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Strategy - Drawing for Elements

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lynkfox
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Strategy - Drawing for Elements

So... I noticed that Eric talked about drawing power cards and looking for specific elements for the spirit he was playing. 

 

I think its partially that I haven't figured out how to really use the Innate Powers to their max (I've rarely played a game where I got more than the first level of an innate power to fire) that I've been having some trouble with a few games - and those are games without Advisaries. I feel like I am mising a vital strategy point that I'm not getting the hang of - and that is Power Card Draw

 

So I am here to ask - With any particular spirit you want to talk about (or all of them) ...

 

What Elements are you specifically looking for in your first few power draws?

 

How often do you deviate from that? General strategy tips obviously here.

 

If you don't get the elements you want what do you look for with a given spirit? - not necessary a specific power card, but like 'More Push, more Defense, more Damage, ect'

 

When are you going for your first Gain Power Card - right away or after a turn or two? When do you go for your first Major? (I have the sneaking suspicion I am not using Major's enough, feeling like I don't have the energy to afford them and that perhaps I should be setting up for them sooner than I am.)

 

Any other tips you can think of for Element strategy? I really want to make a counter card cause I'm having trouble parsing it in my head what thresholds I'm meeting and what I can do Innate wise.

 


Lynkfox.
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Arcanist Lupus
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This is a long topic.  There are very few generalities here (which I know you understand, but it's worth reiterating regardless) because of how different all of the spirits are.  But here are some thoughts regardless:

 

You will almost never reach the highest levels of your innate powers.  Typically, doing so requires playing almost the maximum number of card plays.  And that of course means that you need to have powers with the elements you need and the energy to play them all.  The final levels of the innate powers are rarely worth that much aggravation.  The sweet spot is usually the middle levels which are powerful enough to be interesting, but not so difficult to achieve.  

 

Innate powers are not free.  They don't cost any card plays, and they don't cost energy (with the exception of the final level of Serpent Rouses In Anger), but they cost you in flexibility.  If you want to gain the effect then it restricts what powers you are taking and when you are playing certain cards.  That can be a significant cost, but again you are getting an effect without sacrificing a card play or energy, which is extremely valuable.

 

Possibly most important of all:

Elements are not used just for activating the innate powers of the spirits.  Activating the maximum effects of any major power (and some minor powers) requires meeting elemental thresholds.  Many of these are significantly more powerful than any innate.  (Cleansing Flood, for example, adds +10 damage if you have 4 water).  Many of them are also easier to achieve, especially as they usually have the elements their threshold requires.  If you pick up a Major power late game, you may not have time to aquire cards with the elements needed to trigger its threshold, but if you spent the game focusing on a select group of elements, then you will likely be able to find a power that you are already able to fully activate.  This is, I think, where the real power of elements comes into play.  Innates are nice, but mostly they should be treated as guides so that when the time comes you will be able to utilize your major powers to their maximum effect.


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- Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

grysqrl
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I don't know that any of these questions has a concise or satisfying answer, so I'm going to put down some thoughts and see what happens.

I usually don't go into a game with a strategy in mind; occasionally I'll want to try something specific, but that isn't super common. When gaining power cards, rather than saying "I want to find these kinds of things", I look at what my options are and try to figure out if any of them create good opportunities for me. What constitutes a good opportunity is highly variable and depends on a lot of things, but it tends to boil down to one or more of the following:

  • Elements that help me trigger my innate power - Innates are free powers! If you coordinate your power card uses a little bit, you can get all sorts of extra useful effects. The more likely that they'll help me trigger my innate power (or higher levels of it), the better. It's frequently a tie-breaker between otherwise comparable options.
  • Effects that will help deal with what I see to be the biggest threats - e.g. I'll look for different kinds of powers to deal with a few big clumps of invaders vs. lots of smaller groups of invaders vs. not many invaders at all, but I'm not generating much fear vs. there's too much blight on the board...
  • Targetting restrictions that aren't prohibitive - e.g. if I'm playing a spirit that tends not to have many sacred sites, I'm less likely to take a card that requires a sacred site.
  • Effects that will help to support the other spirits - e.g. if I'm playing a game with a spirit that depends heavily on Dahan positioning (Earth, Shadows, Thunderspeaker), I'm much more likely to take a power that lets me move Dahan around.
  • Energy costs that I can afford - I'm more likely to take a high-cost power with Earth or Keeper than with Green, because Green has lousy energy income and often won't be able to afford to play it.
  • Other things - does this power help my spirit to grow more effectively, e.g. via presence placement, power card gains, energy gains, element gains in a way that I'm struggling with right now?

There is no rule for when I gain my first minor or major power card. It depends heavily on the trade-offs in each spirit's growth options. Does gaining a power card mean that I can't add presence this turn? Does gaining a power card now mean that I can go an extra turn or two without having to reclaim? Do I really need to go hunting for other card effects because my current kit just can't handle the current threats? I usually won't start looking at major powers until either I have a surplus of energy and one or two minor powers that I'm willing to forget or I feel like I'm falling behind the invaders enough that a big hammer seems like the best way to get back on track.

I don't have many strategies that I use often, but I can think of a couple:

  • River Surges in Sunlight: Place one presence from the energy track and then rush the card play track, at least to the "Reclaim 1". Focus on gaining power cards that have water and sun on them, preferably with low energy cost. I want to trigger my innate power every turn, because every level of it is very powerful. Uncovering that Reclaim 1 spot and gaining lots of cheap power cards while placing presence with the third growth option means that I can go a long time without having to reclaim my power cards. I sometimes go the entire game without gaining a major power.
  • Bringer of Dreams and Nightmares: The elemental thresholds for the innate powers are relatively easy to hit with only two card plays, so I tend to focus on placing lots of presence from the top track to uncover elements and build up energy. Early in the game, I'll gain 2-3 minor powers and then focus mostly on major powers once I have some energy built up. Later in the game, many of those major powers that "destroy" lots of invaders in one or two lands help you to generate massive amounts of fear. I try to find major powers whose elemental thresholds I have a reasonable chance of activating (which often means that they provide and want moon and/or wind). Unless I need an extra card play to trigger the threshold on a major power, there's a good chance that I won't place any presence from the bottom track until I totally uncover the top track.

