Hello everyone, my name is Robert Holtz, or R.C., and I have written this article for Alter Reality Games' website and their article writing contest. I am very experienced in TCGs and have dipped my feet into virtually all of the biggest games out there. I have been looking for a way to share my input on strategies and other aspects of these games and am hoping to make my mark here. The goal of this article is to teach those who are inexperienced with Kaijudo how to gauge and engage in the right move for certain points in the game.
Gauge and Engage?
For those who are experienced TCG players, you already know the concepts of playing conservatively, aggressively, or just the basics of different play styles. But, those of you who aren’t as experienced may be wondering what I mean by gauge and engage. Gauging is simply the skill to determine and analyze what type of approach you need to take based on the current state of the game. Engaging is how and when to go about that approach so that you be playing at your best. This is a very important skill to have when playing competitive games in general. I am sure that in video games like Halo and Call of Duty, things I have never really touched, the most successful players know when it is necessary to be aggressive and when that risk is not worth any reward if it can put them at a major disadvantage if that plan does not go well. To begin teaching you how to gauge and engage, I will give you some pointers on how to analyze multiple aspects of the game depending on the state of the game.
How to Gauge the Situation and Your Opponent
First, you need to know how to size up the situation you are currently in. Here, I will give you some tips on how to increase the amount of information you have at any time. You can begin gathering information about your opponent, such as what they are playing, and how your opponent plays even from the very first turn. This is one of the few reasons that I, personally, enjoy being on the draw (going second) the first game of a match. By going second, not only are you netting the first free draw of the game, but your opponent gets to play the first card of the game and take the first turn. Some of you may be wondering "how does that help me though?" Well in other TCGs, it is usually optimal and sometimes even crucial to go first. However, in Kaijudo it does not matter as much who goes first, because typically the person who goes first is only going to place a card in their mana and pass the turn. It is possible for turn one cards to be cast or summoned, but that isn’t very common in this game just yet.
So, how does going second help you? Going second simply gives you the opportunity to make the earliest possible observation of your opponent. As soon as your opponent plays mana, they have given you a huge amount of information. They have shown you at least one of the cards that they are playing in their deck, which they may or may not play multiples of, and they have shown you at least one civilization they are playing. Newer players can underestimate how much information this actually is. First, you get to see not only the name of the card, but also what kind of card it is. If the card is something on the level of Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow, then you are dealing with a player who probably knows at least a little about what they are doing. However, if the card is something like Hydrobot Crab, then you are probably not playing against someone who is as educated in the game as others. Second, you get to see the civilization of the card they played. This is where some out of the box thinking comes into play. All Kaijudo players should know that each civilization has their own tactics, abilities, specialties, etc. Each civilization is different and offers a plethora of cards to someone who decides to play with that civilization. By becoming more educated in the game, you can begin to guess what kinds of cards your opponent has in their deck. If your opponent puts a Darkness card in their mana zone, then most likely, they have three copies of both Bone Blades and Terror Pit in their deck as they are other extremely good Darkness cards. With this information, you can essentially track your opponent's resources and determine if your opponent has a possible answer to your next play. On top of being able to guess cards that are in their deck, you also know what to expect from future turns. With all of this information, you are ready to make decisions that could easily define the rest of the game. As said, going second can be very helpful the first game of a match. Being able to go second, as well as being able to make predictions that can help you get ahead in the game is the first step in the right direction. Plus, by going second you get an extra card to work with that your opponent did not have on their turn.
Once you make it through a game you will be much more aware of what your opponent is using and you can decide whether going first or second will benefit you more. The second and third games are more crucial on actual playing and getting ahead rather than gathering as much information as possible. An example of when going first would benefit you more than going second would be if you are your opponent are playing similar decks. If you and your opponent are both playing decks that run cards like Aqua Seneschal, where it is extremely crucial for you to get yours out first, then it is more beneficial for you to go first as you will get to three mana before your opponent and you can summon your Aqua Seneschal before they can. However, if your opponent is running a deck that tends to empty their hand quickly, then you should stick with going second as your opponent will be one card short of you and they will have fewer cards to work with. Again, you will need to make the decision based on your own observations, so make sure you are on your toes and are retaining as much information as you can.
So far, everything has been solely based on information that you can discover and how to use that to your advantage on the first turn of the game. I find the first turn of the first game in a match is the most important turn for any player to pay attention to. As turns progress, they typically become less important when it comes to gathering information. However, every turn is still another opportunity to gather information and to process how you should handle your next turn. You can never stop gathering information until you know your opponent's entire deck list, and with the potentiality of cards that some people may or may not play with, i.e. techs, you can never know for sure what exactly your opponent is playing with. It is important to never take a card that your opponent puts on the table in passing; you should take note of everything that your opponent does during the game. Now that I have given you some tips on gathering information and gauging your opponent, it is time to teach you how to use that information and how to engage in the proper action based on that information.
How to Engage Based on the Situation
The skill of knowing how to engage properly is knowing when it is optimal to be aggressive or conservative in a game. The most obvious example is if you see that your opponent has a Blocker that can beat your attacker or if your opponent has a creature that can beat your attacker next turn and you do not have an answer for their attack. In this case, it is easy to conclude that you should not be attacking with your creature. However, knowing when and how to engage is more than just knowing when to or when not to be aggressive. This skill is a little more difficult to explain, so I will give you another example.
Imagine you are playing your Nature civilization deck against your opponent's Fire civilization deck. It is your turn, and your opponent has no creatures out. But, you have your Razorhide on board that you played last turn. Razorhide has an ability to give you more mana when it attacks, so it is very tempting to attack. Most of the time, attacking will be your best option. However, by that point, you are very confident that your opponent is playing only with Fire civilization cards in their deck. You know as a player of Kaijudo that Fire has plenty of ways to banish your creatures and many of them are Shield Blasts, or cards that you can cast when they are added to your hand from your shields. Additionally, Fire is the only civilization with creatures that have Fast Attack, the ability that allows a creature to attack on the turn it is summoned without being an Evolution creature. So if you were planning on doing something like evolving your Razorhide into something like Flamespike Tatsurion next turn and you break a shield with your Razorhide this turn, there is the possibility that the shield you broke could be a Shield Blast that can banish your Razorhide without your opponent needing to use his mana. Therefore, if you require your Razorhide to survive until your next turn then you need to make every effort to keep your Razorhide alive. Even though your opponent may still have a way to banish your Razorhide on their turn you made them use their mana and possibly their entire turn to get rid of it rather than losing your creature at no cost to your opponent.
In this example, being aggressive would have been shown through attacking with your creature and possibly losing it for virtually no cost to your opponent. However, the better option would be to stay conservative and avoid attacking, because if your opponent has a way to banish your creature, they have to use a resource and their mana for their turn to deal with it. Plus, if your opponent does not have a way to deal with your creature, then you can do the play that you were planning on doing the next turn, such as evolving your creature into a creature that would be bigger and safer from your opponent. Knowing how and when to engage is as simple as that. This skill is all about using the information that you have gathered to decide what direction of play want to go with.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my article, and I hope to continue writing more articles to share my knowledge and opinions.