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Card Game Concepts & Game of Thrones 2E

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#1
sparrowhawk

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I don't want to write a long theorycraft article. Instead, I'd rather engage in a discussion. I go to forums to engage, it’s virtual-social infotainement during dull moments (work, trains etc). I would like to discuss well-known gaming concepts as they relate to Thrones. Hopefully this will help with your strategising (deck-building) so forum prowlers have a reason to visit – and ideally contribute to the debate.

 

So let’s discuss a few concepts to prompt the clever people at The Citadel, Brotherhood Without Manners, Taking The White, Wardens of the Midwest and other great content blogs to bring up these topics in article form, sadly not as engaging or collaborative as a forum thread discussion (like the infamous Etiquette thread). So, for a few concepts, I will write a couple of paragraphs as they relate to Thrones and then it’s up to you, dear forum reader, to agree/disagree with what I wrote, come up with your own insights and bring other concepts onto the discussion table (I’ve listed a few classic ones I've not covered with links – please write your Thrones twist on them). And infotaine everyone in the process!

 

 

 

Trajectory

 

Every strategy in all games has trajectory. In simple terms, are you planning to win fast, mid range or slow? Some cards favour a fast win strategy (synonymous with Rush in Thrones), some favour a slow strategy (synonymous with Control) but most builds I see are mid range (I guess that leaves Aggro). Often I see deck lists where this over-riding approach is not consistent. I will use one of my own examples: I recently listed a Targ Rose build here (using Excel and memory while at work) which I had built with a fast trajectory but, seduced by control opportunities, I chose Power Behind The Throne (a low gold control plot with an effect) over A Clash of Kings (the stereotypical fast finisher), a great example of inconsistent strategy. I even forgot to put 1x Silver Steed, a niche card perfect for this strategy. Fast decks need “work compression” like burst economy (Kingsroads) and efficiency (Jaime non-kneeler, Asha re-stander) that leverage Tempo. Whilst slow decks want sustained economy (Roseroads, The Arbor) and draw (The Red Keep, The Mander) as they leverage Card Advantage. Of course there is a spectrum between them.

 

So next time you build a deck, try to be consistent with trajectory. A fast deck does not really care much about the harm that a Wildfire will do to its multiple uniques, all listed x3. Because it leverages Redundancy. The slow deck will undoubtedly have set back effects (we have no full reset, Varys is closest) to delay the game or control the Tempo the opponent will generate. So a slow deck will be more toolbox, it will have singletons and doubletons of silver bullets, be less focused and probably only list max. 4 uniques with duplicates for Wildfire (if you have your top 4 in play, you’re winning).

 

There are many subtle ways that trajectory impacts on your build – but also your play. You know that moment in board games when you stop maximising efficiency (invest resources to increase your rate of resource generation) and start leveraging a superior production into victory point (VP) generation to win from behind? It doesn’t usually happen suddenly (unless there is an “X minutes left” announcement in a timed game) but instead you segue your focus from efficiency to winning. As power total is your proximity to victory, we see this in the game by the growing importance of the power challenge, the challenge that does not help your game state (actually worsens it with initiative and effects like Mance). Nobody cares how untenable your position is as long as you time your trajectory to win when the TO calls time, something I have been badly guilty of misplaying. The classic example is of course Joffrey loving Wildfire, watching his mother, dwarf uncle and Littlefinger burn to win the game.

 

Make sure you play to your deck’s trajectory - which must be realistic for tournament time limits (Drakey is well-known for not adhering to this; he’s an artist and pragmatism is artless). Know when to change a trajectory if you can see your opponent’s trajectory out-races you (I detailed this epiphany in the Lannister Deck thread here when I didn’t rush play Crossing vs. The Wall). Like writing a PowerPoint presentation, anticipate the length of the journey you plan to take to win. How far you can let your opponent gain power whilst you instead focus on Card Advantage that is winning military and intrigue challenges? Or you focus on power challenges, unopposed and dominance and let the opponent gain game control, confident you have the tricks (plots, power surge events with cancel cover) to win before control is lost? The race parameters are 15 power or 55 minutes. Unlike me with my timed losses in complete control, choose your game trajectory based on your match-up and cards drawn by both players to suit those parameters so that you come out ahead when the race ends.

 

 

 

Redundancy

 

Kennon has written an excellent article on this already back in 2012 here. Please read the article. It’s very good and very pertinent. There are excellent articles in Magic archives on this topic too.

 

A classic example of Redundancy are Seal x3 builds, often linked to Voltron (Balon, Tywin, Dany). Whilst associated with fast decks, even slow decks use critical redundancy, like The Arbor x3. Magic initially had a Legendary rule that only allowed 1 copy of a unique in play, no matter who controls it. They then changed it to only 1 copy per player (was this after Eric Lang showed them their error with Thrones?). Thrones added dupes as a way of giving redundancy benefit – added resilience vs. removal and claim soak if a character. But to counter this, Thrones has a dead pile and dead uniques cannot be played. And effects like Wildfire, Dracarys! and Plaza promote deck diversity rather than dull 3x decks (like this meta-call Stark deck here).

 

Let’s take another example, the full-on Greyjoy unopposed deck that throws everything into the unopposed theme with maximum repeatable stealth/reduce to 0 STR effects (example here). Now in actuality, if you want to just win challenges, the first evasion card you play has maximum impact (it negates their best eligible character) and each subsequent evasion card has lessening impact. So by focusing on a single strategy, you are reducing variance but you are also increasing inefficiency. However, unopposed is a threshold so requires a focused approached: if you have X stealth characters and Y Longships going first in a challenge, you stealth X characters without stealth and with attachments and the opponent has to kneel Y+1 other characters to guarantee opposed - and if he does, you can lose the challenge and use Longships in other challenges. Thus redundancy is leveraged to ensure triggering a key binary threshold.

 

It isn’t just marshalled cards: Thrones has many once-per-challenge events. 3x Put to the Sword has far less one-turn potential than 1x Put to the Sword, 1x Put to the Torch and 1x Tears of Lys. But if you are strong in military and focusing on targeted kill, you accept the small chance of having the former in your hand for the reliability of drawing a military kill frequently. This also applies to once-per-round that is “kneel your Faction card”. Here a balance must be achieved, especially Fealty builds can threaten a repeat effect (Seastone Chair or Shadowblack Lane) but failing its successful conditional use, can still use the agenda to power an event (We Do Not Sow or Dracarys!). But whilst max. 1 per challenge events can be sequenced over turns, having too many faction card uses is poor deckbuilding (thus the Wildlings module will not be in Fealty with the Horde's naval +2 STR as a key benefit).

 

So when you build a deck, you need to identify the level of redundancy you want and appreciate the trade-off between increasing reliability of draw and diminishing impact when played.

 

 

 

Choke Points

 

All card games I know have at least 2 choke points:

(1) the rate at which cards go from draw deck to hand (this is draw choke)

(2) the rate at which cards go from hand into play by spending resources (this is resource choke)

 

2E also has a third choke point – reserve:

(3) the rate at which cards go from hand to discard (let’s call this reserve choke).

