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Subject: The Benefits Of Entombing Every Turn rss

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Andrew Morris
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While I'm far from a strategic expert, I've played this game quite a bit, and the more I play, the more convinced I become that you need to be entombing at least one card per turn.

Benefits of entombing every turn
1. You only score points for what is in your tomb. If you're not entombing a card on a particular turn, you've given up on scoring for that turn.
2. Deck thinning is obviously beneficial, as it allows your more powerful cards and/or card combinations to come up more frequently.
3. If you can keep entombing at the same rate as you acquire cards or faster, you'll see every card in your deck no less than once every other turn.
4. If you can keep your deck to 9 or fewer cards, you never have to worry about another player using Censer to cripple your deck strategy by removing a key card, since you'll never have a discard pile.

When I first started playing, I often thought buying a particular card from the pyramid was worth giving up my entomb for the turn. Every time I did that (especially in the early rounds), I came to regret it. Even if you're building toward some deck combo strategy, and a card you need shows up, you can usually work around it or shift strategies quickly if your deck is small enough.

Most deck builders don't provide a way to remove cards from your deck as easily, and that fact that VotK lets you do it at least once a turn makes super-small decks (5-7 cards) absolutely feasible in mid to late game. This opens up all sorts of excellent combos (causing opponents to discard all their cards, stealing cards from your opponents, taking and entombing multiple cards every turn, etc.).

Order of entombment for starter cards
1. Box of Food - Almost useless ability. It can be helpful in the late game, but that means you had to hold onto a mostly dead card for the whole game. Not worth it, in my opinion. If someone has found a way to make this card actually useful earlier on, I'd love to hear it.
2. Urn - This has moderate utility, especially early in the game. But if you're keeping your deck size down to the point where you draw all of your deck (or most of it) each turn, Urn looses most of its utility.
3. Shabti - Likewise, by the time you have a developed, thin deck, you'll probably be taking cards rather than buying them, so these lose most of their punch. They are still good for denying your opponent a critical card, though you can probably live without that ability.
4. Offering Table - Don't entomb this, ever. In my play group, we just call it "No!" Because you can just show it and say "No" to someone's combo that would have left you without any cards in your hand.

Anyway, that's just my take on it, after dozens of games. I'd love to hear what other experienced players think.
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David Jones
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boondongle wrote:
When I first started playing, I often thought buying a particular card from the pyramid was worth giving up my entomb for the turn. Every time I did that (especially in the early rounds), I came to regret it. Even if you're building toward some deck combo strategy, and a card you need shows up, you can usually work around it or shift strategies quickly if your deck is small enough.


I think its really going to depend on the card you are trying to acquire. I've had games where I needed all of the cards in my hand to purchase a card that gave me an entomb ability. Giving up one entomb action now for three or four more later in the game is almost certainly worth it. Similarly, I have had situations where the only way to get cards with higher currency values on them was to spend my whole hand. Entombing every turn isn't worthwhile if it puts you in a situation where don't have enough money to buy any stage three cards to entomb later in the game. In general, I would agree that you should entomb every chance you get, but there are, on rare occasions, exceptions.
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Andrew Morris
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davypi wrote:
I think its really going to depend on the card you are trying to acquire. I've had games where I needed all of the cards in my hand to purchase a card that gave me an entomb ability. Giving up one entomb action now for three or four more later in the game is almost certainly worth it. Similarly, I have had situations where the only way to get cards with higher currency values on them was to spend my whole hand. Entombing every turn isn't worthwhile if it puts you in a situation where don't have enough money to buy any stage three cards to entomb later in the game. In general, I would agree that you should entomb every chance you get, but there are, on rare occasions, exceptions.


If giving up the entomb means that your deck size increases above 10, I still wouldn't do it in the scenarios you describe. Letting your deck get bigger than 10 means that the cards you buy will come up over longer intervals, on average. I'd rather have a weaker card that goes to work immediately.

But to address your concern about entombing not giving you enough money for later in the game, I don't see that being an issue. There are 11 Level 2 cards that cost 4 and give 2 gold. By swapping out your starters for these, you only need four of them to get an average gold draw of 7. By adding cards that cost 5 instead of going for the cheaper 2-gold cards, you'd need 7 cards to get your average gold draw over 7. Obviously, it's not like you won't be entombing some of your starters, or buying some of the 4-cost cards, but you can see the difference between the two extremes.

4 entombs - 4 cards with 2 gold (Deck size 10)
3 entombs - 5 cards with 2 gold (Deck size 12)
2 entombs - 5 cards with 2 gold (Deck size 13)
1 entomb - 6 cards with 2 gold (Deck size 15)
0 entombs - 7 cards with 2 gold (Deck size 17)

Now, that's just a simple scenario, where you are only buying money cards, and it doesn't consider any other cards that entomb or otherwise remove cards from your deck, but even factoring in some of those cards, you're just mitigating the problem, not removing it. By using the basic entomb action and focusing on gold cards, you spend only 4 turns getting to the point where you are consistently pulling enough gold to buy Level 3 cards, you can buy Level 2 cards while still using one or two cards for their actions, and you go through your entire deck in 2 turns rather than 3 or even 4.

