Dusk Till Dawn Set Review – Shadow & Runeblade

Shadow + Runeblade Review

Greetings and salutations once again! Welcome to another installment from yours truly, some random #FABDad! Today’s content is going to be a little different from my usual, as we take a look at the darker side of Flesh and Blood‘s newest release, Dusk Till Dawn, and I offer some thoughts on which of the new Shadow cards I’m most excited to try out!

“Life itself is but the Shadow of death, and souls departed but the Shadows of the living.” ~Thomas Browne

I wasn’t really aware of Flesh and Blood during the original Monarch era, so I never had a chance to try Chane, Bound by Shadow or Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light in Classic Constructed. I was in Baltimore when James White revealed Prism, Advent of Thrones and Vynnset though, and my interest was immediately piqued by Vynnset’s art. The dark, twisted, heavy-horror vibes with all of her spikes is exactly my kind of cool, and I knew then that I was going to be playing in the shadows when Dusk Till Dawn released. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s coming!

The Hero…

First and foremost, there’s a new Shadow Runeblade in town, and a serious contender for my new favorite hero. (Sorry Katsu!) Her first line of text establishes that she’s going to be different than her predecessor, Chane. No Soul Shackle here, we’ll be regularly banishing one card at a time and getting a free Runechant every turn instead. Then, we’ll be able to pay one life any time we play a Shadow non-attack action card to make certain at least one of the Runechants we fire off this turn hits our opponent. Getting that guaranteed point of arcane damage is going to be very useful for some of the other effects we’re likely to want for a Vynnset deck. Overall, I get a slow, methodical, ritualistic type of vibe from Vynnset and I’m very much here for it!

The Arms and Armor…

I’ll touch on another potential weapon later on. For now, I want to look at what Vynnset herself is bringing to the table in DTD. Flail of Agony was the first of her suite that we were told about, since it was the June Armory cold foil prize. Not only does the card look great as a cold foil, but it also does everything we’re looking for. On hit it makes a Runechant and because it costs no resources to attack, it will be much easier to fit it onto the end of a combat chain if we find ourselves with an extra action point.

I originally thought the Scepter of Pain was going to be my starting point for playtesting. The more I think about it though, the less I like trying to keep two resources at the end of a combat chain to try and fit in that point of arcane. It’s probably worth testing into matches where the opponent has a lot of physical blocking armor, like Warriors, and we want to plan for a grindy long game but the Flail and the Grimoire of the Haunt looks like the standard loadout to me.

There’s really no point in running multiple one-handed weapons since Vynnset’s toys don’t have built in go again. There’s a lot of synergy between the new Eloquence token we can get from the Grimoire, any non-attack actions without natural go again, and Vynnset’s signature ability, Rune Gate, so having that potential value is better.

The new Runeblade chest armor we’re getting is a fascinating piece. The “purple discord” Runeblade crowd doesn’t seem to appreciate Dyadic Carapace yet, considering the initial reactions I saw there, but this card is solid. In any game where you’re wanting to block multiple smaller attacks or annoying breakpoints over multiple turns, you have access to three total life points from the two block and temper. If you’re against a Wizard hero, the Arcane Barrier 2 is going to be invaluable for saving sideboard slots. There’s a lot of function packed into one very defensive card with Dyadic Carapace and its one that I will definitely be picking up as soon as possible.

The Bread and Butter…

I don’t believe the runes are telling us that Vynnset is going to be a “go wide” or “rush down” hero. To me, her card pool seems to suggest a taller/disruptive style of approach. Deathly Delight and Deathly Wail are two examples of her Rune Gate mechanic that I think will be staples, and Envelop in Darkness offers a buff and another Runechant to help pay for the Gates. I especially like Deathly Wail since the ability will almost always replace part of the Runechants you needed to play it from banish, regardless of whether an opponent was hit or not. Deathly Delight only attacks for five, so its not a popper against the forces of Light, but it does present a very synergistic effect for Vynnset in all of its color strips by replenishing our health while attacking.

Funeral Moon and Requiem for the Damned will usually be played as an instant after you or your opponent have lost life during a turn, setting you up for your next tempo play. Putrid Stirrings is a big buff, and I think Vynnset is going to want to run a large amount of blue pitch so the three cost isn’t as big a hit as it would be in a rush down hero like Chane. That being said, these three are the ones I’m most on the fence about right now and need to actually get some reps in with them before making a final decision on how good they might be.

