Everybody has that small group of local trading card game players who seemingly have everything at their disposal. You know who I'm talking about. They are the ones that sit their in their small group, sometimes even away from the other players, and can be seen engaging in seemingly exciting matches where the most valuable and competitive cards can be seen on either side of the field. These are the players that are packing those 3 $25 Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow's that you might have worked so hard just to pull 1 in a pack. Whether it be that they all have every card from every set in multiple copies or they are constantly winning or blinging out their decks with the latest holographic versions of popular cards, they always seem to make the right play, and it's a shocker to the local community when he or she doesn't make the top cut in a tournament. Many younger players look up to these folks, while others envy them for their seemingly excessive wealth or extensive skill and knowledge of the game. Very seldom, though, do people ever go out of their way to analyze the intricacies involved in attaining such a status as not only a top local competitor but a top national or global competitor as well. In this guide, I will commence my analysis of what makes a trading card game player better than any other trading card game player. There are an abundance of factors that tie into such a concept, and I will attempt to cover the most comprehensive and substantial of these factors. All of this will tie into a further analysis of the essential tools that are prerequisites for any competitive player as pertaining to the game of Kaijudo.
First and foremost, I would like to give a background about myself. My name is Kyle St. Charles, I am 21 years old and recently moved on from playing Pokemon to committing my time to playing Kaijudo. If any of you have ever played Pokemon in Texas from 2004 to 2011 then you likely have heard my name, played against me, or seen and met me at tournaments. By no means am I trying to brag and say that I am an amazing player, but I had quite a bit of success in the Pokemon TCG going on to securing two invites to the World Championships and placing 4th at the 2009 National Championships (over 800 players in Masters), along with countless City and State Championship victories, scholarships, and top cuts. I was "one of those guys", the ones that I just finished talking about, in the Pokemon community. I don't say this in a negative manner. In fact, I loved playing Pokemon competitively and I still enjoy the game and love the Pokemon community and all the friends and experiences that have come with it. Hopefully this will also help add some relevance and acceptation to the topics covered in this article. While I was never a truly competitive Duel Masters player (I only ever played in one tournament), I have enough experience with card games and Pokemon, especially on the competitive level to understand some universal traits that I wish to relay in regards to such players.
Unfortunately, a few months ago, at the beginning of this Pokemon season, my car was broken into and all my competitive Pokemon cards (upwards of $1000+) were stolen from it, as I had left my backpack from a prior tournament in my trunk. Luckily, my Kaijudo cards had been in my dorm room safe and sound, and, although Evo Fury had not been released I had quite a substantial collection of Rise and Dojo cards and had begun testing various decks prepping for the next set and the possibility of organized play. I typically am very lazy when it comes to participating actively within my trading card game community, and I had been on a bit of a slump playing Pokemon due to the speed and luck involved in the most recent format. As such, rather than attempt to buy my way back into the game through my many Pokemon connections, I have decided to commit all my time and disposable income towards this new, thriving, exciting game that I am sure all of you have come to enjoy just as much as I have.
Contrary to popular public sentiment regarding the lives of trading card game players, I live a very productive and fun life. I recently graduated a semester early from the University of the Incarnate Word, a small, private, catholic university here in San Antonio, Texas, where I live with my BBA in Financial Economics. I am on the job hunt right now (had been planning on going to law school, but have since forgone that vision), and I spend most of my free time working out on a consistent basis (5-6 days a week). Taking care of your body and hygiene is important guys! Yes, I'm calling you out "fat, lazy, smelly card game player" who shows up to the tournament and stinks up the entire room, and you wonder why nobody wants to sit by you. Although I love the friends I have made so far playing Kaijudo (shout outs to all my SA Kaijudo and Pokemon friends), it is also very important to get involved outside of the card game community whether it be in work, school, or volunteering within the community. I love going out and having drinks with friends, but I also like to keep my mind stimulated, and, if you know me well, then you know I am a huge political junkie and never shy down from a good, constructive, respectful debate regarding such controversial issues.
I am a highly competitive individual in all aspects of life, but I take my losses with an attitude of virtue and modesty. Needless to say, when organized play for Kaijudo was recently announced, I jumped on top of the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the competitive environment of Kaijudo. After buying my first and only box of Evo to date, I have been testing the various archetypes out there as well as trying crazy and intriguing card combinations, and I will keep this up for as long as I stay competitive.
