Interview: Efri of FAB Five on Building Community

18th Aug 2021 Nicola Price

Efri den Teuling is a member of the group FAB Five, formed from the five founding members of the Netherlands Flesh and Blood community. Long before the official release of Flesh and Blood in Europe, and even before the release of Arcane Rising, she worked with the other members to establish a local community, with some of them travelling halfway across the country to meet and play a few games.

‘Actually, my boyfriend got me into it. He was watching YouTube one day - and it was your channel, actually. He saw Flesh and Blood and he was like ‘hmm, I should probably order this somehow,’ but at the time it wasn't available yet in Europe . So he ordered it somewhere from a guy in Malaysia.

‘At that time, I didn't know anything about it and when it got here, I was just opening the cards and I was immediately kinda attracted to the art of Flesh and Blood. From there on, we waited a bit before doing anything with it. Then we met another guy through Facebook - a store owner here in the Netherlands who was interested in maybe getting Flesh and Blood into a shop, so we traveled across the country and went to meet him. We showed him the cards and he was also very enthusiastic, so he ended up ordering booster boxes or getting into contact with you guys. And that's kind of how it all started over here.’

Flesh and Blood wasn’t Efri’s first introduction to trading card games, having been involved with a few before - though she says that none of them really caught her attention in the same way.

‘We saw this card game- I've been involved with card games before, but they never really pulled me in, and this one I don't know really just got my attention. It might also have been that I could beat my boyfriend's ass for the first time. That’s also attractive! So then we started the community here in the Netherlands, and it’s been growing ever since.’

Of course, creating a local community from the ground up is no easy task, let alone doing so for a game which hasn’t even been officially released in your region yet. What was that experience like, particularly without European distribution?

‘At the beginning, I think it was quite difficult, but the store owner he already knew some people who might be interested at the time. We just invited them for a day, and we showed them our cards and they kind of liked it too. It started out with four or five people, and the store owner just ordered whatever he could get his hands on. From then on, we started to grow. But it wasn't really hard to convince most people, I'd say, especially because some card games were kind of dying at the time, and people were just looking for something new and something different from all of the card games they've played before. Flesh and Blood really fits that.’

Those five people are the same ones who founded the FAB Five, a group led by the store owner of Kai of Cards, one of the first local game stores in Europe to pick up the game.

‘He's actually the one running FAB Five, I should say, and he just got us together and he was like “Hey I want to do some kind of team, some kind of content creation for this game because I think it deserves even more exposure.” Especially in Europe, because at the time there really wasn’t that [many] content creators yet.

‘Then we just got together, and we were like “yeah, sure, we want to do that. That would be fun.” We already knew each other a bit then, so it was quite fun. We made a group app, discussed what kind of content we wanted to create, what our main [audience] would be - would we focus on newer players, or existing players, stuff like that.’

FAB Five Logo

The FAB Five has perhaps one of the widest varieties of content available in the Flesh and Blood community, including community spotlights, class breakdowns, interviews, card analysis, comprehensive hero primers, tier lists, lore breakdowns, deckbuilding tips, and rule breakdowns, just to name a few! With five members, the group is in a relatively unique position to put out an array of different articles. I asked Efri how they decided on topics for their articles, and where her particular passions lie.

‘The topics we choose - we usually do these kind of meetings and brainstorm on them, what we would like to present to the public. Our focus has always been, until now, the newer players, our players who are still beginning, especially European players, I must say. We are all passionate about some kind of subject, we just gave each other an assignment like think of something you would want to write or do, and for me it was the lore of Flesh and Blood.’

Dorinthea Sketch

‘I really enjoyed the lore, and I think it deserves more attention - especially because some people would just skip over that stuff. I think it's really worth it, to get to kind of discuss it, and also to maybe think of what could happen in the future, with that kind of lore. So I guess I'm really into lore and also the art, but there was somebody else in the group and he was also really into the art so I kind of gave that away to him.

‘One thing I was really passionate about writing was the rule article I made about the combat chain, because I noticed a lot of newer players - here in Europe, at least - had some trouble with figuring out how it works, exactly. I thought that there was already this really neat diagram, I think, that somebody else made, but there wasn't really text to accompany it. So we kind of teamed up and made this whole article on it, and I think that's what I’m the most proud of.’

‘We also try to write longer articles, as well as the shorter ones ,and I think the shorter ones were more like the art and the lore, although they got kind of long too. But they were supposed to be short! Then the rules articles were meant to be longer, more intensive for people to read, so that’s maybe why there’s so much variety in stuff [that] we do.’

Like many others in the community, Efri’s introduction to Flesh and Blood came through the Welcome to Rathe heroes, specifically Dorinthea Ironsong. In spite of how many new heroes have been released since she first began playing the game, Efri remains loyal to the noble warrior, drawn as much to her artwork as to her playstyle.

