Markovictory

Markovictory

Card game strategy.

© 2019-2020

Flesh and Blood Primer

This is only the beginning

New Zealand based game design, development, and publishing studio ‘Legend Story Studios’ is hot off the presses releasing their brand new trading card game ‘Flesh and Blood’ with its debut expansion ‘Welcome to Rathe’ in the coming days (October 11th) across the USA, Australia, and New Zealand.

The philosophy of the studio is strongly centered around community and bringing people together (in person) through the medium of games.

“Every time people come together in the Flesh and Blood to play our game, we achieve our goal.” - Source

The game of ‘Flesh and Blood’ is drastically different from any other in my experience with playing card games. When I was given the opportunity to learn to play the game ahead of the World Premier event in late August this year I was initially taken aback.

The game pushed a lot of boundaries that I was concerned would make certain cards and strategies homogenous and eventually boring or repetitive. Each card in the game can serve many functions at any one time so any initial evaluation is vague. I thought that cards would be pigeon-holed into their most valuable function a majority of the time, and that cards which didn’t have a defined function weren’t good enough or interesting to play with, i.e. a card that is better at attacking than defending should mainly if not always be used for attacking.

Oh, how I was wrong.

After a good many games (you stop counting once you’re having too much fun) I can confidently and safely say that my assumption is far from the truth, and that I am so glad about that fact. I would describe each game of ‘Flesh and Blood’ as a delicate and deadly dance with your opponent. Where every resource, decision, and piece of information that you can gather, make, or deduce is vital to the final outcome of who gets to be declared victorious.

This is the type of game I’ve been searching for.

A game where the player who gets to make the most out of what they have will be able to influence the result in their favour.

The main driving forces behind this type of gameplay is directly related by the design principles set out for ‘Flesh and Blood’:

  • Start Full (Game begins fast and slows down, avoiding the need and risk of building incremental resources, e.g. hitting land drops and making plays on curve in Magic: the Gathering.)

  • Reduce Variance (Eliminating scenarios where chance creates “non-games”, once again e.g. missing land drops or taking a multiple mulligans in Magic: the Gathering.)

  • Every Card Counts (If a card is in your deck it better be useful when you draw it, and not a silver bullet to fetch up on demand. You will play games that exhaust every card in your deck.)

  • Reward Good Decisions, Not Good Luck (Micro-gains will increase your odds of winning. There is no single card that will win the game on its own. Shivan Dragon doesn’t exist here.)

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The specific execution of each of these principles combined is a whole other article in of itself and I will save going into that for another time. These principles are defined here.

If you haven’t already and would like to learn how to play, you can watch this six minute video found here. Also, if you would like to delve deeper there is also an advanced rulebook called the ‘Hero’s Handbook’ which you can find under the ‘Rules’ section here.

Shuffling up

‘Legend Story Studios’ really have pulled out all the stops in their approach to organised play and support of the playerbase. ‘Flesh and Blood’ has been specifically designed to function in both constructed and limited (sealed and booster draft) formats, compared to most other games where one or the other is just tacked on (usually limited) out of convenience. Support has been shown with the announcement of events at both a frequent local level to large scale $10,000 competitive events. The avenues they’ve advertised to launch the game and inspire people to play and grow local communities is beyond ambitious and very exciting to witness!

A quick dive into each of these points;

  • The game has been designed with both Limited and Constructed in mind. Paradigms have been set on how to differentiate gameplay between the two formats without any glaring exceptions or caveats. Case in point; young heroes.

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  • Frequent events at a local level (Armory Events) with promotional cards to score as well as a unique prize in the format of a stunning playmat that is distributed by the peers of your community. Really driving the mission of ‘Legend Story Studios’ forward and setting the motif of ‘Flesh and Blood’ to build support for local communities. Official details here.

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  • And now for the pièce de résistance, ‘The Calling’ is a tournament series that offers up a staggering $10,000 of local currency as a cash prize pool. It seems that the frequency of these events is about once per month. This is such a tremendous way for ‘Legend Story Studios’ to show that they are truly serious in supporting the long term stability of the game and that of the players who are looking for a competitive outlet.

    The first of this series is scheduled for the 27th of October in Auckland, New Zealand with a Sydney, Australia iteration on the 9th of November. Both events are sealed deck play with top 8 draft. More details on the official announcement here.

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Numerous articles have also been written on the official website about each format on offer, and can be found within the developer archive of articles here. Notably these articles could shed light on both formats:

I hope to find and hear about you playing and helping to build up your local community or having a crack at one of ‘The Calling’ events. You will be able to look up any stores that might be near you on the store locator list here.

Flavour country

The game revolves around portraying yourself as one of many heroes of a subset of classes within the world of Rathe. The team at ‘Legend Story Studios’ have gone through an immense amount of effort to bring an entire universe to life through beautiful jaw-dropping artwork and storytelling full of lore around each of the heroes.

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You can find out more about the world of Rathe and of each hero at these links:

The heroes represented within the ‘Welcome to Rathe’ expansion and their classes are:

  • Bravo, Showstopper the slow but powerful Guardian
  • Dorinthea Ironsong the master of combat Warrior
  • Katsu, the Wanderer the relentless attacking Ninja
  • Rhinar, Reckless Rampage the heavy hitting Brute

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An initial look and explanation for each of them has been well written and can be found here.

Products

With the release of ‘Welcome to Rathe’ there are two types of products on offer to start playing and grow your collection; booster packs and ‘Hero’ decks.

