Evergreen – Fai, Rising Rebellion

Fai, Rising Rebellion
(Fai, Rising Rebellion | Art by Sam Yang)

On each end of a royal courtyard, a fierce Ninja with a distinct burn scar over one eye is wreathed in red flames. On the other, his own sister, a princess falling from grace. Each are vying for the throne in pursuit of their own perception of honor, by any means necessary. Their conflict, at its Breaking Point, is being decided by a time-honored duel.

That’s right, I’m talking about Fai, Rising Rebellion! Were you thinking something else?

This is Rhys, back with another edition of Evergreen, a series focused on helping you unlock the power deep within the heroes of Flesh and Blood in the Classic Constructed format. Together we’ll look at an individual hero for each part of this series, going beyond what just appears on the text of the card and discussing how to release a hero’s full potential, a required skill as Flesh and Blood continues to grow.

Regaining Honor

Fai, Rising Rebellion is a Draconic Ninja, one of the talents introduced in Uprising, whose penchant is going wide with a large number of small attacks. What this talent doesn’t offer much in terms of disruptive hit effects is more than made up for by presenting an exceptionally wide attack chain. Overwhelming the opponent with a flurry of blows makes both Mask of Momentum and Mask of the Pouncing Lynx an imposing presence that demands respect.

He’s had a downswing in popularity because of his lower damage ceiling when compared to Lexi, Livewire and her contentious weapon Voltaire, Strike Twice. But she is next in line to Living Legend, which will make room for the Draconic Ninja to reclaim his throne as a premier aggressive strategy.

Measure Twice, Cut Once…Or Twice

Fai, Rising Rebellion is built primarily in two ways. One is playing Searing Emberblade and focusing on consistently presenting weapon damage and building Draconic chain links. This requires a build with enough blue pitch cards to fuel the Draconic weapon, as well as high synergy attacks like Spreading Flames in order to raise the overall damage ceiling.

The other strategy uses Harmonized Kodachi and focuses on presenting a higher overall number of low cost attacks, Draconic or not, boasting a more consistent rate of damage. For your reference, we’ll look at Brandon Abarca’s top 8 list from Battled Hardened: Los Angeles, opting for the Searing Emberblade plan. We’ll also look at Alexander Vore’s top 8 list from a $5k in Salt Lake City, wielding Harmonized Kodachi.

Dragon Slayer

This list has the benefit of wielding a weapon that can slay Dromai, Ash Artist‘s dragons, something you’ll want to keep in mind when playing in evens. A Dromai can pressure the damage race with a full suite of dragons at the ready, so you can direct those important on-hit effects at them if needed, since they can’t be blocked. This is a great way to maximize the threat of Mask of Momentum as well, though you will almost always opt for Mask of the Pouncing Lynx, to grab your sole copy of Salt the Wound for a single massive attack. Most players would say any time you can get it to six attack or higher is when you want to consider getting it with your Mask, but the longer you can wait on that, the better it will be for your overall threat. Even if you draw the Salt the Wound, it’s also good to grab a Lava Burst for a similar upside. In a real pinch, you can grab a yellow Brand with Cinderclaw to get an additional attack with go again.

Carl, that Kills People!

The list that you’ll find with Harmonized Kodachi in the arena uses a high count of zero-cost red attacks, focused on making blocking exceptionally difficult across a wide chain, and maximizing Tiger Stripe Shukobonuses. Your opponent will often be forced to waste an entire card on something innocuous, like a Double Strike or a Phoenix Flame, just for the hope that you won’t still have large damage sources tucked away to punish them.

This list is so light on needed resources, you’ll see Salt the Wound as both a potent threat, and a card that can pitch for Harmonized Kodachi attacks. Some cards with cost are still in the list due to their power level, such as Art of War andMounting Anger. You’ll see Breaking Point in these lists as well, since achieving a sufficiently large combat chain is much more consistent than in its Searing Emberblade wielding counterpart.

Many cards in the rest of each list are quite similar, focusing on the highest damage output for the lowest opportunity cost. Ravenous Rabble is stellar in decks with such few blue pitch cards as these, Ronin Renegade as a Draconic Head Jab for synergy and value, and Snatch as a source that helps keep cards flowing. You’ll not often be able to give Snatch go again, so ensuring it’s a chain ending attack helps set up an arsenal for the next turn’s flurry of blows. You can use Art of War or Snapdragon Scalers as ways to give it go again in a pinch, but you’ll primarily want to utilize Art of War to draw cards and pump up your attacks to those difficult to block points. Blaze Headlong is almost always a card that simply says attack for four with go again, and Enlightened Strike is always just good enough to play for its efficiency.

