Cheap Start Deck

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Cheap Start Deck

Toimu
So after playing 8 PvE matches, I bought some cards... THEN I read the forums .  At least I didn't sell any cards.

After reading Beginner's guide (long) and FAQ: How do I get started? (both by: Quintavarium), I got a simple idea, buy some 10 gold common cards to help my Starter Deck in PvE.

Here is my current deck:

4x Blessed Unicorn
4x Deepwood Spider
4x Giant Owl
2x Dragonfly
4x Grizziles
1x Ant Swarm
3x Wolf Pack
2x Natural Order
2x Wild Growth
4x Wild Strength
4x Magmasphere
2x Fire Rain
4x Fire Shroud

Any hints on some cheap cards to buy to help me?
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Re: Cheap Start Deck

Quintivarium
Toimu,

Let me not just try to answer your question, but also attempt to show you my reasoning process in the hope that you find it helpful.  Be aware that other players may use a very different process – for instance, I tend toward the quantitative end of the spectrum.  Also, although you made it clear you do not have many cards, I assume you have already made a few cost 10 purchases.  I assume you have purchased at most one or two boosters, and hence hold little in rare cards and are already playing almost all your uncommon cards.

First Impressions:
     I observe you have really focused on muscle choosing the highest strength cards available and then maximizing your ability to increase this strength – a sound strategy that utilized the abilities of starting cards in your factions quite well.  Your “growth” cards (ant swarm and wolf pack) reinforce this strategy.  I also notice some good quickness: both minions with the quick trait and relatively low cost units you can deploy rapidly.  While there is life point generation with the unicorns, this appears to be secondary to their strength.  You have a very limited amount of direct damage potential (fire rain) and generally low health minions (excepting the magma spheres and the spiders).  Superficially, the deck appears to be well conceived and to make about the best use of cheap cards possible.

Quantitative Analysis:
     Without yet playing the deck, I now turn to some quantitative analyses.  I start with card costs – this gives a sense of how efficiently you will use power points (without wasting this valuable resource) as well as how rapidly you will use cards (mainly a concern about how much power you will spend drawing cards as matches rarely end due to card depletion).  I notice you have 12 cost 4 cards, 13 cost 3, 9 cost 2 and 6 cost 1.  As an experienced player, I grimace at all the cost 4 cards – they almost always result in an unusable power point while not standing up to cost 5 counter-plays.  But without rare cards, you really don’t have much choice – these are your power cards.  Your 6 cost 1 cards may work well with these; but you may well play cost 1 cards to pair with a cost 3 or 2 cost 2 cards.  I see 28 lower cost cards, which will almost always be combined with either a card draw or another cheap card – I would not be surprised to see you make 7 or more card draws in a game, so the ratio of cost 3 to cost 2 cards looks good.
     I also count 26 cards providing forces (usually minions or barriers) vs. 14 cards producing effects (spells, auras, items, traps).  Normally, I find this a good ratio, although I may want more forces if those I have tend to turn over rapidly.  I also notice 20 cards that would be reasonable plays on the initial (3 power point) turn.  This is enough that you will almost always have a viable play – although I note that many of these are at best OK starters.  Any card with less than 4 strength and no elusive ability risks being opposed by a stronger enemy – eventually destroying your force and wasting tempo.  And lane specific auras will generally only cause your opponent to shift focus to other lanes – and you may not have the tempo to steer combat back to the affected lane.  Thus I only really like the dragonflies as a starting move, although magmaspheres have enough health as to not be bad either.  Wild growth is always useful, but cedes tempo and wastes a power point.  On the other hand, starting cards really do not often offer good options here, and cards like wild strength or possible wolf pack growth somewhat offset the risk of an opponent easily overpowering your initial (inert) minion card (like a grizzlies).
  In summary, I detect no glaring weaknesses on a quantitative level – you have done very well using starter cards efficiently.

General Play:
     Still without playing the deck, I want to think a bit about how the cards work with one another to achieve meaningful objectives.  Given starter forces in fire an forest, I can see very little you can do to increase the deck muscle – only rare cards in these factions have strength 4 and the wild strength/ fire shroud will increase that strength to the maximal extent without expensive cards.  In terms of your primary offensive strategy, you have done about as well as possible.
     But I do detect a couple of problems.  First, if your opponent is able to match your strength, you have no real “finishing” strategy to fall back upon.  Your deck’s secondary strategy is speed; this won’t avail once all lanes are clogged.  And your deck is neither strong enough nor quick enough to generally prevent this (no starter decks are).  Your only lane opening ability comes from your two fire rain cards – and I don’t think that is enough.
     Second, your very low average health makes you vulnerable to a plethora of threats: from auras like fire rain and law of the jungle to spells like fire rain and magic missile, to the many minions and barriers like wall of stalagmites or aquamancers able to directly inflict damage.  And this has other problems I will mention later.  Unfortunately, neither forest nor fire gives you many options here – all cheap cards except magma sphere and the rather inane chanting druids have health two or less.

