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  1. #1
    Senior Member kamman13's Avatar
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    Card draw engines and card advantage strategy

    This post uses the ideas in He-Man's post on control and race, and so it might be helpful to read that post first. The type of draw engine you might prefer depends if you are running a "race" or "control" type strategy. Also check out He-Man's post on card draw, as it offers a complementary analysis to this one.

    There are many types of cards that enable you to increase the number of cards you can draw per turn, what's termed draw engine. Also important to this discussion is card advantage, or the number of more cards that you get relative to your opponent. Incorporating some kind of additional draw engine is useful in virtually any deck for a simple reason- you need to sacrifice cards to get resources. Your natural draw is one card per turn, but if you sacrifice and play one card every turn, you use two cards per turn. This means by turn 7, you are out of cards in your hand, an unfortunate situation to have in any card game except uno. Many card draw mechanisms are specific to classes, meaning that you may actually want to choose what class to play based on which class's card draw mechanism best suites your playstyle.

    In this thread, I plan to lay out the benefits and detriments to all of the card draw mechanisms in the game, card by card. I won't get into hero-ability draw mechanisms, as those will change in 1.28 anyways.

    Main draw mechanisms-

    Bazaar - This card can be played by any deck, so the question here is less of when to play this card as what decks to play it in. The benefits of bazaar are discussed in depth in another thread, but can be summarized here. Bazaar give you the most potential card draw for the least cost. The problem is that it also benefits your opponent. The situation this should be played is then when a) your opponent has a smaller deck you are running a "control" style deck, and you want them to run out of cards faster, or b) you are running a "race" to the bottom type deck, and you think the card draw will help you do more damage to your opponent than it will help them do to you.

    The caution with bazaar is that your opponent gets the first extra draw off of bazaar, so it can give them a card advantage. You can counteract this advantage, though- if you go first, and your opponent did not play a card on their first turn, you can play a bazaar on turn 2. Since your opponent already has 6 cards in their hand, they still only draw one card up to their maximum of 7, and lose the card advantage. Another way to counter the card advantage is to couple a bazaar with a retreat to bring your opponents hand up to 6 cards, thus denying them a draw.

    Bazaar is also a particularly useful counter to most other draw engines out there like blood frenzy or research. Take blood frenzy for example. Without a bazaar in play, your opponent draws 2 cards every turn to your 1 or twice as many as you. With a bazaar in play, they draw 3 to your 2 cards, only a 50% draw advantage. Thus bazaar can serve to make other draw engines relatively less effective.

    A drawback of bazaar is that it counts as an item, so can be destroyed. This isn't too much of a concern, I have found, since most players are willing to keep in play an item that benefits them. Be forewarned, though, if a players destroys bazaar on their turn, they have ended up with a 1-card advantage over you.

    Bad Santa - Like bazaar, anyone can use it, and it benefits both you and your opponent. Therefore a lot of the logic behind bazaar applies to bad santa, but bad santa has a few advantages. You should really only play a bad santa when someone has at least a partially full hand (4+ cards) and you can a mostly empty hand (3- cards). In this situation, bad santa actually gives you a card advantage, since you gain more cards than your opponent. Bad santa's unpredictability means that your opponent can't plan for it's use, as they can with a bazaar, making it more useful to you than them. The disadvantage is that it doesn't give you as many cards as bazaar does, so if you really need a continual source of cards, a bazaar might be a better option.

    As an additional plus, bad santa is a an ability, so cannot be destroyed like bazaar can be. In this sense, it is a more consistent draw engine than bazaar.

    Note- if an opponent has 4 cards in their hand, then a bad santa gives them all three cards, making it seem as if you had not gained a card advantage. But now your opponent has 7 cards in their hand, which means they miss their next turn's draw, thus effectively giving you a 1 card advantage.

    Research - This is a mage specific card. This card is a quite expensive card draw, it takes 2 resources to play it, and another 2 every time you want a card. In this sense it essentially does the same thing as bazaar, but instead of giving a card to your opponent, you pay two resources a turn. To its advantage, you only have to pay the cost when you need it to use the draw engine (compare this to blood frenzy). This card is really only useful in a "control" style mage deck. These are slower decks, where you can afford to be spending resources on card draw rather than spells or allies. In a "race" style mage deck, go with bazaar, so you don't have to waste the resources on card draw.

