For the Love of the Game...

For the Love of the Game...

Written by Kugane 

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There are many reasons to play Flesh and Blood; for one, it is a fantastic game with beautiful art, and secondly, it is relatively balanced in contrast to some of the other TCGs out there! However, FAB does have a dark side because its focus is primarily on competitive gameplay. You may wonder, ‘What is wrong with that?’ At its core some healthy competition is suitable for everyone. However, due to the complexity of FAB on top of the top-heavy prizes at significant events, it has reached a point where it takes quite a bit of practice to master decks enough to consider yourself a top player. On top of that, FAB lacks a proper casual format, so beginner or veteran, you are almost forced to play competitively. There are formats like Commoner and Ultimate Pit Fighter that suffer from this less, but with all significant events being either CC, Blitz, or Draft, it is easy to be funneled into a specific direction.

Ancestral Empowerment

Ancestral Empowerment art by Alexander Mokhov.

The Dark Side of Competition.

I see a lot of posts on social media, and among people I coach, many want to become professional players. What saddens me is that some individuals are tying their self-worth and personal happiness to their performance in the game. I am here to tell you that you must try hard not to get caught up in that! Many studies link overachieving mentality, competition, and performance pressure to mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, burn-outs, etc. If you go to Pubmed, you can find literally hundreds of articles on these topics, many from well-known psychologists, neurologists and biochemists in the field. The conclusion is quite simple, competition is good, but don’t let it take hold of you. It simply is a highly toxic and unhealthy habit to care too much about winning. I also think almost every single one of us started this game because we wanted to have fun and it is good to have goals; just make sure to set realistic ones. For example, it is okay to aim to win half of your games, don’t just tunnel vision onto that top 8. It sets yourself up for disappointment.


Briar art by Othin Nikolaidis.

Play the deck you love.

The number ONE question I get from Patrons and in coaching sessions: “What is the best deck to play right now?” I’ll always answer that question truthfully, right now? Probably Oldhim. It is easy to get caught up in what’s the hottest and latest top-tier deck in FAB. It is a fact, however, that people that constantly jump from deck to deck to keep winning tend to end up underperforming. Why? It is confusing for your competitive flow to keep switching decks. On top of that, are you enjoying the deck you are playing doing so? Sometimes it is better to forfeit some of your competitive edge in favor of a deck you like. If the things you like perfectly align with the current top deck? Good. But don’t force yourself to play something you don’t want to.

I got caught up in this whirlwind of wanting to overperform, partially because of social pressure from people that follow my content. As a result, I coached, tested, and practiced all the top-tier decks the past weeks in preparation for nationals. Yet, when it was time to finally decide what the deck would be, I thought, “What am I doing? I don’t like these decks.” So I decided on the spot: I would go have fun at Nationals instead despite what my data and stats said. I put together my Fai deck, failed miserably, but loved every minute of it. Failing wasn’t entirely the deck’s fault; however, part of it was attributed to the fact I went to the nationals with only having two hours’ worth of sleep (the importance of sleep is a topic for a future article!), so I went home, had a good rest and the next day at the Last Chance Qualifier. I decided to run the deck back again, and guess what? I ended up 4th in the event with an underperforming deck in a Briar and Oldhim Meta. Could I have made 1st if I had navigated something else? Maybe. But, this 4th place will stay in my memory for the rest of my life because I did it with a deck I loved.


Iyslander Stormbind, art by Alexander Mokhov.

Numbers mean nothing if luck isn’t on your side.

I often talk about win rates and winning odds of decks, and sure, there are some undeniable benefits of playing a 60% win deck over a 50%  win deck, especially in events with six or more rounds. But even with a 60% deck, you can get unlucky and only win 30% of your games. At the same time, if you don’t make the games you play memorable, you are wasting your most valuable resource: time. Our brains are exciting and complex. Did you ever notice how time seemed to pass so slowly when we were young but going by so fast now that we are older? It is all because now that we are older, most experiences aren’t new or memorable (we all have routines by now), so when we think back on what we did in the past month, year, or a decade, it feels like time just flew by. Yet, people that proactively do things they love and chase new experiences travel to new places tend to experience time differently. Their passage of time is slower, almost like when we were children. Veritasium did a great video on that, and you can find it here:

So when playing FAB, it is vital to keep that in mind. Play your deck, try new things, and travel to Armories in cities you usually don’t visit. Enrich yourself with fresh and exciting memories so when you think back, you’ll feel you’ve lived a very fulfilling time with all the people you met and the friendships you’ve made.

Savage Swing

Savage Swing, art by Yulia Litvinova.

Of course, that doesn’t mean every deck is viable. There are decks out there that are underperforming so heavily in the current meta that even personal skill and passion can’t save it, but for the vast majority of heroes, there is a place. Don’t worry too much about a dead match-up or two, and sure you may fail more than you succeed. Still, I can guarantee you that if you play a deck you love, the victories are all the sweeter, and you’ll be in a better place mentally and physically on top of not losing sight of what makes FAB a great game. So perhaps put down that Oldhim deck, box up that Briar, and give Rhinar or Katsu a whirl in your next Armory or Calling!

Regardless of what your journey will be in FAB, I hope this article was helpful to you and inspires you to try something new and refreshing! If you like my work in the FAB sphere, you can always subscribe to my Youtube channel or join my Patreon, where I cover both competitive and casual deck lists weekly. Either way, thank you for reading, and I hope to see you all again soon, either online or in person!


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