In preparation for the State, Regional and National tournament season this summer, we’re going to jump head first into some deep waters. We’re going far beyond the basics to talk about the subtle differences that separate an average player from an elite player. Understanding and applying these principles will greatly improve your game. If playing competitively is your thing, take a deep breath and jump in with me…
This mini-series is based off a classic strategy article called “Who’s the Beatdown?” written by Mike Flores for the game MTG. Many of the principles he presented apply to any strategy game. I’m going to take the time to translate them into Redemption terms for the benefit of our community.
In parts 1 and 2 we laid the foundation for knowing your role and expanded upon that with a few practical applications. If you haven’t ready read the first article you’ll want to gain that foundational knowledge before reading further.
Redemption is a game of hidden information. Apart from using a special ability, players do not know one another’s hand or deck. By tactfully misleading your opponent, you can sometimes get them to assume the wrong role, furthering your advantage.
For example, during the 2010 tournament season I played a Type 2 deck that used Zebulun as the primary win condition. The deck also used Jacob and Captain of the Host (CotH) for the powerful banding combo. Several times my opponent’s gave me a “free” Lost Soul because I would reduce my hand to a very small size and push Zebulun into battle, even though CotH was on the table. These opponents took the bait and assumed that Zebulun was ignoring their Evil Characters even though his ignore ability was not active.
In that example, I bluffed being the momentum player, leaving my opponent feeling like the responsive player, with no response available to them. All the necessary information was laid out on the table. Bluffing can be even more powerful when it involves hidden information in your hand.
An experienced player has a good idea of what’s in an opponents deck based on the cards they’ve seen. The player can deduce what may be in another player’s hand based on that information. You can use that to your advantage.
You’re playing a purple offense but do not have the Enhancements you need to make a successful rescue this turn. Your opponent has several Evil Characters in territory that could block. By pushing a small purple Hero into battle your opponent will probably assume that you have Authority of Christ promo in your hand. If all the blockers would cause you to have initiative, the opponent might opt not to block at this point to prevent you from discarding all Evil Characters.
If that bluff is successful, you’ve deceived your opponent into believing that you are the momentum player when in fact you were not. You were able to trick the opponent into giving up his proper role.
The Sure Thing
There reaches a point in every game where the outcome is inevitable. Sometimes the game doesn’t reach that point until the turn the game ends. Sometimes the outcome is established several turns before the winning player has even rescued a Lost Soul. “The outcome of a game is inevitable if, and only if, a player will win the game from their current position.”
“Decisions in the very early game (say turn 1) can affect which player has inevitability in the game at hand.”
In a game where you’re the momentum player, getting a slow start (either through not drawing Heroes or not having Lost Souls to rescue) could allow the opponent to establish a defense you cannot break through.
On the other hand, if you’re the responsive player, failing to establish control of the game early enough will result in the opponent gaining too much momentum for you to overcome.
While it doesn’t guarantee the outcome, it’s good to note, “When two decks have the same end game, generally the faster one will be favored”.
A Bad Matchup
It is possible for one player to be both the momentum deck and the responsive deck.
Sometimes you can face a deck you are simply not prepared to beat. Maybe you’re playing an offense heavy deck with a lot of potential rescues. You want to be the momentum deck. But your opponent is playing Site lockout.
If you haven’t included a decent amount of Site access in your deck, the game may progress for a while before you find access. When you do, the lockout player is prepared to quickly eliminate your access.
Because you have a small defense the lockout player is able to exhaust the few blocks you have rather quickly and assume the role of both the momentum deck and the responsive deck. In this one-sided example the lockout player has defined the terms of the game.
Now that you’re familiar with the two roles that every deck must play, you’ll be able to take that into consideration, starting at the deck building stage. Determine your role correctly in game and make decisions that support your role. When the opportunity arises, even take away your opponent’s role.
I wish all of you the best of luck at your State, Regional and National Tournaments this summer. Remember, above all else, this is a game. Have fun and enjoy it!
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