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Tag Archives: Variance

SolForge Card Preview #43 Runegrove Guardian

Runegrove Guardian is the latest addition to the Uterra faction and has an ability that shows off a unique SolForge specific design space: Player Level based abilities. This unique way to buff the creature means that Runegrove becomes a better play the closer you are to achieving the next player level. Runegroves that enter the field and survive on turns 4, 8, and 12 match up powerwise to creatures of the level above them. The ramifications of this SolForge gameplay mean that in the future, drawing those devastating late-game Level 1 hands may become somewhat mitigated as more cards of this type are released. I believe the purpose of these types of cards is to blur the Level-Line. Read More »

SolForge Module #14: Making Your Own Luck

The newly released SolForge 2.0 features a number of UI improvements, some small changes to existing cards and, most importantly, four new mono-faction Starter Decks. My next article will feature the new Starter Decks. Today, we return to the Uterra/Nekrium and Alloyin/Tempys demo decks, which remain available for play in SolForge 2.0.

Recall that in Module #7, we discussed the notion of card variance. High variance cards are those that are extremely useful in certain situations, but are far less useful if drawn in an unsuitable situation. For example, Cull the Weak is excellent if your opponent has a creature (of the appropriate level) on the board that you need to get rid of, but if a worthless draw if your opponent has an empty board.

If you choose to level-up high variance cards, you run the risk that you will end up “wasting” your valuable Level 2/3 draws later in the game when you draw your leveled-up high variance card in a bad situation. This is particularly a problem for cards with both high variance and high depreciation. Recall that high depreciation cards become far less valuable if you pass up an opportunity to level them. Therefore, if you draw a high variance, high depreciation card in a situation where it isn’t useful, you not only pass-up the opportunity to play the card effectively in the current player-level, but you also face a difficult decision of whether to play this card despite the unsuitable position. Playing the card in an unsuitable situation will typically require that you sacrifice short-term gain, but failing to level a high depreciation card significantly increases the chance that the card is not useful the next time you draw it. Note that high variance, low depreciation cards like Electro Net are somewhat easier to deal with, because if you draw Electro Net 2 in a situation where it is not useful, you at least have confidence that the level 2 version of the spell is likely to remain useful during the next player level.

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SolForge Module #11: Necromancy for Fun and Profit

Today, we will focus our attention on Yuru, Necromancer, one of the more interesting tools available to Nekrium. Since Yuru, Necromancer is not present in either of demo decks, the dilemmas in this column will use constructed decks. If you are looking for columns that focus on the demo decks, I recommend Module #10 (Blocking) or Module #6 (Card Advantage).

Yuru, Necromancer is a versatile card. First, Yuru can be used in an aggressive deck to keep pressure on your opponent.  If your opponent is attempting to make even one-for-one trades to keep the board clear and prolong the game, Yuru’s Zombies provide you with an advantage in what would otherwise be an even trade. This allows you to keep creatures on the board and pressure on your opponent. Second, Yuru can be used in a control deck to keep the lanes clogged and buy you time to play your late-game bombs. If your opponent has a threat (like a large Enraged creature) that you do not yet have an answer for, Yuru’s Zombies can buy you the time to need to draw your answer.

Yuru is also relatively high-variance card. Yuru itself has mediocre statistics. If Yuru fails to summon a single Zombie, then you payed a card to get a single sub-par creature. However, if Yuru can summon two Zombies during its life time then you received three creatures (with mediocre stats) for the cost of a single card. Therefore, playing Yuru onto an empty board is often a mistake.

When played in a controlling deck to generate blockers, Yuru has relatively low depreciation. That is, Yuru 1 can be a useful stall card, even fairly late in the game. However, when playing an aggressive deck that wants to use the Zombies to get damage onto your opponent, then Yuru has significant depreciation. That is, as the game goes on, it becomes much less likely that Level 1 Yuru Zombies will be useful anything other chump blocking.

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SolForge Module #9: Shaping your Future

Let’s take a closer look at the three “shaper” cards: Flameshaper Acolyte, Lifeshaper Savant, and Darkshaper Savant. Shapers are creatures that (at level 2) produce a beneficial effect whenever you play a level 1 card. One way to think about shapers is that, in exchange for playing a Level 2 (or 3) creature with sub-par stats, they allow you to get almost as much benefit from playing  Level 1 (or 2) cards as you would from playing a Level 2 (or 3) cards.

Shapers are high-depreciation/high-variance cards. They are high-depreciation cards because they require you to play low-level cards, and as the game goes on the number of low-level cards in your deck goes down rapidly. In particular, the opportunity cost of playing a Level 1 card for a Shaper 2 trigger is low during turns 5-8 (when you need to play level-1 cards with or without a Shaper) and is high during turns 13-16 (when you and your opponents will be drawing many level 3 cards). They are high-variance because they work best when you draw hands full of Level 1 cards after you play your Shaper. That is, getting a Level 2 Shaper as the only Level 2 card in your Turn 5 draw is wonderful. Getting a Level 2 Shaper as one of three Level 2 cards in your Turn 8 draw is not very useful. Read More »

SolForge Module #7: How I Love Cards that I Don’t Need to Play

Today we discuss two axes along which I evaluate cards: Depreciation and Variance.

In the context of SolForge, depreciation refers to how well a Level 1 (or 2) card holds its value into the mid-game (or late-game). A high-depreciation card is unlikely to be useful to you unless you level it at every opportunity. A low-depreciation card is more likely to provide some benefit to you later on even if you do not level it. Depreciation is an aspect of a card that should influence your in-game decisions. When you have a choice between two similarly good plays early-game, you should tend to play high-depreciation cards over low-depreciation cards. Indeed, when you get an all Level-1 draw on Turn 8, you may be glad that you passed up the opportunity to play your low-depreciation cards early game.

A related, but independent, consideration is the concept of card variance. I first heard this term applied to SolForge cards by CerebralPaladin on the SolForge Forums. A card has high variance if the value of the card depends heavily on the board position when you draw it. A card has low variance if it is reasonably useful on just about any board. CerebralPaladin discussed Variance in the context of deckbuilding, however, I believe the concept is also relevant to in-game decisions regarding which cards to level-up. In particular, leveling-up exclusively high-variance cards is a risky strategy that increases your likelihood of getting a bad draw later in the game. (Although the payoff can be quite high when you succeed in drawing the right card on the right turn.)

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SolForge Module #4: Using “Bad” Plays to Reach a Better Late-Game

As all SolForge enthusiasts now know, we now have a playable iPad demo! This column will now be using the iPad Demo Decks in the Dilemmas whenever possible. Additionally, in future articles, I intend to revisit key concepts from the first three Modules using examples from the iPad Demo Decks.

You may recall that Module #2 contained the little white lie that, on average, you expect to draw the same number of Level 2/3 cards as your opponent. This lie was convenient for the purposes of Module #2 but, of course, it isn’t true. One way to draw more Level 2/3 cards than your opponent is to play Alloyin cards, such as Technosmith, that allow you to level-up more than two cards in a single turn. However, the focus of this article is a second way that you can draw more Level 2/3 cards than your opponent: not playing the Level 2/3 cards that you draw.

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