3 Years in the Flesh and Blood

11th Oct 2022

On October 11th, 2019, Welcome to Rathe released in stores across the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Published by an independent studio from Auckland, New Zealand, it was distributed direct from the studio to local game stores, with a team that, at the time, consisted of just seven employees. It wasn't until the following year that Flesh and Blood would begin to gain traction, and many of the players who are now familiar with Runeblades like Viserai and Briar weren't present for the days when arcane damage had yet to be announced.

Bravo Sketches

Flesh and Blood began development seven years before its official release, well before the studio was officially founded or the game had a name. In December 2018, when the game was officially announced for the first time, Legend Story Studios was a team of six operating out of a studio apartment, writing Christmas cards by hand to send out the very first Flesh and Blood cards that anyone outside the studio would see. Some eagle-eyed players have seen a set of promos released as part of a pre-launch campaign, which included the Ironrot equipment set from Welcome to Rathe. These were sent out to anyone who signed up for a mailing list for a tiny website called Slingshot Underground, which hosted a five-part comic we used to announce Flesh and Blood. It was drawn in-studio by MJ, the same artist who created the logo, card backs, and card design elements you now see for Flesh and Blood.

Slingshot Underground Packages

When the final part of the comic was released, we launched the very first iteration of the Flesh and Blood website. At the time, it featured several pieces of key artwork from Welcome to Rathe, and a grand total of three articles - two discussing why we weren't making a digital game, and a third which hinted at how the game's resource system would work. It wouldn't be until the preview season for Welcome to Rathe that the pitch system would be officially unveiled.

By mid-2019, we were gearing up for the official release of Flesh and Blood, sending out retailer appreciation kits to local game stores around the world. These included Ira welcome decks, two-player learn-to-play playmats, and a copy of World Guide Vol. 1: Welcome to Rathe, which has since become known to the community as "the lore book".

We released a learn-to-play video, and on August 31st, 120 players gathered for the Ira World Premiere event at a game store in Auckland, with local player Luke Badger claiming the grand prize of $1000 NZD. In our highlights video of the event, you might spot several familiar faces, including several future Champions, competitive players, and LSS team members.

A day of excitement, fun, challenge, and sportsmanship.

You can read the first-ever interview with James White and Robbie Wen on our website discussing the creation of the Ira Welcome Deck, as well as some of our early articles from those first few months introducing the land of Rathe, the concept of heroes in Flesh and Blood, the first look at Welcome to Rathe, and a preview of our World Guide (the lore book).

The Welcome to Rathe preview season began on September 23rd, 2019, consisting of a series of studio-published articles that slowly revealed the mechanics of the game, the heroes, and their classes. At the same time that we were preparing for the set's release, we were also preparing to move the studio, officially moving into our current office at the start of October. Just a week later, we saw Bravo, Dorinthea, Rhinar and Katsu land in stores across New Zealand, Australia and the United States on October 11th, 2019, with our first major event on the way.


Taking place on October 27th, The Calling: Auckland was the first premier event in Flesh and Blood history, with some current competitive players included on the 69-player field. Isaac Olssen drafted Bravo and fought his way through the Top 8 to become our first Calling Champion, narrowly defeating a little-known player by the name of Sasha Markovic in the final match.

Three more Calling events followed, pushing the very beginnings of competitive play in Flesh and Blood with a $10,000 prize pool for each event. The Calling: Sydney was won on November 9th by Hayden Dale, The Calling: New Jersey was won on November 17th by Collin Kaiser, and The Calling: Austin was won on December 8th by Sasha Markovic.

Top 8 photo TCAkl 2020

Just two months later, we saw in the new year with our first competitive event of 2020, where Sasha Markovic took out The Calling $10k Auckland to become our first-ever two-time Calling Champion. It was a bright new year, Arcane Rising was on the horizon, and we were preparing to kick our organized play schedule into high gear, announcing our first Road to Nationals season.

We gave the community an early look at Arcane Rising with a Q&A article, and kickstarted our first proper preview season with content creators, local game stores, and community members around the world. Alpha Investments revealed the first Runeblade hero, Viserai; DMArmada officially revealed the Ranger class with his Death Dealer spoiler, after he unknowingly guessed one of the key mechanics in an earlier video; and DeadSummer Art revealed the Runeblade weapon Nebula Blade in his first preview.

