Last week, we announced that ChannelFireball is partnering with Legend Story Studios to carry and support Flesh and Blood. You can find an intro to Flesh and Blood video I made in that announcement, and today I am going to give you an article walkthrough of the game, my thoughts on it, and some tips and tricks that will help you understand and get better. Let’s get started!
What Is Flesh and Blood?
Flesh and Blood (FAB from here on out), is a trading card game where you are a hero, and your goal is to defeat the opposing hero. When I say you are a hero, I mean that you are the main character, and in fact, the only one.
It’s a 1v1 battle to the death, and every card you play represents a weapon you use, an attack or defense action you take, and so on. You aren’t summoning minions to do the fighting for you, you are getting your hands dirty yourself. The entire feel of the game is different from any I’ve played as a result – it’s all about tactics, sequencing, and micro-decisions in combat. Let’s dive in to how it works.
The full rulebook can be found here, but I’ll be giving you a faster/simpler rundown in this article.
The Anatomy of a FAB Card
The way you play cards in FAB is simple – they have a cost on the top right, and that’s how many resource points they take to play. To get resource points, you discard cards, and each card also has a pitch value on the top left that shows how many RP that card generates.
As you can see below, Leg Tap costs 1 to play, or can be discarded for 1 resource point.
So, what does Leg Tap do? Well, it’s an attack, and it deals 4 damage, as you can see from the bottom left. It also says, “Go Again”, which is important because every Action requires an action point, and you start the turn with one. However, cards that have Go Again give you an action point when they resolve, which lets you string together multiple plays on the same turn.
Okay, but there’s a shield on the bottom right – what’s that for?
That value is how much defense this card provides when discarded to defend against an attack. While there are specific cards that defend, every card can also be discarded for its defense value, meaning you always have options with which to stop opposing attacks (and a lot of attacks have special effects that happen if they successfully deal damage, so defending is very important).
Every Card Equals a Lot of Options
If you take another look at Leg Tap up there, it’s one of the simpler cards in the game. It’s a straightforward attack, and all it does besides whack them for four is let you take another action. Still, having Leg Tap in hand presents you with a bunch of possibilities, and the same is true for every card in the game. Leg Tap lets you:
- Play it – take that, enemy hero!
- Pitch it for resource points, to play better cards instead. Poor Leg Tap.
- Discard it to defend an opposing attack (sounds cowardly to me but can be necessary).
Attack of the Clones
Cards in FAB can come in different colors. Take a look at the three versions of Leg Tap – each has slightly different numbers.
- Blue cards pitch for the most but have the weakest stats.
- Yellow cards are in between.
- Red cards pitch for the least but deal the most damage.
That generally means that you want a mix of blues to pitch and reds to play, with yellows being the most flexible but overall weakest – you’d usually rather specialize via red or blue rather than hedge via yellow.
What Does All This Mean?
Just in seeing how cards get played, we’ve learned a lot about FAB – here are some key points:
- This resource system means you will always have the capability to play the cards you want to play. While it is possible to end up with all expensive cards and nothing with good pitch numbers, that’s a rarity, and in general you can play any of your cards on any given turn.
- There’s no ramping up, period – at any point in the game, basically all cards are playable. It’s rare that a single card dominates the game, and most wins come as a result of accumulating advantages from winning small combats. A game-winning eight-drop really isn’t a thing in FAB.
- Every card opens up a wealth of possibilities – you have a ton of options every turn, and how you sequence your cards or utilize them is critical in securing victory.
- No card is ever truly dead – at the very worst, it can stop you from getting punched in the face.
The first point is the biggest – how the resource system works is one of the most important parts of any game. There aren’t really non-games in FAB, and you always have plenty of relevant decisions to make. Now, it can be rough when you lose because of those decisions, and I’m not a FAB master (yet, though my training regimen is paying off), but having your destiny in your hands is a great feeling.
Taking Turns and Drawing Cards
Having to pitch a card to play a card means you’d run out of cards quickly if you were limited to drawing a card per turn, but luckily you get way more. At the end of your turn, you draw up to four cards in hand (well, technically you draw up to your Hero’s hand size, but all of them have a hand size of four except one). Because of that, you are incentivized to play all your cards each turn, in order to get max value from the redraw.
But what if I want to save a card for next turn?