The traditional booster pack product is something that we should all be so familiar with from other trading card games. Booster packs are distributed in boxes of twenty four (the perfect number for an eight player draft). The MSRP of a single booster pack is $3.49 USD / $5.49 AUD / $5.99 NZD. The prices of booster boxes vary from store to store, most have been throwing in a free ‘Hero Deck’ with every preorder of a full display of booster packs.

The breakdown of the contents of a booster pack is:

  • 1 token
  • 11 commons
  • 1 rare
  • 1 rare / super rare / majestic
  • 1 equipment
  • 1 premium foil

Based on the odds described here of opening a card based on its rarity (and the fact that you will only need three of any non-Legendary card), in order to acquire each card for your hero of choice you would need to open just about four booster boxes (ninety six booster packs) on average. This excludes the opportunity of trading any premium foils that you open, or that of other heroes, and of generic cards. Currently no secondary market exists (as the product hasn’t hit the shelves yet) so it’s unknown what the average price of a particular rarity is outside of its relation of frequency to other rarities.

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Alternatively, there are four ‘Hero’ decks which are primarily exist for being able to jump right into the game with a low investment of time and money, securing the character that you’re interested in playing. They are described as ready-to-play 60 card constructed decks and have an MSRP of $10.99 USD / $17.99 AUD / $19.99 NZD.

The specific contents of each deck hasn’t yet been officially released, but it looks like each deck contains approximately thirteen rare cards based on what’s been shared around on social media. That amount of rares is similar to opening about seven booster packs (taking the exclusion of higher rarities into account). That’s a great outlook on dollar value to begin with, also, you aren’t guaranteed to be able to build a cohesive deck with the hero of your choice if you opt for the comparable price of four booster packs. These decks also serve as a starting template of how to play and build a deck around each hero. Personally, I’m excited to analyse each of them to understand how the developers intend each hero to be played to avoid any pitfalls when it comes to my own deck-building adventures.

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You will be able to find more information on ‘Welcome to Wrathe’ products here.

The quickest way of finding a vendor to purchase ‘Welcome to Rathe’ and future ‘Flesh and Blood’ products would be to visit the store locator list on the official website here.

If your local games store isn’t currently supplying ‘Flesh and Blood’ I encourage that you ask them to request access to the B2B portal here.

Hardware

A majority of cards from the ‘Welcome to Rathe’ expansion have been revealed to the public already through the official website, social channels, and allocated spoilers from members within the community (221/225 cards). The remaining four cards are of the highest rarity level (Legendary) with only one being officially revealed so far.

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These ‘Legendary’ cards are of immense rarity, only appearing one in every ninety six booster packs! You do however only need to own one for your collection, as compared to other cards where a maximum of three is allowed for constructed play.

You will be able to view each officially spoiled card on the ‘Flesh and Blood’ website here, as well as gain some more insight on the distribution of other rarities and cards within the expansion as well as the reprint policy for the game here.

Looking through the spoiler for the expansion you may notice cards that seem to be duplicates of each other.

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This is no coincidence and is actually a bold choice by the developers to introduce a framework that acts as a benchmark for power level between cards and as a deck-building feature.

This pattern that will be rolled out to each qualifying card going forward with ‘Flesh and Blood’ was revealed to be named as “cycles” and was introduced with detail here.

In short; standalone cards of common and rare rarity can/will have three versions where the values are incrementally shifted between their pitch value and attack/defense (depending on the type of card). That being, the version of a card within its cycle with the lowest pitch value will be the highest impact of the three but the least flexible.

I believe that this approach to controlling design space and balance is especially exciting as it opens a lot more doors than described in the reference linked just prior. This is also an area where an in-depth look shall be saved for another time. For now though, my thoughts are aligned that each version of a cycle is feasible for play and that no version is “strictly better” than another.

If you would like a more technical look into each of the cards and their use please check out the ‘Release Notes’ section here.

Psst! While looking through the release notes I noticed the description of a card that doesn’t exist within the preview section of the website. So, I can only assume that this is one of the remaining legendary equipment cards. Have a look!

Fyendal’s Spring Tunic Generic Equipment - Chest

At the start of your turn, if Fyendal’s Spring Tunic has less than 3 energy counters, you may put an energy counter on it.

Instant - Remove 3 energy counters from Fyendal’s Spring Tunic: Gain {r}

Blade Break (If your defend with Fyendal’s Spring Tunic, destroy it when the combat chain closes.)

Defense: 1

EDIT: This was just shared to the ‘Flesh and Blood Fan Page’ Facebook group, what an exciting way to discover some of the most rare cards in the game to date!!!

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Moving on, it might be worth to note that ‘Flesh and Blood’ cards are of a similar enough size that they should fit all sleeves and accessories suited for ‘Magic: the Gathering’ cards and other “standard” size card games.

Wrapping up

If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for your attention and I can only hope that I have been able to shed some light and spark some interest in ‘Flesh and Blood’. I truly feel like this game is doing something really special and would hate for anyone to miss out on its early days.

You should also check out one last link and register for a ‘Flesh and Blood’ account here. As far as I can hazard to guess, the purpose of this account will be to track your previous events as well as any other digital services that end up being provided.

Ultimately, I’m choosing to back this game because I am really impressed with the convergence of art, story, design, business model, and gameplay, as well as how ‘Legend Story Studios’ has shown their dedication and support for all types of players that hold up against their mission and principles. To me, it’s obvious that this game has plenty of years to come. I hope that we could all share some exciting moments on the journey and welcome the launch with open arms.

It would also be great to hear any stories that some of you might have from establishing or joining your local ‘Flesh and Blood’ community! Please feel free to reach out to me on any of my social channels if that happens to be the case and you’re willing to share :)

Thanks again, Cheers!

@markovictory