Hi there, I'm BrTarolg. I'm currently 1944 in ranking and sitting around the top 50 of players. I'm a very theoretical player and I tend to spend more time thinking and understanding mechanics behind games like scrolls than actually playing it!
I first played mono energy, and then now I play mono order, both to a top100+ rating so I feel I have a good grasp on the decks and the meta behind them.
That being said, I've decided to write a short article about card advantage in scrolls.
--- What is card advantage?
Card advantage is, simply put, having an advantage in the number of cards you have over your opponent. This is a classic term well known and understood in all TCGs. There is only one thing you need to know about card advantage, and that is card advantage wins games
This is no less true for scrolls - it is no surprise that some of the most powerful cards in the game are cards which provide card advantage - imperial resources, fertile soil, etc.
Perhaps some of you will have faced a GO draw deck before - this epitomises the edge that card advantage brings. By delaying to the late game and only playing the most efficient scrolls (Kinfolk vet, sisters, quake for example), they ramp up a very quick card advantage to the point that in the lategame they have the resources and cards to do literally anything they want.
The reason why card advantage wins you games is twofold. Firstly, it gives you more options - allowing you to play the most efficient cards in the situation to do exactly what you need at that time. Secondly, it in many cases, provides more raw power - you may simply be able to play more cards than your opponent which gives you a raw edge
--- Tempo and Implied card advantage
So one thing that i'd like to introduce is playing scrolls with the viewpoint of card advantage. I hope to use this article to help guide players who have a fair grasp of the game (1600+), but lack the knowledge to play their decks correctly. One thing that i'd say on my climb to top 50 is that everyone makes mistakes - even people who are 2000+ still make gameplay mistakes
. However, without a framework to build upon, it can be difficult to spot what is a mistake and what isn't a mistake.
So i'm going to introduce 2 key concepts here - the first is implied card advantage, and the second is tempo.
Implied card advantage is a card that gives you some form of card advantage.
The most obvious example would be a card like Kinfolk Veteran, probably the best creature in the game. Kinfolk veteran has the power of 2 cards in one. It kills a creature with 3 hp or less, and then it places a 3/2/4 on the board. Thus it removes one of your opponents cards, and places a card of your own.
Tempo is the idea of having board control. Board control allows your creatures to activate (attack) more often. Every time your creature attacks, it deals damage. If your creature kills an enemy creature whilst doing so, you have gained 1 card's worth of advantage. However, if that creature whiffs and attacks a non-important idol or a dead row, then the card advantage has not changed.
Dalapin wrote a fine piece much more accurately describing what tempo really is
Tempo is a rather complex topic dealing with the efficiency of using resources: it is the rate at which you are playing threats. When you are playing threats (and keeping them on the board) faster than your opponent, that is tempo. Sparking their Kinfolk Brave from last turn and playing your own Gun Automaton is tempoing out your opponent. This act of tempoing out your opponent results in more board control, but the board control itself is not the source of the tempo. Your ability to answer their threats and play your own faster and more efficiently is the source of tempo. You'll notice in my previous example that even though there was no card advantage, tempo was gained because Tempo is not centered on value Playing scrolls from the viewpoint of card advantage
So I'm going to take this viewpoint of scrolls one step further and turn it into something that can affect our decision making and play.
Bear in mind this is a *very* complex subject, and as such it is difficult to express easily. Thus the way i will do it is simply by example. I'm going to take some replays of games I've played, and show you how I use the concept of card advantage in every situation. I'm currently on a 10(?) game winstreak and basically havn't really lost more than 1-2 games from 1800-1944 so I think my deck has potential to get to a much higher ranking than this, I just havn't had time yet!
So firstly, here is my decklisthttp://www.scrollsguide.com/deckbuilder/#5009
I ended up making this myself, but it turns out it's VERY similar to what Slin and Light plays. The theme of this deck is late game card advantage. The simple strategy is to get a huge and overwhelming card advantage without losing the game, so that i can then crush my opponent with 100% success.