Defending Your Honor

A higher blue count usually means a higher number of cards in a list with three block, but here you’ll find that to be less the case. Due to how difficult it can be to win a game in the second cycle for Fai, Rising Rebellion, the blue cards in this deck will often be focused on balancing being a resource card as well as a relevant attack on the chain. The more low cost attack action focused decks will opt for Warmonger’s Diplomacy, as it doesn’t have to lean as heavily on Fai’s hero ability to return a Phoenix Flame to hand, and is a zero-cost card to fulfill the requirement for Harmonized Kodachi. Since Searing Emberblade doesn’t have the zero-cost requirement, you may see pitch cards like Cinderskin Devotion, as they’re Draconic attacks that also present three block.

Since you’re going to be so focused on damage output, you’ll often not want to block, as it would be trading three or more damage for what will most often be two block. To compensate for that in matchups where you need to block, you’ll want robust defense reactions to minimize the loss of cards in your hand. Reinforce the Line gets around Bravo, Showstopper‘s Dominate effects, as well as Azalea, Ace in the Hole and “cannot be defended by defense reactions” cards in Uzuri, Switchblade, so this is a worthy inclusion in a deck made almost entirely of attack action cards.

Each of those decks can play single attacks that shut down your entire turn, so be choosy when burning those defense reactions as well. Red in the Ledger, Star Struck, Withering Shot, and Shake Down are all devastating effects for your turns. In matchups where your opponents are blocking most of your damage, you’ll be well off hiding an Art of War or Salt the Wound in your arsenal until you can take full advantage of their power. Incidentally, those will also be matchups where they will try and destroy your arsenal cards with Crush and on hit effects, so protecting them can pay dividends.

Rise Up

The turn-over-turn procedure for this deck is fairly straightforward, but much like aggressive decks in other games, you’ll gain huge benefits with increased familiarity. This is also a great hero to teach someone who is interested in the game, since the ways you can improve while playing are comparatively obvious, and they’ll see quick improvement in themselves.

If you’re looking for some of those tips yourself, think about where your opponent is incentivized to block, and find the best way to punish those. If you’re playing Mask of Momentum, your opponent will often want to block the second attack to minimize your odds of drawing that extra card, but you can use that to your advantage and make your second attack extremely unappealing to block, like Double Strike or Phoenix Flame. Then, if they chose to not block, sending a four damage attack puts them in an even worse position: they let damage through, and now have to give multiple cards up to prevent the card draw, meaning you got an extra card’s value out of the Mask of Momentum either way!

Rise from the Ashes can also buy back a Phoenix Flame, but instead first attack with Mounting Anger to get that on-hit effect pushed through, making your next attack more difficult to block as well.

It’s Getting Hot in Here

As you may have noticed, Fai, Rising Rebellion‘s armor explodes off of his body when either used or blocked with. Flamescale Furnace is a great way to catch up on resources when your hand is resource hungry, but its primary purpose is blocking when needed. Blocking with your Tiger Stripe Shuko or Mask of the Pouncing Lynx means your overall damage output is reduced, so finding a balance between taking too much damage and presenting adequate damage may be challenging at first. It’s often better to think “they can’t hurt me if they’re dead.”

As a wrapping-up bit of advice, this is a much more customizable deck than you may expect from an aggressive strategy in a card game! Don’t be afraid to try new things. You don’t necessarily have to stick to a strict regiment of playing three copies of each card, so if something seems good as a miser’s copy, it might be! There’s also some stuff you can do with Phoenix Form if you’re wanting to focus more on doing a cool thing!

And that’s it for this installment of Evergreen! Thank you again for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed reading along, and may your Art of Wars always draw two reds.

Rhys (she/they) is a long-time Magic: the Gathering fan, having started in Seventh Edition. She played Legacy until around 2018, and now mostly plays EDH. She Transitioned to competitive play with Flesh and Blood at the release of Tales of Aria, where she was quickly enamored with the skill expression, seeking constant self-improvement. When not obsessing over cards, Rhys can be found consuming speedrunning content, or fawning over literature like The Witcher, or Sherlock Holmes.