Beginner's guide (long)

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Beginner's guide (long)

Quintavarium
In another thread, card combos and tips were requested to help beginning players better compete.  While I am far from the strongest player out there, I humbly submit the following start -- with the hope that better players will correct my missteps and add where I have omitted.

Tactics Tips for the Beginner

Playing a Deck.  The starter decks, while admittedly limited, are generally well constructed.  Thus, I begin with playing cards effectively.
1.  Know what the rules allow.  In particular, many beginners overlook that you can play cards over the top of previously played cards, and that, for two power points, you can tap your deck to draw a card.  Many also do not realize that you can still play cards after attacking – and there are times you may want to do this.  For example, should you want to temporarily block a strong creature with a firebird, play the firebird after you attack, otherwise its quick trait will cause it to attack and die during the attack.  Do note, if you have no creatures in play, you are not given the attack option, so you cannot delay playing cards this way on your first turn.  Many beginners do not realize that barriers (rather than minions) never attack, but they do defend, and if they have a strength, may damage the attacking creature.
2.  Pay attention to special abilities.  I have lost many games because I overlooked a magic immunity, or neglected to use an evasive ability to rescue a creature.  Pay particular attention to whether an effect is on all opposing forces or only on opposing minions.  And be aware that some effects also impact your forces.  Also note that magic immunity applies only to spells – not to auras or creature effects.
3.  Be aware of traps.  Cards inverted on the top row of the battle field are traps that could adversely affect the next card you play.  With practice, you learn to watch the manna expenditure when a trap is played.  That and the opponent’s deck color can often help you predict what the trap is.  
4.  Creatures first.  Because they exert the greatest long term influence on the game, deploying durable minions as extensively as possible should be your top priority.  While it’s tempting to play two or three cards to kill one of you opponent’s major threats, this almost always leaves you behind.  
5.  Minions are expendable.  Do not be so concerned about the survival of even wonderful minions that you overlook the bigger picture.  
6.  Watch for advantageous card combinations (this also applies when creating decks).  There are certain cards that work very well if played together.    Be aware that sometimes your opponent’s cards can be used in your combos.  For example, I love to play a pyrohydra opposite a deepwood ash.  The deepwood ash inflicts one damage on my pyrohydra for as long as the ash survives (usually 2 turns), but on my turn, the hydra not only regains its health, but gains one strength thanks to its regeneration ability.  But also be aware some cards will work against each other.  For instance undead giants will throw minions from you discard pile to damage opponents, thereby removing those minions.  If you are wanting to play a flesh golem (which draws its health and strength from minions in the discard pile), you need to be careful with your undead giants.  
7.  Plan ahead.  Try to anticipate how your opponent will react to your play and plan accordingly.  Be aware that certain cards of your opponent become increasingly difficult to handle with time (blood vapors, deepspawn, even triton aquamancers).  You may need to deal with them (even if they presently seem innocuous) over other threats.  

Creating a Deck:  Eventually, most players will want to create their own decks.  In my experience, I have identified 4 elements to a good deck: multiple threats, limited vulnerabilities, good card balance, and well conceived theme(s) / card combos.
1.  Multiple threats:  My best decks all have several ways I can win.  Do not rely sole on a single card, type of card, or card combo.  Being able to adjust according to the hand you are dealt, or your opponent’s capabilities is invaluable.
2.  Limited Vulnerabilities.  It is impossible to prepare for every contingency, but it is helpful to consciously consider the major ones – even if you choose not to address them.  Issues that nearly every deck will encounter include: neutralizing troublesome creatures, breaking (or enduring) deadlocks (all lanes occupied by equal strength, opposing creatures), managing without certain cards (either because they are destroyed or simply don’t come up), countering immunities, handling traps / auras /  items, dealing with small hand sizes, catching up when behind on armies or life.  Some deck themes have particular vulnerabilities to consider: e.g. a deck relying on auras is particularly susceptible to aura destroying cards.
3.  Good Card Balance.  Two areas can cause real imbalances.  With all the neat effects available with spells, auras, and items, it is very easy to have insufficient numbers of minions in your deck.  While there is no hard and fast rule (to some degree, it depends upon the deck), I have found that decks under about 55% minions are usually problematic, although I have one at 50% minions that still usually works well.  Another area of balance is in the power point cost of cards played.  Most players would agree that it is usually the big (expensive) minions that ultimately win most games.  Thus you want to include a fair number of these cards (usually 4 or 5 power points each).  But a hand with no cheaper cards is very slow to respond – it never plays more than one card a turn and never has points to power effects or draw cards.  And a deck loaded with 3 point cards leaves 2 power points which are often wasted unless used on 1 and 2 point cards.  Although balance can be hard to predict, it is actually fairly easy to test.  If you frequently have a hand full of auras and spells, but nothing to cast them on, you need more minions.  If you frequently reach a stalemate with opposing forces of equal strength on every lane (unless this is by intent), you need more effect cards (usually auras/ items / spells).  If you seem to always have an empty hand, you probably need more higher casting cost cards.  If you cannot seem to get cards out of your hand fast enough to keep up, you may need more cheap but durable cards (often barriers).  If you frequently have unusable left over power points, you may need more cheap cards or fewer 3 cost cards.
4.  Well Conceived Themes / Card Combos.  Great decks have great themes – some vision of how they would ideally work.  Almost all decks are built on one or more one or more of the following general strategies:  A. This deck will win by large numbers of the most powerful minions overwhelming my opponent.  (I believe this is the easiest and most common route to a good deck.)  B. This deck will win by blitzing my opponent with so much stuff he cannot stop it all in time.  C. This deck will win by sweeping my opponents forces off the board.  D. This deck will win by reinforcing my health while whittling away my opponents.  E. This deck will win by preventing my opponent from playing appropriate cards.  F. This deck will win by buffing/growing my minions into an unstoppable force.  G.  This deck will win by eroding the quality of my opponent’s forces.  H. This deck will win by inflicting damage that does not rely on minions.  I. This deck will win by stealing the fruits of my opponent’s efforts.  J. This deck will win by exhausting my opponent and running him out of cards.  The cards and combinations that implement those strategies create the theme of the deck – and the possibilities are virtually endless.  I have at least 3 very different decks which use strategy F above.  One is based upon buffing pyrohydras with spells and auras like burning world, detonation, volcanic eruption, and fireshroud – anything that damages the pyrohydra and invokes its regeneration ability.  To prevent the deck from being too one dimensional, it also builds on strategy C as burning world, detonation, volcanic eruption also destroy opposing forces, and on strategy A as it is loaded with strong minions (to outlast my burning world).  A second deck revolves around clearing paths for deepsea thugs to grow by damaging my opponent.  It is loaded with spells and auras like tideshift, lost, taken under, and burrowing under.  Since it also has a number of razor sharks and underearth worms, it can also utilize strategy A.  The third deck is based upon trying to build 6 strength/ 6 health stitched golems out of expired molten golems and magmaspheres.  It really only works only because it has few vulnerabilities – the other cards (like pyrohydras, vampires, and undead dragons) hold their own until the golems tip the scale.

