Advanced Strategies by soothslyr

As most of you know, I posted a thread and blog a while back detailing deck archetypes of TCG’s. It had detailed explanations of what each one was, and how they’re used. I got some very good feedback, but also a few comments about it being geared mostly towards players with little to no experience with card games. I took that to heart, and figured I’d post something for the intermediate to advanced players. New players are encouraged to read as well, and ask questions as you go.

All of that being said, here’s my Advanced Strategies post:

Part 1: Deck Building

A Control Based Meta:
Well, most of use call rush tactics noob strategy, and label it with not requiring any sill to play. While that might have been more true in past versions (1.28-1.29 to be specific), those tactics nearly no longer apply. Since 1.5 was released, the game has shifted to a more control focused strategy in order to reach your kill condition. This requires more thought when it comes to deck building.

It all starts with Deck Design:
What you carry in your deck is half of the battle. Most people think that throwing 4 of 5 or 6 different cards in their deck is “good deck building”, but in fact, that is far from the case. While it virtually guarantees getting some/most of those cards throughout the game, it does nothing to help your deck be versatile. There are 20 different heroes in the game, and they all play differently. having essentially 7 different cards in your deck does not help you win against 20 different hero abilities.

Versatility Vs Focus:
To be honest, this is a matter of preference. Some players prefer to go for focus, and write off the “auto-loss situations”, or learn how to play against them through in-game strategies. Other players prefer to go the route of having counters to their weakest matchups build in their decks, and being more versatile. The reason why it is such a tough choice, is because you will have to sacrifice one for the other. There is no perfect balance. some heroes have an easier time with this due to their native card pool. The Wolven Class, Priest Class, and Hunter Class are among the most versatile.

Versatility – Accounting for many opposing strategies and play-styles. This means including a variety of cards that will not be useful in all situations. Examples of this are: Sever Tiesicon, Lay Line Nexus, Healing cards (Healing Touchicon, Lone Wolf, Rampageicon, and more), Poor Qualityicon, and Spelleater Bandsicon.

Focus – Playing to the strength of your deck, and your main win strategy. This means playing cards that have their main purpose align with getting you the win in the way your deck is designed to achieve it, but are not helpful outside of that. Some examples of this are: Night Prowlericon, Mind Controlicon, Ill Gotten Gainsicon, Speedstrike, and Freezeicon.

Quantities:
Deciding the quantities of cards in decks seems to be a sticking point for most people. Including 4 of a card instead of including 3 of that card can mean the difference between a solid win streak, or a string of frustrating matches.

How To Decide Between Quantities:
The simplest way to decide, is to see which cards are the most versatile in their nature by design. An example, is Priest of the Lighticon over Aldonicon. Priest of the Light is a much more verstile card because it effects 3 different aspects of the game upon being cast. It increases your heroes health by +1, reduces your opponents Shadow Energy count by -1, and gives you board presence to the tune of a 3/3 ally. Aldonicon only gives you a card that helps you if you already have the board.

The name of the game is board control. The first 3 turns of any game usually decide the outcome, so that means that you should plan for it. Knowing the percentages is what will help you ensure that you minimize luck when it comes to getting that optimal starting hand. Including 6 t2 allies in your deck instead of 4, increases their presence in your deck by around 15%, and increases the chance that you will have them by turn 2 by about 7%. That may not sound like much, but trust me when I say that in games, it makes a world of difference. The same can be said for t1 allies, and t3 allies. Some players actually prefer to play 7+ 3cc allies, as they are useful in late game situations as well. Weapons fall into this category as well. While including only 4 Soul Seekers in a Gwenneth Truesighticon deck may sound fun, but you will often lose to the percentages. 7% will matter a whole ton in those situations.

The Most Versatile Allies In The Game:
Priest of the Light – effects the board in 3 different ways, and can mess up opposing players strategies if played in tandem.
Jasmine Roseculticon – nowhere near as versatile as Priest of the Light, but can win a game on her own, if left unchecked.
Death Mage, Thaddeusicon – his ping damage, plus being able to do damage without risking an attack, is very versatile in the right situations.

