Card Talk : The Early Game

Strategies and Card File Construction

Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby Candi » Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:34 pm

Hello one and all! So I've decided to make a valiant effort at making a regular article! I began last week with Combo Cards I, but with no replies or comments I thought "well, discussing single card combos is neat, but I can do better." So I bring you a new article about an entire phase of the game - the first 5 turns. I'm going to try and make everyone's day by suggesting possible early game moves that are beyond the ordinary starter deck tricks and hopefully you at least enjoy reading the article.

I find the most difficult part of deck building is selecting the right soul cards. It's easy to envision a way for a Soul ability to become an integral part of your main deck (such as an [card=44]Invisible Druid[/card] and [card=31]Soul Bind[/card] combo) but these things require intricate timing and the later down the SC lineup cards are the more unreliable that timing becomes. This is mostly why I am going to discuss the early game because this is the time when you can do the most planning. I find that post turn 3 your strategy has to evolve with the game and any premeditation becomes increasingly useless as the game progresses.

So what are the best options for early game? Well, early game is all about field position. Having a solid set up lends itself to a more successful mid game where it's your rival who is scrambling to make up ground and not yourself. For this reason it is not uncommon to run across trick plays in which your rival wants you to kill their [card=47]shade[/card] so that they can trigger the first soul card and clear your field. Sometimes sacrificing LP is a great way to get ahead - because Soul abilities can be devastating.

The particular trick I am referring to is placing [card=50]Strike Samurai / Thunderbolt[/card] or [card=51]Bounty Hunter / Elena[/card] as your first SC and dropping a unit very early on that you have no intention of reviving - such as a turn 1 [card=47]shade[/card]. The beauty of this SC is that it hits two units for 40 damage, and on turn 2 chances are the enemy only has two units so they both suffer, and probably both die. In the rare case that they do not die they are left severely crippled, and you are up SP - your throw away level 1 unit granted you not only an early field wipe, but also 1 SP, and since it only cost 1 in the first place your now up a net of 2 letting you drop two level 3 units in a row. So you can clear the board, then while they spend a turn reviving get a chance to drop some heavy hitting tanks that can handle the lowly level 2's your opponent still has on the board.

Of course, this is not a catch all trick - otherwise everyone would do it and it would be totally useless. [card=65]Blitz Soldier[/card] has a large pool of HP and will survive the blast, leaving your opponent with 1 more SP and 1 less unit in the graveyard. But Blitz is not a unit we like to destroy so much as we like to return it - which brings me to the next most awesome card to fit in that first SC slot - [card=2]Dragonrider / Wassier[/card]. Return a level 2. This also gives you an early game advantage if you have a sacrificial unit played early on (preferably one that has a nice open ability - such as the shade or [card=20]Will o' the Wisp[/card]). Dragonrider can leave a situation where you have a tough tank on the board and they either have nothing or a measly level 2 staring down your more powerful level 3. And it really punishes a Blitz soldier opening.

So now we have two possible ways to open up a game with an SC combo - either Dragonrider or Elana/Thunderbolt, determined by either the cards you have or your preferred play style. Now, as I had said I want something for everyone so here comes the short deck lists:

We will begin with Lawtia - the easiest sphere to use in this way (and this opening is probably old news):
;a39

Turn 1 - 3 into Lawtia, set [card=36]Lycanthrope [Leonardo][/card] (or lilith, play to your style - like that Leo does more net damage and is faster, Lilith is more late game oriented for global -10 hp)
Leo will best almost any first turn play except maybe a combat monk if it rolls well on its skills randomization and Leo will not kill a Blitz - but he will maim it enough for your first SC to do the job if you run Thunderbolt/Elena. Be sure to place leo in spot 4 or 6, so that later on if you can get a magic doll beside him its possible and that he is in row 2 so you can protect him on turn 2.
Turn 2 - Set [card=47]Shade[/card]
This does two things. 1 if they play a shade it protects you from losing any SP. 2. it goes anywhere on row 1 so that whatever they play attacks it and kills it saving leo.
Turn 3 - Set a level 3 unit, [card=43]Crest Regenerator Knight[/card] or [card=40]Moonlight Warrior[/card] are always good choices. Then watch as your shade goes to the grave and your enemies line explodes.