There’s a mechanic for that too – your arsenal. At the end of your turn, before you redraw, you can put a card from your hand face down into your arsenal (which can only have one card in it). You can play that card from your arsenal whenever you could normally play it, though you can’t pitch or discard it. Good arsenal usage is key to winning, as it lets you time your cards exactly as you want to.
On your turn, you start with one action point and can then start to take actions/play cards. What this mostly means is attacks, since they are the bulk of what you’ll be doing each turn. Let’s walk through a combat (called a combat chain).
- You play an attack
- You pay whatever costs are associated and play the attack.
- The opponent defends
- They choose if they want to discard any cards to defend. This is the only part of combat where they can do this, and they can discard multiple cards if they want.
- Reaction step
- Here, only attack reactions, defense reactions, and instants can be played. These are specific cards that boost attack or defense, and are quite strong because they get to be played after attacks and defenses are locked in.
- Once everything has been played, the total damage is calculated by attack minus defense. All excess damage goes through – every attack does this, it’s not a special ability.
- Any effects from damage resolve, and if the attacker played something with Go Again, they get their action point back.
You can then initiate another combat if you want (and if you have an action point and cards to attack with). Some heroes tend to make a flurry of small attacks (Ninjas spring to mind), while some save up for one huge attack (such as Brutes).
After you’re done attacking, you can then put a card into your arsenal, and draw up to four cards, after which the opponent goes. Note that any cards they used to defend aren’t replaced – you only draw up to four at the end of your turn (the first turn is an exception to this, where both players redraw).
That’s basically it – there are more card types, and cards and combos can certainly be complex, but you now know the basics of FAB. Let’s talk some strategy before we go.
While the turn structure isn’t too complicated, there’s a lot to think about in a game of FAB. Here are some tips to help you on your way.
Planning Your Turn
- On each turn, you should figure out which combination of attacks you want to play, how you are going to pay for them, and any cards you want to save for defense. Because of the resource system, you really have to pick and choose wisely.
- Utilizing your arsenal is key to victory. If you can afford to have a turn where you only use three cards, saving the fourth for the next turn can give you a substantial advantage. It lets you overwhelm their defenses by creating a more powerful attack, or by playing a defense reaction and effectively blocking their next attack.
- Figuring out if you’re on defense or offense is critical. Sometimes you want to play to maximize damage dealt, and other times you want to take damage in order to use all your cards to attack.
- Know what your cards/deck are best at. To go back to the red/blue/yellow cards, you should try and pitch blues to play reds whenever possible. Some decks are better at attacking than defending, and you need to accept that and just focus on using your cards the way they are intended, even if that means taking a lot of extra damage.
- Attack reactions can help sneak through damage and get extra value.
Take the combo of Whirling Mist Blossom and Lunging Press. If Blossom hits, you draw two cards, so hitting is a high priority. When you play it, the opponent will try and block it, and they will probably discard a card that defends for two. You then get the opportunity to play Lunging Press, and at that point they can’t add more defense unless they have a defense reaction. Voila, you’ve hit, and drawn two cards.
- Over-defending can play around attack reactions
Imagine you’re the defending player in the above example – to play around Lunging Press, you could choose to discard 3 points of defense even though Whirling Mist Blossom only hits for 2. That means Lunging Press won’t get that critical point through. Of course, that means the opponent just won’t play Lunging Press, so they did get an edge there, but that’s better than being hit by Whirling Mist Blossom.
- Don’t be afraid to take a turn off to recharge
If you’re under pressure, and don’t have a great turn lined up, you can use most of your cards to defend and then just put your best card in your arsenal. That means you don’t get damage in that turn, but your next turn will be more powerful. Plus, sometimes you draw an awkward combination of cards, and using them to defend instead of attack can be profitable.
Getting Into a FABulous Game
Now that you’re basically a Flesh and Blood master, what’s next?
First, take a look at the rest of our FAB content here at ChannelFireball.
We’ve got a ton of articles by awesome FAB players, and more are coming. They really know what they are doing, and I myself am learning a lot from reading them. This game has a lot to think about, and I’m really enjoying the discovery process.
To get your hands on the cards, pick up your at home release kit featuring two starter playmats, two Ira, Crimson Haze welcome decks, and a booster box of Welcome to Rathe Unlimited).