Thoughts & Baubles: May 2022
My name is Alex Truell. I'm the editor for the Rathe Times. I'm a casually competitive player overseeing the growth of a Flesh and Blood scene in Ripon, WI.
Strategically, I try not to follow trends, instead fixating on cards and tactics just outside the mainstream. I view this game through the lens of a player who cares about the competitive environment, but doesn't have to live in it; an optimist who loves the game, but can take a step back to critique it; and a deckbuilder who revels in novelty.
Thoughts and Baubles is an editorial space for the Rathe Times, where I discuss the game and respond to the community.
So you may have noticed we went quiet there for a bit.
While I am very proud to have gone over a year with this website never missing our "two articles a week" benchmark, life finds a way, and a perfect storm hit over the weekend of Pro Tour: New Jersey. That began with a number of our writers being too busy with the Pro Tour to take time off for writing, and ended with an unexpected hospitalization that took our illustrious editor (er, yours truly) off the grid for a week.
(I'm doing well now, and in a few months should feel better than I have in a decade. Thanks for the concern.)
I wanted to take a moment here to highlight our contributors who were in New Jersey:
Michael Hamilton played Chane in the Pro Tour. After a 4-3 record on day one- two of those losses were due to mistakes against Prism- he contemplated dropping to play the Calling instead. But he resolved to stick with it, showed up again for day two, and went 6-1 for a 17th place finish overall.
Will Reinhardt piloted Ser Boltyn during the Calling in New Jersey, playing a hybrid list. His 3-5 record reflects a hard matchup into Chane and Starvo, both of whom had large showings. Will's Boltyn had better luck during side events, ending the weekend with a 3-1 record there.
Tyler Horspool stood by his signature hero, Prism, as he went 6-1 on day 1 of the Pro Tour (you can watch him in round 2 on Channel Fireball's stream from the weekend). Unfortunately, he lost momentum on Day 2 and finished 9-5. He spent the rest of the weekend in TOA draft events, winning 3 out of 4.
Ada Korman was busy running her giveaways during the Pro Tour, so you didn't see her in any of the major spotlight tournaments. She did find time to play in a sealed event and claim her Yorick, but the highlight of her weekend was simply meeting people and playing casual games.
Kevin Brayer landed at 11th overall during the Pro Tour, our highest-placing contributor. Piloting Chane, he managed to go 4-0-1 against Starvo, 2-1 against Prism, and 1-0 against opposing Chanes. After finishing his final match of the event, one of Kevin's friends- who introduced him to the game- gifted him a Chane playmat signed by Federico Musetti.
Drew Cordell piloted Bravo, Star of the Show in the Calling, starting with a strong initial record before eventually scrubbing out. He proceeded to enjoy the weekend, meeting many readers and players in person and doing well in side events.
Frank Hung played the Calling on Saturday and Sunday, steering Chane to a 9-4 record. He played day 1 in costume as Katsu- his friend Carolina won the cosplay contest as the warrior on Exude Confidence. His favorite games were casual drafts played in the hotel lobby with new friends from across the community.
The Pro Tour was a show of success. After three years of explosive growth in the shadow of global calamity, Legend Story Studios was ready to show what it had built- and the Flesh and Blood community was ready to be counted.
But let's not ignore the momentum LSS is building in the wake of that event. This week, we see the debut of a new entry point product in the form of Classic Battles: Rhinar vs. Dorinthea. This is a product designed to move out of the TCG boxes beneath the counter and onto a prominent shelf display, and it sells the game on multiple fronts: gameplay, art, and lore all playing for the loyalty of a new player.
The release timing should give a new player just enough time to get comfortable with the mechanics- and start exploring History Pack 1- before Uprising explodes on the scene. This has the potential to be an absolutely massive release because:
- The existing community is hyped after Pro Tour: NJ,
- Curious spectators have seen the legitimacy of the game on full display,
- New players have a great product to serve as introduction,
- The two most polarizing heroes in the game are on track to Living Legend, and
- Uprising will usher in an incredibly fresh meta just in time for summer.
While we don't know much about Uprising at this point, June 4th is fast approaching, and previews will sweep the community, whipping into a frenzy. The three new heroes all stand to reinvigorate long-neglected classes- this time there's no Runeblade to wear us down! Draconic is an exciting new talent that ushers in the fantasy staple of dragons, a surefire way to catch a new player's eye. And the stark difference in gameplay style between Ninjas, Illusionists, and Wizards should leave room for everyone to find their own strategic niche. If they strike a good balance between classes, this could easily prove to be the strongest sealed environment yet.
If you're involved in the administration of your local FaB scene, you should definitely be looking at how to maximize this opportunity. It's time to think about outreach, gateway events, and the new player experience. If you haven't already read them, I can't recommend enough the pieces by Joey Senart on building a local scene.
As a player, think about how you carry yourself in your local events. Ultimately, LSS is selling the game- your local game store is selling the community. You are a representative of the game, and you want to make sure you're a nock in the Pros column, not the Cons column.
June is a month of opportunity. We are set up for another growth period in the game- and it's up to all of us to do our part in nurturing that growth.
Alex Truell is the editor for the Rathe Times. Alex is a casually competitive player overseeing the growth of a Flesh and Blood scene in Ripon, WI. Alex is a player who cares about the competitive environment, but doesn't have to live in it; an optimist who loves the game, but can take a step back to critique it; and a deckbuilder who revels in novelty.
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