Ways to Play

Rating: 11 votes, 4.91 average.
Ways to Play:

Shadow Era is a card game. Card games have evolved to have a certain pool of strategies and styles of play available to them. Most try and innovate in one way or another, but eventually they all settle on the same basic pool of ways to craft your decks, and play.

Rush Decks:
Decks that try and rush you early with cards that are cheap to cast, and alone are not powerful, but through spamming them early, you can either win outright or leave your opponent reeling before they can get set up. Not the most versatile, but they don't have to be. Tend to lose hard if they don't get their rush going from the beginning. If crafted well enough though, that can can be mitigated.

Control Decks:
Decks that plan on winning through a more methodical way of playing. The main goal is to control the field of play and what impact your opponent has on it until such time as you can flip the switch and go on the offensive. They tend to include lots of cards that counter what they expect to play against. This is one of the most common styles that you will see due to it being so consistent. Has a good mix cheap removal effects and high cost haymakers. This style of deck tends to run only a handful of win conditions (2-6 is average), but the win conditions that these decks run are extremely powerful and pretty much end the game in a hurry once they are in play. Control decks tend to only run into trouble when playing against something that they simply are not properly equipped for, or when sufficiently rushed by a rush deck.

Solo Decks:
These decks tend to shun any sort of allies/monsers/creature, for spells/abilities, and otherwise cards that tend to have effects over attacks. These decks tend to err toward a very controlling style of play and are only truly viable when the card game matures. In the early releases, there is usually a couple of cards that would be great in this style of play, but with no support, tend to fall flat. This is not the not the most common strategy, and tends to be more of a niche way to play. Most common amongst player who are simply playing for fun, although good win/loss ratios are possible.

Burn Decks:
This rounds out the third head of the three most common decks. The other two are Control, and Rush. Burn decks tend to have the strongest synergy of the three. They have varying balances of ability/spell damage and creatures for board presence. These decks tend to get stronger as sets and expansions are released, and can achieve amazing win/loss ratios (4:1 or better). Most creatures have either a burn effect of their own, or support the overall deck by locking the board by either denying the opponent the ability to attack or punishing them when they do.

Hand Destruction:
Almost all card games have some sort of hand that you choose the cards that you are going to play from. This type of deck falls into the category of "Destruction Decks". Hand Destruction decks are designed to manipulate their opponent's hands. They tend to play a somewhat control style as well. This is usually done through card effects, and sporadic attacks from creatures with abilities that support the overall theming or manipulate the opponents hand on their own. They tend to be high risk decks that pack low cost cards that aim to keep you from playing your high cost cards altogether. There is an element of psychological play here as well, as it changes the way that your opponent plays. It can be frustrating to play against these decks but they are ultimately as beatable as any other. This style of play tends to not be available at all in the early releases of card games, but by the third release, they tend to find their legs.

Deck Destruction:
This is the sister style to Hand Destruction Decks. This style tends to go hand in hand with hand manipulation. These decks focus on getting through your opponent's deck via cards that destroy the yet-to-be-played cards in their deck. Notably different from Hand destruction, as it can be used to make your opponent run out of cards quicker than you, and grant an advantage from that as well. Counters tend to also come at the same time as these cards. A very advanced strategy and also not usually available in the early days of any card game.

Recursion Decks:
These decks tend to work around great synergy and focus on cards that have already been played to gain their advantage. They tend to have a lot of cards that either have effects that trigger while they are in your graveyard (or whatever the game calls the used card pile), or trigger when they are destroyed. These decks key plays come from bringing back those cards and playing them again, or gaining their effect again. This also tends to be a strategy that is only viable late in the card games development cycle. Not the strongest archetype, but completely viable, and tend to play well against control decks because they can bring back their hard to remove cards and force their opponent's to remove them again... and again.

Suicide Decks:
This style tends to be a high risk, high reward way to play. These decks focus around cards that do lots of damage, and hurt both players as a side effect. The best way to play them, is to have secondary cards that grant additional bonuses when you receive damage, but nonetheless, these decks either win easily, or lose badly. Not the most viable, or the most versatile, but when crafted and played well, they can hold their own against most other decks. Not really a focus for developers, so they don't tend to see many cards released to help them.

Lock Decks:
This is the most dangerous style of play. These types of decks are usually heavily regulated and prohibited in tournaments and competitive play. Their sole goal is to win via a combo that locks the game and denies the opponent any play at all. This is usually achieved by denying their opponent the ability to attack (while they still can), denying their opponent draw (way more powerful than you'd think), denying their opponent the ability to play any sort of spells/abilities at all (not the most powerful lock, but wins a lot), or lastly denying their opponent the ability to play any creatures at all (or severely punishing them when they do). As you can tell, the focus is to take away a key aspect of the game for your opponent. These decks tend to get better synergy as the release cycle goes on, and eventually all end up too powerful, and thus end up getting banned.

Mill Decks:
This is one of the lesser used styles, but still has a fan base of its own. These decks focus on recycling the cards in their deck and keeping their deck stacked with cards to play, and simultaneously forcing you to run out of cards in your deck. Similar to Deck Destruction, but takes much more patience. They focus on having copious amounts of life gain to mitigate any type of damage that you can deal. They tend to not focus on dealing any real sort of damage, just outlasting their opponent. When building a deck like this, lots of counters are used as well as board control spells/effects. Not the most viable strategy, nor the most versatile. Although possible early on in a card game's development, nowhere near as viable until later on when more counters are released.

These decks go for the homerun. This is one of the strategies that tends to not be viable until the third set/expansion or later. There are rare cases when this win condition is available earlier, but it is never more than a luck play until much later in the development. Thsi style is similar to the "Lock Deck" type of strategy, as once its condition is met, the match is essentially over, except in this case, the match ends the second that the condition is met. A perfect example is Exodia (for those Yu-Gi-Oh players amongst us). In that case, The second that you got all 5 cards of the set into your hand, the game was over, and you won. The score did not matter, your condition was met, and that ended the game immediately. This tends to be the rarest deck type, as it is not available in all card games, and even then, tends to rely on luck and even late into the game's development cycle, there are counters to prevent the condition from being met. Although you will almost never come across this style in any game that you play, just to be safe, they tend to be banned from tournaments and competative play.

The point of this post is to introduce players to the different archetypes that exist in card games, and to help those who are not used to deck crafting, or card games in general to get better at theming their decks. It is something of a brief history lesson as well. I, personally can't wait for more of these strategies to be viable in Shadow Era. We are already seeing more of them open up. It looks like you have your work cut out for you, Design Team :P

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Updated 09-21-2014 at 06:43 AM by soothslyr

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  1. Anima Immortalis's Avatar
    Nice entry,vey useful....really needed some clarification on this subject.
  2. LiefKlynKonyntje's Avatar
    Very nice, thanks! Maybe a follow-up listing SE-specific examples after the 1.3 update?
  3. Keaven's Avatar
    Spotted a typo in Control Decks, "and tend tend to only"
    And in Mil decks: "much more patients."

    Updated 03-07-2012 at 06:17 AM by Keaven
  4. Vincenzo749's Avatar
    thank you very much for this
  5. houshasen's Avatar
    Great write up. Hope you would give specific example of each in Shadow Era with obviously some do not really apply at this early stage of the game.

  6. soothslyress's Avatar
    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this up; I'm finally beginning to understand by "more focused decks." I'm still working on a few things but I'll have you take a look at it and then we can test it.