Wizard is the poster boy of Arcane Rising that kept us wanting to find out more before the set’s release. With the introduction of arcane damage, many players were eager to find out how this would work with existing, physical damage we got to play in Welcome to Rathe. The hype was real. Wizard spells looked insanely powerful, with many players predicting it was going to be a powerful class. In sealed play, Wizard did hold his own, often burning out the opponent, despite the life disadvantage. However, constructed play still sees an underrepresentation of Wizard, with even top players calling the deck underpowered in the current metagame. Some, though, still say no one has really mastered the class.
Let’s see what some of the biggest fans of Wizard have to say on the topic and pinpoint the reasons why. I posed a couple of simple questions to Sasha and Jasin, two of the most prolific Wizard players at the time of writing this article:
“Is Wizard Bad or Underpowered? Why?”
Neither, it’s fun! Being a wizard allows you to play some of the most unique and interesting games of Flesh and Blood. You can pull off some crazy tricks, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, wallow in the sadness that is the random aspect of the top of your deck, all the while being content knowing that the class balances itself out because of that randomness (unless you’re fortunate enough to have a big brain to remember your pitch order AND survive for them to be relevant). I’ve greatly enjoyed this demonstration of design space that the developers have been gracious enough to bring to life. The 15/30 life aspect of Kano looks to be an indication that they are willing to bring a class like Wizard to print without the intention of having them be overly competitive or common.
– Sasha “Markovictory” Markovic (2x The Calling Winner)
Wizard is a difficult deck to play and I think it suffers in the current meta but I don’t think it is a bad deck. There are too many people playing high quantities of blue cards along with hate which makes it difficult to deal chip damage throughout the game.
– Jasin Long (3x The Calling Top8s)
Also, Chris Bewley did an amazing interview with James White, creator of Flesh and Blood, asking about giving players some tips on playing the hero:
Don’t underestimate Kano. Key for Kano is understanding that it is really ok to play the game at an action speed for the majority of the game. Just because he has the ability to activate as an instant, doesn’t mean you have to use it. He is a hero you can play slowly until you get your windows. It is important to know when those windows are.
– James White – Flesh and Blood Creator
Kano has one of the most powerful, if not THE most powerful hero ability in the game. Being able to affect the game state in your opponent’s turn is massive. Not only does your opponent have to protect themselves on your turn, but also consider what you might have set up for their turn.
This setup is not easy.
Just because you can activate your hero ability in your opponent’s turn, doesn’t mean you should. When you have the creator of the game saying this is a big mistake he sees players make in the game, you know this is a major thing. Hit some opts, figure out what’s on top, then proceed to Kano ability.
Also, as Jasin mentioned, many Wizards out there play too many blues in their lists. By saturating your deck with blue pitch cards, you are more likely to hit a blue when using Kano’s ability. Paying 3 resources to reveal a blue Zap or Scolding Rain, is a very poor way of spending your resources.
Be patient with Kano’s ability, wait for some opts, wait for that window or when your opponent’s defences are down, then instant blast them for maximum effect!
Using Attack and Defence Actions
Another contentious topic is the effectiveness of attack actions and defence actions in Wizard.
By running these, you have a chance of missing on your Kano ability. Three resources to do nothing is a painful price to pay. Many Wizard players minimise this by excluding Attack and Defence cards from their deck. In my opinion this is a mistake, here’s why:
- Some of the most powerful classes, such as Ninja and Warrior, rely on on-hit effects to create an advantage in the game. By removing defence reactions from the deck, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to these decks. Cards like Fate Foreseen, not only fill that role, but the added Opt works extremely well with your hero ability. And trust me, versing a good Warrior on 30 life with no defence reactions will be an uphill battle! Don’t get me started on versing Bravo with no Unmovables…
- Attack actions diversify your damage type. Yes, you might miss on your hero ability, but as discussed before, you don’t have to force this. By running some attack actions, you can pressure your opponent with physical damage. Chances are, their defence reactions are limited versus a Wizard, combined with arcane damage, you can put your opponent into really tricky situations. For Wizard, any damage is good damage and getting your opponent low, is where Wizard starts really shining.
