Finvarr - Lord of Shenanigans
Finvarr is one of those champions which it took me awhile to warm up to. At first, my take was that he had few weaknesses, but also few strenghts. I thought of FInvarr as being kind of average. I was wrong.
Finvarr is well-rounded, but he is well above average. For a sense of why, have a look at the category by category section of my power rankings. These tell the tale of why the Finvarr crew is so well-rounded. Finvarr can deny KOs to himself and his followers, protect banners, crush banners, and even dish out some reasonable damage. His crew's only real weakness is his relatively low attack volume, which means that they can get bogged down a bit. Finvarr also has a relatively low health pool, but that's actually not a huge problem on the table, as I'll try to show in a moment.
Finvarr is not average overall. His weak points are average, but his strong points are downright elite. Let me show you some of the ways!
Ok, so that's not a surprise. He is a guardian after all. Still, you may have been thinking that the speed and utility Finvarr brings might cost him in this department relative to other guardians. It turns out, not really.
For comparison's sake, let's see how Finvarr, frail elf, stands up against the Slayers compared to Rodhri, stalwart dwarf. Fluff and instinct might tell you that Rodhri is clearly going to hold up better, right? Rodhri frankly needs to be more survivable since Finvarr is the more well-rounded champion overall.
Let's have a look at some of the premier Slayer attacks and their odds to do any damage at all to these Guardians with their damage dice. These numbers are based on a completely vanilla situation with no boons or blights for either Finvarr or the attacker (other than the unavoidable hit effect to Rain of Fire) or other modifications to the dice (like Brutal Master). I'm also setting aside hit effects that do damage here to focus on dice probabilities, but I've marked auto-wounding hit effects with an asterisk.
Odds to hit and to do damage with dice:
Jawbreaker: vs. Finvarr - 19.4% vs. Rodhri - 60.8% vs. Generic 3/2 - 47.5%
Whiplash: vs. Finvarr - 43.6% vs. Rodhri - 39.4% vs. Generic 3/2 - 74%
Vicious Bite*: vs. Finvarr - 40.5% vs. Rodhri - 69.1% vs. Generic 3/2 - 69.8%
Rain of Fire: vs. Finvarr - 81.9% vs. Rodhri - 19.8% vs. Generic 3/2 - 88.3%
Finvarr and Rodhri have a comparable overall likelihood to induce whiffs and/or pings, but are better into different attack profiles. No surprise, Finvarr is better against low accuracy attacks and Rodhri is better against low damage attacks.
Each of these two Guardians laughs at the Slayer attack which is not great into them. It's likely that the slayer player will find something better to do with one of their clash phase actions than to make an attack which is ~80% ineffective. Therefore, it makes sense to focus on the attacks that are more likely to do harm. Finvarr is substantially more susceptible to Whiplash and Rain of Fire whilst Rodhri is far more susceptible to Jawbreaker and Vicious Bite, so let's look at how threatening those attacks potentially are if they do damage.
If X is the target champion's protection stat, Whiplash and Rain of fire will each do X+2 dice worth of damage to Finvarr while Jawbreaker and Vicious Bite will do X+3 dice worth of damage to Rodhri, plus that sneaky auto-wound. Advantage: Finvarr.
Rodhri does have 2 more health than Finvarr does, but Finvarr can heal after taking chip damage just by retaliating with his Life Blade. What's that you say? Rodhri has access to a protection boon? Yeah... so does Finvarr.
Arguably, Finvarr is going to be at least as survivable as Rodhri in many common situations. Poor Rodhri, this was supposed to be the thing he was clearly the best at.
Ward and Snare
The combo of Shadow Ward and Shadow Snare gives Finvarr a strong banner protection game. This is most obvious when Finvarr goes second. Imagine that you are playing Finvarr and going second in your plot phase against a generic enemy champion which has speed 2 in the Clash phase. If that champion is pushed one hex away from your banner by Finvarr and given a speed blight by a Shadow Sentinel, the enemy cannot reach your banner.
This gets a bit trickier when you go first.
