Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with Ada Korman, the face behind ‘FAB with Freyja’, and a regular columnist at the Rathe Times. Widely known as the ‘finance lady’, she’s covered everything from the burgeoning FAB card market to card art, playmats to flavour text, and building communities to the dateability of our characters. We sat down to discuss content creation, the Flesh and Blood community, and collectibility.
Ada has an extensive background in trading card games, discovering FAB via Team Covenant last year.
‘There was a pandemic last year, and there is nothing going on, obviously; all my plans have been canceled and there is not a lot of stuff to do. I found myself watching a bunch of Team Covenant’s content, in terms of them playing games. At the time, I was ready to reminisce about some older TCG’s, and then I was like oh they got new stuff, let’s see this... and then I saw them doing their Flesh and Blood video and I went “...hmm.”
'I think the initial appeal to me was just on a conceptual design level. At the time I was just messing around to work on a single player RPG with the idea of depowering yourself over time, so I was like “this is a card implementation of ‘you start powerful and you get weaker’” and I thought “oh, it’s such good design space.” So then I sort of jumped in on that idea, and started their content. “Okay, this is new, I am getting in at the ground floor, I could spend- you know, a couple thousand dollars and have everything.” Which, you know, having played other card games in the past, it's like- if you get in late and you're someone who wants to have all the shiny stuff, it very quickly becomes prohibitive.
‘My thought process was basically “oh yeah, if I get in now, I can get all the cool stuff, and just… be there when it’s starting out”. So, yeah, like I said - a sort of mix of... it seemed like a mechanically interesting design space that wasn't really something I've seen a lot in a card game, and then also, there is just this sort of appeal of ‘oh, this is new and exciting, I can get in when it's new and exciting and not be the late kid to the party.’”
Ada came into the community during the era of Arcane Rising, a couple of months before Crucible of War was released. At the time, there was no official European distribution, and Unlimited print runs had yet to be announced. She’s previously described herself as the ‘Queen of Cold Foil Commons’, having collected them before Cold Foils were known as exclusive to first printings of a product.
‘I watched the videos and stuff, I ordered cards, and then... I think I was just like “well, where do I go next.” So first- I think I went onto Reddit, and it had nothing… but I think the Reddit pointed toward the Discord at some point, so I went “okay, let's hop over and find the Discord.” And the Discord was much more populated, that really was where it was going. The Discord and the Facebook sales groups were very active as well, so I slipped into Discord initially and then I just started like talking to people there.’
‘Closer to Crucible [of War], it was a mix of... cards were starting to become harder to find so I think that's where the financials talk started kicking off. Especially U.S. players, we were like “oh so the cold foils are not just in store infinitely, and you just have to order from New Zealand”, and then “the New Zealand stores are sold out- these aren't there” and that's sort of... I think I and a couple other people were talking about the financial end of it enough that the mods went ‘alright, you’re really clouding General, here’s a finance channel for you, go off to the side” and I think that's how Wall Street on the server first got started.’
At the time, in-person play wasn’t a viable option, and with stand-ins such as online play filling the gap, some players turned to collecting and investing as a way to connect and engage with the game. Those conversations are what Ada credits with the initial inspiration for creating FAB with Freyja.
‘As you can probably already gather, I am kind of verbose, and prone to going on at length, so the nature of Discord I think- it's not really conducive to making a long drawn-out argument about stuff. Even if you wrote a paragraph, it's buried immediately. Whether it’s ‘I agree with this’ or it’s ‘I disagree with this’, or ‘I think X’, in order to make that point, I needed to compose a longer form thing… when I thought about it, I was thinking “I feel like I should just make a blog so that I can explain why X is this way.” Eventually, people [told me] “just do it!”’
‘At the beginning, promos were one of the first things I wanted to talk about because it just seemed like people-despite a lot of the information being on your website, I realised people just aren’t reading it or aren’t aware of it, there was a lot of just plain wrong information floating around… claims of how rare things were or not rare things were, and I said “here’s the thing that’s stating where these came from”, right here on the website it tells you.’
‘And then obviously it spun into all sorts of other speculative stuff and whatnot, but I think the real opener was just ‘I've got a lot of things to say about this topic, this isn't a platform that’s good for it so... there is no platform currently that's good for it, so I guess I have to make my own.’
Despite having such a wide variety of topics on the website, with her regular appearances on the Rathe Times talking about the finances of Flesh and Blood, it may come as a surprise to some that some of Ada’s favourite topics are those she’s only briefly touched on.