Testing a Deck:  It is rare that a deck is flawless the instant it is created – typically something is not quite right.  The following tips are to help perfect a deck.
1.  Do not judge a deck by win record alone.  Chance plays a big role in almost any victory – and not all AI decks, or even all players are a good test of a particular concept.
2.  Test under as many different conditions as possible.  Vary factions; play against both AI and humans.
3.  Identify strengths and weaknesses as you play.  Is a particular combo hard to set up?  Does the deck develop too slowly?  Does appearance of one particular card always seem to be the difference between success and victory?  Was your opponent particularly lucky?  Did something work well that should be given more focus?  Were you utterly unable to stop a nasty dragonfish, or get through a living maze?
4.  Every card should serve a purpose.  Watch for cards you never want to play and consider replacing them.  But do not write off a certain card just because it is not useful in a particular match.  A null wand is clearly worthless if your opponent has no cards with immunities, but could be invaluable against a wall of ghosts.  On the other hand, even a well-intentioned purpose can be misjudged.  I originally included a resurgence card in my burning world deck –  thinking that if I burned minions right and left as cannon fodder, I wanted a way to get them back.  What I found in practice was that the game was always won or lost well before running out of minions became an issue – it was always better to throw new minions into the fire than to get old ones back.
5.  Acquire a feel for good decks.  By now, I find I almost instinctively know when a deck is working well and when it is struggling.  I think it helped that I stumbled upon a very good deck early in my play.  Upon returning to my earlier decks, I could really feel a difference.  If you have the cards, it might be worthwhile to copy one of the quality decks you might see elsewhere in the forums (see, for example, page 5 of the tournament thread for Bulldog 86’s winning deck) for a few games – just to learn how a good deck feels in play.  There is no joy in keeping someone else’s deck, but there is value in learning from it.

Economics:  Beginning players, unless they plan on spending real money to buy them, do not have the same level of resources (already owned cards or gold to buy cards) that the long-time players have.  This section contains suggestions for efficient use of gold with limited resources.
1.  Take opportunities to earn gold.  Turn on push notifications as some gold comes to you that way.  Rate the game when asked.  Pursue the simple achievements.  You may need to play several campaign levels to really get the gold you want.  I assure you it will come, but you will have to be patient.
2.  Build from your starter deck.  The fastest way to get a better deck is to use as many of the good cards you already have as possible.  Of course, it is perfectly legitimate to decide you want to experience a completely different faction.  Consider whether your current color might function effectively as the second faction for a new deck.
3.  Test, then commit.  When I first read the deepspawn card, I wanted it.  The thought of being able to add one strength and one health every turn was enticing.  Eventually I got the gold to afford just one, put it in my deck, and eagerly started playing.  It never arose in my hand.  The second game, it got nuked (or rather meteored) the turn I played it.  The third game, it got played, but then I kept getting swamped with situations that needed attention (and power points).  By the time I could grow it, the game was over.  Fourth game, I grew it at the cost of playing other units.  About the time it had gained the strength to be formidable, it was stolen by darkling slavers.  My point is that no one card is always wonderful.  Now deepspawn really is a nice card, but I realized I can rarely afford the power points to grow more than one at a time, and if I’m not going to grow them, there are many other better 4 power point cards.  I was lucky I was resource poor at the time I got my first spawn, or I would have purchased four, never used more than two in a deck, and rued the waste.
4.  Balance buying packs and buying individual cards.  Because the per card cost of packs is significantly less than the cost of individual cards, it is very tempting to buy only packs.  But after about 5 packs of 40 in a given faction, if I am still wanting cards I don’t already have, I generally find it more efficient to just buy the card.
5.  Pursue variety first, specifics second.  I find that well over half the decks I create do not play nearly as well as I originally hope, and about a third fail so badly that no amount of tweaking makes them successful.  It is far better to spend 2000 gold for general use cards than 1000 gold for specific purpose cards in a deck that may very well not work.  Only after determining a deck idea is sound do I invest a large amount in specific cards.
6.  When you buy on a budget, go big.  There is almost always a use for minions of strength 4+, as well as 3 strength cards with great features (like deepsea thugs or unicorns).  Eight or twelve such cards will almost guarantee a viable deck.  Rage, tornados, trees of life, and siege cannons have much more limited use.  Even the very powerful ancient ghosts, meteor, or body swap cards will not stand by themselves in the same way.  Hold off on these cards until gold is more plentiful.
7.  Look for bargain cards.  It is hard to beat a deck loaded with powerful rare cards (which is common amongst experienced, highly ranked players who have earned the gold to buy them).  But while they may be less flashy, certain uncommon and even common cards (which are relatively cheap to buy individually) are very powerful as the backbone of a good deck.  Just for example, underearth worms are a 4 strength, 4 health common creature (purple).  40 gold total will buy 4 creatures whose statistics are as good as any.  Fireshroud is a common spell (red) which uses only 1 power point and adds 1 strength while subtracting one health and can easily provide many creatures a useful nudge.  A nobbling trickster (green, common), costs little power, but by exchanging health with its opponent when played, might turn a formidable threat into something vulnerable.
               
