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Scaredgirl

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9 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28761#msg28761
« on: February 23, 2010, 05:57:29 PM »
9 Tips for Better Deck Building


1# Think of deck building as math
Forget Dragons and Fire Lances. Like all CCG's, Elements is basically just math. It all revolves around numbers and words like statistics, probabilities, etc. Unless you fully understand this, you will never be a successful deck builder.


2# Keep it simple
When you start playing Elements, don't try to make a super deck that can survive all situation and beat every single deck out there because that is impossible. Instead, try to keep it as simple as possible.

For example a popular Earth deck:
Mark of Time
17 x Earth Pillar
1 x Short Sword
6 x Graboids
6 x Shrieker

The whole deck has only 4 different kinds of cards and is based on only one thing: fast damage. At first you might think this deck sucks because it's so one-dimensional, but the reality is that it stomps most of the other mono-decks out there because although it's one-dimensional, it's really good at what it does.

Exception to this rule is rainbow decks which are supposed to be more complex. But even these seemingly complex rainbow decks generally have one "master plan" that the whole deck is based on. So in a way they too are simple.


3# Pick cards that work well together
Best way is to always have one strategy or "trick" around which you build your whole deck. Don't just take random cards like Dragons for direct damage if your deck is about something else like poison. Every single card in the deck has to serve a purpose and be a part of the team. All the successful decks have synergy between the cards.



4# Optimize the number of copies of each card
This is the core of deck building in all collectible card games. The more copies of a specific card you have in your deck, the more often you will draw it.

What is the optimal number of copies of a specific card? There's no perfect answer for that but you could do it like this:

- main cards (6-5 copies) that your strategy is based upon, and which you generally want to have in your hand as soon as possible. If you have a card that you have to have in your opening hand, always take 6 copies of it.

- support cards (4-3 copies) that help with your strategy but might not be needed to play early in the game. Good example of this would be a card that gives buffs to your main damage creatures. You cannot use the buffs before you have your creatures out, so having them in your opening hand is not crucial.

- extra cards (2-1 copies) that are not really a big part of your strategy but are useful at some point of the game. Good example of this would be taking a single Eternity just to prevent decking out.

There are of course many exceptions to the above rules (for example rainbow decks) but it's still something you might want to consider when building those first decks.

There are also situations where you should take cards based on how fast you need them, and not how many you need them.

For example if you have a time deck that uses Anubis, you really need to only one of them. However it's very important that you can play that one Anubis as fast as possible. If you have only of Anubis in your deck, that card will often be at the bottom of the deck, ruining your whole strategy. This is why you should probably take at least 3 copies even though you only need one.


5# Fine-tune the number of Pillars
Too often I have heard the words:"I'll take an extra pillar because you can never have too much quantum". Wrong. You CAN have too much quantum. Having extra quantum doesn't kill you opponent, your creatures and spells do. And if you keep drawing those Pillars instead of creatures of spells, you will lose.

Having too few Pillars is also a problem because it can lead to bad draws. This is why we need to find the optimal number of Pillars. Remember the 1st tip, it's all math.

There is no clear rule on how many Pillars you should take. It all depends on the quantum usage of your cards and whether or not you have upgraded Pillars. The optimal amount is usually something between 30-50% of the total number of cards in your deck, meaning that in a deck of 30 cards, you should have about 10-15 Pillars.

If you build an unupgraded 30 card deck and have no idea what the optimal amount is, I recommend you first take 14 Pillars, and then test it out. Remember, do NOT change the number of Pillars based an a couple of bad draws. This is a very common mistake people do. You should have at least 20 matches before you start seeing any real statistical evidence.

When you can play cards relatively fast without always having extra quantum, that is when you have found the optimal number of Pillars.

EDIT: You can also use QI theory to help you find the optimal number of Pillars. Link: http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php/topic,5676


6# Keep the number of cards to a minimum
Take only as many cards as you absolutely NEED.

Having 60 cards in your deck doesn't make you cool or doesn't mean you do more damage than the other guy. Remember that Elements is math. If you have 60 cards on your deck, the chances of a bad draw become much greater than with a 30 card deck.

For example lets say you have multiple Anubis on your deck. It's an expensive card to play so it might not be good to draw too many of them early in the game because you won't be able to pay for them. Lets say you have a 30 card deck with 3 Anubis, the worst case scenario is that you draw all 3 in your opening hand. That sucks but you might still survive if the other 4 cards are for example Pillars. But if you have a 60 card deck with 6 Anubis, and you draw them all in your opening hand, it's pretty much game over because it's going to take a long time before you can do anything and during that time your opponent with crush you.

I have this rule: never take more than 30 cards in your deck if you have no way of drawing extra cards.