This ceiling choke point is a function of a player applying resource choke to a build with plenty of draw (why Night’s Watch like Sam and Iron Throne and Fealty plays loyal Hunter Rangers). This choke point is being explored in cards like Wraiths and the Kings of Winter/Summer as well as reserve modifier cards.

 

When building a deck, many strategies focus on pressuring one of the choke points. A military deck pressures resource choke by constantly culling cards for which resources were spent, removing resource generation (Put to the Torch, We Do Not Sow etc) and applying proxy claim via tempo plots like Naval Superiority. This works best in conjunction with Winter effects that reduce reserve to punish opponent’s unrealised draw glut, why factions like Stark and Greyjoy are Winter houses. Meantime an intrigue deck will pressure draw choke by constantly culling options (all games are about maximising your options and minimising your opponent's options). But here a floor is easily reached (yes, military decks can "floor" with a boardwipe but then you have aggro’s version of control) and the opponent can top deck, so bounce effects are powerful to power this approach. Houses like Baratheon and Tyrell are natural Summer houses with their in-house draw because raising the reserve helps their plentiful draw whilst intrigue based houses like Lannister and Martell apply pressure on draw choke, reducing options.

 

So identifying these choke points, either focusing on a single line of attack or having versatility like Lannister Crossing then exploiting an opponent’s weakness to a particular choke point, is a critical part of every card game.

 

 

 

Opportunity Cost

 

This is the concept that triggered this thread of (hopefully collaborative) articles and discussion. And the card in question was Ahead of the Tide. Not the old 1E version (and some 1E veterans dismiss reprinted cards without accepting the key differences in the game; e.g. we now have far more resource choke with the expanded gold curve and no non-limited location economy – until Tourney Grounds, paradoxically a control card as it allows control to leverage their greater card draw with event based effects). But instead the better conditional cantrip version we have in 2E (cantrip is a self-replacing card, tutor is search, both Magic terms with no net card disadvantage).

 

Now I don’t really know the answer to this question but back in Magic, there was a card called Manamorphose. I thought “wow, I’m playing with a 56 card deck with mana fixing" because I can change 1 red/green + 1 other into any 2 mana and draw a card, I've paid 0 net resources and 0 net cards and fixed my mana. But it was not played in any top deck and I didn’t understand why. Because deck thinning is good, right? You increase the density of your good stuff. However, a far more skilful Pro Magic player friend (I was just a mediocre scrub, scraping occasional Pro Points by winning PTQs or getting Day 2 of GPs) explained to me that whilst it seems like you’re building a 56 card deck, you are actually reducing the options in your hand, especially at the crucial start when you can’t afford the 2 mana buy-in and you have no idea what you will draw instead (it can also be countered). Its opportunity cost was not the usual “it takes up a 60 card slot space” but instead “it takes up space in your starting 7 options”; in Thrones, it takes up precious non-set up slots in your deck. However, the deal breaker was because it didn’t do anything that a well built deck did not already do (colour fix).

 

Now with Ahead of the Tide and For the North!, both conditional cantrips so they can’t always be used to draw a new card for 0 resource (For the North! needs a successful military challenge and draws post-Marshal), there is actually a benefit. So I don't really know if the same applies. There's also the concept of meta surprise, playing "that card nobody plays" for maximum impact. It would be great to hear discussion on this topic - after all, it was the card that motivated me to write this piece. My own thinking is that, when the card pool is small, these "fixers" have value - but as we get a larger card pool (eg. more plots with high initiative you can play in your strategy) and more than 57 good cards competing, they become devalued in time. Your thoughts, please?

 

 

 

I think that’s enough from me for the moment. I want to read other people’s thoughts on both the above and other concepts. Here are list of concepts anyone can write on (c’mon, AlexFrog and others!). Please do contribute.

 

 

 

Representing

 

This is the value of threat and is taken from Poker. Anyone who has played with/against Jinteki in Netrunner understands this. A Thrones example is having 2 gold spare and a Burned Man in hand with opponent going first with an unprotected Dany, you not ambushing him to defend and claim soak, instead losing a superior blocking Red Cloak, then in your challenges attacking with Jaime and Gregor as first challenge, watching him over-defend to deny +5 – and only after all challenges (because you want to represent Tears, Support, Wail etc) do you ambush Burned Men to discard to your Marched next turn. Representing is mind games and you need to evaluate your opponent’s awareness of the game – there’s no point with subtle threats if it goes above your opponent’s head. This is a huge topic and I will let a specialist Poker player (or Netrunner player) explain this concept. Netrunners will know all about this by the face down card plays (and advances) in that game, the threat of a SMC into Clot etc. So someone please apply this concept to Thrones?

 

 

 

The Mill Fallacy

 

Istaril had a very un-Canadian rant about mill in a classic 1E episode of Beyond The Wall. In 2E, mill is a win condition (Drakey is probably looking forward to sadistically winning this way one day). There's a great article about this and other fallacies on Netrunner's Stimhack (that AlexFrog co-founded as a lead thinker). The gist of it is that a player knowing his own discard pile is more useful to that player than the opponent, that milling a key card is no more likely than having that card at the bottom of your deck and actually recursion effects benefit the target of mill. Again, I hope some thinker in the hobby will take up the challenge and cover this one in a post.

 

 

 

Work Compression

 

This concept was coined by a lead thinker in Netrunner and is about sacrificing tempo now for tempo later. Long Plan and Ranger’s Cache are classic examples but so are discard with no cost for burst benefit cards (like Kingsroad, Bodyguard and Silver Steed). You are in effect embedding a benefit for later. Again maybe a Netrunner player could detail how this applies to Thrones? In many ways, it’s simply a very focused aspect of Tempo.

 

 

 

Game Theory

 

Game Theory is an area of mathematics that can be applied where simultaneous decisions are made, used for market manipulation and tendered bids. Prisoner’s Dilemma is populist Game Theory, as is the iocane powder battle of wits scene in Princess Bride. The application of Game Theory is clear in games with double blind bids like Thrones' Plots and Conquest's Commit Dials. There’s a very good reason why base initiative wise, Trading < Calm < Winds < First Snow < Calling < Wildfire < Marched < Clash. The most obvious one is an advantageous Marched when you feel your opponent with 3 premium characters (only 1 military) vs. your 2 military premium characters will Wildfire, take first player and trigger his Wildfire before triggering your Marched with military overlap of 2 vs. 1 – but if he doesn’t Wildfire, your discard is better than his. Game Theory has a huge influence in Thrones. Maybe someone can explain it better than me and how it can be leveraged to improve the most important decisions in the game?

 

 

 

Card Advantage

 

The big one, there is a great Wikipedia entry that also details all the old Magic articles on this at the end as links – they are all great reading which will improve your card gaming skills.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_advantage

I touched the surface of this huge topic in the Lannister Deck Thread here (the entire thread is full of examples of Tempo, Control, the value of initially mixed-reaction Bastard Daughters etc.). It would be great if someone distilled all this knowledge and applied it to Thrones, sharing these insights so that we can all gain.

 

 

 

Tempo

 

And this is the most difficult, subjective one – I myself view it as the flip side of Card Advantage. Again there is an incredibly good Wikipedia entry with source Magical article links at the end.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo_(Magic:_The_Gathering)

This is probably the biggest, hardest topic to cover, probably best dealt in mini-topics (Redundancy and Work Compression are both subsets). Good luck to the brave soul who tries to cover this topic! I hope someone does - else I will feel the need to cover it and you don't want another long post (with "too little italics" for this TL;DR attention-deficit generation).