I don't think there are satisfying answers to general strategy questions about this game. Part of the fun of the game is trying to develop working strategies based on wildly different situations. Hopefully some of this helps.

dpt
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I think I tend to go for elements and triggering innates more than other players, and probably more than is really best. When I gain minor powers, I am almost always guided by the elements more than the actual power, unless I really need a particular type of power for something (eg, Dahan mobility, or I really need a bit of Defense this turn). All the minor powers are going to be helpful in one way or another, and it's just better if they're helpful in that way and also aid in the appropriate elements.

A little bit of diversity in the early minor powers is good, because that gives you more flexibility when you gain your first Major. You will almost always want to try to trigger the threshhold on the Major, and that will guide the decision on which cards to forget.

lynkfox
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These are all great! Thanks for the advice, I didn't even think about considering Major Power Thresholds (though I drew Tsunami when playing as River once and that was absolutely godly, since the threshold was super easy)

 

I think I'm very much looking forward to when people start writing guides for each spirit. I am ~okay~ at playing this game, but I feel like I'm constantly missing some point that I should be looking at, considering I'm still 50/50 without advisaries. 

(I did copy out all the Kickstarter talk that Eric put up for the spirits he revealed, those are super great!)

 

Keep the advice coming, I can't be the only one who needs it! hah.


Lynkfox.
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Foote
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I think there is flexability here depending on what spirit your playing and what the current board situation is when you are drawing for your card.

There are some Spirits, in my opinion, that drawing for specific elements as a main priority is needed. These would be Spirits that lean on their innate powers far more than others in any given game. Examples of these are Lightning, Nightmare, Green, Wildfire, Fang. I'm much more inclined when playing these spirits to choose elements over effect (though sometimes this can't always be the case due to poor draw or a power card with an effect thats too good for the current moment).

Other Spirits I think have much more flexability in what they choose, either because their starting hand is already very versitile or because their innates are harder to achieve or more luxury than nessesity. Earth, for instance, has a very strong innate power for those who have seen it in action, but it's rather hard to activate and not essential for Earth to function at a high level. In addition, I think due to the sheer value Earth has per presence on his Energy track, that tends to be a focus for Earth players over card plays, it further limits the ability to activate your innate even with a hand full of perfect elements.

This leads into my more general blanket view of drawing for me. Spirits -or- spirit playstyles that gravitate toward high energy gains, low card plays, and few major powers over many minor powers, will tend to prioritize power effect of their draws over the elements in those draws (with fewer effects per turn, those effects must be carefully curated to maximize value). Conversly, Spirits or playstyles that will go for bursts of card plays, many minor powers, and lower total energy pools, will tend to prioritize elements over effects when ever appropriate (with more effects per turn, you want to get in as many and as cheaply as possible, and innates are both powerful and free).

There are certainly Spirits who you can play multiple ways, so these are not hard and fast rules. But it's the way I've been looking at it so far.

phantaskippy
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My power selection criteria goes as follows:

1. Effect needed right now.

2. Elements for innates

3. Effect filling a needed gap in the game.

.

 

If I am taking a major power I look for ones that I can already meet requirements for.  I build minor powers to use innates and grab majors that work with them.  I am a huge fan of 0 energy minors that fit elementally, their effect is just a bonus since they allow me to go for more card play instead of energy.

EDIT:  It is important to note that the spirit you play effects the importance of elements a lot.

For example, with Fangs all I care about is low power cost and elements, because ranging hunt is your bread and butter, and frenzied assault is my goal.  On the other hand Bringer meets his so easily I just make sure I don't get too many cards that don't help meet the innate.  River is a nice balance because you really want that second level of flooding, but you aren't tied to it so effects matter about the same as elements.

Trajector
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Interesting discussion. I've tended to pick power cards that have elements I need for innate powers, but after my last game where I had extreme difficulty getting to the second levels of Spread of Rampant Green's, I'm thinking maybe that wasn't the best idea. Maybe the innate powers just exist to tip players toward certain types of power cards when they play certain spirits.

Foote
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Trajector wrote:

Interesting discussion. I've tended to pick power cards that have elements I need for innate powers, but after my last game where I had extreme difficulty getting to the second levels of Spread of Rampant Green's, I'm thinking maybe that wasn't the best idea. Maybe the innate powers just exist to tip players toward certain types of power cards when they play certain spirits.

Rampant Green is a constant tug of war. Usually I go for his energy track early and supliment his card plays with the +1 play growth option. Greens presence tracks have way below average energy gain and card plays, both of which make innates harder to use, but Green has amazing Growth options and super low card costs, which make up for what he lacks in the presence track values. This balances out toward the mid-late game where I find I'm able to dump whole hands and secure my innate powers are used.

For Green, my focus with minor powers is looking for A) Elements and B) Cheap cost. I'm not so worried about effect as long as I know I can pound out my entire hand when I need to later in the game.

Trajector
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Okay, after playing Ocean's Hungry Grasp, I am reconsidering my statement in regards to A Spread of Rampant Green. Ocean hits its elemental thresholds to accelerate its innate powers SO easily! Or, at least, I could make it do so by acquiring powers that included water. The effectiveness of drawing for elements must vary spirit to spirit.