The late Steve Jobs once said, “My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”
Now it was easy enough for him to say that while he and his company, Apple Inc., spent their efforts having us reach into our wallets for the new iPhone every holiday season. And since his passing, Tim Cook, his replacement at Apple, has continued that trend of releasing high end electronics at the peak of shopping seasons. That would be to say they are capitalizing on time in a sense different from the aforementioned quote. But nonetheless it shows how time can be manipulated and used to gain an advantage, all while still being the single greatest resource each of us have.
When you apply that principle of thought to the game of Redemption, it can potentially help you become a much better player. Our game doesn’t have Mana, Energy or Life as a chief resource within its gameplay. Instead, the only resources you have are the cards you have and time, as it relates to number of turns you may get to achieve your win condition. And, if you learn to manage the time aspect of it and utilize it to your advantage, it can increase your chances of success.
This was a topic broached during a district tournament where I paired up with Jay Chambers in the opening round. After getting throttled by his deck that paired Tabernacle priests with demons, we sat there talking about some of the intricacies of deck building. Being that I am a newer player (started in 2019) and am just getting into the competitive tournament scene, I am always asking questions and engaging with experienced players in order to improve. It was then and there that this thought of time as potentially your greatest resource was planted in my mind. Since that day, I have spent several random moments in time coming back to it and trying to really wrap my head around it and understand it fully.
I’ll explain it like this: In T1-2P, your goal is to achieve the only win condition in the game by rescuing five Lost Souls before your opponent does. Everything you do from the moment you start to build your deck should be getting you closer to that end goal. Most games in Type 1 are going to give you three turns if you go first, and you can count on at least two if you go second. How you use your resources in the game determines if you add to the time you have to achieve your win condition or not. And apart from some slick combo opportunities, the player that wins will generally take three turns to rescue three souls via battle to pair with the Son of God and Second Coming rescues.
For example, say your opponent goes first. Now thinking consciously about time as a manageable resource, you are behind, as your opponent can reasonably win in three turns before you get to your third turn unless you utilize your resources (cards) to disturb the flow of the game. If your opponent rescues a soul on turn one, then he maintains his advantage over you. Then if you win a Lost Soul on your first turn it doesn’t provide any change, as you are simply maintaining the pace of the game where you were already behind. However, if you get a successful block on your opponent’s first turn, you have nullified his lead in managing the time of the game and have drawn even (in regard to time). A successful rescue on your next turn would then keep you even with your opponent even if he rescues a Lost Soul on his next rescue attempt.
I recently played in a regional tournament in Knoxville, TN where I won with a counter heavy Genesis deck that utilized a ton of the new Genesis support from Lineage of Christ. I took that same deck that had won and ran into Jay in the district tournament I mentioned earlier, and it didn’t stand much of a chance. Now, competition level does matter. A veteran player that has made top cut at Nationals before versus a field of players that haven’t made it that far yet definitely played a part in the disparity of my results. But it’s much deeper than that. Jay understands how to manage his resources better as a player than I do at this point. And chief among those resources is time.
Veteran players understand the “game within the game” better than most newer players do. Most of them probably no longer even think of time when they play because it has become second nature to them. They are able to flow with the game and the various roles they play within the game. Learning how to effectively manage your resources will make you better at playing the game within the game and also grant you more flexibility in using your resources within the context of each game you play.
When I first came to the game of Redemption, I read up on the boards to find out what the commonalities were between the decks that were winning tournaments. After viewing a few deck lists, my biggest take away was that speed and turn one setup ability was the most common factors among winning decks. Without knowing any better, I ran with just that information without solid context.
So from that jumping off point, every deck I built I came up with a dream turn one scenario and tried to make every game start with me having a menacing board setup after turn one. I would burn so many resources to have that setup that it limited my options in mid to late game situations. Now understanding the time aspect and how it relates to the eventual outcome of most games has allowed me to start to approach deck building with a more analytical and thoughtful process versus the way I was opening each game with just reckless speed.
I am a pretty serious football fan, so I’ll use that as another way to explain this. The best coaches and play callers in football do not burn through their entire playbook and use all their best plays in the first quarter. Instead, they manage the game in a dynamic manner that flows within the context of what is happening on the field. They read the game as it unfolds and pick crucial moments in the game to use their best plays. It’s also why the best coaches are usually the ones that are the best at time management. Not every offensive possession ends in points scored, and that’s just part of the game. Football is a complementary sport, as the offensive and defensive units of a team must work together to achieve a successful outcome.