 

 

 

Over to You!

 

So my challenge to all you content writers is to pick a topic, any of the above or one I didn't list, to post your thoughts here or in your blog then post the link here. I am sure others more skilful and knowledgeable than me can cover such topics far better and more in-depth. To improve all our skill at this game.

 

Meantime, I urge any visitor with an opinion to post their thoughts – contrary opinion, whatever. Tell me where I’m wrong, show me the error of my thinking (I do often back down and concede good points). And to enliven the forum with healthy debate.

 

So over to you, folks!


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#2
kizerman86

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TL;DR, also not enough Arbor for an April 1st post.

 

 

 

................just kidding! - I only had time to skim but I look forward to reading this in full as well as the upcoming articles I'm sure it will spawn.  Great work!!


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#3
AronKazay

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Tempo

 

And this is the most difficult, subjective one – I myself view it as the flip side of Card Advantage. Again there is an incredibly good Wikipedia entry with source Magical article links at the end.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo_(Magic:_The_Gathering)

This is probably the biggest, hardest topic to cover, probably best dealt in mini-topics (Redundancy and Work Compression are both subsets). Good luck to the brave soul who tries to cover this topic! I hope someone does - else I will feel the need to cover it and you don't want another long post (with "too little italics" for this TL;DR attention-deficit generation).

 

Finally, the dreaded term that almost every card game's thinkers use and not one of them has a working description for it! I am really curious to see what the community thinks about this one. I always felt that among the many concepts that were born out of the MTG sphere this is probably the hardest one to apply to AGOT. (Btw, most of the links in the Wikipedia article are broken, sadly.)

 

I always liked Scott Johns system of breaking down tempo into beats. In games like Magic, where turn order is decided at the beginning of the game, tempo advantage goes to the player who is able to set up a threat first, and then it is maintained by protecting that threat. Even if the opponent manages to remove your threat, it is usually unlikely that they will be able to set up a new threat of their own on that same turn, so you once again have the tempo to set up another threat. 

 

However, I think at least three concepts in AGOT mess with this: setup, the relatively stable gold curve during a game and the recurring battle for initiative. Not to mention the three different challenges with varying relevance during stages of the game! Let's say my opponent starts the game with Balon Greyjoy and a reducer chud in play, while I have Daenerys Targaryen and a reducer chud out. In classic tempo theory, the one who wins initiation would have the tempo advantage, right? But is that really so? Suppose the Greyjoy player becomes first player, and swings for an unopposed military with Balon. The Targ chud dies, he gains renown and a power for unopposed, and sets the stage for me to either take that power, or gain an unopposed power and strip a card from their hand in an intrigue challenge and draw for Insight. (If they could send in their chud for a power challenge, it would tip the scale in favor of the Grejoy player, but Daenerys takes care of that). Who has the tempo here? They removed a chud, likely won dominance, while I generated card advantage. And we both played the same number of beats. 

 

But let's just say that I managed to discard an Asha from their hand with that intrigue challenge, and at the same time to draw a Kingsroad from Insight, which would make me able to play Khal Drogo and a chud on the next turn, while he can only play a chud. This is where I gain an obvious tempo advantage, and this is what makes me think that tempo comes from economic advantage in AGOT 2nd edition (which usually stems from card advantage). If my Intrigue challenge only hits a reducer chud, and we are both able to play a bomb and a chud next turn, we are still on equal footing. 

 

For me this means that going forward there will be two major ways to gain tempo advantage in AGOT: choke and jump/bounce. Choke (and bounce) is the destructive option: restricting your opponents ability to match your beats by not allowing them to play them, or forcing them to play them twice. And jumping, because it allows you to play a beat for far cheaper (with some drawbacks obviously). 

 

Okay, now I feel like I've tried, you can come forward with that TLDR post sparrow ;)


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#4
OKTarg

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More later perhaps, but you're right that tempo advantage through resources is a huge partof 2.0.
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#5
agktmte

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Agreed that tempo has been previously extremely ill-defined/understood in AGOT, but most of that is because in first edition we had very non-tempo based resource generation (few limited, so you always had enough resources). And we have multiple avenues of attack and there is no "summoning sickness" which means that there is no "initiative" in the sense of having an advantage when you play your threat before the opponent plays theirs. Which you explained very well above, Aron. All of this means we didn't really have tempo decks in first edition.

 

Second edition has changed this a bit through it's strict adherence to limited economy, which I quite like, it means that AGOT can actually have tempo decks now. But it is definitely defined in terms of resources (economic) rather than "initiative" (once again, a lack of 'summoning sickness', etc.). So you could probably define tempo for Thrones in economic terms, however, as we get more high gold plots or non-limited economy, resource becomes less of a choke point and then we lose the current level of economic tempo that exists.

 

Which leaves one aspect, and that's cards in hand. I think the Lanni jumpers deck is the first truly "tempo" of this type. It really leverages the reserve value (that caps card advantage as a whole), by operating at a card disadvantage (using 2 cards to do less than 1 would do, but the timing is especially impactful), which would have been near sacrilege in first edition (no hand size max), but in second edition, if you spend all of those cards and still end your turn at or near reserve, you aren't really operating at a card disadvantage. And I think this expenditure of card resources is where 'tempo' is truly defined in Thrones.

 

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Another oddity we have is what is considered 'rush' in Thrones. At the fundamental level, rush is a deck type that aims to win fast. As fast as possible, at the expense of other considerations. Now, in most of these other card games (mtg, hearthstone, etc.), the victory condition is dealing damage, and economic growth is slow over time, so these are almost always "swarms" of low cost, low damage characters that just accumulate and beat your opp down before they have their defenses or counters.

 

However, this does not work in Thrones because the win condition is about building up to 15 power and cards that generate extra power are the rush cards (not just swarms of damage dealing weenies). Which is why characters with Renown and events like Lady Sansa's Rose/Superior Claim are often in rush decks. So a rush deck in Thrones is very different, because playing all the expensive (Renown) characters and high income plots is very much a "rush" strategy. Even though in other games, stacking your deck with the top-end of the cost curve is the opposite of rush. (Note: many other games refer to their rush decks as aggro because they are extremely aggressive in this character swarm way, but we mean something else by 'aggro' in Thrones.)

 

However, since we have variable resource generation (plot-based income), this is how one rushes to victory in Thrones. Recently we had a small overlap in that A Tourney for the King granted all Knight characters Renown, so the more knights you had, the better, which means you play a ton of cheap knights and then give them all Renown on a single turn, but having a 'swarm' is only rush because of the addition of the "renown" keyword, otherwise it doesn't do much for actually reaching 15 power. Having 10 characters is not "faster" than having only a few characters as far as your victory condition is concerned.

