Last weekend’s Calling Las Vegas event was the largest in Flesh and Blood’s history with over 750 players in the main event. Today we put the top performing decks under the microscope and take a closer look at what made them so successful. The day one metagame breakdown saw the most played heroes resemble Chane at 22%, Katsu at 14%, Bravo at 12%, Prism at 11% and Dorinthea, Dash and Boltyn all at 9% while the rest lagged behind. These seven heroes and their sensationally skilled pilots get the spotlight shone on them today as these decks get detailed, dissected and discussed.
Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light
The Calling Las Vegas 2021 Champion Tyler Horpool masterfully piloted Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light to a first place finish with his innovative build of the Light Illusionist. Prism has most commonly taken the form of a midrange deck focused around beating the opponent down with a variety of big red attacks such as Heralds Command and Conquer, using their disruptive on hit effects to force out blocks then chipping for damage with Spectral Shield tokens and instant speed auras thrown in to really put the opponent off balance.
Tyler's deck forgoes this strategy in favour of a much more defensive approach. The deck features no red attacks at all. Instead, red line cards are there to keep your life total high and you in control. Defense reactions like Fate Foreseen and Sink Below do this job well, supported by instants, Sigil of Solace and Prismatic Shield to really throw the opponent’s math off. Instead, the bull of the deck is yellow and blue cards, with a focus on ensuring Luminaris is always switched on (and Great Library of Solana if you get it down). The full set of auras features, including Genesis, Ode to Wrath and Parable of Humility, with yellow and blue Heralds to take advantage of Luminaris’ go again ability and keep the pressure on the opponent.
Over the weekend, Tyler took the deck to a 7-1 record against Chane, Bound by Shadow in one of the key metagame matchups. Opting for a fatigue strategy against the Shadow Runeblade, this build not only defends well in a traditional sense, but uses Snag to shut down big power gains, Arc Light Sentinel to shut down big Rift Bind turns, and Herald of Judgement to try and lock out plays from the banished zone. With these cards disrupting Chane’s massive attacks and aura after aura, whether it be stacking up Spectral Shields thank to Genesis, or the 1 damage from each destroyed aura adding up from Merciful Retribution, being added to the arena, you can play the long game against Chane while snowballing incremental advantages each turn.
This control Prism deck has very good matchups across the metagame however. For example, Dash can also go long, defend well and make very economical use of her resources, all the while having the occasional huge turn of High Octane burst damage. However, Tyler managed to take down Alberto Miracle's in the qualifiers and again in the Top 8. In a sea of Chane with some surprise factor, Tyler’s Prism did very well and the deck is seemingly very well positioned across the board. This build won’t be going away anytime soon.
Chane, Bound by Shadow
Sebastiano Cavallo finished in second place bringing a very innovative build of the best performing hero from recent the Road to Nationals season, Chane, Bound by Shadow. Chane and his Soul Shackle hero ability provide the pilot card advantage and helps smooth out the variance of the deck somewhat - more so as the game goes on. However, this comes at the expense of a lot of his cards being individually a bit underpowered, relying instead on stringing together a series of cards in a row late in the game to force the win. This can mean he is vulnerable to having his aggressive game plan disrupted, and can have some fairly underwhelming early turns in the game as players spend time building up Soul Shackles.
Sebastiano decided that this Tier 1 aggressive deck wasn’t aggressive enough, and has sped things up with not only Flock of the Feather Walkers, but also the rogue technology of Tremor of íArathael. The red line version almost always has an amazing rate of 6 attack power for just 1 resource and is an incredible way to end a turn after attacking a few times already. These two 1 cost cards are very welcome editions to Chane’s early game and when combined with Chane’s overwhelming mid and late game, there is very little that can get in the way of this deck’s pilot and victory. Other players introduced Invert Existence into their builds, giving the opportunity to force through instant speed damage whenever your opponent's resources are looking low.
Sebastiano’s Chane has fantastic matchups across the board due to the damage output and overwhelming card advantage which increases as the game goes on. Any strategy outside of a deck that is trying to race you for damage, primarily Aggro Katsu or one that tries to run your deck completely out of cards such as a control style Bravo or the aforementioned Prism, will have a very hard time against the Shadow Runeblade.
Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire
Alberto Miracle put the lone Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire into the top 8 with one of the most flexible, adaptable lists in the Classic Constructed metagame. Alberto’s build of Mechanologist defends hard and hits even harder. The deck can drastically transform and find the most suitable game plan for whichever hero sits in front of it. When wanting to apply as much damage as possible in the shortest amount of time, present a metric tonne of Boost cards highlighted by massive High Octane turns, gaining action points, drawing cards and loading up the Pistol for next turn. Against slower decks or ones with larger, fewer attacks per turn, play the long game. The combination of red line defense reactions like Sink Below, Fate Foreseen and Unmovable, Tome of Fyendal to draw cards and gain life and Teklo Plasma Pistol with a handful of blues, will see you in the driver’s seat and on the fast track to victory.
Alberto’s Dash rewards players who put the reps in and truly know the deck inside out, as well as potentially every metagame matchup. Due to the deck's flexibility, it boosts, sorry- boasts great matchups across the board. Some standouts include favourable matchups against Bravo, due to the inevitability of Induction Chamber assisted Pistol shots and also against aggro Katsu if you don’t fall too far behind in the early game.
Katsu, the Wanderer
Brandon Webb’s Katsu the Wanderer picked up 9 wins at The Calling and when looking at the deck list there are a few standouts as to why such a fantastic record was attained. Of late, Katsu decks have opted for full on aggression, racing the likes of Chane or full control decks that chip away with Kodachis while maintaining a high life total, aiming to fatigue the opponent and at times, a hybrid of the two. Word on the streets is that decking out a Shadow Runeblade isn’t the best way to get the win in that matchup and full on aggro decks can have a hard time against the likes of Bravo and Dash in control mode. So Brandon has seemingly taken the best of boat worlds and created a trimmed, streamlined midrange Ninja deck which can, not unlike Dash, switch archetypes depending on the opponent.
Brandon’s Katsu runs the defense reaction suite of red liners Unmovable, Sink Below and fate Foreseen as well as a full set of 9 Flic Flaks. The deck has the ability to pull off combo plays once in a while, but focuses fairly heavily on good value attacks. A good turn with this deck probably looks something like Kodachi-Kodachi-Big Attack or Kodachi-Kodachi-Go Again attack, with Katsu’s hero ability occasionally finding the missing combo parts too. Snag fits beautifully in the deck as the blue zero cost card is Harmonized Kodachi’s best friend and Rift Bind’s worst enemy.
This list can run into trouble against more controlling heroes such as Bravo and Dash, and side boarding well is important here to make sure that enough pressure stays on the opponent, in particular picking out the right suite of defence reactions for the matchup. However, when facing down Chane, Katsu can run in both of its modes, playing aggressively early on then either pushing through to finish things or looking to block out and try and let their own Soul Shackle run them out of cards.
Craig Pollock racked up 9 wins in Vegas with Bravo, Showstopper...but this ain’t your grandfather’s Guardian! Like many Bravo builds, Craig’s looks to defend well, attack most turns with Anothos for consistent pressure and crush the opponent with some of the biggest hits in the game thanks to Spinal Crush, Crippling Crush and Towering Titan. The technology that really makes this Bravo list stand out from the rest is Zealous Belting. With a titanic number of cards in the deck with base attack power 6 or more, Zealous Belting is a very efficient 5 damage for 2 resources that, in this deck, will almost always have go again.
This tech helps particularly against Chane with it's tendency to have slow starts to the game; in conjunction with Towering Titan and Rouse the Ancients it gives Bravo the opportunity to have some big pressure turns early in the game before Chane really gets going. If enough early damage is put on to Chane, it can limit their ability to spend late game turns building up a big pile of Blood Debt cards in the banished zone to go for one big attack, instead forcing them to play a smaller number of cards out each turn which is much more manageable for Bravo.
Craig’s Bravo has many great matchups. Boltyn, Dorinthea and control Katsu are also favoured for the Guardian as these decks often can’t break through your defenses and their late game just isn't quite on par with Bravo’s. However, against dash and an Induction Chamber or two, things become much more challenging with the Mechanologist having a strong long game against Bravo. Control Prism can be a tricky one to beat, as your five yellow line cards are the only way to close the doors on a Great Library of Solana, a card advantage engine in Prism of fabled proportions, while Bravo's tendency to go for one big attack can make it challenging to deal with the Aura build of Prism.
