Word on the street is that Vibrant Pain is no longer worth running in ranked, but the title says it all. If you want your rating to skyrocket, you just need to start by equipping one Vibrant Pain on each of two warriors. There's some skill involved, and some peripheral tech, but really, just start there: two Vibrant Pains. You'll learn the rest of it as you go. If you don't want to blaze your own trail with the machete of Vibrant Pain, I guess I can share my success story. But I'll put it in spoiler tags just to give ya'll some urbanity. Spoiler: How to win with Vibrant Pain :) A guide to Vibrant Pain safety, with coauthor @CT5. VOLUME ONE: NIMBLE STRIKE The first thing you need to do is master Nimble Strike. Part One: don't click on Nimble Strike until you're sure you want to attack. Because it's a movement card, you won't be able to cancel. Part Two: actually, scratch that. There's rarely a wrong time to play Nimble Strike, because you have 6 of them in your deck and Walks are always good (just look at all the dwarves running waddling around). Jokes aside, Nimble Strike is possibly the best melee card in the game. And what it lacks for in power, Vibrant Pain makes up for in consistency. Here's the thing about Nimble Strike: it ignores blocks. Maybe this isn't immediately apparently, but there's an invisible Unblockable keyword on it. Go ahead. Try it out. What? Your Nimble Strike got blocked? You're probably doing it wrong. There are two exceptions to this rule. Defender's Block. This block sometimes works against Nimble Strike. Sad but true. The good news is, if you're using Vibrant Pain, you're probably also using Defender's Block, so just draw yours before your opponent draws theirs. Toughness. I know it's not technically a block, but isn't it? And no one runs dwarves anymore because elves are so OP. Except, brave warrior, maybe you. Maybe you run dwarves. But hopefully you don't run Toughness, because that would be a dick move and also it costs a token. Sign me up when those idiots at Blue Manchu print Toughness/Ouch/Blind Rage at tokenless. Okay, now that you know how to use Nimble Strike to attack, forget everything you've learned. It's not actually just an attack. It's one of the best move cards in the game for navigating rubble and water. The thing about Nimble Strike is it's the next best thing after teleportation. You can jump rivers, caltrops, and even your enemies in order to establish positional superiority. Don't hesitate to use Nimble Strike in this way. Card Hunter is a game about positioning: positioning yourself, using Nimble Strike, to defy the intricate positioning of your opponent. To recap, Nimble Strike is an unblockable attack card and a move card that literally lets you move like the wind. One second you're in one place, the next you're in the next. That's just the way the wind blows. VOLUME TWO: ATTACK DENSITY This should be high. You want a lot of attacks. But the only attacks you really want are Nimble Strikes, so what do you do? Vibrant Pain has 6. A deck has 36 cards. 1/6 is a pretty crap ratio for attacks—vampires can get as high as an effective 17/24 or something. So what do you do? Do you equip a second Vibrant Pain??? No that's dumb don't do that. You'll never deal enough damage because you'll draw too many Nimble Strikes. "Huh?" That's right. Attack density is a mirage on the horizon. It's a thing to pursue but in order to reach it you need to move away from it: approaching it only makes it flit further into the distance. So while some sages spout wisdom like "you need at least fourteen attacks" or whatever, you actually want to decrease your attacks. The secret to good Vibrant Pain usage... or at least, the second secret to good Vibrant Pain usage... is attaining high Vibrant Pain density by filling your other weapon slots with traits and armor cards. One of the highest quality armors in the world is the trusty Polearm. So a certain level 15 legendary is our best friend: Crazy Sal's Halberd. Your deck should now be stacked with traits, armor cards, and Nimble Strikes. Remember, armor sits in your hand so that when you shuffle your deck you draw your Nimble Strikes more often. Addendum to Volume Two: Your third weapon should be something like a Rageblood Dagger or Eixocl's Hammer, something with a trait and some step attacks. Eixocl's is better because Dodge is basically a trillion times better than Raging Strike, unless you're using an elf, then you need the Raging Strike in order to increase your average Damage Per Turn (DPT) (everyone knows elves can't stay in melee long). If you don't understand why you want your third weapon not to use major tokens, you're clearly not playing the same game I'm playing. Lrn2meta. VOLUME THREE: MORE THAN FOUR DAMAGE Nimble Strike doesn't deal four damage. I know, I know. It only says 4 on the card. But guess what? Blue Manchu is lying to you. The numbers on cards are largely meaningless. Instead, you should look to the numbers on other cards. These are the cards whose numbers matter: Mass Frenzy Blind Rage Frenzy Aura If you have these three cards, Nimble Strike deals 11 damage. That's the same as other silver quality cards, like Powerful Hack. This is important. There's no item with six Powerful Hacks, and that's part of the power of Vibrant Pain. Now, you might ask, "how reliably do you get all those buffs, Flak?" The answer is damn reliably. One character on your team should be a human priest with at least 10 Mass Frenzies. If you don't know how to build this support character, you should probably give up on using Vibrant Pain. It's not for you. The good news is, burfft† is a viable strategy for losers who don't know how to play Card Hunter strategically, and it might even get you into the 1600s, if not the top of the leaderboard (good players' mileage may vary with burfft). Anyway, once you have 10 (or more!) Mass Frenzies on your human priest, you should be drawing one almost every turn on average. Blind Rage is another story entirely. You can get 4 from your weapons in this setup, 6 if you run a dwarf (which I recommend to dirty scumbags who just care about rating). Again, 6/36 is only 1/6 density of Blind Rages, but you take some measures to make sure you draw them (some of these measures are staples, like Crusty Helm—your opponent knows all your cards anyway—, some are my own patented tech, like Aegis Of The Defender*). Frenzy Aura comes in a premium package with itself and the ever-useful Ill-fitting Armor. The thing about this famous handicap card is that you can basically