Here by popular demand, this is my Symbols Guide. I know what a lot of people must think when they first start Culdcept Saga: what is the deal with symbols?! Why should I care and how do I even use them? Before I can answer how to use symbols, one has to understand what they even are.
Symbols are like the stock market of Culdcept Saga. Think of each of the elements (green/blue/red/yellow) as a city. Now, think of the territories as various types of neighborhoods. You have the projects (level 1)... the slums (level 2)... the suburbs (level 3)... the gated communities (level 4)... and the upscale mansions (level 5). Finally, there are the neutral lands. I like to think of these guys as empty lots. Ready for development, but you're not sure what's going there yet.
Each city (element) starts out at the same value. Let's say, 20g per share. There's a bunch of undeveloped land out there, waiting to be leveled up and increase the value of each share. Once your resident creatures move into each place and start fixing up the territory, the value of the land raises along with the value of the share. So, leveling one land makes the symbol of that color raise by 1, for example. Once you chain together several lands, the neighborhoods link together and the value raises even more as everybody gathers around and sings Kumbaya or some such. Who knows, close-knit communities are strange like that. Either way, the value of each share increases even more with each chained land.
Conversely, as more land of one color is converted to another color, the value of the converted color lowers. That "city" has less real estate on the board and is inherently less valuable.
Symbols will give the owner a 10% bonus when lapping the castle. An important note on this is this bonus will only go to the person who has the most symbols in their respective cache. Example: If Player 1 has 15 symbols and Player 2 has 10 symbols of the same color, Player 1 will get the 10% bonus when they lap. Player 2 will get no bonus. Now, if Player 1 has 15 red symbols and Player 2 has 10 yellow symbols, they each get a bonus for 10% of the value of their respective symbols.
Okay, now that we have an alright, if odd, understanding of symbols, let's look at how they effect the game.
Symbols are most commonly purchased at a temple. They can also be acquired by certain creatures and items, but I'll go into that later. When you cross a temple, you'll be given the option to buy symbols, sell symbols, or do nothing. Let's say you cross the temple and buy... 10 red symbols for 10g apiece, giving you 100g worth of symbols. That's 100g that nobody can touch without specific cards. Think of it as an investment. That's money not in your wallet for somebody to Drain Magic away. That's also 10% of 100 when you lap for a whopping extra... 10g!
I know, it doesn't seem like much now, but it adds up. Over the course of play, several of your red lands level up and chain bringing the value of red symbols from 10 to 20. That 100g is now worth 200g and you're getting 20g as a bonus every lap. Again, this is not a whole lot. Imagine that each lap, you are investing in another 10 symbols and another 10 symbols. So we now have 30 total symbols. The value is now at 30g a piece. Those 30 symbols are worth 900g now. When you lap, that's an additional 90g for the symbols alone. Alright, now we're talking!
All this time, your opponent may be leveling like-colored lands and the value is rising even more. By leveling their lands, they're making you money. If you don't want to tote those symbols around after quadrupling your initial investment, sell them off at the temple for a hefty profit and dump them into a land you've been wanting to level. You can also cash symbols in when paying a toll that puts your pocket in the negative. This will keep you from selling off big lands or killing the chained territories you're depending on to win the game.
Now that we've explored the very basic aspects of symbols, let's discuss the various spell, creature, and item cards that adversely affect symbols of Culdcept Saga. Some of the cards mentioned hereafter are not specifically geared toward symbols. However, they have a significant enough effect on the other symbol-related cards that they deserve mention.
Aurora (S) Multi-Flash
Raises the value of all symbols by 20%.
Aurora is a must in any symbol deck. It does just what it says it does and it becomes even more effective late in the game. The average, initial value of symbols on any map is 10 or 20. The first application will raise symbols by 2 if base value is 10 or 4 if base value is 20. So, those 10 symbols you bought for 100g just went up to 120... 240 if you bought 10 at 20g apiece.
This may not seem overly significant until you get to the later stages of the game. Remember the 30 symbols valued at 30g apiece? 30 x 20% = 6. That increases the value to 36 for each symbol. You just made 180 bucks. Not only that, but now that 10% will be 108 every lap. It only gets better from there. 20% of 50 = 10. The value just shot up to 60. It adds up very, very quickly and before you know it, you're over the goal without really trying.
