Which Flesh and Blood Draft Set is Right for You? Part Two

by Red Riot Games CA

By: Dimos


Last week I gave my general opinion on Flesh and Blood drafts (they’re great!) and went into some detail about Welcome to Rathe and Tales of Aria, the two friendliest sets to draft with. You can read that here. Today I will be going into depth about the remaining draftable sets: Arcane Rising, Monarch, and Uprising. These three sets are a bit more challenging to draft, and can really test player skill at higher levels. Considerations about fatigue, card management, combos, and large pivot turns become more crucial in these sets for all decks and archetypes. Most crucially, it is much easier to draft a meaningfully weaker deck with these more advanced sets. This can leave a negative experience for players that are caught unawares and made drafting mistakes after the games have been played.

Arcane Rising: Ease of drafting 7/10, Ease of play 7/10, Depth and replay potential 7/10. An integration of new game mechanics that can accommodate players of different skill levels.

Arcane Rising is not as easily available as it used to be, at least not without a price markup. However, if you plan on cracking a box to hunt for the perpetually in-demand cards within, I recommend doing so with a draft group to get some games out of those packs. This is an excellent draft set for intermediate players who are familiar with the mechanics of the game and know how to efficiently manage their cards to accommodate fatigue. One of the major strengths of this set is the availability of different difficulties of heroes. Dash drafts and plays in a very straightforward manner, usually attempting to beat down the opponent with powerful, consistent Go Again or judicious usage of Convection Amplifier’s Dominate effect. Meanwhile, Kano and Azalea can have very complex play patterns based around unique resource management (arsenal, top of deck, arcane damage, etc.) and frequently requiring pitched combos to close games. Something significant that I think ARC draft introduces is the idea of taking significant risk in the middle of your own turn. Dash’s Boost mechanic, and Azalea and Kano’s hero abilities all sacrifice resources to gamble about what’s on top of your deck for a bonus. Some riskier players may appreciate this, while more methodical players may look for Opt effects to reduce variance, such as from Talismanic Lens. Although the Generic cards are not as strong as Welcome to Rathe, they enable enough play patterns for each hero that they aren’t usually terrible choices.

Talismanic Lens [ARC151] Unlimited Normal | Red Riot Games CA Induction Chamber [1HP189] | Red Riot Games CA

An often-discussed issue with Arcane Rising draft is the format-warping strength of Induction Chamber. In a format where weapons are not powerful on their own, this is an item that makes Teklo Plasma Pistol able to fatigue nearly every other deck available (assuming enough Arcane Barrier to slow down Kano). There are other such powerful cards in the set, but none to the same extent. With how super rares are distributed, this means that there is an Induction Chamber available in roughly one in four ARC drafts. Another subject of in-box variance is the availability of arcane damage prevention. Without enough Arcane Barrier or arcane prevention, Wizards have a tendency to run away with games. This is usually a knowledge check on the players at the table, and people should know to take Arcane Barrier when it is available. I also recommend getting a Salvage Shot or Over Loop if you’re playing Azalea or Dash to help with fatigue risk.

Salvage Shot (Red) [ARC066] Unlimited Normal | Red Riot Games CA Over Loop (Red) [ARC020] Unlimited Normal | Red Riot Games CA


With all of this being said, there is a lot of flexibility in how decks can be built in Arcane Rising, and it is vastly underexplored due to being released at the outset of the pandemic. It is also a good set to choose if players have very different experience levels, as newer players can draft a simpler Dash deck while old hands can develop their Kano or Azalea combo and deck-tracking skills.

Monarch: Ease of drafting 8/10, Ease of play 6/10, Depth and replay potential 6/10. A solid all-around set that employs more game mechanics and offers multiple drafting tensions (classes, talents, and specifically-used generics) accessible to intermediate players.

This is another format where players will need some knowledge, such as how difficult it can be to block arcane damage, how to manage the destruction of Phantasm cards, and the risk and reward of large combo turns. This is a set that I think is roughly as challenging as Arcane Rising, and is primed for intermediate players looking to expand how they work around large pivot turns. Even though this set can be more mechanically challenging and require specific knowledge, it is also hard to draft an actively bad deck. Each of the four heroes has their own pool of class cards and shares their Light or Shadow pool with one other hero. Additionally, many generics also get split between heroes along high- and low- base power considerations. It is rare that Boltyn or Chane (whose class cards have low base power) will draft cards like Zealous Belting, just as it is rare that Prism or Levia (whose class cards have high base power) will draft a Belittle. This number of different pools with reduced competition makes most decks at least passable.