Collegiality: There is certainly nothing wrong with just playing the game, omitting social interaction, but it can be enjoyable and informative to chat during a game.  Given the scarcity of players in the game center, it does not hurt to request another game if desired.  Please see other threads for tips on finding opponents.
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

SteveGoblin
Remarkable. Will Sticky this post.
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

.Confused.
In reply to this post by Quintavarium
Thank you Quintavarium!

Whilst I did not take the time to read it in full, I did read the economics section. I don't want to diminish your opinions, but rather augment them with some additions:

(reworked from a previous post)
" One way that I see it is that each booster deck really costs 146 gold.
I hear you say why?

Purchase price = 350 gold
Resell value = Rare (4*30) + Uncommon (12*5) + Common (24*1) = 204 gold
Actual price = 146

Now augment that by, say, one rare that you wish to keep (30 less revenue), the rare cost you 176.
Two rare you want to keep? 206/2 = 103 per rare
Three = 78.666666667 gold per rare and Four = 66.5 gold per rare, 33.25% of the single-purchase 200 gold.
That is, if you are just looking for rare cards.

These economics work for players early in the game, as the chances to get rare cards that you want to keep diminish as you build your collection and there is a tipping point where chance will fail you more often than not, i.e. you have little chances to find the Hippie Dragon, which you were looking for. Then, if you buy boosters, you are pretty much throwing away 146 gold and spending lots of time selling cards.

Those are my economics, hope it helps! "

Big minions: I must say that most people I play tend to reduce their use of big minions (and so does the AI at higher levels), as it has too many weaknesses (vortex, slavers, ... and all the updates the Goblins announced). For example, Devon offered a quick and mean deck for review. Also, Mark served me three beatings, countering my minions with mostly common/uncommon, fast-played cards this morning.

Cards collection: I am one to completely erase my decks every week or so, because I like variety. In alliance with my poor memory, this allows me to make use of most of the uncommon and common cards that I have gathered through the purchase of boosters. I am not the best player, but I have a lot of fun playing by mixing it all up! I could not have had so much fun if I had been looking for rare cards in the beginning.

Honour the Goblins: I would encourage everyone to put a bit of money in the game. Why? Because I would definitely pay a pint of beer to each of the Goblins for the work they put in the game. The easiest way to do that is to pay for gold. You even reap the benefits of using that gold in the game. Seriously, what's 20$ when kids pay over 100$/month to their telecom providers these days? It's a matter of priorities.

Quintavarium: Again, I think you did very nice work!

.Confused.
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Jambo(75)
In reply to this post by Quintavarium
Awesome posts guys!

Last night I got online for the first time and got my ass handed to me several times by (as it turned out) the recent tournament champ! Though I did manage one win, it is clear that newbies with limited collections are rather exposed to beatings when trying online against established high ranked players with extensive collections.

A suggestion for the developers here might be to afford these newbies slightly easier journeys (though I know not how this could be achieved).  Maybe booster drafts, random decks, rank matchmaking would work, though I think the volume of online players may not support the latter.  Otherwise, the risk is that online might simply become a one-off experience for some people.

The good thing is there's a good chat feature, so this embodies a friendly environment where tips and advice can be shared!

Regards

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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

SteveGoblin
This post was updated on .
We did have an idea about it trying to auto-match similar ranks, but it will need more players.

As a side note, if you do manage to beat a higher-ranked player, your rank will shoot up faster.

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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Quintavarium
In reply to this post by Jambo(75)
I do have an idea that might help newer players with more limited card selection options:

I suggest a "deck handicap" system (which could even be optional) where decks (not players since a low ranking player could still have an extensive collection through either purchases or through campaign advancement) are evaluated according to thier difficulty to acquire, and then given some appropriate bonus or penalty.

A relatively simple approach would be to simply compute the cost of purchasing the deck's cards individually.  Thus Bulldog 86's tournament winning pyrovolt deck (20 rare, 11 uncommon, and 9 common cards) would cost 20*200 + 11*40 + 9*10 = 4530 gold to buy outright, while my underground/water starter deck (0 rare, 15 uncommon and 25 common cards) would cost 0*200 + 15*40 +25*10 = 850 to buy outright.  A simple handicap could be to adjust one player's starting health based upon the ratio of the "value" of their decks -- e.g. 4530/850 = 5.33 for the example above.  It would take some tweaking to get a fair formula, but, if over the course of many games between the two decks, it was found my deck inflicted an average of 12 points damage before losing, it might be reasonable to think a ratio of 5 should correspond to a handicap of 8 points -- i.e. Bulldog starts with 12 health and I start with 20.