Why only 30? Well, because you don't need more than 30. Sometimes you will deck out but you cannot try to "fix" it by adding more cards because then you will get more draws and lose twice as much.

If you do have a way of drawing extra cards (like Sundial of Hourglass) then you should probably take more than 30 cards although that also depends of what kind of deck you are running.

To find out what the optimal number of cards for you deck is, pay close attention on how many cards are left in your deck when the match is over. If you generally have 0-3 cards left, you are probably close to an optimal number.


7# Choose your mark carefully

Speed = Power.

Matches in Elements are very of them decided by speed. The player who first plays his cards and takes control of the battlefield, is often the winner.

When you choose your mark, don't just take some random mark. Remember that your mark guarantees you one quantum per turn making it very dependable. You need to ask yourself: "What quantum I need the most early in the game?". The answer to that question is what kind of mark you should use.

Also try to avoid using the mark to pay for cards with 3+ cost because it can be too slow. Marks are most useful when used to pay for cards with a cost of 1 or 2 quantum.


8# When playing a rainbow, balance your quantum usage

Having quantum usage spread around all 12 elements gives a higher probability of being able to play cards you are dealt.

If you have too many cards from one element, you will most likely not be able to use them all early in the game. On the other hand, if you have no cards from an element, that quantum is basically wasted.

Mistake I've seen a lot of people do, is that they like a specific card so much, that they take 6 of them, even though the total cost can be as high as 30+ quantum. This is a bad idea. If you get unlucky and draw 4-5 of them early, there is no way you can afford to pay for them all, and you are basically playing with a smaller starting hand.

Another mistake is not taking a single card from some of the elements. If you don't use an element at all, you should really try to find at least one card from it. When you draw this card, you will most likely have the quantum to pay for it so essentially the card is free. Even if there were some slightly better cards for your deck, the fact that you can play this card instantly, is a huge advantage because it makes your deck faster.

There are of course situations where one elements just doesn't have any useful cards for your deck. In this case you should just skip that element and not force yourself to take something just to balance the quantum usage.


9# Design your own decks
Don't just copy-paste a deck made by a veteran player and play that exact deck for the next 3 months because
there are no "perfect" decks out there. I'm sure all the decks in the Forums and Wiki could be improved somehow, especially with new cards are being introduced and old ones being rebalanced. This is why you should use these ideas only as a base for your own creations.

Start simple by changing one or two cards and see how it affects the overall performance. If you see a positive effect, change some more cards. Always remember to play at least 10 (or even 20+) matches with your new deck before making any conclusions on it's effectiveness because randomness of CCG's might give you statistically wrong results.

-Phiryos-

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28765#msg28765
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2010, 06:32:03 PM »
Nice.

Would a tip about the importance of the trainer seem too obvious?

Scaredgirl

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28766#msg28766
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2010, 06:43:05 PM »
Nice.

Would a tip about the importance of the trainer seem too obvious?
That's a good idea. I didn't add it because I thought it doesn't really have to do with deck building, but now that I think about it, it does have to do with deck building. It's actually a big part of it, especially for people who don't have piles of cash.

I'll add it. Thanks.

PuppyChow

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28850#msg28850
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2010, 11:37:56 PM »
Quote
You need to ask yourself: "What quantum I need the most early in the game?". The answer to that question is what kind of mark you should use.

Also don't use the mark to pay for cards with 3+ cost because it's too slow. Marks are most useful when used to pay for cards with a cost of 1 quantum.
I disagree with this. What mark you take depends on your deck.

In a lava destroyer deck, I would take mark of earth even though you need that 5 fire quantum earlier since you need much less earth.

Many decks can use the mark to power 3, at least, cost cards, simply because the deck has lots of stalling or healing. If it's a speed deck, yes, 1-2 is the best, but for decks not based on speed 3-4 is easily do able (though devourers can screw it up easier).

Take, for instance, immortal adrenal druid staffs. I would rather take mark of aether to pay for the quintessence versus needing 5+ aether towers in my deck to insure I get one semi early. Taking mark of life would not only also reduce the life tower count (from maybe 10-12 to 7-9) to make room for the aether towers, but also could take away from the number of staffs, adrenalines, animate weapons, and quintessences. So bad draws would be much more likely.

Here's a revised edition of a mark tip :):

To choose a mark, you need to look at your deck and think a little bit. In many decks you should choose your least used quantum and go with that one, for instance an earth deck that uses graboids and shriekers. In some decks you may want to choose the one you need earliest, for instance a rainbow deck that relies on supernovas. In others you could use the one you'll end up needing the most of, for instance a light deck with lots of miracles.
 
If your deck relies on stalling and healing, your deck can usually power higher cost cards (3-4) with your mark. If it relies on speed, you usually only want to power 1 cost cards with it.

