In the ever-evolving world of the Flesh and Blood trading card game, where warriors and technologists battle for supremacy, the upcoming expansion set, Bright Lights, introduces a new take on equipment cards. It will completely change the way players build decks around new and old Mechanologist heroes.
At its core, Flesh and Blood is a turn-based strategy game that pits unique sci-fi and fantasy heroes against one another in brutal combat. A bit like Magic: The Gathering meets the Pokémon Trading Card Game, players start each game of Flesh and Blood with their single chosen hero in play, and use a variety of weapons, equipment, and attack cards to swap blows until a hero’s health total is reduced to zero.
Central to each hero’s identity and play style is the equipment they wear on their legs, chest, head, and arms. Equipment cards are essentially the hero’s armor, and protect the hero from opposing attacks or provide additional benefits that might synergize with a given hero’s play style or card pool.
Unlike traditional equipment cards that all hero classes have access to from the start of a game, the new Bright Lights expansion introduces a cycle of Evo equipment specifically for Mechanologist heroes that are instead shuffled into the players’ decks. Players then have to draw the cards in order to play them for the powerful new effects these equipment cards introduce.
“As game designers, I believe our primary job is to provide fans with a compelling puzzle, with game pieces that inspire them to want to build different decks, try new strategies, and have fun exploring new ways of playing,” wrote creator James White in an email. He’s also the CEO of the game’s publisher, Legend Story Studios, based in New Zealand.
“‘Bright Lights’ is our first time taking fans to Metrix, the City of Wonder,” he continued, “so we needed to deliver an experience that felt true to the sirens call of Metrix; That the future of Rathe is reinvented daily in research centers of Metrix, that anything is possible, that you can Become More Than Human!. Getting to build badass Evo mech suits to become more than human captures that vibe.”
Among the design goals of Bright Lights, expanding FAB’s Mechanologist archetype with new heroes and equipment is central to the set’s theme. The heart of Bright Lights lies in the transformation of underpowered base equipment into state-of-the-art Evo upgrades.
There’s a couple different options for base equipment that players can use for their heroes’ head, chest, arms, and legs. But these equipment cards don’t do anything by themselves, and in some cases have the keyword “Blade Break,” which destroys the equipment when it’s used to defend against an opposing attack. Otherwise, players start the game with these base pieces in play like any other traditional equipment card.
The new Evo cards introduced in Bright Lights are designed to upgrade and enhance the abilities of base pieces, but they are shuffled into the player’s deck — meaning the Mechanologist deck has to draw and play them, adding an extra bit of variance to the gameplay.
When a player draws an Evo equipment, they can transform the base piece by putting it under the Evo. Depending on which equipment is being played, transforming might require an action point, but that’s not always the case. Either way, a transformed base equipment goes under the new card, which will be a benefit to some of the Evos that care about what’s under them.
What’s particularly impressive about this cycle of cards is that they undo any damage that previous equipment might have accumulated throughout the game. So if, for instance, a Mechanologist wearing base equipment gets hit by opposing attacks such as Drill Shot or Buckling Blow, which place damage counters on equipment, those damage counters are removed when the equipment is upgraded to a new Evo piece.
However, these Evo equipment cards force players to accept a short-term trade-off, since the base equipment required to play Evo upgrades are quite weak and have no effect other than to support later upgrades. But this initial sacrifice presents a potential advantage as the game goes on, and Evo upgrades for head, arms, chest, and/or legs are drawn and transformed.
“Typically you play an entire game of Flesh and Blood with the [four pieces of] equipment you start the game with, so giving fans the option to transform and evolve their equipment set up throughout the game with Evos is a really compelling proposition,” White said. “The design challenge was simply making sure we offered enough pay-off for the effort required to build out your Evo suit, compared to just playing with normal equipment.”
In other words, just about any other equipment that players can use at the start of the game are going to be stronger than the base equipment required to utilize the new Evo equipment. But according to White, the set introduces 29 new Evo equipment, which will hopefully add enough options to provide some fun and powerful strategies that make this deck-building restriction worth it.
Among the most impressive of the new Evo equipment is the Evo Atom Breaker, a chest piece that generates two extra resources whenever a player boosts. In a game where resources are usually generated by discarding cards from hand, the Evo Atom Breaker provides a powerful source of alternative resources. It doesn’t block like other equipment can, but instead lets players destroy previously played item cards and convert those into two additional resources.
Meanwhile, the Evo Mach Breaker leg equipment generates Quicken tokens when you boost. Quicken tokens are used to give player attacks “go again,” meaning they generate additional action points to play more cards per turn.
While generating these Quicken tokens might seem initially redundant with the boost ability also providing go again, it might complement Mechanologist pistol strategies in particular, by offering an alternative source of go again without relying on previously used item cards to fill that role.
The Evo Circuit Breaker head equipment introduces a rare ability by allowing players to shuffle attack cards from the banished zone back into the deck. This mitigates the weakness of the boost plan, which inherently puts cards from the player’s deck into the banished zone. By shuffling two attack action cards back into the Mechanologist deck, the Evo Circuit Breaker helps ensure the more aggressive strategies can apply pressure for longer without running out of cards.
Finally, the Evo Face Breaker arms equipment is perhaps the most straightforward in the cycle, as it makes attack cards a bit stronger. It’s not obvious if this will be an immediate fit with the existing Mechanologist play style, since it doesn’t support the popular pistol strategy Mechanologists currently play, but the Face Breaker could prove more appealing as future attack cards are introduced.
As Flesh and Blood players look to utilize the new cycle of equipment, they will also have a brand-new Mechanologist hero that’s been designed to support cards from Bright Lights.
“The Evo Breaker gear is designed mostly as the Maxx Nitro suit, although it can be played by any of the Mechanologist heroes,” White said. “Maxx’s hero ability is able to create Hyper Driver tokens (he’s a balls to wall kinda guy) so naturally he is able to push the power level of the Breaker gear better than others.”
Players will get their first chance to play with Bright Lights during pre-release events between Sept. 29 and Oct. 2, followed by the set’s global release on Oct. 6.