Section 1: Money, Money, Money
If there is anything that I learned from business school it's that everything, no matter how big or small, revolves around money. Even when people try to deny it, everything is about the bottom line and making that paper. This can be extended to all aspects of life. Everything we do involves economics and financial concepts such as the time value of money. Now, I won't bore any of you with esoteric economic theory, but it will be discussed in simple terms throughout this section.
Wizards of the Coast, as most of you already know, are the masterminds behind the competitive tournament structure of Kaijudo and the first and most famous trading card game, Magic: The Gathering. WotC (as I will abbreviate it) is a business FIRST AND FOREMOST. They need to generate revenue which exceeds their costs (ie. profit) in order to maintain their vitality in the industry. Everything from the decisions behind how they market a particular product, the release schedules behind such products, the decision to opt for a particular tournament structure over another, and the offering of prize support are all contingent upon the notion that these decisions will, at the very least in the long run, cover the costs of implementation, production, and/or retention. In other words, as already stated, they want to make money.
I hear so many players (mainly from Yu-Gi-Oh) complain about decisions that a company makes in regards to how it will affect competitive play. What many fail to realize is that if the company can't constantly generate a profit through their release schedules, sales, and operations, then there is no chance for the company to remain solvent, and the competitive scene, in turn, would be nonexistent. Thus, while the competitive player might not always appreciate the reprinting of a particular highly valuable card or the rarity selections behind some cards that are highly playable, it is ultimately the company's decision and, while it is debatable if the decision was the most optimal, you can be rest assured that that particular move was taken in interests of money.
For the competitive player, understanding that everything is a money game is important, but I must cordially remind people that we do not play card games for monetary gain (at least I don't). We play card games because it is an enjoyable hobby that has allotted us great experiences and helped build meaningful relationships. The value tied to our cards is what we, as players, attribute to them. The understanding of this crucial concept will be analyzed in detail in the following sub-section.
The Secondary Market
There are three general types of markets for card games: wholesale, primary, and secondary. According to investopedia.com, a market is defined as "a medium that allows buyers and sellers of a specific good or service to interact in order to facilitate an exchange" (investopedia.com, 2013). This "medium" varies depending on which market we are examining. The wholesale market for trading card games (TCGs) involves the selling of product, typically in bulk, from the distributor to respective sellers of the product. The sellers of the product are local gaming stores as well as national retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target. The wholesale market offers incredibly cheap prices on booster boxes and cases, especially when buying in bulk (which is what most stores do). Unfortunately, these prices are strictly reserved for businesses, and, oftentimes, the distributor will need to ensure that the person they are selling to does indeed own a shop in which to sell the product. The business is the demander of goods while the distributor is the supplier. The exchanges facilitated in this market reflect a liability, or debt, for the business and an accumulation of assets for the distributor. In other words, upon sale, shipment, and reception of the product from the distributor, WotC is no longer liable for the further selling of the product.
When the product is in the hands of the business, the business takes over as being the supplier of goods, and they are the ones that sell these products to the TCG community, or anybody they want to sell to for that matter. The exchanges made in this market all refer to the primary market.
The primary market is known as the market where individuals can purchase single packs, booster boxes, and other sealed product previously purchased from the distributor and now in the hands of the shop owner. The medium in the primary market includes anywhere where you can buy sealed products produced by the card company. This would include card shops, other retail stores, and even online stores that sell sealed product.
Once in the hands of the purchaser, he or she can choose to open the sealed product or hold onto the product is hopes that it will appreciate in value with time. This is a rather lengthy and much more detailed process than described here, but hopefully this explanation is simplistic enough to understand the gist of wholesale and primary market interactions. Going back to the first paragraph, last sentence of this subsection, you will notice I made the claim that WotC is no longer responsible for subsequent sales of their product. It is of utmost importance to realize exactly what this means, if one is to speculate business practices. WotC must nonetheless sell their product to the retailer. The retailer must then be able to sell the product themselves. Simply put, if the retailer can't expect to sell a product then they won't order it from the distributor (WotC). So, although the subsequent sales don't affect WotC's balance sheet directly, they most certainly affect the company indirectly. For example: when a company releases a new Kaijudo set, if players and individual's are showing a lack of demand for a product then this will adversely affect WotC's potential future sales of that product. Sure, the product might already be in the hands of the retailer, but the retailer is ultimately responsible for selling the product to us, and if we aren't buying, then the retailer will not purchase future similar product from the distributor, thus affecting future production and possible profits for WotC. The main point to take away from this discussion involving the markets is that is is in the best interest of WotC to release products that us as consumers will want to purchase. From here, we can finally impel a discussion involving the secondary market, and why it is so important for competitive players.