More complex approaches are certainly possible and may be more balanced.
Art
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Art
Interesting idea but that would completely change the deck making decision.  it will be a lot of work and what if my deck constantly lose to yours without even scratching 1 of ur lifes?  Will the handicap system suggested that u start with one life?

I think if anyone keeps playing the game go through all the campaign, it is not that hard to get the rare cards that u want and then make a better deck.
Art
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Art
And sometimes, a rare card is not as powerful as a common card.
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Bulldog86
Thanks guys for all the praise of my deck! But I assure you I lose with it even to newbies. Luck plays a role in all card games of this nature. I played alot of AI before playing PVP and it helped tremendously. Main concept was to create a deck in which was consistent. Mainly to get gold, get more cards etc. I focused on one color until it got to where I was selling more than receiving cards I needed, then I chose another color and began to do the same. My starter deck was ocean and swamp, I eventually took all the swamp out and played just ocean until I picked up fire. The best thing for a new player to remember is to have fun, ask questions, and most importantly pay attention to why your getting beat. And to you more experienced players, always chat with a new player, tell them about glassboard. The more players that use it the better. And as always thank you goblins for this very addictive, time consuming, and very enjoyable game!!!
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Valentino
Let me add to this discussion a little bit of maths.
Yeah I do agree. Math is boring but at the end it's all what matters. It is not important if you play a dragon or a vampire but the numbers (and text!) on the card.

Did I get your attention despite the boring topic? great!

You have 5 power points (pp) each turn. How do you spend them?
1) 5 pp cards - slow game but necessary
2) do you know that you can draw a new card for 2 pp? so guess what? you have 3 pp left! a wise combo of 3 and 2 pp cards works
I personally try to stay away from 4 pp cards ;-)

let's have a look deeper into the cards now. Each card is an investment and you must choose it properly!

Do you prefer to invest 3 power points in a "Feral Elemental" or in an "Aeromancer"?
I choose the latter because drawing a new card costs 2 pps which I have for free with the aeromancer, while I have to spend 3 pps more to trigger the effect of the feral elemental! so the real cost of an aeromancer is just 1 which makes a dragonfly ridicolous!

Obviously these choices are influenced by the deck strategy...for example do you prefer an "Underdark worm" or a "Sea dragon"? I would go for the second one only of you add a cool spell in the deck ;)

we can make an equivalent example with the spells. "Meteor" 5pp=4 damages "Flamestrike"3pp=2 damages. Which of the two is matematically the best? you see the damage per power point! Flamestrike = 2/3 and meteor 4/5. Meteor is the best with the assumption you use all the damages.
However what about a detonation which can deal up to 4 damages with only 3 pp? :-)

What about damage to the opponent? "heatseeker" 4 pp=3 damages. ratio? 3/4 is that cool? compare it to a spellstorm when you have 5 mages in game! ;)

At last which do you think is the best minion available? Triton aquamancer! 2 pp, 1 damage and gets healthier!
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

--cwc88--
Love to see the discussion moving this way, Valentino.

I've spent a lot of time lately considering the same topics you bring up here and trying to combine cards with "value" (the cost in pp compared to the total effect of the card) into a winning strategy.  I believe I've done so, at least to some degree, as the deck in question is the best I've made yet (though I'm sure there are many out there that will beat it...but not as many as could beat my other decks haha).

I agree it is important to consider these concepts in light of your overall strategy for a given deck.  There are very few hard-and-fast rules with regards to a card being better or worse than any other card; this is more often than not dependent on the deck/game situation in question.

That said, I agree it is highly important to consider how the costs of all the cards in your deck interact.  Obviously, if you have lots of 4 pp cards, you're going to be wasting a pp each turn unless you have cards that cost 1 pp or other sources of pp (like items, minions, or spells) so that you can both play a 4 pp card and a 2 pp card or a 4 pp card and draw a card for 2 pp.

Darkling Assassin is an excellent 4 pp card, largely because it lets you use your fifth pp immediately to damage an opposing minion.  In this way, it is like a Flamespike + a 2/2 minion with elusive that can do 2 damage per turn for 1 pp to an opposing minion.  Flamespike costs 3 pp.  Would you pay 2 pp for such a minion?? I certainly would.  The value is even greater because Darkling Assassin does both of these things while taking up only one card "space" in your hand.  Additionally, it can damage minions with spell immunity.

I also think it's important to consider the rate at which we play cards when evaluating particular card choices.  Take meteor, for example.  If we get to a board state where my opponent has a 2/3 minion in play and has destroyed all my minions, I'm clearly behind.  If my opponent plays a big minion each of his next three turns and I play a meteor three times in a row to destroy them, I'm taking six damage in the meantime just to maintain the same (disadvantageous) board state.  On the other hand, If I play a Sirens opposite his Underdark Worm, I could also play a smaller minion to combat his 2/3.  Or I could draw a card or play a spell to better my position.  Alternately, I could achieve the same effect as Meteor by playing Implode for 3 pp and have 2 pp left over to improve my position instead of simply maintaining the board position which has me behind.  I understand that you pointed out that Meteor loses value if we don't use all of the damage it provides; that is completely correct and I don't mean to suggest it's not a good card, simply that playing 2 "weaker" cards instead of 1 strong card on a given turn can often be advantageous.

