“Hey there, buddy! You’re in my way! Are you looking for a fight??!”
Welcome to the wonderful world of Flesh and Blood – an upcoming fantasy based TCG game in which you are the hero! – As is everyone else, pit against each other in a fight to the end! In this article, we’ll be looking to break down not only exactly what the Flesh and Blood TCG is, but show you some of the ways to play, teach you the basic rules, and share some further learning resources with you – all in under twenty minutes of video, and even less in text!
Flesh and Blood?
The fundamental idea of Flesh and Blood is very simple: I am a hero, you are also a hero – we don’t like each other very much, and we’re going to fight each other by attacking and defending with the cards we’ve chosen to play in our decks. Unsurprisingly, as well-trained heroes, we’ve equipped ourselves with our weapons and armour of choice to have a better chance against our enemies – so let’s start there, by taking a look at a hero:
Hero cards are the centrepiece of Flesh and Blood, with the game having you play as your chosen character and take all actions on their behalf. The little box at the bottom of these cards tells you a bit more about the hero, including any talents, classes or types they may have, such as a Warrior, a Wizard, or an Illusionist. The heroes’ types and talents will determine the playstyle of the deck, and which cards and weapons you’ll be allowed to play – for example, Harmonized Kodachi is a Ninja weapon, meaning only ninjas will be allowed to use it.
Our heroes come in two forms – young, and old. Fundamentally, they’re exactly the same, just used for different formats of the game – the only noticeable change is often the starting life total, due to the format they’re supposed to be played in. How much life you get to start with, and how many cards you get to play with often depends on the hero you’re playing – as each hero has their own intellect, starting life total, and unique ability.
The number next to the blue symbol you see in the bottom left is your hero’s “Intellect” – the number of cards they start the game with, and re-draw up to at the end of each of your turns. On the first turn of the game only, both players will draw up at the end, but moving forward, you’ll only do so at the end of your own turn. This is meant to replicate the feel of a fight: The more you do to defend yourself, the less able you are to attack your opponent back – and this first turn rule helps to balance which player starts the game. Intellect is not a “hand size rule” in the traditional way – if you can find a way to draw more cards than you have intellect, they’re yours to keep until you use them.
The number next to the green symbol is your starting life total – whenever you take a hit, you’ll lose life equal to the damage you took – from here, the goal is fairly simple: reduce the opposing hero’s life total to zero in order to win the game – much like intellect, your life total is not a limit. If you gain life above your starting life total, you’re just… extra healthy right now.
Much like you’d see in films, or video games – your hero is a trained, well-prepared individual, and so they can equip weapons, armour and other items before the fight begins! In Flesh and Blood, these items are called Equipment, and they’re placed onto the board at the very start of the game.
Unlike other games, in Flesh and Blood, you start at your strongest – fully armoured, weapon ready, high life total – and will find yourself getting weaker and weaker the longer the fight continues. Some equipment is generic, and can be used by any hero you choose to play, others are specialised to a certain type of hero, offering you powerful rewards for choosing to play that class.
For example, we can look at Harmonized Kodachi again – a Ninja weapon, which means it can only be used by Ninja heroes. Weapons can be one-handed, or two handed, for which you can see an indicator for in the box at the bottom of the card. Your hero (at least for now!) always has two hands, so you can use two weapons if they’re both one handed. Similarly, most equipment will tell you where it belongs – they can be headpieces, chests, arms, or legs – and your hero will be able to wear one of each before the battle in the appropriate slot.
The hero you choose, alongside all your equipment, are not shuffled into your deck and start the game in play, and once the game begins, cannot be changed at any time.
Now that hero is fully dressed and ready for battle, how do we play the game?
ACTIONS AND RESOURCES:
In order to play Flesh and Blood, we need to keep track of two important factors – Actions, and Resources.
Every player will always start their turn with one action available: commonly referred to as an “Action Point” – If a card has the word “action” in the small box you see at the bottom, it’ll require an action point for you to use
There is a number of ways to create additional action points in order to allow yourself to take more actions, but the most common one is Flesh and Blood’s main keyword: Go Again. If a card you’ve played has “Go Again” in the text box, it is essentially short hand for: “When this resolves, gain one action point” – Go Again allows for strategies that want to focus on many small actions to exist, in comparison to some other heroes, who will just take one BIG action, instead.