Even though it seems counter intuitive, from actual play, the results I have seen are pretty clear. When I don't entomb every turn, I win more often than I lose. When I entomb every turn, I almost always win (as long as my opponents aren't doing the same thing), and the wins tend to be blowouts instead of close calls.

The only two Level 2 cards I'd even consider giving up an entomb for would be Ka Figurine or Book of the Earth, because those will let you get out of the gold cycle, and let you start taking cards directly. Even so, if it brought my deck to more than 10 cards, I'd have to think long and hard about it.

To your broader point...yes, there are some very rare cases where it's better to forgo entombing, but they are vanishingly rare, rather than a common decision.

Anyway, that's my take on it.
 
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David Jones
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boondongle wrote:
If giving up the entomb means that your deck size increases above 10, I still wouldn't do it in the scenarios you describe. Letting your deck get bigger than 10 means that the cards you buy will come up over longer intervals, on average. I'd rather have a weaker card that goes to work immediately.


At least with respect to the scenario of acquiring an entomb card, you are making a false assumption that you will only get five cards per turn. I had a game where I had enough card draw in my deck that I was pulling nine cards per turn with the possibility of entombing three cards per turn. By going over ten cards, I put myself in a position where I ended the game with only three cards in my deck. It sounds like you are assuming that any given card will only come up every other turn (five card out of a ten card deck). There are plenty of ways to maintain this frequency with more than ten cards and/or get that frequency lower than once per two turns. If your self imposed deck cap is ten cards, does this also mean that you would never acquire two cards in a single turn if it put you at eleven? Would you really turn down those last two blue cards you need to score a 64 49 point set just to maintain a hard rule about deck size?

Quote:
you can see the difference between the two extremes


And by comparing extremes you are taking my point out of context. I would agree that on at least 95% of your turns you should be entombing (probably higher). The point I am simply trying to make is that knowing the exceptions of when to break out of that rule is also important. I have actually seen a game where a player dug himself into a situation where he couldn't afford any late game cards. His final score correspondingly suffered because he couldn't create large enough sets in his tomb. If I remember correctly, there were no two currency cards on the bottom row for his first few turns. We only learn this in hindsight, but giving up one of his entomb actions in order to manipulate the pyramid before buying would have been a better move. But again, it shows your examples require an assumption that is not always true - a two currency card is not always available every turn.
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Tom Cleaver
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Andrew,

I generally agree with you. I try to entomb every turn, although I do make exceptions. In all the games I've observed and moderated, I find that 95% of the players have "card greed." They can't resist acquiring expensive and powerful cards. I think they have fun doing that, but their final scores suffer.

Tom Cleaver
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Tom Cleaver
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David,

I think you make some good points. VotK allows for many different strategies and styles of play.

I would like to question you about one thing: You say "Would you really turn down those last two blue cards you need to score a 64 point set?" It is not possible to get a 64 point set. The most you can get is 49, when you have all 7 different kinds of statues. I'll bet that was just an "oops" on your part.

Tom Cleaver
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David Jones
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systomx wrote:
It is not possible to get a 64 point set.


My bad. This is why I shouldn't be reading BGG at work.
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Andrew Morris
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Dave,

Sure...there are cards that will affect the frequency you can cycle through your deck, but they can apply whether your are entombing or not, so I figure that's a wash.

And to be clear, I did agree there were some times you might give up entombing to do something else, just that they were not at all common. I'd probably go with 98-99% entomb rate, but that puts us in the same neighborhood with your 95% or more rate.

"Entomb every turn" is more of a platonic ideal than an actuality, but it holds pretty true for me in the first turns, where it has the most impact.

I'm just happy to geek out over a super fun game. What are your thoughts on my suggested order for entombing starter cards?


Tom,

I definitely fell victim to "card greed" myself on my first game. Now my goal is to be playing my entire deck every turn in the end game.
 
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Jeff Meunier
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boondongle wrote:
I'm just happy to geek out over a super fun game.

THIS. ^^

There are few games simple enough that you can analyze the game in this way, yet complex enough that you can feel like it's worth analyzing.
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Red Moss
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I think I agree that entombing every turn is generally what you should be aiming for. My best scores and, interestingly, most powerful decks, have come from games where I entombed as much as possible.

Man, I love this game! I really hope that expansions happen at some point.
 
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David Jones
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Oldstench wrote:
Man, I love this game! I really hope that expansions happen at some point.


http://www.coolstuffinc.com/p/215710

I think this was announced about two months ago.
 
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boondongle wrote:
4. Offering Table - Don't entomb this, ever. In my play group, we just call it "No!" Because you can just show it and say "No" to someone's combo that would have left you without any cards in your hand.
I agree with everything else, but I'm unsure about this one:

What combos are there that would leave you without any cards? IIRC, most of the take-that effects don't affect players with very few cards (5 or fewer).
 
