Getting the Most from your Cards

cvhWelcome back, everybody!  This coming weekend is a big weekend for Kaijudo - probably the biggest yet. The first four Kaijudo Master Challenges are happening around the continent!  Hopefully a lot of you can attend one (my first will be in Wisconsin on the 11th!), and I hope my articles have been able to give you some insight on how to prepare for these events.  It will definitely be interesting to see which decks do well in these first few tournaments, but my article today is on more of a general subject related to playing: getting the most out of your cards.

I've mentioned this subject in past articles, but with the KMCs literally one day away, I felt it would be appropriate to dedicate an article to it.  Your deck can only get you so far by itself, and in a big tournament like a KMC, you're going to need to know how to get the most out of every play you make.  A lot of it relates directly to card advantage.  This is a pretty basic concept, but in case you're unfamiliar, card advantage takes into consideration how many cards you have, both in the battle zone and in your hand, and compares it to how many cards your opponent has in those places.  Since these cards usually translate to various options you can have throughout the game, and the more options you have the better, card advantage is often a deciding factor in the outcome of the game.


Knowing the Value of your Cards

In order to get the most out of your cards, you have to assess their value in the current game state.  Let's take a look at a basic example: [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd].  A basic 1-for-1 removal spell, [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd]'s value lies in being able to banish any creature in the game.  It has no restrictions based on level, power, or anything else.  Very few cards can do this, so even though [ccProd]Heat Seekers[/ccProd] is also a 1-for-1 removal spell, [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd] has much more value in the long run.  [ccProd]Terror Pit [/ccProd]can do what [ccProd]Heat Seekers[/ccProd] can do, but it can also do so much more, though neither technically generate card advantage.

When dealing with a card like [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd], you always have to ask yourself if you're getting enough out of your play.  This is why it's important to know the meta and the cards your opponent might be running.  If you have a Terror Pit in your hand against an opposing [ccProd]Blaze Belcher[/ccProd], it's probably not the best play to use the Pit.  Looking at the big picture, you're down one of your most versatile cards and your opponent is down one of their weakest creatures.  Of course, that's an extreme example, but you always have to be looking at everything your opponent can do turns ahead to see the potential of your Terror Pit.  Gaining the upper hand in any given game is all about saving your most powerful cards to deal with their most powerful cards.  Wasting one of your Terror Pits on a weak creature that either isn't threatening to take the game or can be dealt with by another less important card of yours is a recipe for disaster down the road.  Use your less-powerful options to deal with their less-threatning creatures; this will almost always prove to be most efficient anyway.tendril grasp

The value of a card like [ccProd]Barrage[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Tendril Grasp[/ccProd] can be hard to calculate.  Again, knowing your opponent's deck is absolutely key.  In some matchups, they might be most useful in the mana zone, but against a rush or Blurple deck, each could generate huge gains in card advantage.  If your opponent has three Fire Birds in play, the Barrage will net you a +2 (you're losing Barrage and your opponent is losing three cards), so it's probably the correct play.  Using a single resource to get rid of multiple opposing resources is what a card like [ccProd]Barrage[/ccProd] is made for.  The less creatures your opponent has that can get hit by [ccProd]Barrage[/ccProd], the more of a dilemma it becomes.  If your opponent has a dragon or two out and one [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd] protecting them from your removal, the right play may indeed be to get rid of the [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd], turning Barrage into a 1-for-1.  It's a difficult decision when you know Barrage's potential is so much greater, but sometimes it's worth it.


A "floater" is any creature that has replaced itself through gaining you card advantage.  Basic examples are [ccProd]Hydro Spy[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Keeper of Dawn[/ccProd], though even creatures like [ccProd]Tatsurion the Unchained[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Infernus the Awakened[/ccProd] qualify.  These creatures have the ability to generate a +1 when they come into the battle zone, so if your opponent wastes a 1-for-1 removal spell getting rid of it, you've still been able to gain card advantage.  A trademark sign of someone newer to the game is activating a card like [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Bone Blades[/ccProd] on a creature like this.  Not only did your opponent already generate advantage through the effect of their creature, but you've just decided to waste a perfectly good spell on a creature with not a whole lot of power.  Always take into consideration what cards are giving your opponent advantage and if you can get rid of them efficiently enough for it to be worth it, such as attacking instead of using your own spells.

There are times when it's appropriate to Terror Pit a [ccProd]Keeper of Dawn[/ccProd] - those times are just few and far between, because generally you will not want to be down a Terror Pit after your opponent already +1ed with Keeper of Dawn.  However, the current state of the battle zone is just as important as the amount of card advantage being generated.  They really go hand in hand because card advantage can help you put you in a better position in the battle zone, but if you only have one small creature out and your opponent has four floaters with 3000/4000 power, getting rid of them might be the smart play since they could potentially threaten game in the next couple of turns.


Metagame Awareness

Cards have different values from match to match, depending on what you're up against and the weaknesses of your specific deck.  Let's use a standard Blurple deck featuring the usual lineup of Cyber Lords and Chimeras.  One obvious weakness this deck has is to [ccProd]Infernus the Awakened[/ccProd].  If your opponent is able to get one of these out without you having a way to deal with it that turn, the game is basically over.  As a result, many Blurple players have started teching in a copy or two of [ccProd]Death Smoke[/ccProd] to deal with Infernus and the mass amount of other dragons being run.  Against a dragon deck, the goal of [ccProd]Death Smoke[/ccProd] should always be to get rid of something as important as Infernus or [ccProd]Andromeda of the Citadel[/ccProd].  If the Smoke is the only card in your hand and your opponent is at 9 mana, Death Smoking their only creature probably isn't the right play.  It goes back to an article I wrote a long time ago about holding cards; just because something is your only play doesn't mean it is the right play.  In reality, it's never your only play because simply passing without playing any cards in mana or otherwise can be just as, if not more important of a play in the long run.

In short, the value of your cards should be taken into consideration when making any play, including playing a card as mana or simply passing your turn.  Weigh the potential of what you can get out of each card in the matchup against how necessary it is that you use them at the current moment, and come to a conclusion that will hopefully benefit you turns down the road.  You don't want to go back and say, "Man, I wish I hadn't wasted that [ccProd]Tendril Grasp[/ccProd]."  We've all been in a similar situation, and it's terrible; good judgment is the only way to prevent it.  Remember, make good use out of all your options and keep in my previous few articles in mind, and you'll be on the right track for doing well at the KMCs.  Make sure you leave a comment down below with your thoughts and stay tuned until next Friday, when I'll be bringing you an article covering two exclusive Clash of the Duel Masters preview cards!  Good luck this weekend, and Play Hard or Go Home!