A Journey into Flesh and Blood

On October 7th, the Battle Hardened Tour, a competitive circuit for the Flesh and Blood TCG, makes a stop in Toulouse, my hometown. Legend Story Studios, Fab’s publishers, got in touch with me to put me on the saddle, learn the game, and promote it to the Magic community.

Since I’m looking for a new challenge, I accepted and got myself a personal coach to teach me the game and get me ready for the tournament!

In this post – updated regularly-, I’ll tell the story of how my journey into this new game goes, as well as share the videos of the tutorials and first games featuring Pierre Canali.

1- Learning the game

Flesh and Blood is quite a deep game with wide set of rules. Before we dive into gameplay, strategies and metagaming, we have to learn how to play.

Pierre Canali, FaB afficionado and MTG PT Colombus ’05 champion will be our tutor for the game. If you want to tag along and discover the game, thes videos are made for you.

2- First Games

At the time I’m writing these lines, the Classic format has 17 playable characters (main heroes) you can choose from, and at least as many strategies to learn. Each deck has its own intrincacies and requires quite a lot of reps to understand. To that, add the fact that you have to learn what the other characters do in order to be prepared for a tournament.

I don’t quite have the luxury to explore each and every single matchup, but the least I can do is try to master ONE deck. The deck I chose to play is Lexi, Liverwire. It’s widely considered one -if not THE- best deck around. Lexi is also expected to become a Living Legend, meaning that she’ll soon join the pantheon of the game and won’t be playable as she currently is. In other words, she’ll soon be banned because she’s too dominating!

In the following video, you’ll see me try to understand how my deck works. I had already played a of pair of games (to not have to read my cards).


Class: Ranger
Hero: Lexi, Livewire
Weapons: Voltaire, Strike Twice
Equipment: Fyendal’s Spring Tunic, Hornet’s Sting, New Horizon, Nullrune Gloves, Perch Grapplers, Quiver of Rustling Leaves, Snapdragon Scalers, Trench of Sunken Treasure

(2) Arctic Incarceration (red)
(3) Bolt’n’ Shot (red)
(3) Down and Dirty (red)
(3) Drill Shot (red)
(3) Endless Arrow (red)
(3) Falcon Wing (red)
(2) Frailty Trap (red)
(2) Hamstring Shot (red)
(3) Heat Seeker (red)
(2) Ice Quake (red)
(3) Infecting Shot (red)
(2) Lace with Frailty (red)
(3) Premeditate (red)
(3) Searing Shot (red)
(2) Sleep Dart (red)
(3) Three of a Kind (red)
(3) Bolt’n’ Shot (yellow)
(3) Codex of Frailty (yellow)
(2) Codex of Inertia (yellow)
(3) Rain Razors (yellow)
(2) Winter’s Bite (yellow)
(3) Bolt’n’ Shot (blue)
(1) Hamstring Shot (blue)
(3) Infecting Shot (blue)
(3) Searing Shot (blue)
(3) Sleep Dart (blue)
(3) Winter’s Bite (blue)

This is Pouzee’s list. Pouzee is a player from Montpellier (south of France) and he agreed to help me prepare for the tournament. If you already know Flesh and Blood a bit, you’ll notice how poorly I played the above game. While I would beat myself up had it been a Magic game, I don’t feel too bad about that one just yet!

Pouzee and I took some time to review my game and go over the mistakes I made: bad sequencing, bad reading, poor overall strategy. It does sound horrible, but there’s no better way to understand a game, improve your skills than to make the mistakes first hand and have someone point them out for you.

At the end of my game session, I felt clueless. I had lost my game, not knowing if I stood a chance or if I completely blew it. Turns out, a better, more experienced player would probably have won with… better sequencing, planning and reading. And it’s only with more reps and advice from better players that I’ll be able to improve.

3- My first Tournament

Leading up to the Battle Hardened in Toulouse, I wanted to get some more serious preparation in and did a few reps on Talishar. I got to play against a bunch of decks I had never seen before, and unfortunately, only won one game in the process. But it’s a good thing, it forces you to understand that you aren’t doing things right just yet, so that was overall pretty instructive. I saw a wide variety of new cards and strategies and while I hadn’t faced all the decks yet, I felt a little more confident in my ability to play.

So I decided to attend an Armory, the equivalent of a FaB FNM, at the LGS (Relic) to test my newly acquired skills. Here’s my Twitter thread about it:

It’s not a World Title but I’m satisfied with my performance. My turns still take forever, and if it wasn’t for friendly opponents, I believe time would have cut our matches short. I lost my round 2 to what I believe, a mistake I made, mostly because I ignored a card’s effect. You kinda have to set priorities when it comes to remembering everything that’s going on on a board with 10+ cards with 10 lines of text each!

