Hi everyone! For those of you who do not know me, my name is Jasin Long, I come from the humble little city of Christchurch, right at the bottom of the world. I’ve been an avid card player throughout my life and have played Flesh and Blood almost as long as it has been around, attending and making the Top 8 at all of The Calling events in Australasia (two Limited events and one Constructed).
Today we are discussing ways to evaluate individual cards with a particular focus on some of the cards that may seem weak on the surface but are incredibly powerful in the right deck. Karol has already written a great article on WTR sealed, outlining some of the basics on how each of the heroes play in sealed and what you should be looking for so I would recommend reading his article before treading into deeper waters.
Before we can start evaluating we need to understand a few key concepts. The first one is that in Flesh and Blood you always have the opportunity to draw up to four cards at the end of your turn. This may seem quite obvious, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to take advantage of this.
You are unlikely to win many games if you don’t play out your hand (either on defense or attack) most turns of the game.
While fatigue-based strategies do exist, it is more important to play your hands as efficiently and effectively as possible especially in the WTR sealed format.
The second is that we need to define what the base rate for a card is. In other card games this can be quite difficult to determine but in FAB its actually quite easy as nearly every card can do one thing: block.
In general, we would consider cards that block for four (with no other resource cost) as great defensive cards and cards that block for two or less as poor defensive cards. Generally, most class specific cards and good resource cards block for three so using three damage (either on attack or defense) as a base rate for the value of a card is a pretty good place to start.
So with that defined we now have somewhere to start, if every turn you draw four cards and every card is on average worth three points of damage then in general, the average value of a hand (on either attack or defense) is about 12. With that in mind, and with all things equal, how do we win the game then? Well it’s pretty easy, the player who deals the most damage wins the game. Because our opponent can just block if they so choose a card with a high rate doesn’t necessarily translate into more damage dealt. Similarly, drawing more cards is not very useful if you can’t play them all out on your turn because at the end of each turn you always draw to four cards anyway.
Breaking the Mold
So how do we offer more damage than our opponent can block? One way is to reduce your opponent’s ability to defend. Let’s consider two attacks from the WTR set:
On the surface, the rate of Crush Confidence is higher than Alpha Rampage and has an on-hit crush effect whereas Rampage hits for two more but requires you to discard a card. Without considering any other effects, our opponent can block all of the damage from both of these cards if they so choose, even if we consider the intimidate effect on Alpha Rampage which prevents our opponent from blocking with a card from hand. Let’s now consider both Rhinar and Bravo‘s hero abilities:
Bravo can give Crush Confidence dominate for an additional two resource points (restricting the amount of cards they can block with from hand to one) and if we assume that the card discarded by Alpha Rampage has six attack, Rhinar can intimidate another card from our opponents hand. If our opponent has a hand full of cards that block for three, they will take four damage after blocking Crush Confidence with a single card and three damage after blocking Alpha Rampage with two cards.
Setting Up the Game
We can also look to deal damage by gaining access to extra cards on a single turn. There are two main ways we can do this:
- Drawing cards – e.g. Mask of Momentum and Snatch
- Storing cards – e.g. the arsenal, “Aura” cards, or “Potion” cards
Let’s start with drawing cards, Flesh and Blood is quite balanced when it comes to card draw as all of the cards printed to date that add a card to your hand either have quite restrictive requirements or do not generate action points. Take Snatch for example:
If we are to make Snatch hit, it effectively costs us nothing, it replaces itself but also deals four damage, on rate alone it is off the charts! However, without an action point, the card draw is effectively pointless as we already have three other cards in our hand and we were going to draw up to four cards anyway so unless we block, the value of the hand when we consider damage dealt is only four! This is important to remember as you will quickly find that filling your deck with draw cards is not going to get you very far if you do not have a way to utilize them.
The arsenal is the most common way of storing cards in Flesh and Blood. At the end of your turn you have the opportunity to put one card from your hand face down to either attack or defend with on a subsequent turn giving you a card advantage over your opponent on that turn. Potions and auras work in a similar way, let’s take one of my favorite – and in my opinion – most misunderstood cards:
On base rate alone, the card seems pretty average. It only offers us two resource points when we activate it, and it can’t block making it very weak on defense. The important aspect though is that after we have played it, we have access to these additional resources whenever we want. That means anytime we play it we have effectively added an extra card to our hand that we can pitch. When we think about it terms of cards, it turns our five card hands into six card hands which can give us a significant advantage over our opponent on a specific turn. Potions won’t suit every deck but are very powerful if your game plan is to setup large turns that your opponent will be unable to deal with.
Death by 1000 Cuts
Conversely to Potions, we can also look to play and build around cards that consistently pressure our opponent. To date, this has been one of the most successful ways of playing Flesh and Blood and the best way to do this is to utilize your weapons. Because weapons like Harmonized Kodachi only attack for one but you opponent has to block them with an entire card, there is an incentive to not block meaning your opponent is always taking damage regardless of what else you do on your turn. This allows you to defend until your opponent has run out of cards in their deck or you find a way to finish them off. These types of strategies are great when paired with solid defense reactions and a card that might seem terrible to most people familiar with MTG but is actually quite versatile:
The main benefit with Sigil of Solace is that because it is an instant, we (almost) always get draw an additional card after we play it. As I mentioned earlier, in general you want to be looking to play as many cards as you can every turn to take advantage of the fact that you draw at the end of each turn and instants really help you to achieve this more often.
Both attack and defense reaction cards can be very powerful in FAB because they give you opponent the opportunity to make the wrong decision. In particular, they shine in the Warrior matchup, on both sides, and the main reason for that is reprise.
The fact that cards like Ironsong Response and Razor Reflex exist mean your opponent often needs to respect them if they do not have a defense reaction of their own and that can make blocking a nightmare. Working out when to attack and block is an article all on its own and Kenny Phuong Nguyen will go into this later in the week but in general you want to play defense reactions from arsenal whenever possible to prevent your opponent from triggering reprise.
- It’s important to consider how much damage you can expect your cards to do, not just the raw rate of the card
- Preventing your opponent from defending using dominate or intimidate effects is a great way to trigger on-hit abilities and push damage
- Store cards and resources to make your big turns bigger and push more damage through
- Utilize your weapon(s), they are some of the most efficient ways to deal damage and pressure your opponent
- Make use of the fact you draw four cards every turn, instant speed and versatile cards can help make this easier
- Use reaction cards to give your opponent the opportunity to make the wrong decision and punish them for it
I hope you enjoyed this article, up next I am going to be looking at the history of the Ninja class and giving my thoughts on the best ways to play the deck as well as some budget options for those of you that may not have access to all of the cards yet.