 

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Which means that for Thrones, what is called mid-range and many of us call Aggro is the main state of the game currently (not quite enough fast cards for full rush, not quite enough slow cards for full control). This is the type that focuses on using efficient characters to win the challenges phase, generate advantage through claim (which is why higher claim helps, if both players exchange all three challenges and one person has claim 2, they "win"). Aggro is generally slow, because it only generates power through UO and Dominance (and power claim if the opp has any to take!). This is kind of the "grinder" approach and is basically 2e status quo. Some speed this up by using a rush hybrid: add some renown characters, maybe add something like Superior Claim or Street of the Sisters, etc. Some players add control elements to help open up the game for their unopposed power: kneel, icon removal, put to the sword, etc.

 

I've made this sound a little like the default game play, but I do want to emphasize that if you really go full aggro, you are going to really pressure your opponent and play as many two claim plots (and Winter is Coming!) as you can manage with things like Marched to the Wall. It really does put your opponent on their back foot. As I explained above, if you and your opp each win all three challenge types, but yours are claim 2 and theirs are claim 1, you are coming out ahead. So that kind of pressure is a defining characteristic of Thrones 'aggro'. Now, we frequently talk about it like it's the default game play, but it's really not. If you've played against someone running 2 copies of Winds of Winter and they were able to have characters in play to make challenges with, you were probably feeling heavily pressured.

 

Now, since this type favors high claim in order to apply pressure, it may need to focus on more bang for the buck in the characters department. It probably can't afford to play too many high cost characters, so it needs to have good efficient characters like Ranging Party, etc.

 

------

 

Control will eventually be the type that stalls the opponent, clears the board (Varys/Marched/First Snow/...) and then comes out way ahead afterwards. Control will frequently have a rush element that is used at this time, think core set Martell with TRV/Doran's Game/Doran on turn 5 after hitting a sweet Varys board clear on turn 4. Another approach is to have an alternative source of power generation that you protect and stall your opponent so they don't win first (Bara dominance, NW wall, Sansa and Iron Throne, etc.). In other case, slow cards aren't necessarily more expensive (as they are in other card games), but are cards that keep your opponent from winning (or doing anything!) before you have your power engine ready to go.

 

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I'm not sure if tempo is truly a fourth archetype, or just one way to play one of these three archetypes. This is also why combo isn't really an archetype for Thrones, because we don't have combos that just immediately win the game, and if any come close, FFG tends to shut them down pretty hard. So you may utilize some especially powerful combos to help you rush or control, just like you may utilize tempo to help you do the same.

 

Or are tempo and combo actual separate archetypes?

 

--------

 

Also, this is somewhat organized, but I'm running out of steam and want to post this for people to read, so it may be a jumbled mess, especially the part about aggro, I went back in to try and fix it, but mostly as a PS and left my original thoughts, so it may not read too cleanly.


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#6
JoeFromCincinnati

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Bookmarked.

 

Will read on Monday haha.


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#7
ojimijam

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I will come back to this when i have a little more time as I'd love to write on a few of these topics (and have had a big post on variance brewing for some time). Just wanted to say i appreciate this post, long but not long winded .


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#8
Greytemplar

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Following this for other comments. Still trying to get a 2.0 collection so I can't weigh in (haven't played since it was a ccg).

#9
sparrowhawk

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I always liked Scott Johns system of breaking down tempo into beats.

[snip]

Okay, now I feel like I've tried, you can come forward with that TLDR post sparrow ;)


Au contraire, Aron. After starting the ball rolling, I want to take a back seat and listen to everyone else's ideas (as I'm sure there are other lovers of practical application of game theory out there) - although of course I'll try to guide the thread along (and probably won't be able to resist an occasional outrageous comment).

You had to go and bite off the biggest, chewiest dish on the menu, didn't you? As you say, tempo is an overused word with different meanings for different people. And its scope is huge because well-known concepts like Redundancy and Work Compression are subsets of it.

Thanks for the link to that classic Magic article, a warm fuzzy trip down (hazy) memory lane. Though it doesn't read as impressively as that epiphany when I first read it. Sigh, nostalgia isn't what it used to be...

In an old article I wrote for another card/board game, in the Tempo section of that article, I wrote...

Tempo is leveraging a temporary advantage for long-term benefit. This is best seen in an Aggro Rush strategy where getting a threat out earlier is more important than getting mana advantage. ...Tempo advantage is linked to action advantage and position but it is the cumulative benefit, the pyramid benefit of gaining accumulating actions over a beleaguered opponent. It is paying a premium (usually mana) to avoid or impose delay.

So my belief then (and now) is that tempo is the antithesis of card advantage. It is often card disadvantage at first but it pays off in the end. Here's a Thrones example...

I am Targ Lion vs. Lanni Rose.
My plot is Calling the Banners, my opponent's is Winds of Winter, I chose to go first.
I have Khal Drogo, Jaime and 2 gold.
My opponent has Randyll with Heartsbane, Jaime, a Merchant and 0 gold.
I declare military and attack with both.
I am representing Sword so he opts to defend with both, intending to win.
He triggers Heartsbane so I spend 1 card 1 gold on tempo - Treachery the sword.
I spend 1 card 1 gold on tempo - The Things I Do For Love on the Merchant.
He kills Jaime, my Jaime second military kills Randyll then intrigue.
I spent 2C2G against his 0C1G (cost of replaying a Merchant).
The impact is to impose 3C13G5P (3 cards, 13 gold, 5 power).
And to prevent 2C12G2P (his military swing back with Randyll).

But tempo is also influenced by initiative - in a small board, first is strong (hence you switch mode after a Wildfire) and in a large board, second is strong. In the example below, if he had gone first, none of my tricks would have saved me from a board wipe and intrigue loss myself (the reverse outcome). This can be seen now in the critical First Snow turn where often the best defence against First Snow is to win initiative and go first.

So initiative does play a crucial part with smaller boards that can't withstand the military pressure (or when you need to protect key events in hand from intrigue or just deny the power win). What a big board does is turn the challenge phase into a mini-game where going second, assuming you can withstand the pressure of his challenges, is much like the long game vs. fast game - if you can resist the fast game's tempo pressure, the inherent card disadvantage of that approach will leave you in a stronger position (like unopposed swing-back in a challenge phase).

The above is also good as an example of tempo within a card: a non-kneeler like Jaime is pure tempo, as is Asha in a small board with sufficient evasion support. Put to the Sword going first has tempo whilst Tears of Lys does not have as much, it's a longer term play.

Treachery is a great tempo card: it is rarely card-for-card like on Varys, Bodyguard, Kingsroad, Ice, Throwing Axe etc. Instead it's often a key play like negating Nymeria or Mel (like 1E Nightmares, another tempo card) that can change that whole challenge phase and the game.

The Tower of the Hand is an amazing tempo card. Because the card you bounce may be more expensive but it has already had its action, it is knelt, unlike a standing target you bounce. And of course because of tricks like bouncing claim soak like in the example. Or saving your good stuff before a reset. Now if the opponent plays Treachery on your Tower bouncing Tyrion, suddenly he has gained tempo because you must repay 5G economic cost that is more than the 1C1G he paid. But maybe Tyrion was Milked so this was an acceptable cost to pay as he has also lost the 1C1G investment in Milk (which hurt my tempo so paid dividends).

So that's why I find the beats approach a bit too simplistic when applied to Thrones. In many ways, Thrones is the more sophisticated game in this respect. The main similarity to Magic that I can spot is the board wipe implosion.
 

