Maximizing Luck

It’s been a while since I put an article together, and I was thinking about this recently after a few of my games so I thought it was time to write something about it. This is all about maximizing that fickle thing that we have a love/hate relationship with…. luck.



Ever wonder how the best players always seem to have the one counter to completely screw you over? How that Mind Control seems to magically appear at the right moment? The Supernova? Why they always have that backup Anklebreaker? Well, they’re not just naturally luckier than you, they’re maximizing the luck they have through clever play.

I’m not going to be completely delving into the nitty-gritty of each of these points, it’s very much an overview to help get you thinking of the concepts behind “Maximizing Luck”.

Know Your Opponent


Knowing your opponent is a big thing. It instantly gives you an edge, and allows you to plan your counters, your moves, and identifies your mission critical cards for the matchup. Thankfully in Shadow Era at the moment, it is relatively easy to determine what sort of deck your opponent will be playing, just by looking at the Hero, the Deck size, and the first few turns:

Hero: Tells you if your opponent’s deck will most likely rush or control, if it’s going to rely on weapons, weenies, fatties etc. It also gives you information about the player themselves, the style of play they favour, which can be an advantage if you want to rattle them and force misplays. Seeing your opponent’s hero gives you a plethora of information immediately.

Deck size: This is a really critical point against Moonstalker (39-42 is Allystalker, 47+ is Millstalker), however deck size gives you an idea of probabilities against all opponents. If I see a 42 card deck, I know the probability of my opponent drawing a power card is SLIGHTLY lower than if he had a 39 card deck. This will only equate to 2-3%, but can make the difference between winning and losing. Of course some players will play huge decks (60+), and in that case this point really goes out the window, though it does give you insight into the player themselves. For example, if I see a 60 card deck, my first thought is This guy is a Magic player. More clues

First few turns: You can tell a lot about the first three turns. If your Eladwen opponent drops a Kris on turn 1, they’re aiming to rush, and I instantly know the ally composition of their deck (or something very close). If I don’t see any allies in the first three turns of a Gwen’s game, they may be unlucky, but there is a strong possibility that the deck is solo. Even looking at what turn 3 drop they put down gives you information. Is it a Jasmine? Or a Priest of the Light? That tells me more about their goals right there.

Know Yourself


Know your own tendencies. I personally tend to go for the board in most cases. I can rush if need be, but it’s not my natural tendency. Make sure you’ve crafted your deck to suit your own playstyle. If you like to rush, Millstalker is not the deck for you. Likewise if you like the long conservative game, playing Amber won’t do you any favours. Knowing your own tendencies also means you know your weaknesses, and you can play to mitigate them.

In regards to your deck, know what you have, but more importantly, know what you DON’T have. In a matchup with Amber, it’s more vital to know you DON’T have Shriek of Vengeance than knowing you have a Sever Ties. Why? Because it alters your playstyle, and you instinctively act to cover your weaknesses. In this case, ally flood will mean you can beat down Amber’s Jeweller’s Dream fast.

Resource for your Matchup


Knowing what to resource and what to hold is the most important skill in this game. Many articles have been written about the basics, like Seth’s (Formerly NinjaDucky) excellent Beginner’s Guide to Sacrificing. However what I’m talking about goes a bit beyond the basics, as you are taking into account your opponent here. For example, if playing Amber or Majiya, don’t resource your Shrieks. If playing Zaladar, don’t resource your Gargoyles and send the Brutal Minotaurs to the resource pile. Knowing all the good and bad cards to resource based on matchup is the sort of stuff that comes with experience and really knowing your opponent’s likely deck composition. Of all the things mentioned in this article, this is the one that will take BY FAR the longest to master.

Remember Your Resources


I’m not talking about how many resources you have (you can check the bottom for that ), I’m talking about remembering what cards you have resourced. THIS IS CRITICAL. If you can’t remember all the cards you’ve resourced (like me), at least remember when you’ve been forced to resource a mission critical card. For example in my Crystal Miner Zaladar, I always keep track of when I’ve been forced to resource a Shadow Font, Mind Control, Death Mage, Gargoyle, or draw cards. Depending on my matchup I’ll also track my Shrieks and LLNs. If I can’t remember the other stuff, fine, but those cards I make an effort to track. This leads into my next point….