Basically, I planned two turns ahead, thinking I would “go off” with Bolt ‘n Shot, not realizing my opponent’s Spectra (‘enchantment’) would nullify its Go Again ability (-1 to an attack). So my whole idea crumbled (I lost my turn basically), I thought I would have lethal (if not that turn, put me in an incredible spot), but I didn’t. I should have destroyed that Spectra on the previous turn. Good Lesson though!

Two wins when I didn’t expect to win any is encouraging. I have yet to see some of the decks, but I feel much better slinging Lexi cards, sequencing, blocking… We’ll see how that goes at the BH!

4- Battle Hardened Toulouse

With less than 20 games in total (and about 6 games IRL), I sleeved up for a 120-ish-player tournament. I was fortunate enough to get all the cards from Paul “SneakyBelette”, a FaB player from Toulouse, so at least that was something I didn’t have to worry about.

Here’s my Twitter thread about the tournament:

Even though I didn’t do as well as I hoped, I learnt something every match. Some mistakes I made were totally on me due to my inexperience, some were… kinda unavoidable. For a noob like me, getting to integrate everything on board and trying to plan everything that’s going to happen from an unknown metagame is borderline impossible:

I got to play against Teklovossen, a hero that literally JUST came out. Turn out, I needed to figure out an old metagame, and an upcoming one (wasn’t even aware that it was a thing!)

In the rebound event, I faced Rhinar, a kind of forgotten hero Pouzee didn’t even write about in his matchup/sideboard guide! The matchup was so good, that I could handle that one on my own.

Here are a few examples of the game mistakes I made:

-In my first match against Azalea (a pretty miserable matchup, or so I was told), on quite a critical turn (I was almost dead on board, but could maaaaybe get out of it), I launched quite a big attack and finished with Bolt ‘n Shot that hit. I proceeded to play Arctic Incarceration. Turn out, I thought Bolt ‘n Shot could have reloaded it, and I could have used Lexi to reveal Arctic Incarceration and give my opponent an extra Frostbite. But that situation never came up before (and no one reminded me), and since Voltaire only reloads arrows, I thought Bolt ‘n Shot would only reload arrows. It can put any card in the Arsenal….

-In my last round of the rebound event, I faced Katsu, a hero that I had beaten in the Armory on the previous Thursday, so I had an idea of how it was supposed to go.

On the play, my hand is quite aggressive, and I feel I have a strong start. So I unload my hand, to finish with a Heat Seeker pumped with an Ice Quake (attack for 8). My opponent has 2 cards in hand, so I’m feeling confident my attack is going to hit, that they’re going to be stuck with a Frost Bite on their first turn, and that I’ll get to put a card in my Arsenal. Little did I know that they had played a Flick Flack that would give them an extra 2 in defense, allowing them to fully block my attack (should have paid attention and read ALL the cards…). I ended up wasting my turn, not putting anything in my Arsenal. They followed up with an insane turn (for 22 damage or something with a million combo cards) that I never recovered from.

These above mistakes could have been avoided, some of my plays could have definitely been optimized, and that’s what this game is all about, optimizing your every move, getting small edges every turn. They end up stacking up and determining who wins eventually.

Great experience overall. Although I do feel I could have done better (that’s the competitive Magic player in me talking), and that part is both frustrating and motivating.

The room for improvement is huge and I can see how great players can get around most of the situations and turn around bad matchups.

5- What I think about the Game

With all the hype around Flesh and Blood, I had no doubt the game was good, but I had to see it first hand to get my own opinion.

Diving into it two or so years after the initial release doesn’t mke it easy, especially if you aspire to be great, but I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. With the character I played (Lexi) becoming a Living Legend, I will have to pick up a new one. This time maybe, I’ll get behind the deckbuilding, to understand what each card is for, make my own strategy, not copy but design my own patterns. I’m kinda looking forward to that.

The game is deep and the design space seems endless. I like how each character is using its own mechanics, without breaking the rules too much. Some matchups are better than others, but most heroes can interact with each other.

I enjoy the way the characters use their weapons and attacks, they all make sense. You can read an ability, and while you won’t know right away what it does, you’ll understand what it stands for. A combo attack from a Ninja will have an extra effect with another combo card. An aim counter on an arrow will increase its efficency. Not like equiping a Wolf with a Sword in our beloved game…. It does add a nice touch to the world building.

With more games in and more experience (basically when I have caught up with the game up to now!), I’m sure I can go toe to toe against the best, but it will take a bit more than a pair of weeks!