I am second. If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s a really cool movement meant to inspire people to live for God and others. They’ve put together powerful video testimonies of lives transformed by the Gospel, including people from pop culture. While I find these testimonies of God’s awesomeness inspiring, that’s not the focus of our discussion today. We’re going to venture back into the deep end of the pool to talk about why it’s good to go second in a two-player game of Redemption.
The First Turn Decision
In Part 2 of the “Know Your Role” series we talked briefly about playing first or drawing first based on your role. If you’ve been trying to apply what you learned in that series, you might have found that it’s not always easy to determine your role before the game has actually started. In those instances, how do you decide if you should play or draw?
There are a number of factors that often influence our decision. If you’ve been given the choice, that means you have the most Lost Souls to defend. Do you have the cards you need to stop a rescue attempt? Do you need to play a card, such as a Site or Artifact to help prevent a rescue? Can you afford to allow a successful rescue to start the game? Do you have the cards you need to begin implementing your strategy?
The Bigger Picture
While it’s important to consider the first turn, it’s inherently flawed to base our decision on that alone. We should be more concerned with the game as a whole! A game of Redemption will last a minimum of three turns. Most games go on for several turns.
Over the course of a game we make several one-for-one trades. You’ll trade your Christian Martyr or Unholy Writ for a Hero. You’ll trade an Angel of the Lord or an Enhancement like Bravery of David for an Evil Character.
If we continue to make one-for-one trades over the course of the game, who is left with more options to use for rescues and blocks as our hands wear down? It’s the player who drew three extra cards to start the game.
The 1st reason to go second is to win the war of attrition.
Playing the Odds
If you could start a game where your opponent has eight cards and you have your entire deck, everyone agrees that you’d be at a big advantage. One of the reasons is that you would have access to the optimal cards and combos you need to be successful against your opponent’s strategy. Playing second is like that, but to a smaller degree.
Starting your first turn with three more cards than your opponent increases your chance of having the exact cards you need when you need them. It helps ensure you’ll have a Hero and the optimal battle winner to use with that Hero. It helps ensure you’ll have that crucial block you need when you need it.
Going second also increases your chance of getting your key Dominants first. We’ve all been in a game where both players have three Redeemed Souls and are waiting to see who draws Son of God and New Jerusalem first. You want to do everything you can to ensure that it’s you.
The 2nd reason to go second is to increase the probability of drawing key cards.
The Mayhem Principle
If you’ve been playing Redemption for a few years you probably remember all the hype over first turn Mayhem. Players who drew Mayhem in the opening hand would play first. They’d play down characters and other permanents, reducing their hand to as low as one card. On the opponent’s turn, after the opponent drew three, the first player would use Mayhem, resetting both hands to six, giving them a huge swing in card advantage.
With the errata to Mayhem, eliminating the chance to be set back significantly if you play second, going second gives you a much smaller “first turn Mayhem” type effect. You begin your first turn with roughly 37% more cards than your opponent.
The 3rd reason to go second is raw card advantage.
There are going to be times when it’s absolutely the correct play to go first. Those are usually best-case scenario, where you have the optimal draw for your deck, allowing you to quickly overcome the inherent card disadvantage of going first.
We’re focusing on what’s normal. The average-case scenario if you will. In an average game, with an average draw, given your opponent also has an average draw; it’s to your advantage to go second. Starting the game with card advantage and better consistency means your deck will be more likely to do what it’s designed to do.
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