Mastering the Elements: Autumn's Army

by Davis Kingsley 8th October 2021 6 : 43

As an element, Earth can be simple but effective, offering some nice overgrown numbers! Further, those big numbers, coupled with sustainability effects, can make Earth especially suited to a “long game”. If it looks like things might be going to fatigue, Earth is probably the best element to have at your side!

Overgrowth

The first and most obvious thing Earth brings to the table is good old-fashioned big numbers. Earth has a lot of big attacks- in fact, every Earth attack can come in for seven damage or more in its red form! This can help Earth’s “long game” as well; to fully block an Earth attack, an opponent will likely have to spend more than one card, and might even find themselves spending multiple cards but still taking damage! In the long run, this pattern can lead to the Earth player running the opponent out of cards or life; either the opponent doesn’t block and takes damage, or they block up and end up losing more cards than the Earth player does.

The “big numbers” theme continues with Earth’s non-attack action buffs (Channel Mount Heroic, Earthlore Surge, and Weave Earth), which can help make those numbers even bigger. Since two of these buffs don’t require the buffed card to be Earth, they can also go great with generic attacks. I’ve found Snatch and Command and Conquer to go great with buffs to make their on-hits even more threatening!

Sustainability

The secondary Earth theme is sustainability. Several Earth cards allow you to return cards from your graveyard to the deck, allowing you to play powerful threats early but still have access to them for later in the game. The Earth + Lightning Pulse of Candlehold may be the strongest option, putting two cards on top of the deck and hence allowing a known draw for the next turn, but cards like Sow Tomorrow and Evergreen also provide Earth with some nice sustainability even if you don’t see the replaced cards as quickly.

When coupled with the card efficiency that “big numbers” provide, these recursion effects can provide Earth builds with a major advantage in a game that might go to fatigue.  Oldhim’s ability to pitch Earth cards for a defense reaction that doesn’t spend a card can take things to the next level, offering even greater sustainability in a long game. When it looks like the players are running out of resources, Earth’s sustainability may be just what you need to stay in the game!

One other aspect of sustainability comes from Earth’s legendary, the Crown of Seeds. This card lets you pay one energy to cycle an arsenal card to the bottom of the deck while also blocking one damage- a powerful effect for the long game! This works especially well in situations where you might have other stuff that you would be pitching for on your opponent’s turn. For instance, against an opponent with arcane damage of their own, you might be able to pitch a blue and spend one energy on the Crown and the other two on Arcane Barrier, thus making your pitch more efficient. Oldhim players might especially like this in conjunction with his shield and two-cost defense reactions!

Crown is also a good way to increase consistency. If you draw a hand without much energy or don’t have the Fuse you need, the Crown can convert a card in arsenal to a card in hand, allowing you to potentially get some more value out of the turn.

Nature's Wrath: Earth Briar

Stamp Briar

Briar can make great use of Earth’s damage dealing capabilities and powerful non-attack actions. I’ve been testing Earth Briar, and the numbers it can throw out there are scary- especially when paired with cards like Rosetta Thorn, which make it difficult to defend against the multiple ways the Earth deck can deal damage!

Perhaps one of the most relevant cards for an Earth Briar build is Bramble Spark. Like the now-banned Seeds of Agony, Bramble Spark offers a convenient way to mix arcane damage into a turn. However, unlike Seeds, the Spark also packs a punch if fused! Getting not just an arcane but also a physical damage boost can be very strong; and since Bramble Spark is free it can be played effectively from a relatively small hand! For instance, you can play Bramble Spark and fuse it with a big Earth attack, then pitch your other card to play that big attack!

Briar’s two-cost Earth-only fusions might be her strongest embodiment of Earth’s main themes. Stir the Wildwood is a great option for a “big numbers” attack, potentially coming in for nine damage on a two cost attack! While Rites of Replenishment won’t offer the same numbers on the high end (at least not without some buffs to help it out), it can potentially recur multiple cards to the bottom of the deck, setting you up for a strong endgame.

Further, unlike some other recursion cards, Rites of Replenishment does not banish itself when played. This means you can potentially “go infinite” if you find yourself at fatigue with two copies of Rites of Replenishment, a fuse card, and a pitch card. Using each Rites of Replenishment to return the other one when played means you might be much stronger at fatigue than some other builds!

Note that deckbuilding for Earth Briar can be a little complicated. You need to balance not just your non-attacks to attack ratios, but also the number of Earth cards you play to support your fusions and enough blue pitch to pay for your expensive options! I’ve been testing but still don’t have the ratios all worked out yet; however, the combination of Earth’s big numbers and sustainability have been appealing at first glance.

Old as the Hills: Earth Oldhim

Stamp Oldhim

The first strong card for an Earth Guardian is Oldhim’s hero card itself -- all you need is a blue Earth pitch and you can block two damage without using a card at all!

The defense tricks don’t end there. Oldhim can also play Turn Timber, a defense reaction that can potentially give huge value if Fused. Further, Turn Timber synergizes well with the Crown of Seeds- you can pitch a blue card and pay not just for the Crown but also for your Turn Timber, and the draw from Crown gives you an increased chance to hit your fusions!

When it’s time to turn the corner and go on the offense, another standout card is Awakening. If fused, this card essentially allows you to tutor any attack and then play it at a huge discount, often playing even a very strong Guardian attack for free! Note though that the Earth fusion there may not be needed, especially if you’re low on life- so feel free to use your Earth stuff on the defense instead of need be.

Pro Tip: Play Awakening at the end of your opponent's turn, so that the Seismic Surge tokens pop at the start of yours!

Another aggressive option is Mulch, which offers a strong option that turns Earth’s “send to the bottom of the deck” theme on its head. Instead of recovering a strong card from your graveyard, it instead threatens to send your opponent’s saved card to the bottom and limit their options for the next turn! While this might seem quite similar to Disable, the fact that Mulch is an on-hit effect rather than a Crush effect makes it significantly harder for your opponent to defend against.

Breaking Through the Earth

One weakness of Earth is that the “big numbers” theme applies to its card costs as well! Many Earth cards cost two or three energy. That means that you might need to include more blue in an Earth deck than you perhaps would in some other compositions. 

Further, Earth attacks are generally “just damage” without built-in on hit effects. This means that an opponent may be able to just take the hit from a big Earth turn and come back with a strong turn of their own. If playing Earth, try to keep that in mind and be ready to go on the defense for a bit if need be. Luckily, your “big numbers” cards can be solid plays even if you don’t have much else in place!

One other potential downside is that sometimes you may be able to pressure an Earth build before it gets its feed under it! Recursion effects like Sow Tomorrow can be strong, but if the game ends before you get to the recurred cards then it doesn’t matter too much! In some cases, an aggressive opponent may be able to deny the Earth player much value from their recursion effects- sometimes long-term sustainability may not necessarily be what you most need in the moment!

The Beauty of Nature

Last but not least, I really do think Earth has some of the best art in Flesh and Blood (and it's a real change of pace from some of the other themes!). Crown of Seeds, Autumn’s Touch, and Summerwood Shelter are particular standouts and among my favorite pieces of art in all of Flesh and Blood!

All things considered, I’ve really been enjoying Earth cards in my Tales of Aria games, both in Limited and also Constructed formats! If you’re trying to decide what to test out next, a nice walk in the woods might be just what you need for your next games!

Davis Kingsley

Davis Tower Kingsley (aka TowerNumberNine) is an experienced competitive player of several games, including several LCGs and miniatures games. He now runs the TowerNumberNine channel with Flesh and Blood gameplay commentary on both YouTube and Twitch, as well as a personal gaming blog at towernumbernine.com.