If there is anything that competitive card game players universally understand, it is the fluctuation of the secondary market. Upon purchasing product from a retailer, that person can resell their product in the secondary market. We see this occur all the time in real life situations. House sales, used car sales, and anything you can buy from somebody on Craigslist or Ebay are typically secondary market transactions. This is essentially a second transaction being made on the same product. The secondary market for TCGs in this analysis will refer to the purchasing and selling of single cards. The great thing about the secondary market is that it is as close to pure capitalism as you can get. With very little regulation, restrictions, and fees, individuals are able to freely purchase and sell their cards through sites like Ebay for a price set almost entirely through supply and demand. I will spare everybody from a lengthy economics lesson, but the equilibrium price and quantity for a product is determined by the intersection point of supply and demand. With limited market inefficiencies, the secondary market for TCGs will almost always deliver a price that is indicative of what the general community is willing to pay for a card and at what quantity that card will be demanded and, in turn, supplied.
This is quite intriguing and has serious ramifications on the individual wishing to play a TCG competitively. Rarity and playability are the two biggest factors affecting a card's value. Although a card might be extremely rare, if there is no demand for it in the secondary market due to its lack of playability, then the card will likely fetch a lower price than cards that might not be quite as rare. Kaijudo is no exception to this theory. Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow is a prime example of how a card that holds a lower rarity can be valued at such a high price. While only a rare from the original Rise of the Duel Masters base set, this card can get you upwards of $25 if you sell it in the secondary market, while you might be lucky to get $5 for your super rare Xeno Mantis. This lies in the fact that Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow is used in many competitive Kaijudo decks as a "3-of", and due to the size of the set, it is actually a hard card to pull, even if it is not as rare as a super rare.
The Secondary Market and the Competitive Player
Now that the secondary market has been covered in detail, it's important to understand exactly how the competitive player uses the secondary market to their advantage. While it might be true that there are some competitive players out there who always have extra cash to purchase any particular card they might need, it is actually much more likely that that player has made wise decisions (on top of money spent) in order to acquire the most competitive and valuable cards to place in his/her deck. The competitive player is ALWAYS wary of the interactions within the secondary market. This comes partly from spending so much time playing the game but also from a keen understanding of what cards are or will be popular in the future. The competitive player, unlike some more casual players, will always be on the lookout for those "money cards" when trading, or they will look for undervalued cards which they believe will make some sort of future impact on the game and appreciate in value. Often times, those players you see with the best cards in their decks competing at the top tables were ahead of the curve and able to acquire their copies of popular, expensive cards before the secondary market started experiencing any rapid upwards movement in price. Although there are some cards which are just naturally and initially expensive, more often than not card prices fluctuate as a reflection of the state of the metagame. It is no surprise then that the best players will typically be ahead of the curve at predicting which cards will increase or decrease in value based off of their predictions, testing, experience, and insight.
Kaijudo, in fact, has already experienced this said volatility within the secondary market. While Gloom Hollow and Crystal Memory might have merely been $1-$8 cards, they have since skyrocketed in value. There are a variety of factors aside from playability and rarity that affect supply and demand as well, which is the main attribution to the volatility of the marketplace. New set releases, product information, general accumulation of knowledge, press releases from WotC, shifts in consumer tastes, and a wide array of other factors all affect supply and demand. While an experienced, competitive Kaijudo player will likely never possess all the answers, understanding what affects the secondary market will undoubtedly aid you in becoming a better competitive player.
Section 2: Teamwork
Ever since childhood we have been taught the importance of working as a team to get things done. The reason many of us play Kaijudo is to make friends and because we enjoy it, so it should be of no shock to anybody that working with these friends that you make can indeed enhance one's competitiveness. Get to know the people at your local card shop, not only on a casual level but also on a more personal level. As a prior competitive Pokemon player, I can't tell you how grateful I was to have such great friends within the community. There were countless times where I lacked a necessary card for my list, and my friends were able to help me out with ease. In fact, even to this day I have friends that would lend me an entire deck if I ever decided I wanted to play in a tournament.