    Blood Frenzy - A warrior card, and for good reason: it synergizes well with Enrage. Like research, this card does what bazaar does, but you pay one life per turn to prevent your opponent from drawing a card. This is typically considered an excellent draw engine, because as a warrior you often have allies or armor in play, meaning things to distract your opponent with and shield you from damage. If you are winning board control, between your allies and weapons you should be able to destroy your opponent long before blood frenzy takes you down. But blood frenzy does mean that you are inherently playing a "race" type deck- barring all other concerns, blood frenzy will cause you to lose, although it is a slow loss. "Control" type decks with a lot of item destruction, board wipes, and delays (rain delays, freeze, snow sapphire) can use blood frenzy to your opponent's advantage, as all of these sorts of cards delay or extend the length of the game, neutralizing your increased card draw for a few turns and forcing you to soak some blood frenzy damage.

    As a bonus, blood frenzy attaches to your hero as opposed to other draw mechanisms which function as items that can be much more easily destroyed. Unless you are facing a Jericho, you are pretty much ensured to keep your blood frenzy active for the whole game.

    Wizent's staff - Personally one of my favorite draw engines, this is a priest specific item. Wizent staff functions like bazaar giving you a card per turn, but the cost for preventing your opponent's draw is a shadow energy. As priest's (currently) don't have great use for their shadow energy, this is probably the cheapest option in the game to get continual card draw. It comes with a slew of drawbacks, though- it costs more than any other draw engine to get in play, and as a weapon it can be destroyed by an item destruction card or simply by being attacked four times. This means its use is rather limited to situations where you can have some semblance of board control, cause the last thing you want to happen is to pay four resources and one SE to get one card draw if it gets eliminated the turn it comes into play. This also makes it less effective against hunters with rapid fires, as you'll only get two turns of draw from it if the hunter attacks your hero repeatedly. On the plus side, you can always the staff as a weapon, to wear out an opponent's weapon or armor, or to land a finishing blow on a minion.

    To effectively use wizent staff's as a draw mechanism in priest decks, you need several copies of wizent staff in your deck, since you can count on one staff to last all game, or you need to bulster the staff with bad santa's or bazaars. This means as a priest you will be dedicating significantly more of your deck to card draw than if you played another class.

    Belladona A shadow ally card, that functions as a nice draw mechanism, especially when coupled with Gravebone's resurrection. This is a high cost ally clocking in at four resources, at at only two life she's likely to die the turn she comes out, but that doesn't make her useless. Far from it. At four attack, gravebella has do be killed the turn she comes out, or she does some beefy damage. Therefore, at a cost of 4 resources, you get a new card and you create a distraction that the opponent has to deal with, rather than say attacking your hero. When played on a full board, bella almost acts like a delay card, giving you a new card and delaying the opponent's action for a turn (assuming bella dies). One you realize its ok to let bella die, this becomes a pretty nice card. If you're running a mage deck, you can even couple it with a portal for some damage+a delay+ card draw.

    As a sudo delay card, I'd say bella works more as a "control" deck type card, but coupled with a portal it can be used in a "race" type deck.
    Last edited by kamman13; 09-09-2011 at 06:33 PM. Reason: too many spelling errors

  2. #2
    Senior Member kamman13's Avatar
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    Alternate Draw Mechanisms

    These cards aren't as dependable for card draw as the "main" card draws, but are more useful for grabbing a useful card or two, or messing with you opponent.

    Hero be monsters - Not a bad card, but not really a good card either. It gives you one card for a cost of three resources, which compared to card advantage bad santa can give you for instance, isn't really all that great. If you at least play it at a time when you can trigger its secondary effect and knock down the opponent's resource pile, it becomes slightly more reasonable. You essentially for your opponent to sacrifice one more card to get at the same point they were before, which "shorts" them by a card, giving you a +2 card advantage. Even considering this, a 2 card advantage for three resources isn't that great of a deal.

    Reconnaissance - I consider this card similar to Heroes be monsters, it's a 3 cost for 1 draw, but with enough allies in play, the +1 side effect can make this useful. Still, not enough draw to be a staple of a rogue deck.

    Wrath of the Forest - A great draw wulven/hunter engine that I have not spent much time employing yet, so my thoughts are speculative. With a durability of 4, it should stick around to give you at least a few cards, I'd say at a cost of 4 you'd need at least 2-3 card to make it worth you while. Which means it should only be played when you have several allies in play. This card is nice as it forces your opponent to choose between attacking your allies and giving you cards, or letting your allies live to run down the durability of this armor. Coupled with a weapon, this can be a tough decision for an opponent. At the very least, I'd say this is a situationally dependent draw card, but very effective in the right situation.