I do not agree that Triton Aquamancer is the best minion, primarily because it is so fragile, especially soon after entering play.  This might be different if it had Quick or Spell Immunity.  I'd need more time to decide what I think the objectively "best" minion is, but, more importantly, I'd argue it's almost an irrelevant question, as even the "best" minion won't be the best one for a given deck/strategy/game situation.  

I do, however, agree that it is very important to be considering these types of things when approaching general game strategy and deck construction.

I'm wondering if this discussion continues (which I hope it will) if it should be moved to a new topic instead of continuing under a guide for beginners?  

 
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Valentino
about the triton topic you must relate my argument to the ratio calculation.
With 2 pps you have a permanent on the board which can cause each turn 1 damage and gets healthier. If you compare that to the fire wolf for example you have 1 strength point more but it costs you 1 additional to cause 1 damage and only in the same row!

Let's apply the ratio with darkling assassin: 2 damages for 4+1=5pp i.e. 0.4 damages/pp. What if you play 2 triton acquamancers? 2 damages for 4 pp in any row + the creature gets inflated, something that the other card does not.

I would not say that the triton is fragile at all. It has elusive and health increases at each round. The only weak point I see is that it has no quick.

Damage/power point ratio is very important and should be a parameter to determine the how successful is the deck.

But obviously that's not the only one! Did you guys ever calculate in how many rounds you can cause 20 damages if you had the best hand possible? Well, you should do it. That's the only way to know how quick is your deck! ;)
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Valentino
BTW: I do not agree with the statement that a 4 pp card matched by a 1 pp card has the same value of a 3 pp / 2 pp matching. why? because if you do not have the 2 pp card you can still use those 2 pps to draw a card!
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

--cwc88--
In reply to this post by Valentino
1. It's not a fair comparison to weigh the value of two Aquamancers versus one Darkling Assassin, precisely because you're talking about two cards instead of one card.  If you play two Aquamancers, you ought to get more than you would for one Assassin as you now have one less card in your hand.  Note that if you play one Aquamancer and then draw a card, you do not (typically) have enough pp to play a second Aquamancer.  Therefore, on the whole, it's not a fair comparison.  In addition to being limited in the number of pp we have (each turn, and in a game), we are also limited by the number of cards we see (each turn, and in a game).

2. Your ratio calculation involves only the first turn for the Darkling Assassin (for 5 pp, you can play the assassin and activate its ability to do 2 damage all on one turn) and  two turns for the team of two Aquamancers (on one turn you spend 4 pp to play them; it is not until the next turn that you get to steal 2 health).  After two turns with two Aquamancers, you have done 2 damage at the cost of 4 pp.  After two turns with Darkling Assassin, you can do 4 damage for a cost of 6 pp (4 + 1 + 1).  

3.  But perhaps most importantly, in my mind, is the fact that on the turn on which you cast Darkling Assassin, it has an immediate effect which your opponent can't do anything about (short of a trap, which would effect Aquamancers the same as it would Darkling Assassin...except Cinderbox; more on that in a minute).  Almost every time I've used or seen it used, Darkling Assassin is put into play opposite a minion with health 1 or 2, and activated to kill it on the same turn.  Conversely, Aquamancer has to survive your opponent's turn before it can be activated.  And it needs to survive two of your opponent's turns before it can be activated enough to do as much damage as the assassin can do on its "0th" turn.  

The reason this is so important in my mind is that, once you play either of the minions in question, your opponent is probably going to want to destroy it.  I can't think of any cards that would destroy a Darkling Assassin that would not also destroy a Triton Aquamancer (though there may well be some).  But I can think of many for which the opposite is true (Cinderbox, Murder of Crows, Hunt, Lightning Golem, Flamespider, Stormship, a Triton Aquamancer already in play).  Sure, an opponent could Flamespike either the Assassin or Aquamancers on his next turn just as easily.  The only benefit you gain there is that you've spent only 2 pp to get Flamespike out of your opponent's hand while I've spent 5.  But again, I've spent 5 pp to get Flamespike out of his hand and to do 2 damage to one of his minions (or to him directly if I attack instead).

All of this is not to say that Darkling Assassin is necessarily a better card than Triton Aquamancers.  I don't even know if that's true.  Again, I don't really think it matters, as in some decks Aquamancers will clearly be better and in others it will clearly be worse (even ignoring faction selection).  My point is that yes, the math surrounding any given card is very important, but that it's not enough to simply look at the pp cost of the card or its effects...there's more to the story (how rugged or fragile is it? how does it rate offensively and defensively in combat? etc).  And while these, too, could likely be expressed mathematically, they seem to have so far been left out of your calculations.



Also, I am not claiming "that a 4 pp card matched by a 1 pp card has the same value of a 3 pp / 2 pp matching" (though I'm not necessarily stating that it's false, either).  The point of my previous post on the topic was simply meant to suggest that there are plenty of times when including 4 pp cards in one's deck is not only justifiable, but better than not including any because of the potential to waste 1 pp while casting it.  
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Valentino
In reply to this post by Valentino
I used the comparison of 2 tritons to leverage with the other card. The most accurate approach would be to use only 1 triton for the comparison and then use the pp ratio between the two cards for a comparison. Be aware that the other cards costs 2.5 times the triton so it should be anyway better if you compare the two cards.

I agree there are 4 pp cards which are very useful (I really like the swamp ghost!) but I came to the conclusion that it is better to use a 3 pp card and draw a new one instead of using a 4 pp card.

