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5 Tips To A Better Game

Has your biggest Culdcept buddy been the CPU? It's hard to develop a strategic game when a simple Kelpie will topple all of your opposition. Here are five tips to help improve your game and get your strategy focused on the big fish who lurk on the Live scene.

1) Have Chain, Will Pay.
The first major mistake I've seen some people make online is releasing the wrong lands when a toll throws their purse in the gutter. They'll release the small lands or insignificant lands first instead of the bigger lands. "But the bigger land is the heart of my game!," one might say. That may be so, but with few exceptions releasing it will be the key to maintaining a competitive edge.

We all know how chains work by this point. The key is to exploit the way the work to maximize profit before we're forced to pay a toll. Ergo, the goal is to increase the value of your most expensive land as much as possible and then release it for maximum profit. The profit comes from the chain multiplier. In a 4-chain if you throw in 800G your total assets will actually increase by 1600G so you make a free 800G. If that free magic can cover your toll, then you aren't really any worse for wear. If not you'll at least minimize the impact of the toll on your pre-toll TG (total magic).

An example. You have a 3-chain and 700G in your purse. You land on a level 3 land with a toll of 320G. Sure, you can afford to just pay the toll, so why not? Let's look at it this way. Say you passed over a level 1 land of yours before you stopped. You can pay 700G to level it up to level 4. You pay 700G but your TM increases by 1260G (700 * 1.8 for the 3-chain). You lose an expendable land, pay a fairly menial toll, but now your purse is a whopping 940G. You basically used a creature to gain yourself several hundred G for free which you can use to fuel an upcoming combo or level up your other creatures.

In cases where you don't have the option of gaining magic, you can see how the free money can be vital to keeping you in the game. You may to release your highest level land if someone is setting up to take it. Best to keep any money spent in house.
A good piece of advice is to cast a Telegnosis or Revelation before you make a roll where you can land on a big land. Doing so will allow you level up any land of yours.

Exceptions: It's not always the case where you'll want to give up a creature in a chain. A combo may be disrupted, a creature you have no more of may be lost. In these cases you may want to just pay the toll or even liberate cheaper lands in a color chain. That'll have to be played by ear.

So in final, if you have to release lands release off-colors and the highest level lands of color chains. Pay to increase the chain or level up a land with the one action you get before paying a toll.

2) Counter-Offensive.
If you watch the Japanese play you may wonder why so many people use the more expensive Counter Amulet than Gaseous Form. Not to over generalize, but it does seem to be a more staple defensive card than the other. To cut to the chase it's because it can be used offensively as well. Not only can you use it to kill that annoying creature attacking your land that you want removed from the game, but you can also invade a land with it (of course Gaseous Form is the better alternative if the land is cursed with Senility). Think of that annoying off-color first strike creature defending that big land. You can take your little pee-wee attacker and put him to himself real good. People don't often see it coming if you cast Intrusion and use a Counter Amulet. It's not foolproof, but it opens up options. This is the kind of successful thinking that's crucial to upper-level play.

3) Race for 3rd!
It's generally good gaming to pick on the guy in first. After all, he's the one closest to winning. So what better way to avoid any nasty heat than playing in the back-burner for a bit? Don't rush to be the first to level up to a major land unless you know you can hold it or you think you can snag several sizable tolls. Don't give away too much on how you can make a big play by hovering over a land and deliberating with your hand showing. Try and bide your time and pick your shot to ascend for when the other players are bickering and picking on each other. Subterfuge is better than chest-bashing when you're outnumbered.

On the other hand, don't pace yourself too slowly and aim for 4th (to continue the metaphor). You may lose too much momentum and be unable to mount an offensive before another player snowballs far out into the lead. And don't always pick on the person who will gain you the most immediate benefit. For instance, you might not want to cast Drain Magic on the second place Cepter if he has 1000G when the first place cepter has 500G but is close enough that his castle bonus will give him the win.

Pace yourself tactically and strike strategically.

4) Use It or Lose It?
One of the hardest things to do is to give up a card when drawing your seventh during the draw phase. Any card thrown away in this manner was worthless. Most of the time it can't be avoided. Sometimes, however, you could have avoided the situation in a profitable manner. How so? Use the cards when you have 'em. Good example: Fame. Costs 80G and gives you highest land level * 10G. Get these early on and it's easy to either hold on to them too long or throw them out without using them. You must remember, though, that no matter what you get a profit from it (you can't cast it without at least one creature in play). So why not use it sub-optimally?

