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  1. #1
    Senior Member 1ndeed's Avatar
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    My First Article - Forcing Decisions and Limiting Options Pt. 1

    Forcing Decisions and Limiting Options Pt. 1

    Hello everyone, this is my first article for Shadow Era. I wanted to share this concept I have been thinking about lately, and to get your feedback. The concept is that of forcing decisions. Most good decks have some versatility to them and can be played different ways in different circumstances. A mage, for example, can drop allies to attack your hero regularly for damage, or they can sac all their allies and play draw-burn, or they can play a portal. So mages are very versatile. One good tactic I'm trying to implement in my matches is that of forcing specific decisions from your opponent to minimize the versatility of their deck. And while you cannot just click "End Turn" for your opponent, I am surprised by how often I am able to dictate generally what my opponent will play on their turn by making forceful plays on my turn. This does require that you are familiar with the various cardpools that different classes have access to, and that you generally understand how your opponent's deck works.

    1) Playing vs a Mage
    This is where I got the idea for this article, because it is the perfect example. A mage has several ways to kill your hero, but primarily it can be broken down into dealing damage with allies, and dealing damage with spells. So you see, the mage has this great versatility, which is one of the subtle strengths of mages. Normally if you are playing vs a mage, it will be difficult in part due to the flexibility of the mage cardpool; they have many options every turn for completely different potential gameplans.

    Forcing specific decisions or forcing at least a specific style of play will diminish the mageís versatility. One good way to force a desirable gameplan is to force the mage to use their direct damage spells on your allies instead of your hero. So if I am playing first, I go ahead and play a T3 Jasmine. The mage will now most likely use a Fireball to get rid of my Jasmine. This is especially true for Eladwen, since any ally Eladwen plays going second is vulnerable to me playing Aldon and killing whatever ally they play, whereas shadow mages can still play a Gargoyle and most likely get away with it.

    This exchange in itself is not particularly bad for either player. While the mage deals with your t3 ally with a 1-for-1 removal spell, they did not gain the board or advance their position for future turns. I played a threat, my opponent spent their turn to deal with my threat, now the initiative in the fight for board control is thrown back to me. For me, I lose my ally and the board presence that ally gave me, but on the other hand I already made my opponent use 1 of their Fireballs on my ally and not on my hero, plus I can play another ally next turn.

    This sort of exchange could then be replicated throughout the match. As long as I keep playing allies that threaten my opponent, my opponent will constantly have to nuke them instead of my hero. Lately when playing against mages I have been holding on to all of my allies, and I prefer to sacrifice other spells or abilities. Iíve been playing Victor lately, for example. As Victor, I find myself sacrificing my arrows and retreats against mages, even if I donít have any more arrows in my graveyard or my hand. I know that I will prefer to use Soul Seeker to kill allies anyway, and I also know that my gameplan is to force the mage to use their direct damage cards on my allies rather than my hero. Puwen can be utilized in this regard too. Mages love to hit Puwen with Lightning Strike, which is 3 damage my hero isnít taking. In a tight match against a mage this can be critical.

    If you do this correctly it will give you a better chance to win later in the game, because the mage will now be coming to the endgame with missing pieces, so to speak. What I mean is that perhaps the mage depended on having some burn spells left toward the end of the game to finish you off. Now the mage may find they are not drawing so many spells anymore, as a lot of them were used just to control the board. For the mage player, the game may Feel like it is very tight the whole time, but actually you have been weakening their deck and their endgame the whole time by forcing their decisions and slashing their versatility, they just didnít know it.

    But the point is not just that you avoid direct damage to your hero. That is also a plus, but the main point is that the mage deck, in itself, begins with all this versatility, and you were able to force a single gameplan out of them. The mage has to respond to YOU, to your allies, and if they do not have the board then the only way is to spend their burn spells. Then by the end of the game, they have a much less versatile deck than when they started. Because now maybe they donít have quite enough burn to kill your hero, so they now have to use mostly allies.

    Of course this is difficult to do when mages have things like Lightning Strike and Supernova, which have the advantage of being able to control the board AND deathrace your hero. But still, the point is that it is in your interest when facing versatile decks like mages to be able to force the game how YOU want it to go, and thereby limit their versatility. You leave your opponent with less options.



    2) Playing vs a Zaladar
    Some people sacrifice all their fatties against Zal, fearing Mind Control. While I understand the reasoning behind sacrificing Brutal Minotaur against Zal, I still think there are a lot of fatties that are great plays against Zal, KNOWING that Zal will use Mind Control to get rid of it. While Mind Control is a powerful card for elementals, it is also easily forcible. By using the concept of forcing decisions, you can actually turn the Mind Control card to YOUR advantage.

    If I play something like a Raven, I am begging the Zal player to Mind Control it. Thereís no way Zal wants Raven to stay on my board, and it is an ally that has to be dealt with as quickly as possible. As a Zal player, I am especially afraid that if I cannot destroy the Raven right away my opponent will protect it with an Aeon next turn, then it will be really hard to get back into the game for me. In some situations, even if I am certain that my opponent is holding Mind Control, still I will play my Raven. The reason is because I can force my opponentís turn to go exactly how I expect it to go.

    Zaladar typically doesnít get to high resources, and itís not uncommon to see Zaladar cast Mind Control and then pass the turn. 5 resources is a lot for a single-ally removal spell. So whereas on an empty board Zaladar has a lot of options Ė should I play a Garg, should I play a Dimension Ripper, should I cast a Shadow Font to prepare for later turns Ė now Zaladar has just one option for their entire turn: Kill Raven with Mind Control.

