Let's keep the dice rollin'
Got any Meeples?
As I continue to gain experience with the wonderful game of Conquest, I often receive great questions from newer players or players who want to improve their overall game. These questions sometime lead to fantastic conversations on the more complex game theory and deep personal reflection as to how we all can become better players.
One of the recurring questions that gets brought up is whether or not to take the mulligan. And most of the advice is very simple, such as “Don’t mulligan if you are looking for a great hand and already have a good hand, you could end up with a worse hand.” But that begs a lot of questions: what is a good hand? What is a great hand? How can I tell?
As a result, I wanted to make this post to set a simple measuring tool to help understand these questions. While I know that I am not the best player in the world, I am far from the worst so I do feel that what I have to say holds some validity while still containing imperfections that we can all hone through discussion on this thread. In this post, I will be talking about five areas of your opening hand that should be examined during the decision process of whether to take a mulligan: first-turn cost, key cards, first-turn actions, command units, and combat units.
Please don’t message me later and say that you used this system during a tournament, and it lost you the game because you drew a worse hand. There is still a level a variance in this system that cannot be controlled and this system has nothing to do with what is actually in your deck.
This is the easiest of the factors because you can directly compare it to the amount of resources with which you start. Look at your hand and plan out a simple outline of your first deploy phase and any events (interrupts or reactions) you may want to play at the beginning of the command phase, calculating how much you are going to have left over before comparing command icons during the command phase:
4 or more resources: -5
3 resources: -2
2 resources: +0
1 resources: +1
0 resources: +2
One of the main things that can help you in this game is to delay how much information you give to your opponent during your first turn. The number of cards you can play can have a huge influence on this because it can force your opponent to run out of deploy actions before you do. Count the number of cards you should have remaining in your hand at the end of the deploy phase:
1st Player: +0
2nd Player: +1
6 cards: -3
5 cards: -1
4 cards: 0
3 cards: +1
2 cards: +2
1 card: +4
0 cards: +7
Each Action that you will be able to do but does not require playing a card or spending resources (for example: Ammo Depot): +1 for each action
Key cards are those that will elevate your gameplay early in the match. Most signature attachment/location cards (Kymera Den, Ragnar’s Warcamp, etc.) are key cards, though some signature cards are not (ask yourself, how much will this card help me in the long run). Some other cards that are not signature can count as great cards to play early: Ksi’M’Yen Orbital City, Catachan Outpost, Ambush Platform, Ammo Depot, any of the faction reducers (Fortress-Monastery, Bigtoof Banna). They are cards that if played the first or second turn will quickly help gain an economic advantage or increase the strength of units during a battle early in the game which will exponentially grow as the game goes longer and longer. Count the number of cards that you feel are key and compare:
0 cards: +0
1 card: +2
2 or more cards: +5
Units are the main economy makers in Conquest and as such, it is always a good idea to have something that will earn some cards and some resources early in the game. Count the number of units with at least one command icon that you plan on playing the first turn and apply the following rubric:
1 unit: -1
2 units: 0
3 units: +1
4 units: +3
5+ units: +5
If you are playing a choke deck, multiply this number by 2.
Lastly, you want to count the number of combat units that you can put into play during the first turn. Combat units are harder to define, but because a measurable value needs to be assigned for this system to work, I tend to use anything that has an attack value plus hit point value total over four and a minimum attack value of one (so no Sanctioned Psykers) is considered a combat unit. Apply the following points with your combat units:
1 unit: +1
2 units: +2
3 units: +3
4 or more units: +4
If you are playing an aggro deck (a deck that specializes in putting a lot of pressure in the combat field, especially early game), multiply this value by 2.
After you have used the rubrics, add up all the points. A simple method is if the number is 8 or higher, keep your hand. If you want a more accurate method (for a competitive level) simulate 50 starting hands and tally the points. Find the average point total and as long as your total is equal to or higher than the average points, do not mulligan.
For quick reference, see this table:
While using the rubrics provided, you can have a better system than “gut feeling” as to whether you should mulligan or not. I know that this system is not perfect and it takes out a lot of the human element to the equation, but sometimes that isn’t a bad thing.
If you have any other thoughts, feel free to add them to the comments below.
- Last edited Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:14 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:32 pm
Dark Side of the Moon
Serving the Emperor since 1971
You have an intriguing, if complex, system here.
One thing is that I think 8 pts is too high to "keep." Consider if you have 2 res left (0), 3 cards (0), 1 key card (1), and three units with comm icons and atk values 1+ (1) and (3) yields 5 pts. It would mean having 1 cost units with comm icons - not a common hand, but I think I would keep that hand in just about any deck. Heck, add a promotion in there and I lose 1 pt based on cards left in hand.
Maybe the total pts should vary based on faction and style - as you have with altered some rubrics based on choke and aggro.
In an opening hand I like to see one support and at least 2 units I can play. I prefer 3 but resources might prevent me from playing all three. Also, as you have mentioned, some of the signature support cards in your opening hand are so powerful that those will really tilt me to keeping if I think I can recover from the rest of my "bad" hand - assuming it's bad. If I have two units I can play and the sig support I'll keep that in overwhelming frequency.
Thanks for doing this. It's definitely a good thought exercise.
Let's keep the dice rollin'
Got any Meeples?
You will notice that I state the best system is to adjust the points to your deck through multiple draws and finding the average score of those draws.
8 points is the basic system, but that will only get you so far.
The system I use is just "Can I play 3+ army units" or have some other factor that makes less than 3 acceptable to me. I don't like mulliganing an alright-kinda bad hand because hands can get so much worse.
- Last edited Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:40 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Oct 29, 2015 9:39 pm