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Crafting The Theory - Redundancy

Kennon Crafting the Theory

Redundancy [ri-duhn-duhn-see]
-noun, plural –cies
1. the state of being repetitive or no longer needed.
2. superfluous repetition or overlapping, esp. of words
3. something superfluous
4. duplicate systems equipment, etc., that function in case an operating part or system fails, as in a spacecraft.
5. unemployment, layoff

I’m sure you’re all wondering why in the world this month’s Crafting the Theory began with a dictionary entry (Dictionary.com if you’re curious). The answer to that one is that this week’s article is about redundancy! Now, in order to discuss redundancy AGOT, I felt that it would be most constructive for all of us to be working off of the same definition and understanding of what redundancy actually is.

If you read through each of the entries here, it should become apparent which meaning we’re after in relation to the game, but let’s walk through them briefly to be certain.

Definition one relates to something that is in a state of being repetitive or no longer needed. While certain cards may no longer be needed in AGOT once you’ve achieved a particular game state (ie, At the Gates is in your plot deck, but you have no masters left in your deck). By and large though, you shouldn’t include cards in your deck that are not needed, so we can rule out this meaning.

Definition two and three are so close in meaning that I’ve chosen to wrap those together into the same paragraph. A superfluous item is one that would be at best tangential to the overall situation. Again, we shouldn’t be including cards in our decks that don’t pertain pretty closely to the overall strategy and superfluous cards would merely be taking up room that we should be devoting to more key effects in our limited sixty card space.

Definition five refers to redundancy in a company, in that those whose functions are also filled by someone else at the business may find themselves unemployed due to the doubling up on people with those skills. Again, in AGOT this has very little application as we’re not running a business, though a different article at some point may possibly try to equate the same sort of budgeting process to deck construction. I’ll file that away for a future idea.

The astute readers among you will have noticed by now that I have rather glaringly skipped over a definition. This is, of course, because definition four is the one that is most applicable to AGOT deck design theory. Much like in the example of a spacecraft, definition four is all about duplicating your tools so that if one fails, you still have options. In layman’s terms this might possibly be known as having a backup plan.

Now, of course, this backup plan can take many different forms, but here we’re going to look at what this type of backup plan means for the deck construction of the three major deck supratypes- Aggro, Combo, and Control.

Redundancy through Efficiency

The first form of redundancy that we’ll be discussing is redundancy through efficiency. One of the two classic forms of redundancy, this is the form that aggro decks are most likely to practice, and the more fully they follow this during construction, the closer they become to full and direct aggro in gameplay.

An aggro deck wants to present the fiercest threats possible, in the fastest manner possible, in order to keep up offensive pressure on their opponent. This enables them to keep up a proactive gameplan that spends less time worrying about the opponent’s cards and the possibility of their effect on the game, but rather forces the opponent onto their heels and requires that they play reactively to the threats that are presented.

The most surefire method that an aggro deck has in order to keep up this threat density then, is to make certain that as many of their cards as possible are each threats in their own right, or combine with very minimal effort to become a threat. This is called efficiency in deck construction. Now, efficiency is also a term that can be applied to individual cards, but that’s an analysis and a factor that we’ll consider in a future article. What we’re looking at with efficiency in construction is the threat density that your deck brings to the table. In the average Baratheon rush deck, this is accomplished through having the widest variety of characters possible that are able to gain power and/or participate in multiple challenges. What this means in gameplay is that when you draw your cards, the individual cards are irrelevant compared to the role that they fill- it doesn’t matter if you draw No Shadows Robert, Axel Florent, or Tourney Knight because they all represent threats pertinent to the overall theme of the deck. Likewise, in Stark Seige of Winterfell aggro, it matters very little which of your individual characters you draw in a given game compared to their overall capability to win military challenges.

Redundancy through efficiency can also apply to events in the deck. For example, Superior Claim (KotStorm) falls under the category of cards that present a threat with the very minimum of additional input. Much like Stark Seige decks can trigger their agenda’s response with essentially of the characters in their deck, Superior Claim cares very little about which other cards that you have in play. As long as you can win the challenge by the appropriate amount, it presents a significant threat.

Redundancy through Replication

The second form of classic redundancy is redundancy through replication. While aggro decks will frequently make use of this form of redundancy as well, the supratype that relies on it the most is combo.

While efficiency and replication seem very similar in deck building purposes, the stem from a very different viewpoint on how to make use of the redundancy during actual gameplay. While efficiency sees all cards as more or less of a threat and then focuses on trying to equalize the threat level in any possible draw, replication worries less about this generalization of power level and general roles while focusing on specifics of application.

