2023 has been a very big year for FaB on the retail level. In January 2023 alone, LSS increased the number of stores signed up as Gem Stores at a 10% clip, and saw 21% growth in registered players over the course of that month as well. As the year progressed, more and more retailers reported that they were carrying FaB, and that fans were buying more product on the FLGS level. This was a major change in consumer behavior as a lot of the sales of FaB product had been online from 2021 (see "September 2021") through 2022 (see "November 2022") thanks to the pandemic. The emerging trend of consumers buying from FLGS could also explain why FaB had been absent on the TCGplayer sealed charts for most of 2023 (people were buying more sealed product at brick-and-mortar than online) despite having very active singles sales on that same platform.July 2023") after a stint of being missing from the chart. Shortly after that, LSS announced that they had added their 4000th Gem store worldwide (Memory Corporation in Japan signed on for support on August 23, 2023). The majority of the 4,000 brick-and-mortar Gem stores on LSS's list are in the U.S., Europe, and Australia, and FaB is now officially available in over 30 countries worldwide. The game also has a strong FLGS presence in Brazil, the Philippines, Malaysia, and of course, its home base, New Zealand.
Returning back to the FaB for Magic trade proposal that triggered these columns, I believe that WotC is indirectly helping Flesh and Blood grow by slowly alienating some their Magic: The Gathering player base in a variety of ways. In my opinion, while the collectible side of Magic is probably the strongest it's been since 2021, the constant reprinting of cards (which leads to the devaluing of some once-pricey cards), wallet fatigue caused by the rapid pace of product releases, and the card design power creep that affects the balance of Eternal formats are finally wearing on some players, who are looking for a new fantasy TCG. FaB seems to check all the boxes for these migrating players, which could be another catalyst for their recent growth at FLGS.'Flesh and Blood' Tolarian Community College").
To wrap things up, FaB is truly on the rise in 2023. The growth of this game has largely been unnoticed, mostly due to the headlines being dominated by Rings (see "The One Ring 001/001") and Lines (see "Most Epic Disney Lines Ever"). However, the growth of the game is real and ongoing on the FLGS level, driven by a strong organized play network and competitive tournament scene. The game is, of course, still very collectible featuring great artwork and scarce cold foil cards with significant monetary value. The game is definitely worth exploring as a possible add to inventory over the course of the holiday season.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.