Let's say you're going first on Knowledge in the plot phase with Finvarr. For your first action of the phase, you've planted your banner, so in the middle of Finvarr's activation, things look like this:
Pretty low chance of scoring the banner, right? I mean, Keera is adjacent to your banner and still has 4 potential hexes of movement this turn. Even worse, Keera can stomp Finvarr's banner and then plant one of her own behind him which will be relatively safe. Keera's dragons are also in place to unleash her fearsome attacks on your champion the clash phase. Tough spot for Finvarr, right?
Nope. It turns out, Keera will not be claiming and she will have to choose between attacking Finvarr and going for his banner.
For Finvarr's second action, he uses Shadow Ward to push Keera back one. The Shadow Sentinels activate next. They Protect Finvarr, use Shadow Snare to debuff Keera's speed, and then use their Shadow Step trait to block her path. Keera is now looking at this:
Keera's plot phase is now a bit of a bummer. She cannot claim anymore. To burn the speed debuff, she must either take an advance of zero hexes or, worse, move further away from Finvarr's banner.
Keera's only hope of getting to Finvarr's banner in the clash phase is to kill a Shadow Sentinel (with an armor boon), and then stomp the banner in a single activation. If she tries to get cute and have the dragons do it for her, Finvarr can either move the banner away from the gap in his lines or the Sentinels can reinforce. That means she has to KO the Sentinel with only one attack. Her best shot at this is Rain of Fire at 64.8% odds. Even if she gets it, she will not have attacked Finvarr at all. Not what you want from your Slayer. Finvarr and his Sentinels would then be free to retaliate.
Arguably, Keera would be better off ignoring the banner and trying to KO Finvarr, but trying to KO a champion with 4/3 stats is hardly a sure bet. If she doesn't finish the job, she'll have to watch in agony as Finvarr heals off of Life Blade. Whatever choice she makes here, it's not going to feel great. Either way, Keera's best case scenario is to tie with Finvarr on the Battleladder.
Phantom Banner Shennanigans
Let's say it's round 3 on Change .Your opponent won turn 1, and you won turn 2. Your opponent went first in turn 3 and just finished their plot phase, so you're up.
Your warband is Finvarr, Nia, and Titus. Your opponent's warband is Rangosh, Jeen, and Mourneblade. Hexes have moved around at the end of each turn, and Nia has grown a couple of extras. Your opponent has scored some steps by claiming with Mourneblade and Rangosh and by KOing two Glory Seekers with Jeen. Rangosh, Jeen, and Nia have used their ultimates, but no other champions have. It looks like this:
Looks a bit tough, maybe? You're behind on steps. Rangosh and Mourneblade's banners are in defensible spots. Mourneblade and Rangosh seem to be in place to threaten Nia's potential claim spots, while Jeen can probably get to wherever Titus would claim.
It's going to be fine. Here's what you do.
Quartzlings: Calcify, recruit
Nia: March away from the Knightshades, move south, claim
Titus: Move due East, claim
FInvarr: Claim (second action coming)
So now it looks like this:
So, note where the friendly banners are, eh? They are all within 4 of Finvarr. That means when he uses his ultimate they can all be on any other hex within 4 of Finvarr.
So it looks like this after Finvarr uses Phantom Banners:
I believe, dear friends, that all of your team's banners are safe or somewhat defensible. The Golden Shrikes and Jeen can hand out Clash phase speed boons, so your opponent does have a shot at Titus's banner. That play will take time, though, and once the glory Seekers clear out for Titus, both of your opponents banners will be threatened at the top of the Clash phase. I'll let you scheme out the rest of this plot phase if you want, but it seems quite likely that after the first round of activations, you'll have a 8-9 step advantage in the end phase. Pretty good.
Yes, I did set up a nearly ideal situation for Phantom Banners. No, that won't always present itself. Still, once you start seeing that 4 hex placement aura, you will find uses for this ultimate. When it makes even one banner safe when it otherwise wouldn't be, this ultimate can swing turns. It will often make 2 banners safe. 3, I admit, is a bit of magical Christmas land, but I thought it might be helpful to see it.
This is a partial look at what this exceptionally useful champion can offer. He can also, of course, hit things to heal, crush banners like a boss, and bring some of the hardest hitting followers in the game. What I've tried to do here is to point out some of the power that arises from combining his diverse abilities for added effect. Give FInvarr a try! He may take a little time to get used to, but he's well worth it.