In most cases, you want to choose the element that makes bad draws appear the least, while at the same time keeping your deck working fine. So in a duo deck, if it's possible, you want to power one of your elements by simply the mark so your bad draws are greatly reduced.

Also of note is that in a duo deck where you need more than one type of pillar since the mark only just doesn't cut it, your pillar needs for the element of your mark are greatly reduced. In a gravity/earth deck where you would usually need 10 of each type to keep it running smoothly, having a mark of gravity would make it so you only need 5-6 gravity pillars and 10 earth pillars.

Scaredgirl

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28857#msg28857
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2010, 12:17:01 AM »
That tip #5 (like #6) is made for rainbow decks actually, the title is just wrong. I took them both from an old rainbow post of mine and made some adjustments.

Choosing a mark for a duo deck is pretty obvious but I guess I should add that there as well because it might not be so obvious for new players. Like it says there on the top with yellow letters, "work in progress". :)

But this paying a 4 cost card with a mark only is just silly. Please show me a deck that successfully pulls this off. If the card costs that much, you cannot have many of them in your deck, which means that they will more likely be on the bottom of your deck making you mark totally useless and your deck slow as a snail. Only thing you will be "stalling" is your own death.

PuppyChow

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28859#msg28859
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2010, 12:20:14 AM »
(Almost) Unupgraded life/aether :P.

10x life pillar
4x druid staff
4x quintessence
4x adrenaline
4x animate weapon
4x heal/4x pillar/4x whatever else you want

Mark of aether. :)

As long as you survive the 4 turns to play a quintessence, you can usually stall for 4 more. And after that it's hard to kill you.

PuppyChow

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28869#msg28869
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2010, 12:49:29 AM »
Quote
Another mistake is not taking a single card from some of the elements. If you don't use an element at all, you should really try to find at least one card from it. When you draw this card, you will most likely have the quantum to pay for it so essentially the card is free. Even if there were some slightly better cards for your deck, the fact that you can play this card instantly, is a huge advantage because it makes your deck faster.
I disagree with this too. I don't use any light in my deck, but it wouldn't be better if I took a miracle.

When you draw a card, you're also not drawing other cards. So taking a heavy armor just for the sake of taking something from earth doesn't make it good. You need to value every single card in a deck. If you hadn't put in that heavy armor, maybe your next card was that phase shield you needed to win. But you didn't draw it and instead drew the heavy armor and died next turn.

On top of that, you're making your deck more cards than it needs to be, so you have higher probabilities of bad draws.

You should choose cards that make your deck better, not choose cards from a certain element just because you haven't used that element at all.

Scaredgirl

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28878#msg28878
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2010, 01:35:58 AM »
(Almost) Unupgraded life/aether :P.

10x life pillar
4x druid staff
4x quintessence
4x adrenaline
4x animate weapon
4x heal/4x pillar/4x whatever else you want

Mark of aether. :)

As long as you survive the 4 turns to play a quintessence, you can usually stall for 4 more. And after that it's hard to kill you.
I have never played that deck so this is only talking in theory.

First of all to play a 4 cost card, it takes 5 turns, not 4.

That deck is that it uses 16 Aether Quantum and only has a mark to pay for them. That's way too much imo. What if you draw 3 of those Quintessence in your opening hand? You have a couple of dead cards in your hand for a long long time because no matter what happens you won't be able to pay for them. That's basically playing with a smaller hand, and is a huge advantage for the other player.

In a 30 card deck, I've never gone over 12 mark-paid quantum and probably never will.

Also there's of course the problem that you only have 4 of them in your deck. That means that it's not that unlike for you to not draw any of them early in the game, meaning it takes even longer than 5 turns for you to get that immortality.

I'm not saying that this deck sucks, but it's hardly any evidence that it's a good idea to pay for a 4 cost card with your mark only.


Quote
Another mistake is not taking a single card from some of the elements. If you don't use an element at all, you should really try to find at least one card from it. When you draw this card, you will most likely have the quantum to pay for it so essentially the card is free. Even if there were some slightly better cards for your deck, the fact that you can play this card instantly, is a huge advantage because it makes your deck faster.
I disagree with this too. I don't use any light in my deck, but it wouldn't be better if I took a miracle.

When you draw a card, you're also not drawing other cards. So taking a heavy armor just for the sake of taking something from earth doesn't make it good. You need to value every single card in a deck. If you hadn't put in that heavy armor, maybe your next card was that phase shield you needed to win. But you didn't draw it and instead drew the heavy armor and died next turn.

On top of that, you're making your deck more cards than it needs to be, so you have higher probabilities of bad draws.

You should choose cards that make your deck better, not choose cards from a certain element just because you haven't used that element at all.
This is not a matter of opinion really. It's pure math and general theory of deck building.

