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Subject: Effects that care for the discard pile (in deckbuilders in general) rss

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Crazed Survivor
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Hi folks,

With the recent reveal of Psychic Eruption, I'd like to have a design and strategic discussion about a thing that I have trouble enjoying: effects that care for the discard pile.

I consider myself quite a seasoned deckbuilding players, with expertise in Ascension (everything up to War of Shadows), Vikings Gone Wild, Aeon's End, and having dipping my toes in Dale of Merchants (deeper than it seems), Tanto Cuore, Dominion, Star Realms, Hero Realms, and so on.

As such, I've seen several effects that care for the number of cards in your discard pile, or effects that let you move cards from your discard pile to different zones such as your hand or the top of your deck, and effects that simply let you destroy cards only from the discard pile.

Long story short, I find them unreliable, as the optimal play in a deckbuilder game that is not Vikings Gone Wild, is to cull your deck to maximize profit of your stronger cards (in VGW, deck thinning is not a good strategy, as the game is too tight and too fast. Every time a player focused on culling, they fell last and couldn't recover. I find that very interesting).

In Aeon's End, I've had trouble triggering Gex's starter card and personal ability, being hosed by the turn order card to the point where I couldn't use her starter 4 turns in a row, or having to way 1 to two turns to maximize her ability.
Long story short, it is quite often that I find myself wanting to use my discard pile, but cannot because I had to draw a new hand in the meantime, thus emptying said discard pile.

Now, Aeon's End is a different beast since, like in Dale of Merchant, you don't discard and draw 5 at the end of your turn, making it more likely to control your discard pile's size.
But in the facts, you still want to cycle through your deck as fast as possible to cast those sweet Blazes and Thermal Darts again.

Psychic Eruption is an interesting card that rewards suboptimal play: constructing a gigantic deck and slowing it down.
I can imagine it being extremely string in combination with Crystallize and Mazahaedron, where Maz would clog his deck with nothing but gems and spread the goods arouond with his unique starter. IF he doesn't get hosed by the turn order deck, that is. But to me it will always be a subpar and marginal card, just like Crystallize, when Monstrous Inferno and Devastating Scythe are the right play.

So here you have it: as a veteran player, I am not convinced by effects that care for the discard pile. They can be strong, but they are not reliable, and as such, are subpar strategies in my book.

What do you think, what can you add to the discussion? Let me know, I love seeing different strokes.

And please put me back in my place if I become uncivil

Did I mention I love Dale of Merchants? Please try Dale of Merchants.
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Andy Stanford
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It feels like the sort of effect that would work well in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle due to it being almost impossible to thin the deck (in fact completely impossible with just the base game), and the nature of the market almost forcing you to buy cards you don't necessarily want in order to get to the cards you really want.

Also certain market layouts in Dominion I could see it being effective, if there's no cards available that thin the deck. Or if going for Gardens, which encourage large decks.

So I can see how in some games, or in some situations, it can be a good ability, but like you I'm not convinced it's one that would be effective in AE.
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Travis Worthington
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I disagree.

When you play Aeon's End, you are channeling the void to build power. You don't control the void, and if you play with a random or semi-random market you don't choose the cards in the market.

Adapting your strategy, and working together as a team are some of the most interesting parts of playing the game.
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Nicholas P.
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4 player games have more discard piles to choose from, so it's much more consistent in that case. Psychic Scream is also more consistent than Gex because you can target yourself. That means it's possible to manipulate deck rotation in order for it to at the very least have your own discard pile. In a sense, as an 8 cost card, it synergizes especially well with high Aether strategies in general. There's also several ways to mitigate turn order by casting the spell out of turn, another thing you can't do with Gex.

Razoupaf wrote:
Did I mention I love Dale of Merchants? Please try Dale of Merchants.

I want to play that game...
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Crazed Survivor
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Thanks for your answers
Interestingly enough I had a game yesterday were Voidwalker Mist had 9 cards in her discard pile after snatching a couple spells from Jian (who truly underperformed). Psychic Eruption would have been interesting there although I couldn't have purchased it since I struggled to reach 5 aether to begin with.

Delaying the casting of spells is an interesting strategy but not one I use very often. But Voidwalker Mist can help prep the spell out of turn too.

@Travis Adapting to a random market is my favourite thing in Aeon's End so I will definitely have to learn to use that effect. It will be counterintuitive to me as I always tend to focus on high-grossing gems to reach high-damage spells and deal huge instances of damage in cycles.