The Most Versatile Non-Allies In The Game:
Battle Plansicon – a draw engine of sorts, but has the side effect of allowing you to play for your next turn with certainty. knowing what is coming next can be invaluable in your decision-making during your turns. The fact that you can cycle through your deck, is just icing on the cake when you’re looking for a specific card to help you win a game.
Retreaticon! – One of the few cards in the game that can target both you or your opponents cards. Can help you either save an ally that is about to die, or to regain the effect of an ally that impacts the board when cast (think Priest of the Light), or more powerfully, it can force your opponent to have to recast a high casting cost ally that they played last turn. Crucial to buying time in the late game.
Full Moonicon – another card that has more than one effect. Either one of the effects here are extremely powerful. preventing damage to your hero can turn the game around. Stalling for that 1 extra turn when you need to save up for your heroes ability, or need a chance to increase your resources by +1 in order to cast the card(s) that you want can be pivotal. Do not forget that it also boosts the attack of ALL allies that you have on the board. This can help you keep the board when you would otherwise have lost it to a strong ally, or several allies that are staring you down. Also note that it lasts until your next turn, so the attack bonus lasts as well. A great and complete card.

The rest of the quantity deciding will have to be done after you’ve done some testing with your deck, and have gotten more comfortable with the style of play that it provides. Tweaking will start out with changing a lot of cards, sometimes, removing whole sets of the same card altogether. Knowing when to start from scratch will take practice and diligence.

Part 2: In-Game Resourcing

Early Game Decision Making:
This is the make-or-break part of the game, and where most players make their largest mistakes. Do not discount the added effect of luck here, and how massively your deck designing will come into play.

Knowing What To Resource:
This comes from a few things:

1 – What hero are you matched up against?
Knowing your matchups and how you play them, is what separates the pro players from everyone else. This can only come from experience, and a sense of intuition. Take the time to study the market place, and all of the cards for each class, and the neutral cards. This will help you know which cards to account for in which situations, and to know the scope of their abilities. It may sound silly, but I have personally won so many matches because i knew what to account for from the second that I saw the opposing hero, that I is silly. Homework helps, as well as practice. An example, is knowing that 6 of the 10 human heroes have no card at their disposal to remove 4cc or less non-weapon/armor items/support cards. If you can call that from the beginning, it helps you be on your way to victory.

2 – What is your route to your win condition?
Knowing how you plan on winning the game also plays a huge part in resourcing in the early game. This will dictate which cards are pivotal to you winning that particular matchup, and which cards are not. Also, another thing to take into account, is that you will need to decide upon seeing your initial hand what you are going to play in your first 2 turns (possibly 3 turns, if you have the cards for it). One more thing to think of in this situation, is because you have 0 resources at the beginning of your first turn, you will need to decide which cards are immediately helpful to you, and which cards are possibly helpful to you later. This goes hand-in-hand with knowing the route to your win-condition. A note of advice, never resource a draw engine early. you don’t have the board presence to last until you draw another, and there’s no telling if your opponent has theirs in hand already, and are waiting to cast. Shooting yourself in the foot is not a smart idea.

3 – Beware lady luck
Despite what anyone says, luck plays a part in early game decision making. By nature of this being a card game, percentages and luck are factors, there’s no two ways about it. You can only play the cards dealt to you, and make the best out of them. Deck building helps immensely here too. Having a deck with only 3 or 4 2cc allies will have a relatively low chance of having them in hand at the beginning of the game, and that could spell early doom. Know your deck! This will come after practice with the deck, and with more experience in general. If you get a terrible hand, know that the cards that you want are still in your deck, they’re just not in hand now, play your match knowing that they’re going to come up, and be ready to stall until they do. This can be particularly difficult some times, and WILL lead to defeats. There’s no shame in losing to unfortunate luck, it happens to the best of us. Good deck building mitigates luck, but nothing can remove it from being a factor.

Mid-Game Resourcing:
This is easier than early game resourcing, as you already have a few resources, and there are cards on the board already. Here, your deck designing skills are tested again, and so is your memory. You will need to keep track of the cards that you have already played, as well as the cards that you have already resourced. Losing because you end up waiting for a card that you have already resourced is an embarrassing way to lose.

Design Your Turns:
Along with knowing the matchup with the opposing hero, you will need to be able to design your turns. This essentially means playing your turns with your next 2-3 turns already planned out. In order to win games, you will need to account for what your opponent can play, and plan your turn accordingly. Play your turns with a plan for what you wanna do. This is one of the most situational parts of the game, as what it entails you doing changes from game to game. Only experience can teach you what decisions to make, and which decisions were mistakes.

