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Deckbuilding Guidelines


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#1 HomerJ

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 05:06 AM

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I'm in need of some guidance.  I have a complete collection of cards but no one to play with, until now.  My CCG group has shown interest in giving Cthulhu a try, and so it's up to me to build some decks and get them playing.  I plan to build eight mono-faction decks, focusing on the core themes.  I know the cards, and the Faction themes, but what I don't know is correct guidelines to building a playable deck.  Are there some "rules to live by" in standard builds to make sure everything works smoothly?  I've scoured the inter-tubes to find something that can help, and now I"m asking you:  What general guidelines do you use?

I assume (assumptions are bad, but you have to start somewhere) that a minimum of a 50/50 split of characters to other cards is necessary to have a hand of functional cards for all situations.  Additionally, the balance of removal to resource acceleration to "silver bullets" are dependent on the faction(s) and card pool.  That I can figure out after I start building.  I'm still at a loss for the actual cost-curve tho.

For example, since the economy necessitates no more than 3 'costed' cards per turn, and acceleration is based on a .33 Resource Points (RP) per domain-turn, then I can assume (if there is no additional resource acceleration in the deck) that my cost curve needs to be based around either ramping a single domain to critical mass (~5 based on the average cost/unique) or balancing card-play.  Assuming of course you can keep your hand full and you are trying to play the maximum number of cards per turn. So my curve ends up being something like this for a ramp-curve:

18x 1-cost cards

12x 2-cost cards

8x 3-cost cards

6x 4-cost cards

4x 5-cost cards

2x 6-cost cards

 

and something like this for a swarm-curve:

21x 1-cost cards

14x 2-cost cards

10x 3-cost cards

5x high-cost cards

 

However, we all know that generic math and probability doesn't mean a deck will function.

 

Can anyone help me here?  I really need to get these guys hooked.

 



#2 TheProfessor

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 05:52 AM

 I see where you are going with the math, but you have to consider what cards are available.  There are not many high quality 1 cost cards in a given faction, so you don't want to shift too much in that direction.  DIfferent factions have different cost effectiveness as well.  Syndicate, for example, can thrive with low resource counts (except Panic).  Cthulhu generally has more expensive effective cards.

When I build decks I usually just try to first plan a win condition for my deck, and then try to defend it against anticipated threats.  After that is over, I look at the cost distribution to see if it is too expensive, but that is very much an art rather than a craft.  The time needed to get the deck working depends on many factors.  Have "Negotium" in there?  Then you have more time to build, for example.



#3 HomerJ

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 08:19 AM

That's an excellent point:  Since the curve 'kind of' starts at 2 (ignoring the first 3 'free' resources) if you plan for the baseline starting at 2, then the curve of cards makes a lot more sense.  You can 'bell curve' starting at 2 and curve into mid-range cards, using the limited, and lesser function 1-cost cards as effectively free.

 

So, a curve of (again, general) cards in the deck favors more of a curve as such, focusing on the end-game of the deck:

 3-6x 1-cost

 9-15x 2-cost

12-21x 3-cost

 9-15x 4-cost

 3-6x 5-cost



#4 TheProfessor

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 01:37 AM

 That's starting to look more like a typical deck I build, but I rarely have 9-15 @ 4-cost.  I'd prefer to have more 3-cost cards in hand, build multiple domains up to 3 and as soon as possible stop resourcing so I can increase my hand size.

But, on the other hand, if I'm working with Cthulhu, for example, I probably need some domains with 4 resources, so that changes the distribution.

When I play Miskatonic, I rarely have any cards that cost more than 3 in my deck, although sometimes I like Beneath the Surface, which costs 4, but can win the game for me.  Similarly with Hastur - usually mostly 2 cost cards with a couple of 3-costs in it.

 



#5 dboeren

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:04 AM

As a general rule, I usually suggest to new players to have roughly 30 characters, 12 events, and 8 supports in a deck of 50.  events and supports can trade off a bit but it's better to have more events than supports overall.

You do want to think about a resource curve, but it's a hard thing to pin down.  Not only does it vary by faction, it also varies by the type of deck you're building and maybe by the theme as well (if any).  I don't even try to go into much more detail than pointing out you want some cheap chards, a good amount of 2-3 cost cards, and not too many that cost 4+ unless you're playing an expensive faction/deck type or have a lot of discount cards or other ways to play things without paying full cost.  For instance, Stalking Hound costs 4 but you rarely pay that, normally he can come into play free on his own when the conditions are met so I wouldn't count that against my "expensive card allowance".  I've also got a Shub Monsters deck where almost all the cards are cost 3-4, pretty expensive.  But it's also got a lot of cost reducers in it so there's no problem with the deck being that way.

Anyway, I think you'd be better served by jumping into the deck making and then maybe having some of us eyeball the results to see if the curves look OK rather than trying to spend too much time on developing a cost curve formula because I don't think it's ever going to apply in all situations.



#6 karat

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 08:18 AM

 Another reason you might need fewer 1-2 cost cards than your original formula is that a lot of effects require you to pay 1 or 2 to do something.  Only drawing 2 cards per turn, that's often what the third domain is used for.

 

For a different viewpoint, assume you use all 3 domains to play cards a turn each turn, resource 1 card a turn (for the first few turns anyway), have a first player penalty, and don't get any additional card draws:

Turn 1: Start with 5 cards.  First player penalty, so skip the draw phase.  Resource 1 card.  Play a 2, a 1, and a 1.  Have 1 card left.

Turn 2: Start with 1 card.  Draw 2.  Resource 1.  Only have 2 cards left to play, with domains of 3/1/1 or 2/2/1.

So, you would already start to have problems on the second turn.  (Without a first player penalty, it takes an additional turn.)

 

That is why the actual distributions differ from your theory above.

 

My distributions (though I'm not too experienced), tend to be:

min 12 (ie at least 25%) characters that cost 0-2 -- enough to hold off a rush while I build up -- also, I can't rely on discounts the first couple of turns.

max 13 (ie not more than 25%) cards that cost 4-6 -- enough extras that I can dump early ones as resources and not feel the need to "save" them for later -- maybe a few more if I get discounts.

The rest depends on the deck, but usually a blend of events and cost 3 characters, with a sprinkle of support and X cost cards.

Of course, this is just a sancheck to make sure I have enough to hold off a rush and don't rely too heavily on endgame cards.



#7 Yipe

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 08:47 AM

karat said:

Turn 1: Start with 5 cards.  First player penalty, so skip the draw phase.  Resource 1 card.  Play a 2, a 1, and a 1.  Have 1 card left.

The first player penalty means you draw only 1 card instead of 2.  It doesn't mean you are forced to skip the draw phase - you skip the story phase.



#8 COCLCG

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:01 AM

like dboeren said, totally depends on faction and strategy, so cannot really be layed out in any form of mathematical breakdown for me. i've gone from something ridiculous like 22 CHARACTERS!! of 2 cost or lower in an insane rush deck, down to 13 in one where i used the priestess of bubastis and descendant of eibon for the transient's ability. i suppose a 'guideline' might help, but i'm also with the professor in that the majority of my decks begin with the 'win strategy', which should really be any decks starting point, gathering the cards that will help this happen, and then doing a cost count and adjusting to make it practical. some people though i am aware need a little more structure than that so if working it out as an equation works for you, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that either!!



#9 kamacausey

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 08:12 PM

 I think on page 2 or 3 of this forum I started a thread called "a mono deck for each faction." It would be a good starting point for you and your decks. Each deck I built showcases at least one theme for each faction. Hope it helps.



#10 COCLCG

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 02:03 AM

if only i'd shut up then these good posts wouldn't get pushed back so far (sorry!!)

i think i'll start multi - using my topics to save space with my rantings.



#11 kamacausey

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 04:27 AM

 Lol! At least you are posting! These forums are usually a ghost town!



#12 dboeren

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:38 AM

I used to get to post more often but something has been taking a lot of my time:

 



#13 piszcadz

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:55 AM

hehehe dboeren… hope yrs doesn't turn out to be such a monster.



#14 COCLCG

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 10:28 AM

congats to dboeren!! be a good boy and don't get involved in any conspiracies and your nights will be much easier i feel!! haha.



#15 HomerJ

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 02:24 PM

Thanks to everyone, this was excellent.  I come from a long career in Magic and VS where standard curve-rules are invaluable for deckbuilding, but the points about Faction defining the curve, and more importantly reminding me that there isn't much to play after 4-cost (so don't), all makes for some excellent strategy, and really changes many of my current builds.  I'll be sure to post my lists when I'm done.

Hope to meet some of you at GenCon!



#16 COCLCG

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 03:00 PM

haha. hate to say it Homerj but even that doesn't apply!!

my tournament deck had 16 cost 4 and above cards including 7 cost 6's!! again the faction's specialization brought the costs down and cards like stalking hound can sometimes become 0 costs. sounds ridiculous but it won the day!!



#17 dboeren

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 03:37 AM

That's true.  Expensive cards are definitely usable, especially if you have cost reducers in the deck.  Heck, there's a Cthulhu Event that lets you put Cthulhu into play at no cost if you sacrifice 3 Cultists.  I've seen the big green guy drop on turn 2 using that trick.

In fact, I was talking with some guys a while back who said that an Ancient Ones deck with LOTS of cost 5-6 characters was pretty dominant in their area.

So while there is some "conventional wisdom" about cost curves and such, it's a lot like the Pirate's Code.  More guidelines than actual rules.


And as for the Mutant Spawn…  I don't think he counts as a monster yet, at least not until he learns to walk.  I'll take your advice though and cut down on the Conspiracies :)






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