Facebook Cover Image (Desktop / Mobile)

Everything was gearing up for the Arcane Rising prerelease weekend, but the same day that the first events were about to take place, the studio's home country of New Zealand officially went into lockdown, and all of our plans for 2020 changed as the founding principal of our game - playing in the flesh and blood - suddenly wasn't possible.

We launched a page to help players find where they could buy online from local game stores, and boxes of Welcome to Rathe and Arcane Rising were included in Team Covenant's subscription package and Alpha Investment's variety boxes. Players and community groups banded together to play games over webcam, including initiatives like Metrix Daily's FAB Anytime League, and in June 2020, we officially announced Professional Tournament Invitations, a.k.a. PTI's. These were originally designed to circumvent travel disruptions and regional or national lockdowns, and have remained a mainstay of our competitive events ever since.

A few days later, the fast-tracked Play Anywhere system was announced earlier than we'd originally planned, allowing players to get in games at home with the GEM tournament software. We announced the Crucible of War preview season, and gave players a sneak peek at our first supplementary set, including changes to our card rarity system, which had previously included Super Rare cards. Our Q&A about the set went live, kickstarting the beginning of preview season, which included familiar names like DMArmada, Red Zone Rogue, DeadSummer Art, Dice Commando, Team Covenant, Alpha Investments, Session Blood, and Radio Reflex.

Crucible of War was officially released on August 28th, accompanied by the announcement of Welcome to Rathe and Arcane Rising Unlimited. As the player base was beginning to rapidly grow, the Alpha and First Edition boxes that had been widely available for almost a year were suddenly selling out, and Unlimited would allow more people to get their hands on the sets for months to come.


We announced our next main booster set, Monarch, with a special runic cryptograph which was quickly decoded by several eagle-eyed members of our community. We hosted our first National Championships in New Zealand and Taiwan, and as we celebrated our first birthday with a live-streamed in-house Blitzathon event, centered around our newest format, we also celebrated by making three massive announcements.

We announced European and Canadian distribution, bringing Flesh and Blood to new territories for the first time; revealed our brand-new partnership with ChannelFireball; and finished out the month with the debut of Flesh and Blood on TCGplayer.

A new National XP Achievement Program began with the acknowledgment of the first player to reach 1,000 XP, Cayle McCreath, and kickstarted the tradition of awarding a Gold Cold Foil Legendary to the first player to reach 1,000 XP in each country.

2020 was a landmark year for us, and when we wrapped out the year with a holiday message from James White, complete with an illustration of the team and heroes from our in-house concept artist MJ, we had high hopes for organised play in the year to follow.

LSS Team

In the opening months of the year, we hosted the first Calling event of the year, crowning Jacob Pearson as the first Calling Champion of 2021. That week, we also announced the first-ever season of Skirmish events. For most of the world, it was the first in-store event series outside of weekly Armory events, and online Skirmish events meant that players around the world could participate. We quickly saw players racking up XP across the first two seasons, with players like Christian Weißling and Sharif Shaaban accumulating mass amounts of XP in a short amount of time by competing in as many Skirmish events as they could fit into their schedule. With much of the world still experiencing gathering restrictions, Skirmish events became a lifeline for the community to continue gathering, playing and connecting in spite of the distance.

We kickstarted 2021 with a first look at the brand new set, Monarch, which many players were beginning to figure out was going to be the third key piece we'd hinted at when talking about the game. Where Welcome to Rathe introduced the base mechanics, and Arcane Rising introduced arcane damage, Monarch was about to unleash something which would fundamentally change how the game was played: Talents. On April 13th, the preview season began earnest with the official reveal of the talent mechanic, beginning conversations about how it would affect deckbuilding and card pools.

Our preview season for Monarch was the biggest to date, starting with the reveal of Doomsday with Star City Games and Eclipse with ChannelFireball; theRadBrad unveiled Levia on-stream, LSV revealed Chane, and Blasmophet and Ursur debuted as the first revealed allies in the game. The Light saw Steve Aoki unbox Ser Boltyn, while Prism leapt off the page with Alpha Investments, revealing the Illusionist class for the first time. We rounded out the season by revealing our brand new mentors: Minerva Themis and Lady Barthimont debuted with Noxious, Lord Sutcliffe had his tale told by DeadSummer Art, and the Professor joined us to round out the season with the Librarian.