always discard it, unless your hand is otherwise empty. And if your hand is otherwise empty, it's usually because you've played two or three Nimble Strikes. Keep in mind: three Nimble Strikes is 3 x 11 damage, or 33 damage (the hp total of a dwarf warrior). The most important thing about Frenzy Aura isn't actually the number on it, by the way: it's the penetrating buff, which makes your Nimble Strikes ignore armor on top of blocks. That said, 3 is a pretty big number. VOLUME FOUR: MOVEMENT + MOVEMENT The more of something you have, the better it is to have more of it. Some examples: the more dwarves, the better for Dwarven Battle Cry. The more armor, the better as you reduce more and more damage. The more healing, the better as you recover more hp. One heal spell alone isn't that great, but if you're packing a dozen, boy let me tell you. You might never win, but you'll also never lose. The same theory applies to movement. Vibrant Pain gives us 6 move cards. We draw 1/turn from our race. If you've been paying any attention, you have between 2 and 4 step attacks from your third weapon, so that's quite a lot of movement. You may think that we should focus on attacks, blocks, or armor on our boots. WRONG. More of a good thing makes all the good thing into a better thing. Once you move, if you can keep moving, you're probably winning the race. Plus, the hardest target to hit is a moving target. Remember, we're not doing much damage, so we have to skirmish to stay alive (you'd be surprised how squishy you are when you play this build simply by way of not having a rapid offense). I recommend Mouse Boots for the purposes of turning your Nimble Strikes into Old Nimble Strikes. It's only an epic and the Cautious Sneak honestly isn't bad because if you're an elf you can draw it from Elven Maneuvers and if you're a dwarf even a Shuffle is better than an armor card. (I guess now would be the time to mention that boring humans need not apply.) If Mouse Boots are too proletarian for you, try on Hawkwind's Moccasins. Especially good on dwarves, elves, and humans, these are probably just superior in every way to every other boot in the game. Hope you picked them up in the recent Daily Deal, because hoo boy do they work well with Vibrant Pain. (Don't put move cards on your racial skill. All my advice here doesn't apply to anything except boots. Movement cards are the worst thing to have when you have too many of them. No, really.) VOLUME FIVE: CONFIDENCE The most important thing to remember when you're playing with Vibrant Pain is that you have the best card in the game in your hand at all times. Play aggressively, safe in your knowledge of your own superiority. If you can't muster some arrogance, alcohol may aid you in your efforts. My best win streak of all time was fueled by drain cleaner clear grain alcohol. Seriously: if you don't have a Nimble Strike now, you'll have one tomorrow. Vibrant Pain is a promise, and promises are golden when they're made by Blue Manchu. Sooner or later you'll be dealing that long-sought 11 damage to an opponent's butt and they'll wonder how you got all the way from there to here. Nimble Strike is the surprise that keeps on surprising, because there's literally no way to stop it aside from the two aforementioned blocks. Your confidence also effectively doubles the damage of Nimble Strike to 22 (like Sun Tzu always said back when I knew him, you can strike fear of greater damage than you're actually capable of simply by attacking). Once you've used one or two Nimble Strikes, your opponent won't know how to position himself anymore. Capitalize on that uncertainty by doing exactly what your opponent expects least: not attacking him (because you drew an armor card or surplus move card, because that's what the game does). Then, once your opponent's confidence is restored, you'll probably have somewhere between 1 and 10 Nimble Strikes in your party's collective hand. Rinse and repeat. In short, hold onto that feeling. VOLUME SIX: ATTACHMENT MADNESS It's easy to lose your frenzies if your deck is full of traits. You draw Elven Maneuvers, or Immovable, and suddenly you're dealing less damage. By only having two attachments in your own deck, and one buff from your priest, you'll never knock off your own buffs by accident. My warriors use Blind Rage and Bruiser (for Eixocl's Hammer); my priest uses Mass Frenzy. You might choose a different configuration, but remember that Nimble Strike dealing 11 damage is the requirement for success. Do not, by any means, endanger your own success! If your opponent debuffs you, that's one thing (and an avoidable thing at that—you should be blocking everything your opponent does by drawing Defender's Block due to high trait density), but if you make the mistake of pushing off your own buff you're basically the dumbest of them all. TO THIS END, do not mix and match your priest buffs! Martyr's Blessing and Impenetrable Nimbus might seem tempting, among others, but do not use more than one buff. Simply don't. I'll say it again. ONE PRIEST BUFF. No more than that. (I'll note that Mass Frenzy is an especially good one not only because it affects your whole party, but because it doesn't require line of sight—and you'll almost never have line of sight, given that your warriors are jumping all over the place with their excess move cards.) Do not use Wimpy. Do not use Unholy Frenzy. They do not cancel each other out: they purge all your actual attachments. If you build properly (and it's not hard to!), you should even be basically immune to your opponent's Purging Bursts, because not only do you have few kinds of traits you have incredible redundancy. Pop quiz: did I mention the thing about 10 or more Mass Frenzies earlier? VOLUME SEVEN: BUILDING YOUR VIBRANT PARTY In this section, I congratulate you all for slogging through this guide by directly sharing my tech with you. I run some of the items mentioned above, and some I haven't mentioned yet. Each is lovingly selected, and the bouquet they produce when gathered is so fragrant as to aromatically dominate the ranked environment. You may not understand all my picks at a glance, but if you've made it this far in my guide, you must be a good enough player to make sense of them eventually. At this point, I'm going to turn off the training wheels and just say: here is your bicycle, good. luck. Just kidding, figure it out yourselves. >=) † Burfft: Buff + Burst * Don't believe half of the words I use.** ** But I'm still the highest-rated active player, and most of this advice is accurate.