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White border two-faction decks - complete test game results

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After receiving the Core Box one of the first things I did was figure out, how many decks you could build just using the Core box for two players.

With 21 deck combinations and the requirement that you need four different factions in a two-player game you'll get a total of 105 different game setups.

So I decided to play every faction combo against every other faction combo and take note of the results.

I'm aware that these are hardly sufficient to make any statistically relevant conclusions but maybe someone will still find them interesting.

Most successful single faction (Win/Loss):

  1. Agency (38/22)
  2. Cthulhu (37/23)
  3. Syndicate (35/25)
  4. Miskatonic (31/29)
  5. Shub-Niggurath (28/32)
  6. Hastur (26/34)
  7. Yog-Sothoth (15/45)

Yog-Sothoth really stands out here. I really wonder what's wrong with that faction? Could it be something I missed about this faction's particular strengths?

Most successful faction combos (A = Agency, M = Miskatonic, S = Syndicate, C = Cthulhu, H = Hastur, Y = Yog-Sothoth, N = Shub-Niggurath):

  1. SC (9/1)
  2. AC (8/2)
  3. AM, AN, AS (7/3)
  4. MC, MH, MN, SH, SN (6/4)
  5. AH, MS, CH, CN (5/5)
  6. AY, CY (4/6)
  7. SY, HY, HN, YN (2/8)
  8. MY (1/8)

The only faction combo that managed to win against Syndicate/Cthulhu was Agency/Hastur, btw.

I should also mention that for some of the games, I added the cards from AP5 and/or AP6. In total, I played 42 games with Core-only, and 21 games each with Core + AP5, Core + AP6, and Core + AP5 + AP6.

The Win/Loss distribution varied quite a bit between the different game 'blocks' of 21 games each. I'm unsure how much of this was caused by adding the cards from the APs, though, since the results between the two Core-only blocks also varied significantly.

I also noticed that one or two cards seem to be able to dominate a game pretty quickly:

  • Ravager from the Deep
  • Shotgun

I believe those two cards probably contributed quite a bit to the good results of the Cthulhu and Agency factions. The latter is a bit easier to get rid of than the former. But every deck seems to have to be prepared to deal with these cards in some way or they're not going to stand a good chance of winning.

What's the general consensus on factions in white-border only or Core-only? Since most forum members still look at cards from a black-border viewpoint there's been few comments on this.

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Thanks for the results!

I noticed the strength of a Cthulhu deck and also the Agency does a good job. I totally lost with a Hastur/Miskatonic deck (just to see if it would work in any way) against Cthulhu & Yog.  But i have already a little bit of older black borders (Asylum-Packs + Premium Starters). so my results are not as solid-prrof as yours.

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Wahou !! Jahlen , I must admit I'm really admirative !! I've only done 10 playtest faction against faction. ... Which is bad and unsufficient, seeing your work ! I finally arrive to this conclusion : Cthulhu is the best faction for Leading strategie and Miska is IMO the best  second-hand faction for quite every kind of leading faction.

It's mostly due to the faction's ability and strategie. One work well on offense and taking care of whatever hit the table, the second one is able to play by itself, defend or use Token strategy.

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I'm not 100% sure about how bad Yog really is.  Of course I'm a big fan of Yog from the Legacy cards.  In regards to Yog being a bit weaker in the Core-set, I would have to agree at this time.  But there are certain cards that made it go.  Yog has tendency to have a lot of recursion ability and the ability to set up the deck for drawing.  I *think* they reprinted 'Journey to the Otherside'.  Again, I'm more familiar with Legacy stuff.  I just bought my core-set and the three expansions yesterday.  Still playing around with it.  Thanks for posting the results.