Card Interactions:
     You have good effects to maximize card strength, and I like the wild growth to assist with rather abysmal card health.  Unfortunately, both are auras and you run out of slots for auras.  I like that you have limited these to 6 total cards – you are not likely to draw more than you can play.  Intuitively, I think wild strength will prove more useful than wild growth, so I also like your balance between the two.
     I notice only 3 wolf packs (and no fire wolves) in your deck.  One of the great features of wolf pack is its ability to enhance the strength of other wolves already in play.  To use this feature, you want the largest possible chance to be able to play a wolf pack while other wolves are in play (and wolves are so vulnerable).  I think that if you choose to use wolves, you want the maximal number of packs possible.  You may even consider fire wolves if you have them.  They will not help the wolf pack, but wolf pack will make them grow.  And they give at least a little ability to destroy equal strength opposition.  On the other hand, fire wolves are uncommon (not common) and very vulnerable with 1 health.  Alternatively, you might consider removing wolves entirely – but then you will need a good cost 2 alternative.  I like pyromamcers as a cost 2 fire unit.  Not only will they potentially generate a power point you can use with a cost 4 minion, they can use their ability to avoid attacking a stronger opponent so they have better defensive value than the wolves.
     One big problem with fire shroud is that its use costs a unit one health.  Normally, this is a great trade off, but not so much with your low health minions.  Using it on something like an owl that only has one health will kill the owl.  And using it on a health 2 unit reduces your health to 1.  Health 1 units are very vulnerable – especially against other human players.  Thus, the only units you have that I would generally use a fire shroud on are the spiders and the magmaspheres.  And due to magmaspheres’ temporary nature, even that feels like a bit of a waste (although, if you think about the time a sphere lasts, it really isn’t).  The wild growth helps, and you can just risk a health 1 unit, but it is something I am not happy with.  Unfortunately, your factions just don’t offer any cheap minions that would work better.  Well, you might consider lavaworm ravagers, but these are not overwhelmingly appealing – and I can’t recall if they are common or uncommon.
     One last nice interaction I see is between the ant swarm and wild strength/fire shroud.  If an opponent chooses to block your ant swarm with a strength 2 or even strength 3 minion, these cards may give the ants a chance for a quick kill with its strength and health boost.  This is very nice, although it probably won’t be super common.
     I do not see any other interactions of note.

Testing:
     At this point, given I see no glaring adjustments needed, I would normally test the deck.  Unfortunately, I do not have access to a device to play on at the moment, so I will proceed to some conclusions and suggestions.

Conclusions and Suggestions:
     You already have an excellent beginner deck.  While it has a few weaknesses, these are not easily resolved without rare or at least uncommon cards.  Slight adjustments (like adding one wolf pack in place of a dragonfly or ant swarm) are not likely to make a noticeable difference.  You may want to consider temporarily reducing your fire shrouds to add direct damage like flame spike or living bomb.  It would be helpful to have better means to clear clogged lanes, but there are no obvious ways to do this without either rare cards or giving up other things that are nice in the deck.  You might also consider something like horde of animals – a card that can clog a lane for one turn but that, ideally, automatically summons another to you hand at no cost.  Barkskin might help your unit health.  But both of these require giving up other cards in ways that likely are not beneficial.  
     Thus, my advice to you is to save your gold, use this deck to win more gold, and focus on purchasing 40 card booster packs in fire or forest.  Long term, that is much better than purchasing individual cards which will eventually become superfluous and which will contribute very little short term.  Gradually, as you acquire them, you will want to replace your vulnerable minions with higher health choices – especially dragons, deepwood ash, pyrohydras, and lava giants.  You may want to add selected health granting minions like living essence and glade faeries, although it is not obvious what you would give up for them.  Also look for opportunities to get better lane clearing cards into your deck.  A couple of meteor might go a long way, or lavapults if you can clear space in your back row for them.
     I hope you find this helpful; it is the best I can offer.
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Re: Cheap Start Deck

Cog.Bot
In reply to this post by Toimu
Hi, Toimu.

I don't know if you have unlocked Jungle yet, but I have a deck of all common cards that is quite competitive against many beginner and even mid-level players.  Use it or modify it as you wish!  Good luck!

2 hungry crocs
2 razorsaurs
2 sabines
1 savage blood drinker
1 dactyl hatchling
1 piranha
4 savage trapper
1 ferocity
4 ambush
2 poison darts
1 smash
3 snake pit
4 underdark worms
4 dreamfeaders
4 lost
4 cave-in
2 unnatural gas
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Re: Cheap Start Deck

Toimu
In reply to this post by Quintivarium
@Quintivarium

Thanks for the great reply!  You posts are very detailed and I really appreciate the time you take to write them.  I'm in the process of reading Strategy Essays

1)  The 3x Wolf Packs came with my starter deck.  I'm trying out replacing them with Flamespike (I tend to have too many minions in my hand and not enough direct damage spells).

2) The lack of 5 cost cards is just like you think, I don't have any.

3) I do have points left over with nothing to spend them on and do draw extra cards a lot during a match.  I'm sure this is a mix between learning the game and needing to tweek my deck.

@ Cog.Bot

I just made level 3, so I haven't unlocked any other factions yet.  But thanks for the info!  I'll look into that deck more once I can use those cards.

I'll be focusing on PvE till I get more cards, from packs this time!