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David Jones
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There are four attack cards:

Qebehsenuef: Each opp sacrifices card (5 or fewer exempt)
Bastet: Each opponent puts a card in your discard pile
Duamutef: Each opponent discards a card
Inner Sarcophagus: Each opponent discards down to 3.

So only 1 out of the four attack cards grants possible immunity. This does not meet any definition of "most" I've ever encountered. Also, Tyet Amulet can duplicate any of these cards. So its possible to have ten attack cards in your deck.

I remember having one game where one player got his deck down to six cards: Inner Sarcophagus, two copies of Qebehsenuef, and three others with high currency. He was cycling most of his deck through every turn and sacrificing something to offset his purchase. We were all having to discard 3-4 cards per turn leaving us with no significant actions, except maybe an entomb. I think this went on for four rounds and obviously ended badly for the rest of us. I don't think I've ever actually had a game where a player had to discard down to an empty hand, but it is possible.
 
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davypi wrote:
Qebehsenuef: Each opp sacrifices card (5 or fewer exempt)
Bastet: Each opponent puts a card in your discard pile
Duamutef: Each opponent discards a card
Inner Sarcophagus: Each opponent discards down to 3.
Well, Bastet actually increases a player's number of cards, so it cannot be used to make him discard his hand.

Qebehsenuef and Inner Sarcophagus don't affect players with three or less cards. (in our last game, one player actually had trimmed his deck down to three cards: two of the amulets (the one that allows you to bury a card from the pyramid if it matches the color of a card in your graveyard, and the repeat action one) and one other card I don't remember.)

So, Duamutef is the only unconditional discard effect.
 
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Andrew Morris
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jhaelen wrote:
What combos are there that would leave you without any cards? IIRC, most of the take-that effects don't affect players with very few cards (5 or fewer).


You just need one Inner Sarcophagus, plus any three of Duamutef Canopic Jar, Qebehsenuef Canopic Jar, and Tyet Amulet. I prefer Duamutef over Qebehsenuef, because you can keep it going indefinitely, whereas Qebehsenuef eventually runs out once you've pared your opponent down to a five-card deck. Your fifth card really needs to be a Book of the Dead for this to be viable, though. And if you put this five-card deck together, you can safely entomb your Offering Table.

I did this in a game with my wife.

Once.


jhaelen wrote:
Qebehsenuef and Inner Sarcophagus don't affect players with three or less cards.


That's not quite accurate. Inner Sarcophagus is pointless to play more than once, sure. But Qebehsenuef Canopic Jar only fails when your opponent's total deck size is five or or fewer.

So you can, for example, play the Inner Sarcophagus to knock your opponent down to three cards, then a Duamutef Canopic Jar, then follow it up with two Qebehsenuef Canopic Jars to get them to sacrifice the best two cards they held onto. Assuming they have at least seven cards in their deck, of course.
 
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Josh Zscheile
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Even though this thread is pretty old, I wanted to comment here. I just picked the game up recently, and after 3 plays with 2 players, I wonder if there is anything that could possibly beat trimming down your deck to 5 cards. It generally is beneficial in that it gives you full control over your deck, lets you always use the newest (and thus generally most powerful) cards and you get the most cards in your tomb for points. In our first game, I got a hint that less number of cards in your deck might be good, in game 2 I just did this and stomped my wife, and in game 3, she did the same thing and it pretty much ended in a stalemate.

I am a bit disappointed that there seems to be no viable strategy with many cards in your deck, but then again, I did not play this one much yet. Any hint on how to set up a bigger deck potentially superior to a 5 card deck?
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Graham Gass
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The cards that make your opponent discard can be good against that kind of deck. Iirc it's only the ones that make your opponent sacrifice that have the 5 card restriction. Chances are if your deck is five cards you didn't keep the offering table. Also the ones that put cards in the opponent discard can be used to put some crappy cards back in their deck.
 
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Josh Zscheile
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I just read about a potential strength of these cards. I'll keep an eye out for them as a potential counter tactic. Thanks!
 
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David Jones
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Dagar wrote:
I am a bit disappointed that there seems to be no viable strategy with many cards in your deck, but then again, I did not play this one much yet. Any hint on how to set up a bigger deck potentially superior to a 5 card deck?


One of the Age III blue cards lets you discard one card to draw three, allowing you to cycle a seven card deck most turns. That said, at the end of the day because you only get points for entombing, there is no strategy at all that would favor running a large deck. There are only two copies of each set card and acquiring a duplicate card usually means losing a unique card that would score you more points. There are some cards that are worth having duplicates of (one to entomb and one to keep for the ability) but again you have to weight this against the opportunity cost of your other options.

One thing that does jump to mind is that if you have a lot of cards with entombing actions, and I mean a lot, you can afford to run a large deck in the early game and then repeatedly use your entomb abilities in the last third of the game to get everything into the tomb for points. However, there is a lot of "if" coming off of this plan. Your opponents have to let you take the entombing cards, they have to not attack you, and you need to be able to acquire cards missing from your sets while you are entombing (usually with "take"s). It really is an advanced strategy and one that does not always work even once you know how to do it.
 
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