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A Game of Thrones: The Card Game» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Deck size, 60 cards VS 68 cards rss

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Villu Jahimaa
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Hello,

I am facing some troubles to get my deck to 60 cards, all cards what i add to my deck should work ok with others and don't want to leave nothing out. As many deck list i have read everywhere is 60 cards.
Question is what do you think will decks work not so good if there is for example 63-68 cards?
Maybe someone has made statistics how well cards come to hand if there is 60 cards or 68 cards
 
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Markus Unger
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There is no absolute truth regarding the deck size. A 63-card-deck is not automatically aweful and becomes awesome once you cut 3 cards.

The advantage of a very tight 60-card-deck is simply that you reliably draw the cards you want and need. Whenever I build a new deck from scratch, I usually also have a first version that contains somewhere between 65 and 70 cards. But by playing it a dozen or so times, I quickly realize what works and what doesn't, which cards looked beneficial in the beginning, but are probably tied to too many conditions.

Just play with your deck (and not just once or twice, but at least a dozen times) and then re-evaluate: which cards won you games? Which cards were the core of your mechanics? Were there cards that you always kept on your hand because you couldn't play them due to play restrictions that were seldomly met? Did you consistently have too much/too less of a certain resource (gold, influence)? Was your draw good enough? Was there an opponent's deck that you did especially bad against? Why was that: lack of attachment control, lack of location control, lack of claim soak, lack of stalling options against a rush deck?

With most decks you can then swap/cut cards, refine your tactics and in the end you'll most likely end up with 60 cards. Just remember: the less cards your deck has, the more you will draw the cards that you really want in a specific situation.
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Jimmie Andersson
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If you put in more cards you will draw the other less frequent. If you play casual it shouldn't be a big problem. And I guess there could be a build of some sort of deck where 68 would be the sweet spot and all the cards are really vital and you get to draw into them. But I think you should always try to get down to the cards you really want to draw and in the games I play we have never get to draw all the cards in our decks (not even when I have tried to "deck out" my opponent with Greyjoy ) so decks would be even better/more efficient if you could have fewer than 60 cards, so going over seems to be a bad choice (unless you have a big problem with Greyjoy discard, but then you should probably just run Selmy). I don't feel that I got my thoughts typed down here very well but I hope you get my general meening
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Drew Dallas
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Game of Thrones more than just about any other card game I've played is forgiving when running more than the minimum number of cards in a deck. Draw and Search are fairly prolific so occasionally it can be more useful if you deck is built to take advantage of such things to have the utility of the extra cards in exchange for the efficiency of a 60 card deck. I would still try to get as close to the minimum as possible but going 2 or 3 cards over isn't the end of the world
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If you look into it, a LOT of the world championship decks a not 60 cards most going over buy a couple, but one deck was in the ballpark of 70.

As Drew said, with search effects at your fingertips and most Houses some form of fair draw (or enough recursion that losing a good card is only a temporary setback) getting what effect you need when you need it is not that hard if you built enough redundancy into your deck.

Not to mention if you have ever studied statistics and looked into probabilities you already know that until you start approaching hundreds of samples (games in this case) your chances of getting precisely the card you need at any given point is hardly effected at all even by having an additional ten cards. That kind of edge of using card probabilities makes sense in poker where it is a static deck that never changes over time, but in a game where every month or two your deck is morphing by 2-6 cards you are unlikely to be able to really get the "predicted" results in the dozens of games you will play.

All that said simply including good or even great cards in your deck and ending up shuffling a brick is not going to get you good results either. You need to keep your deck fine tuned, well focused, with enough solutions to any weaknesses your main kill strategy may have that you are never completely lefty in a lurch. If you find your decks frequently staying at more than 69 cards you probably need to take a long hard look at what you are putting in and why.