You’ll also need resources if you’d like to play your cards – normally, you can tell how many resources are required by looking at the number in the top right-hand corner of the card. Some actions on cards, such as weapons, will also require action points and resources to use.
So how do we get resources? Well, your cards do that too! The value in the top left-hand corner is a card “pitch value”, represented by red dots. These are also helpfully colour-coded at the top of a card, a red card “pitches” for one, a yellow for two, and a blue card for three. Whenever you pitch a card for resources, you can use those resources right up until the end of your turn – they don’t suddenly go away after you play something.
However, it’s important to know that you cannot pitch to make resources for no reason – you do have to “pay” for something. The order should go like this:
- Announce the card you’d like to play
- Pitch what you need to in order to generate resources to pay the cost (This can be multiple cards)
- Play the card.
Now that we have an idea of how playing a card works, let us take a look at some of the card types we can play. You’ll find most cards have a pitch value, a cost to play, and a total that they can attack for/defend for in the four corners of the card, but not every card type can do everything, so let us take a look at things that aren’t heroes, equipment or weapons:
The most common type of card in Flesh and Blood, Actions require an action point to play, and need to have resources paid in order to use them
Action cards will often be used to attack your opponent, but have several other abilities as well, such as strengthening your attacks, drawing more cards, or granting bonus effects to attacks.
Action cards can be pitched, and defended with for no cost.
Attack reaction cards can only be played in the attack reaction step (we’ll get to that in just a little bit) – They can also be pitched or used to defend, and if you’d like to play them, do require a resource cost. Importantly, however, reactions are NOT actions, and therefore do not require an action point to play.
The defensive counterpart to an attack reaction, these can only be played in the Defence Reaction step. Much like attack reactions, they can be pitched and do not require an action point. However, Defence reactions are the only cards you’ll need to pay a resource cost in order to defend with – they’re usually very strong or give powerful effects as a bonus in order to make up for this.
The most flexible card type, Instants can be played whenever you have priority – at any time, assuming you have the resources. They also don’t require an action point. In exchange for this flexibility, they often cannot attack or defend you.
Like many other card games, Flesh and Blood is constantly releasing new cards, and new card types will come with that – meaning this list will no doubt expand over time.
So, now we have a good idea of what cards look like and how to use them, let us take a look at the average turn of Flesh and Blood, and the centre mechanic of the whole game – The Combat Chain.
THE COMBAT CHAIN:
The combat chain is supposed to embody the back-and-forth of our heroic battle. The combat chain will open whenever the active player plays a card that is attacking – the defending player will then be offered the chance to defend, and then each player will get a window to respond to the choices of the other player that make affect the outcome of the attack – The Attack Reaction and Defence Reaction Steps.
Each attack creates a link in the Combat Chain, and for each of these links, the following steps will happen in this order:
- Attack: The active player pitches resources to attack with an attack action card or their weapon
- Defend: The defending player can use cards in their hand, or their equipment to block the attack. Any card with a printed defence value can be used to defend, and it does not cost resources to defend with any cards in this step. You may block with as many cards as you like, but keep in mind that every card you defend with will be one less card you have to attack with during your own turn.
- Reactions: At this point, only attack reactions, defence reactions, and instants can be played. The active player will always get the first opportunity to act, paying resources for any attack reaction or instant cards they wish to play.
- Defence Reactions: The defending player now has the opportunity to use any instants or defence reactions they wish to play, paying any resource costs that may be required.
If either player chooses to make a play during the reaction step, the opposing player will get another opportunity to react again – for example, if I play a defence reaction to your attack, you will have the chance to play more attack reactions with that information before we continue, and if you did, I would get a chance to play more defence reactions in a similar way. The chain link will only continue when both players have no further actions.
- Damage: The defending player only prevents the amount of damage they have defended for; any additional damage will hit the hero. A hit of any amount of damage counts as “A Hit” for any effects that may care about that, such as Dorinthea, Ironsong.
At this point, the active player may choose to close the chain, or keep it open for additional links if they have more attacks, action points, and resources. When the chain is closed, all cards on the chain go to the graveyard. While the chain remains open, all cards placed onto the combat chain (including equipment) will stay on their respective chain link until the chain is closed. It is not uncommon for many chains to contain several chain links, but if you have an action point left over, you can close a chain, and then start a new one if you wish.
Once all chains and chain links have concluded, the active player moves to the end of the turn.