Second edition has changed this a bit through it's strict adherence to limited economy, which I quite like, it means that AGOT can actually have tempo decks now. But it is definitely defined in terms of resources (economic) rather than "initiative" (once again, a lack of 'summoning sickness', etc.). So you could probably define tempo for Thrones in economic terms, however, as we get more high gold plots or non-limited economy, resource becomes less of a choke point and then we lose the current level of economic tempo that exists.

Which leaves one aspect, and that's cards in hand. I think the Lanni jumpers deck is the first truly "tempo" of this type. It really leverages the reserve value (that caps card advantage as a whole), by operating at a card disadvantage (using 2 cards to do less than 1 would do, but the timing is especially impactful), which would have been near sacrilege in first edition (no hand size max), but in second edition, if you spend all of those cards and still end your turn at or near reserve, you aren't really operating at a card disadvantage. And I think this expenditure of card resources is where 'tempo' is truly defined in Thrones.


Well, I'm with you on both counts, Alex. But I would add a proviso: tempo is about temporary economic advantage to achieve a stronger board position that will pay dividends long term. Kingsroad is pure tempo (and Treachery of it pure denial of that tempo). But longterm economic disadvantage. If I have set up Arbor, Highgarden and Caretaker to your Kingsroad, Jaime and Merchant, then you have tempo (especially with Jaime's double use) whilst I have taken a huge tempo hit. But somewhere along the game, advantage will transition from your tempo faster start to my long game control start. Then I will be the player with tempo.

This reminds me of a thread I started in Conquest called Sun-Tzu and the Art of Warhammer where I compared that card game to the ancient (incredibly deep) game of Go. Quoting from a post in that thread...
 

In Go, there exists the concepts of "sente" (aggressive, dictating the game), "gote" (defensive, reacting to opponent's threats) and "ko threats" (a stratagem by which, while gote, you establish some counter threat that exceeds the opponent's threat, thereby seizing sente). It's a subtle, skilful, ancient game and there are parallels to Conquest's design.

When you have initiative, you have sente for battles whilst your opponent has gote in battles. However, because deploying later allows trumping in the command struggle, when you have initiative you have taken gote in the economic development game whilst your opponent has sente.

Constantly making the most of your advantages while minimising the benefits of your opponent's advantages should show the path to victory.


Now the concepts of sente, gote and ko can be clearly applied to Thrones.

Let's go back to the same Targ Lion vs. Lanni Rose example.
This time the opponent has no Heartsbane and has 1 gold spare.
I again come in with both as my first military challenge.
He looks at 2 Swords in my discards and does not oppose.
He cancels my bounce for 0 and kills the Merchant.
I then repeat military with Jaime.
He defends with Randyll, plays Wail on him.
I play Treachery on Randyll's stand but I lose the challenge.
I then come in with intrigue unopposed.
He swings back with his Jaime for 2x claim 2 challenges - GG.
I spent 2C2G while he spent 1C0G and invested 1C1G (Wail).
Note differentiating temporary spend vs. permanent investment.
I imposed 2C1G2P (my 2 unopposed gets me 2P closer to 15).
He imposed 4C12G4P, killing my 2 key uniques and intrigue 2.

In the new example, Targ Lion had sente and Lanni Rose had gote but a ko play by him switched the roles. So I do believe that tempo plays are short-term plays that establish, consolidate and prolong your role as the aggressor - or wrest them away from your opponent.

As for taking temporary card disadvantage like Leaping Lions (it's so unstable without tech like The Tower), you are spot on here as the definition of tempo. But like all tempo plays, it's a house of cards because you are literally using up your resources to further your board position. All it takes is for Mel to play Seen In Flames to kneel your Hear Me Roar! Gregor and remove the best card in your hand and I have spent 1 card to your 3 (we both spent 1 gold). It's a house of cards that only does well against the unprepared (without impending future tech).

Classic balls-out Rush (Noble Cause, Marthatheon) was not tempo as its sacrifice of resources did not give it a strong position, just closer proximity to 15. Greyjoy with a much smaller board and no cards in hand can rush to victory but to do this, he must also keep the board small with military and plots. Greyjoy are pure tempo (its Core Set theme is anyway, we are getting slower options emerging) because it must leverage its fewer resources to be the aggressor.
 

I will come back to this when i have a little more time as I'd love to write on a few of these topics (and have had a big post on variance brewing for some time). Just wanted to say i appreciate this post, long but not long winded .


Thank you for the kind words, James, but re-reading the hastily written OP, the product of a quiet Friday afternoon at work, it was in sore need of polish - which I have now done, rewriting the more excruciating parts.

I look forward to reading your posts on some of these topics - and how could I have missed variance as a topic? :)


Thanks to Aron and Alex for your long, insightful posts. It certainly made me re-evaluate some of my thinking and hopefully helps others. Please post more thoughts.

And let's hope I can goad others (like the Archmaester and his Conclave) to contribute to topics in this thread, either via blogs with posted links or directly as "exclusive" posts here.


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#10
sparrowhawk

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So resounding silence from most (thanks to those who have replied). In a hopeful attempt to resurrect interest in this topic, I will expound further on a few other concepts.

 

The problem with a huge topic like this is:

{a} it bores or scares some (the subject is complex so can’t be easily condensed into bite size accessible posts),

{b} you can’t just write something slightly controversial and provoke a reaction, discourse and forum interest.

But there are plenty of grey areas to debate to gain a clearer understanding of game mechanics, of good deck-building principles and play stratagems.

 

Reading a good deck list is just a transient good solution for the current meta, not just the current card pool but the meta’s popular decks and counters. It’s a very temporary answer to a “now” question. What I was hoping to discuss here was more ambitious: the principles we can apply to any good deck-building strategies and good play tactics. It’s the difference between learning mathematics that you can apply and the vignettes that is history, that you can learn from to apply parallels to current problems. But it’s not the underlying laws of physics. Now maybe trying to deconstruct a game is to destroy the mystique of the game. But l think most of us visiting this forum would like to learn anything that will give us an edge in the game.

 

Conscious that I am susceptible to over-ambition (my presentations bombard people with “too much”), I shall add new concepts onto the discussion table - but only one at a time, then pause for a reply. In the hope that it may prompt discussion (or perhaps some prior topic). As you can see from my reply above, I give good customer service by responding to all substantive responses.

 

 

ROI (Return On Investment) and NPV (Net Present Value)

 

Resource management games (of which Thrones is one – its resources are cards, gold, power and tempo) and business modelling share many similarities. So let’s look at an obvious one, ROI and NPV.

 

When we marshal or play a card, we are making an investment: we invest 1 card and X gold from our budget of Y. The longer that card survives to make an impact, the more our return on that investment. That Tywin + Merchant + Roseroad or Arbor + Tourney Grounds + Caretaker x3 opening really pays for itself in the long-term. So just like with business modelling, you want fast return cards for fast decks and slow return cards for slow decks, all linked to trajectory (e.g. a business case can be unprofitable based on 5 years, profitable based on 10 years with a break-even at 7).

 

So when you invest heavily on a Tywin (1C7G) on set up and he gets Put to the Sword (1C2G) on turn 1, it’s a devastating tempo set back. Conditional challenge-based removal has got to be cheaper than its usual target for it to be worth the non-set up slot. That is why point-and-click removal is costly:

{a} a Crown of Gold (1x high variance card) on a newly-marshalled Blackfish = a tempo steal of 2G and deny all the tempo he grants.