With the previous discussion regarding the secondary market and how some cards can attain hefty price tags even at such early stages of a game where there have been no official tournaments to date, many of you are probably pondering as to how players manage to stay competitive without a constant surplus of cash to spend on cards. Well, as the title has suggested, teamwork is an unequivocal factor in the construction of a competitive card game player.
Sitting there and staring at the top tables and closely watching their games to figure out which strategies the top players are using might enhance your skill in Kaijudo, but there is no reason that you should refrain from engaging in conversation with these individuals when met with the opportunity. Being sociable is optimal for success as a competitive player. Not only does it help you create lasting relationships, but it also allots you the opportunity to share your resources with others and receive the same in return. While there are some exceptions, Kaijudo players seem to be very willing to help out others, and I am becoming quite fond of the growing community in my area because of this. As I already stated, due to my relationships within the Pokemon community, I was always able to play any deck that I wanted at a tournament, even if I didn't have all the cards for it. This should be the goal of any competitive Kaijudo player. Sure, you want to have your own collection and you will need to spend some money to stay competitive and relevant, but that doesn't mean that you have to be spending your entire paycheck on Kaijudo cards or go into debt because of a hobby. While not every competitive Kaijudo player will have extra cards to loan out at tournaments, if you network yourself and make yourself known within the community, then you are much more likely to be able to play any deck you want for a tournament. Remember to be respectful to the other players and their cards when borrowing or using them. As a friendly gesture, offer to have your friend hold onto one of your valuable cards until you can return the card you borrowed at the end of the tournament. Avoid any mistreatment of your deck while shuffling or playing, and make sure not to lose your friend's cards; you don't want to lose your friend as well.
Social Media and Connecting with the Larger Community
Aside from making friends in your community, you can also enhance your competitiveness by opening yourself up to the opportunity to network with others around the globe due to the advent of social media. Kaijudo has appeared on the scene at a highly opportunistic time for us players. We, as Kaijudo players, single handedly launched the trading card game portion of the franchise into "Cyber TCG Stardom". Now, don't get me wrong, Kaijudo has quite a bit of growing to do before it can truly say it's in line with the "Big Three": Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon, but the Kaijudo community has done one thing that no other TCG had the opportunity to do at its inception. The community as a whole has rallied behind the TCG to uphold and support it through its online interactions. None of the other "Big Three" TCGs had this opportunity to engage and grow the community through social media and the internet at the level that Kaijudo has. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have all functioned as primary outlets to attract people to the community. Names like "Aiden Thorne", "CVH", and "EarthP0w3R" are even being recognized and called upon by WotC, another thing that no other TCG has attempted to tackle so early on. As such, the future of competitive play and enhancing oneself as a competitive player will require the use of the internet, and, in particular, social media.
The ability to connect with fellow Kaijudo players across the nation has been made possible through the three primary outlets listed above. Most of the people at my locals (about 15+ and growing!) have heard of these "Kaijudo celebrities" like CVH, and this is all attributed to the fact that such individuals are devoting so much time and care to growing the community by creating videos and making posts online. It truly is astounding when you think about the fact that these individuals who have been diligently contributing in the form of their YouTube videos have done all of this with little to no compensation, and have successfully captured the attention of the TCG community as a whole. The great thing about Kaijduo is that it has entered the scene at a time where social media is now commonplace and the norm, so we have more capability of growing our community through it. Every competitive player I know in Kaijudo and Pokemon has a Facebook at the very least, and it is a great way to share not only your Kaijduo life but also your personal life with the community, so they can connect with you on a more sentimental level, and you can create better relationships with those players who don't live in the same area as you.
Because we have become so well connected, the competitive player has responded by following suit. Sharing strategies, deck ideas, and card information online with others is not only a great way to make friends and grow your connections within the community, but it also helps foster conversation that is essential to the enhancing of one's skills.While some players or teams might keep quiet about a certain deck idea, there is no reason to refrain from general conversation regarding strategy. Talking through game-play scenarios, deck ideas, and card combinations with the larger community is something that has been demonstrated and embraced by all the major names in Kaijudo, and it is something that, due to the nature of the time we live in, will only become increasingly more important for the competitive player.
