So, you’re a Magic player that’s been jonesing for a large event to hit up, and you’ve been hearing about this new Flesh and Blood game. We’re just a month out from the first Calling in Vegas, and you want to give it a shot, put yourself in the best place to win it all, or even just be comfortable enough to sit down and jam some side events. The only problem is: where do you start to get into Flesh and Blood from Magic? What’s with all these extra pieces? Heroes in every game? Weapons? Equipment? It’s all so much.
Thankfully, while the game seems daunting at first, it’s actually fairly intuitive for most Magic players to pick up. I’ve found the best way to get past that initial hurdle is to watch a Learn-to-Play video, like the one LSV just put together, to familiarize yourself with the concepts of the game. He also did an article on it to help get you acclimated.
Much like when you learned Magic, you probably won’t immediately grasp or retain all the concepts, but having the rough gist of them percolating in your head is all you want heading into the next step. Once you’ve got the basics in your brain, get your hands on one of the Ira Welcome Decks and use those to play out a few turns against a friend, either one who has already played or one that is learning alongside you. Once those first few turns pass and everything clicks into place, you’ll likely find that the back and forth of attacking, defending, and priority feel fairly familiar.
That isn’t to say that it doesn’t have some very large departures from Magic to set them apart as well. The most obvious from the outset is that every deck is led by a Hero, a card that dictates what cards can be in your deck, and possessing special abilities that make them unique even within their classes. At present most Heroes are identical in this regard, the hero themselves also dictate your life total and how many cards you draw back up to at the end of your turn, rather than the start.
While this aspect is a smaller difference, presence of your hero and their starting equipment means that, in essence, you start each game much closer to your peak strength, rather than at your weakest as in Magic. Lastly, part of setting up for each game, at least in the main format of Classic Constructed, is paring your deck down rather than having a dedicated sideboard. Instead, you have 80 cards as a maximum, including equipment, and before each game, you select the equipment you’d like to use and trim down your deck to a minimum of 60 cards.
Now, while Classic Constructed is the main format, I’d recommend starting off with Blitz decks. Blitz is played using young versions of the Heroes, with identical abilities but half the starting life total. Blitz decks are a minimum of 40 cards, with an 11-card max equipment pool. You can also purchase Blitz preconstructed starter decks, which is why they make for a great next step. Right now, we’ve even got a deal going on a bundle that includes a Blitz Starter from Monarch you can pick up. The quicker games and lack of “sideboarding” in the Blitz decks helps really learn the game and the play patterns of different Heroes.
From there, you can feel out what you like and don’t like. While it may seem unlikely from the outset, Flesh and Blood still has the archetype triangle you’re familiar with. Karol Ruszkiewicz has an excellent article about that, detailing the differences in aggro, control (yes, it is a thing in Flesh and Blood) and combo, though perhaps better described as Set Up in Flesh and Blood. Midrange exists as well, giving plenty of options to port over your favorite playstyle. There’s plenty of resources for how to build different decks once you have an idea of what you’d like, including deck lists and Deep Dives here on ChannelFireball.
So, if you’ve been hemming and hawing about trying this new game out, and you’re familiar with Magic, now’s the best time to dive in to Flesh and Blood. We’ve got big tournaments on the way, a robust professional scene announced for next year and a brand new set about to drop. Choose your Hero and come see us in Vegas or any of the other Callings happening through the rest of the year.