Flesh and Blood is the popular new trading card game giving the likes of Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon Trading Card Game a run for their money. But the New Zealand-based team of developers at Legend Story Studios runs its upstart TCG a bit differently than its bigger competitors. Later this month that difference will be put to the test with the return of its first Living Legend, a previously retired character who will be introduced back into the competitive metagame on a brand-new card.
In Flesh and Blood, players take on the role of dueling heroes hashing things out through intricate one-on-one battles on the tabletop. The game is known for its robust competitive scene, with many global tournaments held year-round. When a hero wins a tournament, they accrue Living Legend points regardless of who played them. Once a character earns enough points they become a Living Legend, making that character’s card ineligible to play in future events. One of Flesh and Blood’s first Living Legends to be retired was Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light, who was formally removed from competitive play on Aug. 30, 2022, after more than a year of high-ranking tournament wins.
However, Prism’s removal from Flesh and Blood’s “classic constructed” format meant that an entire style of play had been gated off for nearly a year. Since there were no other heroes with her unique class and talent combination of Light Illusionist, there were literally no characters in the game capable of wielding various Light Illusionist attacks and auras. It meant that many powerful cards in the game could simply no longer be played.
This finally changes with the release of a newly redesigned version of Prism, a card subtitled Advent of Thrones. It’s part of the upcoming Dusk Till Dawn set, Flesh and Blood’s 10th expansion since the game’s release in 2019. For the first time in a year, Flesh and Blood players will once again have a Light Illusionist to wield in the classic constructed format, and senior designer Bryan Gottlieb isn’t the only one excited.
“This is the first time we’re seeing the realized goal of the Living Legend system where these heroes fade out for a bit, they take some time, then come back in either new forms or new heroes occupying that class,” Gottlieb told Polygon in a recent interview. “We’re seeing the cyclical nature of it come to fruition. We’ve had the promise of this system for a few years now, and only after three years are we really starting to deliver the fully realized version of it.”
Flesh and Blood was originally created by James White, a former professional Magic: The Gathering player, but largely strays from what fans might expect of a trading card game inspired by Magic.
Before each match of Flesh and Blood, players reveal their hero along with the weapons and armor they’ll use during the game. Players then draw cards each round from a deck of moves, which are played in the center of the table to form what is called the “combat chain,” where most of the game’s action takes place. Among the cards that Prism made playable are weapons and moves that can only be played by the specific class and talent combination of Light Illusionist. Before becoming a Living Legend, popular choices for Prism included the Luminaris scepter, the Arc Light Sentinel aura, and the Herald of Erudition attack.
To help usher in Prism’s highly anticipated return, Dusk Till Dawn will also feature a new Light Illusionist instant called Celestial Resolve, to pair with both the hero and support other Herald cards that see play in Prism decks.
The return of a Light Illusionist deck will reintroduce a certain type of play style that’s been essentially absent since Prism became a Living Legend in the classic constructed format, which pits players against one another in a single battle with 80-card decks.
“Prism previously did a fantastic job of preying on slower control decks,” said Gottlieb. “All the Guardians really struggled with Prism because Prism, which is very unique for Flesh and Blood, generates arena presence. “
What ultimately made Prism both unique and powerful was her ability to create game states where she produced additional permanents on the battlefield, called auras, that were effective both offensively and defensively. Auras could shield Prism from enemy attacks, while simultaneously transforming into weapons that attacked for free, eventually dealing opponents a death by a thousand cuts.
The sheer number of auras Prism produced would need to be dealt with by a lot of extra attacks, which controlling decks like those that rely on the Guardian class aren’t suited for. Likewise, a Guardian’s controlling strategy was designed to defend players from an opponent’s big, singular attacks during the combat phase, but a battlefield full of auras dealing lots of incremental damage would ultimately overrun the control decks’ defenses.
Some of the most successful Guardian decks in the Flesh and Blood metagame were built around a hero called Oldhim, Grandfather of Eternity, which embodied the exact type of play style the original Prism preyed on.
“Since Prism [reached Living Legend], decks like Oldhim actually ascended to Living Legend status in her absence — he was a real force in the metagame,” Gottlieb explained. “A lot of things were set up for more controlling decks to really have a lot of purchase. And I think Prism is going to come back in the metagame really looking to take up the mantle that she held before, of keeping those control, grindy decks much more honest by playing to the arena as opposed to playing to the combat chain.”
Dusk Till Dawn pre-releases will be held in local game stores across the world from July 7 to 9, followed by the set’s official release on July 14. Players will have their first chance to test the new Prism’s impact and power as soon as she is released, at an official Battle Hardened tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, starting July 14.
But the biggest tournaments to prove her merit will be a Calling tournament in Birmingham, U.K., starting on July 28, followed by the 2023 National Championships taking place all over the world between Aug. 25 and Sept. 10.