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Mystic Vale» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Efficient Deck Cycling rss

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Lionel Graveleau
France
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note from designer (read on AEG Facebook ):


Efficient Deck Cycling
by John D. Clair

For a lot of new Mystic Vale players, deciding to push is usually based on a need for 1 additional mana to purchase some particular advancement; I have 3 mana, I really want the Grasslands, I need a 4th mana. This is a perfectly logical and salient reason to push. However, often a player can already afford an acceptable advancement, or maybe the card he or she wants would require several lucky pushes for multiple additional mana. The novice may see these as turns where pushing would be an unnecessary risk. However, beyond the need for one additional mana, there is a second and often more compelling reason to push.

Due to the nature of the push and on-deck mechanic, if you don’t push, the decay on your on-deck card will be 1 of your 3 decay both this turn and your next turn. Said another way, if you don’t push, you will only be discarding from your deck a net of 2 decay. If you push you will be discarding a net of 3 decay. Why is discarding 3 better than 2 if you are ultimately buying the same advancement?—Deck speed. Deck speed, or “deck cycling rate”, is arguably the most important factor to winning in the base game of Mystic Vale. The fewer turns between shuffles the faster your advanced cards come back to you, improving your mana, spirits, and victory point engines. One of the biggest keys to playing a killer game of Mystic Vale is effectively utilizing the ability to push to increase your deck speed as much as possible without busting too frequently. For example, on your first cycle through your deck, if you push on all three turns you will have turned over your entire deck. In contrast, if you don’t push at all, you won’t hit your first shuffle until your fifth turn.

Of course there is more nuance to this than simply pushing every turn. If you bust too often you’ll end up falling behind other players in terms of the number and quality of advanced cards. Your choice to push should be based on a combination of factors.
A. Do you need the extra mana (or spirit)?
B. What are the odds of busting?
C. Is your mana token face up or down?
D. How many decay will be left in your deck after you push?

Again, A is probably the most salient reason to push, however, arguably, there is still quite a bit of nuance to this factor, in particular if you consider in your opponents’ situation. Does your opponent have enough mana to get the advancement which you’d have to push to buy? How powerful would that advancement (or Vale) be for him or her? Will they push to obtain it? How important is it that you get the advancement rather than them? Do you currently have exactly the right card to place that advancement on?
Factors B and C are straight forward, though quite important. You can determine what percent of cards in your deck would cause you to bust, and obviously, pushing becomes a better decision the lower the risk of busting. Moreover, if your mana token is face up, the net harm from busting is higher.
Factor D is perhaps the least salient decision point for pushing, but is a key point that can separate the top tier of players from the rest. The best Mystic Vale players take a macro view of their deck’s pacing with a keen eye to when a shuffle is triggered. Let me break this down for the first set of turns in a game.

You’ve got 20 cards in your deck, 9 of which have decay at the start of the game. When you hit your first shuffle trigger all the cards in your field will not be shuffled back into your deck until your third deck cycle; any decay that ends up in your discard pile in this manner essentially sits out a cycle, slowing your deck down only 2 of your first 3 cycles.

Generally speaking, your goal should be to have 2 or 3 decay in your field when you trigger a shuffle (ideally three). This means you want to either push all 3 of your first turns (with your 3rd turn being a push until you shuffle), or push 1 of your first 4 turns (with the turn you push being the one that makes the most sense based on factors A, B and C described above). This results in your 2nd cycle through your deck having only 6 or 7 decay. Each subsequent shuffle you should also be looking to trigger with 2 or 3 decay in your field. Thus, right out of the gate your deck can pace between 2 and 3 turns per cycle, while other players may be in the 3 to 4 range.

There is another layer of nuance that makes a strict adherence to this type of deck pacing imperfect. If, for example, you bottom deck your Fertile Soils on your first shuffle, you may want to choose to pace your shuffle trigger such that those Fertile Soils get back into your deck on the second cycle even if it means you end up also shuffling 8 or 9 decay back in. That, said keeping this kind of deck pacing in mind, can give your game a significant boost.

Don’t let the term “press your luck” fool you, Mystic Vale is a skill game, and the evidence for that bares out time and again, with skilled players having notably higher win rates than other players. Efficient deck cycling is just one way you can step-up your game. Coming expansions will only enhance that skill factor, so keep your druid powers at the ready.
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Lionel Graveleau
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to have this efficient deck cycling , i'm in trouble with 3 cards that help to pass Decay :
- Peacekeeper druid
- Cleansing Rain
- Deadwood Harvester


Peacekeeper druid
Ability : "Once this turn. If you were to spoil you may discard your on-deck card instead"
It seem powerfull, because when the third Decay is on-deck, we can quietly take it. If the next card is a Decay, then we use the Peacekeeper druid ability to discard it.
The only risk is having after discard another Decay. Little risk : it mean that there are a 3 decay series : first is the Decay we take, second is the Decay we can discard, and the third decay.
A powerful ability with 2 advantages : minor cost (2 mana) + 1 Forest spirit.
The best card from these 3 one ?

Cleansing Rain
Ability : "When played Search your deck for any card and you may put into your discard pile. Then shuffle your deck"
simple to get ride some Decay from the deck. No risk to do this, but no help to try having 3 decays in the field . And it cost 3 mana.
Risk : having this card in the last one of the deck and so no Decay to discard
Is this can be useful for other advancement than Decay ? Which one ?

Deadwood Harvester
Ability : "When played : you may discard any other card in your field"
It's the same as Cleansing Rain : same ability (discard a card), same cost of mana?

Little differences :
- in theory, the on-deck card before Prep Phase should be a decay. So we should have at least 1 decay to discard. But if at the previous turn we pushed, we could have a non-decay card and so Deadwood harvester coming and ability can't be used. In my game, i met this situation several time (but rarely a Cleansing Rain without Decay in deck to discard)
- Ability is long-wise, so it can be lost, replaced by another one.
other difference ?
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I'd go for Deadwood Harvester all day, since you're at least sure of what you get: the ability to bring more cards to the table, and to know exactly how many.
Discarding from the deck is interesting, but it doesn't prevent a decay symbol from coming.
Discarding upon spoiling is fine, but you can still spoil if a decay symbol shows again.
Wereas DH lets you immediatly reset one decay symbol when showing up, makes pushing safer if he shows up when you're actually pushing already, and is supposed to never be your first card, since your first card will most of the time be a Cursed Land. Unless you spoiled.

To me, DH gives you more control over the planting and pushing your luck phase.
Not being able to discard to Cleansing Rain has happened to us way more often than for DH.

Peacekeeper Druid is the weakest of the three IMO, as I often am satisfied enough with my field that I don't want to risk spoiling but showing 2 decay symbols in a row, which I do on a regular basis. Plus you can keep track of how many Cursed Land you've played and know when it is useless.
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Lionel Graveleau
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thanks for your answer

after other games i think it depend on how you play :
- if you like to push (like me ) , PD is better i think because you can have 1 mana more ( 1 more Cursed land).
- if you prefer not to push, DH is better because as you said there's risk and you are sure to have a Cursed to discard. So DH is always usefull.

The two are strong. I think push is better, at least starting the game where losing a turn with only 2 mana (2 Cursed land) is no matter (you'll get +1 mana next turn). At the end of the game, each turn is usefull (strong PV, Vale cards , advancement with PV) so it could be dangerous to lose a turn.

one way where the CR will be better from the 2 others is when you'll have some other card with Decay (most often, card with PV). With PD or DH, most often you don't have choice wich card to discard and bad luck if it a beast card earning 2-4 PV . With CR, you choose which card you discard, so you take a Cursed land.
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