Q&A: Behind the Welcome Deck

3rd Sep 2019 Nicola Price

We unveiled the Ira Welcome Deck at our recent World Premiere event, and many of you were eager to know more. Today we're taking you behind the scenes for a Q & A with the founders of Legend Story Studios about the creation of the Welcome Deck.

Q: What was your approach & intent for creating the Welcome Deck?

James (CEO and Creator of FAB): I’ve been teaching people how to play different trading card games for literally 25 years, and during the course of my career, I’ve taught thousands of people many different trading card games in many different environments, including local game stores, at conventions, in private settings. Drawing on all of these experiences, we channelled that knowledge into crafting the Flesh and Blood first-play experience, which is the Ira welcome deck. We wanted to focus on making onboarding for new players as fast, as simple, and as fun as possible.

Robbie (Creative Director and CTO): Yeah, that was the goal, to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. I feel like with a lot of other card games, when you first start, you're quickly overwhelmed. For us, it was important to distill this down and really fine-tune the experience.

James: We designed Ira as a stand-alone product for this exact purpose - unlike a lot of other games, which take cards from their existing products and put them together, and that’s “good enough.” For us, that’s not good enough. We crafted a specific product for a specific purpose - which is the first-play experience.

Q: Of all possible classes, why did you choose Ninja?

James: It’s about instilling the foundations of Flesh and Blood into a new player, and that requires them understanding how action points work, how resource points work, and how combat works. These are the major building blocks of our game, and the ninja class is the most simplistic and elegant at showing these three primary building blocks. That’s why we chose ninja - I think that ninja’s are also just generally quite fun to play; you get to do a lot in a single turn.

Robbie: I remember... it was quite challenging because we intended for classes in our game to actually play like what they're supposed to be; the play style should reflect what the class is. Like, a ninja is agile, nimble, while a warrior uses their weapons a lot. We really debated which class to use to show people the scope of the game in such a limited space, because there's just so much we wanted to include!

James: Ninja is in this really beautiful position where they can use attack action cards, you get to use your weapon a lot, you get to use attack reactions to buff your attacks, and you get to play with your defense reactions. So you get to play with all of the major card types that exist in Flesh and Blood. Other classes that we could have chosen, they generally don’t have one or more of those card types included in their deck, so Ninja was a solid choice to show people the broad variety of card types they can play with.

Q: What was the most difficult part about designing the Welcome Deck?

James: Keeping it secret. *laughs*

Robbie: It was pretty hard to condense it down to so few cards. But also making it engaging. You only have twelve cards to work with to showcase so many things.

James: Yeah, distilling it down to the most basic fundamental elements of the game so that people are learning those important foundation blocks, but it’s still fun and engaging. I feel like some of the games on the market, they treat the end user as if they’re stupid? Here’s a stack of the most dumbed down cards for you, here’s your training wheels so that you don’t fall off during the game - it’s just a little bit insulting. Actually, gamers are pretty smart people in general, and we wanted to teach players the foundations of Flesh and Blood, while also providing them with an actually, legitimate, great game experience.

Q: What makes the Ira Welcome Deck different to other learn-to-play decks?

Robbie: I think we mentioned this already, but we view the Welcome Deck as an actual product, even though it's non-retail. This mentality we tried to carry through in our work, from the game dev. man-hours spent fine-tuning the Welcome Deck, to the art, to the production value of the final product.

James: It’s also supported by other assets that we made for the Ira first-play experience - simplified rules which we made specifically for Ira, and our animated learn-to-play video. There’s some really great supporting assets for retailers to use, to help players begin their Flesh and Blood adventure. Other products on the marketplace, they have lots of different welcome decks, but you have to read the general rule book. There's no rule set specifically for the welcome deck - whereas with Ira, everything is really cohesive.

Robbie: It’s very important not to overwhelm new players - there are things not in the Ira deck which we debated whether to include, things like equipment, which we ultimately removed from the Welcome Deck because it’s just not as important for a fun first-play experience.

Q: The artwork for Brutal Assault is very different to anything else in the Welcome Deck. Why is that?

Robbie: We really wanted to showcase that there’s more than just ninjas in the world of Flesh and Blood. There’s magical things, as well. There’s more brutal characters and creatures - so hopefully it serves as hint of what is to come. We did want to keep the Welcome Deck cohesive, but where we have "Generic" cards, we can use them to tell stories stories from around world of Rathe.

Q: Is the Ira deck tournament-legal?

James: In Flesh and Blood, cards become tournament-legal when they have been released as part of a retail product. The Ira deck is not considered a retail product. Some cards in the Ira deck will be released in Welcome to Rathe, and those cards are legal. So you can play with the Ira deck version of a card, so long as it’s been released as part of a retail set.

Q: So... can we expect to see cards from the Ira deck in upcoming sets?

James: The Ira deck actually has a high number of unique cards - there's only two that made it into the Welcome to Rathe boosters, and two more that are included in the Welcome to Rathe hero decks. The other eight, they are unique to Ira. They might one day feature in upcoming sets, but for now, they’re only available within the Ira, Crimson Haze welcome deck, which means that they are not tournament-legal at this time.

Q: What about Ira herself, as a hero? Will she feature in a retail product?

Robbie: We designed Ira specifically for this particular experience. Currently... we’re not sure if - maybe if people like her enough then we might consider it. But no, that's not the current plan.