I'm not saying you have to take cards from all elements. I'm saying you should try to take cards from all elements. Of course if there are no useful cards available, you should skip that element. But remember, a good card that you can play is better than a great card you cannot play.

And I've never said taking cards from all elements means making your deck bigger. Read my tip #4.

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28891#msg28891
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2010, 02:41:38 AM »
Not getting stuck on a strategy, and being willing to experiment (even if in the trainer) is fairly important too. I stared myself to death on a gravity-based FG killer until I realised it wasn't going to happen..
So long and thanks for all the fish!

PuppyChow

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28913#msg28913
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2010, 03:59:33 AM »
With your tip about marks, you seem to be dealing with absolutes. I was just saying that there ARE exceptions. Nothing is rigid, and you shouldn't give newbs the idea that if they follow a given set of rules, since that could actually make them bad deck builders.

As to you never using 12 quantum, have you EVER tried a earth/time with 6 graboids and 6 rewinds (and 6 quicksands)? It kills in pvp. You really should give it a try.

(And that deck I gave does work. It isn't the best, but it IS a case where 4 quantum to power the quintessences is ideal for that deck. If you tried it with aether pillars you would get even more bad draws.)

Quote
This is not a matter of opinion really. It's pure math and general theory of deck building.

I'm not saying you have to take cards from all elements. I'm saying you should try to take cards from all elements. Of course if there are no useful cards available, you should skip that element. But remember, a good card that you can play is better than a great card you cannot play.

And I've never said taking cards from all elements means making your deck bigger. Read my tip #4.
When newbs read "If you don't use an element at all, you should really try to find at least one card from it," they won't read it as you intended. They'll think you mean "Any good rainbow always uses all types of quantum." It doesn't matter what you mean, it matters what they think you mean. In other words, alter the meaning so it's more clear you don't HAVE to take all types of elements. Just leaving it at "don't overuse an element" is much better.

Leaving an element underused is perfectly fine; you're sacrificing some quanta for a better chance to draw your best cards that are NEEDED for your main strategy. I would always rather have an oty/RoF/permafrost shield I can't yet play than a heavy armor I can. Because I know I have a higher chance of drawing a supernova/quantum tower than I do an oty/RoF/permafrost shield.

You may have meant the right thing, but you should make your wording clearer.

Scaredgirl

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg28968#msg28968
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2010, 11:48:28 AM »
As to you never using 12 quantum, have you EVER tried a earth/time with 6 graboids and 6 rewinds (and 6 quicksands)? It kills in pvp. You really should give it a try.

Yeah, I've played that deck. Read again what I said. I said I never go OVER that 12 quantum. I have used that 12 many times.

For example this speed poison I made uses 12 mark-paid quantum http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php/topic,365 and it works really well. Difference between your deck and this one is that all those cards cost only 1 quantum to play so even if I draw a bunch of them, I can still start playing them fast, instead of having to wait for 5 turns.


(And that deck I gave does work. It isn't the best, but it IS a case where 4 quantum to power the quintessences is ideal for that deck. If you tried it with aether pillars you would get even more bad draws.)

Well, that depends on how you define "works". I'm pretty sure we both know that the deck is not that great and fails big time in those situations I talked about. I think this has more to do about trying to desperately win an argument than to what "works".

If you wanted to make that deck perform better, you don't of course simply change the mark to pillars, you change other cards as well. If you want I can build a better performing version of that deck and show it to you.


Not getting stuck on a strategy, and being willing to experiment (even if in the trainer) is fairly important too. I stared myself to death on a gravity-based FG killer until I realised it wasn't going to happen..
Yes, that's what's I've done many time as well. There are many not-so-popular cards that I've tried to make work many times but always failed simply because the cards just suck :)  Also some people do the exact opposite and give up after a couple of tries, which is also not good.

Laxaria

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Re: 10 Tips for Better Deck Building http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=3329.msg29010#msg29010
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2010, 03:30:52 PM »
Interesting thread.

Perhaps add:

Quote
It is often more efficient, in the long run, to fine tune your deck to work well against a specific set of strategies at the expense of losing against others. In application to FG farmers, it is almost often better to fine tune a deck and use it in a manner that almost guarantees a win against easier gods, while letting you forfeit against the notably much harder ones. The time investment is reduced in battles while at the same time significantly increasing your time spent fighting for a win to grab a card spin.

This can also be applied to AI3 grinding. If you're against an elder with a discord and you are using a monodeck, if you have the best edge to counter the discord, go ahead. However, if the elder had just played it on the first few turns and you have not managed to set up a means to deal enough damage, forfeit. Although you lose 10 gold, you spend less time trying to fight for a win that may not always happen and more time in a battle that you might win.

 

anything
blarg: