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  1. #1
    Senior Member Mojumbo's Avatar
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    1000th Post ~ Card Advantage 101

    A while back before I was on the Design Team I decided for my 1000th post I would make a write up about what card advantage is and why it matters. This article is directed towards the up and coming players that are looking for a way to improve their game such that they can be the next iClipse (our current World Champ )!

    Card Advantage defined:
    At its core, card advantage (or CA for short) simply means “having more cards than your opponent.” The easiest example of gaining card advantage is to draw more cards. For example, a card such as Tome of Knowledge lets you draw extra cards outside of your draw phase. In fact, did you know that by starting the game going second you will start the game with +1 card advantage over your opponent due to the simple fact he doesn’t draw a card on his first turn? Understanding what card advantage is and how to take advantage of it is essential to top tier deck building. This is because if you have more cards than your opponent, you will have more options. If you have more options than your opponent, you will have more chances to win the game.

    Card advantage can also be broken down into 3 subtypes which are:
    • Hand advantage: the number of cards in your hand relative to your opponent
    • Board Advantage: The number of cards on the field relative to your opponent
    • Resource Advantage: The number of resources in your resource pile relative to your opponent.

    You should aim, in a perfect world, to be leading in all 3 of these categories over your opponent.

    How to create Card Advantage:
    There are multiple ways to go about creating card advantage such as using a draw engine, manipulating resources, using mass removal, and killing allies in combat.

    Draw engines: It’s important to remember that in order to gain card advantage the draw engine your using has to have a one-sided benefit. Though a Bazaar, for example, will let you draw 2 cards a turn it will also give that benefit to your opponent. Additionally if your opponent was to destroy your Bazaar after you played it they would actually gain a +1 to card advantage instead of you! A Blood Frenzy, however, will let you draw 2 cards a turn, but not your opponent, resulting in a +1 card advantage swing in your favor each and every turn.

    Manipulating resources: There are 2 ways to manipulate resources. The first is to use resource acceleration for which the prime example is the Rogue’s Stop Thief. The second way is to use resource denial. Resource denial means lowering your opponent’s resources and can be achieved by playing cards such as Plague and Here Be Monsters. Here be Monsters is an interesting option in particular because it both destroys an opponent’s resource and lets you draw a card. This results in a +1 to card advantage because you get 1 card draw and 1 of the opponent’s resources for the price of 1 of your cards.

    Mass Removal: The prime example of mass Removal at work is Tidal Wave. Essentially, you want to play Tidal Wave when you have few to no allies on the field and the enemy has 2 or more. For example, if you play Tidal Wave when you have 0 allies in play and the opponent has 4, your Tidal Wave will work to be a 4 for 1 trade which is a net +3 to card advantage. Powerful stuff indeed!

    Combat: Every time you kill an opposing ally in combat it represents a +1 to card advantage. Likewise, if your opponent then kills one of your allies it would represent a -1 to card advantage. For example, if your Jasmine Rosecult kills an opposing Priest of the Light but is then killed by an opposing Aldon the Brave it can be said that your Jasmine Rosecult traded 1 for 1 which is +0 card advantage.

    Advanced Card Advantage Theory: The Floater
    Now that you know what card advantage is and how to create it, it is time to explore a slightly more complicated concept. A floater, essentially, is an ally that has paid for itself whether in combat or through its effect. For example, Belladonna draws you a card (+1 CA) when it is summoned which means that if she was to then be killed in combat (-1 CA) by your opponent you would not lose card advantage over your opponent. Likewise, any ally that has killed an opposing ally in combat can be considered a floater that has paid for itself. This is part of why a turn 3 Jasmine followed by a turn 4 Aldon can be such a powerful play: it allows you to gain board control and card advantage at the same time.

    If you recall, I mentioned that mass removal cards such as Tidal Wave/Supernova have the potential to cause big card advantage swings in your favor. However, what happens when your Supernova is used to kill 2 floaters (Jasmine/Aldon) that have paid for themselves by killing 2 allies? If we break down the numbers we find that you have lost 2 allies (-2 CA), your Supernova is used up (-1 CA), and your opponents 2 floaters are killed (+2 CA). Originally, you would assume a Supernova killing 2 allies is a 2 for 1 trade, but because of the fact that those 2 allies had paid for themselves you actually end up with an end result of -1 card advantage (-2+2-1=-1)!

    This is the type of thing that should go into your advanced deck building strategy. You should ask questions such as: “what type of draw engine will provide the most card advantage?” “When should/shouldn’t I use my mass removal cards?” “Is there any way I can craft my deck such that my opponent will be baited into overextending into my mass removal cards?” “How effectively can I produce floaters?”

