Flesh and Blood has invested a lot into its competitive circuit. The game’s commitment to real-life competitive play is part of its main draw to a lot of players. With that being said, COVID-19 threw a wrench in a lot of competitive events, leaving many players wondering how to continue.
Regardless if you’re just planning to continue with your Flesh and Blood journey or you’re just looking to start playing competitively, today we’ll be looking at all you need to know.
The Competitive Circuit
Flesh and Blood 2021 Organized Play Roadmap
The best thing about Flesh and Blood’s approach to competitive play is that it offers you a clear-cut pathway to prizes or becoming a professional player.
There are a lot of different events in Flesh and Blood, with most mainly favoring the Classic Constructed format. Some events have an entry fee to enter, while others require an invitation, these are generally higher-level events.
Other than qualifying through excellent performance at lower-level events, you can qualify for higher-level events using the XP system.
You gain XP for each match win you accrue, with the level of event you’re competing at deciding the XP multiplier. For example, if you got, say 20 XP from an Armory event, that would be worth 20 XP, however, if you got that same amount from a Road to Nationals event, that would be worth 60 XP.
For most players, this is irrelevant, however, if you’re planning to qualify for a National Champs event, you should be looking to be near the top of the 90-day XP leaderboards.
The Kinds of Tournaments
Armory Events are weekly events occurring in LGS(local game stores) that usually feature the Classic Constructed, Draft, or Sealed formats, however, some have been known to feature Blitz as well.
Armory events are all best-of-one, meaning you play only one game with each opponent. With 5-8 players, it’s played with 3 rounds of Swiss, with 9-16, there’s a top 4 cutoff where it’s played as a single elimination round. With 17-32 players, there’s a top 8 cutoff, while more players might lead to a top 16 cutoff.
You can find Armory events near you using the Event Locator.
Pre-Releases usually take place a week before the release of a new set. In this event, players will get to use the new cards before they’re fully out to be purchased. These events are very newbie-friendly, and pretty much anyone is welcome to join them. Generally, pre-releases feature the Sealed format.
Skirmishes are a tad more competitively-oriented than most Armory or Pre-Release events, and are played online through a webcam or in person at a participating LGS featuring a variety of formats. These can be organized by a variety of different establishments, with Skirmish season 2 currently running.
Road To Nationals
Road to Nationals is a local event where everyone’s competing to gain entry to the National Champs event. This makes it a very competitive environment, and you probably shouldn’t be going to one with a casual deck or one that’s underprepared for the meta.
The format for all Road to Nationals events is Classic Constructed. The events are played Swiss with a top 8 cutoff.
National Champs is a national event held once each year. This is a very competitive, invitation-only event. There are 100 slots available, and each slot that doesn’t belong to a player that got an invite from a Road To Nationals event will be filled by the top players from the 90-day XP leaderboards. Additionally, Professional Tournament invites from other events can be traded in for invitations to a National Champs event without having these players count toward the slot limit.
The format for National Champs is always Classic Constructed and the event is Swiss with a top-16 cutoff.
The Calling is an event that occurs once a year and has players competing for a part of its $10,000 prize pool as well as other prizes. It’s a great event for all players, as there’s many side events, and people simply coming to play. You can come in, play, and buy/sell with vendors with absolutely no entrance fee- although the events are locked to North America for the time being.
The main event is played as team Classic Constructed/Blitz with Booster Draft coming up on day 2.
There are many other events planned for Flesh and Blood such as the World Championship, Pro Quest events, and others. However, there hasn’t been much info released yet.
- Armory events award 4 cold foil cards, 32 extended art cards, and 1 “People’s Champion” playmat throughout the course of the month. Generally, the prizes are split among the top 8. With only the winner getting a cold foil, usually a hero/weapon. Sometimes, you might get an award just for participating.
- Pre-releases give out cold foil promo cards to everyone that participates, and a playmat to the victor.
- Skirmishes give Rainbow Foil tokens for participation, the top 8 gets cold foil young heroes, with the victor getting a skirmish-exclusive playmat.
- Road to Nationals events give 24 cold foil promo cards at the tournament organizer’s discretion, as well as a cold foil Hero card for the highest ranked player with each hero after the Swiss section of the event. The top 8 players receive an invitation to the National Champs event as well as the appearance fee for it(around $500 generally) in addition to an exclusive, ambidextrous playmat. The top 32 players will also get a cold foil promo card. Finally, the victor gets a gold cold foil Legendary card.
- For National Champs events, everyone participating gets a cold foil hero card, with the top 16 getting a share of the prizepool. The top 8 gets a Professional Tournament invite, with the victor being awarded a National Championship Trophy.
- The Calling has the top 32 taking a cut of the $10,000 pool, with the top 8 getting a Professional Tournament invite, as well as a gold cold foil legendary card. The victor also gets a gold cold foil Fyendal’s Spring Tunic.