As another note, sometimes, NOT RESOURCING is the right call. If you need all of the cards in your hand, and can see yourself playing most of them in the next 2 turns, this may be the situation.

Part 3: Playing Your Opponent, Not The Cards

Poker Strategies:
While it is obvious that Shadow Era is not poker, there are elements that are similar. In poker, you play the opponent, not their cards. This is one that is lost on many people. I have found it to be a bit of an art form, rather than a science. Experience, confidence, and skill all play a part of it. The most important thing that you need to remember, is that there is another person on the other end of each of your Player vs Player matches. This means that they are human, and are susceptible to all of the same things as you, bad luck, misclicks, and more.

How To Play The Opponent:
Having played poker helps with this a little bit. Although playing an online game makes this a bit more difficult, as you can’t read the other person outright, you will need to be able to read their decisions. An extensive knowledge of the game is required for this, as well as a massive amount of experience with Shadow Era or similar TCG’s.

You will need to know what the possible strategies are for the hero that your opponent is using, and how those strategies reach their win conditions. Knowing that, you will be able to read what they are trying to play, or how they are structuring their turns. There is an element of luck to this as well. Also note that human error plays a role in this, as you can overcompensate as well, as they can make mistakes that throw you off.

The easiest way to play your opponent, is to be forceful with your plays. Force them into situations where you know their best possible plays. This is a lot simpler to do when you’re in a dominant position in games, right after a board wipe, or when you destroy their draw engine. Playing cards that force their hand is a great way to do this. Here is an example:

you t7 – playing as boris, you play The King’s Prideicon, but have no allies on the board.
they t7 – they are forced to either load up on allies to account for all super-buffed allies that you are about to cast, or to play Lay Line Nexus to kill your King’s pride.

you t8 – you play your super-buffed allies and go from there, or having forced their hand now have another shot at the board through playing your allies now non-buffed but knowing that they used one of their precious Lay Line Nexus’ to kill your armor.

What happened here, is you essentially forced their hand. You forced them to play a card that they may not have in their deck at all. This messes with their mind, as they know that if it lasts that one turn, they are in for a world of hurt. This leads to them making mistakes, and clouding their judgement. I have seen it happen time and time again. This is especially true of new players. They rattle very easily. Note that the effectiveness of this tactic against top tier players, as they will have adjusted to it, and will be trying to do the same to you. They don’t rattle easy.

Order of Operations Within A Turn:
This can be a factor as well. Scattering out your attacks on their allies/hero will diminish the feeling of impending damage on their part. Your best bet is to cast all of your new plays at the beginning, and then attacking with all of your attacks in sequence. This creates the feeling of being swarmed, and also leads to them watching their heroes life, thus increasing the likelihood of them making rash decisions that will come back to bite them later.

Conclusion

I know that this has been a massive read for players who are accustomed to only reading 3-5 lines per post, but I wanted this to be a quality post, and spared no expense with the information and advice given. I hope that at least some of you out there find some value in this, or broadened your horizons through my words.

That being said, go forth and apply these tactics, and go PWN some noobs

most sincerely,
soothslyr

*Originally written by soothslyr at shadowera.com

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One Comment

  1. Interesting take on the psychology of the game. I personally like to toy with the opponent a bit when playing multiple cards and attacking. If I have an answer to something on board in hand, sometimes I’ll do my attacks first and then play the answer, so they get their hopes up before having them dashed.

    There are other important considerations when determining the order that you play cards. Generally, anything that will give you cards (e.g. killing allies with Ill-Gotten Gains out) should be done before spending resources since it gives you more options: I may change my mind about what the best play is after drawing a card or two.

    If there are a complex sequence of things that I am considering doing in a turn, I’ll do the most important ones first, so I don’t accidentally leave them out and not have the resources for them later. That way I avoid stupid mistakes. As intimidating as it may be to the opponent for cards and attacks to come in a barrage: it loses the effect somewhat if you forgot that you needed to use Aeon’s ability that turn to take out a Shadow Knight, and instead played a Puwen, so now you need to sacrifice an ally to take him out.

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