Thursday, August 16, 2007

Card Advantage in V:tES (Part 1)

Currently I am reading quite a number of Magic: the Gathering (M:tG) articles, mostly on the "Magic The Gathering" , even though I have neither played M:tG other than in demo round ten years ago. Nonetheless the articles especially on strategy topics proved to be quite insightful with regards to V:tES.

There are two distinct strategy terms named "Tempo" and "Card Advantage", which intrigued me very much, that are discussed frequently in M:tG articles:
  • "Tempo" is defined as having the initiative in a game, forcing the opponent to react to your actions, the player having "Tempo" dictates the terms/pace of the game. See this article.
  • "Card Advantage" (short: CA) indicates that a player is drawing more cards or holding more cards in his hand than his opponent. See this article.
I would like to discuss the later term, as it applies easily to V:tES as well.

The Differences
In V:tES Card Advantage is working somewhat differently than in M:tG, mainly because in M:tG a player only draws card once during his turn. So drawing any card other than during the mandatory draw in the draw phase is an advantage per se in M:tG.

In V:tES card drawing works differently, since
  • each player has fixed limit for the cards he's holding, that is handsize of 7 cards.
  • each player replaces any played card immediately.
  • in the discard phase the player can discard one card (to the ashheap (discard pile)) and redraws it from the library.
Of course there are exceptions of this, but there is always an explict card saying so, e.g. that you don't redraw a card until your next discard phase ("Mirror Walk"), or that card is increasing your handsize by one while you control the card ("Elder Library").

The Goals
So usually card advantage in V:tES is not about having more cards than the other players, but "only" having the right combination of cards at the right time. The aim in V:tES is not to draw "mindlessly" additional cards, since your handsize is limited and you have to discard a card for each you draw, but the cards you need during the next actions and turns. Since you are going to need often more than 7 cards in the next 2-3 turns, one goal is to establish a good card flow, that is you actually need the cards you redraw for the ones you just played.

Example: In your master phase you play a "Blood Doll" on one of your vampires, the next card shouldn't be a master card, since you have only one master phase action, and in the following minion phase you need action, action modifier, or combat cards instead. Drawing another master card for the one you just played effectively reduced your handsize by one until your next turn (master phase).

On the the other hand what you don't want to do is top-decking. Top-Decking is a situation in the game in which you must depend on the card you draw next from your deck, since the card in your hand do not help you in your current need.

Example: You're trying to block a bleed, which is at done at +1 stealth. All you have is a "On The Qui Vive", but no intercept. You play the "On the Qui Vive" and try block in the hope that the next card is the much needed card that provides with +1 intercept like a "Cat's Guidance" or "Pack Tactics".

... (to be continued)

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