When you play a minion the opponent has 3 options:
1) take the damage
2) block it through another minion
3) destroy it

3/2 card combos have the advantage that they cannot "usually" be blocked/tageted both if the opponent has just 1 card.
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Quintivarium
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Valentino
There is a second very significant way that math plays a role in the game -- through statistics (or at least probability).  I think most players have at least an intuitive idea how likely certain cards in their decks will appear -- which can affect both play of the cards and deck construction.  But there are times when one might want to be more precise.  Consider the following questions:

1.  If I get the first turn with only 3 power points, it is certainly helpful to be able to play a meaningful card.  Assuming I do not include power boosters in my deck, how many initially playable cards should I include in my deck to reasonably expect I will have one on a first turn?

2  There are several items that are very useful, but for which multiple copies have very limited value.  For instance one null wand (white) can be invaluable to deal with immunities.  But given the relative rarity of cards with immunities (and the limited power of those cards), one wand is generally sufficient for the job.  However, I might decide to include extra copies -- not because I want two wands in play, but because I want a good chance of drawing a wand reasonably early in the game.  How much do I gain by carrying two (or even three) wands?

3.  Wolf packs (green) and storm fiends (white) gain power when more are in play.  If a player loads a deck with such units, how likely they to draw two or more in the first eight rounds of play?

4.  There are many cards that that significantly gain effectiveness when combined with other cards.  One well known example is the giant volta (blue) and pyrohydra (red) combo.  It is normally hard to place a unit next to a volta because the volta's electric attack damages adjacent units.  But the pyrohydra grows and regenerates after taking such damage.  Suppose you have decided to devote six cards to this combo.  Because the pyrohydra is generally more threating, you are considering taking 4 pyrohydras and only two voltas, as opposed to three of each.  Is this a good idea?  How much benefit would there be in devoting 7 or 8 cards to this combo instead of only 6?

5.  I am dealt both a triton aquamancer (blue) and a spell net (white).  I go first.  I would like to play my aquamancer quickly while there are both open lanes and so it can both inflict damage and start building defense as rapidly as possible.  On the other hand, since an aquamancer is a high profile target and is initially vulnerable, I fear my opponent hitting it with a direct damage spell.  How do my odds  of avoiding a direct damage spell change if I hold off playing my aquamancer until after I am able to play spell net?

To assist in answering these and similar questions, I have computed the following probability tables.  While the numbers given appear reasonable, I should warn that many of the calculations were quite tedious -- careless errors are possible.  It is also possible to have subtle oversights in one's strategy for computing the probabilities although I was careful enough to think this unlikely.

Probability of drawing at least one desired card in first n cards taken from deck
# cards \ n
                5            6            7            8           9           10          11          12         13
1            .125       .150       .175       .200       .225       .250       .275       .300       .325
2            .237       .281       .323       .364       .404       .442       .479       .515       .550
3            .337       .394       .448       .498       .545       .589       .630       .668       .704
4            .427       .493       .552       .607       .656       .700       .740       .776       .808
5            .507       .577       .639       .694       .742       .783       .820       .851       .877
6            .577       .650       .711       .764       .808       .845       .876       .902       .923
7            .639       .711       .771       .819       .859       .891       .916       .936       .952
8            .694       .764       .819       .863       .897       .924       .944       .960       .971
9            .742       .808       .859       .897       .926       .948       .963       .975       .983
10          .783       .845       .891       .924       .948       .965       .976       .985       .990
11          .820       .876       .916       .944       .963       .976       .985       .991       .994
12          .851       .902       .936       .960       .975       .985       .991       .995       .997

Probability of drawing at least 2 of desired card in first n cards taken from deck
#cards \ n
                 5           6            7           8            9           10          11          12          13
2            .013       .019       .027       .036       .046       .058       .071       .085       .100
3            .036       .054       .074       .096       .121       .149       .178       .209       .242
4            .069       .098       .134       .172       .213       .256       .300       .346       .392

Probability of drawing at least one of each of two different types of desired cards within the first n cards drawn from deck if d1 of first and d2 of second desired card are present in the deck
#cards \ n
d1/d2        5           6            7            8            9          10          11          12          13
1/1         .013       .019       .027       .036       .046       .058       .071       .085       .100
2/1         .025       .036       .050       .066       .084       .103       .124       .147       .171
3/1         .035       .052       .071       .091       .114       .139       .165       .192       .221
4/1         .045       .065       .088       .113       .139       .167       .196       .225       .256
2/2         .047       .069       .094       .122       .152       .184       .219       .255       .292
3/2         .068       .098       .132       .168       .207       .248       .290       .333       .377
4/2         .087       .124       .164       .207       .251       .297       .343       .389       .435
3/3         .098       .139       .184       .232       .282       .333       .384       .435       .485
4/3         .125       .175       .229       .285       .342       .398       .454       .508       .560
4/4         .160       .221       .285       .350       .414       .476       .536       .592       .645

Note: these tables may be best viewed on a computer in full screen.

