Thursday, 15 May 2014

Guest Article: WZR Deck Building Pt 1: Introduction

Hello and welcome to the first part of my "Warzone Resurrection Deck Building" article series. What I will aim to do in this is explain both basic deck building techniques and some more advanced as I progress. This will probably be a long read, be prepared for this.

Who am I?

I'm a (soon to be) 32 year old swede who has played a lot of games. I'm currently applying to a fast track education in computer gaming with the special focus on level design, tied in with some big developers based among other places, here in Sweden (DICE, Massive Entertainment etc). Currently working inside the education system both as a sort of teachers aide and managing aftercurricular activities at a low to middle grade school.

My gaming career has been long, and began with role-playing games (and later Warzone) when I was 14 years old, progressed to Warhammer when Target Games folded, as well as semi-competitive Magic the Gathering playing when I got older. Computer games and board games have been a constant part of my life since the family got the first 486 PC computer, and SNES before that. I have a huge interest in game design. Gaming mechanics are a puzzle to me, and I like to understand the intention and interaction between them. Games that just "work" based on innovative rules are extra fun to me. On the flipside, games that have convoluted and unneccesarily heavy rules are annoying. I like to try and "break" the ruleset to see what its capable off. I tell you this so you'll understand where I'm coming from examining the card mechanics and interactions between cards and models on the board. Oh, this got longwinded. Moving on.

Why build a deck? Can't I just build an army the way I want to and then just use some of the cards I got with the models?

You can and you should do this! This introduction is not meant to tell you how to play. It's meant to examine how to get the most out of your army and cards when they are working together. The end result is greater than the sum of its parts kind of deal.


This card on it's on is not very good, unless you are changing weapons from Blast to Plasma, thus giving your Legionnaries some more armour. However, Necromutants have a rule that says;
Passive: Black Technology: Necromutants have the ‘Heal 
(8)’ Special Skill against weapons with Type: Plasma.

Now. If we construct our force out of only Necromutants in the Troops slot, and we have three of the "Algeroths Dark Pattern" card, we have a way to make our Necromutants ignore death 40% (8/20) of the time.

Now, lets add a second card into the mix.

With five of these cards as well, we have just now substantially increased the survivability of any auxilliary units we have as well (Stalkers, Razides, the Warlord, Lords etc).
This is what deck building is all about. Finding synergies between different cards and different units that turns the army into a smooth and well oiled machine that performs the way you want it to.

This sounds like something you would do to win at all costs! That's not fun to play against.

Yes. This is somewhat competitive. It is however, in my opinion, fun. By making sure that a larger part of the community knows about deck building, and knows some of the core principles behind it, other people may build armies and decks to match yours. This means that everyone becomes a better player as a result. It also means that matches go faster, and are a lot more exciting. I don't mind losing to a perfectly combined army and deck. Watching such a thing is fun in itself. Plus, it will get me thinking about how I'm going to beat it.

Wont it be down to blind luck on who draws better cards and because of that wins?

Yes and no. Luck is involved, but Prodos has give you tools to modify your chances. Just as everyone can get unlucky and only roll 20s when shooting their weapons, someone can get unlucky and not draw their crucial cards needed to win. However, the laws of probability comes into play here. You have 35 cards, and can include a maximum of 5 of each Tactical card, and 3 of each Strategy and Gear card.

Example: The chance to draw 1 of 3 Strategy cards, when drawing 5 cards (your starting hand) is roughly 40%. If you draw none of these 3 cards, you can dsicard your entire hand to draw 5 new cards. This raises the chance of you having one of those crucial 3 cards in your hand to roughly 65% chance. If you still don't have your card, you can discard cards and draw extra cards for resources.

As the above example illustrates, even though luck is involved, you can modify that luck by including the max amount of the card you are relying on, and ruthlessly discarding cards you don't need in order to get to the ones you need. That being said, the chance (with discarding starting hand in mind) to draw your crucial Strategy Card is about the same as rolling 13 or under on a D20. That is pretty good odds.

A quick note about cards:

Strategy Cards - You can only include 3 of each in the deck. Strategy Cards have a global effect, and can be used in between squad activations. Including the first squad activation. As only one strategy card can be in play each turn, and the person who won initiative has the chance to play first, playing it right away is crucial. Many decks will be built around Strategy Cards as they affect multiple units or the entire battlefield. This means they get exponentially better the more units they affect (the enemies or your own).

Gear Cards - You can have 3 of each in your deck. The only card type that stays during the control phase. Many affect the entire unit, while some may effect one model in the unit only. Playing these early is usually a good idea, as they get more to be used for longer on account of not being removed in the control phase. Exceptions may exist. Remember that gear cards can be played on opposing units. Many of these cards will only be playable on the unit they came with. This is worth remembering. Taking 3 of a Gear Card that affect a unit you only have one of is bad. If the unit gets killed, or you already played the gear card on them, the rest of those gear cards will just clog up your hand.

Tactical Cards - You can include 5 of each of these cards in your deck. These cards are usually played on a unit for a temporary effect that lasts for one round. The bonuses can be both offensive and defensive, and can also be played on either enemy or friendly units. Many of these cards will only be playable on the unit they came with. This is worth remembering. Taking 5 of a Tactical Card that affect a unit you only have one of is bad. If the unit gets killed those cards are dead in your hand.

Basic deck building tips.

*1 Never go above 35 cards in your deck. You want your deck to be as efficient as possible. That means you want as high of a chance as possible to draw the good cards. If your deck is 40 cards rather than 35, you will have a lower chance of drawing the good stuff. Weigh the cards against each other, and cut out all but the very best.

*2 These guides will assume you have the maximum amount of each card you are going to put in the deck. I know that's not how the cards are packaged right now, and I don't know if they ever will be, or if you'll have to buy a second Valerie Duval just to get three of her Bonded Strategy Card, but for theorys sake I will assume you have 3 of each Tactical and Strategy Card and 5 of each Tactical Card.

*3 Look for synergies in both the army and the deck. The above example with Algeroths Dark Pattern is a good show of what synergy is. Generally, it's worse to take cards to make up for a weakness in your army, over taking cards that make you better at what you are already good at. As an example, if your army is shooty, take cards that make you better at shooting over cards that gives a small boost in CC to a unit that is most likely doomed in CC anyway. Except in certain cases as noted in point 4.

*4 Cards that work both ways are great. The DL card "Blood-Lust" gives the entire unit RoF:0 but +1 to RoA. Even if your army is shooty, this card can be used to shut down enemy shooty units that might threaten yours (its primary purpose) but it can also be used to give a shooty unit trapped in CC an unexpected boost (its secondary purpose).

*5 Look at your balance of cards. Did you include only Tactical Cards? Your opponent will play a Strategy Card each turn, probably winning him the game as they are global effects. Too many Strategy Cards? What will you do when your opponent wins the initiative? I can't tell you what the perfect mix is, but I would at least include as many Strategy Cards as there are max amount of game turns. This means that in the extremly lucky scenario where you win the initiative on all turns, you at least have the potential to play a strategy card on each turn, preventing the opponent from doing so.

Final words.

Ok, that was long. Phew. And here I am getting ready for a party. Got stuck with this instead. Hope everyone enjoyed the read and I'm more than happy to accept criticism. If you have any card you would like me to muse about and make a deck from, feel free to post it below. Keep in mind that until we have a full image card list, I will have a hard time building decks from cards I do not own.

Next, in WZR Deck Building Pt2: An entire armylist and decklist built to work together to great extent.

Written by: Anders Hedvall aka Kollar

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