Ok, here we go! These are the kind of disruptive attacks we want! These cards follow a new pattern for red/yellow/blue pitch “linked” cards as the red costs two resources, the yellow costs three, and the blue costs four, while all of them have the same attack and defense stats. Typically, we expect the red to be the most aggressive or disruptive, but in this “cycle” the most effective card is going to be Widespread Annihilation in blue.

Hand disruption is not something we have a lot of in Flesh and Blood, and paired with Vynnset’s ability to guarantee arcane damage, we don’t actually care if the opponent blocks this card or not. Let me re-emphasize, the disruption triggers at the end of the combat chain for each hero that has lost life, not on hit. That means if we’ve played a Shadow non-attack before it and have at least one Runechant, this card is guaranteed to strip a card from our opponent’s hand regardless of whether they want to block or not.

Widespread Destruction is a guaranteed arsenal removal effect with our hero ability and, like the others, is a very strong card stat wise. Anyone who’s been on either side of a Command and Conquer or Leave no Witnesses knows the power of messing with the arsenal. With Annihilation and Destruction, you can pick and choose whether or not you have a card to banish and also whether or not you actually want it to be in the banish zone anyway.

The only one of these three that I might not bother to run is the red Widespread Ruin. Banishing the top card of your opponent’s deck isn’t going to do much to slow them down or disrupt them and there’s no guarantee that the card you banish from the top of your own deck is one that you can use effectively. While two resources for a six power attack is perfectly fine and the three block is great, I don’t think I want to include this one in my list.

The Embra…

If you manage to have a big Runechant generating turn or purposefully stockpile them and end up with some number above the six count threshold for Oblivion, you need to be aware of the way Runechants resolve on the chain. They don’t resolve all at one time as a big chunk of arcane damage. Each Runechant is put on the stack and resolves individually, creating priority windows for each instance you control.

What that means is, if you make an attack and more than six Runechants are triggered, you have a window of opportunity to play the instant speed Oblivion while you have six Runechants left under your control and after letting your stack resolve until there are exactly six remaining. No need to painstakingly and patiently sculpt your board to meet the requirement. Just send a big enough pile, wait until there’s six Runechants left on the stack to resolve, and you’ll have a “nice,” shiny new embra to terrify your opponent with. It works out really, REALLY well if your attack had go again because you can then immediately follow up what was probably a massive attack with a swing from your new demonic ally.

Once it is summoned, Nasreth, the Soul Harrower is one of the most incredible pieces of art in the entire set in my opinion and having a six-power, six-health ally that swings for free every turn while eating a Light hero’s soul to recover vitality is a flavor home run. I absolutely love this card and even if it only happens occasionally, I will definitely be running the single copy of Oblivion we will be allowed to play due to its legendary status.

The Power In the Shadows Before Dawn…

While most of the “generic” Shadow pool is oddly specific to countering Light cards, (possible set up for a future block draft format with the set that corresponds to the third Monarch story chunk?) there are a couple of things that look like they might see play in Classic Constructed. Dimenxxional Vortex is a card that I’m interested in trying out. It seems particularly strong when you play it off of Spellbound Creepers, but considering it doesn’t pitch, doesn’t block, doesn’t have natural go again, and costs three to play from hand, I don’t think I’d want to try more than one in a deck. It’s cheap, guaranteed arsenal disruption, and that’s really powerful, but the trade offs are steep. Tear Through the Portal brings some much needed go again to the Iron Maiden’s repertoire though. It being a Shadow non-attack action with go again, it triggers Vynnset and synergizes well with her un-preventable arcane damage.

The Old Guard Made New…

(Cards From Older Sets That Synergize Well With the New Shadow Runeblade Pool)

While Carrion Husk is not a new card in DTD, having originally been printed in Monarch, it would be silly to ignore what is considered one of the strongest pieces of equipment in the game when looking at a new hero that can utilize it. Having access to the number six in the bottom right corner means there’s at least one turn where an attack isn’t likely to wreck our hand by forcing us to block with multiple cards. Even with the drawbacks of banishing and blood debt, Carrion Husk is a powerhouse. Just be careful when the life totals are getting lower if you haven’t used it yet. It self-destructs once you hit 13 or less life and getting no value off of the block at all is devastating.

This card is one of the most busted things you can be doing with Runeblades and it is a staple for anyone that wants to play the class. After any attack or block you declare with an attack action card, you have the option of activating Creepers’ instant speed ability and playing a non-attack action at instant speed. If that non-attack action happens to have go again, you generate an extra action point when the card resolves.