- The prize structure for other events hasn’t been revealed yet.
Legend Story Studios will be offering a grand total of $1 million in cash prizes for Flesh and Blood Pro Play 2022. This is split as follows:
- $300,000 for the World Championship
- $200,000 for two Pro Tour events
- $300,000 for a grand total of 30 The Calling events
- $200,000 for the National Championships
Preparing For A Tournament
Whether you’re going to your first Armory Event, or preparing for the National Champs, preparing for a tournament can be very nerve-wracking. Some might think that you simply take any good old deck and can expect to win. That's why we have some budget decklist options to get you started on this journey
While once in a while, this might be true, if you want to perform consistently well in tournaments, that will take some preparation.
Analyzing the Metagame
The metagame is the set of decks that is played most often. These are the decks that you’re most likely to encounter as you play in more and more competitive tournaments. It stands to reason, then, that you should be paying attention to it.
Learning how to analyze and prepare for the meta is crucial in performing well at higher-level tournaments, however, meta analysis can be very useful even if you never plan to attend FaB’s more competitive tournaments.
At your LGS, there’s going to be players playing overlapping decks or strategies, the most common and best performing of these form your local meta. Once you’ve analyzed your local metagame properly, you’ll find it much easier to build decks to combat it. This is one of the situations where even a budget brew can overcome a tier 1 deck or two.
To analyze the metagame there are a few crucial steps to take:
- Determine the Locale: The Hong Kong nationals meta doesn’t have much relevance to your LGS. Figure out what area you’re looking to analyze first.
- Find the Best Decks: For a national meta, look at tournament data from your region first. Take a gander at other regions for rogue decks that might pop up. On a local level, play a couple Armories to get a handle on what the most popular decks are.
- Analyze Game Plans: You can separate decks into a few broad categories. Separate decks by their strategies and damage types. This will help you understand what kind of strategy is overrepresented in the meta.
- Research Each Deck: You want to be able to create a detailed breakdown of each meta deck’s gameplan. Understanding the ins and outs of each specific deck is great for helping you combat them in the future.
Learning the matchups between each meta deck is often crucial in getting a good understanding on what makes each of them tick. A good idea is to proxy up a few decks and play a few rounds with them between each other. This will help you understand the matchups within the meta in case you choose to play one of those decks.
Playtesting your deck is incredibly important for competitive success. Every nuance in the game can lead to victory or defeat. Understanding how your deck stacks up against each meta deck is a great boon.
Besides this, learning the matchups properly helps you pick tech choices you might want to include in your deck. Testing different matchups will also help teach you when to pivot strategies and how to abuse certain weaknesses.
Picking A Deck
Once you’ve done all that, how do you pick a deck? Now, the easiest way is to do this by taking a deck that previously topped a tournament of the same level you’ll be playing at, and playing it with minimal changes.
Now, the biggest upside of this is that you’ll be playing a deck that has been confirmed to be a good pick in the metagame. This means you don’t have to agonize over choices, and the matchups for the deck have probably been studied enough that you might be able to find a lot of the data online.
On the downside, almost everyone will be prepared for your deck. We can see this in the Calling Las Vegas, where Chane was by far the most popular Hero, however, the deck the winner- Tyler Horspool was piloting was Prism. He won the tournament with excellent play and more importantly, crucial tech pieces made to combat a Chane-heavy meta.
As Prism was a relatively underplayed Hero, few entrees were packing “hate” for the deck. It was also very well positioned against most Heroes in the meta, with Katsu as one of its few “bad” matchups.
The tournament also illustrated one of the biggest advantages in playing an underrepresented deck. Many people don’t know what kind of deck to expect when sitting down against Prism. This can in turn lead to them making suboptimal turns, sometimes letting you steal a win where there shouldn’t have been one.
Netdecking vs Brewing
“Netdecking” is the practice of taking a deck off of the internet, while “Brewing” is creating a deck on your own. While many players consider netdecking to be “cheap” or uncreative, there’s a lot that goes into playing each FaB deck.
Brewing is quite difficult. Making a brand new deck that can actually compete with the meta is extremely hard, and it’s much more difficult to find the optimal cards when there aren’t hundreds of players playing matches every day.
The main benefit of netdecking is that you’re definitely going to be playing a tried and tested good deck. Brewing, on the other hand, lets you surprise your opponents and lead them into making suboptimal plays.
The ideal approach is usually somewhere in the middle; to take a good deck that is not overrepresented in the meta, and make some select tech choices to help you counter the decks you’re expecting to run into on your way to the top. This way, you get some of the benefits of both netdecking and brewing, and as the Calling Las Vegas showed, it can get you to the top.
The Flesh and Blood competitive circuit is extremely well thought-out for a newer card game. Every step from your local Armory tournament to the World Championship has a clear path to it. Because of this, Flesh and Blood is potentially the most rewarding TCG to get into competitively right now.
Written by Ilija Miljkovac
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