Matt Rogers with James White

The Calling: Auckland in June (the second of 2021) ushered Matt Rogers' name into the spotlight for the second time, after his previous success as the 2020 New Zealand National Champion. The final against Kiki Labad saw a Shadow showdown between Levia and Chane, with Matt's win with Chane kickstarting the Monarch competitive metagame just in time for the announcement of four Calling events across the US.

Hosted in partnership with ChannelFireball, the Calling: US season was the first time that major competitive events would make their way to the United States since the Calling: Austin in December 2019. With the news that the season would begin with the World Premiere of Tales of Aria, and culminate in the United States National Championships, these four events set the stage for the second half of 2021.

As the competitive scene heated up with the 2021 Road to Nationals season, we also announced that Flesh and Blood would see distribution in South East Asia, and officially revealed our professional play plans for 2022 with the $1M Pro Play 2022 competitive program.

With our community growing larger by the day, we unveiled our first content creator appreciation kits, and celebrated the milestone of our 2000th local game store just in time for the Tales of Aria preview season. The Elemental heroes Briar, Lexi, and Oldhim debuted at the Calling: Las Vegas, where over a thousand players turned out over the weekend to mark our largest event to date, and Tyler Horspool was crowned our first US Calling Champion in two years.

Screenshot 2021-11-10 095751.png

Beginning what would eventually become our SCGCON Battle Hardened series, we announced a new partnership with SCGCON just in time for their return to the United States.

Nam Vo won the Calling: Dallas Fort-Worth, Michael Feng won beat Tariq Patel to win the Calling: Cincinnati, and as Michael Hamilton won the final Calling event in Orlando, Tariq reprised his finals loss to Michael Feng to seize the title of 2021 United States National Champion. The 2021 National Championship season saw a grand total of 24 National Champions crowned, but it took several months for the final events of the season to wrap up in Australia and New Zealand. A Calling event was announced for Utrecht, postponed, and ultimately canceled due to gathering restrictions, and the LSS team spent our second birthday celebrating at home.

The year finished with a return to the past, as we prepared to say goodbye to our first-ever set with Farewell Welcome to Rathe events. Putting a bow on the dawn of a new era in Flesh and Blood, we finished the year on a special message from James White, with a surprise card reveal and story as a holiday gift to the community, announcing our next set: Everfest.


In a twist of fate, we began the new year with something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. The postponed Australia and New Zealand National Championships unofficially launched the new season in competitive play, right as the Everfest preview season started 2022 with a carnival-style celebration, a young Iyslander made her first appearance, and Bravo made his grand return to the stage as the Star of the Show.

"Starvo's" debut came right on the cusp of our Farewell Welcome to Rathe events, revitalizing the Guardian and beginning a new debate: what to call the new version of Bravo. Starvo quickly became the reigning nickname through the preview season, a moniker that stuck for the competitive events to come.

The new year brought new events, with Battle Hardened events making way for a new and improved ProQuest series. ProQuest Season 1 set the stage for the year, promising a direct pathway to our first Tier 4 competitive event.

Pro Tour Champion Pablo Pintor

The year in competitive play is almost too big to wrap your head around: over 600 Skirmish events, 500 ProQuest events, 160 Road to Nationals tournaments, 39 National Championships, 25 Battle Hardeneds, 9 Callings, 3 World Premieres, and 2 Pro Tours.

We've crowned winners all around the world, including our first Pro Tour Champion, Pablo Pintor, and changed the way we do event coverage, beginning to bring on official guest writers to analyze the metagame and discuss developments in competitive play.

Prism bg.jpg

As the year progressed, we began to bring writers on for other projects like deckbuilding discussions and community spotlights and partnered with content creators to create videos and feature heroes in different ways.

We saw our first hero reach Living Legend status, farewelling Bravo, Star of the Show; Chane, Bound by Shadow; Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light; and Viserai from Classic Constructed and Blitz events, honoring the players who helped them ascend to the halls of Living Legends.

We announced History Pack 1 in multiple languages, ushered in a new era of FAB with the release of Uprising, including three simultaneous World Premiere events in Las Vegas, Madrid and Sydney, and released officially partnered sleeves with Dragon Shield.

