Welcome back to my Flesh and Blood Fundamentals series, another article geared toward helping you improve your own understanding of the game. This article is intended to hold its own as standalone content, however, it will provide even more value to you as a reader when paired with the other content in the series. Many fundamental concepts in Flesh and Blood tie together to create synergies. Better understanding of one single fundamental concept will aid in your understanding of others – and how they tie together. Ultimately, when you make these fundamentals a mindful part of your play and practice, you will improve as a player. For today’s piece, I’ll be breaking down the concept of card advantage, and how it differs in Flesh and Blood compared to other comparable games.
Flesh and Blood Fundamentals Series Articles:
- Flesh and Blood Fundamentals: Bread and Butter
- The Economy of Flesh and Blood Combat
- Improving your Clerical Upkeep
- Learning How to Pitch in Flesh and Blood
Card advantage can play a crucial role in Flesh and Blood. Because of the mechanics of hero intellect, and the sheer number of cards players handle in every game they play, this concept takes form in ways much different than other comparable games in TCGs.
Typically, cards in your hand are a resource in trading card games. Flesh and Blood is no exception. Your cards are extremely valuable, and the decisions you make will be directly influenced and driven by the exact cards you have in your hand at any given time.
One of Magic: the Gathering’s founding players put it simply and effectively:
“Card advantage is any process by which a player obtains effectively more cards than his opponent.” – Eric Taylor.
Unless you’re playing a card game where the object is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards in your hand, you will typically be happy to have more cards in your hand. Each additional card in your hand represents many additional options and lines of play – enabling flexibility and compounding the complexity and power of the sequences you are able to weave together. Let’s look at a few examples, all of which assume you do not have a card tucked away in your Arsenal.
With only one card in hand, your options are extremely limited. Unless that card costs zero, or you have other ways to generate the resources you need to pay its cost (Energy Potion, Fyendal’s Spring Tunic or a bunch of Seismic Surge tokens, for example) then your turn is extremely limited. You’ll probably just end up pitching the card to attack with your weapon, or putting it into your Arsenal and passing the turn.
With two cards in your hand, the options open up a little more. Usually, this means you can either use one card to pitch and play the other, or pitch one card to attack with your weapon then arsenal the last card. Moving up in the world.
Three card hands are more or less the typical norm in Flesh and Blood. On most of your turns, you’ll have about three cards at your disposal depending on how you block and use your armor and life total. With three cards, the options open up even more – you may even have the resources needed to throw an attack action on top of an attack action card that you play. Or you can pitch a card to play another card, then arsenal the one remaining card.
Four Cards or More
Four cards and above is where the true power happens in Flesh and Blood. These are game-defining hands that occur usually only at the start of the game, or when you just hit your opponent super hard or take a big hit from your opponent and opt not to block their attacks in favor of launching a much more powerful counterattack.
While this example greatly simplifies the intricacies and decision-making trees you’ll face in every game of Flesh and Blood you play, it shows that with more cards, typically, you’ll have more potential lines of play and sequencing to explore: more potential power.
Many cards in Flesh and Blood can generate this type of “raw” or real card advantage, where you simply have more cards in your opponent by some card draw or intellect-raising effect. Good examples are things like Tome of Fyendal, Helm of Isen’s Peak, Pursuit of Knowledge, Tome of Divinity and Stamp Authority, among others.
Simulated card advantage helps bridge the gap of understanding between raw card counts and what’s actually occurring in a game of Flesh and Blood. Command and Conquer doesn’t draw cards or make your opponent discard. But it does do a great job of attacking them on a separate axis: the Arsenal. Regardless of how they interact with Command and Conquer, they will usually be down more cards than you invested in playing it in the first place.
Raw card advantage also doesn’t tell the full story. If I have two copies of Command and Conquer as the best remaining threat in my deck and you only have two copies of blue cards that are weak attackers, I have simulated card advantage. Simulated card advantage in Flesh and Blood factors in the quality of cards you have remaining in your deck and hand, as well as the way you have pitched to organize them. Even if I have four super-powerful red cards in my deck, they will be “dead” cards if I pitched them in a way to where they are all touching and will show up in a hand altogether. Alternatively, if I pitched my remaining power cards in a way that padded them with all the resources needed to pay their costs so they show up on back-to-back turns, that’s simulated card advantage. If I pitched correctly, I’ll be able to easily convert the potential energy of my deck to kinetic and do some powerful things that will keep my opponent on the back foot.
In Flesh and Blood, you can generate different types of simulated card advantage, even outside the scope of your hand. Check it out:
- If you’re approaching fatigue and deck counts are running low for both players (but you have more cards), you have card advantage through sheer card count when it comes to the exhaustive phase of the game where players are more or less just pitching the same card to swing their weapon until one player dies or can’t attack anymore. Even though these extra cards are not in your hand, you have more card resources than your opponent. They will start to draw hands with less than their maximum intellect and you’ll continue to draw four. Real and simulated card advantage rolled into one.
- You pull off some kind of effect that forces your opponent to discard cards. In this case, if you catch your opponent off guard and force an additional discard after they have already decided how they want to block. By forcing an additional discard, you’re almost guaranteed to disrupt whatever they planned on doing on their next turn. They’ll have to reevaluate, and you’ll have simulated or real card advantage during the turn cycle.
- You attack and destroy their Arsenal with an effect like Seek and Destroy, Command and Conquer or Disable. In this situation, your opponent deferred playing or utilizing a card from their hand in hopes of getting more value and power from it on a later turn (turning a four-card hand into a five-card hand.) but then lost it. They’re simply down a card in the game.
- If the overall quality and threat density of your deck is better than that of your opponents at a point in the game, you have simulated card advantage in that your opponent will likely be forced to block and defend more than they attack because they lack the offensive power to trade blows effectively. This typically only occurs toward the later stages in the game.
- If you’ve pitched your deck in a way that you know a super-powerful interaction is coming up, you can reasonably expect to capture real or simulated card advantage.
Overall, what you do with your cards and how you use them is more important than the concept of card advantage itself in Flesh and Blood. Though it certainly doesn’t hurt to better understand how card advantage does exist in Flesh and Blood, and how you can use your knowledge to create winning advantages. As with my entire fundamental series, committing these fundamental concepts to memory and making them an active part of your play and study will help you improve as a player, regardless of where you are now.