    So now itís my turn again, and I cast another Raven. When I first started playing Zaladar and I saw my opponent do something like this Ė cast a fatty after I just Mind Controlled the first one already Ė I used to get really happy. I felt like, ďDidnít my opponent learn not to play fatties against me?Ē What I didnít realize was that my hand was forced for that turn, because seeing Mind Control in my hand and a Raven on the board it just made the most sense to destroy the Raven.

    So like this, you can force Mind Controls out of Zaladar. You do this in order to keep the initiative for board control. I always want my opponent to be responding to things that I do, and not the other way around. I want to be the beatdown, because it leaves my opponent with less options.

    In the Zaladar mirror, I have no problem sacrificing 2-3 Mind Controls. Why? Because I donít want to be spending 5cc and passing the turn, it does nothing for me in the long run. In the Zal mirror, I want to be casting only Gargs, DMTs, Bruts, Fire Snakes, occasional Shadow Fonts, etc. Those are much more effective. I will keep every Brutalis in my deck in the Zal mirror, and I will sacrifice Dimension Rippers, Bad Santas, fatties, and Mind Controls to play my Brutalis. I want to be able to dictate the course of the game, and I canít do that if Iím spending 5cc every turn just to remove one ally.
    A1 1ndeed - The Black Lotus of A1 - A1: Evolution in Theory

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  2. #2
    DP Visionary Mongoosey's Avatar
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    Great 1st article. Moving onto part 2 now instead of going to bed like I should!
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  3. #3
    World Championships 2nd Place Flycheung's Avatar
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    well explained article.

  4. #4
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Well written man! Moving onto part 2 now
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Zhou86's Avatar
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    Well written.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member bobwei's Avatar
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    Good one. But I think in a zal mirror, it's better to keep the rippers.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member SpeakerOfTruth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1ndeed View Post
    Forcing Decisions and Limiting Options Pt. 1
    I played a threat, my opponent spent their turn to deal with my threat, now the initiative in the fight for board control is thrown back to me. For me, I lose my ally and the board presence that ally gave me, but on the other hand I already made my opponent use 1 of their Fireballs on my ally and not on my hero, plus I can play another ally next turn.

    This sort of exchange could then be replicated throughout the match. As long as I keep playing allies that threaten my opponent, my opponent will constantly have to nuke them instead of my hero.
    Just to add, the one who takes board first will usually dictate the flow of the game. I find that the player playing catch-up usually will be stuck answering the flow of threats, until something comes up to break the cycle.

    Usually it's:
    1. Dominant player runs out of steam and does not play an immediate threat
    2. Lagging player runs out of answers and cannot answer the present threat on the board
    3. Lagging player answers the threat AND plays one of his own, becoming the dominant player. This scenario hinges on one very important aspect that can be seen in all dominant heroes in the tourney scene - a shadow ability that answers/negates threats (usually allies). Answering the opponent's threat and playing one of your own requires 2 cards, a very resource-intensive task that is usually impossible in the early game without using shadow ability.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member 1ndeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeakerOfTruth View Post
    Just to add, the one who takes board first will usually dictate the flow of the game. I find that the player playing catch-up usually will be stuck answering the flow of threats, until something comes up to break the cycle.

    Usually it's:
    1. Dominant player runs out of steam and does not play an immediate threat
    2. Lagging player runs out of answers and cannot answer the present threat on the board
    3. Lagging player answers the threat AND plays one of his own, becoming the dominant player. This scenario hinges on one very important aspect that can be seen in all dominant heroes in the tourney scene - a shadow ability that answers/negates threats (usually allies). Answering the opponent's threat and playing one of your own requires 2 cards, a very resource-intensive task that is usually impossible in the early game without using shadow ability.
    Yea I think that's a very good observation about the general flow of the game. The next piece of advice, then, is to figure out how your deck is supposed to get board control back when playing from behind, or when denied first turn advantage. As Zhanna you know that you can reset the board with a Tidal Wave, or even better, play Jasmine/Raven + Retreat.

    Any human deck with Retreat can get the board back by playing a board-controlling ally like Jasmine or Raven on the same turn. Amber can drop a weapon to help her get the board back. There are armors like Black Garb that can temporarily stop your opponent from attacking and give you some breathing room.

    That's one of my issues with Zaladar. His removal spell costs 5cc (mind control) and with no draw engine at low resources, it's often the zal player's only move on their turn. Whereas warriors have access to 4x Retreat and 4x Crippling Blow, so they have an easier time playing from behind.

    I think it's critical to prepare for playing second in shadow era. A lot of players don't know how to play their decks going second. One reason I think Mages are so strong is that they can t3 Fireball instead of playing an ally, so it has that consistency going second.
    A1 1ndeed - The Black Lotus of A1 - A1: Evolution in Theory

    And who are you, the proud lord said, that I must bow so low?
    Only a cat of a different coat, that's all the truth I know.
    In a coat of gold, or a coat of red, a lion still has claws;
    And mine are long and sharp, my lord, as long and sharp as yours.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ayaribas's Avatar
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    nice read!
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  10. #10
    Junior Member Black Mescaline's Avatar
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    Thanks for your thoughts, this will definitely help me to improve
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