For a game centered around hero-on-hero combat, it makes sense that our heroes would at least have some sort of preparation before their fights. In Classic Constructed, this is exactly what sideboarding in Flesh and Blood brings. Although sideboarding as you know it in other games may be slightly different from what you find here, the concept remains the same – the chance to alter your decks cards, and therefore its functionality and playstyle depending on who your opponent is playing as.
In most games, sideboarding involves having a separate sideboard of cards from which you can substitute in and out various cards from their deck like an interchangeable pool. These sideboards are usually an important part of the deck list of a given deck, and do not count towards deck size. However, this concept slightly changes in Flesh and Blood, where a separate pool of cards is not allowed in Classic Constructed. Let’s dive deep then into not only what sideboarding looks like in Flesh and Blood, but also how we can learn to do it efficiently to up our win percentage.
In Classic Constructed, we’re allowed 80 cards in our deck, but that doesn’t mean we have to play with 80 cards every time. For the most part, playing with a large deck can be disadvantageous to most aggressive strategies, as it reduces the chances of seeing your big impact cards. Rather, we’re required to present only a minimum of 60 cards for Classic constructed, meaning we can play with anywhere from 60 to 80 cards.
Keep in mind you’re going to need equipment to suit up with if you wish to succeed, and in most decks, this is anywhere from 6-8 slots (since equipment will also change from matchup to matchup). For the sake of argument then, let’s assume we have access to about 73 card slots in our deck, of which we need to technically present only 60. This means that up to 13 cards can simply stay in the deck box while we play our match, and we can present the best 60, 65 or even best, 73, if you deem that running all your sideboard is the correct decision in the matchup you face.
Sideboarding, just like anything else in Flesh and Blood, is a skill to be learned before being executed. Randomly adding a sideboard isn’t going to make your deck infinitely better versus every matchup it’s weak against. Yes, it may help, but really if you’re unsure whether to sideboard or not against a certain opponent, especially since you’ll be putting in unfamiliar cards into your deck, don’t do it. If you need to go for a win, then play with what you know is comfortable and reliable, and build your sideboarding skill and comfort level with those cards another time.
Sideboarding can be an intimidating thing for those who haven’t done it before in other CCG’s. For those starting out in sideboarding, I recommend having a base set of 60 cards which you want to play with and then having the extra 13 or so cards as interchangeable add-ons that slightly alter the functionality of your deck. For example, a Brute may add in one or two copies of Argh… Smash! against Dash decks, or a Prism may add in extra auras with Spectra against a Brute or Guardian. This is a great place to start sideboarding, and allows players to see how their sideboard slightly alter their decks consistency, flavor and how their added cards impact their opponent.
Once you really get into it though, you can start taking cards out of your deck to present only a 60 or so card deck to your opponent each time. Unlike the above scenario, where you would present about 65-plus cards depending on how much you choose to sideboard in, many times it’s more efficient to swap out the cards that are poor against certain matchups and add in the subsequent ones that are good.
This is where sideboarding can get slightly trickier. It’s easier to see what to add in rather than what to cut, especially right before game time, but doing this manner of sideboarding helps your deck be leaner and meaner for when the game commences.
When cutting cards, it’s important to realize what you’re generally doing to the consistency and game plan of your deck. Generally, about 40 or so cards are going to be the core of your deck, with the other 15 to 20 consisting of solid support around that. These 15 to 20 should be the flex spots that can be switched in and out with your sideboard cards. Ideally, for each hero you face, you should be having a pre-planned sideboarding option, knowing what cards go in and which go out. I’ll be getting into the nitty gritty of this in next week’s article, but the generally you should be able to switch in cards which allow you to change into more of the following three playstyles, while still maintaining your original game plan:
This doesn’t mean those cards will entirely change your deck style – an aggro deck won’t suddenly become a control build – but it will impact your deck’s pacing to (hopefully) disrupt your opponent’s game plan.
Join me next time as we break down a full deck list along with what cards we’re keeping for sideboarding purposes and how we adjust from matchup to matchup in the Classic Constructed format. Until then, happy sideboarding!