In my 15 years of TCG experience, primarily playing Magic the Gathering I would say by far and away my favourite formats have been booster draft. So when I first began playing Flesh and Blood it is safe to say one of the biggest draws for me was the promise of a TCG that had been designed with limited play as a major focal point. I was not disappointed, Flesh and Blood has a great sealed deck format and in my opinion one of the best booster draft experiences I have ever had! The Welcome to Rathe draft format for me rivals my favourite Magic draft formats of all time.
How does booster draft work in Flesh and Blood?
If you have ever drafted Magic the Gathering then not much is different in terms of the basic mechanics of the format. if you have never done a booster draft before or have limited experience, don’t be put off because it is very simple to pick up. You will sit down around a table with (generally) 7 other players, with each player receiving three booster packs. Each player opens their first pack of 15 cards, taking a bit of time to look over the cards before deciding on one card to take and placing it face down in front of them. The remaining 14 cards are passed to your left, and each player picks up the pack from their right with 14 cards and repeats the process. You do this until no cards remain, each player will have a pile of 15 cards in front of them. You then open the second pack and do the same, but this time you pass the packs to your right as you go. The last pack will go back passing to your left.
What is in each booster pack?
It is good to know what will await you when you start cracking, drafting and passing those 3 packs. Each booster pack of Flesh and Blood core sets (non-supplementary) are designed with the limited formats in mind. Within the 15 card pack you will find four generic commons, 7 class commons (mixed between the four classes), one equipment card, one rare card, one rare or higher card and a foil of any rarity, the rares and foil can be from any of the four classes or generic. It is good to keep in mind the ratios in booster packs, it will help you to see what cards are being taken by those before you and potentially indicate what your neighbours may be doing!
How do I build a deck?
Once the draft is complete you will have a single pile of 45 cards to build a minimum 30 card deck for playing your matches. Your 30 card deck doesn’t include your hero or weapon and also doesn’t include any equipment you have drafted and choose to play. You may select one hero to play and use the corresponding class cards and generics. You will have available to you any of the young heroes and weapon tokens you may need, everything else including equipment must come from what you have drafted. If you don’t have enough cards between your chosen class specific cards and generics to get to 30 cards, you will need to fill your deck with Cracked Baubles.
So now we have the rules and basic concept of booster draft down, how exactly do we choose which cards to draft and how do we build a deck? The rest of this article deals with basic strategy for booster draft and some tips to make sure you get the most out of those 45 cards you will be selecting and putting a deck together with!
Start by focusing on having enough playable cards
You will have at the end of the draft have just 45 cards to build your 30 card minimum deck. This means only 15 of the cards at most can be not in your class or generics, and realistically less as you will want some equipment to play! For this reason it is very important to limit drafting across multiple classes as you could end up stuck between two or three classes and not have enough playable cards for a single one.
For example, say in pack one you take with your first two picks a generic and a Warrior card. You then for the next three picks take Ninja cards and the following three picks take Brute cards. Already you have a minimum of four cards you won’t be able to play and you are only in pack one! For this reason I would suggest that once you are nearing the end of the first pack you be locked into a single class. There are some exceptions to this, such as if you notice a lot of good cards from another class coming around late and you decide to switch classes to take advantage of the power level of cards coming around the table. At that point you can still get away with switching if you know packs two and three will reward you for going into that class, with you potentially being the only drafter in that class at your table!
Pitch values and ratios in a draft deck
When drafting your deck you should also be thinking about your number of red, yellow and blue cards. Ideally you are going to want a mix between the three pitch values that make the most sense for how you are building the deck, the class you are in and the specific cards you are drafting. One guideline I often suggest is look for between 8 -14 blue cards and flex this depending on your class. For example as Bravo you will want to be at the top end of this number, whereas if you are playing Rhinar you will likely want less blues but more yellows as they help pitch for your weapon Romping Club and a lot of your class cards, but are more powerful to play than blue alternatives.
Red cards you are going to want to be around a third of your deck, these are your power cards that will help you win the game. In more low to the ground aggressive decks with cards like Nimblism red and Nimble Strike red, or for a class such as Ninja you may want closer to half the deck being red cards if you can get them!
Draft generics early
This is the best piece of advice I can give for players new to the Flesh and Blood draft format, or those looking to really focus on the fundamentals of draft. Drafting generics early is going to keep you open to all four classes for longer, which is a great position to be in allowing you to jump on strong class cards you see being passed around the table. Taking generics early also means you are a lot more likely to play these cards than hedging on slightly more powerful class specific cards. As we know we must be very careful to draft as many playables as possible and this is a way to help ensure we do so. You will find certain generics work better with certain classes (e.g. Pummel for Bravo and Rhinar), but in general you will be leaving yourself much more open to follow the cards being sent your way as you get into picks five, six and beyond.
Prioritise equipment and draft them highly
If staying open and taking generics early is the most common fundamental I share for new drafters, then valuing equipment highly and picking them up early would be the second. You will only be able to play the equipment you draft, and having a full set of armour in is going to give you a good edge, late in the game an Ironrot Gauntlet could be the difference between getting to keep the extra card you need to play and win vs. having to defend with it to not die! Drafting generic equipment early also fits in with the “draft generics early” strategy and you know you will always be able to play these equipment no matter the class.
Once you are locked into a hero, the class specific equipment should become even more important and higher pick considerations. A card like Refraction Bolters in your Warrior deck could possibly be one of the most important pieces of your deck and strategy.
Draft a deck around a strategy, not a pile of good cards
The aim of drafting in Flesh and Blood isn’t just to end up with 30 playable cards, and I’m sure from the above fundamentals I’ve shared you are already seeing that there is significant strategy that can be involved with pulling your deck together in a draft. You want to, as much as possible think about your overall strategy of the deck you are building as you draft. What does each card you pick do for you, ask yourself what will it’s role be?
For example, say you are into pack two now and are drafting Warrior having picked up some important cards in pack one like Stroke of Foresight red, two Warrior’s Valor yellow, Nature’s Path Pilgrimage red and a Razor Reflex red. Thanks to these cards you have the base of a great weapon focused Warrior build shaping up. Now as the draft continues into pack two you should look at every card you draft through this lens of your rough strategy of focusing on Dawnblade. A card such as Nimblism might have no role in your deck now, whereas a card like Flock of the Feather Walkers blue would be of high value as both a resource card and to ensure you get guaranteed go again.
Moving beyond the basics – Signals
The last point I will touch on briefly is not something you need worry about immediately if you are new to drafting, or drafting Flesh and Blood. If you have played any other TCGs with draft formats you may be familiar with the concept of signals. Signals can be both received and sent. When a player is sending signals this will generally be done by purposefully passing all the cards of one class along to the player next to them to try and have that player read the signal and move into that class. Allowing the signal sender to hopefully ensure that the player on their left will not be in any of the other three classes they are deciding between.
Reading signals is exactly the inverse, observing and understanding the cards that are being passed to you. This will generally be seen with class specific cards, and more often seeing things like red class cards come later than they should. The absence of cards can also be a signal. For example if you see no Ninja kick line cards (Leg Tap, Rising Knee Thrust and Blackout Kick) coming around after pick four or five, then it is highly likely that someone to your right is picking these all up.
I can’t emphasise just how enjoyable, strategic and fun the draft format in Flesh and Blood is. If you haven’t yet been able to sit down for a draft I hope that you can in the near future, and if you do have the opportunity to draft at your local events or with friends I highly recommend it! I hope this introduction to drafting Flesh and Blood is helpful and if you stick to these fundamentals I’m confident you will find yourself in a strong position to have positive records in your draft pods.