The first game analysis we will do is on a game I played vs Light. He played an energy deck here. We have a little bit of chatter but it's all friendly
---Game 1: http://www.scrollsguide.com/replays/r/4197120
Turn 1: I have a lategame deck, and never play creatures before 3 res, so kabonk provides FREE card advantage and damage - never sac this early on!
Blessing of haste is a card that gives me early game tempo, allowing me to kill an enemy unit 1:1. However, I have no interest in this - right now i have no need for extra tempo, so this is the card to go first. Note it is very common for me to sac BoH and focus early on. Speed on the other hand, is vital for winning games as it provides HUGE lategame tempo that is required to win, and so must be kept
Energy. No need for ducal spearman, so hes off
Kabonk gives me free damage at no loss of card advantage. However, it costs me tempo as i don't play a creature this turn. Typically, vs an order player or a growth player, i would play a creature now, however i see not as great of a need of tempo vs energy
Pushback is a pure tempo card. It actually gives NEGATIVE card advantage. Generally, i only EVER use pushback if i *really* have to (i.e i have such a huge card advantage already that i can afford to stall with pushback) or against enchanted creatures, where it gives positive card advantage.
Right now, i have no need for tempo, so this card goes first
Now my opponent will be attacking and likely playing more creatures, so a little bit of tempo is good to stay safe, so i sac my skirmisher here instead of BoH.
Skirm is usually not a good card vs energy, as it is a prime target for burn. By not playing it whilst still playing my deck optimally, i ensure that i reduce the implied card advantage of my opponent (which is a huge weakness of energy)
Here my opponent has no imminent threat, whilst i am threatening his creature. I kept the BoH incase i needed the tempo. However, since there is no major threat on the board (such as automata forge, which provides a HUGE card advantage and quick tempo to follow it), i actually forgoe kiling his unit and play another one of my own. I know my enemy will have to run back to the middle, as he won't be able to kill mine without making a HUGE card advantage sacrifice to do so (if it is even possible - he would need to spend 2 cards + his creature dying at least to kill me)
I am beginning to run low on cards, and will soon need to sac for cards. Right now, whilst i don't need the tempo, the implied card advantage of a general is actually greater than that of a kabonk+waking stones, so i play the general here.
Here i have no real play unless i wish to topdeck for a 5 costing card, so kabonking the cannon is fine.
I play the stones to split the lane, as i know that by stalling the game i will build a big card advantage as order vs energy, and splitting is to my advantage.
Note to most that using stones to protect your units is generally a bad idea, as pother, tick bomb etc. are easy counters to this, and will cost you.
Mangonel is only good with speed, and i don't plan to fish for that combo when i have no imminent threat on me, i dont need the tempo yet!
Here pother has GREAT card advantage, and i get a +1 card advantage on my opponent already. by utilising an attack that would otherwise whiff for free, i gain a +1 to my card advantage here.
Here i also make my first mistake of using the stones to protect my units. I should expect a tick bomb or similar, which would nullify my card advantage (as his unit would attack and kill mine) back to neutral - playing 2 units on this row puts me at risk here. By playing my skirm a row down, it gives my opponent the threat of losing both tempo and card advantage if i can BoH my skirm next to kill multiple units if he tries t okill mine.
My opponent makes a big mistake here. He uses whip and copper to kill my vanguard. This takes two cards to kill just one! Neither of us has any tempo or major threats on the board, so why is this important? Now i am 2 cards ahead of my opponent
Since there are no threats, i play imperial resources. Imp-res gives me 1 extra card AND an extra resource over the normal, giving me 2 cards worth of advantage. This puts me at 4 cards ahead of my opponent already.
Here my opponent is beginning to show some threat of tempo on the board, so i use a transposition trick which gives me the option to mangonel+speed and potentially wipe him gaining huge tempo, using up my 4 card advantage to do so. However, i choose not to and instead continue racking up my advantage. By playing impres, i am now 6 cards ahead of my opponent!
I make a mistake here of keeping my units too close to his, i should move down the board.
Here i STILL feel i don't need to gain tempo yet. I am slowly but surely building up a huge advantage over my opponent. Soon i will be able to wipe him with mangonel + speed, utilising the advantage i have racked up throughout the game.