I think a kill mechanic of about 20 cards is ideal, 10 cards devoted to resources to get those into play, and 20 cards meant to support that main strategy is ideal. That leaves you with 10-15 cards to fill in any holes, or exploit those of your opponent. If a card doesn't directly do at least one of these things it is a candidate for getting cut.
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Dave Maynor
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Well, hundreds of plays or not... math doesn't lie.

There is nothing more efficient than getting your deck down to the bare minimum of cards. This maximizes your chance to see each card. Then once factoring having 3 copies of certain (most) cards, you hit the optimal chance to draw into that card in a game.

Now, is adding 2 or 5 cards going to drop that percentage change dramatically? Maybe not. It is not a huge reduction in the statistical probability, but it IS a reduction. So the deck is by definition less efficient.

Some will argue that there are cards powerful enough to warrant their inclusion, even if this magical number of efficiency was to drop. BUT the rational counter to that is... remove another card if you want to make room for a card that is so powerful. Ideally you want to stay at your minimum deck size, and hence be at maximum efficiency. And if a card seems too good not to add, make room for it by removing a less stellar card.
 
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I always laugh when someone brings up math without doing real world checks as if it existed in a vacuum. Actually to get the numbers you are talking about to make any difference (hint fractions don't count since you can't actually draw a part of a card) you need to operate the deck under identical circumstances not just a couple hundred of times but a thousand or more. That means no changing your deck or changing your plots.

I am not saying that you don't want an effect represented the maximum number of times in a deck that is as small as can be functional, I am just saying that the math you are trying to use to prove what that number is fails. You would be better off trying to use the Drake equation than straight hypogeometric. And again when you have the ability to search for any toolbox card you need drawing into an effect is not the end all be all.

In short your entire premise fails because it doesn't take into account the complex nature of the game. This isn't poker where the statistics of drawing a card or two can tell you whether or not you are increasing your chance of winning the game in an easily predictable way. That card that you need in game one is a dead draw in game two. There are few combos that end the game outright in AGoT. Because of that the very idea of drawing into a specific card rather than being able to search your deck for what ever that answer is, becomes questionable.
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Dave Maynor
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But... it in no way invalidates the simplest truth. If you add 1 card over 60, your chances for EVERY card is reduced. How much or which card aside, your chances are lessened. This is a basic undeniable truth.

We can also look at cards that are unique, have 2 copies or have 3 copies and see how this plays out. Sure, none of them can speak to the fact that the card will be useful in a match, or a dead draw. But you CAN say with what frequency you will draw into a 3 of card in a given circumstance, just plug in your definition of what that 3 card set represents.

But going even 1 card over 60 reduces your chances for every card. Math is math.
 
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You are determined to be right aren't you. I am not disputing the probability of drawing a specific card. I never did. I am disputing the entire premise that drawing a specific card matters and that the way to increase probability actually improves game performance. That last shouldn't even be argued by anyone who has played this game.

You are trying to reduce the game to one of numbers in building your draw deck which is by far and away the least important aspect of this game.

Your plot deck is far more important, a significant number of the top players will build their plot decks first or with the draw deck.

The strategy you employ in the game, and your ability to switch said strategy, are both more important. The only thing the draw deck is actually more important than is tactics.

But if you don't believe me lets meet on OCTGN some time on Sunday. I will play a 65 card deck with a number of cards appearing x1, x2, and x3. You play a 60 card deck with all your cards x3. We'll play however many games you want and see who racks up the most wins.

The rules of the game vastly limit the usefulness of your hypothesis when actually applied. This is the difference between theoretical science and applied science. If when tested the results achieved do not match those projected either the hypothesis is wrong, being misapplied, or simply cannot be determined to have any effective result due to the medium.
 
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Dave Maynor
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Hehe, not sure why you are getting confrontational. But are you saying that your 65 card build will be better than you yourself making a 60 card deck out of the same build? If you make those hard choices, and get rid of the least effective cards to get down to 60 your deck will be less effective/efficient?