Section 3: Card Advantage
Out of every card released to date Logos Scan is the unequivocal front runner when it comes to cards that see the most play. Some people wonder how such a simplistic spell card can be so powerful, while those who have become acquainted with the concept of card advantage immediately flock to this card when building any deck with water. Card advantage is best defined as the strategic advantage that is accrued through the addition of cards to a player's battle zone and/or hand. In Kaijudo, this is undoubtedly one of the most important concepts to understand in order to experience self-advancement as a player. All tournament winners and truly competitive and strategic players understand this notion, and this section will delve into all the intricacies and explanations required for a comprehensive understanding of such a topic.
Introduction to Card Advantage
Before diving head first into the sea of information regarding the subject of card advantage, we must first outline why this topic is so crucial to grasp in the game of Kaijudo. First and foremost, Kaijudo is a turn-based game. What I mean by this is that the cards you use as resources, or mana, are required in order to play other cards. Because of its resource system and the option of placing only one mana per turn into your mana zone, the actual gameplay of Kaijudo relies heavily on the turn count. There is no possible way to currently place a level 2 or higher card in the battle zone or play a level 2 or higher spell on your first turn. The structure of the game simply does not allow it. Owing to the mana rule and the fact that Kaijudo is indeed turn-based, you can only play so many cards every turn. Of course, as the game drags on and each player accumulates more and more mana, more and more powerful cards and plays can be made.
While a player might have a high mana count late in the game, he or she could still quite easily lose the game if that player does not also possess options in their hand to respond to opponent's plays. This is where card advantage comes into play. Having more options than your opponent is never a bad thing. Of course, the only way that a player can truly possess more options than their opponent is to have generated some sort of advantage on the opponent at some point in the game. In all scenarios, the key to creating this advantage is keeping track of all cards on the field and in hand, both yours and your opponents. It must be noted, though, that while card advantage is of utmost importance, it does not single-handedly win you a game (although it almost always does when playing control). The strategic rush player understands this idea, and for that reason they know that giving the opponent cards is not necessarily going to hurt them if they can finish the game fast enough (as the opponent will not have enough mana to play those cards). Whenever you give your opponent a card or give yourself a card, you are generating advantage for the opponent or yourself respectively. Grasping this concept will help enhance any one player's performance in the competitive scene.
How to Create Card Advantage
While the general concept of card advantage is simple, it becomes much more convoluted during actual gameplay. Often times, a player will find him or herself in a situation where the game is progressing at such a fast pace that it is difficult for a player to notice any particular changes in card advantage at any particular point in the game. Unfortunately, those that do not pay constant attention to card advantage will likely find themselves in unfortunate situations that sometimes could have been avoided had they been paying attention to the shifting of advantage in the first place. A prime example is the eager rush player. A rush deck aims to take shields as quickly as possible and overwhelm the opponent with low cost creatures, but what some rush players fail to realize is that every time you break one of your opponent's shields you are giving them card advantage. They are getting an extra card in their hand to possibly foil your strategy. Even without triggering shield blasts, the rush player can find themselves in some very dismal situations, if they aimlessly swing for shields. This is also one of the great things about this game that keeps it balanced. Every time you get closer to winning, you are giving your opponent advantage.
While giving your opponent advantage is typically inevitable in the scheme of things, the advantage that you give to your opponent can greatly be reduced through the creation of your own advantage. During gameplay there are four primary manners in which card advantage can be created for yourself: draw, search, discard, removal, and battle.
A card is classified as a draw card if it draws you cards. I know, who would've thought? This need not be confused with search cards such as Crystal Memory, which allow you to select, or "search" cards from your deck to add to your hand. Examples of draw cards include cards such as Logos Scan, Hydro Spy, and Spy Mission. Each of these cards generates advantage because they replace themselves and give you an extra card in the process. In Hydro Spy's case, you retain a creature on the field while getting a free card from the top of your deck, thus creating advantage. I will go into more detail about the math involved shortly. For now, note that playing any of these cards will generate you card advantage.