I use waking stones to stall again, NOT to protect my units. This is to help nullify threats on both sides, and to reduce the need for me to gain tempo in the game.
I next play general, which is the card which gives me the greatest implied card advantage (though scholar could do this too- however general is a better choice here as it also gives me more tempo options)
I finally decide it is time to gain some tempo. Since i have soo many cards and resources, there are many ways i can do this. I choose to only go halfway and take out his middle idol, whilst protecting my skirms below. I could cetainly go much more all out and use focus and the like instead.
I think i may have made many mistakes on this turn, and had more optimal choices, however the path i took was reasonable
I finish off the board and gain full tempo. The mistakes i made from the last turn show, as i lost 1 card advantage in my mangonel. I sac for resources here to further increase my lead, as i have a good followup. Saccing for scrolls and going for the kill is probably OK by this point too.
Here my advantage really shows. I can afford to go for tempo AND card advantage, killing his scattergunner whilst getting more cards. Again, there are many ways i can play this - certainly playing some creatures up top is maybe a good idea.
lol hellspitter imba
Either way, it doesnt matter, my opponent is going crazy now desperately trying to catch up by gaining some tempo, but there isn't much he can do really
----Game 2 http://www.scrollsguide.com/replays/r/4278310
This is a OvO game i played recently to put me back in the top 50 today
. For those of you not familiar, 90% of high level (1900+) OvO looks like this. It is an extremely precise game - most order players run very similar decks here and have very similar strategy.
Before I post my game, I will point you to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz3z70-1bkI
This is a video by Atrox which shows exactly what i'm talking about, and it's really similar style to my game. Notice light also plays the same style as me. (lol poor light haha)
Impres wont be useful for at least another 8 turns!
It's hard to kill things early on, and doing so costs my enemy a lot of cards. Creatures are good!
Waking stones go. I don't need these to defend my units, they are there to block lanes and stall! Remember, don't use stones to defend your units! I have nothing to stall right now.
Free skirm in the middle lane yay
Risky, but you don't usually need 2 gens. Some would sac the BoH here. In hindsight, it's better to sac the BoH and let your opponent worry about it. An opponent of this caliber understands these concepts very well and won't fall for silly tricks
Face it, i KNOW pother / flip / something is coming, so theres no point stressing over it. This is why going first is imba haha
BoH is no longer needed so dump it
I play scholar because hes hard to remove early on and provides quick card advantage. A vanguard would give me more tempo, however i expect to lose my skirm now anyways so theres no point in pressing tempo. By keeping the scholar alive i can help catch up in card advantage when i lose my skirm
One could argue that if i know pother is coming, i should attack the spearman, but i think theres also a chance he just doesn't have it, so theres no point
Yep i knew it
Here i sac the spearman. Vanguard is just a better card in general for all purposes
I run to the corner and try to bait my opponent into the centre. Note that hes a smart guy, and KNOWS i could be running speed here, so he backs off. He uses a really smart placement to lock me down here
Damn that's good placement by him. Pushback isn't needed right now, as i'm in a fairly safe spot (it wouldn't be worth the risk of losing card advantage here to try and get at best - even in tempo. If he has pothers and flips, he has them and theres nothing i can do about it)
Right now i have no need for the tempo, so impres puts me firmly ahead in card advantage
This is the moment i know i've won the game. A bit early eh? haha
A top TOP tier player doesn't run infantryman here - nor would he sac for scrolls and only play an infantryman. Obviously hes saving cards in his hand, but he is quickly losing the resources and card race
I make a mistake here, i should play the stones where my spearman is and move my spearman up. Even though my spearman will take damage, and he could even kill my vanguard, does he REAALY want to risk me completely wiping the board the next turn?
Not to mention he would spend a TON of cards to do this
I make a mistake here. Now you see the pain that is bad placement of my stones. If i hadn't had placed them so ugly, then i wouldn't have placed my own units in such a bad position.
