Understanding Tempo in Flesh and Blood TCG

Understanding Tempo in Flesh and Blood TCG

Welcome to an article about the fundamentals of Tempo in Flesh & Blood TCG. I’ve written many articles like this geared toward beginner and intermediate players who want to bolster their understanding of the game and quickly improve as players. These fundamental articles span many websites such as Channel Fireball, Rathe Times, and now my personal website. Each article is centered around a single, standalone topic. But together, all of these topics weave together to comprehensively cover the mechanics of the game. This catalog of content will continue to be expanded as new mechanics are introduced, and as I write more of the planned topics. You can read these articles in any order you would like, I would just encourage you to try to implement what you learn in your own games and practice. 

Let’s jump in!

My Flesh & Blood Fundamental Articles:

Competitive Play Introduction

Tempo in Flesh and Blood can be a difficult concept to understand. It’s not like Hearthstone or Magic: the Gathering where you can stick a permanent on the board, and use it to beat your opponent down turn after turn. Tempo in Flesh and Blood will typically equate to how many cards you are able to comfortably keep and play rather than spend defending yourself and your life total. You can sacrifice your life, a valuable resource in Flesh and Blood, for short or long-term tempo. Having a large lead in life can allow you to hold and keep tempo, even when faced by immense pressure from your opponent. Remember, you only need one life point to win the game.

Like other TCGs, Tempo does equate to how efficiently you can use your cards each and every turn. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the more cards you have in your hand, the more likely you are to assemble a powerful combo and generate more offensive pressure. In general, if you can avoid keeping a card in your hand when you end the turn (that isn’t going to arsenal) you want to do so. Card Advantage plays heavily into Tempo, and by avoiding card disadvantage (having an extra card in your hand when you enter your draw phase) you are more likely to hit the pieces you need. 

I will note when you do end up with excess cards in your hand outside the first two turns of the game, that usually means that you do have tempo and are putting more pressure on your opponent than they can comfortably answer. In this situation, where these extra cards are not being pressured out of your hand, you should not feel bad or perceive that you are efficiently using your resources or suboptimally playing your cards.

Toward the end of a Flesh and Blood game, have you found yourself attacking your opponent turn after turn, forcing them to block with 3-4 cards then simply pass the turn back to you and allowing you to do it again? You have tempo.

How about the other way around? If you are feeling immense pressure from your opponent and feel compelled to use your cards to defend yourself rather than attack the following turn, your opponent likely has tempo.

Flesh & Blood games are very back and forth. Tempo is usually traded throughout the game on both sides and swung in one player’s favor on turns when power cards are played. To quote myself:

“Power Cards are typically the Reds of the list, the strongest cards that you will almost always want to play out rather than using them to defend your life total. In general, these cards will not pitch for resources well, so you need to have the resource curve (the combination of blues, yellows, and reds) in your list to support paying your costs as required. Typically, in more aggressive decks, resource costs are lower than they are in something more resource-intensive like Guardian decks that tend to run more blue cards than most other classes. Hero specialization cards will almost always fall into the power cards camp.”

As expected, power cards are the cards in the list that have the greatest influence on shaping the outcome of each game of Flesh & Blood. Play them correctly, and you’re sure to put staggering pressure on your opponent and create some exciting games. Of course, most good decklists can’t only consist of red power cards. The list would usually lack the resource generation to pay costs outside of ‘cheerios & redline’-type strategies that rely on zero-cost red cards and go-again to fuel their aggression. Of course, these types of decks are extremely vulnerable to any kind of ice-based resource disruption like Frostbite, Channel Lake Frigid, and attacks like Spinal Crush.

The final crucial component of tempo I want to discuss is the concept of a ‘Pivot Turn’. A pivot turn is typically an inflection point in the game when a player uses the resources at their disposal and tries to launch a strong counterattack, usually taking a lot of damage in order to keep 4-5 of their strongest cards in their hand. You’ll know a pivot turn when you see one, and they almost always revolve around the use of power cards. Taking a big hit, and swinging back with (hopefully) more damage or disruption than your opponent can deal with is central to this concept. If you’re trying to execute a pivot turn of your own, you are trying to do something powerful enough to justify not blocking a large amount of damage. Pull a pivot turn off correctly, and you’ll swing the tempo in your favor!

Understanding tempo in Flesh & Blood comes with practice. It’s central to building an understanding of the economy of the game and actions—it’s what defines the back and forth nature of the game. As you play and practice more, look to actively assess who has tempo in what points in the game. Try to identify when your opponent is trying to steal tempo, and also assess what you can potentially do via a pivot turn to take the tempo back if you lack it. 

Consider this a primer in Flesh & Blood tempo. I’ll be expanding and going in-depth on some examples, as well as a more theoretical view of the concept of tempo in future articles mapped to the project!

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Kassai: Outland Mercenary | A Competitive Blitz Skirmish Deck Tech

Kassai: Outland Mercenary | A Competitive Blitz Skirmish Deck Tech

Today, I’m excited to bring you a competitive Kassai, Cintari Sellsword Blitz list to slice & dice your way through Skirmish season. Kassai got some massive upgrades in Everfest with a wide variety of powerful cards that enable a go-wide offensive strategy with Cintari Sabers. There’s also more incentive than ever to amass a treasure hoard of copper tokens with three cards in the deck that allow you to directly cash in your copper for some truly incredible turns.

Decklist: https://fabdb.net/decks/zVnYQMaY 

Turns out, mercenary work in Rathe pays quite well with the new warrior tricks gained from Everfest.

This article was made free to ALL readers. To support my content as well as get some truly amazing exclusive rewards, please consider supporting me on Patreon if you are not already a supporter!

Let’s jump in!