Search is the next category in which advantage can be created. One of the most widely played forms of search, Crystal Memory, ironically does not net you any card advantage. The reason being is that it doesn't generate any extra field presence or add more cards to your hand. It simply replaces itself with another card, thus ensuing in no net advantage. Of course, that doesn't mean that Crystal Memory is a bad card by any means. It is simply a 1-for-1, but a rather good one at that. Terror Pit, Bone Blades, Root Trap etc. are also great examples of 1-for-1s that don't directly net any card advantage. Nonetheless, there are creatures that search out cards that create advantage. The two examples I will use are Reef Prince Glu-urrgle and Gigahorn Charger. Because each of these cards provides you with a body in the battle zone you aren't losing any type of advantage from playing them. In fact, both Reef Prince and Gigahorn replace themselves with another card whenever they hit the battle zone. Reef Prince allows you to search through the top four cards (in this sense it can be viewed as a pseudo-draw card) while Gigahorn allows you to replace itself with a creature of 5000 power or more. Each of these provides you with advantage because they add a card to your hand while giving you a body on the field.
Discard is another way to create advantage. It can, in a sense, be viewed as the opposite of draw. Rather than giving cards to yourself, you are taking cards away from your opponent. This creates card advantage for you because you are essentially restricting the access to future options for your opponent while retaining your own. Fumes, Razorkinder Puppet, and Skull Shatter are all examples of discard that generate advantage. Fumes and Puppet each generate advantage in the fact that they provide you with a body in the battle zone while eliminating a card from your opponents hand, much in the same way that Gigahorn and Reef Prince generated advantage above except instead of getting an extra card you are ridding your opponent of a card. Skull Shatter can create advantage whenever your opponent has two or more cards in hand because you are using that spell and, in turn, losing a card from your hand but discarding two or more of your opponents cards, more than you got rid of.
Removal is the fourth way that advantage can be created. Removal is just that, removing creatures from the field either through banishing them, placing them in the mana zone, or placing them on top of your opponent's deck (Milporo is the only form of the latter removal). Although cards like Terror Pit and Bone Blades are removal, they are 1-for-1s, and they do not generate any direct card advantage. Of course, cards like Razorkinder, Tendril Grasp, and Barrage all have the capabilities of creating significant advantage. As will all other advantage-generating creatures, Razorkinder provides you with a body on the field, but with the added bonus of banishing an opponent's untapped creature. This generates advantage because your opponent is losing a creature while you are retaining your own creature. Unlike Terror Pit, which goes to the discard pile upon resolution of its effect, Razorkinder stays on the field which is significant in the fact that it need not leave your side of the field in order to activate its effect. Tendril Grasp and Barrage each can generate advantage in a similar manner to skull shatter. Although you are losing a card in your control by playing Tendril Grasp or Barrage, if you can remove two or more of your opponent's creatures with its effect then you are generating advantage and outweighing the negative loss of using your card.
Finally, perhaps the most intricate form of card advantage is that which is created through battle. Whenever you destroy one of your opponent's creatures as a result of battle (including when your opponent blocks and banishes their own creature while you keep yours) you are generating advantage for yourself. Essentially, you are ridding your opponent of a card in their control for nothing. When you attack and banish a tapped creature with one of your stronger creatures, you are losing no type of advantage yourself because you are not giving up any cards to do so, but your opponent is losing a creature which generates advantage. Things get even more fun when creatures with abilities that activate when they attack are activated. A prime example of this is an Aqua Seneschal attacking and trading kills with an opposing Cyber Sprite. Yes, you are losing a card by giving up your Seneschal, but because of its ability you are also adding a card to your hand. In sum, you banished one of their creatures (Cyber Sprite), lost one of your own, and gained a card to your hand. The net result is a +1 in card advantage.
Some of you might be wondering exactly what that last sentence means, as I have yet to cover what a "+1" is. While the above section detailed the manners in which you can create card advantage, what has yet to be discussed is how much advantage is created. To determine this question of "how much?", we as TCG players use a very simplistic numbers system that deals heavily with the sign in front of the number (+/-). While the above concepts make sense logically, when analyzed with basic numbers, the actual advantage accumulated becomes much more understandable and relevant. A "+" is used to designate any type of creation of card advantage, while a "-" typically indicates a loss in card advantage, whether it be for yourself or your opponent. Understanding the numbers behind card advantage will not only help you become a better player, but it ultimately will help separate you from the casual, fun player who likely does not care to understand all the theory behind TCGs.
