Local Member Spotlight: Chris E.

Throwing up a bit of a different post today, highlighting one of our new local players who started playing just a couple months ago. A bit of a background, Chris and I initially met through a few mutual friends a long time ago (let’s say around 2014) through ultimate. If work takes about half of my life, ultimate easily takes up the other half. Yes, a shocker! I do have hobbies outside of FAB! I have been playing the sport since the last year of high school and started getting into competitive ultimate since 2015. I have been playing ultimate for more than 15 years now. It is a year-round sport, so it does take up a lot of time. During the club season, at least half of the week is dedicated to practices whereas the other half would be dedicated to strength/conditioning, with some tournaments on weekends sprinkled here and there. Because of Covid shutting down so many team sports, I was able to put ultimate aside and get back into TCGs, and it was around a couple months ago that I pitched the idea of playing the game to Chris. I knew he had played MtG back in the days, so I had asked if he was interested in playing Infinity’s Monarch pre-release. His growth in the game has been quick, and he would be much more well-known around the community or even across Canada if he had more time to play the game.

For new players, I thought it would be helpful to get some insight into Chris’s perspective, since he’s an example of someone who can pick up the game quick and be competitive. He has won both of our local armories where it was the Monarch starter decks only. Really, his barrier to making the jump is just card availability/collection and the $$$ majestics/legendaries. Clearly, when on even footing, he is a top level player beating out other frequent top players. That was in less than 2 months of getting into the game. You can find our interview below:

O: What is your background in TCGs?

C: I played Pokemon during the craze in elementary school, starting with the starter deck and 1 booster pack. In my first booster, I pulled a 1st edition Charizard! Haven’t been that lucky since. We played the game a little bit but soon classmates moved onto Yu-Gi-Oh and I never got into that. The Pokemon Card Game for GameBoy was an amazing way to play without having to buy cards.

I got into MTG in Grade 6/7, playing with both school friends and family friends all the time. I started by buying a couple decks from graduating classmates and I was hooked. I couldn’t really increase the size of my collection, but any time I got gifts I would request either booster or Fat Packs (which included the MTG novels, which I followed). I was never any good, but played in tournaments at my local game store until my interest died down in Grade 8/9. When I was in Grade 11/12, our high school math teacher got into MTG and created a Magic club, hosting for-fun tournaments once a week. This renewed a lot of my classmates interest, so we all broke out our old collections and competed. This led to some of us competing in tournaments again at our LGS. Over time, I grew bored of Magic since the Standard meta was too tough to keep up with and I didn’t want to buy the “mandatory” cards for the sets for tournaments. A couple friends would consistently host draft or cube (drafting with a home-made collection of cards) nights and invite me to play, which was more fun since I was out of the scene and didn’t have to keep up with the meta nor buy booster packs. However, at one point I lost all interest in playing any sort of MTG and it has never come back.

O: How did you get into FAB?

C: During COVID Lockdown, Oliver approached me knowing I like strategy board games with the idea of trying Flesh and Blood, a game he had started during the pandemic. He mentioned the game store he frequented (Infinity Cards) was giving away starter decks in the community as a promotion to get new players to try it out. He gave me and my partner a Ninja Katsu and Brute Rhinar blitz deck and taught us on the hood of my car in a parking lot after a jog. It was completely different from MTG and it took me a while to understand the flow of the game and the benefits gained from arsenal as I tried to close the game out with Katsu. I thought the game was interesting, but quite 1-dimensional where you just keep sending out combo cards to get them to block until they have no cards in their hand. I only broke through the last of my partner’s life after putting a card into arsenal to setup card advantage on a following turn. Looking back now after seeing those 2 Kodachi in Ira decks, I could’ve ended the game way easier. Even though I wasn’t sold on the game, Oliver mentioned a pre-release for Monarch was coming up next month so I should give it a try. He mentioned 1st edition cards make the entrance fee good value, showing me the price of 1st edition booster boxes at the time. I decided to give it a shot since I doubted Oliver would be so into the game if it was as 1-dimensional as I saw it.

O: What made FAB click for you – which moment was the one that got you hooked?