    Ill-gotten gains - A great rogue specific draw engine, at in my opinion way too high a cost. Whenever you kill an opposing ally or item, you get to draw a card. This is an awesome draw engine for many decks that rely on allies or weapons, and synergizes well with other rogue cards like Stop Thief or assassination which take down opposing allies and items. Against a DD mage deck though, this card is pretty useless, so it has to be played with a knowledge of your opponent's strategy. The problem right now is that as a rogue, by turn 5 you either have complete board control and are going to win whether you play this card or not, or you have lost or are on the verge of losing board control and can't afford to spend valuable resources playing this card. With more cards or changes to rogue decks, this will hopefully change.

    Stop Thief - Another great rogue card that fails for the same reason as the card above (turn five is too critical for this card to be played). This card give you an extra resource, which by our heroes be monsters logic is like giving you an extra card. Additionally, this is a resource on a turn that you probably already sacced a resource, giving you a clear resource lead over your opponent. So for a cost of 5, you destroy an item, get 1 card advantage and pull ahead on resources. I think this card is a great deal, but rogue decks just aren't strong enough to support it yet.

    Gravediggers cloak - A nice hunter/rogue draw engine, though at a steep price. It takes 5 resources to get into play, and costs 3 SE per draw. Compared to Wizent's staff, the card draw isn't nearly as good, and it sits at one less durability so is thus easier to get rid of. What is has going for it is that it draws from your opponent's graveyard, which is presumable a limited selection of highly valuable cards. Thus this is a good way to get you A strategic card at a high cost, but not an effective way to get MANY cards into your hand.

    Night Prowler - An awesome card, in the right circumstance- you grab a card from the opponents hand, giving you a one card draw, or a two card advantage compared to your opponent. For 5 resources, it's really only useful if you can use it more than once, and at one durability, that makes it very situational. This can only happen when a) your opponent has no weapon in play, and b) your opponent has no allies in play or you have an "in the forest". Rapid fire also makes it more useful, for obvious reasons. Because so many conditions for this card need to be met, it's really only useful as a late-game strategic maneuver once you've set up the right conditions, rather than a reliable whole-game card draw.

    Transference - A nice elemental ability, allowing you to draw a card from your opponents deck. This is suppose to mess up your opponents strategy more than be a reliable source of draw, as 3 resource for 1 card and no card advantage is a terrible deal. It works especially well in a "control" style deck, in which you are trying to run down your opponent's deck.

    Dimension ripper - A warrior and elementalist weapon, allowing you to draw a card from each other's deck. At three durability, this give you and your opponent three cards for 5 resources. Not great card draw, but reasonable since you get 6 damage out of the weapon (3 attacks at two damage). Still, like transference, these cards come from your opponent's deck, so it's more of a way to mess with your opponent than give you the cards from your deck you might really need.

    Interesting note- I had a warrior use this on me once. I cast one of the allies I got from the trade into play. He then cast retreat on the ally, which put the ally back into HIS hand, as he was the original owner of the ally. Now, that's some nice sneaky card draw.

    Tainted Oracle - I have yet to experiment fully with this card, but could find it's use most frequently in priest or mage decks, where two-sided board wipes are quite common. As a draw mechanism, you are getting 2 cards for 4 resources, which is rather steep, but it does double as an ally that can do 2 damage. If the opponent has to take the time to destroy it, then four resources for a delay and two cards is more than worth it, and certainly beats out belladona. The problem is that at only two attack, it can be ignored for a while, meaning you might not see your card draw for a few turns, or ever if the opponent has crippling blow and you don't have a board wipe. I think cards like this, that you don't mind sacrificing to do a little damage to a beefy opponent, will become more and more useful as the number of cards in the deck expands. I'm still holding my breath on this one- could be a major draw mechanism, soon enough.

    Lily Rosecult, Shadow Knight - A human and shadow ally that effectively give you card draw by putting another card in your hand, though from your graveyard rather than the draw pile. Their use is pretty self explanatory as a strategic, late game play, but as a late game play, they can't function as a primary draw mechanism. I'll also add that at one less resource, I find Lily a much better deal.

