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The Concept of a Core Deck in Flesh and Blood

When deckbuilding in Flesh and Blood, you’ll hear the term “core deck” thrown out a lot. In essence, a core deck represents a group of cards usually representing 75 percent of your deck list in which the deck cannot function without. It will usually include the main combinations of cards with which you win a game, and/or the base amount/most important resource cards (blues or yellows) upon which the deck revolves. Since sideboarding in its traditional form doesn’t exist in Flesh and Blood, the concept of a core deck is crucially important to implement an efficient sideboard. 

To elaborate a bit further let’s break down a standard Classic Constructed deck. Typically, a deck will consistent a 45 to 53 card core, alongside a 20 to 28 card sideboard. As outlined above, the main deck will include the cards forming the core competencies of the build, and the sideboard will usually include options to allow slower or faster playstyles or certain silver bullet type cards. The remaining slots, usually anywhere from 7 to 12, will be filled with equipment options for the hero at hand. Heroes must present decks of at least 60 cards to each other at game time, so these sideboard cards will slot in alongside the core to supplement the matchup through the last remaining slots between the core deck and the minimum 60-count deck. 

However, as the game has developed, side boarding has become more and more complex, since many heroes can access a myriad of archetypes available to them. I wrote on how to better hedge-board to counter this a while back, but today, I want to speak rather on how this effects core construction in Flesh and Blood, and the differences in having a large versus small core.

 

 

Header - The Trap of Silver Bullet Cards

With so many kinds of possible archetypes in Flesh and Blood for each hero, and subsequent hero mechanics alongside it, silver bullet cards are a huge trap in Flesh and Blood sideboarding. Unless a hero is incredibly dominant in a meta, silver bullet cards are usually going just be sitting around in your deck box waiting for a very specific matchup to play. As a thumb rule, if a card doesn’t slot into at least two or three heroes (preferably the latter), it should probably be cut. Most of the time, you can easily get by without extreme silver bullet cards anyways, and if you weren’t going to be winning the matchup, they usually aren’t going to be swinging the match in a large manner anyways. 

Keep in mind, I’m not telling you to not be playing silver bullets. They can be extremely potent in the right meta and cause havoc for a deck that dominates the meta. In this case, it is acceptable to use a silver bullet cards. However, since these sorts of cards are usually difficult to play and pull off, I highly recommend you really evaluate what is the value of putting this card into your deck and how much does it cause you to deviate from your own effective game plan as a result of playing it? 

 

Header - The Benefits of a Small Core

Most of us can understand that tight, focused game plans will always be able to execute better than varied, unfocused ones. This is exactly what a small core allows you to have. Cutting your card core between 45 to 50 cards allows your game plan to be very focused and crisp, giving not only your deck a sense of direction, but also a sense direction to your gameplay patterns as well.

However, this doesn’t mean that all decks should have a small core. Generally, most combo-focused decks and decks that rely on specific interactions should be working towards thinner focused cores. In general, you should be able to run a microcosm of your gameplay with just the 48 or so cards of the core deck, and the deck should perform at the level or above what you want from the 60-card version. 

Small cores are additionally important for combo builds since it allows you to protect the combo from your opponent by siding in larger packages for each matchup. In games where your opponent knows the interaction within which you’re trying to win the game, they can easily attack this by pushing damage or on-hit effects. Having ways to protect this, such as adding in more defense reactions/and or three-block cards, can be a massive boon. Similarly, against heavy control decks, against which the combo may not do the trick, it can be very valuable to have a large amount of offensive firepower added into the deck to make the combo even more effective and/or allow larger turns outside the combination 

 

Header - The Benefits of a Large Core

The largest cores in Flesh and Blood can reach up to 55 or more cards. More than adding a sideboard, this is a commitment to an entire game plan and nothing else. Although many top players tend not to use a large core, I think it has benefits that have to be respected as well.

When building for a large core, you commit to a playstyle and archetype more than a few specific cards. Whether you need to block with one card or another doesn’t matter so much so as the hand-to-hand gameplay remains extremely consistent and potent. Having a large core is then a fundamentally correct choice. Large sideboards would muddy up the consistency of the deck and cause unforeseen, uncomfortable hands for the player to work through. 

However, when keeping a large core, I recommend not going further than 54 to 55 cards. This allows for at least an addition a few specific cards for each matchups. Since you have such a small number of slots to fill, your sideboard cards should be more specific for each hero you expect to face, and hence the remaining slots should be filled with semi-silver bullet type cards, such as a Sigil of Solace against a Ninja player. 

 

Header - Wrapping Up

I hope this has been able to give you a solid idea of what the importance of building out from a core is, and the differences in core types between different decks. In a TCG, preparation is about 80 percent of the game itself, and having your deck prepared to function around a solid core and a complementary sideboard alongside it is what allows the best players to focus less on matchup-to-matchup issues, and more on their own gameplay and decisions. Good luck in making the best core you can!

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