I'm going to look at a possible beginning for the most underrated sphere, Refess:
;a41

Turn 1 - 3 into Refess, set [card=9]Folrart Shield Knight[/card]. The usual move is [card=18]Blessed Acolyte[/card] which can kill an enemy unit, but the shield knight can take more hits, and because your turn 2 has to be what it is I think the shield knight is a better option - but if you prefer the acolyte then run with it instead.
Turn 2 - set [card=20]Will o' the Wisp[/card]. HP buff to the first card you played (in my case the Knight - who will possibly down a few hp). This is the reason I liked shield knight, and unfortunately you should place the knight in row 2 on turn 1 because then the wisp goes to row 1 and takes that hit. A shield knight with 55 hp recovers 13 hp a round and takes probably 20 on average, meaning he loses 7 hp each round taking between 7 and 8 turns to kill it. Sure it packs no punch, but it draws attacks away from your more powerful units.
Turn 3 - set [card=172]EX Lion Baron / Zagar[/card] because I like him, and next turn drop a [card=19]Ruby Carbuncle[/card] between the two (current mid liners). Of course your file will determine what you want to play this turn, but it should be a solid level 3 and with luck you get a second one next turn!

Now onto Gowen, a sphere with a more obvious trick (not to be played against Falkow!):
;a40

Turn 1 - 3 into Gowen, set [card=65]Blitz Soldier[/card]. Place in row 2. Now, Blitz is a risk because everyone loves to hate and this also negates the ability to play two level 3 cards for turn 3 and 4. But, if your not up against Falkow the next move turns the big tank into a bigger tank. You could also start with a Combat Monk or even Kurina - but it's less of a secure field come turn 3 and 4.
Turn 2 - set [card=70]Dryad[/card]. Now blitzy has (probably) 30 hp and 10 DEF!, his lifespan just got a boost. If it's Kurina or Combat Monk then this may have just saved their lives.. If they died and revived then this is an even better thing.
Turn 3 - since you played Blitz (if you followed my plan) you shall have to go for another level 2 - no worries, because I am assuming you've got all the great cards so start setting up for a [card=59]Brave[/card] [card=56]Panther[/card] and let er' rip (you should have the 2 SP to clear the row next round).

Last, but not least, Falkow:
;a38

Turn 1 - 3 into Falkow, set [card=92]Haste Soldier[/card]. What can I say, I'm old school Falkow, and starting with a [card=94]Witch[/card] is a great idea unless you are using Thunderbolt/Elena, because then you kill 1 less unit. But if you are running Dragonrider as SC 1, by all means go with the Witch, you will wipe the board clean.
Turn 2 - set [card=96]Sylph[/card] or [card=97]Undine[/card]. Doesn't matter which one you go for, I prefer early game Undine's and late game Sylph's. Simply because late game there are more than one unit you want to beat in a race.
Turn 3 - if you used the witch set the haste. If you used the haste set either [card=83]Magic Scythe Soldier[/card] or [card=87]Sea Hunter[/card] or something suited to your opponent.

So there you have it, 3 awesome Soul Cards for the first Life Point and a starting scheme for each deck that dredges the SC out by turn 2 for an early field wipe to give you a boost in early game prep for the mid game brawl and late game struggle.
~Candi

PS: If there is anything you think I should write about, PM me with ideas - I am having issues coming up with things that seem like stuff everyone should know. Next time I was thinking I give the angel's some life, but if you have a better idea pass it along!
Last edited by Candi on Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby DanTheTimid » Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:52 pm

As usual a very insightful and interesting article. Here are my comments for the clans early game.

Lawtia: Really depends on what your goal is for your deck as to how you want to start. For instance I like to Leonardo into an Eskatia if I'm going for endless night. If your not going for (or don't have) Eskatia I've seen people play a cheaper first drop, like say shade, since your opponent is often giving away their first unit anyway and if your using something like Elena/Thunderbolt you don't mind if the shade gets killed. That allows you to go straight into a 3 drop turn 2(most clans can't do this for fear of shade but in this case at worst you backlashed shades). The advantage to this strat is that a lawtia's 3 drops are more capable of surving your opponents own Elena/Thunderbolt then a combination of 2 and 1 drops would be. Not saying this opening is better, just that its another option that I see used alot with success.

Refess: I'm sorry but here I have to really disagree with your strat (atleast in general terms). Don't get me wrong, there are some refess files that can work with a first turn shield knight, but I don't believe its a good opening for the average refess (and definitely not a starter refess). For one thing, I generally try to avoid playing shield knight (if I'm running him at all) until I see what my opponent is playing. Falkow in particular has alot of cards they can (and usually will) play in response to you playing shield knight that allow them to completely ignore him while picking off your units that can actually fight back (magic scythe soldier and eagle soldier to name a few) almost making him more of a hindrance then a help. Whats more though, Shield Knight is nothing more then a stall card. He provides no actual field advantage, his only purpose in life is to slow down your demise or to draw fire from your other units. If your running a refess deck that's throwing the early game on purpose in order to play something big later Shield Knight can be useful, cause your goal IS to simply slow down your demise until your ready to start the real fight. However if thats NOT the goal of your refess deck, Shield Knight needs other units out for him to be protecting for him to justify his worth. On the first turn that is never going to happen, he's going to be all alone. Whats more, on turn 2 your not likely to be able to play anything thats worth protecting either. Your basically just letting your opponent build up field advantage on you. That may mean more targets for your Soul Skills, but don't forget at some point your going to have to go through his soul cards to, only you'll be facing them while at field disadvantage instead of the other way around.