'I know that this probably sounds like a weird thing coming from the person who now has "Finance Person" billing, but that's actually one of the things where the more time that goes on, the less interesting I think it is. I think it was very interesting last year, because it was explosive growth in a way that the industry had never really seen, so it was all- trying to unpack this puzzle and figure out what's going on in this space that was kind of novel. But I think that as things even out - which I think is very good for the game, but as things even out, and releases are coming out, and we see gradual accrual of value versus things doubling, I think the space to write about finance stuff really dries up, and also just kind of gets boring eventually. It's everyone sort of giving you the consensus opinion, and it's not an exciting space.’
‘I like talking about a lot of weird stuff that really just isn't out there content-wise, but at this point it's closing in on... the most engagement I've had with a post was one I wrote the other week about how dateable the women of FAB are, which is funny to me, because … Flesh and Blood content creation right now I think it's… there are people that are doing good stuff, but it's heavily concentrated in playing the game, or it's just straight finance stuff. Whereas other games that have been around longer and have bigger communities, they tend to have people creating content that's oriented around the sort of culture of the game, or more like... non- ‘I want to win this tournament’ aspects.
‘So I thought “well, I don’t think anyone’s writing any LGBTQ content, and it’s Pride [month], so maybe I’ll write this article.” And I kind of thought that it would be a low-engagement one. Usually, when I write something like... the articles on art, or flavor text, which are ones I really like writing, there are people that respond to those, people message me or post on the posts, when I link them with some of the Facebook groups - there's a group of people who are very interested in those, but the numbers they do is usually way less than the finance one- it's more like a third, or something.'
‘This one really kind of surprised me. “This is kind of an article for me, and maybe a couple other people in the community”... and then it just blew up. The only thing that I've written that’s done bigger numbers was my preview card for Monarch, so... I'm just like wow, this is- it's got me kind of rethinking what one can write about because at first, I was thinking ‘I like these, but they're kind of a treat for me, because if I write these all the time I'm not going to have anyone following me’. Because people want the finance content. But then that came out, and did those numbers, so I kind of went ‘oh, okay, maybe people do want some weirder stuff.
‘I think that in general, the stuff that’s not just finance or gameplay focused- mainly just doing stuff that people aren’t talking about, this is the stuff that’s interesting to me. These areas that are like… You know, how is the composition of art and flavor text being used. You’ve seen this in other games, what's Flesh and Blood doing to carve out or use that in an interesting way, or where do I feel there’s a missed opportunity, or something I'd like to see in the future. And I think those are the areas that are the most exciting to actually write content about.
‘I think I’m definitely continually interested in the way that story is told through the cards… I wrote this in my article, and I’ll try not to repeat myself too much, but I feel as though there's sort of this very clear effort to put a lot of story into this world, and develop the characters and the setting and all the stuff that’s going on. I would love to see the game edge a little more into the part where some of the stuff that lives on the website makes its way into the game.’
As one of the longer-standing members of the community, and with her background in TCG’s, I brought up the subject of communities, and how the Flesh and Blood community felt in comparison to others she’s been a part of in the past.
‘I think it's a hard sort of thing to pin down because- so obviously there is a large game out there... I played a lot of it until I sold my collection, and then I sort of checked out of the space for a bunch of years. But coming back into more of those sorts of lifestyle hobbies like this, more tabletop gaming versus board gaming, which people just pick up- it's usually not a thing that consumes all of your time the way that these can.'
‘I feel as though there's just been a lot of overall shift in the industry- [tabletop RPG’s are] a great example. Back in the day, it was- you know, you playing it would be like... Unless you really cultivated the group, there are maybe two girls at the table on those, or something like that, and you know, it was always very straight dudes, and that's what it was. And then I came back into the scene and just went ‘oh, well, this is very queer now’. The content producers, that's what's driving a lot of stuff. So I think the hobby space, overall, sort of became more open and accepting, and more diverse.’
The history of TCG’s and how the industry and the games themselves have changed over time is something that we discussed throughout the interview, and something that Ada has touched on briefly in several articles across her website. With her background and the variety of subjects she discusses, it’s unsurprising that, like many members of the FAB community, she’s been in contact with most other content creators for Flesh and Blood. From there, the conversation moved to the future of the FAB community, and what Ada wanted to see more of, considering her unique space as a content creator.
‘I think there’s a firm base for discussion of actual technical play, and the finance side, I think that those are sort of fine. I want to see weird content. I want to see people doing stuff that is not on those avenues… and I don’t know what that looks like, yet. I’m thinking of people who produce content for other games which is completely out of left field. For example, ‘this is a video about prison abolition, based in this one character from a set being an anarch[ist].’ I’m just like ‘yes, this is great, give me the weird stuff’.