{b} a Newly Made Lord on a Tower of the Hand: say we cost NML as 2G without its text (like Veteran Builder is 2G without its text), then you have a tempo steal of 1C1G, but a Treachery on NML would make it make it 2G for a 1C1G exchange and a duped Tower would make it 2G for 1C exchange (perhaps prep for a We Do Not Sow).

 

Now NPV applies when you have options on how to invest. You have to cost each options’ anticipated ROI and benefits they accrue compared to a default option. So think about the opponent’s deck, your deck and decide accordingly.

 

Say you are playing Lanni Fealty and your opening hand is:

Tywin

Merchant

Kingsroad

Tyrion

Burned Men

Widow’s Wail

Casterly Rock

 

You have various options including:

1.       Mulligan (not a good option as this is a good hand, not optimal but very high percentile)

2.       Twyin + Merchant (safe from Marched but may draw into more Limited cards – fine if you run Taxation)

3.       Tywin + Kingsroad (you are sure he does not run Marched, e.g. Bara Fealty, and want to win initiative on a Calm stand-off)

4.       Tyrion + Widow's Wail + Kingsroad + Merchant (probably best vs. Targ, protecting Tyrion with loss of surprise)

5.       Tyrion + Merchant + Casterly Rock (because you are running Wardens of the West and have lots of intrigue-based effects)

6.       Tyrion + Kingsroad + Casterly Rock (because you have Wardens and are sure he has no Marched and want to win initiative)

7.       Tyrion + Merchant + Kingsroad (my preferred opening here if I’m not playing Targ, Bara or NW, spending only 7G)

 

The attraction of Tyrion is a Burned Men or Widow's Wail play in challenges and that Tywin/Casterly are loyal for Fealty use. So Tyrion gives you at least +2G that you can use and Tywin only costs +1G on Tyrion with Fealty.

 

Now each one of these options has an expected ROI (often the intangible resource tempo). Note how your own plot deck, your own draw deck and your opponent’s faction/agenda all influence your risk-reward calculation. For example against any deck that plays Milk, putting a great character in set up is a target if you plan to win initiative and go second when you can play him then. Against a Lanni deck, there is logic in opening Tywin + Merchant and hope to go first to deny a Treachery on your Kingsroad (maybe you will draw one to threaten his) and a Milk on your Tywin (who has already netted you +2G and you can Confiscate it next turn).

 

So without realising it, we are intuitively making a NPV calculation: our baseline scenario is Tywin + Merchant, then we evaluate how every other scenario will come out in comparison to a default case, based on the other parameters (match-up, plot deck, draw deck).

 

So what this section is trying to explain is that yes, tempo is related to economy – but actually it’s investment that you are eroding (Filthy on Asha) or enhancing (foregoing a greater proxy card draw set up for more economy or less vulnerability to First Snow). So in many ways, this is agreeing with OKTarg and Agktme above in their conclusion that tempo is related to economy in 2E – but it’s a lot more ephemeral than just rate of gold production, a far harder to quantify concept for business modellers and game deconstucters.

 

Feedback (even “what a load of pretentious twaddle!”) always welcome.


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#11
ToucanPlay

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Ok, I'll chime in to the tempo debate as well. I first came across this term while playing Hearthstone, and frankly, it was very easy to understand it there; it simply means using less resources than your opponent in an exchange. For instance, if you could use trade one of your spell cards which cost 4 mana, to remove a 6 mana creature from the board, you are gaining tampo, namely 2 mana. You can also gain tempo by trading a single card in your hand, for 2 or 3 of your opponent. So gaining tempo in my mind means exchanging resources favorably with your opponent.

 

Why is it so hard to transfer this to AGOT? In my opinion, this comes down to the fact that resources can be a lot more asymetric than other games, so it's hard to value your resources when compared to your opponent's resources. Usually, one gold for the Lanni player is less valuable than one gold for the Stark player. Also, there is an aditional complexity when you include other resources than are used in this game, for example, kneeling a character to trigger an effect. How much gold is kneeling a character worth? How many cards? All of this is relative to your income, your hand size, your draw effects, board state, and many other things, all of which are situational, and should be judged in a case by case basis.

 

All this makes me feel like in AGOT we don't really have tempo cards, but tempo decisions. An unfavorable exchange in resources might result in a net tempo gain due to the resource imbalance. Likewise, a favorable trade in resouces might result in a net tempo loss. This makes AGOT extremely interesting in my eyes, because the game highlights the ability to read the game state as a crucial skill to making the correct choices, even when they are not immediately obvious.


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#12
ZenClix

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First let me compliment you on this thread.  It obviously includes some very deep thought and experience.  I enjoy this kind of game immersion very much.  For me it is the true "meta" game, the constant thinking and analysis of the game at deeper and deeper levels, the philosophy of the game if you will.

 

However, I would also like to play the devil's advocate for a moment and ask a question about which I am genuinely curious (and that I hope you all will not mind me asking).  Among the elite players of this game, national and world champions and the like, how many do you think (generally speaking) engage in this depth of analysis, versus how many are just very smart and intuitively good players who are able to recognize efficiencies/ synergies/advantages when they see them and are able to create/anticipate/leverage those advantages as needed?

 

Thank you very much!


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#13
agktmte

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First let me compliment you on this thread. It obviously includes some very deep thought and experience. I enjoy this kind of game immersion very much. For me it is the true "meta" game, the constant thinking and analysis of the game at deeper and deeper levels, the philosophy of the game if you will.

However, I would also like to play the devil's advocate for a moment and ask a question about which I am genuinely curious (and that I hope you all will not mind me asking). Among the elite players of this game, national and world champions and the like, how many do you think (generally speaking) engage in this depth of analysis, versus how many are just very smart and intuitively good players who are able to recognize efficiencies/ synergies/advantages when they see them and are able to create/anticipate/leverage those advantages as needed?

Thank you very much!


I think the ability to intuit is why they are the champs.

#14
HouseCatofWar

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First let me compliment you on this thread.  It obviously includes some very deep thought and experience.  I enjoy this kind of game immersion very much.  For me it is the true "meta" game, the constant thinking and analysis of the game at deeper and deeper levels, the philosophy of the game if you will.

 

However, I would also like to play the devil's advocate for a moment and ask a question about which I am genuinely curious (and that I hope you all will not mind me asking).  Among the elite players of this game, national and world champions and the like, how many do you think (generally speaking) engage in this depth of analysis, versus how many are just very smart and intuitively good players who are able to recognize efficiencies/ synergies/advantages when they see them and are able to create/anticipate/leverage those advantages as needed?

 

Thank you very much!

I think the best players think this deeply so that they can intuitively see these trade offs in a game quickly. Instead of needing to take a long time to figure out how each choice could work out, they intuitively know, and can pick the optimal one quickly. It doesn't mean they will win every game against a player who is only very good, but it increases their win percentage a few points, and that is the difference between very good and truly elite.