Count Your Cards


Know what’s left in your deck. For example if I’ve burnt through half my deck and haven’t seen a Mind Control (Zal) or a Soul Seeker (Gwen), assuming I have 4 of them and I haven’t been forced to resource some, I KNOW I have a 20% chance of drawing one in my next turn. The longer the game goes on, the more accurately you can predict your draws. This means you can really start to play not only to your hand, but to the top of your deck as well. This is a very important skill to have, especially when using Bad Santa and other draw cards. Doing this well can help you ensure your resourcing and play is the best possible and really make you look lucky in your opponent’s eyes

Count Your Opponent’s Cards


Know what your opponent has. Don’t throw out a horde of allies if your Priest opponent hasn’t used a Tidal Wave yet, or if your Mage player hasn’t used a Supernova (particularly late game), that’s just asking for trouble as it’s more likely they’ll have that wipe you just don’t want to see. However if your opponent has used 3 Tidal Waves already and they still have half their deck to go through, the odds are they won’t have the 4th in hand, or draw it next turn (1 in 20 is a 5% chance, pretty good odds for you).

Hold your Draw Cards (Not Engines)


If I have two cards in hand on turn 5 and one is a Bad Santa, guess which one I’ll resource. Not the Bad Santa. Unless the other card in my hand is going to win me the game then and there, it’s going to the resource pile. Why? Because Bad Santa will get me three MORE cards that can potentially win me the game, and quite possibly another copy of that card I just resourced. It will also prevent me from top-decking (only having the top card of my deck to play each turn), which is the death of many decks.

Draw cards (not engines, they should be played early if possible) should also be held in late game too. I can’t count the number of times that last Santa has dug out the ONE card I needed to take the match. (Incidentally, these reasons are why Bad Santa is my favourite card in the set.)

Force No-Win situations


Or “Making your own luck”. There are lots of cards in Shadow Era that naturally do this, cards like Tainted Oracle, Aeon Stormcaller, Deathbone, Molten Destroyer, even Earthen Protector. The idea behind these cards is that they punish your opponent for removing them (TO, Deathbone, Molten), or for removing cards around them (Earthen Protector), or costing your opponent huge amounts of tempo (Aeon). There are lots more of these, but these are just some examples. Certain plays can do this as well, for example casting allies after a Supernova, or Retreat + Raven. You’re aiming to put your opponent in as many No-Win situations as you can during a game, and they can even be as simple as forcing them to cast allies as meatshields. Every time you do this your opponent becomes the reactive player, even for a turn, and you get one step closer to the win.



Well, my article full of rambling incoherent thoughts around maximizing luck is complete. I’m surprised how long this article has become. Hopefully this’ll help you about your game, and how you too can get cozy with Lady Luck.

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One Comment

  1. Nice article! One thing that I might add – maybe as an adjunct to knowing your opponent/self:
    Save it till you need it – Often you have multiple means at hand to deal with a given threat. A skilled player will select a strategy that makes the best use of their cards. For example, a rush Eladwen deck may be able to destroy an enemy ally with allies, or with a fireball, or a lightning bolt, her ability, or wait a few turns and use a supernova. The player needs to consider what other uses the cards will have, and what costs/benefits will using them vs saving them incur. It may be best to wait for the supernova and wait for opponents to start killing off your allies as you attack their hero. If the enemy ally is particularly disruptive to that plan (e.g., Jasmine) you may prefer to hit her with Eladwen. If the ally has low health (e.g., Night Owl), and removing the ally will lead to more turns of your allies issuing a beatdown before that supernova, Lightning bolt would be better. With each of these choices you need to weigh the immediate benefit of the board state in the next turn against the long-term goals of your deck in the current match. If you use that fireball for ally removal on turn 3, you will not have it when the opponent has 2 health, but has 2 Sandworms out and is beginning to hurt you bad. Using thoughtful and efficient answers to early threats leads to having more plentiful responses to late game threats.

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