There are hundreds of different decisions to be made on the combat chain, one of the main reasons Flesh and Blood appeals to competitively minded players – should you use your card to attack, block or make resources? – It’s easy to see why every decision counts when you only have finite resources, under pressure from an attacking enemy.
- End of Turn and Arsenal Phase: During your end phase, you have the important choice to arsenal a card if you have any left over. The arsenal is the zone directly behind your hero, and it can contain exactly one card to save for later. If you’d like to arsenal a card, you will at this time place it face down in this zone. Arsenal’d cards can only be played, never pitched or blocked with (apart from defence reactions, which block by being played) – so make sure to only put a card here if you can see yourself playing it, or you might struggle to get it back out to make room for a more important card later.
- Pitched Cards: Your “pitched” cards are now placed on the bottom of your deck in any order. In several formats, you may very well see these cards again – so be mindful of the order you return them in, you may wish to see certain cards together later on.
- Draw up to your hand size, and move to the opposing turn.
Unlike other card games, running out of cards in deck will not cause you to lose a game of Flesh and Blood – instead, you must desperately scrap to survive with what little resources you have remaining, right up until one player’s life total hits 0.
So, now we have a concrete idea of what a game of Flesh and Blood looks like, let us take a moment to look at some of the most popular formats to play:
The deck you play in Flesh and Blood will depend on how you’d like to play. There’s a variety of draft and sealed formats where you’ll have to build a deck from the packs you open, formats like Commoner only allow you to play with the lowest rarity cards – there’s even a multiplayer format, called Ultimate Pit Fight, that allows four players to engage in combat at the same time. For today, however, we’ll look briefly at the two most popular constructed formats – Blitz, and Classic Constructed. If you’d like more details on other formats, you can check out the Flesh and Blood Website for all the details.
Blitz is the fastest format, designed for casual play on a weekly basis at your local game store. It makes use of Young Heroes, with lower starting life totals.
- Your deck will include exactly 40 cards, not including equipment
- You may bring up to 11 equipment in addition to your deck
- You will equip your equipment after each player has revealed which hero they are playing, so you can properly suit up for the specific fight ahead.
- You may have up to two copies of each different card in your deck. Cards are considered different if they have a different name, or the same name but a different pitch value. For example, you may have up to two copies of each different type of Cold Snap
- Cards must be generic, or align with your heroes’ types and talents.
- Games are expected to last around 10-25 minutes.
Classic Constructed plays similarly to Blitz, with a few key differences, as this is the premier format for competitive play
- Your deck can be up to 80 cards, with a 60-card minimum
- Your equipment WILL count toward this card limit
- You can run up to three copies of each different, unique card in your deck.
- Games are expected to last 35-50 minutes
Like many TCGs, Flesh and Blood is constantly evolving and releasing new cards, sets and formats, and so it’s very likely that the gameplay will extend into new, exciting ways to play in the near future.
HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?
Flesh and Blood is becoming more accessible than ever, with a variety of products serving as great entry points as a place to play:
These are fresh, out-of-the-box, pick-up-and-play preconstructed decks for the Blitz format: They offer the cheapest way to play Flesh and Blood, and are great for getting started with your friends, with a new set coming every set with a bunch of new heroes. These decks won’t be winning you any tournaments any time soon, but they can offer important commons and rares at a cheap price.
Classic Battles: Dorinthea vs Rhinar:
A product designed to introduce players to the game, but with a slightly heftier price tag – Classic Battles offers two decks telling the story of Dorinthea vs Rhinar, how the two came to blows, and allows you to create your own resolution. It also contains a playmat, a lore book, and some nice foils and versions of cards that cannot be found anywhere else.
Flesh and Blood have a fan made, free to play, online testing client! It takes a bit of time to get used to, but many of the world’s best players use it as a playtesting tool, and it’s the easiest way to get invested at no cost, from the comfort of your own home – check it out HERE.
Flesh and Blood is becoming a juggernaut of the TCG play, with compelling gameplay that offers lots of replay ability. Once you combine this with a variety of ways to play, and a deep lore with characters that you not only want to play as, but invest in, and fight as – you can quickly see why so many TCG faithful have found a new game to love.
If you’d like to talk more Flesh and Blood, or you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line @HowlingMines and I’ll look to help you out any way I can – I’m always up to chat some FaB!
If you’d like to check me out anywhere else, click HERE
Until next time, I’ve been HowlingMines, and you’ve been amazing.
Hopefully, I’ll see you in the arena!