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Re: strategy esays
— by Quintivarium Quintivarium
Strategy Thoughts: Mitigating the Role of Luck

It happens to everyone at times: your deck holds like thirty minions and you still can't seem to draw one for turn after turn.  Or maybe three lost spells in a row target your opponent's zombie mob insteat of the troublesome bone dragon.  Like it or not, chance plays a significat role in Spellcraft.

This article is about reducing the role of luck (in particular, bad luck) or at least reducing its impact.

It should be obvious that one who chooses cards with highly variable effects (e.g. lost spell stone) should expect the bad with the good.  But there is a point where avoiding all chance weakens a deck.  Conceivably one could take forty minions, eliminating all chance of failing to draw one.  But given the extent that a few spells can enhance the effectiveness of minions, such decks usually fare poorly.

One basic principle of luck is that it tends to average out over time -- a large number of small chances will be far more consistent and predictable than a small number of big chances.  Thus the more cards you draw, the more likely the proportion drawn of each type will approach the proportion in your deck.  Decks drawing a lot of cards will be more consistent than those that do not; decks denying opponents card wil make opponents less consistent (which may or may not be lucky for you).

There are a few cards you can at least partially control.  One technique for increasing the chance of drawing a card relatively early and frequently is by using what Valentino calls channeler cards.  Aeromancers, for example, draw a spell from your deck when played.  This makes it more likely you will get spells.  If you are willing to have only one spell type in you deck, you will get that spell either by drawing the spell directly, or by drawing (and playing) the aeromancer.

Another technique for controling some cards (those that have random movement) is what I call funnelling.  I love the jungle card strangle vines.  But if I want its effect on one particular enemy, there is considerable luck involved as the strangle vines aura randomly moves to an empty lane.  But if I have other cards to occupy some of those lanes, the luck factor decreases.  I especially like pit traps for this: they can only be tripped one at a time and they are most potent in those open lanes where I least like the strangle vines to move.

Finally, simple numbers of cards dramatically improve the probability of drawing them.  You will definitely want four copies on any card you want to draw either early or often.

Generally there is only so much you can do to facilitate drawing a particular card, but there is a lot you can do to reduce the impact of failing to draw a particular card.

Be very careful of building a deck around one particular card -- especially if that card has no channeller.  Any deck that effectively cannot win without a particular card will, at best, be inconsistent.  Even more importantly, do not build around one vital combination.  Repetedly throwing a wolf pack into a tornado to strengthen another wolf seems like a great trick.  Let me assure you, it does not win many games, although it can, rarely, be very impressive.

Having multiple card types that fill vital purposes will usually increase a deck's consistency.  If you depend on reducing strength of you opponent's biggest minions, you may want more capable of doing so than just aqualid hunters.  Even within the ocean faction, there are several choices: sink, shimmer squids, water elementals, triton assassins.  At the broadest level, there are lane controlling cards (mostly minions and barriers, but you might include auras like narrow tunnels and tornado, and some spells -- taken under, meteor -- that partially do this), and effect cards ( most spells, items, barriers, and traps).  I very much believe in something between a 3:2 and 3:1 ratio of these card types.

Having cards that fill multiple roles will also stabilize a deck.  For example, I very much like undead tritons.  Not only do they have a useful effect ( stealing strength), they remain to block a lane.  In the right deck, I also love tornados.  They work in combo with any quick minion to strike my opponent round after round; they open space for effects like tide caller; by pulling cards back into hand, they allow repeated use of "when played" effects.  And in a pinch, they can deal with cards like blood vapour and deepspawn that have grown beyond my ability to contain.

Along the same lines, variety of response is helpful.  How will my deck handle things if I don't draw my dragons?  What alternatives do I have to control my opponent's big minions?  How else will I be draining my opponent's life?  The flipside of having four copies of important cards is the risk of getting a hand full of that card when it is inappropriate.  I lost a match very badly once when I kept drawing copies of burning world when my opponent had two pyrohydras in play.  And I have trounced other players whose hand full creature destroying spells could not touch my magic immune minions.

Ideally, luck is overcome by every hand holding cards appropriate to every situation.  And this must be effected by not the cards drawn (which I cannot control) but by the cards available to draw.