A Fond Farewell to My Old Avatar: Buying Art with FAB

This one is something of a personal piece, but it’s intermingled with FAB’s ongoing history, so, hopefully, people will pardon the self-indulgence and come along for some reminiscing and reflection on what makes FAB special to me. As to the title, you may have noticed that I’ve retired my old “Plush Pusheen wearing my glasses” avatar. Prior to that one, I just used an actual picture of myself but I swapped it out after someone said that people were only agreeing with me on finance arguments because of my appearance (the FAB community, as a whole, is pretty good about not being weird sexists; this is my one notable bad experience with it). Anyway, I sort of just used the Pusheen one because I thought it was funny – it was a silly picture I sent my wife that happened to be at the top of my phone’s camera roll, and so it became my representation for the FAB community. Then, when I was talking to Alex Truell about my author blurb for pieces that would be appearing on the Rathe Times, the subject of what image I wanted as my avatar came up (Alex is the editor at the Rathe Times – he’s the one who makes sure my articles over there look way better visually than the ones I publish here. That’s when I decided it was time to swap out the old avatar for something that felt a little more apt for Flesh and Blood. So, what does this have to do with FAB as a whole? Well, let me take you on a long and winding journey!

It’s All About The Story

A few days ago I was part of a conversation on the #wall-street Discord channel about collectibles. Scottatlaw was talking about how a collectible’s value is somewhat attached to its history. Partially this was about establishing provenance (keep your receipts, etc.), but he was also talking about the charm that having a documented history bestows upon an object. Being a sarcastic jerk, I joked about an eventual buyer being salty years from now when I go to sell a box of WTR and produce a copy of my “$70 a box” receipt from Reaper Games, but his response was, “Buyers eat that stuff up though.  I love getting 50 year old receipts and auction catalogs when I am picking up new coins.” And that made me pause and reflect on my own collection and how some of the pieces came into my possession. After considering it, there is definitely an intangible romantic aura to cards that have a story. I don’t know how or if that translates to value, but it certainly makes them seem more special.

One of my first “big” singles purchases was a CF tunic for around $325 (it could have been $375; I’d have to check my records). That Tunic came from Owens Satisfactory Cards. If the name “Owens” rings a bell, it’s probably because that’s owensd, the creator of the Flesh and Blood – OSC Tabletop Simulator module. My CF Eye is from Matt G (owner of, like, all the foil Snags. Well, I guess he’s also one of the US players with the most games as Ninja under his belt, but mainly there’s the Snag thing; I think I’m supposed to tell you to buy RF Snags here). Aside from Tunic and Eye being two of the most iconic cards in the game, they’re both connected to other people who were part of the original #wall-street crew from back when it was like twenty of us, and people were politely listening to me argue that $2 CF Cs were a good buy because they would probably be $10 each by the end of 2020 and who knew, maybe $50-100 in 5-10 years if the game caught on (#wall-street had no idea what we were about to be in for. Well, maybe Sato did. It seems like he’s been on a 10 year+ hold plan since before I got into the game).

Conversely, there are some items out in the community that were previously mine that I’m happy to know are in their new homes. Louie DeGeorge over at Kitchen Table TCG did a video about counterfeit playmats last month where he compared a fake Tunic mat to a legit one. That legit one? It used to be mine. And I got if from Sam Smith of FAB Armory who was kind enough to source it for me back in August 2020. Louie clearly gets more use out of it as part of his set than it saw when I owned it, and it’s cool when it shows up in his videos and I can be like, “Hey, I used to own that!”

A shorter chain of possession was my Alpha RF Enlightened Strike. I opened two e-strikes out of loose alpha packs I picked up for around the time WTR went out of print. I’ve still got the first one, which I have no real plans of selling, but I did sell the other to Bill, of Reaper Games fame, to help round the corner on the foil WTR playset he was building at the time. There’s a nice circularity to this since he sold me my first boxes back in July 2020. It makes me happy to think that my estrike lives as part of that collection. And, to add another layer to it, I took the money from that sale and bought two cases of CRU. So now, if/when I move those CRU cases, they’ll be part of that story as well.

Wait, Weren’t We Talking About My Avatar

Yeah, we were. My new avatar actually has its own story that is intermingled with FAB. You see, the avatar I’m using is a cropped version of Datura a piece by Sam Guay (you can buy prints here). I found Sam’s art by way of their tarot deck (I collect tarot decks), and then I started following them on Instagram and saw that they were selling the Datura original. The piece clicked with me as soon as I saw it, so I sold a box of WTR alpha to finance the purchase. We’re both in New England, so I was able to pick it up from them in person and not panic about original art going through the mail, like you do. I even had pink hair at the time, so it felt very on theme.

The story gets even better though. If you’ve read any of my articles that touch on Magic: the Gathering card art, you’ll know that Rebecca Leveille Guay (formerly credited as Rebecca Guay) is my favorite artist, and I will mention her whenever possible. Despite the last names, Sam and Rebecca aren’t related, but Sam did create Datura as part of a mentorship with Rebecca, which is something I learned after having already fallen for the piece. How cool is that for a story? I finally got Datura back from the framer last week, and now it hangs next to my desk.

For me, Datura is inextricably linked to my involvement with FAB. I had purchased this painting a few weeks prior to buying Datura, and I think it would have felt fairly irresponsible to buy more spendy art so soon after, if I hadn’t had such a windfall from Flesh and Blood. Beyond all those connections, the piece itself feels visually “right” to use as an avatar for my FAB presence – Sam describes the painting along with a couple other pieces as “An Homage to the Beginning…The Origins Collection celebrates my early work and the first favorite pieces that helped me create the foundation of my current path: TENDER, DATURA, THE VEIL, and WILL-O’-WISP. These paintings feature enchanting, empowering, and dangerous women.”

Weaving Threads

Flesh and Blood has been a really wild journey for me. In a lot of ways, I was at the right place at the right time. I got in shortly before the game really took off in the US, so I’ve been around long enough to remember opening Alpha before MAP was even a thing, back when people were mad the prices were going up to *gasp* $75 a box. I got to be there when #wall-street was created because I and a handful of other people wouldn’t shut up about finance chat in the #general channel. The #wall-street chat went on to became my main place to socialize during that particular point in quarantine, which was a time where I was really starting to feel the months of isolation. I learned to play the game via Tabletop Simulator against other Discord regulars. I got to take a Blitz game off Davis Kingsley back when he was starting out, long before he blew miles past me and became a scourge on the Skirmish circuit. I’ve ended up in the position to occasionally field some esoteric FAB questions for Zach Bunn, which has its own fun circularity, since Team Covenant’s content is where I first heard about FAB. Starting this blog gave me the first opportunity to write long-form non-fiction for an audience since I was in my Writing Studies PhD program. It’s kind of cheesy, but the game that was pitched as something to bring people together has weirdly managed to do it virtually in an era where many of us don’t actually get to see too many people in person.

I do sometimes feel like I’m the only person in the FAB content-creation community who isn’t unwaveringly positive, and instead sometimes has some critiques to make. But, while I’m here being all maudlin, I should note that Flesh and Blood has made the last nine months of quarantine much more bearable for me. It’s given me something to obsess over, people to talk to –hell I’ve written over 75,000 words of articles on the game (that’s a novel’s worth of content!). And someday, hopefully not too far from now, I’m going to get vaccinated and then have a chance to actually sit down with another human being (I have a friend in mind). I’ll hand them one of the sleeveless Ira decks that I’ve been idly shuffling off and on for nearly a year and say “alright, so this is how you play Flesh and Blood…”

*Header Image – Mask of Momentum by Kate Fox

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