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#15
chrsjxn

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I don't know about how much is intuition, and how much is just familiarity. People who are really good tend to play an awful lot. I doubt anyone playing most of these games really tends to do any significant number crunching during games, but I expect a lot of fuzzy math.

 

And oddly, one of the most interesting ways to see this might actually be to watch twitch streams / youtube videos of people playing Hearthstone. A lot of good players talk out their plays, so you can hear the logic. Lots of "If they have X, this play is better. But I've already seen one X. What are the odds they have another?".


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#16
sparrowhawk

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Ok, I'll chime in to the tempo debate as well. I first came across this term while playing Hearthstone, and frankly, it was very easy to understand it there; it simply means using less resources than your opponent in an exchange. For instance, if you could use trade one of your spell cards which cost 4 mana, to remove a 6 mana creature from the board, you are gaining tampo, namely 2 mana. You can also gain tempo by trading a single card in your hand, for 2 or 3 of your opponent. So gaining tempo in my mind means exchanging resources favorably with your opponent.

Why is it so hard to transfer this to AGOT? In my opinion, this comes down to the fact that resources can be a lot more asymetric than other games, so it's hard to value your resources when compared to your opponent's resources. Usually, one gold for the Lanni player is less valuable than one gold for the Stark player. Also, there is an aditional complexity when you include other resources than are used in this game, for example, kneeling a character to trigger an effect. How much gold is kneeling a character worth? How many cards? All of this is relative to your income, your hand size, your draw effects, board state, and many other things, all of which are situational, and should be judged in a case by case basis.

All this makes me feel like in AGOT we don't really have tempo cards, but tempo decisions. An unfavorable exchange in resources might result in a net tempo gain due to the resource imbalance. Likewise, a favorable trade in resouces might result in a net tempo loss. This makes AGOT extremely interesting in my eyes, because the game highlights the ability to read the game state as a crucial skill to making the correct choices, even when they are not immediately obvious.


I agree with everything you wrote - except "we don't really have tempo cards" (Life would be dull if we agreed on everything).

"Tempo = favourable exchange of resources" seems a good definition.

But there are various types of resources. In Thrones, we have 3 obvious physical resources. But we also have a 4th resource - each card's action, usually a kneel. That has value. Because by denying or repeating a card's action, you get to win challenges in attack or defence. And challenges lose you resources in defence (and sometimes gain you the power resource if attacking).

How much is Filthy Accusations on Asha + Bird + Kraken worth on their First Snow turn? You possibly prevented the opponent gaining up to 6 power, costing you 1 military claim, 1 intrigue claim, 1 power. And she can be ready to defend/win dominance as well. But what if after a Filthy, he marshals a Seal on Asha? He waits until challenges before standing as you may marshal Mel to kneel her again. How much tempo has the Seal given him, this turn and future turns?

In a turn, you draw 2 cards and gain X gold to play your cards. But if you lose all the challenges (against claim 1), you lose 1 paid character of your choice, 1 random unpaid card and 1 power (assuming floors of 0 in that resource are not reached). So the 6 challenges are far more important in Thrones than other games. Because winning challenges is how to obtain resource advantage. So when you make what seems like an inefficient play in isolation, outwardly card disadvantage, it can actually be net advantage.

Here's an example where I reveal the extent of how an outwardly unfavourable exchange can be favourable because of tempo.

I have Tower of the Hand and I am first player. I attack with Tyrion in intrigue, stealthing an Arbor Knight - then, on winning the challenge, I bounce both Tyrion and his Arbor Knight.

"Woah dude! That's a bad deal! Not cool, man!"

But wait, what if...
- the standing Arbor Knight (no action yet) had a Mare on Heat and 3 power from Lady Sansa's Rose
- I have Casterly Rock, Lannisport and Cersei standing, now clear to attack
- my opponent's Randyll and Loras both have Paid Off (they paid me 2 for Tyrion's attack already)
- Tyrion had Widow's Wail, now back in hand, causing my opponent to overcommit until I ambush it
- my current plot is Wardens of the West, my next plot is Wildfire Assault, I have 3 good characters left

Suddenly, what outwardly looked like a poor exchange of resources is actually a huge tempo hit!
By allowing Cersei to successfully attack as well (otherwise stymied by Arbor Knight and Mare):
* I have to replay 5G Tyrion, I fill his hand with 2C4G cards for intrigue & Wardens
* +1C (Lannisport), +2G (Paid Off r no actions for Randyll & Loras)
* opponent -2G (Paid Off) -2C random (and discard -2C if I pay 2G)
* +1P (unopposed), opponent -3P (on Arbor Knight)
* opponent must overcommit by 2 for my Wail in hand
* save Cersei from Wildfire (else she dies to save Tyrion)

Now of course this is the perfect stratagem to play against Tyrell Fealty with The Arbor in play. There is no point in trying to gold choke him with military claim - so you card choke him into top-decking his next Barge (to erode his economic advantage - or maybe you're saving your Treachery for a Barge, always going first for Paid Off to ensure you have gold in his marshal?).

Now I know the example is very "the stars align" but I gave it to illustrate:
1. the value of an action (the Knight had not taken his action yet, Tyrion had)
2. the value of increased investment (the power and attachment on the Knight)
3. the value of circumventing a guaranteed defence (assume I'd no Treachery)
4. the value of refilling an opponent's hand to satisfy intrigue (and 2x Wardens)
5. the value of regaining "naval leverage" (Wail in hand = Margaery or Lady)
6. the value of triggering extra intrigue (Cersei, Lannisport, Paid Off, Wardens)
7. the value of saving a key character from your next reset plot

It's very hard to quantify the value of each of the above - but you can (at least for a 1 turn snapshot).

This example also shows why, in the set-up example of my prior post, I often prefer to keep Wail in hand rather than set up - because I can force my opponent to commit heavily into a key challenge and fail (or fail to get +5 with 2 gold spare). I generally only set it up vs. Targ on Tyrion or Cersei, even though this means I am turning down 1G1C - because the tempo of a challenge they thought they would win but didn't because of Wail is often worth more. Or I set it up on a chud I plan to kill (I've detailed how this failed once against Night's Watch - I learnt my lesson).

Now here's the real Mind Blown thing: tempo is cumulative. This is why we have a snowball effect, because early tempo loss can be fatal.

You are going second in a Calm opener (-1 Military as you fear a Khal with his Noble Cause and you opened 2 characters) and you have Gregor in play with 2 gold and a Put to the Sword ready for Dany (who was brought out instead). She comes in with Intrigue and then has Tears of Lys on Gregor (always a risk unprotected, you hoped the 1 gold was Dracarys). Oh well, at least you'll get to kill her back! But no, out of your 6 cards, you lose the Put to the Sword randomly and have no way to spend the unspent 2 gold. And then when you attack, you pillage a Roseroad.

That's a "tale of woe" example. But losing tempo at the start can be crippling. In many ways, the game has over-emphasised tempo. It's why I like going first often, to shoot off my events and try to randomly disrupt my opponent - and why Calm (-1 Intrigue) is more my default if going second unless my board looks shaky for the match-up (Stark aggro) or bounce worry or Marched turn 2. After all, there is no plot that says "all players discard down to 3 cards".

