Casual Play Spotlight - Rad Lad Games

13th Jun 2023

We caught up with Illinois-based local game store Rad Lad Games to chat about Ultimate Pit Fight, the fan-made format Chaff Goblin, and the casual play scene. Here's what they had to say...

rad lad games

Tell us a little bit about your store and your community.

We are located in the heart of our town in Mahomet, Illinois (United States). We opened up in August of 2021, and were very fortunate to get the location we reside in now. We do most things gaming - TCGs, RPGs, Board Games, Miniatures, Wargaming, paints, and more.

Being in a smaller town (about 10,000 people), we try to keep events going on as often as possible, as smaller communities like ours typically lack a lot of local entertainment. As a result we have folks in the shop every night for one game or another - including of course, Flesh and Blood. Our FAB community is truly amazing - we had a player who fell in love with the game when we started carrying it, and they spent months banging the drum for FAB to get new people involved.

One day, seemingly out of nowhere, we had a casual FAB night and had 10 people there (before that we'd had 4 or 5), and we knew we needed to get things moving to help this community grow. We contacted our distributor and LSS about becoming an Armory location - and the rest from there has been...pretty darn amazing.

We have a large group of local high schoolers that play, along with some adults who travel in from out of town pretty consistently. The coolest thing is just seeing how much fun they all have, more than the communities of some other games we host. This group has become extremely close and are never snippy or upset with one another - just constantly wanting to learn and become better. It is a privilege to get to watch.

How often do you run casual play events?

We run casual events like Ultimate Pit Fight usually once a month. Sometimes due to scheduling conflicts, when we know we'll only have maybe 5 folks for the event, we'll pivot to a UPF - because it's just such an easy and fun event to put together, and they all love it. Still has some competition to it, but the diplomacy involved, and the hilarity of some stuff players will do really makes it a top notch event to host.

What made you decide to start running these casual events?

I was familiar with the game but wanted to figure out some new fun and interesting ways to play. We are a casual-first store - in the end, we are here to have fun playing games with friends, which can include some cool competitive events, going to big events, etc...but not always.

One of the biggest attractions of casual events is the leveling of competition. Draft has always been my favorite format in multiple TCGs, because it is such a good talent/investment leveler (so Tommy with the precon isn't constantly facing Jerry with the $3000 meta deck). But even draft can start to tip the scales towards folks with more experience. And being that we had so many new players, and were trying to get more new players (perhaps even those new to TCGs in general), going even more casual with our events was the best way to keep them having fun.

In Chaff Goblin (a fan-made format where players use a random pile of bulk cards as their deck), the level of randomness that you end up with can result in a lot of laughter, because its essentially people "making lemonade" with nothing but some tree bark and two raspberries. Quite difficult, but amazing when they nail it.

Ultimate Pit Fight is also a great experience leveler, because being "overpowered" at a table with five people draws a lot of unwanted attention. So while you may have a better deck and be more experienced - the playing field gets leveled as other players compromise and work together to take down the greatest threats.

rad lad games upf

How have players responded to casual play?

They have been engaging quite a bit in both casual and competitive play. As time goes on they have gotten more comfortable with the game, done more research, and tried out other decks. They've begun to feel more comfortable with formats like Classic Constructed and Blitz. But the players, having formed such a great community, have actually requested more beginner-firendly events to pave the way for more newbies and friends to join.

We currently have a policy at the store of giving out one free Blitz precon to new players, which has gone a long way towards folks giving the game a try. Recently we hosted a "Beginners Event" and gave out four Blitz precons to new folks who came to play. They really seemed to enjoy themselves and picked up the game fairly quickly, so we are hoping to have even more players doing the same in the near future.

What are some of your favourite moments in Ultimate Pit Fight and Chaff Goblin?

One of my players said: "Valda is literally the most fun I have had playing FAB so far, it made a minigame of collecting Seismic Surge tokens (I got 15 at one point), then I was given a Quicken token by Coax a Commotion and was able to Pulverize for 14, followed by Thunder Quake for 10."

Another player said: "That one UPF where I sacrificed myself to keep the weakest player alive for another turn as a joke. Easily worth it, and it was really funny."

Personally, I love Chaff Goblin. One time we crudely made up drawn proxies for the Goblin and the Stick. And the next time we ran Chaff Goblin one of our players showed up with a dozen high quality homemade proxies for both the Goblin and the Stick! It was extremely kind.

Are there any other casual play formats (such as Commoner, Team Limited, or Blitz Preconstructed) that you'd like to try out?

A couple of players said they would be very interested in trying Commoner, but most of the feedback I received was about something PVE-style, or team-based events, as both a change of pace and for helping newer players feel more comfortable when starting the game. One player mentioned an unusual fan-made format called "Arena", involving each player piloting 2 heroes with a 60 card deck. We are also currently running a History Pack 1 Blitz Preconstructed Progression League (each player gets three History Pack 1 boosters to add to their card pool each week), which was a request from some of the players in order to welcome new faces and also keep things interesting every week for the experienced players.

rad lad upf 2

How can players and stores get involved in casual play?

For players who want to get involved in casual play - it's as easy as asking other players and/or your LGS if they want to try some casual formats. Not everyone will be instantly on board, but you'll be surprised how many folks will make their way out of the woodwork to play a more casual format.

I think other stores would be surprised at how many want to play for fun rather than competition. Casual play is the easiest way to get folks involved - less stress learning the game, higher likelihood new players will want to keep playing afterwards, and a more light-hearted social environment. Running a casual event that is free but still has prizes is a great way to get new folks at the table. Once they give it a try, they will be absolutely hooked and excited to come back!