Grace (N) Single Flash
User gains 15% of the total value of target Cepter's symbol value in magic.
This may seem unassuming at first, but this card is a major boon to anybody playing the symbols game. If your opponent is riding the symbol train to Winsville, this card will make them think twice about purchasing more and more symbols. Warning: More Math Approaching! Let's say your opponent has a whopping 3000g worth of symbols (300g extra per lap) and it's looking hopeless. Boom! Grace them for 15% of that booty! 15% of 3000 is 450g!!!
Let's put this in perspective. You would have to cast Refuge and sacrifice 6 cards to get 30g more than that. You would have to lap 9 times to equal that much with Manna. You would need a level 5 land to get that much out of Fame. You'd need to have 9 territories to get that out of Feast and you would probably be benefiting your opponent as well. Your opponent would need at least 1300g to get close to that value in Drain Magic. Your opponent would need to have at least 23 territories to get that amount out of Land Drain!!! At that point, you may as well say good night.
Grace is a great way to benefit from another person's profit. Here's the scary part about Grace though: you can target yourself. After dumping hundreds into the temple for more symbols... leave yourself a measly 30g and boom! More money!
Pressure (N) Multi-Flash
Lowers the value of all symbols by 30%.
Pressure is not nice to symbol users. This is, in my opinion, the biggest hitter to symbols in the game. It's like Drain Magic to symbols, but in a more permanent way. That person who was riding the symbol train to Winsville with 3000g worth of symbols, just lost 1000g of that value. The only way to re-raise that value would be at least 2 Auroras or some heavy land leveling. 50g Symbols drop to 35g!!! Throw another Pressure on there and 35g symbols drop to 25g!!!. You just halved the value of symbols with two cards. How many Auroras would it take to recover from that? 25 +20% = 30... 30 + 20% = 36... 36 + 20% = 43... 43 + 20% = 51.
Two Pressures will negate the work of 4 Auroras. The fact that you can only have 4 of any one card in a deck at one time means this is a major blow to the symbol user, especially late game. 2 Pressures also take up far less space in a deck than 4 Auroras. It wouldn't cripple a deck's flow to swap in a few of these at the start of a map with a temple on it.
Note: Dancing Doll is a neutral creature whose Territory Ability reduces the value of symbols by 20%. I mention him here because he's like a mini-Pressure that you can use time and time again. There really isn't anything else to explain here that isn't already covered in the Pressure description.
Zeromn (E) Single Flash
Lower the value of all symbols by 50%.
Zeromn has 6 other special abilities, but this is the one that applies to symbols specifically. This is like a super Pressure. You only get one of these, but sometimes one is all you should need to put a serious dent in symbol user's momentum.
Corruption (R) Single Flash
Target Cepter loses (number of symbols owned x 10) magic.
Essentially, you lose 10g for every symbol you own. If you own 30 symbols, you just lost 300g. This spell goes very well with Pressure. If the value of symbols is less than 10 each, the owner just took a major hit to their pocket book. Most symbol users will panic and sell off their cache at the first opportunity once Corruption rears its ugly head. Corruption is a great deterrent to anybody wanting to use the temple. Carry it around in your hand and dare anybody to buy symbols.
Disbelief (R) Multi-Flash
All Cepters lose (number of symbols owned x 5) magic.
This is a somewhat weaker version of Corruption. It's a great method to get around Granite Idol to teach symbol users to think twice about lugging around their precious cargo. It's also a nice way of smacking more than one person who wants to play the symbol game while you're sitting it out. This spell doesn't discriminate. It will hit you as well, if you own symbols.
Note: Lord of Bane is a creature whose territory ability is like Disbelief, but it targets one Cepter. He's also a big nasty yellow creature that gives out +10ST to Blue/Yellow creatures. He's an all-around good addition to any yellow deck, regardless of it being a symbol map or not.
Forfeit (R) Single Flash
Target Cepter's symbols of selected element and area are reverted to magic.
