In 2021, Yuki Lee Bender took her Lexi, Livewire deck to victory at the Canadian National Championships, going on to make the Top 32 at Pro Tour: New Jersey earlier this year with Lexi, and the Top 64 at the World Championship with Iyslander, Stormbind. A competitive player, teacher, and writer of strategy content, we're pleased to welcome Yuki back as a guest writer to discuss the Classic Constructed format post-Dynasty.
In this article I’ll be giving you some of my early thoughts on how I think the Classic Constructed metagame may evolve with the release of Dynasty, as well as some cards from the set that have caught my attention. At the time of writing, Dynasty has not been out for very long so this is based primarily on theory with relatively few actual games to support these opinions, so take them with a grain of salt.
The Uprising Metagame
In order to help us understand the metagame to come, let’s first take a quick look at the existing metagame leading up to Dynasty. Our last major event before Dynasty released was the first ever Flesh and Blood World Championship in San Jose, California. At this event we saw Fai, Oldhim, Briar and Iyslander represent the four most popular choices for Classic Constructed and take up a combined 71% of the metagame with other heroes present, but significantly less represented. One of the things that strikes me immediately about Dynasty, is that none of these top heroes seem to get upgrades that slot directly into their current popular strategies. Instead, Dynasty cards for these classes seem to represent alternative strategies such as a shield focused Guardian, or a Wizard deck that looks to play on its own turn and utilize the new Surge mechanic.
Although they do not get new cards, I don’t see Briar, Fai, Oldhim or Iyslander going anywhere in the early Dynasty metagame. Players preparing for events should still expect to see these popular heroes represented in force. However, the most popular decks not increasing in power level, leaves room for other heroes to step into the limelight with some brand new tools from Dynasty. This leads me to believe that the upcoming Battle Hardeneds and ProQuest Season 3 metagames will be even more diverse and exciting than Uprising, which was already very diverse and well balanced format.
While Dynasty may not offer the most competitive decks direct upgrades, it does offer a myriad of new card choices and archetypes for other existing heroes as well as a brand new class, Assassin, that will undoubtedly spice up the metagame. One of my favourite things about Dynasty is just how fun and flavorful many of the new mechanics are. There are so many new cards that strike that perfect balance of being powerful enough to grab your attention while also asking you to build your deck around them to see their full potential. While I couldn’t possibly touch on all of the new exciting options, I wanted to highlight a few heroes and cards that have caught my attention as we take our first steps into the Dynasty Classic Constructed metagame.
In my eyes, Dash is one of the clear winners this set, which can be seen by her taking down both first and second place at Battle Hardened: Philadelphia. In Rose’s winning decklist we see a few new Dynasty cards added to a classic midrange Dash list that can flex between a pistol based control deck and a more aggressive boost strategy depending on the matchup. Pulsewave Harpoon is a fantastic new tool that gives Dash access to some much needed disruption. The ability to look at the opponent’s hand and take away a key card such as a loan blue card for an aggro deck, or a loan red card for a Guardian is extremely powerful. The other powerful new Dynasty card we see in Rose’s deck is Bios Update which is already on rate as 3 for 0 Go Again that blocks 3, but also has the ability to create a card, two resources and an action point worth of value should you hit an item off boost. Slotting these powerful upgrades into a tried and true shell is very logical and it doesn’t surprise me to see Dash taking down an event right out of the gate.
However, what might be even more impressive is that we see a completely different take on Dash take second place in the same tournament. Pierre-Olivier’s finals decklist takes an aggressive Boost Dash shell that focuses on resolving Maximum Velocity and adds Pulsewave Harpoon and Hanabi Blaster to help disrupt the opponent and pressure large amounts of damage very quickly. It’s very exciting to see a variety of Dash’s classic strategies receive some solid support this set.
However, the exciting possibilities for Dash don’t end there! There’s also the brand new Nitro Mechanoid, which is easily one of my favourite card designs in Dynasty. Not only is Nitro Mechanoid a huge flavor win that really makes you want to see it in action, but if Dash resolves this card it’s a huge amount of the value too! Nitro Mechanoid represents a whopping 15 points of armor across 5 blocks as well as a free 5 power attack that can be used multiple times per turn if Dash can generate extra action points using High Octane or Achilles Accelerator. While Nitro Mechanoid definitely requires players to jump through several hoops to resolve it, the reward just might be big enough for it to see competitive play. I look forward to seeing more card designs similar to this in the future that give players a fun card to build around in order to get some big splashy payoff.
Assassin is a class that many players have been anticipating for a while now, and Arakni certainly delivers. By threatening to banish opponent’s cards, Arakni has a unique angle of attack that not only interacts on the axis of raw damage or defense, but also threatens the health of their opponent’s deck.
While it’s too early to say what optimal builds of Arakni will look like and what their place in the metagame may be, my early games as and against Arakni have left me impressed. Not only did Arakni quickly threaten to run me out of threats when I played against them, but Arakni has a deceptively powerful value engine centered around recurring Mask of Perdition and Surgical Extraction. Arakni’s recursive armor blocks, abundance of cards that block for 3 and disruptive threats like Surgical Extraction and Leave no Witnesses give them plenty of tools to grind out value and extend the game. So far, Arakni seems best at preying on midrange decks that look to do a combination of attacking and blocking so that they can leverage Spider’s Bite to reduce the effectiveness of the opponent’s blocks. However, with so much still unexplored player’s should be keeping an eye out on Flesh and Blood’s newest class. I see lots of potential from Arakni lurking in the shadows.
