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  1. #1
    Senior Member He-Man's Avatar
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    Beginners help--deck building and strategy considerations

    For new players, especially those not familiar with CCG’s (collectible card games), I compiled a couple of key strategy concepts to keep in mind when you build your deck, acquire new cards, and battle your opponents. Please feel free to add or comment, as the goal is to make this as useful as possible for new players.
    This and other articles can also be found on Gondorian.com.

    Consistency
    Decks with multiple copies of the same card and smaller deck size generally work better than larger decks (containing more cards) and decks containing many cards with lower numbers of copies. This is due to the simple fact that having less different cards in your decks improves the odds of drawing a particular card. Higher odds of drawing specific cards will make your deck function more consistently. There are some excellent threads that go into more detail on the odds calculations. As a rule of thumb, you want to include 4 copies of every card you play, except when you only want to see a single copy of a card during a game. The latter would be the case for instance with high casting-cost cards that will usually swing the game when you play them (such as King’s Pride). Of those you can include 3 copies, or, if you have access to a lot of card drawing, 2 might work too.

    Card Advantage and Board Control
    A sure way to consistently win at Shadow Era (and other CCG’s), is to make sure that you consistently have access to more cards than your opponent, which is called card advantage. It is for this reason that heroes like Majiya (her ability and Research) and Jericho (Wizent’s Staff) fare very well in the current metagame, as they can draw multiple cards each turn. Why does card advantage win you the game? Having more cards in hand will allow you to more quickly build resources while still having cards left to actually play. Having more cards (or more intrinsic power) in play then your opponent means you have (more) board control--you can affect what happens on the playing field to a larger extent than your opponent.

    Assume for a second that your opponent will need to play 1 card to get rid of 1 of your cards on the board. If you put 2 cards on the board, he or she will need 2 to get rid of yours. If he/she happens to have only 1 card in hand, and you can play 2, he/she can only get rid of 1 of the cards you play. You will be left with the other, which you can use to for example damage the opponent. Thus, card advantage (you having 2 cards vs your opponent having 1) leads to increased board control (your opponent can only remove 1 threat of the 2 that you play, you are left with 1 card more on the board).

    This link between card advantage and board control is what makes certain cards very good to play. If you look for example at Lightning Strike (4: do 3 damage to up to 2 targets), this is a card that will allow you to “2 for 1”. In other words, you are able to remove 2 of your opponent’s allies from the board, while only playing a single card. When you play Lightning Strike and remove 2 Puwen Bloodhelms, not only will your opponent be very disappointed, you will actually have gain +1 card advantage over him/her. This is because he/she had to draw and play 2 cards, that you remove by just playing a single card. Mass removal spells such as Tidal Wave and Supernova are other destruction cards that can generate card advantage (although they may cause you to lose board control!).
    As mentioned, an easy way to get card advantage is by making sure you can draw multiple cards each turn. Another way to do this, is by denying your opponent to draw. Currently the only way to do this, is by destroying the card drawing engines of your opponents. Hence, you want to include in your deck cards like Shriek of Vengeance or Destroy Arms, and always use these to destroy cards like Research, Bazaar or Wizent’s Staff.

    Cards like Bazaar and Bad Santa deserve a word of caution. Although they allow you to draw more cards, they will also let your opponent draw. In addition, with Bazaar your opponent gets to draw first. With symmetrically increased drawing (that is, your opponent gets the same benefit as you), there is no gain in card advantage, and Bazaar will actually shift tempo and card advantage to your opponent. Some heroes however have no access to better cards, and you’re stuck with these. If that is the case, keep in mind that Bad Santa is best played when your opponent has a full hand (and gets to draw less than 3 cards). Bazaar works more to your advantage when your opponent already has a draw engine out--if your opponent draws 2 cards each turn, and you draw one, he/she gets twice as many. In this case, when you play Bazaar, your opponent gets to draw 3, and you get 2, decreasing the difference in card advantage from 2 to a factor of 1.5.