I am new to the game, and quite impressed with the 'subtle complexity' of all the things you have mentioned. The plot deck, and switching gears. I especially love it for Melee games, really great stuff. But if you ever put a card in your deck that ONLY works with 1 plot in play, you have to consider there may be a better card/plot combo that is more generally effective/efficient......

ALL games of chance come down to raw mathematics. If there is any random element, math is there. And clearly, higher probabilities are better than lower, no matter how miniscule. I used to be a 61 card deck guy in VS... I was the 2 extra rings in L5R don't matter guy also. I fought this tooth and nail for about 3 or 4 years.

However, after all the big tourney winners from those games, and every online math major writing volumes upon volumes of game theory online... I finally see it. decks over minimum aren't bad decks... but they are by definitiaion less efficient, no matter the rule set their exist within. My efficient 60 card, may have worse cards than your less efficient 65... and I have no doubt that would be the case. But for an individual with his sole deck building knowledge, and same pool of cards... if that person builds a 60 versus a 65... with the same structure going in... the 60 is the better deck.

The only exceptions to this are if the game allows cards to replicate, or replace themselves to an added effect. But if your cap on cards is 3, then this is still a limit. Only in a game where you might have an army type card, which you can add unlimited copies, can you even thing of the math being different.

But let's be clear. I am not saying that any deck over 60 is bad. Far from it. But bad and less efficient are 2 different things.
 
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It isn't me being confrontational, it is me willing to prove that I am correct. And yes I am saying that my 65 card deck will out perform my 60 card deck.

And your definition of inefficient is incorrect. There is a minor reduction in the probability of drawing any given card that is measurable for each card that is added to the deck. But again you cannot draw fractions of card so fractions of a percent will not have any real impact on a game you are in. It is only when the inclusion of extra cards moves the card draw probability from a fraction to a whole number is it something you can measure within the terms of the game rather than in terms of the math. Let me put it another way... If I am charged $5 for every 1 hour I park my car in a garage there is not ever any difference in what I am charged from 1 second to 60 minutes. Nor is there any difference between 60 minutes and 1 second to 120 minutes. The reality is exactly the same despite the math saying each minute is worth a set amount it just doesn't matter until you reach a specific threshold. If your chances of drawing a card in a 60 card deck is .10% greater than drawing that same card at 61 there is no functional difference in a game.

In most games (especially this game) you will only ever see a action of your cards anyway. The minimum number of cards the maximum amount of times will only shift your probability of seeing such a card when you need it through draw a finite amount. The only way you will ever approach the proper number of times seeing that card that stat arches your statistical model is when you are somewhere in the 800-1200 games. This is what the math actually says when you do a full analysis. What you and most of the people writing these papers completely fail to do is continue the modeling. You arrive at a conclusion you like, a number that makes you feel confident, and simply stop. But if you car going to try and reduce it to numbers they have to be the right numbers, achieved in the right way, and applied correctly with all relevant information accounted for. And you aren't doing that. When was the last time you played a deck of any game for 800 games in a tournament with no switching of cards? Do you even play this way socially outside of a competitive event? Most players make frequent changes to their decks as new cards are released and to achieve the 800 games before the next release you are looking at roughly 300 hours of playing in a month. Are you starting to see how unimportant the statistics you are quoting really are yet?

I am okay if you don't believe me, there are programs available that you cause to run these numbers. I encourage you to do so. Or you can do it yourself with pen and paper and a designated card. Just shuffle a deck and play a set up hand and then draw until you get the card you are looking for. Record how many rounds of draws it takes until you get to that card. Do this until your average number of draws matches the projection. Then add an addditional card to your deck and follow the same format. Compare the numbers. Add an additional card and do it again. At some point you will notice that there is a real effect, but it isn't going to be where you seem to imply it will be. And this is not even taking into account actual game play.