Culdcept isn't a game of absolutes, though. Using cards recklessly is a recipe for disaster. This advice sounds too vague and contrived, but I can cement it a little better in reality. Think of it this way, spells have a more immediate and applicable impact on the game. Why? Because you don't often need a specific occurrence to benefit from them. This makes them easier and more advantageous to use sub-optimally than creatures or items. With spells it's generally use it or lose it. I wouldn't' hold on to quick utility spells for longer than several rounds before using it. Fame, Manna, Echo, Foresight, Gift, Wind of Hope, etc. Drain Magic and Prophecy fit this bill but they can have an alternate role as deterrent and can be held onto a little longer. Gauge the situation and adjudicate usage accordingly.

Items are the hardest to hold on to because they can only be used in a fight. Hold on to too many for too long and they'll get crushed or captured or never used. Then the opportunity cost of them is the cards you gave up to hold them which can outweigh their value as deterrents. It's a fine balance but generally two items is a sufficient deterrent and three items in your hand is pushing it. Use those but lose any more, in general.

Creatures are harder to gauge. Knowing when to play a creature and when to discard it is a facet of the game that separates tiers of players. So is when to defend one and when to let one die. It's more than a matter of having enough magic to afford them, you need timing, opportunity, and incentive. Consider these two cases:

a] You're running a green book, the stage is mostly filled, and you land on an open space next to an Armor Dragon. You need to summon a Sakuya and this is your best opportunity. If the dragon is on a low level land then you may have the opportunity, but the timing is bad if you care about her survival. She's a high-profile creature and the opponent has the incentive to march over and kill her. You, however, have an Earth Shield. However, you're smart and know that it only works once and the dragon can simply be marched over a second time to claim the land. This example highlights the interplay of Use It or Lose It between creatures and items. It's important to understand the ramifications of the particular scenario you create when you drop a creature, especially mid to end game. In the above example, an Earth Shield wouldn't be a good enough deterrent to convince you to summon Sakuya (unless you need to turn another land green and she's otherwise expendable). Nor will you be advantageous in any mind game since you don't have a decisive or random enough item. If you had a Counter Amulet you'd strip the enemy cepter of incentive, and if you had a Specter's Robe you'd provoke them to evaluate the value of invading.

b] It's the beginning of the game, a Brass Idol is out, and your hand is stuffed with creatures. You don't have a Revival in your book. Now do you drop creatures indiscriminately to get value out of them? Only to an extent is this a good idea. Stretch yourself too thin and you create a poor situation for yourself. The opportunity cost may be your inability to cast a Trespass at an optimal moment. It may also be the cost of defending many lands at once. For what's the point of getting the value out of a card if the benefit is only temporary? It's best to lose it more than use it; pick your shots based on the particular situation.

The preceding examples dictate not to use creatures thoughtlessly. Consider also the following:

Frost Beast is a great card, but you haven't been drawing many creatures to meet its Land Requirement. You have four in your book, so what should you do? Keep one but ditch any others you may come across if it's still too soon. You don't want to give up so much to ensure he gets summoned that you have nothing left to fuel any combos are gimmicks your book is built on.

Your book is based on flooding the map with Hive Workers but you have drawn many excellent creatures as well, like Chimeras. Your hand is full and you've just passed a Hive Queen. Should you get another Hive Worker or drop the Chimera? This is a common situation and I think it's best to focus on the crux of the book. If it's ants, then use every opportunity to get or play an ant that presents itself. If it's based on Goblins then don't hesitate to sacrifice a Colossus or Armored Dragon to a Goblin's Lair. These two cases are situations where you lose it to use it.

In summary, try and squeeze value out of every card you can. Sometimes a card is more valuable when used (as in using a first round Manna instead of holding it). Sometimes it is more valuable when discarded (discarding an Armored Dragon to summon a Goblin to fuel a Red Cap). It's important to get a feel for when to use it, when to lose it, and how long to hold on to it for (if at all).

5) A Mnemonic for the Refined.
Invading a land can be a trying business. You might have the cards of up to three other hands to keep in mind, abilities, songs, creatures, etc. It's pretty easy to accidentally attack a land you can't take. For that reason I propose a mnemonic to help organize all of the different variables for us claassi individuals.

Curse (Is the land cursed?)
Land Effect (How much HP is the creature getting?)
Aid (Is the creature gaining stats from another creature?)
Ability (What is the creature's ability? Can you damage it?)
Song (Does the enemy have any songs in effect?)
Support Effect (If you're planning on taking a hit, can you live?)
Items (Can the enemy use any items to survive?)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 12:48

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Quicksand 360
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Forces any Cepter that steps onto target territory to stop. Effect ends when triggered or after 2 rounds.

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