As for turn 2 will-o-wisp... I really just don't like will-o-wisp. He used to be a great spirit in the japanese game, but in the english game they have demoted him to great disappointment. 9 times out of 10 I'd rather have Kessaran Passaran, who isn't all that great either but whose effect can be a heck of alot more useful then Will-o-wisps' generally is. Plus I don't mind reviving the fuzz ball if I need to maintain field presence or don't want to activate my soul card just yet, you NEVER want to have to revive will-o-wisp.

I do agree that you made a nice choice for a turn 3 play, but like with all clans by turn 3 your choice should really not be generic but dependant on what your opponent has done so far. In some situations Lion Baron EX is the best choice, but in others he is not.

Gowen: First turn blitz is a great start, but its also a risky start. Once again I'm not saying your strat is wrong, cause it is a great strat I've been on the losing end of before, but I've also seen success from players who will delay his drop till turn 2 so that they could wait to make sure they weren't facing a falkow witch opening witch severely punishes first turn blitz. Unlike most clans, gowen has a plethora of great 1 and 2 level units so they really don't HAVE to slow play into something bigger, then can come out gunning from the start. I've seen everything from combat monks, kurina, to even brave soldiers lead the way, then backed up by blitz on turn 2 (assuming no fear of being returned). So yeah, your strategy is good, but this is another food for thought idea. (for the record the dryad will defense buff blitz before the opponent has a chance to attack it so its more likely blitz will have 40+ hp left then 30)

Oh by the way, I'm extremely elated to finally see some one use my "Brave Panther" nick name, I've been using that all over the place trying to get it to catch on.

Falkow: I strongly prefer the witch/wasseir opening but I've seen this opening work too so I can't say for certain the other is better. The start your suggesting will probably work better for those who don't own a wasseir. I'm not a huge fan of wasting undine or sylph turn 2, I think I'd rather let the first haste die and play another, then use the sp from the first haste to pay for the lvl3 on turn 3. Thats just my opinion though. Other wise though I agree with it.
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Re: Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby teasel » Thu Aug 28, 2008 9:00 pm

every gowen player always open with kurina and there is no reason to not do so when she revives for free and makes your blitz soldier even more annoying by having it unreachable by high AT unit such a panthered brave soldier
(i wish i could run a blitz soldier but no... turn to dust is for me :/)
also brave panther is a horrible name... brave soul sounds better :P
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Re: Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby Candi » Thu Aug 28, 2008 10:08 pm

I would have quoted you DanTheTimid, but the quote was long so to everyone else - read post #2 then this one, thank you.

Alright, Lawtia I agree, turn 1 Shade is a viable option to the Leo->Shade, simply because it protects you from the turn 1 Shade. The thing with my four proposed triggers is that they all aim to launch on turn 3 to ensure double unit striking - because some players will halt turn 2 and thus the early blast is less than efficient. So take all of my strats in the knowledge that the goal was to try and give methods for each sphere to use the Elena/Thunderbolt or Wassier power openings and to make them regularly efficient.

Now, Refess - you are totally correct. I have no idea what I am doing, other than wishful thinking. I don't like the wisp either, but it was the only spirit that the sphere has and the only unit I see sacrificing (as you said, never revive it). Same with the Haste + Undine opening, I would prefer the Witch + undine + wassier. But I was trying to get Thunderbolt to function early. All in all I see it working best for Lawtia, and Gowen can make it work and get a beastly Blitz out of it.

Now, teasel, that's not 100% true. I play against lots of weird Gowen openings, and my opening trumps all but Falkow and that blasted Witch. However, the Kurina lead would be my next option. I would never lead brave soldier+panther soul. You end up with a unit disadvantage and a lot of top players lead with those SC's I mentioned or [card=52]Asuet[/card], which leaves you down both a unit and a grimoire.
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Re: Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby Falanx » Thu Aug 28, 2008 11:31 pm

There's actually another Gowen opening that I use that has a tendency to work very well. It starts very similarly with 3 in Gowen and Blitz Soldier only I drop him in Row 1. There's a reason for this that I'll get to in a minute. On 2nd turn I play Brave Soldier in Row 1 with my Blitz Soldier and on 3rd turn I play Rougeerst who's skill will conveniently rank Brave Soldier prior to combat actually beginning. He doesn't get the massive jump to 60 ATK and 4 AGI that he would normally get with Panther Soul, but in return you get another unit on the field that can be used as either SS bait or, with Rougeerst, for good support skills. Also it saves you a slot in your file since you only need to play with 2 Panther Souls this way.