    I will end this post with a hero who I have found to be very effective at creating floaters and producing card advantage: Lance Shadowstalker. Lance gives his allies Haste for 4se which allows you to instantly strike with an ally to cause, hopefully, a card/board advantage swing in your favor. But that isn’t where the true advantage is created; Ill Gotten Gains turns every enemy ally killed in combat into a +2 trade! Your ally becomes a floater AND you draw a card. Couple the power of Ill Gotten Gains with Stop Thief and you now have your primary item destruction providing a 3 for 1 trade (1 destroyed enemy item, 1 resource gain, and 1 card draw for 1 of your cards) in terms of card advantage. So already, we have 8 cards that can be used in a Lance deck that will make use of the card advantage creation mechanics described above. If you build upon that with a strong stable of allies and some cards to help you with specific matchups you will have yourself a top tier deck in no time!
    Last edited by Mojumbo; 06-23-2012 at 08:36 PM.
    Proud member of the Shadow Era Design Team
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    Card Advantage 101

  2. #2
    Senior Member AnAdolt's Avatar
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    Congrats on the milestone!

    Admittedly I haven't read through your entire post, which I tend to do with longer posts; particularly when I don't have time on-hand. However, I will read over it later as I'm sure there's at least a few nuggets I can pick out from it.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Kross's Avatar
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    Great post Mojumbo.! Congrats on your 1000th as well.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Keaven's Avatar
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    Nice work, and welcome to the 1K Klub.
    Shallow Era Channel and Blog
    Enhancing The Community, etc.

  5. #5
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    Nice.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ahmet476's Avatar
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    Good 1000th post.

  7. #7
    Devoted Fan Gondorian's Avatar
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    Whenever I play SE on the toilet, I ask myself "How effectively can I produce floaters?". Is that a term from another game?

    I'm not sure about the mass removal logic. You have to make decisions about the opponents cards, given the current state of the board. When Aldon and Jasmine are sitting there and they have already achieved floater status, what they did in the past is irrelevant. It is what they will do in the future that is the issue. You play Supernova to pre-emptively stop them gaining more CA for the opponent, and prevent damage to your hero too, of course.

    This is where CA and board control are most closely linked. Any card that sticks around a long time, especially an ally, will continue producing more and more card advantage, and that's a key aspect of why board control is important. You wipe the board to take away that potential advantage and then play out your own cards to gain potential CA for yourself.

    This is why I think Chimera and Cobra are undervalued right now. If they stick around, using their high 5HP (higher than any other 4cc or lower) and pick cards off then they are producing CA for you. Couple them with WotF, and they will produce CA even if they die. It's win-win. (Gargoyle is already effectively at least a 2/5 or more for 3cc, but we already know he's great.)

  8. #8
    Devoted Fan Gondorian's Avatar
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    p.s. Congratulations!

    p.p.s. I am surprised you did not mention that World Champion iClipse had über CA in his deck with Wizent's, Tainted Oracle and Tidal Wave. And the others in the top 4 were all warriors making use of Blood Frenzy. Card Advantage is very very important in Shadow Era right now.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Killtrend's Avatar
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    Assuming you build minimum size decks, card advantage is the biggest determining factor in winning and losing in shadow era. That's why all my decks are built "to go second" meaning the most health and highest ability to retake the board.

    How to create card advantage where there is none:

    Let's take Gravebone for example. It's turn 4. You went second. Your opponent has played the dreaded Jasmine+Aldon combo and the board is clear. Lightning strike won't help. Nova is a turn away and would really put you in a health hole PLUS they would still get the turn to do whatever they wanted. If they dropped a high health ally T5, you're likely still screwed.

    A chimera would be crippled. Anything else would just get ran over. Playing a portal, rather than playing an ally, is a good idea. Playing a bella will just be a speed bump. Portal in itself is -1 card advantage though, which is bad. You sacrifice a turn and set yourself up for it to be destroyed. If it sticks, you can send in a belladonna for a immediate card draw and death of his jasmine. This brings your card advantage back even. Now he will likely kill your Bella with his Aldon or hero ability, but you still will have haste for one more turn plus an extra card.

    Cards like Portal and Evil Ascendant don't have direct card advantage, but when applied correctly, aid greatly in the direction you built your deck. This is synergy ladies, and this is the second biggest determining factor in good deck building. Evil Ascendant combined with infernal gargoyle is extreme synergy. Cards like sacrificial lamb on a hasted Bella on t6 is extreme synergy. You know she won't survive and you in turn get maximum reward for your play. 4 damage and 4 cards drawn for 2 cards played.
    3.5 "Gravebella Beatdown" || KillTrend's Live Commentary
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  10. #10
    Senior Member XanteseZerylliom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojumbo View Post
    Draw engines: It’s important to remember that in order to gain card advantage the draw engine your using has to have a one-sided benefit. Though a Bazaar, for example, will let you draw 2 cards a turn it will also give that benefit to your opponent. Additionally if your opponent was to destroy your Bazaar after you played it they would actually gain a +1 to card advantage instead of you!
    I realize this is an article only about card advantage, but what about the tempo loss from using the two resources? In addition, should you choose to play Bazaar over another card that would have remained on the field (or had another card-drawing effect that would have been immediate), then you've lost yet another point of CA (in theory) for using a card that was instantly nuked. In other words, the "floater" aspect you mention later could apply here as well since A) you got no benefit (and therefore lost tempo in the process as well) and B) you could have made a "floater" card by making another choice.

    Just a thought. Really enjoyed the article! Congrats on the 1000 posts!

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