Going back to the original card in this discussion, let us take a look at logos scan in terms of numerical card advantage. Determining the sign and number a card receives in terms of card advantage is actually quite simple. Any card that leaves the battle zone or the hand upon resolution of its effect generates negative card advantage. Thus, when you play a logos scan from your hand you are "-1ing" ("minus oneing", I know it might sound obscure at first) yourself, but the addition of two cards to your hand generates a "+2" ("plus two") in card advantage. Thus, the net result is a +1 in card advantage. This is calculated via simple arithmetic. You simply add the ensuing negative card advantage to the ensuing positive card advantage ((-1) + (+2) = (+1)).
Although on the surface this is a simple calculation, it does become slightly more complicated when we examine other scenarios. Such a scenario arises with cards that generate mana. Sprout is a commonly played card, and it is probably one of the only cards that's an outright negative in card advantage that still sees significant play. Sprout is a "-1". This might surprise some of you as it replaces itself with a mana, but we must be very wary of the definition of card advantage. Card advantage applies strictly to cards in your hand and in the battle zone. This does not include cards in your shields or mana.
Card advantage is important because you typically do not want to play cards that are going to give you a -1. The reason being is that, because you need to play cards from your hand as mana, if you are constantly -1ing yourself then you are depleting your hand and/or battle zone at double that rate on every turn you play a mana from your hand. Playing mana is a necessary evil. While playing mana from your hand does generate a -1 in card advantage, it also allows you to play cards from your hand (like Logos Scan) that can generate +s. Going back to Sprout, let us reexamine this card in terms of advantage. Sprout is a "-1" because you are not giving yourself any new cards by playing it, and you are losing a card from your hand in the process. Of course, the rationale behind playing such cards lies within understanding deeper strategy. Mana ramping cards such as Sprout actually can provide advantage, contrary to popular belief, in the form of "deferred card advantage". Deferred card advantage refers to such advantage that is created by a card later on in a game. Deferred card advantage is mostly seen when dealing with cards that add to your mana zone. While Sprout is a -1 on the surface, we must also consider the pivotal fact that there is a choice as to whether one plays a mana each turn. In the early stages of a duel, both players will typically be playing mana at the beginning of each of their turns. Remember, every time you play a mana from your hand you are -1ing yourself. Of course, nothing is to stop a player from opting out of playing a mana on one of their turns. In fact, experienced players will be the first ones to tell you that playing a mana is not always the most optimal play. This is where the notion of deferred card advantage truly comes into play. That -1 that a player incurred from playing Sprout early on can actually turn out to generate a +0 in card advantage, if that mana was used as a basis to opt out of a mana play on a following turn. This might sound confusing at first, but when you think about it is quite simple. You played Sprout on your second turn, and now you are sitting here with 5 mana but want to keep all the cards in your hand and play your 5-drop Death Smoke, so you opt out of playing a mana for the turn. In other words, Sprout started off as a -1 on your second turn, but you realize a gain in card advantage by not having to play a mana which would -1 yourself and still being able to play your Death Smoke. Had you not played Sprout, you would have had to place another card from your hand to your mana zone. From this perspective, Sprout actually turns out to give you a +0 because that -1 early game is counteracted by a +1 from the retainment of the card drawn on that turn. Of course, you do not realize this type of advantage right away, and sometimes you will never realize such advantage. This is the reason why deferred card advantage is inferior to realized card advantage. It's like this: Would you rather draw two cards now, or would you rather wait until three turns later and draw your two cards? The answer is almost always now, as it allows you to play the cards you draw immediately.
As previously mentioned, 1-for-1s (ie. Terror Pit) do not typically generate card advantage. You are using a card from your hand (-1) and removing one of your opponents cards (+1) resulting in what has previously been discussed as a +0. No advantage lost; no advantage gained. The numbers simply aid in the understanding of this concept.
