Tales of Aria is here! And if you're anything like me, the spread across your table after cracking your packs has inspired more deckbuilding ideas than you can possibly explore! Where to begin?
Let Drew, Kevin, and I show you what we've been brewing.
Glacial Oldhim - by Drew Cordell
Oldhim is a defensive hero, built to weather the storm, block heavily, and swing back with Winter’s Wail. I’ve optimized this day-one list to improve your odds of fusing crucial attacks, and having an ice card to pitch for Winter’s Wail’s cost, threatening a Frostbite token on almost every turn.
Keep your life and equipment healthy, taking strategic blows on the way down to mirror your opponent’s life. Put on some counter-pressure and set up for a powerful Awakening turn that can be used to swing the tempo of the game permanently in your favor.
Awakening is likely the most powerful thing Oldhim can do. Tutoring up a strategic attack- and being able to play it for free while also blocking out the previous turn- can and will shift the tide of battle.
Lean into Forged for War, an old favorite that breathes powerful new life thanks to having an extra equipment slot with Rampart of the Ram's Head. Defend heavily, fuse attacks, and don’t be afraid to arsenal any element cards you used for fuse so you can use Crown of Seeds to replace the card, prevent some damage, and have the resources to block with Rampart.
Stay tuned for my Pro-Subscriber exclusive series that will go in-depth for all things Oldhim in Classic Constructed!
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Blitzkrieg Briar - by Kevin Brayer
Defense not your style? More interested in bringing the rain than weathering the storm? Then look no further than Blitzkrieg Briar. This aggressive deck is all-in on Briar's Lightning synergies, looking to besiege opponents' life totals nonstop with a mix of go again attacks and arcane damage.
Vela Flash, Rites of Lightning, and Arcanic Shockwave are the core attacks of this deck, and Weave Lightning combos well with each as both buff and fusion enabler. Plunder Run, Electrify, and the collection of Tomes all contribute to our velocity as they allow us to see more cards and help generate Embodiment of Lightning tokens.
Tome of the Arknight is at its best here in conjunction with Pulse of Candlehold. Since we're not aiming to play a long game or dual fuse anything, the combination of Pulse and Tome will generate an Embodiment of Lightning token for you and let you put two cards from your graveyard back in your hand. If you've played an attack action this turn, you can also do something similar with Crown of Dichotomy, using Spellbound Creepers to play Tome at instant speed to keep the turn going.
Inspire Lightning is a key card for this deck. Most opponents aren't likely to bring more than Arcane Barrier 1 or 2 against us, which means that it potentially represents some unblockable damage. Since it doesn't have a built in 'go again', it works best with Flash, Vela Flash, and Spellbound Creepers.
Rosetta Thorn was my original weapon of choice, but having access to Nebula Blade also allows us to play some mind games with our opponents. If you think they'll go heavier on Arcane Barrier in an attempt to stymy our Thorn damage, we can sidestep that somewhat by playing Nebula Blade instead.
So when the heavens part and you can entwine your fingers around your Tales of Aria plunder, take a moment and feel your pulse electrify, surging with lightning and pure arcanic power, imbued with sacred rites from the tomes of old, giving you the power to defeat your opponents in a flash.
Icy Lexi - by Alex Truell
In my view, Ranger is at its very best when it's focused on disruption. That meant a pure Ice strategy was the obvious first build. This deck leans hard into Shiver's ability to give arrows dominate, and snowballs advantage over the course of the game by screwing up the enemy's cost-to-damage ratio.
New Horizon gave us the long-awaited 2nd arsenal slot, and as a longtime Azalea player, I quickly found how essential that was for Lexi. Unlike the Pits native, Aria's Ranger is locked into playing out whatever you place in your arsenal; and because of fusion's pattern of play, you're likely to arsenal an Ice card (aka- not an arrow) at the end of your turn. Many turns start with Lexi revealing an Ice card in arsenal to Frostbite an opponent, followed by loading an arrow into the 2nd arsenal slot with Shiver.
Let's talk about Ice cards for a moment. The elements (Ice, Lightning, and Earth) largely defend for 2, so they impact your deck similarly to Generics. Ranger already struggles with defenses, so leaning heavily into Ice cards puts you in a bad defensive position.
Ice cards also don't Fuse- the Elemental cards rely on Ice to reach full potential, but Ice is not, in and of itself, playing that game.
All of this is to say that your Ice pool needs to be carefully chosen and no larger than necessary. As usual, Ranger is deck building in multiple lanes, and looking to draw into an ideal distributions every hand.
Ice cards have 2 roles in your deck. The first is to trigger fusion; the second is to play easily from arsenal to keep your deck flowing. Their pitch value doesn't matter much; these aren't cards for pitching. Actions with 'go again' became the predominant choice (though a few 6s made the cut because Prism exists).
Those familiar with Ranger playstyles should find themselves at home quickly with this deck. The usual strategy of 'dominate a tall arrow with nasty hit effects' is still true, though Lexi gains incremental advantage in cost-to-damage efficiency as the game progresses.
Equipment-wise, I'd call the Legendary suite of Tunic and Charmers the default, with Snapdragon Scalers rounding out the uniform. If you're on a budget, you can look at Coat of Frost or Deep Blue for the chest slot; but if you have to go without New Horizon, you'll probably need to look at substantial modifications to the deck's composition. Legs go first for Nullrune.
Alex Truell is the editor for the Rathe Times. Alex is a casually competitive player overseeing the growth of a Flesh and Blood scene in Ripon, WI. Alex is a player who cares about the competitive environment, but doesn't have to live in it; an optimist who loves the game, but can take a step back to critique it; and a deckbuilder who revels in novelty.
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
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.
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