How many times have you lost that key Sword / Tears / Risen to turn 1 intrigue and looking back wondered just how different the game would have been if you hadn't? That is the cumulative pressure advantage of tempo. Tempo plays at the start are well worth the investment in cards, gold and power (if we had the prized mechanic) because the cumulative payback is huge in every challenge won from then on - just because a key character was killed or not killed.

Treachery on Nymeria: I've spent 1C1G. But if that saved me 1 intrigue loss and gained me 1 intrigue win, that's a 2C swing payback. But then there's potential unopposed denied/gained (is that a 2P swing payback?) and the ancillary benefits like my Cersei's 2 claim, my Lannisport, being immune to his Tears and able to poison Nymeria. Tempo cards do exist​ because, in a vacuum, they seem a bad deal. But the favourable game state they create will often mean they will cumulatively net you far more than they cost.

First let me compliment you on this thread. It obviously includes some very deep thought and experience. I enjoy this kind of game immersion very much. For me it is the true "meta" game, the constant thinking and analysis of the game at deeper and deeper levels, the philosophy of the game if you will.

However, I would also like to play the devil's advocate for a moment and ask a question about which I am genuinely curious (and that I hope you all will not mind me asking). Among the elite players of this game, national and world champions and the like, how many do you think (generally speaking) engage in this depth of analysis, versus how many are just very smart and intuitively good players who are able to recognize efficiencies/ synergies/advantages when they see them and are able to create/anticipate/leverage those advantages as needed?

Thank you very much!


Thank you for the kind words about enjoying this type of discussion. Positive feedback is much appreciated as payback.

I believe there is a tiny elite cadre of players for whom playing the game comes naturally. This is innate talent. They "get it" without knowing why they get it. It is intuitive. A smaller subset of them actually get the design aspects of the game too.

However, I actually believe that a lot of the best players put in a helluva lot of hard practice to become so good. Remember the game is testing your piloting skills. And practice is the best thing for piloting.

And then there are those who love problem-solving. The theoreticians. These are quite often the deck-builders. But they either lack application to practice, a large local meta to practice piloting against or the skill set to play in a high pressure environment (they crumble under pressure). I will readily admit I fail on all three counts, even if I'm resolved to address them.

This is sort of linked to Champ cards. When you get a Champ who knows all this stuff and more already (like Corey F - say what you must about the arrogant DC meta but he taught them well), then you get an incredibly well designed Champ card. Like House of Dreams and Dark Wings Dark Words, both agendas perfect for the meta of that time (the latter is for a mature card pool). But sometimes you get a silly point-and-click neutral removal character that kills archetypes and is ubiquitous in every deck as a Champ card. And you suspect there is a Supreme Pilot. There's nothing wrong with that (I loved his other design, competitively unplayable as an Ally but so much fun in casual circles). Because winning is about being the best pilot. But it does mean that we reward the pilot and not the designer - and sometimes, that intuitive seat-of-the-pants pilot who is naturally talented at playing the game (or has just practiced hard) may not be the best card designer.

Now let's get back to exchange of ideas, shall we?
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#17
Radix

Radix

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I am working off of mobile, so i cant address all the points right now,so i will stick to tempo.

Tempo is the pace at which you play and utilize your resources. In magic this is usually cards,mana, and turns. In AGOT, we have many more resources. We have: gold, cards, power, characters, plots, actions, and turns. You can gain tempo in any one of these areas, but tempo tends to snowball. So the more tempo advantage you fain over your opponent, the greater your advantage.

You gain gold advantage in several ways,usually by spending less gold than your opponent to counter their plays. Dracarys is often a 3-4 gold swing. Marched can be create a gold swing when you lose a reducer and your opponent loses a big character. Players have variable gold so this is harder, but when your opponent is gold starved, any disruption can be crippling. For example Naval Superiority on Noble Cause.

Card tempo is about creating card advantage. Players draw 2 cards each turn normally. Card tempo can be achieved via card draw or discard. It can also be achieved by removing cards on the table.

Character advantage is simply maintaining control of the board. Murder decks revolv around this. But charactwr advantage can also be achieved using quality. A Tywin with Seal and Bodyguard is easily worth two chuds.

Plots is the 1 resource you cannot change, you fet 1 per turn. You need to maximize its effect. Naval vs Noble Cause is a huge plot swing.

Finally there is action advantage,by limiting what your opponent can do, you can run all over him.
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#18
sparrowhawk

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^^ Ding ding! Winner winner chicken dinner! I think we have a winner...

 

Startlingly similar to the Wikipedia link I gave (he probably wrote that as well), superbly translated into Thrones mechanics, tempo is controlling the rate of flow of the 4 resources (cards, gold, power, actions), both for yourself and your opponent(s).

 

So Stannis is a tempo play - he controls actions available. Of course your kneel and stand focus now has far more bite...

 

See, this is why I mentioned his blog at the start. Lots of clever people out there (who can't type on phones well and end up liking their own posts by accident). And listening to his blog, you can learn all about Night's Watch too (instead of Lannister)... :)

 

Alas, the above response was a tad too good - in my mind, the tempo discussion has now ... lost all tempo. Although there are subsets of tempo that still warrant discussion like "Inevitability" (the BWM guys discussed this concept, back when they weren't dedicating whole episodes to self-indulgent silliness).

 

i cant address all the points right now.

 

Do share your thoughts, sir, do share...



#19
Radix

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^^ Ding ding! Winner winner chicken dinner! I think we have a winner...

 

Startlingly similar to the Wikipedia link I gave (he probably wrote that as well), superbly translated into Thrones mechanics, tempo is controlling the rate of flow of the 4 resources (cards, gold, power, actions), both for yourself and your opponent(s).

 

So Stannis is a tempo play - he controls actions available. Of course your kneel and stand focus now has far more bite...

 

See, this is why I mentioned his blog at the start. Lots of clever people out there (who can't type on phones well and end up liking their own posts by accident). And listening to his blog, you can learn all about Night's Watch too (instead of Lannister)... :)

 

Alas, the above response was a tad too good - in my mind, the tempo discussion has now ... lost all tempo. Although there are subsets of tempo that still warrant discussion like "Inevitability" (the BWM guys discussed this concept, back when they weren't dedicating whole episodes to self-indulgent silliness).

 

 

Do share your thoughts, sir, do share...

Thank you for the compliment. But I am not the guy in charge of Wardens of the Midwest, that is JoeFromCincinnati. I am the guy writing Tyrell articles on that site. I didn't write the wikipedia link, I just looked at the concept and analyzed the resources that AGOT has.

 

But I think there is still room for tempo discussion. We can discuss how to achieve tempo, and which way is the most effective. I think the the most powerful types of tempo are plot and challenge tempo. But plot tempo is difficult to achieve. So the one you can control is challenge tempo. Cards that affect challenge math and Naval effects. As well as kneel. Every challenge that you can make, that your opponent can't, you gain more advantage; and these challenges affect the other tempos: Intrigue hits card tempo, Military hits board tempo, Power gets you power. But part of it is controlling actions. After the marshaling phase, you can't play characters (except Ambush, which is powerful even if not in challenges, far more powerful than most people realize). So removing characters in the challenge phase is premium.



#20
JoeFromCincinnati

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I threw this together today.

 

https://www.wardenso...card-advantage/

 

Let me know what you think.


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