Stats at a glance
Publisher: Legend Story Studios
With so many high-profile trading card games on the market, the greatest challenges game designers face are how to make the game unique, yet familiar enough to draw in a large audience.
Flesh and Blood has the right formula and provides a fast-paced, reactive card duel for its players. It doesn’t require much to get started but offers plenty of depth and variety with relatively affordable decks and booster packs.
Table of Contents
Brief Overview of Flesh and Blood
Flesh and Blood is a traditional trading card game where two players put their skill and deck compositions against each other in one of two game modes.
Blitz mode is more of a social/casual experience that takes around 15 minutes per game. Players can freely customize their decks, but the idea is that a single hero box allows anyone to play this mode.
Standard mode is played with more cards and takes around 45 minutes. It’s a lot more strategic and allows for a much deeper level of customization.
What I consider to be the main selling point of Flesh and Blood is its very reactive gameplay and hero-centric setup. As if you’re playing an RPG, you’ll equip your hero with armor and weapon that can be actively used during the game.
Unboxing Flesh and Blood
The Blitz deck contains the following:
- 40 standard cards
- 11 equipment cards
- 1 young hero card
The booster packs contain the following:
- 1 Token Card
- 4 Generic Common Cards
- 7 Class Common Cards
- 1 Rare Card
- 1 Rare / Super Rare / Majestic Card
- 1 Equipment Card
- 1 Premium Foil Card of Any Rarity
Unlike most of the other board games we get to review, Flesh and Blood is just a deck of cards, so there’s only the art style to discuss.
Rather than expose you to my limited expressivity when it comes to art, I’ll point you to the Flesh and Blood card library where you can scroll through all the cards that are in the game and form your own opinion of them.
What I’ll say is that personally, I like the artwork in general, but especially the variety in styles between different artists. Depending on the character as well, you can get a really wide range of styles and themes, and I strongly recommend scrolling through a few pages of cards to get the full impression.
How to Play Flesh and Blood
Flesh and Blood is a fairly heavy game in terms of complexity, but all of it comes from the strong strategic thinking and deep understanding of card combos that are required to play at a high level.
The game has a very low barrier of entry, so I’ll do my best to describe all of the pieces that make a game of Flesh and Blood.
You can play Flesh and Blood directly on a table, but the game also comes with mats that outline the position of the cards. The play areas are identical for both players and consist of 12 card slots.
In the very center, you’ll place the hero card, with weapons on either side of it, and an arsenal card at the bottom. The left side of the area is reserved for the equipment: head, arms, legs, and chest piece. The right side is for the deck of cards, graveyard, banish, and pitch slots.
Heroes & Hero Classes
Heroes represent the foundation of Flesh and Blood, as you’ll build your deck, equipment, and strategies based on your hero’s abilities and stats.
Every hero belongs to a certain class, such as Brute, Ninja Warrior, Ranger, Runeblade, etc. The action and equipment cards you take must match your hero’s class, broadly shaping your deck.
Your hero is available in two variants: young and adult. The adult version is used in the standard game while the young version is used in the blitz mode. Effectively they’re the same apart from the difference in health points – the young version has fewer to facilitate a faster game.
On the hero card, you’ll find the description of the hero’s action, along with intellect and life value, which differ between heroes. Health value is self-explanatory, while intellect indicates the number of cards in your hand at the start of the game, and the number of cards you draw back to after ending your turn.
Equipment in Flesh and Blood works like in an RPG — you get a helmet, chest, arms, legs, and two weapon slots. Heroes will go into battle fully equipped in either generic or class-specific gear. Neither the hero nor the equipment can be changed during the game — they’re locked in until the end.
Your deck will consist of these card types: attack, attack reaction, defense reaction, and instants. Depending on the type of card, you’ll find some or all gameplay stats written on them:
- Name in the top center
- Resource cost in the top right
- The pitch value in the top left
- Ability in the bottom half
- Card type & class in the bottom center
- Attack value in the bottom left
- Defense value in the bottom right
You start your turn with only one action and gain more by playing cards with the “go again” written on them. Flesh and Blood is all about card chains, so keep this idea in mind as we go along because it will make things a lot clearer.
Attack reactions can only be used in response to the opponent while you’re attacking them, and defense reactions in response to an attack. Instants can be used at any time. These three types do not require action points, meaning you can play as many as you can, provided you can pay the cost.
You won’t get a passive resource income in Flesh and Blood, so all of the resources have to come from pitching. Think of pitching as selling a card, except you only get to keep the resources until the end of the turn.
Attacking & Defending
The turns in Flesh and Blood alternate between attacker and defender, with lots of interactivity regardless of your role during the turn. The general combat sequence goes like this:
The attacker plays an attack and pays for its resource cost by pitching a card. The defender can then use cards with a defense value to defend, along with equipment without having to pay a resource cost.