Let me use these tables to address the questions I posed above.

re 1.  My initial hand will consist of the first 5 cards drawn so n=5.  I am interested in having at least one playable card which is handled by the first table shown.  If I want a 3/4 (.75) chance of having a playable card, I can read from the table that 9 desired cards in my hand provide a .742 chance of drawing one in my first 5 cards, while having 10 desired cards in my deck increases the probability to .783.  I conclude that 10 cards usable on the first turn (cost under 3 and not something like a spell requiring a target) would be a good number to include.

re 2.  Again, since I am interested in drawing one of a desired object, I will use the first table.  If I have two wands in my deck, I note that the probability of drawing a wand in my initial hand (first 5 cards) is .237.  If I had only one wand in my deck, I would get a similar probability by drawing between 9 and 10 cards (typically 4 or 5 rounds later.  On the other hand, it still requires 12 cards to have a better than 50% chance of drawing one wand with two wands in my deck.  Thus I could easily not get one until after seven rounds are played.  I may still want to improve those chances, although there is diminishing return with each additional wand included.

re 3.  Here I use the second table -- I am interested in drawing two or more of the same object.  Even with 4 wolf packs in my deck, by the time I've drawn 13 cards (eight rounds unless I tap to draw extra cards) the chance of having drawn 2 or more is only .392.  Now I know why my wolf pack decks never worked very well!

re 4.  I am now looking for the probability of drawing at least one of both of two different cards -- the third table.  I want to compare results for having 4 of one card and two of the second with results for three of each.  Thus I look in the rows labeled 4/2 and 3/3.  The probability of getting one of each of the desired cards is consistently about 1/8th again better with a 3/3 blend instead of the 4/2 blend.  But I do notice that a 4/4 blend is substantially better than both.  I would seriously look for a way to increase the cards devoted to a good combo like this to 8.

re 5.  Unless I know my opponents hand, I will have to make conjectures, and consider different cases.  My opponent will have drawn 6 cards by his first play.  From the first table, I note there is nearly a 50% chance he will hold a direct damage card if he started with 4 in his deck.  This increases to 76.4% if he had 8 direct damage spells in his deck.  Certainly playing the aquamancer immediately is risky.  But if I wait a round to play it, my opponent now has 7 draws to get a direct damage spell + one other spell to trip the spell net.  Assuming 4 direct damage spells, and 4 other spells in his hand, I can use the third table (row 4/4) to see the opponent still has a .285 chance of nuking the aquamancer.  Actually, the odds are better than this since two direct damage spells could accomplish the same thing.  I would probably choose to wait, however, as this is a significant improvement -- and I might be able to draw fire with some less critical card.

I hope these examples both illustrate how to use the tables and highlight the tables' potential value.
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

onfire4jc
In reply to this post by Quintavarium
Just played Quintavarium on multiplayer and just want to say what a swell guy.
He has rare cards I know that could rock my socks off.
But he played easy on me and helped me learn the game.
Thanks you are a great part of the community here on Spell Craft!
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Re: Beginner's guide (long)

Quintivarium
In reply to this post by Quintavarium
Playing Errors to Avoid

Lately I have encounter a large number of relatively novice players in pvp matches.  While many of these players handle the cards very well, others  make very similar mistakes.  As improving play, unlike improving decks, requires no gold, I would like to point out these common mistakes so assist others in avoiding them.

ERROR 1:  Not using special abilities.  The biggest mistake many players make is to fail to fully utilize the powers of their cards.  I recently played a game in which my opponent played a water elemental (ocean faction) opposite my pyromancer (fire faction) – a wise move.  But then for the next 6 or 8 rounds, that player simply attacked with his cards and never utilized the water elemental’s power to reduce an opposing enemy’s strength.  Thus, not only was I able to benefit from one extra power point a round (courtesy of my pyromancer which should have been quickly killed), I really never had to deal with the water elemental (which was problematic for my deck).  

Some units have powers that are automatically invoked (usually at the start of the turn or when first played); others have powers invoked only if the unit is double tapped.  Certainly there are times when it is counter-productive to invoke a special power, but the powers should at least be considered as options.  Keep in mind that the ability to move (elusive) is also a power that should be exploited.  All too often I see players kill their own units by a fruitless attack against a stronger opponent instead of simply moving the unit to an empty lane.

ERROR 2:  Failure to recognize limitations due to card type.  Spells, items, and auras are all different – magic immunity prevents meteor (fire faction spell) from destroying a card; it is useless against burning world (fire faction aura) or lavapult (fire faction item).  Calm seas (ocean spell) will clear all auras, but items (and traps) are not touched.  Many cards affect only minions, others only barriers, while a few affect “forces” (minions or barriers, but not items, auras, or traps).  Do not use a bone dragon’s (swamp minion) power to destroy an opposing minion of lower health on a living maze (forest barrier) – it doesn’t apply, although the game will let you waste the power trying.  But a ruby dragon’s (fire minion) power which inflicts 2 damage on opposing forces will work on the living maze.

ERROR 3:  Failure to correctly assess threats.  Cards that grow – especially if they gain health – can quickly become extremely hard to contain and must be dealt with quickly.  Neglecting deepspawn (underworld), blood vapours (swamp), or aquamancers (ocean) without good reason is a recipe for disaster.  On the other hand, I have seen players go to great lengths to destroy a spore farm (underworld).  Although a spore farm has a nasty power, it has no impact outside its lane and, as a barrier it inflicts no life damage.  But unless that lane really matters, it’s probably not worth 2 flame spike spells (fire) and a captured flame (fire) to immediately destroy.

