Our second Jump Start series kicks off with guest writer Tommy "Fresh" Hendricks sharing his insights into the start of the Flesh and Blood journey and how best to become involved in your local community. 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 first few weeks of your Flesh and Blood journey are filled with excitement, discovery, and learning. You are blessed with the opportunity to experience this game with a fresh perspective that has hooked so many players before you. Perhaps you have a pair of “Learn to Play” Ira decks or even some pre-constructed Blitz decks that you purchased at your Local Game Store. And with those decks, you are figuring out the rules of this new and exciting game while sitting at your kitchen table with a friend, family member, or partner.
This is arguably one of the most important stages of getting familiar with the game. It is your chance to get immersed into the world of Rathe through gameplay, mechanics, and the extremely rich flavor of the heroes and cards. You’ll find yourself asking and answering questions like, “What am I able to block a dominated attack with?” or “When will the chain link continue as opposed to it breaking?” And even further than that, you will start getting attached to the heroes you feel comfortable with. Is the Azalea Cult taking you in? Maybe the League of Levia has found a new loyal acolyte!
Speaking from my own personal experience, this was the stage of my Flesh and Blood adventure where the game really took hold of me. When I had learned about the game, the first thing I did was go to my Local Game Store and buy all four of the Monarch Blitz decks, which included Boltyn, Chane, Levia, and Prism. Those first couple of weeks were enlightening as I familiarized myself with those four heroes through their unique play styles and flavor. It was important to get comfortable with a game that was so different from anything else I had ever played. Taking that time to learn allowed me to feel secure enough to play the game competently on a regular basis.
Yet, there was something missing. And that was playing, like the title of the game suggests, in the flesh and blood with other like-minded folks and having the opportunity to be part of a community.
Finding a Community
Fortunately, there are many ways to get involved in Flesh and Blood’s growing community these days. But first, you must decide what kind of involvement is the most feasible for you. You can find Armories, which are weekly events, being run locally to you that you can start to attend. And if your Local Game Store does not run Armories, you can help them get into a position where they can start to do so! This the best time to be playing Flesh and Blood, so let’s look at how we can take those first steps.
Live, Laugh, Local
One of the most important kinds of communities for the growth of the game is the one that is living locally to you. If you are fortunate enough to live near a Local Game Store that carries Flesh and Blood product, there is an excellent chance that they can and will also run Armories. But how can you tell? Well, luckily fabtcg.com is an excellent resource and it is easier to find out if your local stores are running events than you’d think!
Once you get to the main page of the Flesh and Blood website, you will see tabs listed just below the banner at the top of the page. One of those tabs is labelled “Events” and in that tab’s drop-down menu there will be an “Event Locator” option. Once you enter that page you will be able to search for events by format, type, and location. This is the precise tool that I used myself once I knew I was ready to get out there and play the game with some other like-minded gamers! I typed in my address and immediately found a store called Highlander Games that was hosting weekly Armories on Mondays. The players I had the pleasure of meeting and playing with there soon became my friends and local community for this game.
However, there are some important things to know before attending these events. Firstly, you should figure out which format is being played! Tournament organizers can choose from a variety of formats when putting on an Armory and the format typically falls in line with what is going on with the game at large. For example, when Outsiders is released in late March a lot of stores will run limited events like sealed or draft since the set is designed for limited play. Alternatively, if a supplemental set like Dynasty was just released, your group might be inclined to play more constructed formats like Blitz or Classic Constructed. Information on all these formats can be found in the “Game” tab on the main website.
Now that you know which format the group will be playing you can attend the event prepared to play! That being said, an important thing to keep in mind is to be open and willing to learn when you are there. Your first couple of Armories will be learning experiences and so long as you are open with your group about being new, most people will be understanding and willing to help. As you get more comfortable, soon you will be the person helping the next new player to show up, which is exactly how communities grow.
Beyond just playing the game, this is also an opportunity to make friends and get involved with the community! Regardless of the game or circumstance, communities thrive when folks show up and stay involved, so continuing to be present and active is simply the best thing you can do for the game at both a local and global level. Your Local Game Store has a lot on their plate beyond running events for a ton of different games, so when the community is present, you make it easy for them!
And arguably the most important thing to do is to have fun. Flesh and Blood is a lot of things to a lot of different people, but at its core it is a game, and games are meant to be fun. You are bound to both win some games and lose some games, so as long as you keep that in mind, you will be able to enjoy yourself despite the results. And something great about remaining positive and having fun is that it can be extremely infectious! The smiles and laughter will rub off on your group and that will just add to the excitement and anticipation of showing up for Armory every week.
Plant a Seed and Help it Grow!
While it is certainly rarer now as opposed to the early days of the game, it is possible that there are no play groups established at any of your local stores. If that is the case, it could be quite disheartening. However, that does not mean that a community cannot be established and grown. It will just take no small amount of time, dedication, and passion!
Sometimes your Local Game Store just needs a little nudge and some help to get events off of the ground. It is totally possible that jumping right into Armory events doesn’t make the most sense initially. If the store is up for it, a great tool to use would be running a “Learn to Play” session on a night that their patrons typically hang out at the store. This is a great way to establish a relaxed environment where you can jam some games with some new players with some Blitz pre-cons or the “Learn to Play” Ira decks. On top of just teaching the game, you can also get a feel for the best days the potential new players would be available for Armories. This would set both the store and the community up for success.
When I attended my first Road to Nationals event in 2021, I had the pleasure of meeting Rylie Groff, a player who would become a good friend but also someone who has helped grow his local Flesh and Blood community in Central Pennsylvania. When writing this article, I reached out to him for some sage advice. When asked about his experience growing his community from scratch, he emphasized the word confidence. “Before you can build a community, you have to establish confidence in the product” he said, while stressing the fact that “time and money are a premium resource, [one] that few are willing to invest recklessly.” Give your Local Game Store confidence by showing up, supporting them, and playing the game! And beyond giving the store confidence, give it to your community as well! “Listen to feedback,” Rylie advises, “and adjust to what your community is asking for.” It will take some work and passion, but the results of a blossoming community are more than worth it.
In Closing, Be Open
I hope that this has been a helpful guide for your first steps into joining the thriving community of Flesh and Blood. I implore you all to approach your soon-to-be communities with an open mind, the willingness to learn, and the desire to create meaningful connections with players who all share the same passion you do for this game. It is a journey that is a ton of fun, and you will have no regrets.
Welcome to the community and see you at the next Armory!
Tommy "Fresh" Hendricks is a player of Flesh and Blood, and host of the Fresh and Buds weekly podcast. The opinions expressed in the above article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Legend Story Studios.