Once the defender has prepared their defense, the attacker can play an attack reaction card without the need for action points, only resources. The defender can use their own defense reaction, but these cards cost resources.
This is where an attack & defend chain would end, and see if, and how many points of damage will the defender take. If the attacker gained another action point through their cards, they may start another attack chain, which is resolved in the same way.
Once the attacker has concluded their assault, they may place one card in the arsenal slot. This card persists through rounds and can be used as an ace up the sleeve.
The turn ends with both players moving the attack/defend cards to the graveyard, and the pitched cards at the bottom of the deck. Then both players draw up to their hand size, and the cycle is repeated until one of the heroes drops to 0 life points.
Your First Game of Flesh and Blood
For your first game of Flesh and Blood, you should not be concerned about winning, and instead focus on getting the rules down. Ideally, you’d play your first couple of games with an experienced player that can show you the ropes, but if you’re starting out with a friend, that’s fine too.
Verbally announce everything you do and have the other player do the same so you can more easily catch accidental rule-breaking. The most common mistakes have to do with resource management and playing a prohibited card during one of the phases.
The game instructs that you should announce which card you’re going to play, and then pitch a card to pay for its cost. Resources are not carried over into the next round, so make sure not to overcommit if you can’t follow through with it.
Equipment is essentially a free boost to your defense, but it also wears out and breaks, so try to keep it around until you really need it. Both game modes have a specified minimum and maximum deck size, and you can burn through the deck if the game goes on for too long.
Pros & Cons
- Getting Started Is Cheap
- Low Barrier of Entry
- Very Dynamic Gameplay
What surprised me the most about Flesh and Blood is its surprisingly low cost of entry. Just $10-15 gets you a deck that is ready to be played in the more casual and social blitz mode.
Booster packs are reasonably generous, and I’m sure it wouldn’t take too long to build an optimal, semi-competitive deck.
The game itself is quite easy to learn, but there’s obviously a big learning curve and a high skill ceiling. This makes it fun from the very start, unlike some games that tend to burden you with an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge before you can play competently.
The constant back and forth as the rounds go on makes the time fly, and the tension increases as health points decrease and equipment wears out.
- Finding Other Players Can Be a Challenge
- The Standard Voes of TCGs
Flesh and Blood is a popular TCG, but it still doesn’t come close to the big names in the competitive card world. Because of this, it may be hard to find players in your local area, and without them the value of the game is significantly decreased.
You could get a few blitz decks and play with friends or family, but you won’t get to experience the full potential of the game.
Despite being rather affordable, Flesh and Blood has the same quirks as other TCGs — it can require a lot of investment, both in time and money. There’s nothing necessarily bad about it, but if you want a one-and-done purchase, there are plenty of non-trading dueling card games out there.
Flesh and Blood Review (TL;DR)
Flesh and Blood offers something different in the trading card world with its fast-paced reactionary combat. Pre-packed blitz decks and affordable booster packs make the financial barrier low, while intuitive and simple rules make the barrier of entry just as low!
If you want to commit to a new TCG, you should give Flesh and Blood a shot! Pick up a couple of blitz decks and have some games with your friends before moving on to the game stores to get a more social and competitive experience.
Versions & Expansions
My experience with Flesh and Blood was rather limited, as it doesn’t have a scene where I live. The best I could do is play blitz mode with people that enjoy board and card games. We learned as we went, and I was able to slowly formulate my opinion while also getting their input live.
Even though my interest in TCGs is not that high because of the high investment it requires, I could honestly see myself playing Flesh and Blood a lot if only I had a gaming club where it’s played, and of course enough free time.
The back-and-forths during the game are definitely my favorite part of it. Having played a ton of Gwent (the standalone version) I felt right at home with the balancing act of winning a round, but not overextending and leaving yourself vulnerable later on.
Before I recommend the game to you, I want to reiterate a couple of points. Being a TCG, this game lives and dies with its community, and if you can’t find a gaming club where it’s frequently played, you won’t be able to get the full experience.
The other point also has to do with TCGs in general, and that’s the financial investment. Granted, Flesh and Blood has affordable decks and boosters, but your spending could easily get out of hand if you’re not careful and just chase that “one card”. With all of that said, Flesh and Blood is a brilliant game and I liked it a lot!
We hope you enjoyed our Flesh and Blood review! Have you tried this TCG before? Which is your favorite blitz or booster pack? How does it compare to other CCGs or TCGs that you’ve played in the past? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
When I first got into the hobby some 10 years ago, my friend circles didn’t know that board games went further than Monopoly and Risk. Now everyone I’m close with is into board gaming and my collection really has something for everyone.
My favorite games are Terraforming Mars and Lords of Waterdeep and I’m a fan of Euro, strategy, and engine-building games in general. I also enjoy the Warhammer 40,000 universe, which pulled me into the miniature painting hobby.