Our second Jump Start series sees the return of guest writer Tommy "Fresh" Hendricks with an in-depth exploration of what makes each hero special in terms of design, and how you can pick up a hero that feels right for you. Tommy is a steward of the game, and host of the Fresh and Buds podcast which regularly discusses the many different aspects of Flesh and Blood.
The Who’s legendary front man, Roger Daltrey, once aptly posed the question, “Who Are You?”
On the surface that question seems simple and straightforward, yet it is anything but. Discovering who we are can help lead to a better understanding of ourselves and the life we want to live.
In Flesh and Blood, we have a similar journey of discovery to embark on!
Flesh and Blood offers players an incredible variety of heroes and decks to choose from. For some, the choice might be easy, but for others that selection could be unclear initially. Players can have a list of heroes that they play with, or a player can stick to one hero and/or class.
Luckily, each of these heroes have a unique identity that a player can relate to in one way or another. These ways do vary, but can be simplified to the following:
Personality, Playstyle, and Aesthetic.
These can all lead you toward a hero that makes sense for you, whether it’s a little bit of each or one individually.
So, let’s look at those three qualifiers and see how they relate to you.
The Personification of Play
You might ask yourself, “How does my personality relate to a Flesh and Blood hero?”
Well, it all boils down to what you want to do in a game, as well as what the hero wants to do. Some players love to feel the rush of risky plays when they are in the thick of a game. Brute is the perfect class for that type of player.
Heroes like Rhinar and Levia like to play a high variance game with huge upsides and devastating downsides.
Equipment like Scabskin Leathers allow players to roll a die to gain action points.
If you roll 6 you get 3 action points for your turn. But if you roll the dreaded 1, you get 0 action points and your turn is most likely over.
That kind of gameplan can be a lot of fun for the right kind of person, but it’s not for everyone. You rarely forget the first time you miss banishing a 6 power attack in Levia and taking a ton of blood debt damage on your turn.
Perhaps you are more interested in the element of surprise! Heroes like the Warrior, Dorinthea, have a gameplan that includes buffing their weapon with attack reactions to surprise the opponent and leak some damage through.
However, this kind of sneaky damage isn’t limited to Warriors.
Assassins like Arakni and Uzuri from the upcoming set, Outsiders (in stores March 24th), also have the ability to push damage through with a combination of attack reactions and daggers that make it harder to block.
Outsiders might be giving us the sneaky Assassins, but it’s also giving us a new Ranger named Riptide.
Riptide also sneaks in damage, but this time with specific defense reactions called traps.
This is a new and unconventional way to play Ranger, as opposed to Azalea, who buffs up and dominates arrows each turn.
All of these heroes relate to a personality that enjoys getting the upper hand by augmenting something that seems harmless until it is too late!
Some players just want to have a plan and stick to it.
Wizards like Kano and Iyslander want to do one thing only - wait until the right moment to sling spells at their opponent until their life reaches 0.
Oldhim, the Elemental Guardian, slowly controls the game with defense cards and taxing effects in an effort to whittle down the opponent’s resources and cards to win.
The type of personality that thrives with these heroes is one that is patient and enjoys the process of setting up your endgame.
Illusionist heroes do this in a much different way by gradually building up a presence of auras or allies in the arena with the end goal of overwhelming their opponent.
All heroes have a plan, but these are for those who enjoy taking control of their plan, as well as their opponent’s.
The Mechanologist, Dash, can also relate to the long plans with interesting items and strong defensive cards.
However, Dash can also present many attacks in a turn with cards that boost, like Zero to Sixty.
This type of strategy can make it difficult for an opponent to block correctly and efficiently.
We see this with Ninja heroes too. The head equipment, Mask of Momentum, awards the Ninja player with a card draw for hitting the opposing hero three times in a row on the combat chain.
A savvy opponent can disrupt this with a well-timed block, but a savvy Ninja player can present a flurry of attacks that make it hard for the opponent to have that good timing.
Finally, the Runeblade class uses a combination of non-attack actions and attack actions to present both physical and arcane damage.
Viserai will often present a powerful attack with go again, just to follow up with a Rosetta Thorn attack that threatens 2 physical damage and 2 arcane damage.
These heroes are for the player who enjoys the presentation of tough decisions for their opponents.
Get Your Style Points
While there is a varying amount of nuance in each hero’s personality, playstyle is a bit more straightforward.
In Flesh and Blood, we typically see aggro, control, midrange, and combo decks.
Aggro decks want to go fast and do not want to slow down. These decks can go “wide” by attacking many times with smaller attacks or go “tall” by hitting hard with one or two big attacks per turn.
A hero like Fai is your quintessential “go wide” aggro deck, with a ton of low-cost attacks with go again in the Draconic Ninja card pool.
And when looking at your more “tall” decks, heroes like Levia or Bravo fit the bill with their expensive but powerful attacks each turn.
Players that want to feel the speed will love the playstyle of these heroes.
Maybe your speed limit isn’t as high as the aggro players out there. If so, control decks could be perfect for you.
Control in Flesh and Blood typically likes to do two things - slow the game down, and tax the opponent.
Ice heroes like Oldhim, Iyslander, and Lexi excel at this. Giving your opponent a single Frostbite can often be enough to throw off their whole turn.
Defense reactions also play a key role in the control playstyle. Being able to block large attacks efficiently can give an edge in playing towards the win.
Playing control is certainly not for everyone as it does require a lot of patience and mental fortitude, but for players who have that, it can be unbelievably fun.
Sometimes going fast or slow isn’t a real priority for players. This is where midrange heroes really shine.
The midrange playstyle is all about squeezing every little bit of value out of the cards in your hand. With a hero like Rhinar, you can block 6 damage with two cards and then on your turn present 6 or more damage back at your opponent.
Plays like that are what make midrange decks “hum” and can really punish your opponents. Players who enjoy looking at their hands and solving the puzzle that outputs the greatest result will really connect with the midrange heroes.
Lastly, we have combo decks. These are for the players that want to set up for one explosive turn that ends the game or comes close to it.
The Wizard, Kano, does this often with huge turns involving Aether Wildfire and Blazing Aether. One of the most well known combos in the game comes from Boltyn, who uses multiple copies of Lumina Ascension and Cintari Sabers to swing huge weapons upwards of six times in a turn.
These combos are powerful but not always consistent, so if you’re interested in playing them, be prepared for the combo to sputter sometimes!
Love the Way You Look
Finally, and no less important, is the aesthetics of the heroes.
Sometimes we are drawn to a card simply because the way it looks makes us feel good.
For example, both shadow heroes, Chane and Levia, stood out to me when I first started playing the game. The dark and grotesque images seemed very cool and aligned with other media I have enjoyed in fantasy settings.
Flesh and Blood gives us a plethora of different art styles and thematic aesthetics to enjoy.
Fans of steampunk will love Dash, while players who enjoy bright and vibrant themes will be drawn to the heroes from Tales of Aria.
This might not be the most important part of the game for everyone, but it’s a great starting point for choosing a hero to pick up first.
It is helpful to enjoy looking at the cards you will be playing for many games!
Become Who You Were Born to Be
There will be trial and error on your quest to find the hero that is right for you. Luckily, that means you will be playing more Flesh and Blood!
The end goal should be to have as much fun as possible with the hero that you play with, so don’t be afraid to try something new if it isn’t clicking right away.
This will be the first step towards an incredible journey in this game, so take your time to enjoy it!