Forfeit is a great way to bring a symbol user back to square 1. If all they have invested in are green symbols, then every green symbol gets reverted to magic. That 3000g in symbols becomes 3000g in magic, able to be drained like a normal person. Grace is no longer applicable as there are no symbols to play it off of. It may also take more for them to reinvest in symbols as the maximum purchase limit at any one time is 50. In the meantime, they are less able to benefit from Grace and are unable to keep you from using Drain Magic. This is a very effective card and can wreak havoc on a symbol user's flow.
Triumph (N) Single Enchant
User's next lap bonus is increased to 1.5x. Effect ends when user reaches the castle.
Remember how symbols give a lap bonus of 10%? Triumph amplifies that amount 1.5x. So, the 3000g in symbols netting you a bonus of 300g is then multiplied by 1.5 giving an extra 450g instead. This is always on top of the average 200-300g you are getting each bonus to begin with. So a Triumph lap bonus will net you around 800g. I've had lap bonuses of 1500g using my symbols deck. Triumph is an amazing card with symbols.
Fairy Light (N) Single Enchant
Every round, target Cepter gains (number of cards in hand x10G) magic. Effect ends when target reaches the castle.
This doesn't have anything to do with symbols. What it does do is allow you to dump all of your gold into buying as much symbols as you can and regain a bit of spending cash the very next round. This is especially effective when combined with Grace. Since Grace is only 30g to cast, you need only have 3 cards in hand to pop it off and be back in the big bucks so far as pocket change goes. Fairy Light also works well to keep casting spells while waiting for a Triumph to show up and gain maximum benefit from your lap bonus.
Poison Mind (S) Single Flash
User views the top 6 cards in target enemy Cepter's book, then selects 1 to destroy. / Doublecast
This card is pivotal when running a symbol deck. Most people who pack their decks with anti-symbol cards tend to use them as soon as they show up. This will prevent Suppression and Crusher from being used to this effect. Poison Mind nips it in the bud before it becomes a threat. Dig 6 cards into their deck and neutralize the greatest threat. The fact that this is Doublecast lets you destroy a threat without missing a beat. Poison Mind is a must!
Echo (S) Single Flash
Sets user's magic to 50% of target enemy Cepter's magic.
Echo is another card that doesn't have anything specifically to do with symbols. However, this is a very useful card in any symbol deck. The general reaction of an opponent who has low level lands of a like color with your symbols is to not level anything. They realize that if they level their land, your symbols increase in value. As a result, they save up their cash. If this happens, Echo is there to capitalize. Dump a bunch of money into symbols, but leave 80g minimum in your pocket. The next turn, if your opponent hasn't spent the 1500g they've been lugging around afraid to use, boom! Echo and you go from 80g to 750g. This is a major boost that causes your opponent to frantically level the first land he can get his hands on. If you've invested that 750g into his off-colored lands then those will raise as a result of his desperate spending. Win-win!
Granite Idol (S) Neutral Creature
Defensive / Global Ability: All Cepters cannot be targeted by Flash spells or Flash territory abilities (except those that dispel Enchantment effects).
Why is this guy here? I'll tell you why. He kills Cepter-targeted Single Flash spells. Grace? Nada. Echo? Nada. Poison Mind? Nada. Corruption? Nope! Word of Recall for that fast lap? Nope! Drain Magic? Nope! So many spells that make a good symbol deck great are neutralized by this idol. When combined with Disbelief, symbol users should quake in fear. Conversely, this can be used to keep away pesky creatures like Witch, Lord of Bane and Heat Imp. It also blocks nasty anti-symbol spells like Corruption or Forfeit. In my opinion, Granite Idol cripples symbol-focused decks more than it helps them.
Heat Imp (S) Fire Creature
Territory (50G): Reduces target Cepter's most numerous symbol by 40%, then is destroyed.
