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Subject: Hand and Deck Management for n00bs rss

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Mike Bott
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One of the common n00b laments I hear is "My hand is full of sucky cards!" In my limited experience, 99% of the time, if your hand seems to always be completely full of sucky cards, you're doing it wrong. It's POSSIBLE to get a run of bad cards to start, but that just means you're going to be strong and mobile late game. If you get a run of good cards at the start, you should CONSERVE them so that you can opportunistically play big cards when it really counts in the mid-game or end-game.

Let's look at the numbers:

There are 4 suits, and you have A-7 of each suit. This means that there is a very limited supply of 'good' cards. This means that if you play all your 5s, 6s and 7s in your first 12 turns, your hand is going to suck for the rest of the game. A sucky hand limits your choices. It’s really really hard to gain ground in the mid-game with a handful of sucky cards. You really want to be able to give at least two units that can work together Assault orders if you plan on pushing the enemy back at all.

It is pretty likely you're going to get most of the way (20+ cards) through your deck before the game ends. That makes it pretty unlikely that all your big cards will be buried at the end of the deck.

When you select a suit for a unit you're putting on the board, consider how many other cards you have remaining in your hand/deck that can allow that unit to act. A lopsided banner assignment due to a run of red or black cards in the early game can cause those units to falter in the mid-game or end-game. If for example, you do get a ridiculous run of red to start, you might consider taking ground rapidly with a red-heavy Vanguard and early Reserves in the early game, then bolstering those forces with black units from Reserve in the mid and late game.

Other tips:

Try to balance your banner selections. If you play a 7 of Hearts, don’t be afraid to bring a Diamond in from reserve for 2 Command Tokens, especially if you haven’t yet played a 6 or 7 of Diamonds.

Try to keep like-colored units that will tend to operate together near each other on the board. It’s easy to get into a traffic jam situation in the late game if you have red and black units mixed together up in the enemy’s grill (I'm told this is called 'Engaged').

Resist the urge to play big cards in early game just to move a bunch of units. A n00b mistake might be to play a 7 of Diamonds, and bring in 7 Diamond banners on your board edge. By the mid game, less than half of these will probably have made it to the middle of the board. The Diamonds stuck in your back row will just end up as target practice for your opponent’s Field Gun. Save the big cards for when it counts.

Playing smaller cards early before there are a lot of units on the board is a good way to control a fair amount of ground early and conserve your big cards to kill/repel the enemy in the mid-game. I like to try to hold one-two Capture Points by my turn 3 or 4, preferably one with my HQ, giving me an early Glory advantage, which forces the enemy to respond directly to my actions.

Hope that helps some n00bs experiencing deck management problems. Happy hunting!
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Steve DeBaun
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An excellent analysis! Hand and deck management is critical. Starting with a handful of high cards is not always good -- you can blow your wad early, and be left with a crippled deck for the rest of the game.

Just a note -- the deck is 24 cards (2-7), 28 was an earlier version.

Cheers,

sd
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Mike Bott
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Thanks!

Yes, I was surprised to find no Aces in my deck this past weekend. I like it a lot better that way, Aces sucked.

Blowing your wad can happen in a variety of ways--playing most of your red or black early can leave your units faltering on one of your flanks in the late-game.

It can make sense to reinforce a flank with opposite-bannered units so that you always have options.

It also pays to keep an eye on your opponent's played cards and unit banner mix. Often you can make risky moves when you know that it's very painful for him to respond. For example, if you know he's played most of his big black cards, and he has a black-bannered Field Gun with fields of fire over half the board, you can force him to make a tough choice: Act once and shoot with the Field gun, or act a few times and move/attack with other units, likely sacrificing the Field Gun to your onrushing units.
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Tod Hostetler
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Some patterns I've tried and loved (situationally dependent of course and your mileage may vary):

The buddy system:
Two units pair up with opposite suits of the same color and stick close. Someone pushes your buddy back, next turn you're set to return some punishment while you're buddy repositions. Works well with Lights, Mediums and Heavies, really anyone that relies on their Aim (+) Ability to maintain maximum effectiveness. Most especially Lights

The back scratcher:
You scratch mine, I'll scratch yours. Two units pair up with different colors, and stick within response range of attack vectors of the other. Regardless of which of them is attacked, the other can always retaliate. Works great with Mortars and Jumps, a little less so with Cavalry and Lancers. Any other combo will probably be in each other's LOS / Movement range when his partner is attacked, though.