Experienced players know the dangerous cards – they have experienced the effects.  For novices, recognizing dangerous cards is harder.  To assess a card’s threat, I ask a few questions.  Does the card’s power really hurt?  Does it hurt me more than my opponent?  Can it easily be contained by my deck?  Does it get worse over time?  Does it combine with something else to become much worse?  Fire faction’s feral elemental (which blows itself up invoking its power to inflict two damage on an opposing enemy does not really scare me).  Fire’s ruby dragon (able to inflict the same damage on an opposing force at a cost of 3 power) is scary – but probably more for its 4 strength than its special ability.  (I can probably replace units it destroys at less cost than my opponent spends destroying them.)  Underworld’s darkling assassin (able to inflict two damage on an opposing minion at cost 1) is very scary, but it can be contained to a single lane, and its 2 strength is often damage I can absorb for a round or two.  A pyromancer (fire faction, able to generate 1 power point) does nothing I really worry about – unless it is combined with a fire prism (fire faction unlockable item which does one damage to a random enemy force every time its owner uses a card to generate power) at which point it becomes very dangerous.  Ocean faction’s triton aquamancers are absolutely horrible.  They quickly become virtually indestructible, they can only be contained by their destruction, and they combine with other cards like other aquamancers or air’s overworld elixir and energize cards to inflict 3+ damage per round – more than the health I can sustainably deploy a round.

ERROR  4: Bad timing.  The order cards are played often does make a difference, and when they are played can be critical.  Suppose you intend to play an underdark worm (underworld) adjacent to a giant volta (ocean), and to fire the volta’s special power.  Trigger the power first, then play the worm, otherwise the worm unnecessarily loses a health point.  If you want your firebirds (fire faction) to block an opponent’s dragonfish (ocean), attack first, then play firebirds (otherwise the quick firebirds will kill themselves in the attack).  Suppose your opponent has 3 underdark worms in play (you have nothing), and both you and your opponent have only 4 life left.  Luckily, you hold a razorsaur and a dactyl hatchling – both quick cards with 2 strength.  Unfortunately, the hatchling moves to a random lane after being played.  If you play the hatchling first, you have a 2 in 4 chance of it landing in an open lane, at which point the razorsaur can be played in the remaining open lane for the win.  If you play the razorsaur first, the hatchling has only a 1 in 3 chance of landing in an open lane.  There are a lot of situations like this.

Card order can also matter in power point utilization.  Suppose you hold two grizzlies (cost 3 forest minion) and two giant urchins (cost 2 ocean minion).  Even though there is a chance I could trigger urchin growth, I would play only one with a grizzlies card this turn and repeat that play next turn, rather than playing two urchins this turn, and being stuck next turn with no card that pairs with a grizzlies.  But strategic considerations can over-ride this determination.  Suppose I hold two howling banshees (cost 3 swamp card), one triton aquamancer (cost 2 ocean), and one blood vapour (cost 2 swamp).  I would likely play the vapour and the aquamancer together because both are serious threats that quickly get out of control – and I doubt my opponent could handle both at once.

Recognize some cards are best played in response to an opponent, some are best on the board first.  Suppose I am choosing between fire faction’s lavaworm ravager or ocean faction’s water elemental for my initial play.  I will almost always play the 2/3 stats water elemental over the 2/6 lavaworm.  The elemental likes to react to an enemy played opposite; the lavaworm is better played opposite an existing barrier.

But not just cards that react to an enemy should be held from immediate play.  Certain cards that work in combo should be held until the combo is available.  One wolf pack played to the board will be quickly destroyed.  A wolf pack held until other wolf packs are drawn can often be grown into something devastating.  A lot of beginners with fire prism decks burn through power generating cards trying to draw a prism, and then have nothing left to trigger the prism once they play it.  A player who saves the captured flames and shimmer pearls for use with the fire prism is much more formidable.

ERROR 5:  Failure to anticipate the opponent’s next move.  To some degree, this anticipation requires experience, or at least knowledge – knowledge of creatures available, possible combinations, and frequently occurring deck types.  If my opponent has previously played a kobo miner (underworld), and now plays a deepsea thing (ocean), I am virtually certain he intends to play a tide caller next turn (likely called to hand by the miner) to shove aside any minion I use to block the deepsea thing.  If possible, I block it with a barrier!

If my opponent has a couple of triton rituals in play, and plays a triton wave rider – all ocean cards – I will likely destroy or neutralize the waverider if I can, even at the cost of a meteor spell.  Although a waverider is not generally dangerous, my opponent has shown all the trademarks of a fire prism deck.  One waverider with triton rituals and a fireprism could defeat an army of ruby dragons.

In a recent game, I had a vampire consort (swamp) and a water elemental (ocean) both on empty lanes.  My opponent moved an ancient ghost (swamp) opposite the vampire, played an aeromancer (air) opposite my water elemental, and then hit the water elemental with a decay spell (swamp).  Knowing my opponent to be a good player, I could make several inferences based on the following observations:  my opponent is playing a swamp/air deck, my opponent felt it was more important to block damage than to inflict damage, my opponent played the seemingly ineffective aeromancer card to block my water elemental, and my opponent chose to cast decay on my water elemental rather than my vampire (which is both more expensive and probably more dangerous).  Given my opponent had a nearly full deck, the aeromancer play was probably made for the sake of drawing a spell.  The ghost play is likely because my opponent is willing to give up inflicting one damage with the ghost to prevent three damage from the vampire, but it could be that my opponent wants the two in a face-off.  Decay on the water elemental could be because the ghost handles a vampire better than a water elemental (although that is a little short sighted), but likely my opponent has a better long term solution to the vampire.  Because I foresaw two dangers – uncontinue, possibly with chronomancers as well as with decay, and body swap with ancient ghost – I was able to adjust my play sufficiently (I never placed more than two copies of the same card in play at once, and I minimized use of high strength cards) to carry the game, even though my opponent actually had both combinations built into his deck.

CONCLUSION:  I often find I have far better success against beginning players than against experienced players – even if they play essentially the same deck  Although luck plays a big role, playing skill is certainly the bigger factor.  I hope this post contains suggestions that help at least some beginners improve their play.