Now 90% of players will scoff at playing any two cards in the same row in the early game due to the plethora row damage that can come from soul cards, but both Blitz and Brave Soldier(remember he's ranked by Rougeerst before he can be harmed by anything, even soul cards) can both survive any of the row attacks and I find it to be much more helpful for them to "split" incoming damage from whatever enemies attack before them.

Anyways from turn 4 on I play my next cards completely based on what the situation calls for. Kurina, Dryad, or Salamander will generally follow though.

Obviously this is not a catch all way of opening, especially if that dang Witch pops up first turn, then you gotta Sylph your Blitz etc..., but it works for most general games.

Oh and one other thing, I lead with a Rougeerst soul card too, instead of a damage one. More of a personal preference thing but I noticed that around the time my first SS popped in most games my Units on the field had a tendency to be low on health so for Gowen I beleive that Rougeerst as an SC is a good investement. It also has the nice bonus of fizzling nasty Falkow returns :P
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Re: Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby Ekin » Mon Sep 01, 2008 2:50 pm

I generally think Gowen players want to get Kurina on to the field ASAP, but I agree with Candi that playing Blitz Soldier turn 1 is the way to go. He'll dominate any level 2 unit and below, such as Haste Soldier and opposing Kurinas and Combat Monks. The 60 body is great, but the 30 attack is amazing. I would personally suggest Blitz Soldier --> Kurina.

Witch is a problem, but it's a problem for any Gowen deck that wants to lead off early with 2s. Here's the issue with waiting to see what people play: if you horde your SP in order to play a 3 to counter a possible Witch, you run the risk of playing Lawtia, in which case, they turn 1 Shade your SP and you're completely hosed. If you don't SP horde, and you're up against Witch, it also sucks. It's a pretty tough situation that I haven't found a solution for.

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Re: Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby GunCastor » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:33 pm

To be honest though, first time Shade seems to be losing popularity. Most of the Lawtia players I played like to open up with a Lycan and then set a Shade second turn. It's because almost everyone that plays in Folrart use up all their sp first turn, usually pumping up influence to 3 and dropping a level 2 unit (examples: Kurina, Haste Soldier, Blessed Acolyte, Lycan). So the hoarding sp might be a good idea after all but you would have less units out on the field come 3rd turn.
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Re: Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby Porky » Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:49 am

Blitz open has quite a few counters, a lot of players who have access pack weisser as first ss, costing you 3 sp for the blitz. Furthermore in a mirror match you'll pay for blitz first turn if the opponent played a kurina as his second turn blitz + kurina ability spells dead blitz for you.
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Re: Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby Peralisc2 » Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:16 pm

GunCastor wrote:To be honest though, first time Shade seems to be losing popularity. Most of the Lawtia players I played like to open up with a Lycan and then set a Shade second turn. It's because almost everyone that plays in Folrart use up all their sp first turn, usually pumping up influence to 3 and dropping a level 2 unit (examples: Kurina, Haste Soldier, Blessed Acolyte, Lycan). So the hoarding sp might be a good idea after all but you would have less units out on the field come 3rd turn.


Also shade lycan can be used for an early assasin soul card to get an early advantage.

And if you play something first then never shade, or just rather skip first turn, because nobody wants to keep SP at start up. Well there are few players that do that, but they are like 5 or 7 from 100 or more.
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Re: Card Talk : The Early Game

Postby EvolNemesis » Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:11 pm

I must say I LIKE first turn shade a lot for lawtia, and I heartily disagree with the previous post about skipping the first turn instead just because most people don't save SP that turn, for the sole reason that I have found that one or 2 early SS activations are key for getting lawtia set up in the early game, especially vs decks that can put out power or dish out hits more quickly, like traditional gowen and falkow decks.

I find that at least for Lawtia, this strategy is great, and the turn 1 shade accomplishes several key tasks for me in most games:
1. early prevention of enemy SP stocking, and a way to save me from SP loss (I still see falkow decks that lead off with a level 1 card, and of course lawtia decks that start with shade)
2. combined with a decent SS (Larut is nice), it blows up enemy units as my level 3 comes out, allowing it to survive and saving me the 1sp i would almost always be spending to revive it vs falkow or gowen if I didn't have some SS go off at this point, and shade is generally something you don't want to revive anyway.
3. its death gives me back another sp that i can put into bringing out yet another level 3 unit quite early, while the opponent is still smarting from having to revive at least one, possibly 2 units.
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