Like any deep strategic game, Flesh and Blood has plenty of opportunities for offbeat plays, plays that 90’s self-improvement books would describe as “thinking outside of the box.” Today, we’re going to look at five plays you should have in your playbook, and if I had to guess, five plays that most players don’t do often enough. If this doesn’t apply to you, give yourself a nice pat on the back. Let’s get to it!
This most commonly occurs when playing against Ninjas like Ira or Benji (or these days, Ira or Ira), though it comes up any time your opponent has attack reactions. When they come in for a two-point attack with a Harmonized Kodachi or the like, sometimes it’s a good idea to overblock to play around a potential attack reaction.
For example, if your opponent is close to triggering Mask of Momentum, you really want to stop any and all damage. One way to do that and stop them in their tracks is to throw more defense in front of their attack than is warranted. This doesn’t apply if you have defense reactions of your own, but in the case where you’re just blocking with normal cards from hand, it can be quite strong to play around attack reactions, even if it looks like an inefficient use of resources.
Pay close attention to your opponent and how their deck plays out – if you suspect they’re setting you up, that’s the time to put five or six points of defense on a four-point attack, especially if they’re trying to hit a certain number (like Bravo’s multitude of Crush attacks).
On the flip side, sometimes it’s great to not block at all, and just take a huge hit. It may seem uncomfortable, as your natural instinct is to defend yourself, but one of the best ways to get an edge in closing out games is to let your opponent hit you with a massive attack and then counterpunch with an even bigger one.
There are a couple places I like doing this:
- You need all your cards to have a really sick next turn. Imagine that you’re Rhinar and your hand is double Barraging Beatdown (Red), a blue card, Massacre and you have Alpha Rampage in your Arsenal. If you keep all your cards, you’re hitting for 17 while intimidating their entire hand. Now, this is an obvious example, but your hand doesn’t have to be this extreme to need all its pieces, and in those cases, not blocking can be good.
- You have a life total advantage, and by having both players take a bunch of damage, you can leverage it. You spend a turn taking a big hit, which then lets you hit them for more than you would otherwise, which deals an extra five to seven damage to both players. That works out nicely if you’re at 18 and they’re at 10 at the start of the exchange.
- Your deck has more unstoppable damage. If you have hard-to-block attacks, having both players at a low life total is exactly where you want to be.
Flesh and Blood isn’t a game for cowards, and sometimes you’ve just gotta take your licks.
Equipment is a powerful resource, but guess what unused equipment is worth at the end of the game? Nothing. You don’t get extra points for keeping your Fyendal’s Spring Tunic around, and those Scabskin Leathers may cost a pretty penny, but they can (and should) still block some attacks. Sometimes, throwing away equipment early is the right play.
Look, I like future value as much or more than the next player, but you have to be realistic about these things. If your Tunic has one counter on it on turn five, it’s not that likely you’re getting a second bite at the apple in most games. Sacrificing it for a point of health is of much more value, especially if it teams up to prevent an on-hit effect or the like.
I get the temptation to keep your fancy pieces of equipment around, but don’t take it too far. At the end of the day, their job is to help you win the game, and they often do that best by taking hits for you.
Most players seem to approach turns with the philosophy of “how do I use these four cards this turn?” Now, that’s not unreasonable, as the game does impress upon you the importance of emptying your hand. The key is that emptying your hand is not the same as using all four cards, as putting a card in Arsenal still gives you the sweet, sweet redraw that you’re looking for.
I believe it’s closer to correct to aim to Arsenal a card almost every turn rather than spend all four of your cards. That obviously varies from deck to deck and hero to hero, and some turns you really do want to use all four cards, but the proportion should be much closer than it is in most games. By aggressively using your Arsenal, you get to set up bigger turns on average, and can time cards better than the opponent. Instead of using all your resources and making an okay attack, forgo one attack to set up an even better one next turn.
Of course, that segues nicely into my last play, which is…
One of the concepts I keep coming back to in these articles is saving up for a big attack, where you have these setup turns that enable you to make a massive attack all in one turn. The reason I like it so much is that it overwhelms their defenses in a way that’s hard to stop, as the opponent will have maximum four cards (plus an Arsenal card and equipment) to defend with.
As a result, one of the plays that I’ve found effective is to not attack, and instead take as many setup actions as possible. It’s not literally doing nothing, but it goes against the normal game flow to take a turn off attacking, so it can feel like nothing. The turns where you drop a Potion, play an Aura, Arsenal a card or make some Runechants (or ideally, some combination of the above) can be much more effective than you might think. The normal turn structure has a lot of built-in restrictions, including the four-card hand size, and making plays that set up future turns help break those rules and restrictions.
Before attacking, consider not attacking instead, and pay attention to the ways your deck can best utilize your resources for future turns.
How many of these plays do you make on a regular basis? Which of these could you stand to do more often? I’m always looking to improve my game, and thinking about plays like this is a big part of it. Even if you like where you’re at, it’s always good to take stock, and these are the sorts of angles you want to look at.