Supporting Video Deck Overview: Tips & Tricks:

The Strategy

Core Equipment Setup: Arcanite Skullcap, Courage of Bladehold, Braveforge Bracers, Valiant Dynamo.

Kassai got some HUGE upgrades with Everfest. Cintari Sabers are more lethal and difficult to block than ever, and Blood on Her Hands + Courage of Bladehold creates one truly explosive turn every game. We build around low resource costs to prioritize swinging both our swords at least once every turn. The goal of the deck is quite simple. Attack with both your sabers each turn, and empower them as able. Build up your copper as you land hits on your opponent and combo off!

This list can take advantage of amazing armor blocks from Valiant Dynamo, consistently blocking one point of damage for free almost every turn. On top of Dynamo, Kassai has great armor from Skullcap (in matches we want more density like Guardian, Ranger, and the Warrior mirror), Courage, and Braveforge Bracers and can use that as the primary means of defense while getting aggressive with her attacks. If you’re going second, don’t be afraid to block with your boots on turn one, a -1 defense counter rarely matters for this equipment.

Rush to amass copper tokens and spend them for some wild combo turns with Cash In and Blood on Her Hands. Use Oath of Steel on your big Blood on Her Hands + Courage of Bladehold turn to devastate your opponent and push upwards of 20 damage across the table.

You can leverage your very high armor density and a strong offensive plan as your primary means of defense. Consistently attacking for 10+ damage on most turns will force many foes to take a more defensive approach to the match, in which case you’ll more consistently have access to big 4-5 card hands to maintain an iron grip on the tempo of the game.

Tip: This deck is fun, easy to pilot once you learn the interactions, difficult to block, and surprisingly tanky! Just don’t forget to collect your loot and make all the copper tokens you’re supposed to from your various triggers—you need to get paid for your mercenary work.

We run a single copy of Nourishing Emptiness for its powerful effect in Warrior and ability to generate a 5-6 card hand. You can potentially swing in with this AFTER attacking once or twice with your sabers on the same turn.

The Core

The core of Kassai’s build is go again. We need to consistently have a way to enable a second swing with our sabers to take advantage of Kassai’s hero ability (generating copper tokens even without the support of cards in the deck.) We also run an extremely low-to-the-ground resource curve to create powerful turns without needing a lot of resources to pitch. 19 reds, 9 yellows, and 12 blues feels like the perfect allocation right now spread across the cards that have been chosen.

The Go-again package for my list sports 18 cards that give our weapons go-again. A quick check with the hypergeometric calculator shows that you should expect a source of go again in 91% of the hands of four you draw for your first hand of the game.

The offensive package enables cards like Oath of Steel, Out for Blood, Second Swing, In the Swing, Outland Skirmish and Slice and Dice to empower our attacks and make our sabers very difficult to block. Cintari Saber’s intrinsic ability: “If Cintari Saber is defended by an attack action card, it gains +1 until the end of turn” can be paired with your other power-ups to create awkward breakpoints for your opponent to defend.

Resourceful Kassai players will pay attention to the potential breakpoints of their attacks to generate more copper tokens, faster, than simply trying to push more raw damage through. There’s a trade-off to this approach and it’s not always possible on each and every turn, but this level of expertise and mastery with this fundamental concept of Flesh & Blood is essential learning for mastery of a hero like Kassai.

Copper generation is crucial. In addition to Kassai’s hero ability, we have Outland Skirmish and Spoils of War to fuel our ability to amass wealth. Cash In and Blood on Her Hands are the payoff cards for generating our fortune (and powering up our attacks while doing it). Both are powerful options, but you should focus on setting up your Blood on Her Hands for x=6 as soon as possible (Ideally backed behind a 5-card hand.) If you can hit a five-card hand with Blood on Her Hands + Cash In with 10+ copper tokens, Kassai can generate upwards of 30 damage with the right hand (though this is an edge case).

The turn with Blood on Her Hands + Courage of Bladehold will by far be the most explosive turn we play. This will effectively make Kassai’s sabers cost zero to swing with and will enable the most possible power from Blood on Her Hands. Oath of Steel is much more valuable here as it represents 6+ additional damage when paired with Blood on Her Hands. This is the equivalent of just getting to play a virtual Scar for a Scar (Red) for free during your turn (spread out over your attacks, of course).

Tip: Just make sure to take advantage of your first Courage of Bladehold block (2 armor) before destroying this armor piece for your big combo turn. Every life point matters, and blocking with this armor before your combo effectively nets you an additional two life in the match!

If your first combo turn doesn’t kill the opponent, you can set up a second, albeit smaller combo turn off your second copy of Blood on Her Hands. Needless to say, you don’t want to be blocking with Blood on Her Hands. If it shows up early in your hand, pitch it early to pay for your effects and look for it to come around later.

What to Look Out For

Like any go-wide hero that leverages an extremely low-to-the-ground resource curve and many actions per turn, Kassai can be weak to ice-based strategies that leverage Frostbite and cards like Channel Lake Frigid. Cards that take away go again like Spinal Crush and Red in the Ledger are also an issue. Ranger’s Remorseless can heavily tax our life total for playing out our ‘cheerios’ style hands into our Sabers.

These types of strategies and turns will create hurdles that can drastically slow Kassai’s momentum and swing the tempo away from us. You will likely need to strike a balance between defending and protecting your life total while also retaliating with as much damage as you can against turns like this. Take a measured approach, try to wait out the disruption, and set up your next powerful turn to get back on top and steal the tempo back in your favor.


Kassai is an incredibly fun, thematic, and competitive choice heading into the upcoming Skirmish season. I expect she will be a very strong hero choice in the emerging Everfest Blitz meta!

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