Of course shield is going to throw all that off the window
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Nicholas P.
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Wisdom is a mechanism I'm excited about cuz, muh skill cap.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Shield doesn't really jive with my play style. I love throwing out insane amounts of damage with expensive spells and strong economy. Magus of Cloaks is fine since I know I need to adjust my play style. Neutral minions are randomized, so I kinda can't afford to play around them. If it becomes a problem I'll just remove them. After all, I already refuse to let Pulverizing Ray into 2 player games.
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mynameisthis wrote:
Wisdom is a mechanism I'm excited about cuz, muh skill cap.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Shield doesn't really jive with my play style. I love throwing out insane amounts of damage with expensive spells and strong economy. Magus of Cloaks is fine since I know I need to adjust my play style. Neutral minions are randomized, so I kinda can't afford to play around them. If it becomes a problem I'll just remove them. After all, I already refuse to let Pulverizing Ray into 2 player games.


Pulverizing Ray ain't that bad. I welcome it to solo games too
One thing I do though, is that I only play a Nemesis with the basic deck it came with. So everything War Eternal I play with War Eternal basics, everything AE I play with AE basics. I've tried mixing but I find it more enjoyable this way.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
So shield won't be a problem in that I will know it's around based on which Nemesis I play.
You can play around it by simply not destroying sparks, easy enough As for Magus, it's a bit different since excess damage carries over.


Anyways, by Wisdom do you mean the new Ascension keyword? I think I like it better than Echo because it will be easier to control with all the card draw in Ascension.

In AE you have more control on the thickness of your discard pile but if you want to have one when your turn to act comes it will mean not playing some cards in your hands
That said I've already seen that other players have a completely different playstyle, letting sparks hang in breaches when I fire them always.
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T Worthington wrote:

Adapting your strategy, and working together as a team are some of the most interesting parts of playing the game.


This is also one of my favourite part of the game. A wider supply of cards that allow new and different strategies can only contribute to a versatile and diversified and therefore better game.
While playtesting the discard dependend cards were for me one the most interesting innovations of Aeon's End Legacy, because it creates more possibilites to play the game. It was fun to play around with them after the campaign ends.
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Kha Od Dro wrote:
While playtesting the discard dependend cards were for me one the most interesting innovations of Aeon's End Legacy, because it creates more possibilites to play the game. It was fun to play around with them after the campaign ends.


Interesting, these are not the ones I chose to playtest
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I should mention that I also playtested some promo cards of the "Buried Secrets" expansion. I guess they weren't part of the legacy campaign.
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Kha Od Dro wrote:
I should mention that I also playtested some promo cards of the "Buried Secrets" expansion. I guess they weren't part of the legacy campaign.


We're taking about the same
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Razoupaf wrote:
Anyways, by Wisdom do you mean the new Ascension keyword? I think I like it better than Echo because it will be easier to control with all the card draw in Ascension.


"Wisdom" is actually the term used to refer to discard pile effects, as mentioned in the kickstarter update (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2012515236/aeons-end-le...). It's not written on any cards we've seen, but it's likely the term they'll use when discussing similar discard pile effects.

The big thing you'll notice about these effects is that if you're limited to your own discard pile and the effect is on a spell, Wisdom effects need particular care. The main reason is the timing of when spells are cast. If you cast a spell while your draw pile is almost empty and your discard pile is full, that also means that you're going to draw it at that point during the next go-around. And since you need to wait a turn between prepping and re-casting, this means that the next time you're able to cast it, you've likely just re-shuffled your deck. You can get around this with clever timing, holding cards, or 'cast a prepped spell' effects, but it will still need additional attention.

However, it's a completely different effect when you're dealing with any player's discard, and it becomes more powerful in 3 or 4 player games, when you can stagger the timing a little more, and cast it more reliably.
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Kevin 'qxc' Riley
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Wisdom is just the keyword we use to describe it internally although in the end we decided not to keyword it on cards.
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Funny since in this game, wisdom would have you keep a thinner deck and avoid buying too many cards
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Razoupaf wrote:
Funny since in this game, wisdom would have you keep a thinner deck and avoid buying too many cards


If wisdom had taught me something, than that things change (and we need to adapt to what the supply offers).
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Kevin 'qxc' Riley
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Razoupaf wrote:
Funny since in this game, wisdom would have you keep a thinner deck and avoid buying too many cards


Internal keywords/names for things rarely have anything to do with what the effect actually is.
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