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 Joshua Schmidt on Card Strategies – “Deck Building strategies – Finding a Balance”

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PostSubject: Joshua Schmidt on Card Strategies – “Deck Building strategies – Finding a Balance”   Joshua Schmidt on Card Strategies – “Deck Building strategies – Finding a Balance” EmptyTue Mar 17, 2015 9:43 am

Hello and welcome everyone to today´s article!

This time I am going to talk about a very essential concept in deck building, at least as far as I have experienced it. That is going to be finding the right balance in card ratios. While nowadays many theme decks have a big amount of staple card choices, there are still plenty of decisions to be made in terms of ratios.

But first things first. A deck consists of a main engine of cards, which form the main strategy of the deck, I also like to call it a deck´s core, for example all the Burning Abyss cards and Tour Guide form the core of any Burning Abyss deck around. Additionally every deck is going to have cards that support its core/main strategy, tech card choices and most of the time a trap line-up in order to protect your strategy and hinder the opponent from getting their strategy off.

While this seems very basic at first, finding the right ratios and balances between all the numbers can be very difficult.

Looking at the core of a deck, there are many decisions to be made. Of course some cards are simply staples at 3 in certain decks, but very often there are going to be cards that you know you have to play, the only question is how many of them you actually need. Finding the right balance here is important, because by cutting unnecessary cards from your core you will have less cloggy hands and will also make some room for other stuff, which will make your deck less straightforward and work in different directions. While that sounds great, every deck needs a solid foundation it can work on, meaning that it has to have a core big enough so it will draw into its main strategy pretty much every time.

If you put to many tech cards or trap cards in your deck, you are not going to draw enough of your deck´s core and won´t be able to successfully pull off your deck´s strategy in most of the games. It will hurt your deck´s consistency. So, why don´t we just focus on our core and on deck-thinning cards to maximize consistency and always pull off our strategy?

While consistently drawing your decks strategic core is very important, there are some issues with having to much consistency. By cutting traps and tech cards for more cards of your main engine and/or deck speed, a deck will also lose quite a few tricks that it had up his sleeve. Easy example:

If I cut my Mystical Space Typhoon for Upstart Goblins, I will draw into my core more consistently, but I will lose the ability to deal with opposing spells and traps. You should not just assume that having the most consistency in terms of deck speed will also lead to the best win-rate. It is a trade-off between consistency and utility. The same goes for trap cards and for tech card choices.

In order to maximize the win-rate, we are going to have to find the balance between consistency and utility.

And this is something where every deck works differently. Some decks work very well with a heavy trap line-up, simply because their strategy does not rely on big combos and they can afford to only open 1 or 2 cards of the deck´s core in order to still perform it´s strategy. An easy example for that is the current Satellarknight deck, which can function with only one copy of Deneb or Reinforcement of the Army to grab it. This allows the deck to play a heavier trap line-up, while a deck like Shaddoll relies heavily on combos, which is why it did not play protective traps at all for the most part of the last format. An important question to ask yourself here is also:

“How much protection does my deck need?”

Shaddoll is a deck that applies big pressure on the opponent, which is why he will be the one forced to have backrow most of the time, while Satellars are rather slow in setting-up their game and therefore need to protect themselves from faster opposing strategies.
This will most of the the time define if a deck can sacrifice a few card slots for backrow.

Another thing to look at is tech cards. Tech cards can be something as simple as the above mentioned Mystical Space Typhoon, but also more specific cards like Felis, Lightsworn Archer in Shaddoll or completely format-specific cards like Macro Cosmos or Dimensional Fissure, which are meant to completely countering other decks. Every tech card you add to your deck will add to the decks utility. Simply having a Felis in my deck will make my Mathematicians a lot more versitaile, but it will obviously pack the risk of drawing it dead. And so you basically ask yourself for every tech card:

“Am I willing to make the trade-off in consistency for the utility this card gives me?”

While some of these tech card decisions can be based simply on personal preference, the best way to find out is to playtest with and without the card. For some cards you will notice that you draw them a lot when you do not need them to win the game or you even lose because you draw them, while you might also notice that you win a good amount of games because of a certain tech card. I personally think that tech cards are essential to having success in a tournament, because the right tech card will be able to win you games you could not have won otherwise, especially when it is a big and long tournament.

Keep in mind though , that to many tech cards will most of the time hurt the consistency to much in order to successfully play a large tournament until the end.

This is were everyone has to find the balance. It is hard to find a generic statement about what the right balance is, because that is really different for every individual deck, because, similar to what I stated about trap cards, some decks simply work with a smaller core because they don´t need big combos to play their game. Other decks can not afford to play to many techs because they needs to draw more of their cores. Once again, playtesting is what will really tell you how to do it.

So, I think that should round up this article about the basic concept of finding the best ratios for your deck. With this, everyone of you should have the tools to find the best build for your deck with enough playtesting. As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it, until next time!

Aauthor: Joshua Schmidt
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