Picture this: you start your turn with a Runechant set up from the previous turn. You play Envelop in Darkness, potentially triggering Vynnset’s ability, pitching a blue, and now have two resources floating. You then play a Deathly Delight via Rune Gate and since you’ve now attacked with an attack action, you activate Spellbound Creepers to play Revel in Runeblood as an instant. Now you have four additional Runechants that aren’t triggered by your current attack, an action point, and one resource left over to do with as you please. You can then play another one-cost disruptive attack from hand or send another Rune Gate attack at your opponent that they weren’t planning for.

Activating the ability does have a “cost” though. You’ll have to consistently deal arcane damage to your opponent every turn afterwards equal to the amount of Bind counters you’ve accumulated by using it. If only we had some kind of ability to guarantee arcane damage….

Rosetta Thorn… who knows how much longer we’ll have access to the Thorn in Classic Constructed? As of writing, Briar, Warden of Thorns is at 998 Living Legend points and therefore only needs two more measly points to cross the threshold into Living Legend status. When she finally acquires them, she’ll take her signature weapon, Rosetta Thorn, with her into retirement. I don’t know if we even really want the Thorn, to be completely fair. Mauvrion Skies, into two cost attack, into Rosetta Thorn swing is the tried-and-true turn structure of Viserai, Rune Blood, and maybe Vynnset will want to try that pattern out for herself too, but I’m not certain yet. “Two and two” to use the last action point is really good, but Vynnset wants to use the Rune Gates, not throw the Runechants out just to push damage. The fact that she doesn’t have as easy a time making Runechants as Viserai does is something we’ll have to consider.

There’s a slew of older Runeblade cards that care about whether or not an opposing hero has been dealt arcane damage this turn. Consuming Volition is the first one on my list of cards to try out with her guaranteed point of arcane to back it up. Thanks to Vynnset, so long as we play a Shadow non-attack and pay the bloody price for power, this card is guaranteed to always get at least one card from the opposing hero and, at worst, will force them into awkward blocking decisions. Meat and Greet is second on my list, but the margins between first and second are narrow. Meat and Greet will usually be a one-for-four with go again and on hit it will replace the Runechant we burned for the guaranteed arcane.

The Shadows Ally…

Vynnset may be the newest rising star of the Demonastery, but the original Runeblade hero is still around and also received a new toy in DTD. Bequest the Vast Beyond is a Viserai specialization that people will immediately compare to the now permanently banned Bloodsheath Skeleta, but I wasn’t playing back in the days of yore when the Viserai OTK combo deck existed. Therefore, I don’t really know how similarly to Skeleta this new piece of tech is going to function in today’s world. Bequest may find a slot in Viserai decks regardless, simply based on it costing zero, triggering the first half of a Runechant with Viserai’s hero ability, and being able to make paying for your next big Runeblade attack laughably easy. My only real issue with it is it only blocks for two.

The Conclusion…

There are several more cards from older sets that Vynnset is going to love that I could continue to go on about. (Not mentioning Vexing Quillhand and Grasp of the Arknight will probably earn me some sour looks for example.) However, I want to end today’s musings here. Dusk Till Dawn has me itching to get my hands on some new product and start brewing up a deck with all the new toys the Iron Maiden is bringing with her.

As we move forward into a new Flesh and Blood meta that includes Vynnset and the new Light heroes remember, “There is strong shadow where there is much light.” ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

What do you think of the new Shadow Runeblade hero? Is Vynnset, Iron Maiden all you hoped for in a disciple of Chane, Bound by Shadow? Are you as excited as I am about playing with these amazing looking cards? Does the new Viserai specialization have you more intrigued than the new Shadow tools? I’d love to hear what you think of all the new Shadow and Runeblade cards! As always, feel free to hit me up on Discord or Twitter as Dracohominis87!

And stay tuned for more Dusk Till Dawn set reviews here on FABREC!

Donnie is an enthusiastic nerd and family man who grew up playing TCGs, starting when Pokemon cards were the hottest thing on the playground. After playing Yu-gi-oh and then Magic the Gathering for years, he found Flesh and Blood in December of '22, sold all of his other pretty cardboard rectangles, and dived into FAB head first where he discovered a deep love for go-wide strategies involving the use of Ninja cards. Be Like Water is his current favorite card, because he gets to do a terrible Bruce Lee impression every time it's played. (Much to the annoyance of his brother who hears it a lot.) Donnie has been married to his lovely wife since Halloween 2008 and has two beautiful daughters that he couldn't be more proud of.