One TINY little mistake leads to some huge consequences as is the nature of OVO
Not only that, i should have left my spearman top and at least split my scholar. Alas, we all make mistakes
I play impres here as clearly i just want to extend my lead in the game
It should have been obvious when i saw him draw and only play an infantryman earlier :-/ This is a turning point in the game where i was REALLY ahead to about even. No, i'm not behind! It's roughly even surprisingly enough. I have 9 res and waaay more cards than him. Each of my impres and my scholar gave me 2 cards worth of advantage, and i am simply losing 1-2 cards of advantage on the board in payment. However, i've lost a TON of tempo, and need to build up fast
Since i desperately need the tempo now, i play the mangonel combo immediately instead of dropping units up top and waiting. This costs me a lot of cards, but overall it's a roughly even game. One could say that after evening the tempo up, i'm ahead!
Here i make a mistake. I should get rid of the pother, not the BoH. It's lategame, and i need those BoH's and the tempo they give. Pother is great, but it's more a card of card advantage which i don't need right now
Notice the placement of my scholar. FAR away. I have no need nor want to try and take tempo (especially with the cards he has out) so i think it's smarter to build on my card advantage still
Again, i should get rid of the pother :-/ I don't know why i keep it lol
Right now i'm kind of stuck. I have the card advantage, but i am basically fishing for a way to regain tempo in the game. I need vanguards and generals or mangonels + speed to do so. Since i can't i play some stalling cards to give me some time to fish for it
I do risk that he could potentially kill me this turn. However, i've played the turn with the intention of stalling in mind - if he can kill me, well done! I'll have done everything i could
My opponent makes some misplays with his positioning here. I finally get to press my card advantage and wipe his board with a superior card count and position. The game is looking pretty rosy for me now. All that time i spent earlier stalling and sitting on the sidelines has paid off!
Hes fishing for the combo now too, though hes heavily disadvantaged compared to me. Main issue is to end the game i basically need generals or vanguards, so i start fishing for them. I try to keep tempo at the same time as doing this. Notice how i position my units to make it awkward for him to mangonel me and come back
Ok so i keep my tempo and continue pressing my advantage. Notice i KNOW he wants to mangonel me now, so im positioning so that after he does i'm still left with units on the board.
Bob's your uncle! He got a nice pother as a bonus. I decide i don't quite need the tempo yet, but i think its fair game to go for the tempo and play a general/speed combo now, since it is unlikely he can re-mangonel me one more time.
However, that's not my style, i think i've got the card advantage AND the tempo here, and by playing impres i simply make his chances of comback less and less likely.
Hooray generals! I check to see if i can win this turn. I cant. I basically need to play a threat so great that he is forced to go for tempo immediately and sacrafice a bunch of stuff to do so, which will then allow me to press my card advantage to win the next turn.
Funnily enough, impres is the best way of doing this - it threatens all sorts of combos with the vanguard i play, and my hand is so huge, he has to be scared of literally ANY combo which i can use to win the game
He makes a big mistake here, though to be honest, i think it's pretty much GG for him regardless. My hand is so big he was forced to play a lot to clear me, and now he only has 4 scrolls in hand. I KNOW i could kill whatever he brings out, so he can't really come back now
GG. I think he actually has a (very very) slim chance of coming back, since i actually lack cards to win asap. However, my plan of controlling the whole game from start to finish by applying strong card advantage has succeeded - he couldn't provide enough tempo to force me to give that advantage up, and i chose my points carefully when to apply my own tempo to force him to spend his cards.
By stalling and delaying the game, and keeping in mind the concepts of tempo and when i need or dont need it, i can slowly build up a card advantage over the game without putting myself at risk, until finally my advantage is so great i can simply push it and win the game.
I make many plays during this game which i feel many intermediate order players would do that i would see as a mistake - such as BoH to kill the gun auto early on, or going for the kill too early. By knowing when you need your tempo, you ensure you don't blow out of steam too early, and it gives you a MUCH higher chance of victory.
So that's it. I will do another similar replay tomorrow where i will add to this article where i play vs some order and growth players, though i feel that this game shows (vs a very good player i might add) the key concepts i am trying to show
I hope you find this useful!