Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Instructional Game #5: Maximizing Draws

Game Log

So there's a lot of Trash-for-benefit to note here, between Stonemason, Salvager, and Forge, with both Border Village and Cultist to enable that. The Tactician + Forge combo means that you should be able to clean your deck up - and this is important. You still need to go for Cultist here, for two reasons: First, getting too far behind in the Ruins split is going to be problematic, as though you can eventually clean up, it's going to take a lot more time. Second, the deck does need draw, and Cultist is by far the most efficient way to get it here (well, one could argue Tactician, but that's not repeatable).

With that layout, we enter the game. I open Salvager/Silver. You might be tempted by Spice Merchant here, but I want more money early, to get my Cultist, have a chance at double Cultist by spiking 7, and have decent chances at hitting 6 for Border Village into Cultist. Further, the Copper trashing may be less important here than normal, given that Forge will hopefully clean that up anyway.

I want to loop back to Border Village here for a second. Normally, the card is something you actually wouldn't want in your Cultist decks, as it can be drawn dead, you aren't very likely to draw them in the right order, and especially important for cultist, it hurts the chaining aspect. Here, though, I am planning on cleaning up, and especially, there's lots of Trash for Benefit.

The game progresses smoothly - my opponent is clearly on the same basic plan as me. I don't get to my Cultists at very nice points in the shuffle, and it might be easy to think I am falling behind for that reason. But on the other hand, I am hitting my money slots pretty well, gaining better cards. This is easy to underestimate, particularly by feel in-game, but in reality, my draws are really just exceptional. After my opponent's seventh turn, our decks look as follows:

We can see that I've just been drawing better than my opponent here. It's somewhat slow for me to get my Cultists online, but he's hardly been better, and to compensate, I have trashed an extra Estate, and more importantly, I have the next turn. With that turn, I get three Cultists fired off, making $7. I am significantly ahead, but it's really important to play precisely in these cases, to maximize your chances, as the luck can turn at any point. And there are lots of options. The main ones here are Forge, Border Village + 5-cost, or Stonemason into two 5-costs. I go for Stonemason-Cultist-Tactician. There are 6 ruins left at this point, so I don't want to abandon that split and pressure entirely. I also don't want to go double Cultist though, because 6 Ruins isn't so many, and I want to start setting up for clearing out. Finally, extra Border Village just doesn't do enough for me here.

The Ruins split ends up at 5-5, and my draws are good for the next couple turns. More importantly, my opponent, who is still playing quite well, misses his Forge on his Tactician turn. Thus, I have used my superior draws to set myself up that, even when I whiff on turns 13 and 14, by my next Tactician turn, on 15, I still have an advantage. And given my thin deck, and all the trash-for-benefit, I am on the prowl, and find the winning cascade of gains that Stonemason so often engenders. This is one last point of precision - just gaining some points would probably put me in very good position, but given the explosiveness of the board, there is some chance that my opponent could make some play making mid-turn gains and pull out some incredible comeback. Slamming the door when possible is something you always need to be on the lookout for, and take when you can get.

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