thread on the message boards, sparked by my article from last week, “Push Button, Receive Bacon“, has quickly blown up with a variety of thoughts and ideas about not only The Angel Under the Oak, but drawing in general. That raises the question, is drawing really a problem?

Is AUTO’s draw ability bad for the game?

To answer, I want to continue to focus on The Angel Under the Oak (AUTO) to better explain why I singled him out as something in need of attention. It really comes down to lack of variety. The results show that top players feel they have a better chance to compete with AUTO than without him. If a single card is so good that the majority feel they need to play it to compete, it’s an indication that there’s something unhealthy in the format.

What is it about AUTO that makes him so great? Is it the draw 2? Is it the exchange for a Hero and banding combos that can be used with it? Is it the uber protection he offers Gideon? Is it the fact that all these things cannot be negated? Each of those items could probably have it’s own article. Today I’m going to focus strictly on the cannot be negated draw 2 and the free card advantage it offers.

What is card advantage?

Card advantage is an important part of most collectible card games. For those that aren’t familiar with the term “card advantage”, it’s a term used to describe the use of game mechanics to acquire more cards than your opponent. If all things are equal, the player with more cards available to him or her will likely win. More cards equals more options. There are several ways to obtain card advantage. Zeal for the Lord can produce card advantage by trading your 1 Enhancement for 2 of your opponent’s Evil Characters. Lampstand of the Sanctuary can produce card advantage by making your opponents Burial, Falling Away and Shipwreck ineffective. In that example Lampstand costs you 1 card but stops 3 of your opponent’s cards.

Drawing is a common way to obtain card advantage in Redemption. Cards like Reach of Desperation have been around since the games infancy, allowing you to trade 1 card for 3. A draw ability on an Enhancement will cost you 1 card since the Enhancement can normally only be used once per game. Since a Hero can be used over and over, assuming it survives the battle, a draw ability on a Hero essentially has no cost.

There are multiple things that make AUTO’s draw ability so good. First, instead of a draw 1, which we see on most Heroes with a draw ability, he draws 2. That allows us to trade 0 cards to gain 2. Normally a Hero will need to survive the battle in order to use his draw ability again. AUTO gets around this by exchanging with gold Judge. He gets to exit the battle so he survives to use his ability again the following turn. To top all this off, he cannot be negated, meaning that there is little your opponent can do to stop this from happening. All this equates to what is probably the most effective one card draw engine in the game.

If drawing is such a great source of card advantage, why don’t we all just load our deck full of draw cards?

Drawing, for better or for worse?

Drawing comes at a cost. Yes, you may get more cards than your opponent, but you’ll inevitably also draw your Lost Soul cards giving your opponent something to rescue. If your opponent is not drawing extra cards there’s a chance you’ll end up waiting around for a Lost Soul to rescue. There are cards you can add to your deck to help with this, but the basic game mechanic of drawing and rescuing a Lost Soul helps to balance an over abundance of drawing. Even with the games drawing, by CCG standards, Redemption is not a fast game.

A game of Type 1 – 2 player Redemption takes longer than most other 2 players games in this genre. Many other games play a best 2 out of 3 match in the same time we complete one game of Redemption. I’ve hosted many tournaments and attended many more. In a tournament of a dozen or more people, it’s pretty common to see one or more games time out after 45 minutes of play.

We live in a “want it now” culture that demands a quick turn around, where the average attention span is as long as a sitcom. Would more people play Redemption if games were quicker? What if you could consistently get a full game in during your 30 minute lunch break? Would more people be interested in attending a Redemption tournament if rounds and events didn’t take so long? I can’t say that I know the definitive answers to these questions, but I do know that many people enjoy other games with similar mechanics to Redemption because they can get a game in quickly when they have a small block of free time. If they have a larger block of time it just frees them up to play more games.

More AUTO?

Maybe the problem isn’t AUTO. Maybe AUTO is good for the game because he helps keep it moving along. Maybe the lack of diversity is an indication that we need more cards like AUTO in other brigades and themes. If we have more cards that help fill your hand and more cards that help you get the Hero you need into battle, then maybe people will be less inclined to turn to AUTO. That alone won’t make games move along quicker, but it’s one step that will help.

You want everyone to play “speed”?

Some people have inaccurately defined any deck that uses draw abilities as a “speed” deck. A true “speed” deck, in it’s original form, was designed to draw the entire deck over the course of one or two turns. Using draw abilities in your deck doesn’t make it a “speed” deck. Drawing cards is just using the concept of card advantage to help you achieve your end goal – redeem Lost Soul cards.

A good deck will always include forms of removal for your opponent’s characters. It will include ways to deal with common counters to your strategy. It will also always include some method of gaining card advantage, one of the most commons forms being draw. With that in mind, most good decks are going to have some amount of draw mixed with other ways to gain card advantage. Competitive players will gravitate towards the forms of card advantage that offer the most benefit for the least cost. AUTO fits that description well.

Drawing is healthy.

Having effective and efficient draw abilities in Redemption is good for the game. Drawing helps games progress at a reasonable pace. Drawing gives players a tool to gain card advantage. This is the reason we’ve seen more draw abilities printed in Redemption in recent years. But like any card advantage tool, a draw ability with too little cost and too big a reward doesn’t create a healthy format. What do you think?

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