Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tips for New Duelyst Players: Card Multiples and the Replace Mechanic

Replace is a very important mechanic in Duelyst, deceptively so. Once per turn, you can shuffle one card back into your deck to draw a new one. Replace allows you to better control the options you have at any given time. It's about ensuring that you have closer to an ideal hand, especially with reference to:

  • COST/CURVE - Can you play the cards in your hand when you need to?
  • REMOVAL/ANSWERS - Do you have efficient answers to your opponent's threats, such as removal for big creates or dispel for creatures with special abilities?
  • THREATS - Will the cards advance your gameplan, whether that is to develop the board or burn life off the enemy general?
Every time you start your turn, you should ask yourself: is this the best possible hand at this moment, versus this specific opponent?  Will each of these cards fulfill a valuable role over the course of this game? Do I have all the options I expect from this deck?  If the answer is no to any of those, there's a good chance you want to replace something. When you replace, you'll get something new -- you can never get a card with the same name as the one you replace.  And this is where card multiples start to make a big difference.

People talk about the importance of running 3x of cards for a few reasons.  Obviously, the more of those specific most-awesome cards you have in your deck, the more likely you are to draw them.  Additionally, reducing the variety in your deck gives you a smaller set of possibilities of what you'll see as the game progresses, allowing you to plan your future turns with greater certainty about which cards you'll be working with

But that doesn't account for situations where you want a variety of card costs, threats, and answers.  No one card is perfect in every situation.  So why not build decks with more singleton cards, increasing the variety of each hand?  What about versatility? What about that one [[Crossbones]] who has killed so many [[Mechazor]] that you'll never take it out of your deck?

I think that's just fine. He's doing his job.  It's a specific card with a very narrow purpose, and when you don't want him, well -- into the replace bucket he goes!  Hopefully he won't be back for a while, since you've only got one.

The problem is when this extends to cards with similar functions.  When you want variety because one of those similar cards might be the "perfect" card for a certain boards, even if they're all relatively close. 2 drop minions are a good example of this.  Primus Fist, Healing Mystic, and Jax are all good 2 drops, with advantages in certain scenarios.  So why not run one of each, and be more likely to have the one that's just right?

Here's why:

Say your deck has three [[Primus Fist]] in it; when you replace one, perhaps because you are in the late game, you know you will NOT get another Primus Fist because, as previously stated, replace ALWAYS, WITHOUT FAIL{citation} finds a card with a different name.

If, on the other hand, your deck has in the same slot one Primus Fist, one [[Healing Mystic]], and one [[Jax]] -- because why not, variety -- when you replace Primus Fist, you could replace into one of the other two cards, Jax or Mystic Healer.

That might seem small, but this is a critical rule, as it means that when you have 3 of a card in your deck serving the same function, replacing one of those cards gives you greater certainty that you'll get a card of a DIFFERENT function -- i.e., not another 2 drop.  If your only three removal spells are the same card, and you replace that card, you are NOT getting another removal spell in its place.  The game will NEVER replace into the exact same card.

That's basically it. When you align more of the "roles" that your cards serve into stacks of 3x of the same cards, you can more easily shift gears, because replacing will always skip the same card.  If you have cards of many different names in 1x and 2x that serve similar roles, replacing is weakened, and you're generally more likely to draw you something about the same as the card you replaced.

Keep this in mind when building your decks: having one of a card isn't necessarily a bad thing, if it serves a unique purpose.  But having 3x of the same card makes replacing that card just a bit more powerful.

Thanks for reading, and leave a comment if you found this useful, or have more to add!