Ar Bun first started playing Flesh and Blood in December 2020, participating in weekly Blitz events ahead of his first Skirmish event in March. As of writing this article, he’s just one point shy of 2,000 XP, 11th on the global lifetime XP leaderboard, and 2nd on the lifetime XP leaderboard for Hong Kong. He played Kano throughout the first and second seasons of Skirmish, picking up Chane during the Road to Nationals season, and took the Runeblade to victory at the Hong Kong Regional Championship.
“I think I first started playing competitively in Skirmish season one. Because of Covid-19, we couldn’t join face-to-face events, so online Skirmish events were the only way you could meet players from around the world. Although the events didn’t provide many prizes, I tried my best to win the glory for Hong Kong. At that time, I won one event and got a few top 8’s in Skirmish events. That was the motivation for me to play competitively. I met a lot of new friends from around the world by playing online events, it does a lot for understanding the different play styles from different countries. We usually talk a lot after the games, and with that discussion and exchange of thoughts, we grow together.
The FAB community in Hong Kong is competitive, it’s very easy to meet a skilled player at an Armory event. If you want to win an Armory event in Hong Kong, you have to face Joshua Lau’s Dorinthea, Kelvin Law’s Kano, Galaxy Yang’s Ira - those players are Skirmish event champions around the world. When you can play with those top players in Hong Kong every day, your skills improve very quickly. And more importantly, those top players are welcomed to share their techniques, tell you your misplays and teach you how to win. Players here are very selfless and share a lot, I think that is the reason why the Hong Kong FAB community grows very fast and shines globally.”
“Hong Kong is full of good players - we are enemies but we’re also friends. Each player has their own strengths. I played with Jack Tang to practice for Bravo matchups; with Kelvin Law to practice for Dash matchups; played with Thomas Li, Terry Chan, Eric Chu, Mortal Chu, Galaxy Yang, Cliff Wong for different Briar matchups; played with Rudy Lee and Monk Chan for Prism matchups; with Ching Fung for Kano matchups (but I never win). There are too many good friends and players, I can’t mention them all.”
An avid wizard, Ar Bun quotes Kano as one of his favourite heroes to play, but switched to Chane for the Championship, saying that there are common elements in his strategies for the two heroes.
“I think the main reason FAB keeps me interested is the various heroes, I like the way FAB creates their images as if they’re real people fighting one another. When I play as a warrior, I feel like I am a warrior in real life, using my sword in battle. When I play Kano, I feel like I’m holding a magic wand and burning my enemies. This is what makes the game appealing to me.
I like planning for a big turn, and both Chane and Kano can achieve this. The interesting part of the game is, with each card you pitch or resource you use, these cards all go back to the bottom of your deck. That means you can plan your big turn by pitching cards. Pitching the important card is just like an extra arsenal slot. For example, I like pitching Blazing Aether and making it come to the top of my deck later in the game. I like pitching Stir the Aetherwinds with some blue cards, and then putting Forked Lightning into my arsenal, to make sure I can actually play this combo in the later part of the game. This strategy does help me a lot when playing Chane; if you can control the cards you banish and the card you draw, it can maximize the power of Chane.”
“I expected to see a lot of Briar in the metagame at Nationals, and for me, I think Chane is one of the few heroes that does well against Briar, the queen of this meta. I think that for Chane vs. Briar, Chane has a 60% winrate because of Carrion Husk, which can help a lot in blocking the Plunder Run and Enlightened Strike turns for Briar. It’s very difficult for Briar to force a player to destroy Spellbound Creepers, as Briar cannot prevent arcane damage easily. So normally, I use Creepers 2-3 times, and this allows me to create a very wide combat chain with huge damage output.
Everybody says that the answer to the current meta is Briar, and I think that’s mostly right, but I think other heroes like Chane and Oldhim can do well. Chane still has a place, he’s still strong enough to be a king.
For me, Oldhim is actually the hardest hero to beat. I think the main reason is that Oldhim players usually play Briar instead of Chane. It’s not just Oldhim, after the Seeds of Agony ban, heroes like Dash, Bravo and Prism find it easier to fatigue Chane. Oldhim is the hardest one, though, because he has so many ways of countering Chane.
First, the shield can keep blocking several times if I broke the combat chain. The shield can go all the way from blocking 1 to 3, so pitching a blue can block six in total, theoretically. Secondly, Oldhim’s defense reactions force me to put a card from my hand to the top of my deck, which slows down my deck and makes sure I don’t have enough resources to play cards in my last turn.
Third, Blizzard, the most horrible card of Oldhim’s, which will totally stop my turn. Usually I try to pitch all the cards in my hand to protect me from putting the card on top of my deck, but if I pitched all my cards, I can’t pay the resource cost for Blizzard, so I need to gamble or try to figure out when a defense reaction will appear, or when it’ll be Blizzard.
Lastly, there are many blue pitch cards in Oldhim’s deck that can effectively block all arcane damage, it made my Spellbound Creepers much easier to break. With so many ways of countering Chane, I think that this is a 80% loss rate for Chane.”