‘[I started playing with] Dorinthea. When I first found out about this game - I mean, she was a girl, which obviously pulled me into the game. But also because I just really liked all of her art the most. At the beginning, I was just browsing through the cards and I was like “I like this, I like this art, and this art is a bit too dark for me”, stuff like that. And that's why I ended up playing Dorinthea, and actually still playing her up to today.’

Dorinthea Ironsong
Glint the Quicksilver

‘I mentioned I had some experience with card games but not a lot, and I think her mechanic was just really not easy, but straightforward for me to follow. It had to do with her Dawnblade, and how every turn I should think of giving it Go Again somehow, and buff it somehow, and that was my task. That just made it more easy for me to roll into the game, and have fun at the same time. I wouldn’t necessarily say she’s beginner-friendly but she's definitely one of the heroes I would recommend [beginners] to pick up - more than the arcane rising heroes, for example. I think that all of the WTR heroes are okay starter champions, but she just really appealed to me - the looks, the mechanics. There wasn't anything really that didn't appeal to me.

‘She was really the first one I picked, when I first opened the packages. I looked at the four of them, and Rhinar was way too brute-y for me, and Dorinthea was there in her shining armor… Katsu was also nice, but at the time I didn't really know what to do with him. I think Guardian is fine, but the mechanics- it's just one big hit every time, and I like chaining things up, or attacking multiple times. That's why I probably also like Katsu or Ira, but yeah. I'm not going for the big swings, but for the small stabs. Also the more kind of aggressive feel to it.’

Dorinthea Dawnblade Illustration

‘Also the fact that she gets stronger if you don’t appreciate the Dawnblade! If you just kind of think that the Dawnblade doesn’t do anything, she will get stronger and stronger every turn. And the bluffing part, which is also quite fun. Pitching a blue card, attacking for 3, and having three cards in hand that do absolutely nothing, but your opponent thinks they do, so they totally overblock, and I'm like “yes.”’

Most of the players who’ve been in the game for as long as Efri are from Australia and New Zealand, communities who were established with, or even prior to the release of Welcome to Rathe. Communities who were not only officially supported via distribution and prize support from the very beginning, but were in a unique position in regards to in-person play. I was particularly interested in talking to Efri about her experiences with growing a local FAB community long before we had officially released in Europe.

‘I think we have a really diverse community. I just mentioned earlier there are a lot of people who totally quit their card games because of the FAB Five, and I've also seen more and more people jump over from really old card games. But at first, there were a lot of people who just wanted something new and different, or their old games just died, and there was no support for it anymore. And then I think we have a really tight [community]. Most of us really know each other, especially now that we can meet each other again in person. It's also really nice to see each others faces, instead of our hands.’

Here, Efri specifically references the webcam games that became a staple of Flesh and Blood during lockdowns, with online Armory Events to provide people a way to play when in-person events weren’t possible.

‘I think this game just really ties us all together, also; from different cultures and different languages, as well. Not only Dutch-speaking people. I think this game is already [given me so many] new friends, new people to meet with, especially the FAB Five. I didn't know them before Flesh and Blood, and now I'm writing content with them, and having casual meetings and unboxing stuff and having fun. So I think especially really love that about our community; that we’re just a big group of friends, I could say - a very big group. There aren't many issues amongst players as well. We are all in one big giant group app right now, which is spammed daily, but people don't seem to mind.

‘I’m really fond of the community right now. It’s still growing each day; I recently started a new community in the centre of the country, where there wasn’t anything before, but the store owner really wanted to create something, but he didn’t really know how or didn’t know anything about the game, so he reached out to me. And I was like “yeah, okay, sure - I've been in this game for quite a while now and I can help.” That’s when I started to ask the older players to come visit, and bring friends or new people, then also in his already existing local community, just start to explain the game, or post casual links or youtube mingled in their discord a bit, just to get it into their attention.

‘The first event we had had I think about eight people, and that was like four weeks back? And now two weeks ago, we already had 16 players, up to 20, so it's growing exponentially and people are already buying boxes like crazy! So I can see them getting up to our level in no time.’

Considering Efri’s role in creating and building the Dutch FAB community, and her dedication to seeing it continue to grow, it should come as no surprise that it’s the first thing that comes to her mind when asked about her favourite experience, in being a part of Flesh and Blood.

‘I think it must be the community. I mean, I love the game, but I love the people who play it at least as much. I really enjoy just going to events, meeting up with people who I haven’t seen in such a long time, or who live on the other side of the country, and I never see. Just meeting them, and going for dinner afterwards, having a good time playing, rooting for each other, but secretly hoping that they draw into nothing and die.’ [laughs] ‘But that's all part of it!’

‘I think that has been a really, really worthwhile experience for me. And also being able to play with my boyfriend, and spending time like that with each other, also. I think that is really just one of the most valuable experiences regarding Flesh and Blood.’

‘But also- I’ve really searched for a long time for a hobby, too, that keeps my mind occupied! I think that Flesh and Blood is like chess, really, but with cards - you have to think ahead, think of really a lot of possible options which you should do, and that's why I also like it; just to keep me busy, and keep me sharp.’