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Learning Pitch Tracking in Flesh and Blood

As we saw in The Calling, many of the top players were distinguished in their ability to pitch set and play out the bottom of their deck once it came around. For the average player, this seems like a level of gameplay far beyond what they can ever achieve. However, as the game grows and competitive success in the game becomes more and more desirable, it’s becoming evident that card counting, pitch tracking and setting up the bottom of your deck is going to be a key trait to have should you wish to win at the highest levels. Although it is by no means an easy skill to learn, it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task. Today, we’ll be breaking down exactly how to learn to pitch track incrementally and efficiently in our favorite game. 

 

 

Header - Threat Density

The most basic level of setting your deck goes into the idea of threat density. This term simply refers to the relative offensive output your deck has left in it at any given point in the game. For example, in a midgame situation between Dorinthea and Rhinar, the Rhinar player may only have two Bloodrush Bellows and an Alpha Rampage left in their deck. The rest of the deck could be mainly blue and yellow pitch cards, most of them being 6-attack.

 

Bloodrush BellowAlpha Rampage

At this point, the Rhinar player knows that the threats left in the deck which will truly push damage through are set to those specific cards. This means blocking with them or playing out a subpar hand with those cards could be back breaking to their win condition and erode their threat density massively. If drawn with a poor hand, pitching them back into the deck for a weapon swing or such is a great option to keep the threat density of your deck at a strong level.

If you’re entirely new to the world of pitch tracking, I highly recommended starting by keeping a mental track of your threat density. Before the game, outline the core concept and “power cards” in your deck, and then keep a mental note of which one’s cycle into graveyard throughout the game. Not only will this help you play to your win-conditions better, but it will improve your assessment of your hands, knowing which ones to block with and which ones to lean into the damage with. Learning to assess your deck through the game is the basis upon which pitch tracking is founded, and threat density tracking is the best place to start learning how to do so.

 

Header - Pitching in Pairs

Glint the QuicksilverTwinning Blade

The second step up from keeping a mental note of threat density is pitching in pairs, or more specifically, pitching combos of cards together. In continuing with our Dorinthea and Rhinar example, the Dorinthea player could pitch a Glint the Quicksilver on one turn, and then possibly on the turn after pitch a Twinning Blade or such alongside it. This is an extremely potent combo late game when players tend to over-block Dawnblade and could be what wins you the game when you later draw into it.

These one-two combos and interactions are incredibly potent and are found in almost every class. The Rhinar player in this scenario for example, could pitch and Alpha Rampage and Massacre early together for a Romping Club swing. Just like the Dorinthea Glint and Twinning combo, this combination of cards is incredible late game and results in a strong turn on demand. Pitching in pairs is a great habit to get into to learn pitch tracking. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself constructing hands by pitching two strong offensive cards and subsequently pitching blues around them. Even if you’re not pitch counting just yet, actively doing this will heavily increase the quality of your late game and you’ll start being able to tell yourself “I should be drawing into that strong combination anytime now” or “that combination I need to win is still a little far off.”

 

Header - Starting Small

When looking at pitch tracking as whole, it can seem overwhelming to do it with 60 or more cards and keeping track of where the group of pitched cards, and in particular some combinations of cards, are relative to the rest of the deck. This is where starting small is key. When testing or playing with your play partner, play out a game with only 20 cards or so left in your deck with each of you at a low life total. This set-piece testing, which I spoke about previously on ChannelFireball, is incredibly helpful to learn pitch tracking. The small number of cards is incredibly important, and you get to see the immediate results of cards you’ve pitched and set up.

If possible, playing Limited is an incredible way to simulate this as well. The deck sizes in Limited mean you’ll frequently see out the second, third and possibly further cycles of your deck. Being able to actively see turns come back almost immediately once you pitch them breaks the common mindset of just playing with what the deck gives you. In Flesh and Blood, one of the hardest humps of learning to pitch track is simply adjusting our mindsets over simply thinking of the deck as a random hand generator or just a pile of facedown cards. 

 

Header - Ripping Off the Band-Aid

The last step in this progression is going right into the pitch tracking system. All these previous exercises are great to help you in building all the required skills step by step into pitch tracking, but finally is the full 60 to 80-card deck tracking. I highly recommend spending a lot of time learning each of the aspects of tracking I mentioned above before moving into this, but after you master the above, it’s time to rip off the Band-Aid. Start with your deck in a casual setting and a pen and paper alongside it, write down what you’ve pitched each turn and track the entire order. Keep a mental or paper note of how many cards separate the top of your deck and your tracked cards. This will let you know exactly what and when you’re drawing into in a game

You may be asking me here, “why didn’t you just ask me to this first?” Although using pen and paper is great, in Flesh and Blood events you can’t use a pen and paper to track, so becoming dependent on it without developing any of the other skills is extremely easy. The pen and paper are a last step once you’ve procured the other skills and meant only as an aid to transition into full pitch tracking. Use the pen and paper to start out with the full deck tracking but try eventually to only reference it and keep the count mentally. Although it’s by no means easy, it is by far the most rewarding skill to learn in Flesh and Blood and will benefit you for years to come. Good luck to all you aspiring pitch trackers out there! 

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