Ultimate Pit Fight – A #FABDad’s Guide to Multiplayer Flesh and Blood

United We Stand
(United We Stand | Art by Alexander Mokhov)

Greetings and salutations once again, my fabulous FAB folk! I’m Donnie, aka some random #FABDad, and today we’ll be looking at something a little more on the casual side. With Tolarian Community College/Legend Story Studio’s collaborative project, Round the Table, coming out soon I wanted to dive into what makes Flesh and Blood‘s Ultimate Pit Fight format tick and how it works.

Without further ado, let’s get into the obvious question:

What is Ultimate Pit Fight (UPF?)

First and foremost, if you’re a former, or current, Magic: the Gathering player, you’ll probably be familiar with this style of gaming. Ultimate Pit Fight as a format draws a lot of comparisons to what has become Magic‘s flagship method of playing, Commander/EDH, and for good reason. UPF is Flesh and Blood‘s multiplayer mode, pitting three to five players (five being the recommended/optimal pod size), in a last-hero-standing brawl to the death.

Cool! What Do I Need to Play?

According to the official website’s rules for UPF, players may choose any young hero in the game to represent them, even from among those that have obtained Living Legend status in the Blitz format or Adjudicator heroes. You’re able to arm that hero with an exactly forty card main deck and eleven inventory slots comprised of equipment (The old Blitz deck building rules). Just like in Blitz, you’re only allowed to use two unique copies of a card in your pile of forty, but otherwise there is not currently a ban list whatsoever for UPF.

Well… almost no ban list whatsoever. The only exceptions to the deck construction rules are for official events, where the “Special Use Promo” card, Go Bananas, and the promo hero Yorick, Weaver of Tales are banned. Those are the only cards you’re not allowed to bring to a competitive UPF game. Typically, the only sanctioned/competitive opportunities to play UPF (where the ban list matters), would be at a side event for one of the higher tier events.

These restrictions don’t have to have any significance at your kitchen table with your friends though. And they don’t have to have any impact at your local game store either, so long as they’re discussed prior to the start of the game. As long as your group is ok with it, feel free to Go Bananas!

Alright, What’s the Game Structure Like?

Just like a regular game of Flesh and Blood, each player reveals their hero and then one player is selected by whatever random method the group prefers. That player chooses who will take the first turn, everyone selects their starting equipment, and the game begins!

Turns progress one player at a time, in a clockwise rotation. Anytime an effect impacts multiple players, the effect is resolved in the same clockwise order starting with the active player. At the end of the first player’s turn, every hero draws cards back up to their intellect and only draw back up again at the end of their own turns from then on.

How Does Attacking/Blocking Work?

Unlike Magic‘s Commander format, in UPF you’re only allowed to declare attacks against the player(s) to your immediate left and/or right. If you want to attack multiple players on your turn, you can, but you’ll have to break the combat chain to do so. Each combat chain is only able to target one opponent at a time, but any card with a targeted ability can still target any legal target at the table. You can legally declare an attack against one player with Vexing Malice, for example, while sending the targeted arcane damage at any other hero you’d like.

Additionally, you’re only allowed to declare blocks against an attack that targets you unless a card effect says otherwise. An obvious example being the Guardian shield coming with Brevant, Civic Protector in Round the Table, the Bastion of Duty.

How Does the Game End?

The same way as any other game of Flesh and Blood. The last hero left standing when everyone else has been reduced to zero life is the victor. As usual, if a player runs out of cards (fatigues), they don’t automatically lose. They’ll have to be fully vanquished or concede.

Whenever a player does leave the game/lose, all the cards/tokens they control, not own, leave with them starting with cards on the stack and/or in the arena. After that, all their other zones leave the game as well (pitch, banish, deck, hand, graveyard, etc.) Afflictions or tokens they may have given out stay on the field with whatever player controls them. They stay until they’re destroyed or removed from the game individually. The owner gets them back when they are dealt with, or the controlling player also leaves the game, or when the game ends.

Is There Anything Else That I Need to Know?

There is one thing that tends to come up occasionally that will probably be helpful to know. Cards like Arcanite Skullcap that reference “your opponent” collectively mean anyone still opposing you in the game. Meaning if you have less life than any other player, your Skullcap’s ability is active, making it a potentially stronger defensive equipment in the UPF format than in traditional constructed ones. (If you’re at 19, Billy is at 20, Sarah is at 14, and Alex is at 11 for example, your Skullcap has +1 on block and Arcane Barrier 3 because you have less life than an opponent.)

Otherwise, that’s the gist of FAB’s multiplayer rules. Combined with the basic knowledge of how to play Flesh and Blood, you are now more or less ready to pick up your favorite Blitz deck and jump right into a game with your buddies.

The only additional recommendation I have would be to discuss what kind of experience everyone at the table wants to have before the game actually begins. The “Rule Zero” conversation should be had to help alleviate any “feels bad” moments that might crop up. Without discussion, wires can sometimes cross as one player wants to play their goofy meme deck and another wants to watch the world burn with their deck that’s entirely focused on winning quickly. Not to say there’s anything wrong with playing either deck, but the goal of UPF is for everyone to have a good time and leave happy. By setting expectations beforehand you give the group the best chance to let that happen.

Final Thoughts

Ultimate Pit Fight is a way to play that is meant to evoke the very best of what casual Flesh and Blood has to offer. It’s a format dedicated to politicking, negotiating, laughter, and fun with your friends, and one that I am personally going to be looking for more opportunities to play.

To study up more, I recommend watching The Professor’s video on UPF and referencing the official site like I did.

Are you a veteran of the Ultimate Pit Fight format or a newbie like me? Do you feel drawn to any particular hero in Round the Table or any for UPF in general? Why is the new Bard hero, Melody, Sing-along the greatest thing ever to happen to Flesh and Blood? (Because Bards are awesome, obviously.) If you’d like to chat about UPF, Round the Table, or anything else FAB related, feel free to hit me up on Discord or Twitter as Dracohominis87!

Donnie is an enthusiastic nerd and family man who grew up playing TCGs, starting when Pokemon cards were the hottest thing on the playground. After playing Yu-gi-oh and then Magic the Gathering for years, he found Flesh and Blood in December of '22, sold all of his other pretty cardboard rectangles, and dived into FAB head first where he discovered a deep love for go-wide strategies involving the use of Ninja cards. Be Like Water is his current favorite card, because he gets to do a terrible Bruce Lee impression every time it's played. (Much to the annoyance of his brother who hears it a lot.) Donnie has been married to his lovely wife since Halloween 2008 and has two beautiful daughters that he couldn't be more proud of.