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Outsiders Shakes Up the FaB Meta

The newest draftable Flesh and Blood set, Outsiders, released on March 24. With it came major support for ranger, assassin and ninja, a whole new equipment type, and some flavorful new mechanics. It wasn’t hard to see that Outsiders was going to disrupt the FaB meta. I don’t think anyone expected the changes to come this hard and fast. The very day after release, Minmax Games and Realm Games hosted Chicago Brawl 2023. Outsiders cards and heroes were rocketed into the spotlight after less than 48 hours of legality.

And oh my, did they put on a show. New heroes Uzuri and Riptide progressed into the second day, and reprinted hero Azalea blasted past the pack to both sides of the table in the final round. One of the first cards spoiled during Outsiders previews, Codex of Frailty, made waves and created dramatic plays throughout the event. While it wasn’t completely slept on before Chicago Brawl, it’s safe to say it wasn’t properly respected until the event was well underway. Turns out that Rangers like graveyard recursion. Who knew? Especially when that graveyard recursion also nerfs the opponent’s defenses. And the downside to you can be mitigated.

Welcome to the Meta, Azalea!

Azalea, Ace in the Hole is just bad. I heard that a lot when I was first looking to build a classic constructed deck. She has precisely zero Living Legend points. No one has ever won a meaningful competitive event with her. She first appeared in Arcane Rising, FaB’s second ever set. That’s going all the way back to March 2020. LSS tried their best to give Ranger support in Dynasty with the Aim mechanic, but it fell short. If you wanted to play Ranger, you played Lexi… unless you were part of the Azalea cult following.

Outsiders changed that. Bloodrot Pox tokens tax your opponent, forcing them to pay a whopping three resources or take damage. And Inertia tokens send your hand AND arsenal to the bottom of your deck at the beginning of your end phase. That means no cards to put into arsenal before draw. Which means your opponent goes on the defensive with no possible defense reactions in arsenal and only what mitigation they’ve drawn. Against heroes like Iyslander and Kano who like to do damage on the opponent’s turn, this is almost crippling. Add that to Azalea’s ability to go TALL with her arrows, and you get some power.

Not one, but two Azalea, Ace in the Hole decks appeared in the top 8 in Chicago. Perhaps even bigger than that, tournament winner Brodie Spurlock beat Michael Hamilton – one of the best FaB players in the world – in a tense semi-final match. Hamilton played Iyslander, the hero currently at #3 on the Living Legend board. Spurlock isn’t an unknown on the competitive scene, but that match felt like a total David vs. Goliath, and David won. Do you want to make waves and jump to prominence in the metagame? That’s how you make waves and become Queen of the FaB Outsiders Meta.

Control is king in the Outsiders meta

With the addition of Bloodrot Pox, Inertia and Frailty, players have a lot more debuffs and taxes to worry about in the Outsiders meta. Once upon a time, all you had to worry about was Frostbite, which increases the cost of cards and activated abilities by one resource. Frostbite is a one-off. You destroy it when you play a card or activate an ability. It really gums up the works, for sure. That’s part of what makes Iyslander and Oldhim so troublesome. But the Outsiders tokens are a lot easier to set up and, in my opinion, have much harsher taxes. Frailty, for instance, reduces your attack actions and weapon attacks by 1{p}, and doesn’t get destroyed until your end step. It lasts the opponent’s whole turn. For decks like Fai that like to play a lot of fast, small attacks, that’s a major blow. Having to pay three resources or take two damage on end phase makes choosing to dump your whole hand on the attack chain much more of a difficult decision. And what are the odds someone’s going to have a blue in hand to just make that damage go away?

Too soon to tell?

Chicago Brawl 2023 was our first major competitive event after Outsiders release. The Outsiders meta is still fresh and new, and players are having to learn their way around all the new tricks (and some of the old ones) that Rangers, Assassins and Ninjas have up their sleeves. Was Azalea’s prominence in Chicago just a fluke? Now that they’ve seen what this set can do, everyone’s looking towards Battle Hardened: Richmond. It’s the last chance for players to qualify for Pro Tour Baltimore. No PT invites were on the line in Chicago. Richmond will be the true litmus test of the Outsiders meta. I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Did you watch the livestream of Chicago Brawl 2023? Were you there? I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s been a busy few weeks for me, so I would love to hear your first impressions of Outsiders. Drop a comment or hit me up on Twitter and give me your two cents!

About the Author
Silver has been playing Magic: The Gathering and other trading card games off and on since 1999, and is a lifelong roleplayer. They believe in Rule 0 and The Rule of Cool, and that the gaming table should be a safe space for everyone.

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