Among the many surprises that Monarch preview season has given us, the introduction of Talents has perhaps given us the most fertile ground for speculation about the future of the game. Attaching Light and Shadow to the Hero's Class has delivered on the promise to drastically change how we build decks. Watching the distinctions between a Shadow Brute and a Shadow Runeblade form was a fascinating experience.
Almost immediately, speculation began concerning which Talents we'd see in the future, and which classes might share the common ground that Talents have thus far provided. Perhaps Wizards and Guardians (with their Seismic Surge tokens) both drew from elemental power? Did the art on Poison the Tips point us toward a 'primal' Talent shared by Ranger and Brute? And in the midst of all this, a conspiratorial theory began to take hold:
What if Mechanologist *is* the talent?
The initial fuel for this fire came from a longstanding mystery. In the early days of Flesh and Blood, Legend Story Studios shared an article about the art design of the game, and specifically, about the process of designing the borders used on Hero and Class cards. But months later, people noticed that with the release of Arcane Rising, we now had our first Hero whose frame matched every card in their Class.
LSS was asked about this, and while I haven't been able to find the original source of this information, I've seen this response credited to them often enough to believe it's mostly true. (For now, I'll point you to a Reddit thread from January 2021 where I found the quote below as an example. If you've got the original source for me, please share it in the comments and I'll update this article!)
LSS has addressed this before, but you are on the right track. The explanation for why the Mech card frames are all the same was teased as being something that would become clear or be revealed later on. - reddit user JavelinChimera
Having seen now how Light and Shadow cards have utilized the frames we previously had associated with Dorinthea and Viserai, the jump was easy to make: perhaps Dash and the Mechanologist card pool all shared the same frame because the 'Class' we'd known as Mechanologist was, in fact, a Talent and not a Class.
It's a pretty wild notion, and would have major implications for Dash, Data Doll, and the Mechanologist 'Class' as a whole. It would represent the first instance of a Hero who had only a Talent, and not a Class. It would open up future designs to give the Mechanologist card pool to other Classes. And it would represent a drastically larger Talent pool than what we've seen from Light and Shadow.
Evidence in Support of the Theory
I've spent some time working through the implications of a Class suddenly becoming a Talent, and I've found some interesting things along the way. Many of them point to a card pool uniquely designed for minimal damage, should it suddenly become accessible to outsiders.
As anyone who's ever built a Boost deck can tell you, Mechanologist cards don't like Generic cards. Outside of Items and Weapons, every single Mechanologist card refers to Boost or Mechanologist in its effect. If, for example, Ninja could suddenly add Mechanologist cards to its deck, the resulting deck would either have a handful of Mech Items or be predominently Boost cards.
A new set could safely have a small pool of new Mechanologist cards that would serve as the primary cards a "Mechanologist _____ Hero" would 'dabble in'. Only a focused Mechanologist build would dive deep into the pool.
This is similar to how Shadow Runeblade operates; very few ARC and CRU cards will find their way into Chane decks due to their reliance on Runechants and his (and Shadow's) lack of them. In fact, Mechanologist's design shares another surprisingly pronounced element with Shadow/Light: a laser focus on one mechanic (Shadow and Mech even share a focus on the Banished Zone).
The Items, however, could be a major add to another Class. Thematically, that's a perfect fit: regardless of who creates them, conceptually anyone could end up with the steam-powered inventions of the Mechanologist. These cards have been criminally overlooked by Dash players, but may find new life in the hands of another Class.
Of course, there's an elephant in the room when it comes to Items. The Teklo Plasma Pistol is infamous paired with the Induction Chamber. But would it really end up being useful in a deck outside of Dash? Because she starts with an Item in play, Dash is key to this strategy; any other Mechanologist hero, even with an expanded card pool from another Class, would struggle to get it running.
There's one more card pool similarly between Mechanologist and the two Traits that's too bizarre not to mention. Mechanologist is the only Class without a Defense Reaction. The other two card pools that lack Defense Reactions? Light and Shadow.
So what do you think? Is Mechanologist a Talent hiding in plain sight? Or will we one day see a Talent preface that Mechanologist tag?
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.
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