- Only relying on arcane damage makes it easier for your opponent to deal with your threats. Yes, you might hit those spells off the top of your deck, but if your opponent really knows how to play around Wizard, chances are they will know when to prevent the damage that matters. In this scenario, you lose cards, they don’t, as pitching is means of preventing versus arcane damage. In a long game, chances are you will start running out of threats!
But what attack actions are worth adding to Wizard?
Low life Can be a Plus
Starting on low life doesn’t have to be a disadvantage. Cards like Scar for a Scar and Life for a Life seem like a natural fit in a deck that starts on lower life and a deck that does exceptionally well versus an opponent on low life. The key to building any great deck is creating win-win scenarios. In Wizard, attacking with either Scar for a Scar or Life for a Life, forces your opponent to either take lots of damage (great!) or block, weakening their next attack, while you set up a powerful spell. Imagine turns like Life for a Life into Scolding Rain for 5, or Scar for a Scar into a powered up Voltic Bolt. With only 3 cards, you’re dealing mixed damage and pressuring your opponent from different sides.
Straight Damage Wins Games
Wizard Majestics and Super Rares can unleash powerful combos that, when not dealt with, can do more damage than any other class in the game. These combos are impressive and powerful, but they lack consistency. Often, you have one or two pieces of the puzzle, but struggle to find that last piece or last resource. In Flesh and Blood, consistency is key to playing a deck that wins. Relying on luck will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth if you don’t pull it off. Not only that, if your opponent knows what they’re doing, they will know which damage to prevent. This is why I feel like straight damage cards like Voltic Bolt, Aether Spindle and Scalding Rain are very powerful in their own right and win games.
Don’t get me wrong, having combo spells is important in Wizard, but you need to streamline this combo and know exactly what it is, and when you want to play it. Knowing this will help you reduce clunky draws and streamline your list into a beast it can be. (For my combo, I use the one-offs in my list below ;D )
On paper, Wizard is the most interesting class so far. Low life, arcane damage and a powerful hero ability turn it into a massive glass cannon. Does this make the class bad? Absolutely not. Once you work out how to deal with Wizard’s shortcomings and really tune the damage potential, you can put your opponents in some really tough spots, even if they are prepared for the matchup.
I feel we are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg for the possibilities of building Wizard. Cards like Moon Wish and Sun Kiss combo well in the class. Sigil of Solace, Lead the Charge, even Command and Conquer seem like good fits.
My guess is that the unpredictability of Wizard will make it an uncommon, yet a present class in future competitive tournaments. This deck, once mastered, can be insanely powerful in any matchup. But, because of the skill and funds required to play it, it won’t see as much play as other classes. This in turn, will give the deck an edge, as playing against it will require just as much skill as playing it.
For those interested, here is the list I am currently working with:
Hero: Kano, Dracei of Aether
Weapons: Crucible of Aetherweave
Equipment: Arcanite Skullcap, Fyendal’s Spring Tunic, Ironrot Gauntlet, Nullrune Gloves, Storm Striders, Talismanic Lens
(3) Aether Flare (red)
(3) Aether Spindle (red)
(1) Blazing Aether (red)
(3) Command and Conquer (red)
(3) Enchanting Melody (red)
(3) Enlightened Strike (red)
(3) Fate Foreseen (red)
(1) Forked Lightning (red)
(3) Life for a Life (red)
(3) Reverberate (red)
(3) Scalding Rain (red)
(3) Scar for a Scar (red)
(1) Stir the Aetherwinds (red)
(3) Unmovable (red)
(3) Voltic Bolt (red)
(3) Zap (red)
(3) Lesson in Lava (yellow)
(1) Remembrance (yellow)
(3) Sonic Boom (yellow)
(3) Springboard Somersault (yellow)
(1) Absorb in Aether (blue)
(3) Aether Spindle (blue)
(3) Energy Potion (blue)
(1) Eye of Ophidia (blue)
(1) Heart of Fyendal (blue)
(3) Reverberate (blue)
(3) Timesnap Potion (blue)
(3) Voltic Bolt (blue)
(3) Whisper of the Oracle (blue)
Thanks for reading,