't weigh on your resources. Work within your means!
Key Considerations and Weaknesses
Lexi is one of the most fragile characters when considering her ratios for deckbuilding. Having no conventional weapon, you must always draw a threat. With an inherent extra resource cost of activating your bow, you must always draw a resource card. If you are playing with elemental arrows, you must always draw a fuse card, otherwise your arrows will only threaten damage. Fortunately, the same cards you want to fuse with are usually the cards you want to then arsenal in order to activate Lexi’s hero ability on your next turn.
As you pilot Lexi more and more, you will find additional ratios you must consider. If you include too many generic arrows in your deck, you may find yourself holding a Weave Ice, Weave Lightning, or Pulse of Volthaven with no applicable target. Cards like Frost Fang are fine to arsenal, but cannot be arsenal'd alongside an arrow for a 6-card hand, as then neither arsenal card will have inherent go again on your next turn. The more non-arrow attacks you play, the more flexible your hands become- but the less potent your critical Three of a Kind turns become as well. If you have too many arrows, you won’t be able to fuse them; too few arrows, and you won’t be able to threaten your opponent.
You get the idea.
Cards that fill multiple roles in fulfilling ratios are very valuable. Cards like Three of a Kind are terrible for your ratios, but merit inclusion because of their raw power
The power of your turn really ramps up with the more cards you have access to. With only one card, usually a Ranger cannot do anything. With at least three cards, you can threaten damage, a hit effect, and an arsenal for the next turn. This is important to understand when weighing which cards to block with, and is particularly applicable towards the end of a game when you can no longer afford to declare “No Blocks!” like you’re excited about it.
Ranger is one of the more... lightly armored classes, to say the least, and is therefore much more susceptible to hit effects. It is important to understand your matchups, and what you will be threatened with. Do you suspect your opponent is running Command and Conquer, or know they are playing Herald of Erudition? Better bring the Perch Grapplers so that you are able to block these devastating effects and still have some sort of hand left. Understanding what equipment you have available to block with, what hit or crush effect your opponent may threaten, and prioritizing how to survive the worst of these will be crucial to winning your matches.
Having no attack on your weapon and limited threats in your deck will mean that you need to have a game plan for beating a fatigue strategy. Against some enemies like Oldhim, this may entail Remembrance and pitch stacking your deck very carefully. Against others, like a Warrior who may just try to block you out, you will need to carefully read their play and manage your resources. If your opponent becomes exasperated and begins to simply block for 12 every turn, you will need to adjust your strategy and build bigger combo turns in order to get damage over the top of your opponent’s defenses. Lexi can actually be difficult to fatigue for most opponents, if you play your cards correctly.
Lighting is all about going wide with damage. Even the on-hit effects are about dealing more damage. Lexi’s hero ability, when revealing a lightning card, allows for a lot of versatility in how you can sequence your turn. Enlightened Strike for draw a card and go again anyone?
Starting a turn off with a red Frazzle and a lightning card in arsenal allows you to fire that Frazzle first, applying its effect to every attack throughout the turn.
With a deck full of cards like Entwine Lightning, Snatch, Light It Up, and Endless Arrow, you can very consistently threaten a ton of damage. (Admittedly this strategy took some collateral damage from the Ball Lightning ban, but you still have some powerful tools at your disposal.)
It is important to keep in mind that when you add up all of the Lightning Presses, Rain Razors, and Art of Wars in the deck, you cannot block very well and become extremely susceptible to disruption. This archetype is usually something of a glass cannon, but is also extremely fun to play.
This is, in many ways, the polar opposite archetype. Rather than enacting your own aggressive game plan, your strategy is to manage your opponent’s. Often you will find yourself sacrificing damage in order to maintain a consistent tax on what your opponent can do. Faced with the opportunity to deal a free 5 damage? Perhaps it is better to set up a 6-card hand for your next turn.
This archetype really rewards being familiar with what your opponent is attempting to do. If they are playing aggressively, you will need to optimize your hit effects to hamper them. If they are attempting to block and fatigue you, you will need to build bigger combo turns and make use of cards like Amulet of Ice at crucial moments.
When playing this deck, it is important to mix and match your hit effects. Say you played a blue Winter’s Bite and your opponent pitched a blue card, leaving themselves two resources floating. Now your Chilling Icevein will do nothing, unless you can tax them for more than two additional resources. A red Winter’s Bite or a Blizzard Bolt would be more effective in this scenario.
This is an excellent deck to become better at tempo management and adaptability in Flesh and Blood.
More effective hybrid lists have emerged as time has passed, some of them quite creative. Some are very lighting-centric, but without relying on the fuse mechanic. Some play blue ice cards to make use of Channel Lake Frigid, but run generic arrows and red Lightning Surges, attempting to profit from the best of all worlds. These decks usually try to capitalize on the combination of Rain Razors, Art of War, and Three of a Kind. Using these cards intelligently- along with free arrows, Voltaire, Perch Grapplers, and Bull’s Eye Bracers- can set up some truly massive turns.
Running a hybrid list drastically increases the card pool from which you have to draw. You gain access to all of the most powerful cards, but also lose consistency and the benefit of consistent elemental fuse effects. Being able to fire a Sleep Dart with no fuse has huge advantages though, and part of the skill in deck building for Lexi is walking that line of power versus consistency.
Death Dealer Decks
I would like to give an honorable mention to Death Dealer. There are two very cool decks that make use of this weapon- one ice and one lightning- and the card advantage can be quite powerful. Take Cover is another great tool you have access to. Unlike other defense reactions, it does not dilute your ratios in that it can be arsenal'd, and then replace itself with the appropriate element card when used. (However, it is important to keep in mind that the reload ability does not work when Take Cover is one of two cards in your arsenal.)
Finally, Lightning Press, Rain Razors, Three of a Kind, Endless Arrow, Bolt’n’ Shot, and Fatigue Shot always merit consideration when deckbuilding for Lexi. These are all powerful cards in her quiver when used optimally.
The variety of ways you can build and pilot Lexi, especially when considering her more limited card pool, is astounding and very rewarding. Lexi is a lot of fun to play and teaches you about sequencing as well as adaptability. My last bit of advice would be to not give up right away- this is a character that rewards familiarity. Give her a chance, and she can be quite powerful!
Isaac Jessen has been an avid Flesh and Blood player since Arcane Rising, and is the co-host of The Attack Action Podcast. A Northern California native, he loves underdog toolbox decks like Ranger, Levia, and Kano.
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