With MSRP Crucible of War now gone (hope you stocked up), we enter the long winter of Flesh and Blood, which happens to coincide with actual winter. Ok, well, that only goes for those of us in the northern hemisphere; New Zealand’s winter is in like June or something, I think? You know what? Leave me alone; season are weird. Anyway, back to my overwrought metaphor. Where were we? Oh! Yeah, that’s right; we’re in FAB winter now awaiting the coming of spring and the release of Monarch. Too much? Alright screw it, I’m here to talk about the best deals in Flesh and Blood and why you should pay attention to them. I’ll have another article soon on pre-orders, (spoiler: I don’t like giving people free loans for four months, especially for a product they can’t guarantee), but, for this first two-part series, the topic is a pair of unique services: Team Covenant’s subscriptions and Rudy’s Alpha Investments Patreon. Sadly both are currently closed, which is why I’ll give you some tips on how to get on “the list”, as it were.
I’ve spoken about both of these before, hell, I’ve written three different articles, assessing the financial impact of recent information from the Alpha Investments YouTube channel and emails. I’ve also spoken at length on Team Covenant’s unique position in the FAB promo space in one of my first pieces. But for this series, I want to talk about these two in a bit more detail, both in terms of what they offer in products as well as why you need to pay attention to them. We’re going to start the series with this piece on community darling, Team Covenant, and save the controversial stuff for our look at Rudy who is more of a “both loved and hated” figure, but who remains, undeniably, a massive force in FAB.
Disclaimer: I’m going to speak fairly glowingly about Team Covenant here. But this is not endorsed content; I don’t get kickbacks of any kind. I just like what they’re doing, and I’m a customer of theirs. My access to them is pretty much the same as anyone else with Discord.
Who Are Team Covenant
Team Covenant, the name is applied to both a group of people and their store in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was responsible for getting me into FAB via their video content. They’ve had an Internet presence around tabletop gaming since 2007 (more info on their history here) and have been producing increasingly high quality content since then. They were ahead of the curve in a lot of respects –their Netrunner videos had higher production value and cleaner explanations than most of their contemporaries and were how I discovered them initially when I was contemplating jumping into that game. Over the years, they’ve put out an astronomical amount of video content that has ramped up even more during the pandemic, and they release a podcast that I really recommend to anyone who is interested in the tabletop industry (episode 157, is an interview with James White, if you want to beeline for the FAB content). I generally find them to be a lot more candid and thoughtful about the issues in the tabletop industry than many store owners who never really consider the big picture.
As an aside, I suppose “LGS” is somewhat of a tricky term here, because while Team Covenant has certainly worked to maintain a retail space that offers a unique experience to their local community, their footprint in the wider online space of tabletop is much greater. But, the same could be said to varying degrees of any store operating a digital storefront, which seemed nearly essential, even before COVID. The real distinction that’s worth making here is differentiating stores that offer a physical play space for their local community from those who function more as warehouses or traditional retail outlets.
Anyway, Team Covenant is notable in the LGS space because they’re constantly striving to come up with ways to carve out a unique position that adds value for their customers while also making them successful as a business. As we move forward into the era of Amazon and big box stores trying to gobble up increasingly larger portions of tabletop sales (to say nothing of direct sales), the major question from customers to physical game stores remains: “why don’t I just buy that online for less?” and TC has been coming up with creative answers to that for quite a while now. They’ve found a niche as a designer of high-end acrylic tokens. They’ve partnered with Plaid Hat Games to launch Ashes Reborn, which, in many ways, is a proof of concept for some of the ideas they’ve spoken of over the years on their podcast. And as we move into more FAB-adjacent topics, they’ve pioneered the subscription model for tabletop games.
In my mind, for years now, they’ve been asking for an opportunity to really buy into the games they believe in and get some sort of (deserved) reward for taking the plunge when everyone else was on the sidelines waiting to see how things shook out, as opposed to adopting early, shouldering the risk, building up a game and its community only to suddenly find themselves unable to get enough product once the game becomes a success. It really seems like 2021 could be where this changes for them. The Ashes arrangement charts new territory for their relationships with designers/publishers, and their early partnering with Legend Story Studios has actually rewarded them for building the community back when alpha WTR boxes were plentiful and people hadn’t even heard of the game. Which brings me to the next section:
Why Should You Care?
