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. Today, we’ll be covering one of Flesh and Blood’s core gameplay mechanics, pitching, and how to do it optimally.
Flesh and Blood Fundamentals Series Articles
- Flesh and Blood Fundamentals: Bread and Butter
- The Economy of Flesh and Blood Combat
- Improving your Clerical Upkeep
Pitching is so much more than simply paying the resource cost of your cards and actions. It’s an intricate system that is simple to learn, but difficult to master – much like Flesh and Blood itself. One thing up front – it is NOT necessary to memorize every card you pitched in the exact order you pitched it. That doesn’t mean you don’t want to be mindful about how you pitch, or try to predict when you will draw key cards that were pitched early. It’s a balancing act, and one that you can improve over time.
Pitching in Flesh and Blood does multiple things at once, and it’s important to understand each of the elements and how they influence the course of the game. While this certainly isn’t an end-all-be-all list, it explores the concept at its fundamental level. We will go in order from least to most complex, with points three and four being roughly equal in complexity:
- Paying the cost of your cards & actions.
- Pitching for your late-game strategy.
- Telegraphing to your opponent what cards you’ll be playing if the game reaches the second cycle (if they’re paying that much attention). Note, this works both ways and you will also be able to see some of what your opponent has planned for the late game.
- Crafting the hands you will draw in the second cycle (the point where you begin to draw the cards that were pitched at the start of the game).
Simple enough. You can’t play your cards or activate abilities on your hero/equipment without paying their associated costs. Unless they’re zero-cost, you’ll need to pitch to pay for the things you do on your turn. If you don’t have enough resources, you won’t be able to play certain cards. What is important here is that we get into the concept of mindful pitching, something that will be layered with more complexity as we go through each of the mechanics of pitching one by one.
First, you don’t want to pitch randomly. Pitch with intent, and pitch with a goal in mind. Remember, unless you’re playing a hyper-aggressive deck that wants to close the game as fast as possible without either side hitting the second cycle of their deck, then you want to have some kind of endgame strategy in mind. If you plan on putting a card in your Arsenal as part of your turn, make sure it is “playable” and will provide value. For example, most decks don’t want to put a low-value blue card into Arsenal, as these cards are often not played outright in the early or mid game.
What are the cards that gain more value as the game goes on? What are your win conditions when both heroes are at low life? Some obvious answers are things like attack reactions like Pummel and Razor Reflex that can simply end the game on the spot if your opponent doesn’t overblock or have a defense reaction in hand. As your opponent’s life and armor deplete, these cards gain more value over time.
When pitching for your late game strategy, you should aim to tuck away cards that will gain value the longer the game goes on, with the understanding that you may be facing a lot of pressure and will likely not be able to execute high card count combos without being able to seize the tempo and pressure cards out of your opponent’s hand prior to your big turn.
Cards like Razor Reflex, Pummel and Command and Conquer are exceptional targets to pitch early and often, as they have the ability to threaten closing the game on the spot at low life totals unless your opponent has saved a defense reaction. C&C is unique in that it attacks your opponent on more than one axis – preventing defense reactions, attacking your opponent’s Arsenal, their life total and almost always stripping two cards from hand in the late game.
Understanding what your deck and hero are trying to do to close out the game is just as essential to knowing some of the key targets to pitch early and often. Have a plan to win, and pitch in a way to support that mission.
As you pitch for your own late game strategy, your opponent will have the opportunity to see the cards you pitch to pay your costs. If they’re paying attention, they’ll know what to expect later in the game. Fortunately, you can do the same. This doesn’t require you to memorize each card your opponent pitches, but look out for those power cards that have the opportunity to end the game. For example, if you’re playing against a Dorinthea, keep an eye out for your opponent pitching cards like Ironsong Response (Red), Ironsong Determination, Steelblade Supremacy, Rout and more. Having a general idea of when these cards are likely to show up will help you play around them and hopefully improve your own odds of winning the match.
If you’re brand new to pitch tracking or are less experienced in Flesh and Blood, you will gain more value from focusing on pitching for your own late game strategy and trying to predict when you will get your core cards versus trying to pay attention to everything your opponent is doing as well. Work toward merging the two together and building the mental muscle memory needed to support both techniques simultaneously.
The second cycle is the point in the game where you begin to draw the cards you pitched at the start of the game. It’s a crucial part of some late games and often the outcome will be determined by who has the tempo and who pitched better for a late game plan.
Outside of pitching power cards to support a late game strategy, you will also need to make sure you pitch in a way that will support the resource costs of that plan. In general, it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t pitch stack too many reds in a row. Nothing is worse than not paying attention to the cards you pitch to pay your costs and the order you stack them, only to draw into an unplayable hand of four red cards, causing an almost definite loss. This is something I’ve seen time and time again with newer players, even at events.
Make sure to surround your power cards with plenty of yellows and blues when stacking your pitch and remain mindful of the resource to power ratio density of how you stack your deck. Ensuring you can pay the costs of the power cards you pitched is just as essential as your choice to put those cards there in the first place.
If your deck runs a deck shuffle effect like Remembrance or a tutor, you can be more aggressive with how you pitch and play the early game with the understanding that you will likely be able to shuffle your deck. With shuffle effects, the contents of your deck matter more than the initial order you pitch your cards. This can help solve inefficiencies in pitching or what happens after you work your way through an unfortunate and awkward hand by filtering, blocking or playing it out. As you become more experienced in the fundamentals of pitching, you will gain a better understanding of how certain shuffle effects serve to boost or harm your late game plan, and when they are worth playing out or used for blocking or paying costs instead.
I hope this fundamental article on pitching is helpful in your own games. Mindful practice of pitching, tracking, and supporting a late game vision will serve to help you improve your play.