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Almost a year has passed and I've finally completed a second round of pitting every faction combo against every other faction combo, this time including all of the cards from the 'Summons of the Deep' cycle:

Most successful single faction (Win/Loss):

1. Agency (42/18)
2. Miskatonic (38/22)
3. Cthulhu (30/30)
4. Shub-Niggurath (28/32)
5. Hastur (26/34)
6. Yog-Sothoth (25/35)
7. Syndicate (21/39)

So, Agency continues to be the strongest faction, this time even more clearly than in the first round. The real 'winner' in this cycle has been the Miskatonic faction, making second place which confirmed my impression when investigating the cards. They really gained a lot of interesting cards that improved their investigation theme. Yog-Sothoth has also received a much-needed boost. The loser appears to be the Syndicate which performed pretty abysmal this time around.

Most successful faction combos (A = Agency, M = Miskatonic, S = Syndicate, C = Cthulhu, H = Hastur, Y = Yog-Sothoth, N = Shub-Niggurath):

1. AC, AN, MC (8/1)
2. AM, AH, MH, MN (7/3)
3. AS, AY, MY (6/4)
4. SC, CN, HY, YN (4/6)
5. MS, SH, SN, CH, CY (3/7)
6. SY, HN (2/8)

As you can see, the best non-Agency combo was Miskatonic-Cthulhu (which I already commented on in another thread). Cthulhu continued to be a solid choice, Hastur and Shub-Niggurath got a nice boost, making them excellent secondary choices.

I'd like to note, that this time around, the decks were not as symmetrical as in the first round, which may skew the results somewhat: This time I've clearly picked one faction as primary and the other as secondary. I.e. characters were mostly picked from the primary faction and the secondary faction was mostly used to lend support with event and support cards.

I also tried to made sure that the neutral cards would not dominate the faction themes. In particular I did not use any Sledge dogs this time around. I only added eight to ten cards from the neutral faction to every deck, picked to enhance the factions' particular strengths.

For the third round which will incorporate the cards from the complete 'Dreamlands' cycle, I'll swap primary and secondary faction for every combo, so after the third round it should be interesting to look at the combined results.

As mentioned in my OP, I don't think these results are statistically relevant. The total number of games played is still too small to reach conclusive results. All it can show are general tendencies which can be countered by careful deck design.

Anyway, maybe someone will find the results useful. I certainly had fun and gained a lot of insights about the way factions interact and how to best utilize the cards from this cycle.

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This is very interesting, thanks for posting. :)

Interestingly enough, Yog seemed to be the most powerful when I opened my core set, especially the single glimpse card, which gets nasty after you let Cthulhu eat some of his allies.

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And just in time for the release of Secrets of Arkham I completed my third (and most probably final) round of pitting every faction combo against every other faction combo, this time including all of the cards from the 'Dreamlands' cycle. Here's the results:

 Most successful single faction (Win/Loss):

1. Agency (37/23)
2. Yog-Sothoth (34/26)
2. Shub-Niggurath (34/26)
4. Hastur (32/28)
5. Miskatonic (30/30)
6. Cthulhu (22/38)
7. Syndicate (21/39)

So, no surprises regarding the first place: Agency's still in the lead. Yog and Shub got a noticable boost, though, with the addition of powerful Gugs and Ghouls that wouldn't stay dead, respectively. I was especially surprised about Yog's success: finally the faction seems to have come to its own again! In an odd reversal of the first round, the two biggest losers are Cthulhu, which had a hard time keeping up with the speed of other factions, taking too long to get out relevant cards and (especially) Syndicate who appear to have lost their focus. Both Hastur and Miskatonic gained solid but somewhat situational support.

Most successful faction combos (A = Agency, M = Miskatonic, S = Syndicate, C = Cthulhu, H = Hastur, Y = Yog-Sothoth, N = Shub-Niggurath):

1. AM (8/2)
2. AS, AH, HY, HN (7/3)
3. AN, MY, MN, CN, YN (6/4)
4. AY, MH, SY, CY (5/5)
5. AC, MC, SH (4/6)
6. SN (3/7)
7. CH (2/8)
8. MS, SC (1/9)

As announced in the second round above, I've used asymmetrical decks again, with a reversal of primary and secondary factions. So in the listing above, the first letter is actually the one of the secondary faction.

To properly test the Day/Night mechanism, I added a larger number of neutral cards to the decks than in the previous rounds. I divided the new neutral cards into three 'supplementary mini-decks', consisting of 14 cards, each. One was centered on 'Day' cards, one on 'Night' cards, and the third on the 'Zoog' and 'Dreamlands'.

All in all I had the impression that most of the factions may finally be well-rounded with the possible exception of Syndicate. The Day/Night cards were fun but a bit too unreliable for my taste. What most stood out for me were a couple of very strong, unique neutral character cards that could often decide a game: The Night, Nyarlathotep, Nasht & Kaman-Thah, and Guardian Pillar.
Other notable, faction-specific characters: The Captain (A), Dreamlands Scholar (M), Magah Bird (H), Puj-Dunk (Y), and Richard Upton Pickman (N).

To summarize the results of the three test rounds:
- Agency started out strong and receiving consistently good cards in both cycles, they're the leading faction by a wide margin.
- Miskatonic probably benefitted the most from both cycles. Overall they end up second-place, making it an ideal secondary faction.
- Shub-Niggurath got a small boost in both cycles, leading to a very solid third place.
- Cthulhu didn't get a lot of good cards in either cycle, they worked best using only Core Set cards, ending up close behind Shub.
- Hastur got a nice boost in both cycles but started out too weak to end up at a better overall position than fifth place.
- Syndicate didn't get anything worthwhile after the Core Set, thus plummeting to the second-last position.
- Yog-Sothoth had a very bad start, so even though both cycles improved the faction's performance, it ends up being last.

Playing with the new cards from the Dreamlands cycle was generally fun. Most games were faster and more straight-forward than in the earlier rounds. My new favorite for casual games is probably Shub-Niggurath with Richard Upton Pickman leading a Ghoul Army. In a more competitive environment, I'd be hard-pressed to play anything but Agency/Miskatonic, though.

I'm really looking forward to the new story cards coming with Secrets of Arkham. After 300+ games, it's about time for a change!

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Well, thank you for your playtest report !

I'm amazed that Yog-Sototh reach such a nice place in your tests, as it's already one of the weakest faction, according to the Belgian and French meta ... sorpresa.gif

Thus I'm totally in agreement with what you said about Agency, Miska Shubb and Cthulhu, I'm surprised Hastur did'nt reach a place in the top 3. Actually, some cards like Enchanted woods and victoria's protegee did give a lot of boost to this faction and Devolution was the most amazing card that this faction was given : Actually, Hastur can rush (Magah Birds), slow down the game with the Steps, uncommit and steal characters.

Most of the time, this faction is in the Top 2 in the french tournaments (actually, late saturday's tournament had Shubb-Niggurath and Hastur n°1ex eaquo) and we're wainting for the Agency/Hastur/Dogs deck to be the one to beat in the french national.

Agency/Miska is also a big threat and we're expecting the Belgian to show us how skilled they are with such decks !!!

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Well, thank you for your playtest report !

Well, thanks for your comments and the info about your local meta!

I think a major reason for different results in the meta is because my test decks were not as carefully composed as 'real' decks would be. In a real deck, you'll concentrate on cards that support your strategy and leave out the ones that don't fit.

In my test decks I always included at least a single copy of every card from the new AP. So, there is always a certain degree of dilution and the luck factor is a lot larger than in a real deck.

But I think that's the beauty of the approach and also the main appeal of e.g. Highlander format:

You have to be more creative and use what cards you are dealt to their best effect. It also makes the really good cards stand out more. Simply reading the cards I often don't have a good idea how well they will work in a real deck. Testing them like this works better for me. I found several new interesting strategies to deal with cards that are very powerful and difficult to counter.


One thing I forgot to mention in my report above is the positive effect of the new mulligan rule, btw.:

In the first two test rounds there was always the occasional game that was lost early on because of a bad initial card draw. If you cannot get out a character in your first two turns, you're hosed, no matter what. Thanks to the mulligan rule this didn't happen this time around!

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