The dirty pair:
Paired units of the same suit, that will always attack together. These girls will really want the rest of your army to stay away from using this same suit, so that you can use all cards of this suit for devastating one-two combos. Can work well with 2 Cavalry or Cavalry + Jump, and works Amazing Wonders with 2 Jumps.

You lock, I'll sock:
Similar to the dirty pair, but one unit is a fast moving sacrifice in the foreground that moves to Engage a unit that your Heavy in the background will then immediately fire upon. Recommended lambs: Lancers, Conscripts, recommended follow-up partners: Heavy, Field Gun. By keeping this pair on the same suit (or at least the same color) you can lock and sock all night long.

Liquor in the front, Poker in the rear:
Your Vanguard is all Red, reinforcements are all Black. Or vice versa. Anyways, each turn you're choosing to either advance the Vanguard and take/hold/deny points, or to advance the reinforcements and develop/support the Vanguard based on situation. This pattern lets you focus on one or the other on each of your turns, at only a mild sacrifice to situational response capability. Still, it can be an implacable, ever-advancing strat, if a little slow.

My red right hand:
Throw almost all of your reds to the right, and almost all of your blacks to the left. Or vice versa. Advantage, you have a Very Strong advance or response opportunity on either side, as needed. Disadvantage, a smart opponent can likely exploit this by counting your remaining cards in the Late Game. So don't let it get to the Late Game, and possibly better recommended for aggressive army builds.

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Tod Hostetler
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In previous post it may have been noticed that I'm a proponent of pairing units of like color. This could be same suit or different suit, and the pair's relationship may vary by range and role, but the principal idea is that it's two units that you want to be able to use at the same time, any time.

This kind of pairing arrangement invites a way of looking at card resource management that I think of as the Power of 4. I really think 4 is an important number to internalize when planning the use of your resource points. Here's why:

(2 onsuit units Attack) = 4
(offsuit Attack = 2 + onsuit Move = 2) = 4
(onsuit Move = 1 + offsuit Attack = 3) = 4

These three paired action possibilities are all pretty effective and useful, and as I'll explain below, efficient. Even if you're not pairing units, and even if you're not paying attention to the Power of 4, chances are you'll be using it in most of your plays. Nearly any play of a card from 4-7 can and (often) should involve one of the above three combinations, and here's why:

There's only one thing that a 5 can do that a 4 can't, which is an offsuit Attack + offsuit Move (5). There's only one thing that a 6 or 7 can do that a 4 can't, which is a pair of offsuit Attacks. Both of which are hideously inefficient uses of your best cards, so you will want to avoid situations where these combinations are necessary. They are NEVER advisable if you have a choice. That in itself is not news to anyone, but it helps highlight the Power of 4.

If you can avoid those two point-sinks, then all of your moves will be a fairly efficient use of the Power of 4, plus you might get some other stuff accomplished as well. For this reason, I don't think of the 5, 6, and 7 as such, but rather as a 4+1, 4+2, and 4+3.

2's and 3's are kind of weaksauce cards, always look for a way to burn them out of your hand in a way that gives good strategic bang-for-buck. If you see a way to use a 2 or 3 in a really good play, you should really consider taking it immediately... these situations don't arise often. I also try to use them early if possible.

4's, 5's, 6's and 7's are always MOST EFFICIENTLY used when you use the Power of 4 in your thinking. As I said before, it's going to be a factor in almost all of your moves, so why not be aware of it and use it to your advantage. Power of 4 thinking lets you consider most of your cards as 'power cards' whether you intentionally pair units or not, is a great and simple rule-of-thumb for deciding on suits for your units, as well as for for planning your actions.

Now go forth and destroy your enemies.
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