Rok seems like it is quickly becoming a fan favourite and it’s certainly a card I’m excited to try out as well. Not only is it a homerun in terms of flavor, but it is yet another card that offers a fun puzzle to build around while promising plenty of power as a reward. I’m sure many players have noticed that seven damage for three resources is nothing short of incredible, but what might not be apparent at first glance is that you must activate Rok first, then pitch cards to pay the cost. This means that you can not simply pitch a blue card in order to activate it, as Rok requires you to have an empty hand. In order to activate Rok players need to solve the puzzle of how to have three resources and an action point available to them.
While I am sure there are multiple ways to do this, one of the ways that first comes to mind for me is by pitching a blue to play 1 cost cards with Go Again, and then using Fyendal’s Spring Tunic or a discarded Skull Crack to give the last remaining resource needed to swing Rok. Good candidates for 1 costs include Brute staples like Bloodrush Bellow and Rolling Thunder, strong generics like Brandish and Life for a Life as well as brand new cards like Madcap Charger. Additionally, Energy Potion combined with Fyendal’s Spring Tunic can offer yet another way for brutes to activate Rok.
How competitive exactly is this kind of deck? I’m not entirely sure myself, but Rok’s value proposition is strong enough that myself and many others will certainly be exploring it.
Ranger is a class near and dear to my heart, so how could I discuss the newest Flesh and Blood set without not taking a look at what goodies it has to offer for Ranger? The card I am most excited about is Heat Seeker which is a great arrow for any Ranger that lets Rangers expend their whole hand while threatening to still get an arsenal. Drill Shot is another very powerful standalone card that works with Aim Counters, but doesn’t require them to be effective. In many ways Drill Shot is similar to the Ranger staple Searing Shot, but the ability to threaten the opponent’s equipment is very powerful as this can help clear the way for Ranger’s future hit effects later in the game. While neither of these cards create new archetypes for Rangers, they are solid staples that I believe we will see being slotted into Ranger decks for many sets to come.
The majority of the other cards ranger got this set focus on Aim Counters, a brand new Ranger mechanic. Currently Aim Counters primarily are tied to Sandscour Greatbow, but Blessing of Focus and Point the Tip can also provide them as well. An Aim Counter doesn’t do anything on its own, instead the payoffs are tied to specific cards that reference them. The most notable of these is Dead Eye, which has very strong stats offering 3 block and 3 power on a yellow pitch card, but with an Aim Counter also includes a devastating hit effect. As mentioned previously, picking a specific card from your opponent’s hand to discard can significantly reduce the effectiveness of the hand by taking away key threats or resource cards. Immobilizing Shot and Hemorrhage Bore also provide significant disruption with Aim Counters, but can be a bit lacking without them. While Drill Shot is a strong card that benefits from Aim Counters, the bonus effect feels fairly marginal and isn’t a major incentive for the mechanic.
Right now, due to their reliance on Sandscour Greatbow, Aim Counters currently synergize best with Azalea’s hero ability and further incentivize her to care about cards on the top of her deck. One of the strongest interactions this bow has, is allowing her to recoup the card disadvantage from staples like Memorial Ground and Nock the Deathwhistle that place an arrow on top of the deck. There’s also the possibility to include Seek Horizon as an efficient Go Again attack that also works well with Sandscour Greatbow. Another strength of the weapon is that it potentially allows Azalea to find arrows on the top of her deck should she not have any in hand. Not being required to have an arrow in hand also allows her to pitch a single card or tunic counter to try and find an arrow on top of her deck. Finally, Sandscour Greatbow is also compatible with New Horizon as it does not require an empty arsenal the same way Death Dealer does.
So, how strong is the Aim Counter package?
While it’s still very early and it will take time to fully explore the possibilities that Aim Counters provide, my initial impression is that Sandscour Greatbow may have trouble competing with the value that Death Dealer provides with consistent card draw. In order to be worth running, Aim Counters and/or the New Horizon synergy need to provide the same or more value than Death Dealer offers, and currently it’s not entirely clear to me that they do. While Dead Eye is a premium payoff, the others are more situational, lower impact and disappointing when they don’t have Aim Counters. That being said, there is still lots of room for exploration in deckbuilding and it will take time to find optimal lists that utilize Sandscour Greatbow. Also, if Aim Counters become a recurring mechanic for Rangers we may see additional support further down the line.
While I don’t think Dynasty fundamentally changes Ranger’s position in the metagame, it does provide some significant upgrades to the class and I believe Lexi and Azalea will continue to be a strong choice if the metagame starts to lean heavily towards aggressive strategies.
Experimenting with new cards and trying to build new decks when a set first releases are some of my favourite times in Flesh and Blood, and Dynasty might be the most exciting to build with yet. I love that Dynasty offers so many interesting build around cards that are fun, compelling and right on that border of having potential, but making you work to realize it. I’m sure a few of these cards may see their time in the sun for competitive play and many others may not, but regardless they are all fantastic additions to the game because they offer players so many different ways for players to experience their favourite heroes.
This article barely scratches the surface on all the things to explore in Dynasty, but hopefully can give you some inspiration or places to start as we move towards ProQuest Season 3.
Yuki Lee Bender is a competitive Flesh and Blood player and author of content relating to gameplay and strategy. The opinions expressed in the above article are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Legend Story Studios.