“Alright Ada, that’s all lovely,” you might say, “but where is the financial opportunity here?” Well, remember that subscription model I mentioned? Team Covenant’s subscriptions are sort of like what pre-orders wish they could be when they grow up. You’re reserving product, but you don’t actually have to pay until a couple weeks before it ships, which is how most mail orders worked before Amazon normalized 2-day shipping expectations. The insane value from TC is that, in addition to this hassle-free way to get your FAB fix, you also get an exclusive promo. I wrote about TC promos at length, but the short version is that they get a unique alternate extended art, rainbow foil promo that will be a card from the set it ships with.
For the time being, it will be a generic card that you’d want to use as a three of. The first batch of these (Scar for a Scar), absolutely nailed that goal and are now selling at $300+ a piece, and remain, I think, underpriced, given where other chase cards are (I tried to make a deal for an extra pair at $300 each yesterday and someone swooped in while I was negotiating and paid $700 to get them). The only thing holding them back from $500+ pricing is that the market simply doesn’t have enough awareness of them with so many new players coming in and focusing on cold foils. While I cannot prove it, I firmly believe that, in terms of sheer numbers available, TC Scar for a Scar is about as rare, or rarer, than WTR Legendries and you’ll often want to play them as a three of. The Monarch promo will doubtlessly be less valuable than the Scar because there will be several times as many. Let’s say 6000 are handed out, which I think is high, but I like to err toward the less advantageous scenario when estimating prices. That means only 2000 playsets can ever be made. I have a very hard time believing that a playable generic that is that limited won’t be at a minimum of $50 in a year’s time. That’s my conservative bet, I think the upside is significant. If Monarch is, as we’ve been led to believe, the realizations of LSS’ vision for FAB, I would think they’ll probably have a pretty good idea of which card will be a desirable one for the TC promo.
Alight, so you’re sold. Where do you get these subscriptions? Right here. But wait, they’re out of stock! Yeah, I opened with that, remember? Keep up! If you didn’t get in on these the first couple times I talked about them, you missed the easy path to acquisition. However, all hope is not lost. After talking to Zach, I’ve got a little more info:
So, there is a good chance more slots will open prior to Monarch. There’s no a guarantee, but it sounds quite promising. Now here’s the thing you’ve got to be aware of. TC subs are, at this stage, a known quantity to a lot of people who are investing in FAB. As noted, I consider them the best place to buy your cards from (assuming you don’t have an actual LGS to support, and even then, I would still get cases from TC as well). So, if those subscriptions open up, you need to be ready to pounce, because a lot of other people are going to be looking to make or establish their position. I know that I personally want to add another 6-8 cases to what I’ve already got locked in. As Zach notes, these are going to vanish shortly after they go up. To have the best shot at getting in, you should be subscribed to the waitlist (at the bottom of the product page I linked in the previous paragraph). You’ll need to be attentive to your email and/or the #wall-street channel of the FAB Discord, where the first person to notice said email will likely announce it right after making their order. You should have a clear idea of how much product you want, have an account already created, and be ready to go. Monarch demand is absurdly high, so don’t sleep on these. The nice little bonus is that, once you have a sub, it will roll over for Kingdoms, so you probably won’t have to do this all over again. Oh yeah, they’re selling at MAP too. So $76 a box. Even if you think I’m wildly overvaluing the promo, and a year out it’s only going to be worth $25, those are still $50 boxes, which, for first edition FAB, is frankly absurd.
Don’t forget, all of that that Flesh and Blood video content. Oh, also, we got a teaser a while back about some FAB tokens in the works, which is frankly exciting because I hate dice as a method of keeping track of things like life and floating pitch.
Team Covenant are one of the early US promoters of Flesh and Blood. They threw their weight in at a time when 2020 was a very large question mark for all of us, and began doing what they do: building a set of resources to help introduce people to the game and focusing on the community aspect. FAB seems ideal for them in that is can hopefully bring them the sort of profit a CCG can deliver while also being a game grounded in community produced by a company that cares about more than quarterly earnings. This is not Magic, where compromises must be made at times to appease Hasbro; LSS has the level of openness where Zach and Steven were able to sat down (remotely) and talk to James White directly (seriously, go listen to that podcast).
To wrap it all up, part of the charm of TC, for me, is that they come across as very sincere and generally chill people. They love the games they’re pitching you on, and have time and again, forgone optimizing profits in order to maintain their values. When I was talking to Zach in the #wall-street channel to get the info that I quoted above, some other users asked about pricing post-release, and we got these two bits.
To me, that really encapsulates TC. I very much hope that the partnerships they’ve made this year help usher in the sort of new future for tabletop that they’ve been relentlessly seeking for over a decade now. At a minimum, I know that, without their content getting me into Flesh and Blood in the first place, this blog wouldn’t even exist.
*Header Image – Sun Kiss by Daria Khlebnikova