Paul Santos and Dorinthea fought the good fight and finished on 8 wins. Dorinthea has been Miss Consistent and very much middle of the road as far as results go according to the Road to Nationals metagame. Opting for Dorinthea’s flagship weapon, Dawnblade, this build very much wants to “go tall” and stack the attack value of her weapon as much as possible. The usual suspects are here, Rout, Warrior’s Valor, Stroke of Foresight, Spoils of War, Out for Blood...there are a few. However there are also some surprises that help Dorinthea attack more than once. Twinning Blade enables you to attack again, regardless of whether you have previously connected with your Dawnblade while Spoils of War, Glint the Quicksilver and the less frequently seen Hit and Run grant go again to enable you to “go wide” attack an additional time. Dauntless makes a welcome appearance in the list too doing double duty. Not only does it pump your Dawnblade by 3, it’ll cost your opponent 1 more resource if you want to use defense reactions- a very important card type in the fight against Dorinthea.
Dorinthea’s matchups are neither here nor there across the board. With other heroes attacking harder or defending better, there is a lot of competition out there for the Warrior. Craig’s Dorinthea is an excellent example of a very balanced deck with very balanced matchups although very few of these could be described as either a dream or a nightmare.
Ser Boltyn, Breaker of Dawn
Nicholas Murphy took Ser Boltyn, Breaker of Dawn to Las Vegas and snagged himself 8 wins, finishing just one win short of contention for the Top 8. Nicholas’ deck is a very combo centric Boltyn build which wants to charge the soul from Light attacks and a bit of Soul Food, lay a Lumina Ascension in arsenal and go off with zero cost Cintari Saber attacks thanks to Courage of Bladehold, attacking the opponent up to 8 times in a single turn, often resulting in a one turn kill. Nicholas’ combo deck wants to attack each turn with whatever Light attacks are on hand, pressuring the opponent on the way to setting up that huge turn. The list can also defend well too! Soul Shield, Sink Below and Fate Foreseen all make appearances in the defense reaction suite, and the addition of a full set of three Snags, can disrupt Chane to help you buy time until their time is up.
Nicholas’ Boltyn has great matchups against midrange style decks such as a Herald centric Prism or Rhinar while a good matchup against Chane. The Chane matchup can sometimes be dependent on how the Soul Shackled cards fall and how quickly you can charge your soul before having that gigantic Lumina Ascension turn. One of Boltyn’s worst matchups is Dorinthea Ironsong. With Boltyn’s hero ability punishing opponents who defend with attack action card and Dorinthea runs...almost none, this is a matchup Nicholas’ Boltyn is looking to avoid.
Well, there you have it. Your most successful seven heroes from The Calling Las Vegas... but who says we need to stop there!
Kano, Dracai of Aether
One of the hottest topics of The Calling Las Vegas was Alexander Vore and his Kano, Dracai of Aether deck. These two were on fire this weekend. Alexander achieved what many said was impossible, winning in Classic Constructed with Kano! Was is 6-1 record on Day One a case of right time and right place or a lesson in room reading? Kano starts on 30 life, ten less than the rest, yet his insanely powerful arcane damage spells more than make up for it. Unless your opponents don’t wear Nullrune equipment. The Nullrune Gloves, Boots, Hood and Robe have been much less in fashion this season and Alexander took note. This Kano list has all the Wizard staples such as Stir the Aetherwinds, Forked Lightning, Blazing Aether and Sonic Boom, a whole lot of blue line cards for action on your opponent’s turn granted by Kano’s hero ability and even a single Nourishing Emptiness to really add fuel to the fire. Play spells on your turn and slowly burn your opponent out, play out as many Energy Potions as possible, then just as you are about to take that final point of damage and become one with the flames, take another turn!. Kind of. When facing down lethal damage and hopefully an opponent whose Arcane Barrier is low (or in many of Alexander’s opponent’s cases from Vegas, non-existent) , slip off your Storm Striders, play cards at instant speed as your opponent attacks you, and give them all you’ve got!
It is better to burn ‘em out, than to fade away.