Zealous Belting (Red) [U-MON293] Unlimited Normal | Red Riot Games CA Belittle (Red) [MON266] 1st Edition Normal | Red Riot Games CA

With the exception of massively powerful cards like Luminaris and some Phantasm interactions, a lot of games will come down to player skill expression. This can manifest either through planning and executing large combo turns (oftentimes off of the rare Specializations) or through gradual incremental advantage. There is the ever-present caveat that all draft decks are imperfect and can be subject to some dead draws. This can be especially stark if you draw a lackluster hand and your opponent then sees their V of the Vanguard or other massively explosive combo card. The Blood Debt and Charge mechanics can push decks of the same hero into being somewhat similar to one another, with the only significant differences being in key combo cards and the chosen generics. Some of the fantastic standalone generics that will be highly contested are those with enough power to pop Phantasm attacks and the single-card closer of Surging Militia.

V of the Vanguard [U-MON035] Unlimited Normal | Red Riot Games CA Surging Militia (Red) [U-MON287] Unlimited Normal | Red Riot Games CA

Uprising: Ease of drafting 3/10, Ease of play 4/10, Depth and replay potential 6/10. A set that places more importance on the drafting phase than the game phase, Uprising requires extensive knowledge and is geared towards experienced players.

Uprising is an extremely punishing draft format. I have previously discussed this here, so I’ll try not to rehash those points too much. Receiving three less cards makes a big impact on the baseline quality of a deck, and poorly-drafted decks can lead to games that are more one-sided than in any other set. This format requires experienced players who know how to specifically draft FaB and Uprising. Due to the general weakness and/or hyper-specificity of the Generic cards, a greater importance is put upon the class cards which are hotly contested from pick one or two. In most other FaB sets, many players prefer to draft only Generic or talent cards until pick five, six, or seven. In Uprising, this strategy of “staying open” for that long will almost always result in a thin deck. This set is a draft experience for players who have extensive FaB experience and want a lot of the focus on the draft evening to be on the actual drafting of cards rather than the games played afterwards. This is a perfectly valid preference, but all players around the table should know what they’re getting into and do their homework beforehand.

Uprising drafts are usually won or lost when choosing your cards, as the in-game play can often feel linear or subject to poor card draws. Iyslander and Dromai in particular feel susceptible to these bad-feeling draws, as Iyslander wants some offensive blue Ice or Ice Fusion cards to arsenal, and Dromai needs to generate Ash. If these requirements cannot be met, it feels as if these heroes are not fully functional and as if they’ve lost a turn. Additionally, plenty of knowledge of game mechanics is required, particularly Iylander’s instant-speed interactions and the importance of the layer step in killing dragons. There are few clear archetype distinctions for Fai and Iyslander that can be built reliably. Opportunistically however, there are options for Fai to focus on cards that interact with Phoenix Flame or even a fatigue build. Dromai has a few deckbuilding options, being able to centre around named dragons, Ashwings, or Cenipai attacks depending on which cards present themselves.

Invoke Nekria // Nekria (Marvel) [UPR013] (Uprising)  Cold Foil | Red Riot Games CA Embermaw Cenipai (Red) [UPR027] (Uprising) | Red Riot Games CA


Overall, I think Flesh and Blood offers excellent draft experiences. Now that there are five different sets to choose from, most being readily available, there are options for everyone. Whether your group is brand new to the game (Welcome to Rathe), generally familiar with the game (Tales of Aria), a mix of experienced and inexperienced (Arcane Rising, Monarch, and Welcome to Rathe), or very experienced (Uprising), there is a good choice for you. Everything discussed is my own opinion and should not be taken as gospel – some of my own FaB pals disagree with some of my takes here. Regardless, we still have fun drafting any set. As always – I will end my draft article with a recommendation to put a copy of each Token (heroes, weapons, and others) available in the set in front of newer players during the drafting phase. This allows them to have references for some of the most important and ever-present features of their decks when choosing their cards. 



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