This means that replication in large part can be boiled down to finding other cards with as close to the same effect as possible. Since Combo decks generally rely on a very specific set of cards they need to do this in order to prepare themselves for the possibility of their plan going awry. While aggro decks believe they can force the opponent to react to their gameplan and try to end the game before the opponent significantly interacts with it, combo decks must frequently be aware of the ways that their opponent can hamper their gameplan and be able to adapt adapt to the situation in order to facilitate the actual combo engine that their deck is centered on. This results in a need to find replacement cards for specific effects. Rather than a swath of vaguely similar cards, the combo deck has a clear line of backup play to enact a similar effect in the case that an opponent destroys or negates a primary engine piece.

Replication of effects plays out in specific decks in a more linear fashion than redundancy through efficiency because there are only so many cards with such similar effets. For instance, a King Viserys deck may focus largely on Lady Daenerys's Chambers (Core) to facilitate the recursion of their vulnerable attachments from the discard pile, but if the opponent is playing heavy location control, then they can use the Bronze Link (FtC) on a Maester character for almost the same effect. Likewise, a Baratheon recursion deck focusing on using King Robert to replay and redraw See who is Stronger (KotStorm) may on occasion run up against a Targaryen deck that burns Robert out, or an opposing King that blanks him. In order to shore up this possibility, they frequently utilize Pyre of the False Gods (KotStorm) to replicate the reuse of their key events in as close a manner as possible.

Redundancy through Draw

The last form of redundancy that I’m addressing today is not actually redundancy in the most traditional sense, but knowing that I had already covered two of the main deck supratypes, I thought it best to illustrate the difference in how this applies (or doesn’t) to the control deck as well.

Control decks don’t rely on redundancy in the same way that other decks do. While aggro decks focus on a blunt force offense, and combo attempts to sidestep things with their own gameplan, control decks actually focus almost entirely on interaction with the opponent. That is to say, the control deck type is based almost entirely on reactionary plays. While other decks spend time on threats, the control deck spends most of its time and effort reacting to those threats.

Of course, in a game like AGOT, threats can take a very wide shape and form from any of several different card types. In order to effectively react then, the control deck will often try to play as many different answers to as many different types as possible. This leads to a dilution of the overall redundancy in the deck as a whole due mainly to limited card slots and the lack of a sideboard. When you’re trying to run answers to anything, you just don’t have as much room for multiples of everything.

The best way to combat dilution of the deck then, is draw. The larger the number of cards that a player sees over the course of the game, the greater the odds that one of them will be the most applicable, superior play against their opponent’s threat at any given moment. Control decks utilize a greatly over weighted emphasis on draw in order to artificially inflate their levels of efficient and replicated redundancy to levels that more focused deck types are able to enjoy.

And that’s it folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed another wild ride on the AGOT theory train of my mental process.
  • sparrowhawk likes this


Call me simple-minded but this article was too abstract for me to gain something from reading it.
    • sgtpimenta likes this
Very well written and i think delivers the points well.

I had been struggling with explaining the difference between Redundancy through Efficiency vs Redundancy through Replication and how the first is much better in a Aggro power rush deck then the second but could not put it into words very well. Now i can just link to this article. ;)
    • darknoj likes this
Is there a minimum word count for articles? The first third about the definition seems... redundant. Unless that was what you were going for?

Other than that, I enjoyed reading it.
@Alando, Haha, no, there's no minimum word count, though that doesn't mean that I can't amuse myself as a writer. ;) Aside from that, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

@Mischraum, Sadly, Crafting the Theory is going to be almost always abstract, but for my personal reference, did you get anything useful out of last month's article?
I like these articles. They put in words certain things I feel you start to unconsciously pick up the more you play these type of games.

It's only as complicated as it needs to be, not to mention concise and to the point.
I think this is the best Crafting the Theory you've done.

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around Superior Claim as an efficient card though. It is the quickest way to your victory condition, true, but it's really specialized in it's use. Winning a challenge by 4 strikes me as being pretty dependent on other cards you have in play.
    • cooperflood likes this
Apr 30 2012 08:33 PM
different decks have different ways of achieving 4 or greater
Right, Rave, I likely worded it just a touch poorly in the initial article. While it does of course require characters in play in order to win the challenge, it really doesn't care in the least which characters that you have in play. Because there are no particular requirements to the characters needed aside from a power icon and some kind of strength you aren't going to be needing to go out of your way very far in order to play the event no matter the game state. Thus the necessary input (in cards drawn as well as time and resources invested) is considerably lower than something like, say the Robert/See Who is Stronger/Pyre issue in the Replication section.