The Emperor's debut at Pro Tour: Lille officially unveiled our next supplemental set, Dynasty, and the existence of our first dual-class hero. In the last few days, letters have begun arriving in the hands of content creators the world over, heralding the upcoming preview season which will culminate in our first World Championship.

We are thrilled to be able to share this monumental milestone with the community, crowning the first Flesh and Blood World Champion, a milestone that we've been working towards from the first event in Auckland three years ago.

LSS Team Photo 2022

To the people who formed a community when all they had to go on was a logo and a promise; to the players who cracked Ira welcome decks and learned to play in local game stores around the world; to the content creators and talented individuals who have made videos, blog posts, podcast episodes, artwork, stories, memes, cards, and songs. To our cosplayers who slaved over sewing needles, paintbrushes and hot glue guns.

To the players who came to weekly Armorys and Skirmish events, to those who competed at Battle Hardeneds, National Championships, Callings, and Pro Tours; to those who supported their fellow players and cheered alongside them when they won - or lost. To all the players around the world who took it upon themselves to make budget Blitz decks and distribute them for free, just for the love of the game.

To the store owners, LGS staff, tournament organizers, and judges who helped host events and build local communities, whether you joined us at the beginning when we were distributing Ira Welcome Decks and Retailer Appreciation Kits out of our offices in New Zealand, or whether you came on board in time for the latest Armory kit release.

To everyone who has supported this game so passionately, and helped build a global community that brings people together in the flesh and blood: you are the spirit of this game, and you embody the very principles that the studio was founded on. Thank you for joining us on this journey over the last three years, whether you first picked up a deck for the release of Welcome to Rathe in October 2019, or whether you're joining us just in time for the release of Dynasty. We hope that you enjoy the final months of the year, and all of the surprises that we have yet to unveil. We can't wait to share more with you in 2023.

2019-2020 Champions

Name Hero Event Date
Isaac Olssen Bravo Calling: Auckland October 2019
Hayden Dale Rhinar Calling: Sydney November 2019
Collin Kaiser Bravo Calling: New Jersey November 2019
Sasha Markovic Bravo Calling: Austin December 2019
Sasha Markovic Katsu, the Wanderer Calling $10k Auckland February 2020
Matt Rogers Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire New Zealand National Championship September 2020
Chen Wei Li Dorinthea Ironsong Taiwan National Championship October 2020

2021 Champions

Name Hero Event Date
Jacob Pearson Ira, Crimson Haze Calling $10k Auckland February 2021
Matt Rogers Chane Calling: Auckland 2021 June 2021
Tyler Horspool Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light Calling: Las Vegas September 2021
Nam Vo Oldhim Calling: Dallas Fort-Worth October 2021
Michael Feng Oldhim Calling: Cincinnati October 2021
Michael Hamilton Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Calling: Orlando November 2021
Hayden Dale Viserai, Rune Blood Australia National Championship January 2022
Immanuel Gerschenson Briar, Warden of Thorns Austria National Championship November 2021
Kevin Lerens Briar, Warden of Thorns Belgium National Championship November 2021
Vasil Popov Bravo, Showstopper Bulgaria National Championship November 2021
Yuki Lee Bender Lexi, Livewire Canada National Championship November 2021
Jonas Benzarti Briar, Warden of Thorns Denmark National Championship November 2021
Mikael Teittinen Katsu, the Wanderer Finland National Championship November 2021
Christian Franco Briar, Warden of Thorns France National Championship November 2021
Christian Hauck Briar, Warden of Thorns Germany National Championship November 2021
Yorgos Samaras Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Greece National Championship November 2021
Bun Ar Chane, Bound by Shadow Hong Kong National Championship November 2021
Pietro Gerletti Kano, Dracai of Aether Italy National Championship November 2021
Lee Derk Hua Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire Malaysia National Championship November 2021
Philip van Donselaar Briar, Warden of Thorns Netherlands National Championship November 2021
Nicholas Holding Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light New Zealand National Championship January 2022
Oscar Kruse Dorinthea Ironsong Norway National Championship November 2021
Łukasz Cichecki Briar, Warden of Thorns Poland National Championship November 2021
Filipe Camacho Briar, Warden of Thorns Portugal National Championship November 2021
Jorge Moreno Ser Boltyn, Breaker of Dawn Spain National Championship November 2021
Christofer Lindholm Briar, Warden of Thorns Sweden National Championship November 2021
Pascal Weiler Bravo, Showstopper Switzerland National Championship November 2021
Limbo _CFP Briar, Warden of Thorns Taiwan National Championship November 2021
Matthew Foulkes Briar, Warden of Thorns UK National Championship October 2021
Tariq Patel Briar, Warden of Thorns US National Championship November 2021