This little guy is a ticking time-bomb. He is probably one of the most potent attackers on symbol users. Most symbol users ability to thrive depends on many symbols gaining value at once. 50 symbols going up in value by 7g is 350g all at once. Even when paying a toll, symbol users need only toss 1-5 symbols away to get back in the green. They can generally pick up and go like nothing happened. Heat Imp hits symbol users where it hurts. 40% of 50 symbols is 20 symbols. 20 symbols going poof in an instant can be devastating. If those symbols were worth 40g a piece, Heat Imp just decked them for a permanent 800g. That's a whole lot to a person's pocketbook! Put in symbol terms, 800g in invested symbols gone in a blink is a stock market crash!
Lung (R) Water Creature
(50g+2 blue lands)
In Battle: ST & HP= (number of symbols owned by user).
This is an odd creature. His in-combat stats equal the amount of your blue symbols. If you've invested in 100 blue symbols, then he's a 100/100 monstrosity. He combines well with Pressure to drop the price of blue symbols early allowing you to make this guy a beast right out of the gate. Late game boosting of this dragon is harder, as you're paying 200g to boost him 4 stats. The key to using Lung effectively is to make him a monster early.
Raksas (R) Earth Creature
(70g+ 1 green land)
Upon Victory: Opponent Cepter loses 30% of their most numerous symbol.
This guy is the bane of symbol users who utilize territories as well. With every victory, he acquires destroys 30% of the most numerous symbol the defeated Cepter owns. Set him up next to a row of lands and watch the lumberjack go to work.
Godless Pike (S) Weapon
ST+20 / Upon Victory: Lowers value of symbols of the same element as opponent by 50%.
I'm putting this weapon right next to Raksas because they work so well together. Not only does the Raksas become a 70/30 creature that knocks out 30% of the defeated Cepter's symbols... he lowers the value of the colored land's symbols by 50% at the same time. Example: Attack a green territory and win with the Godless Pike, and boom! All green symbols drop by 50%. If the main symbol user happens to have all green symbols... you just halved their stockpile's value. This is like a miniature Zeromn.
Sanctum Guard (R) Neutral Creature
Attacks First / Upon Victory: User gains 5 symbols of same element as battle territory.
This is the creature most people think about when it comes to getting symbols via unconventional means. She's a 40/40 First Attacking neutral creature that can be used with Intrusion to attack at a moment's notice. When she wins, you get 5 symbols for free. This is a great way to gain symbols on a map without a temple. Combine her with Coin of Piety and you get 15 symbols in one battle!
Note: Sanctum Guard will not gain any symbols when fighting on a multi-colored or neutral territory.
Coin of Piety (S) Tool
Upon Victory: User gains 10 symbols of same element as battle territory.
This is a great item to equip when you're assured victory. It'll add 10 symbols of the color territory when you win. Like I pointed out earlier, it combines great with Sanctum Guard for 15 symbols in one battle.
How To Use a Symbol Deck.
Now that we've discussed some of the essential cards for playing a symbol deck and countering a symbol deck, let's look at how to play a symbol deck.
Buy low / sell high.
Symbols are just like the stock market. If you know there's going to be a raise in prices, buy up before the big raise. Example: when somebody levels a land way up. This can serve two purposes. It can prevent an opponent from leveling in the first place or it can give you some extra cash for free when they level up anyway. Either way, win-win.
Pack Permission and Manna.
Several ideal symbol maps have multiple paths to the castle. Mt. Etumer and Belizalberg come to mind. Several Permissions can pile up the bills seriously quick when investing heavily in symbols. Combine this with Manna and you can dump all of your earnings into a temple then recover instantly with a 200g or 300g Manna for free right afterwards. Word of Recall is a good one to use as well, as it'll let you jump to the castle at any point after a Permission has been used.
I'm innocent! I swear!!!
If you are run an all-spell symbol deck like I do, it is great to have cards that neutralize the big tolls that pop up around the board. Having no taking power can make moving around the board risky if huge tolls loom on the horizon. Fix this problem with Blackout, Innocence, or Peace. Blackout makes it so the opponent can't collect even if he wanted to. Innocence is just like Blackout, only it makes you alone immune to tolls for a period of time. A more permanent/semi-permanent solution would be Peace. Land on that level 4 Kelpie all day - with Peace on, he's not collecting a dime.
Figure out what to buy.
