In Flesh and Blood’s latest expansion, Heavy Hitters, the trading card game introduces a brand-new hero named Betsy. Set against the backdrop of a fight club known as Rathe’s Death Match Arena, few competitors elicit the kind of fear and respect that she does. While other fighters have come and gone over the years, Betsy was born to this life — raised in the arena’s shadows. She embodies the determination, hedonism, and excitement that make its gladiatorial spectacle the only place where combatants can be guaranteed to win big or lose it all. Those odds are an excellent match for her signature mechanic, called wager, which invites players to bet against their opponents for increasingly complex and rewarding combat encounters.
“We wanted a hero that personified the theme of the set, all of the bombast and spectacle, the gambling, the drinking, the boozing, the partying, the absolute debauchery,” explained Bryan Gottlieb, senior game designer at Legend Story Studios, Flesh and Blood’s New Zealand-based publisher, during an exclusive conversation with Polygon. “We wanted Betsy to be the hero that just lived all of these ideals. She’s all about gambling, drinking, partying. And she is beloved within this environment for just how she embraces all the excess.”
Betsy’s hero cards will be printed with Flesh and Blood’s Marvel treatment. Some boosters can contain these double-sided cards. “On the front side is the normal card face in Cold Foil,” said Legend Story Studios’ Alex Norvill, “and on the back instead of the regular Flesh and Blood card back is the full Hero Art without text, also foiled. They are tournament legal.”
Wager, a brand-new gambling-inspired mechanic in Heavy Hitters, features prominently on Betsy’s hero cards by encouraging and rewarding players for using attacks that leverage the wager mechanic, effectively making her attacks stronger whenever a wager is made.
The mechanic will work as a high-risk, high-reward minigame that players may choose to use with certain cards — especially in Betsy decks — but other heroes will have access to wager cards too. The way it functions, as Gottlieb puts it, “you play an attack, you get to decide whether you want to wager or not. If the attack hits, you get the benefit of the wager. If it does not, your opponent gets the benefit of the wager.”
One of the new cards to feature wager is the new Bet Big attack, which lets the attacking player put additional tokens on the line with the outcome of an attack’s resolution.
“Basically, you’re just betting on yourself. You’re saying, ‘I’m good enough to get this attack through.’ There’s a lot of mind games that come with when you present this wager and you say, ‘Yep, I’m going to hit you,’” according to Gottlieb. “And when I say this to you, and with that kind of confidence, then you have to ask yourself, Am I supposed to be trying to stop this from hitting?”
That’s where the minigame comes into focus. Once a wager is made, and additional benefits or resources are on the line with an attack, defending players have to consider how much they’re willing to do in order to prevent a certain attack from hitting. Maybe it’s worth letting it happen, allowing the attacker to spend cards and connect for some modest gains, before attacking them back on the following turn once they have fewer resources to use on defense.
Or, on the attacker side, perhaps the wager is a bluff altogether. An attempt to fool the defending player into overcommitting on defense, wasting their own cards out of fear of letting a low-impact wager connect, and accidentally reducing future defensive potential in subsequent turns.
“The phrase ‘know when to hold them, know when to fold them’ came up a lot over the course of the development of this set,” Gottlieb added. “We wanted people rowdy, like hooting and hollering and having big explosive moments… There are moments that feel like you are gambling, like you’re gambling for your life.”
Preview season for Heavy Hitters kicks off on Jan. 17, 2024, followed by the set’s world premiere on Jan. 19. Pre-release events take place globally from Jan. 26 to 29, with the set’s official release on Feb. 2, 2024. Twenty-four-pack booster boxes, known as displays, will be on sale at local game stores with an MSRP of $109.90.