Now, I get that not many things translate between Redemption and football. However, the complementary roles that offense and defense (or rescuing and blocking) play within a game certainly does, or can rather, depending on your playstyle. Right now, decks are being built to achieve their win condition as fast as possible and most utilize chump blocks with minimal deck space allocated to defense for that purpose. So long as you’re rescuing a Lost Soul each turn, then chump block defenses are viable ones.
My buddy Jay and I debate this ALL THE TIME. Whereas I had made my mind up that you can win with five Evil Characters in main deck and one in Reserve with just a couple Evil Enhancements, he is a firm believer in having more balanced decks with slightly more deck space allocated to the defense. And, when it comes down to strictly looking at W/L record, I have to say that he does win more than I do. Again, experience is a factor in the disparity, but I have begun to look behind the curtain, so to speak, at the way he plays the game. Now understanding how you can utilize time to your advantage, I see how and why he is willing to allocate for more defense in his deck. Additional defensive resources in a game can help you skew the advantage of time in your favor.
One of the more useful articles I have found in the archives here on LoR is an article Gabe titled “The King of Beatdown”, where he applies the phrase “there are no wrong threats, only wrong responses” to our game. And what that means is that the burden is on the blocking player to have the correct answer for the rescue attempt that you present, as any hero has the ability to rescue a Lost Soul. Obviously, as the rescuing player, you want to have a strong rescue attempt that you believe can win you a soul, so as to not “waste” time and cause you to fall behind your opponent. But when you think about that and all the cards that can stifle a chump block, or minimalistic defense, it’s understandable why some players like Jay may be more willing to allocate for more potential responses on the defensive side.
Understanding the impact of time, in terms of turns, will allow you to approach deckbuilding in a different way. Applying time to the thought process as you plan and build your deck will give you a more broad view of how you can manipulate time in your favor in the game. This is why a lot of players use Falling Away as it directly affects the time within a game. It can help you catch back up in terms of time if you fall behind early. Guardian of Your Souls is another card that can help maintain your advantage in terms of time if you can consistently get to it early on, as it nullifies the opponents Falling Away. It’s important to note that those two cards will always operate on an equilibrium of sorts, as usage of one will dictate the other. However, if you can ever use both in a game, you will have significantly slanted time in your favor and increased your chances of winning dramatically.
Time being a precious resource in gameplay is also why battle extension is such a powerful mechanic of the game and should be considered in any deck where you can efficiently utilize it – both rescuing and blocking. In my Genesis deck that I mentioned, I used both Matthew’s Begats and You Will Remain to maximize my chances of winning a Lost Soul with each rescue attempt. If you build your deck to take advantage of resources like these that can maximize your chances to reach your win condition in as little as three turns while also limiting your opponent’s ability to do the same, you will put yourself in a good spot competitively.
Had I been thinking about time and how valuable of a resource it is as I planned and built my decks, I would have replaced some of the cards that were in there simply for setup speed with something that made my rescue and/or block attempts stronger and, ultimately, got me closer to my win condition. And that’s not to say that having a great turn one setup is a bad thing, quite the contrary, but when it comes at the detriment of your ability to manage time effectively the rest of the way, you need to play in a more complementary manner. Learning that has been a difficult lesson through my first full year of playing the game. But now that I have a thoughtful grasp on it, I should be able to use that to build my decks in a way to have more dynamic responses to things the opponent does, all while trying to gain and maintain a time advantage on the opponent.
So when you go back into the lab and work on tweaking your current decks or building a new one, think about time in terms of turns and how you can build your deck in a way that will allow you to manipulate that to your advantage. As the game unfolds, keep up with how many turns you potentially have to get to your win condition, and play the “game within the game” to use that to your advantage. And have an idea in mind of what your ideal turn one looks like, but don’t get so caught up in failure and success on turn one that you jeopardize your chance to manage the game beyond that. Also, think about how your deck will do going second and if there’s a way to mitigate your opponent’s time advantage in that scenario. Thinking about these things as you build your decks will allow you to play much more prepared in the actual games.
Now as I write this, just know that I am not a player that has a wealth of Redemption experience or knowledge. I am still feeling out the competitive tournament scene and these are just some thoughts that I believe will aid me in building more formidable tournament decks in the future, so I wanted to share it with the community. Feel free to share your comments down below and let me know your thoughts on managing time within the game and how much you think it can directly affect your chances to win games.
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