    Curve and Tempo
    When you build your deck, take a good look at the casting costs of the cards in your deck. If all of your cards cost at least 4 to cast, you will have to wait until turn 4 before you can play your first card. Conversely, if all of your cards cost 1 or 2, you will have a lot of stuff to do on your first couple of turns, but then you will quickly run out of steam, as you will quickly run out of cards in your hand (as you can play multiple cheap cards each turn). Hence, you want a nice curve for the casting costs of your cards. Include enough 1 or 2 cost cards so that you have stuff to play on the early turns (which is very important, as you have to quickly establish board control). Also include higher cost cards that you can play later on. Higher cost cards have more powerful effects, and hence their effect on the board (that is, helping you increase board control), is much larger. Take a look at some lists of the better decks, and you will see that they have a nice curve to their casting costs. It is possible to play with only low-cost cards, but you will need to generate tremendous card advantage to maintain board controls (basically by playing hoards of small cards), and currently Shadow Era’s options in this direction are limited. Conversely, you could play with mostly expensive cards if you had some way to get them on the board quickly; options to this end again are currently limited.

    Having a good curve will help you maintain good tempo. Tempo has been given various definitions, but generally boils down to how you play out your cards or deny your opponent plays, as a means to gain board control. A simple example. If it is your 3rd turn, and you have 3 resources available, and you hold a 2-cost and a 3-cost card in your hand, you will want to play the 3-cost card. If you play the 2-cost card, one resource remains unused and you lose tempo. This concept is much more subjective than the others, and certain other factors will play a role that may influence your choice (for example if you know the 3-cost card will immediately be removed by your opponent whereas the 2-cost card will not, you’re better off playing the 2-cost card as you will not lose card advantage that way). The concept of tempo (again imho) is currently only really important during the first 4 or 5 turns of Shadow Era, and plays much less of a role that it does e.g. in Magic: the Gathering.

    Intrinsic power of cards
    A final skill to hone, is the ability to determine a cards intrinsic strength. What effect will a card have on the game, and what casting cost is attached to that. Based on the above, any card that will give you card advantage, helps you establish board control, or lets you gain tempo, is a good card, as long as you do not have to pay too much to cast it. (So, e.g. Puwen is a lot better than Dirk, as Puwen costs 2 for a 2/3 ally, whereas Dirk costs 3 for a 2/2; Dirk’s advantage does not weigh up against its steeper price). Cards that let you gain life are often tempting to beginners, but are generally not good cards. They basically just delay your loss, as they give you some extra life, but they do not usually change your board position (i.e., they do not affect who is in control of the board), and hence lead to card advantage for your opponent (as you just spend a card without actually changing something about the board). The same is true in a way for Engulfing Flames and Poison Gas; they cost 4 to cast, but have no influence on the board (unless you cast them on a 1-life ally) and you will be down a card. That said, life gain can be a game swinger sometimes, especially when playing against 30-card decks that simply do not pack enough punch to deal with that many life. Generally however, cards that do damage are quicker than cards that heal, and you will not often see me play cards that make you gain life

    Alright, I hope this was helpful to people. Let me know what you think, what additions / comments you have, etc!

    Also have a look at this thread with a lot of similar info, explained differently.
    Last edited by He-Man; 09-22-2011 at 01:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Killtrend's Avatar
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    Very well thought out list. Intrinsic advantage and curve being some of the most important things to know.

    If you follow this list, you WILL build a good deck. These are all cornerstones of deck building.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Reshiram99's Avatar
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    Great list. Bump.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by gfyrslf View Post
    only now saw there is a thread with a lot of similar info, explained differently. Also makes for an excellent read!
    Was wondering how you missed the sticky at the top of the strategy forum

    That said, this is still good information, and lays it out simply and is easy to follow.

  5. #5
    Senior Member He-Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattOG View Post
    Was wondering how you missed the sticky at the top of the strategy forum
    Yeah maybe I should read the strategy forum too, it might help me actually WIN a game every once in a while

  6. #6
    Senior Member seedog's Avatar
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    Sounds very scientific. Great post.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rumsey's Avatar
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    I like it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Wtzky's Avatar
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    Good post, explains tempo etc very well! Bump

  9. #9
    Senior Member CHLBRK's Avatar
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    here is no "like it" button...
    BACK (well, i try )
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  10. #10
    Senior Member He-Man's Avatar
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    Thanks for the kind words everyone!

    Any other topics anyone would like to hear explained?
    Anythings that you would like to see a little more explanation or examples on?

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