C: Once I played the Infinity Cards Monarch pre-release sealed tournament, I was hooked. I was keeping up with the spoiler cards so I knew which mechanics were coming but didn’t really understand how they would work. I made a Levia deck at the tournament and had a blast seeing what crazy decks I came across in an equal format. The mechanics and flow of the game felt incredibly different from the starter decks I tried. All 4 heroes interested me. Winning a couple games as well as a mat raffle were bonuses that helped keep my excitement up. I immediately signed up for another pre-release tournament the following day that still had space left.

O: Who is your favorite hero/playstyle?

C: I’ve always liked both combo and aggro decks in MTG. Having only tried blitz this far, I really enjoy an all-out aggression playstyle. This means not blocking a majority of the time, which helps a beginner like me make decisions. Most of tournaments I’ve played have been with Boltyn, but I’ve been dabbling with Prism to see what type of aggression I can dish out with her, without having to deal with losing a card to charging. Boltyn’s no-block playstyle feels really good since the amount of damage you can dish out with 3-5 card hands can be pretty nuts. I also really enjoy attack reactions, they bring so much depth to the game.

O: You have won two local armories when everyone was on even footing with the starter decks. What would you say attributed to your success?

C: From my limited tournament experience, Flesh and Blood (like most other games) seems to be all about optimization and strategy. For both of these elements, you have to take into account your opponent’s strategy and capabilities, trying to predict what they have in their hand. I purchased the Boltyn and Prism blitz decks, since I enjoyed watching their play styles in the 2 sealed pre-release tournaments I had played in (I played Levia and Prism). Oliver and my other friend who participated in the pre-release, Alvin, both had purchased Monarch blitz decks, so I played a couple matches against their Levia and Chane. Knowing what the strategy of the other decks are and what they are capable of (since it’s public knowledge what cards are in the deck) really helped me to do better in the Armories. I learned a lot from playing in both tournaments too – the second tournament I played Prism, which helped convince me to try making a Prism blitz deck afterwards.

O: What is your goal with FAB?

C: For now, I’m trying out adjustments to my Prism blitz deck. I’ve been trying to play in local tournaments when I am available, with expectation to play in the Road to Nationals event coming up. I’m most likely going to be playing Prism for Classic Constructed, since it seems to scale well into an aura style build, which was something I didn’t have the balls to play in Blitz cause… they don’t block and cost a fortune! I’m lucky Oliver doesn’t play Prism so he has lent me the key legendary equipment, which seem like they make a huge difference due to the longer game length in CC. For now, I’m just enjoying playing different matchups and learning as I go – I’ve put some thought into adjusting my deck to do better in the local scene, since I always seem to run into Dorinthea and Kano. I’m excited for the RTN event and look forward to what else LLS has in store (Calling Vegas?!).

O: Anything you wish to see changed or implemented into the game in the future?

C: I’m excited to see how LSS plans to keep us on our toes and change the dynamic of the game with upcoming sets. Having more generic equipment options would be nice, so its tougher to distinguish a “best in slot” for each hero.

O: Any tips for new players?

C: The takeaway from my starter deck armory experience is that matchup experience is a large part in improving at the game. I would highly recommend playing against different people/decks and tournaments are the best way to do so. It’s really interesting since our local scene has quite a few Dorinthea players, which I always struggle against as Boltyn. However, it’s neat to see how the players have different play styles and slightly different makeup in their deck. The general strategy is the same but the decision making and play style differs. Something that really bugs me is how rare the legendary equipment is in the game and how big of a difference they make. For my decks in Blitz, most of the time I’ve noticed aside from blocking more, I often choose the effects of the common equipment over them. I wouldn’t get too wrapped up on the equipment – I’ve placed decently well (top 8) in a Skirmish event running Boltyn without any legendary equipment. When you get more invested into the game, I’m sure you will be willing to commit to some, but in the meantime you can still have a great time and play competitively with just Majestics. Have fun with the game, gain that XP and win prizes (or raffles)!

Thanks to Chris for spending the time and answering questions! I hope this interview helps motivate the players in our community and not shy away from playing in events. You only get better with each game that you play! Let’s make BC the strongest FAB region in Canada. 🙂

Header image: Azure D (ultimate team) Winter Season 2015 – Chris is to the right of me

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