Ar Bun was one of three Chane players who made it to the Top 8 cut of the Regional Championship, alongside four Briar players, and one Oldhim. He quotes the Briar matchup as a particular focus, though he had one eye on the Oldhim player, Jack Tang.
“If you beat Briar, you have a good chance of placing higher. Thin your deck to 60-63 cards to ensure you can banish cards effectively, and defense reactions are good because they can counter Briar’s big turn, like Plunder Run or Snatch with Lightning Press. Command and Conquer is a perfect counter to Briar because it forces your opponent to block. Slow the game, and try to get your Shackles up to four or five, that’s when it’s showtime for Chane.
Going into the final against Oldhim, I was full of confidence in the middle of the match. As a Kano player, I am used to keeping my life at a very low value, and everything was still going according to plan. Although my health was very low, I knew I could fight back. When I was banishing the card for a seventh Shackle, Eclipse emerged, and I stopped and thought “that’s my showtime.” After that turn, I managed to banish Seeping Shadow and Howl from Beyond; everything was ready and it was the perfect time to have a big hit. I was wary of Oldhim’s hero defense reaction, so I decided to pitch all of my cards, except then Jack played Blizzard, which totally knocked me down. I’d thought I could win for sure, but that dropped me from heaven to hell. I put my hands off the table as I was so powerless at that time, I could only look at how Jack showcased his amazing play.
After that, I kept reminding myself, the match isn’t over. I imagined that I was using Kano - so it didn’t matter that there was only one life remaining. I kept looking for a way to get out of this difficult moment, and I finally got it. Everyone, including me, thought that I was going to lose, but actually it was a regular move for Kano - fight back on one life. A year of playing Kano taught me how to flip the game in the worst situation.”
On that note, I asked Ar about the moment in the final where he managed to reverse the match, when he could be seen reviewing the state of the game and calculating where cards were in each player’s respective deck. Did he know where the Art of War was, and was he prepared for it?
“Yes, I knew where the Art of War was; moreover, I also knew where the Seeping Shadow and the Howl from Beyond I pitched in my first turn were. For me, the first mission was sending Seeping Shadow and Howl from Beyond to the banish zone. Unfortunately, the Art of War didn’t go to my hand. I tried to draw as many cards as possible but I still couldn’t make the deck run fast enough. The main reason was that Jack was using the hero’s ice defense reaction to slow my deck. Jack did a good job keeping the Art of War from being drawn, and see it banished instead. There’s a YouTube video and an article that showcase this technique.”
"I am so honored to be the Regional Champion of Hong Kong. It is without doubt a huge recognition of my hard work in these several months. Nevertheless, this is just the beginning of my FAB journey. In the future, I’ll keep learning and trying to be an all-rounded player, and try to do my best in every challenge I encounter. I look forward to going further at the World Championships so that more people in the world will know more about the Hong Kong Fab community.
I would like to say thanks to all the players who practiced with me or gave advice to me, especially the Chane player Ray Lam, who also played Chane at the Championship. We discussed and practiced together, and we were using the same decklists. Unfortunately, we met each other at round seven, and we knew that this was a 50/50 game. When I won, I became the fourth seed after Swiss, and he went to eleventh or twelfth. The good thing was that I took Chane to the top and won the Championship, and didn’t let anyone down, that was great for me. I think Ray deserves the victory as well.
Finally, I would like to say, I respect all the players who are still playing Chane. After the ban of Seeds of Agony, I know it’s challenging to use Chane in the game. If you are still using Chane, that means Chane is your true love! Keep it up!”