2022 Champions

Name Hero Event Date
Pablo Pintor Chane, Bound by Shadow Pro Tour: New Jersey Champion May 2022
Matthew Foulkes Briar, Warden of Thorns Pro Tour: Lille Champion August 2022
Michael Hamilton Bravo, Star of the Show Calling: Indianapolis March 2022
Yuanji Li Viserai Calling: Krakow April 2022
Sheng-Xun Luo Bravo, Star of the Show Calling: Taiwan April 2022
Mateusz Sass Bravo, Star of the Show Calling: New Jersey May 2022
Matthew Vore
Alexander Vore
Jonah Overholt
Team Blitz Calling: Las Vegas June 2022
Pablo Pintor
Sergio Sanz
Daniel Correas
Kassai, Cintari Sellsword
Team Blitz Calling: Madrid June 2022
CJ Quitazol
Jason Lai
Jacob Pearson
Team Blitz Calling: Sydney June 2022
Sander Neeft Fai, Rising Rebellion Calling: Utrecht July 2022
Jason Zhang Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire Calling: Singapore August 2022
Joris Verhelst Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light Calling: Lille August 2022
Collin Kaiser Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Calling: Charlotte September 2022
Nick Butcher Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Australia National Championship September 2022
Long Dao Briar, Warden of Thorns Austria National Championship September 2022
Glenn Van Roey Briar, Warden of Thorns Belgium National Championship September 2022
Plamen Marekov Bravo, Showstopper Bulgaria National Championship September 2022
Tariq Patel Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Canada National Championship September 2022
Kristian Čurla Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Croatia National Championship September 2022
Zdeněk Matura Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire Czechia National Championship September 2022
Danni Andersen Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Denmark National Championship September 2022
Mikko Airaksinen Iyslander, Stormbind Finland National Championship September 2022
Mohamed El Fardi Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity France National Championship September 2022
Christopher Bizau Iyslander, Stormbind Germany National Championship October 2022
George Melissakis Iyslander, Stormbind Greece National Championship September 2022
Pudding Tam Briar, Warden of Thorns Hong Kong National Championship September 2022
Domonkos Ács Briar, Warden of Thorns Hungary National Championship September 2022
Junio Antono Viserai, Rune Blood Indonesia National Championship September 2022
Ryan Porter Viserai, Rune Blood Ireland National Championship September 2022
Stefano Cocca Briar, Warden of Thorns Italy National Championship September 2022
Darvydas Čepukaitis Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Lithuania National Championship September 2022
Nitya Kalaichelvan Rhinar, Reckless Rampage Malaysia National Championship September 2022
Donovan van Beek Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Netherlands National Championship September 2022
Matt Rogers Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity New Zealand National Championship September 2022
Adrian Fjell Dromai, Ash Artist Norway National Championship September 2022
Richard Anthony Bustamante Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Philippines National Championship September 2022
Bartosz Ziemba Briar, Warden of Thorns Poland National Championship September 2022
Mário Abrantes Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Portugal National Championship September 2022
Onica Lucian Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire Romania National Championship September 2022
Gordon Koh Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Singapore National Championship October 2022
Viliam Kubik Viserai, Rune Blood Slovakia National Championship September 2022
Jan Ban Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity Slovenia National Championship September 2022
Max Dieckmann Viserai, Rune Blood Spain National Championship September 2022
Niklas Bengtsson Briar, Warden of Thorns Sweden National Championship September 2022
Sebastian Spicher Iyslander, Stormbind Switzerland National Championship September 2022
Lee Ming-Han Lexi, Livewire Taiwan National Championship September 2022
Wiroon Juesathainrat Fai, Rising Rebellion Thailand National Championship September 2022
George Rodger Fai, Rising Rebellion United Kingdom National Championship September 2022
Michael Hamilton Iyslander, Stormbind United States National Championship September 2022
Quang Duong Dorinthea Vietnam National Championship September 2022
??? ??? FAB World Championship November 2022
??? ??? Calling: San Jose November 2022