    Cobraskin wraps - A priest and hunter armor, when it come into play, you both lose a resource and you gain a card. Using the logic described above in campfire stories, losing a resource acts as one card that was in your hand that went to waste, so this card gives you no card draw (+1 for the draw, -1 for the resource destruction), while giving your opponent -1 card draw. Thus you get 1 card advantage for 4 resources, and an armor to boot. Not too shabby, but not too great.

    Campfire Stories - This card can hardly be considered a draw mechanisms, as its function as a heal card is much more useful a consideration than 1 card for 2 resources. Now that there are beefier monsters in 1.27, this may see more use, but I still think the primary purpose of this card is to heal. The draw mechanism is just a nice little side effect to make the heal worth your while.

    Surprise attack - A pretty worthless hunter card that I've never seen played. At 3 resources it gives you one card for every enemy ally in play. I'd say you need at least 3 enemies allies in play to make the cost worth the card draw, 4 or 5 being ideal. But if you're playing a hunter and the opponent has that many allies in play, you've got bigger problems than card draw.




    Conclusions

    Currently, the only way to have a competitive deck is to feature one of the main draw mechanisms listed above in your deck. Notice that besides bazaar and bad santa, the other major draw mechanisms revolve around warrior, mage, and priest classes, which are the main competitive classes right now for this reason. As the card list expands, though, and you have many minor options for card draw, I think we can see decks that can get away with enough card draw from minor draw cards sprinkled and synergized throughout the deck (I'm thinking rogues in particular here). I have no doubt that in a couple updates with new cards and hero changes, this analysis will be out of date.
    Last edited by kamman13; 09-09-2011 at 06:21 PM. Reason: wrath of the forest added

  3. #3
    Senior Member kamman13's Avatar
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    [reserved]

  4. #4
    Devoted Fan Gondorian's Avatar
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    AWESOME POST ... by the looks of things. I will have to make time to read it tomorrow because it's late here, but very well done to you, sir.

  5. #5
    Senior Member He-Man's Avatar
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    Excellent stuff, kudos! I have returned the favor, and linked to your article in mine as well.

    For people to lazy to read the whole thing: make sure not to skip the conclusion in the end.
    proud former member of A1 Alliance
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    Great stuff.

    What is that armor-- Wrath of the Forest?

  7. #7
    Senior Member NachyoChez's Avatar
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    A great read, but you are VASTLY underesimating a combo-based draw engine. Bella/Shadow an WotF/Gravebone can return insane card draw; bella and WotF alone are a fierce draw engine for Wulven. Fierce.



    "Nachyo Average Easter Egg Hunt!" 10:His only regret was not sharing enough of his plan with the other generals for it to be completed. Without him the war would still end, but most likely with the surrender of Layar to these lesser men. If only he had another chance, if only there was some way for him see the day when his people, his armies, would rule the world of Balor.
    Last edited by NachyoChez; 06-08-2012 at 04:31 AM.

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    Senior Member Brontos's Avatar
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    Good read.

    Some points:
    - Oracle is an ally, and can benefit from cards that affect allies. resurection, War banner, etc.
    - You should talk about Wrath of the forest.
    - Campfire stories can't be played if you have no allies in play. That's a major flaw for a cantrip.
    - Dimention Ripper can't be played blindly. If you have all your ressources rdy, it's good. If your opp has 7 card in hand already, it's strong (combo with santa). if you use it on turn 5 when it comes into play, it's risky.
    -brontos

  9. #9
    Member Geargrinder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NachyoChez View Post
    A great read, but you are VASTLY underesimating a combo-based draw engine. Bella/Shadow an WotF/Gravebone can return insane card draw; bella and WotF alone are a fierce draw engine for Wulven. Fierce.
    Not to mention coupling Bella/SK with Gravebone, that's just pure gravy. Well, at least till 1.28 anyway.

  10. #10
    Senior Member kamman13's Avatar
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    Wow, totally blanked on Wrath of the Forest. It's added now, thanks for the catch.

    @Brontos- oracle is an ally, but if you treat it as an ally, then you don't want it to die, which means it isn't a great card draw mechanism.

    Concerning combos, yeah I agree I short-changed them. But besides combos with Gravebone's ability, which is soon to change, I don't think the other card combos are strong enough to be relied upon as a primary card draw mechanism. I think, though, that this will change soon with the of more cards that can be synergized for card draw.

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