At the start of any match, it will usually be evident what your opponent will be trying to get. Blue decks will grab blue land. Green decks will grab green land... etc. Start out the gate by grabbing lands in the color they will likely want to use. Your average opponent will be either oblivious to what you're planning or catch on halfway through the match. At that time, they'll either start investing in another color, costing them serious cash or leveling up their lands in a mad dash to the finish. Figure out where they want to reallocate their funds and invest appropriately.
Ebony is your friend.
Ebony Idol is a great addition to any symbol deck. She/It stops all kinds of Territory abilities that could be troublesome. Land Transfer decks utilizing Tokebi are unable to throw money around like crazy. Lord of Bane can't zap you. Witch can't zap you. Heat Imp can't zap you. It can slow an opponent's game plan down enough to gain a serious advantage over them.
Lubricate your deck.
I discussed this in my Advanced Guide. All-spell symbol decks should be casting a useful spell every single turn. Having cards like Find, Wind of Hope, Gift and Foresight help you get the cards you need when you need them. Brass Idol also works well here, but he has a tendency to help your opponent out just as much. Use him at your own risk.
How To Beat The Symbol User
Now that I've given you a few tips on how to play a symbol deck. How do you beat one? I look at using symbols as one person playing baseball while the other is playing football. When confronted with a well-crafted symbol deck used by a skilled Cepter, many people will panic and be unsure how to go on. With these tips, you might be able to beat the symbol user at their own game.
I explained earlier that only the person with the most symbols in an element will gain the lap bonus from it. If you buy more symbols than the other guy, you'll get the bonus and they won't. Most symbol decks rely on that big cash-out reward when they lap to build the momentum and take the game fast. Depriving them of the bonus will slow them down quite a bit. It'll also discourage them from using cards like Aurora as it will benefit you more! They will still be able to use Grace on you to the same benefit, however. So watch out for this. Granite Idol, Anti-Magic, and Poison Mind can stop this from happening if you're prepared.
Pack some anti-symbol cards.
When playing on a map with a temple, the risk is always there that somebody will dip into the symbols and annoy the rest of the players. Before the match starts, take a minute or two and swap in some anti-symbol cards. Corruption and Pressure are ideal for making a symbol user sorry he ever considered using them. Heat Imp, a normally useless card, is a nice "Just in case" creature to toss in your deck. Throw him down and dare your opponent to go hog wild with symbols.
Block the temple off.
A symbol user's main goal is to get as many symbols as they can. They attain this goal by walking into the temple and cashing in. If you park a creature or two around the Temple and level them up, you are making it a risk for them to cash in every time they walk near the temple. Further solidify this danger by putting a Kelpie down by the temple. Now they'll be forced to pay a toll every time they want to purchase a few more symbols. This will quickly cripple a symbol user.
Stop their buffs.
Fairy Light, Triumph, and Innocence are common enchants for symbol users trying to skate by. Wait until one has just dumped all of his money into the temple and overwrite their Fairy Light with Holy Word: 1. Or, Dispel Magic their Triumph right before they get to the castle. Or, throw Anti-Magic on them and watch as they have to waste a Grace or Poison Mind or Fairy Light just to get through the Anti-Magic and start flowing again.
Save it for the end.
If your deck utilizes Goblin's Lair, take your time lacing the board with goblins. Drop your regular creatures on off-color lands. In the case of an all-spell deck, understand that your opponent won't be invading you. Items become mostly useless, so putting creatures on off-color land is no big deal. Once you have a nice amount of real estate in several land options, save some cash and level off-color land. You can even level neutral land. If you do this all at once, the symbol user will likely have to shift gears to capitalize on your new color of choice.
Keeping lands at level 1 also keeps Aurora from being nearly as effective a tool for raising symbol value. Once you have leveled off-color land and gained a significant lead on the symbol user, cross the castle for the win. It is possible to out-race a symbol user. I know, it's happened to me before.
I hope this guide has helped you better understand the vast depths that represent symbols. Hopefully, this information will better prepare you for fighting symbol users as well as use symbols to the best of their ability. They are an underutilized portion of Culdcept Saga that is easily exploited in the right hands. Thank you for reading.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 January 2016 12:53