And that is the biggest problem. This is not Texas Hold 'Em, he'll it isn't even Magic. Your chance in poker of winning any particular hand or game, or tournament is based entirely on an unvarying set of combinations of cards showing up at any given moment, and nothing your opponent does is going to affect that probability. Period. You can play the probabilities in poker and win or lose based purely on those numbers and as long as you have the money to play enough hands you will eventually get the numbers needed to win a statistically predictable amount of times. In Magic you have game winning combinations that when the right set of cards come into play together your opponent can either immediately stop it or the game is over. This does not really exist in this game. There are exceedingly few if any functional combination of cards that automatically end the game, and most of the ones that do end the game by combination of cards are not immediate enders but take a span of time, multiple actions and isome cases phases or even turns each which give your opponent an opportunity to stop the combination.

This means the in game decisions made are more important than drawing any one card or even any combination of cards. Because of this you have champion players who use psychology as much as strategy to defeat their opponents. Nate French is known for throwing in single instances of events in his decks because his opponents assume that he has two more in his deck. They start altering their own strategy, playing more aggressively or more cautiously in anticipation of a card they will never see played again. The psychological edge is his. The cards text effect and how it affected the board was pretty unimportant, but it's effect on the player is what he is depending on. He bluffs and manipulates people in the game by playing on assumptions that are wholly invalid.

How did he get to be one of the best players this game has ever seen if he so casually disregards the idea of min-maxing? The answer is because he understands the deck is only a small portion of the game, really the smallest, but it how you play the game that determines victory in any given engagement. Damon Stone the newest designer for the game talks about the importance of viewing the game as a strategy game, something where math is useful for predictions of behavior, of yourself, your opponent, your deck, his deck, but never more important than your ability to play the player. Reading the meta-game has more to do with deck building, he has said, than pushing probabilities. Then again he apparently has a background in psychology and was a marine, so to here him go on about strategies and contingencies and how to predict your opponents behavior and force him into sub-optimal decisions based on what you play and how you play it is interesting. I have sat across the table from both men, and while they play very differently one thing is very clear, Nate pays only minimal attention to the cards in his deck appearing a maximum number of times and Damin pays only a little attention to the minimum deck size.

Which brings me full circle, that a deck that is the minimum size and includes each card the maximum number of times is not a more efficient deck, if you are defining efficieny as a deck that allows the player to reach the win condition first the most frequently. That is, IMHO, the only measure of efficient worth considering.
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As to why the 65 would outperform the 60 is because I could ensure there were more solutions to your deck, more varied means of forcing my own will upon, you or the board, and more bluffs, and because I don't know what you are going to play, that adaptability is strategically more important than a smaller deck that has me very focused in what my deck is capable of.
 
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Jimmie Andersson
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Quote:
Let me put it another way... If I am charged $5 for every 1 hour I park my car in a garage there is not ever any difference in what I am charged from 1 second to 60 minutes. Nor is there any difference between 60 minutes and 1 second to 120 minutes. The reality is exactly the same despite the math saying each minute is worth a set amount it just doesn't matter until you reach a specific threshold.


This kind of sounds like you're saying that there will be no difference until you reach 120 cards
 
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I would disagree. First because you would be disqualified, second because I am not arguing against the basic premise that a smaller deck is going to render a greater chance of drawing any given card.

What I am arguing against is the misapplication of the math being quoted and the lack of understanding that you must always remember the real world use of the theories being argued.

Search trumps draw. That card advantage is MUCH larger than draw, and depending on the faction and build much more important. The game does not have a strict heirarchy for winning hands. That strategy trumps deck building. That citing a statistic does not mean you understand what it means in context, and being able to calculate a probability is not an insurance that you will achieve the predicted result anywhere near the frequency that the model gives you without an excessive number of games played that does not bear much resemblance to how most of us, even the competitive players amongst us. Most active players test a deck 15-25 times and make changes to their deck. If you want to use this particular means of predicting probability you must test upwards of 800 times to really start seeing the patterns develop.
 
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