Ar Bun 第一次接觸血肉之戰是在2020年的12月，在他參與3月份所舉辦的閃衝突戰之前的週例行的閃擊賽事。在寫這篇文章時，他離兩千XP僅僅只有一分之差。面前在終生XP的排行榜為世界第11位同時也是香港排名第二高的終生XP。他在第一和第二賽季的衝突戰都選擇使用Kano，在國冠之路的比賽中則選擇了Chane，最後也讓魔劍品嘗到了香港地區冠軍的滋味。
血肉之戰在香港的社群是非常競爭的，在武裝盃很容易遇到有技巧的玩家，如果在香港你想要贏得武裝盃，那你會面對到JoshuaLau’s Dorinthea, Kelvin Law’s Kano, Galaxy Yang’s Ira，這些贏得世界各地衝突戰的冠軍。當你可以每天與這些玩家交流，那你的技術自然而然會進步得相當快速。最重要的是這些頂尖玩家從來不吝於分享自己的技術，會願意告訴你打錯的地方以及指導你該如何取勝。在香港的玩家都非常的無私且願意分享，我想這就是為什麼香港的社群可以成長得如此快速並在全世界大放異彩。
香港擁有許多好的玩家，我們既是敵人也是朋友，每位玩家都有其自身厲害的地方。像我經常與Jack Tang練習Bravo的對決；與Kelvin Law練習Dash的對決
；與Thomas Li, Terry Chan, Eric Chu, Mortal Chu,Galaxy Yang, Cliff Wong練習面對不同牌型的Briar；與Rudy Lee和Monk Chan練習如何應對幻術師；與Ching Fung練習法師的對局(雖然我從未獲勝)。這裡有太多的好朋友和好玩家，我無法一一提及。
我喜歡在一回合爆發我的攻擊，Chane和Kano都是擁有這個能力。這個遊戲有趣的地方是任何一張你去Pitch或是你使用的資源，都會回到你的牌庫底。這代表著你可以藉由Pitch你的牌去達成一回合的爆發。當你用重要的牌張去做Pitch，就像是一種額外的武器庫插槽。舉例來說，我喜歡把Blazing Aether Pitch 出去，讓他在遊戲後期再出現在我的牌庫頂。我喜歡Pitch Stir the Aetherwind和一些藍色的牌，並把Forked Lingtning放到我的武器庫，確保我在遊戲後期能夠使我的連續技。這個策略也在我使用Chane的時候幫助到了我；如果你能夠控制你放逐的牌和你即將抽到的牌，那你就能把Chane的攻擊力最大化。
我預期在國家冠軍賽的賽場會有許多Briar，我認為Chane是少數能夠在與Briar對抗會有好表現的英雄，他是這個環境裡的皇后。我認為在Chane和Briar的對決裡，Chane有60%獲勝機率，因為Carrion Husk這張牌，可以幫助Chane去阻擋來自Briar的Plunder Run和 Enlightened Strike.對於Briar來說很難去逼迫對手摧毀Spellbound Creepers，而且Briar很難抵禦秘術的傷害，所以我通常會使用Spellbound Creepers 2~3次，這可以讓我製造非常廣的戰鬥連鎖，並讓我有巨量的傷害輸出。
對我來說Oldhim幾乎是最難擊敗的英雄，我認為主要原因是Oldhim玩家會玩Briar而不是Chane。當然不僅是Oldhim，自從Seeds of Agony被禁用後，一些英雄像是Dash, Bravo和Prism也更容易讓Chane在對局中後繼無力。當然Oldhim仍然是最難打敗的，因為他有太多對抗Chane的方式。
Ar Bun是今年國家冠軍賽三位打進八強的Chane使用者之一，這次八強還伴隨著4副Briar和1副Oldhim。他已有特別關注Briar，因此他把部分的心力放在Oldhim的使用者，Jack Tang.
如果你能夠打敗Briar，那你會有很好的機會達到更高的位置。整復套牌有60~63張牌被放逐是可以有效的使用的，然後防禦反應牌可以很有效的阻止Briar一回合爆發的攻擊，像是Plunder Run、Snatch伴隨著Lightning Press。Command and Conquer 是一個很棒的克制Briar手段。因為他會強迫你的對手去阻擋。把整個遊戲的節奏緩慢下來，並試著Shackle 4到5次，接著就可以讓Chane大放異彩。
在最後的決戰與Oldhim對抗，在整個對決中我充滿了自信，身為一個Kano玩家，我把血量維持在一個低水平線，並讓每件事都跟著計劃走。雖然我的血量非常低，但我知道我可以反擊。當我做了7次Shackle去放逐牌，Eclipse出現了，於是我停下動作並開始了思考，現在是我的表演時間。經過這回合後我刻意放逐Seeping Shadow和Howl from Beyond；當一切準備就緒，現在正是時候可以來一次巨大的攻擊。我很擔心Oldhim的英雄防禦反應牌，因此我決定Pitch我手上所有的牌，除非Jack打出Blizzard，這幾乎可以把我擊倒，不然我確信自己可以贏得這場對局。但最後結果把我從天堂丟回了地獄，我已經孤注一擲，此時的我無能為力，只能看著Jack展現出他完美的操作。
說到這裡，我問 Ar 關於決賽中他設法扭轉局勢的那一刻，他是否能夠回顧遊戲的每個狀態並計算每張牌在每位玩家各自的牌庫。他知道Art of War在那裡嗎？他是否有準備？
是的我知道Art of War在那裡，甚至我也知道Seeping Shadow和Howl from Beyond我最一開始Pitch的牌在那。對我來說最優先的任務是把Seeping Shadow和Howl from Beyond送到放逐區。但不幸的是我並沒有抽到Art of War
。我盡可能的多抽牌，但仍不足以讓整個牌組運行的更快。Jack做的最棒的地方是讓我無法抽到Art of War，進而讓我放逐Art of War。這有Youtube影片和文章去展示這個技巧。
最後我想說，我尊重每位持續使用Chane的玩家。經過禁止使用Seed of Agony，我知道使用Chane是一個艱辛的挑戰。如果你持續選擇Chane，這代表Chane是你真正喜歡的英雄。不要放棄!
A huge thank you to the team at Fayble for helping us translate this article into Mandarin!