By reputation alone, Trading Card Games (TCG) are an intense hobby that requires time and money, and friends to play with, but not all decks are built the same way, and some, like Flesh and Blood, can be played on the cheap.
Before you scoff at the notion, we recognise that TCGs are one of those rare breeds of collectibles that fans pick up, and will continually do so as they build that perfect deck, and continuously spend on booster packs, just to land that rare or hard-to-find card that can transform their deck into a winning hand.
And once you get into the well-established TCGs including Magic: The Gathering or Pokémon, you’re talking about a library of cards, rules and players who have been at it for decades.
Flesh and Blood from New Zealand company Legend Story Studios, which came out in 2019, prioritizes in-person play (in flesh and blood, so to speak). It’s basically a card game in the vein of Magic: The Gathering but instead of playing lands for mana and casting spells that replenish every turn, Flesh and Blood has players taking actions purely from a limited card hand they have drawn. While there are plenty of similarities with other established card games, Flesh and Blood does feel fresh enough to stand on its own amongst the crowded TCG landscape.
With battles mostly played on 1 versus 1, players control a unique hero with their own set of abilities and card pool. The game feels closer to a deck-building roguelike where players are encouraged to maximize actions as much as possible to get the most value out of their cards each turn. Each deck is built around one specific hero and with around 30 (as of early 2023) it can get confusing who to start with.
While it might be tempting and logical to first pick up the fully kitted-out Flesh and Blood Classic Battles Rhinar VS Dorinthea (US$50) box set, we would recommend that players avoid it at the beginning of their journey. Though it might be marketed as a “starter set” of sorts, the value within can be rather questionable, especially since players might not eventually play the individual heroes – Rhinar and Dorinthea – in the long run. Remember, there are many more in the pool, each offering a unique playstyle.
Alternatively, players could start by picking up an individual hero deck that is self-contained. Starting from around US$15, a starter Flesh and Blood hero preconstructed deck comes in a form of a “Blitz” deck per player specific to a hero. These decks are not optimized but it gets anyone started within the hour. “Blitz” is a specific format played in Flesh and Blood, but we’ll explain that in detail later on.
These “Blitz” decks can then be upgraded from cards from booster boxes which start from US$65 and upwards. However, the first thing we want to figure out for anyone is to understand which Flesh and Blood hero to start off with first.
Like many fantasy games, heroes fall into a few archetypes. Like playing as a spell caster and disrupting play? There are Wizard heroes available as well. Feel like dealing big amounts of damage per turn? Guardian and Brute heroes are your go-to. Or maybe, you feel like defeating an enemy by a thousand cuts? Ninja heroes might be the favored playstyle.
Thankfully, we have a few affordable ways to suggest how one can get started without having to break the bank. The best part of it all, players can get started on Flesh and Blood for free, by going online, without spending a single dime. For now.
Felt Table – Flesh and Blood AI Resource
Felt Table is the first stop for anyone who is looking to learn how to play Flesh and Blood. While it has all key “Blitz” decks represented for anyone to try things out for free, the UI can be unintuitive and hostile to new players.
Being unable to roll back and undo actions makes learning the game more punishing than it should be, especially for anyone new to the game.
It’s the only site with an AI where players can compete against and hosts a semi-decent tutorial.
This should be a player’s first stop when learning Flesh and Blood cheapest before exploring deeper into the game.
Talishar – Flesh and Blood Playtest Resource
Talishar is amazing when it comes to understanding Flesh and Blood to an even greater depth.
But without an AI opponent or decks available on the fan-developed platform from the start, makes for a daunting learning curve to navigate the website.
New players will need to drop by a deck builder site like FaBrary to assemble or play with an existing preconstructed deck for their preferred hero.
Despite the hoops needed to get started, Talishar will soon become one of the most visited sites to understand Flesh and Blood on the cheap.
Like Felt Table, Talishar is free to use and it has a much more forgiving UI and proper triggers to help new players understand how to play the game step by step.
Visiting Your Local Game Store
Visiting a local game store is by far one of the most intimidating experiences for any new player. Unless one already has friends in the community, it’s tricky to navigate the space.
But it’s one of the best ways to learn the game and get started especially if there’s a veteran who will guide you along.
Over on the official Flesh and Blood website is a handy listing that’s happening in your area.
For new players, you should look out for “Commoner” or “Blitz” events to play Flesh and Blood cheaply. In a nutshell, here are what each format offers –
- Commoner: Commoner is a fun, low-barrier entry way to play Flesh and Blood. It’s a great constructed format for social gaming. A typical game of Commoner lasts around 20 minutes.
It’s a format where only common cards are used to give players a taste of how the game is played in a low-powered environment.
Depending on your local game store, the Commoner format often comes with a deck provided by the game store itself. Or, an official beginner deck featuring a ninja hero, Ira, might be available as well.
- Blitz: Blitz is a fun and fast way to play Flesh and Blood. It’s the recommended constructed format for social gaming. A typical game of Blitz lasts 10-15 minutes.
Think of Blitz as the official starter deck that one would grab when starting the game. As seen from Felt Table above, there are plenty of decks available for each hero to demo and see if it suits your playstyle.
The downside of visiting a store would be finding an event. A local game store needs to be actively listing events which seem to be a daunting affair administratively for some stores.
Our recommendation would be to check out if the store has an active social media presence or Discord / Chat group to join to ensure that your visit to the store would be fruitful.
The next thing to note would be the cost of entry. Such events are often paid events with some of the entry fee offset with a ‘free’ deck or booster packs.
If you’re still confused, here’s a step-by-step summary of how to get started in Flesh and Blood to see if it’s the right game for you:
- Watch a YouTube tutorial to understand the sequence of the game. Our favorite is from Pleasant Kenobi.
- Visit Felt Table and play a few games (or 100) and get a sense of how punishing the game and AI can be.
- Google local card stores near you. Drop them a message and see if they are running any newbie events. Bonus points if there’s a learn-to-play session as well.
- Hop into Talishar and test out a few more builds of your favorite hero before taking the plunge.
Now that you’ve made it this far, the next thing to figure out would be how much it would cost to assemble a deck of your favorite hero together. Once you’ve decided to take the plunge into Flesh and Blood, one of the cheapest ways to play the game is to buy single cards for the hero but that’s an article for another day.
Gerald currently straddles between his love of video games and board gaming. There’s nothing that interests him more than trying out the newest and fanciest gadget in town as well. He dreams of publishing a board game sometime in the future!