Evolutions and Card Advantage
While the numbers have been discussed, evolutions have been neglected. The reason being is that in order to understand why evolutions don't generate immediate card advantage, one must understand the principles. When you play an evolution creature into the battle zone you are generating a -1 in card advantage. You are losing a card from your hand because you are simply placing it on top of another creature. You receive a -1 from playing a card from your hand, then you receive a +1 by adding a card to the battle zone, BUT because that card you placed in the battle zone was placed on top of another creature you are also receiving another -1 because you are losing the previous creature. The result is a -1 ((-1) + (+1) + (-1) = (-1)). Of course, evolutions can also create advantage. Aside from being huge creatures that can generate advantage by banishing opposing creatures, cards such as Emperor Neuron and Hydra Medusa have special abilities that allow them to create advantage. Emperor Neuron draws a card every time he swings which generates a +1 on each swing. Thus, while Emperor Neuron is a -1 when you play it from your hand, if you can banish a creature by attacking with him, you generate a +1 from getting rid of an opposing creature and a +1 from Neuron's effect, netting a +1 overall. When Emperor Neuron attacks and hits a shield, it does not generate any advantage and up until that point still cost you one more card than it netted you. Although you draw 1 from its effect neutralizing the loss of advantage from playing an evolution creature, you are giving your opponent a card by breaking their shield, thus neutralizing the gain that you gave yourself and still netting Neuron a -1.
Hydra Medusa, on the other hand, has a come into play effect that has potential to create advantage. Hydra Medusa is a -1 to start because you are losing a creature (the evolution bait), but it banishes an enemy creature upon entering the battle zone. This generates a +1 for you and neutralizes the effect of the -1. In other words, as long as your opponent has a creature under their control that can be targeted, you will generate at least +0 in card advantage. Of course, what happens when the bait used already provided you advantage? Case in point being Screeching Scaradorable. If a Screeching hits the field and banishes a target level 1 or 2 creature then it is classified as a +1 for you. Now, if you play a Medusa on top of that Screeching, you can banish another creature and generate another +1 while losing your Screeching which is a -1. The result is still a +1 though ((+1) + (+1) + (-1) = (+1)). Of course, for every creature that that Medusa banishes, you are adding on possible subsequent +s.
While there are countless scenarios that I could discuss revolving around card advantage, the explanations above should provide any aspiring competitive Kaijudo player with a basis for understanding how to create and maintain card advantage.
Playing Actively Through Application of Numbers
Some of you might be wondering why in the world I discussed numbers in such detail that aren't even written directly on the card. While the numbers don't appear directly on the card, understanding what a +1 or -1 is invariably aids in the deck building process as well as gameplay. In deck construction, one needs to keep in mind all the cards in their deck that generate advantage. Think about it. If you are playing a bunch of high mana cost cards, but you don't play any cards that generate early +1s (ie. Logos Scan) then it is likely that you won't be able to play those cards until it is too late or even at all. Every time you play a mana, you are -1ing yourself, so it will become quite apparent to you as you play that you will run out of hand and options rather quickly. The player that is constantly wary of advantage has an exceeding advantage over the player that doesn't in these regards. As a result, playing actively by using the numbers previously discussed is of utmost importance.
This does not mean that you are constantly going to be thinking in terms of numbers. On the contrary, you might never actually think "Oh, I just +1'd with my Screeching Scaradorable!" But the fact that you understand that advantage was created aids greatly in responding to your opponent's plays and maintaining tempo within a game. Playing actively means you have to constantly be aware of the advantage that you are giving your opponent and creating for yourself. This is typically what separates the true experienced competitor from the casual player. An experienced player will realize when they are starting to give their opponent too much advantage. Usually this is a result of aggressive playing. As discussed earlier with the eager rush player, swinging into shields aimlessly is seldom a fruitful venture. The experience player plays actively and understands where the card advantage lies at all points throughout the game. The use of numbers is simply used to help deal with more complex scenarios, and the actual numerical values tied to advantage created become second nature as you practice with thinking through each move and its results in terms of advantage. The experienced player doesn't have to sit there and think for a moment whether or not they just created advantage by attacking over a creature with their Seneschal (in fact, that play actually results in a +2). Rather, the experienced player will play actively by analyzing the field and weighing the pros and cons of each play. Throughout this entire process, card advantage is always in the back of the mind of the experienced competitor, and upon realization of this crucial concept, one can better understand the skill level required by Kaijudo. While some dismiss it as a simple, one-dimensional game, there is actually a great deal of depth in the strategy involved.
While there is no possible way to cover every significant trait of a competitive Kaijudo player, the topics discussed here should all help to shed light on the rising of future successful, competitive Kaijudo players. As we head into the first official tournament season in the history of this card game, I truly hope that this guide will be of some use to aspiring Kaijudo competitors, not only as a guide to enhance one's skill but also as a guide to grow your community and maintain the ardor and integrity of the community as a whole.