Ira, Crimson Haze.
The one who started it all… Most players had their first Flesh and Blood experience with the Ira Welcome Deck, learning how to pitch, attack, defend, and go again. With her incredibly simple yet deadly ability and her awesome bloodsoaked backstory, Ira was the perfect protagonist (or in some eyes… antagonist).
Ira’s journey throughout the years is much like our own, one of success, failure, evolution, and ultimately, accomplishment. Let’s take a trip down memory lane together as we recount the history of this legendary hero, and how her departure will impact not just Blitz, but the wider world of Rathe.
Back to the Past...
Everyone has to start somewhere. For Flesh and Blood it was on a crisp morning in 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. 120 players showed up to the World Premiere tournament, some having already gone a few rounds with the vengeful Ninja, others completely in the dark about what to expect.
Using the very same Ira Welcome Decks that had taught them the rules, players engaged in battle, swinging the Edge of Autumn, punishing with Scar for Scar, and building up to devastating Flying Kicks. People quickly realised that Flesh and Blood was an easy game to learn, but a hard one to master. Good thing it was so goddamn fun to play over… and over… and over…
Eventually after a hard-fought finals, Luke Badger emerged as champion.
The Birth of Blitz
There were always bound to be a few challenges with making a TCG - the market, the distribution, the completely unexpected global pandemic. But despite everything Flesh and Blood prevailed, and in 2020 the Blitz format was officially released. Ira was finally playable in an official format other than Learn to Play events.
But it was at Legend Story Studio’s one year anniversary Blitz-A-Thon that the true power of Ira was revealed. Until this point Ira had largely been treated as an aggressive hero who played in a similar manner to her Welcome Deck. During the non-stop 8 hour stream, the game developers showcased a new version of Ira - one centered around control, using Flic Flaks to abuse blue combo cards defensively, all while poking with Harmonized Kodachis every turn until the opponent ran out of life or deck.
The Drone Years
News of Ira’s prowess spread like wildfire, and soon she had become the most popular hero in Blitz, followed closely by Kano. By 2021 the Blitz metagame was dominated by the same rhythmic repeat - Kodachi for 1, Kodachi for 2, Attack for 4 or 5. It was at Calling: Auckland where players could finally put their dedication and months of practice to the test.
Not only did Ira dwarf the other heroes in overall representation, she completely consumed the Top 8 in her path of vengeance, locking in every seat except for a single quick-thinking Kano, and a solo brave Dorinthea. Because the mirror match was so prevalent, Ira decks had evolved to run a new tool - Drone of Brutality. When you’re facing a dagger swing for 2 every turn, being able to prevent the damage infinitely without fatiguing was key to success. The sheer value gained from pitching a blue and attacking for 1 then 7 without expending any cards was one of the most powerful things you could do at the time.
After more than 12 grueling rounds, it all came down to a best of three mirror match between Jacob Pearson and Aaron Curtis, two experts who each knew the deck inside and out and could play it like it was as natural to them as eating food or breathing air.
When Jacob's last Kodachi for 1, Kodachi for 2, Drone for 6 hit the table, Aaron extended a warm and heartfelt concession handshake. Not only had Jacob just won a Calling, he had done it with Ira, Crimson Haze! As some of you may already know, Jacob went on to become a game developer at Legend Story Studios, where he contributes his skillset and creativity to the design of Flesh and Blood to this day.
Round the Table…
Throughout 2022 and most of 2023, Ira would continue her high performance as a staple of the Blitz metagame. Even without Drone of Brutality she remained a top dog, both easy to build and easy to play. But in September, Ira would face a new challenge - making friends.
Round the Table: TCC x LSS, a special Ultimate Pit Fight box set featuring none other than the Professor from Tolarian Community College, opened up the world of Flesh and Blood to an entirely fresh audience. As the bridge between Learn to Play and Ultimate Pit Fight, Ira helped players on their journey into Rathe with a brand new Crouching Tiger skillset.
A Living Legend
Throughout Skirmish, Commoner, and even a Battle Hardened, Ira marched forward on her quest for truth, blood, and vengeance. As Flesh and Blood’s player base grew rapidly, so did her point total on the Living Legend leaderboard.
Four years later and Ira has finally broken past the 500-point threshold to ascend into Living Legend, and along with her signature blade Edge of Autumn, will no longer be legal for official Blitz tournament play as of December 8th, 2023. This is a bittersweet moment for Ira fans everywhere, as we say goodbye to an old friend…
But it’s also a moment of reflection, to look back on how far we’ve come, all of our successes, our failures, our evolution, and ultimately, our accomplishments. Ira has served the Flesh and Blood community day in and day out, teaching new players how to pitch, attack, defend, and go again. Now it is time for her to rest, and the start of a new chapter begins.
In 2024 we are entering a new era of Flesh and Blood. The parties are thrashing, the weapons are clashing, the times are smashing. As we say goodbye to one old friend, we say hello to countless more, who will guide players on their journey into Rathe as Ira once did back on that crisp morning in 2019.