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A Guide on How to Play
Argentum Age has a complex gameplay. And while its gaming rules resembles other CCGs like MtG or Hearthstone for a little, there are fairly much differences to make the gameplay unique enough. So one can't learn the tricks of the game just by borrowing experiences from other games.So I think a guide for new players should be helpful.
Admittedly, at this stage even the developers are not extremelly good with the game. There are still large room for exploration and optimization. But still, at least we can offer some basic tips here.
The goal of the game is to bring your opponent's life to 0, and you are equipped with different kinds of expendable tools to help you achieve the goal. You use mana to play the cards, thus dealing damage to your opponent mainly through the board, while soaking your opponent's damage with your own life during the limited time of the process. These resources are exchangable. For example, you can play a card to draw more cards, exchanging mana into card. Or you can choose not to answer an opponent's threat, exchanging your health into the mana and the cards that you saved. Fairly like MtG or Hearthstone, ultimately the game is about managing your resources.
Here are some basic concepts:
The greatest difference of Argentum Age from other similar games is that you draw to your handsize at the start of your turns instead of drawing one card and you can freely discard. Therefore you would seldom run out of cards.
However, card advantage still exists in the game, though assuming a different form. You don't worry about having no card to play, but you still want to always have good cards or right cards to play. So, generally speaking it's important to increase your handsize by seizing villages or by playing cards like Library, for it allows you to keep situational cards in hand and to have better options. And if your handsize is not large enough, you need to actively discard to ensure that you keep having good cards to play.
Tempo is the pace of the plays. In the most common form, it's board presence. If you throw a creature onto an empty lane and get it unanswered, it will become a damage several turns later. And if your threats outpaces the opponent's answers, some of them will strike.
A basic aspect of tempo is mana efficiency. Since the value of the cards are roughly calibrated to their mana costs, you generally want to use up your mana to get decent value.
Due to the drawing rule of the game, the standard for the tempo is pretty high. Sometimes it is bad enough to only play a 5-cost card in the 6-mana or 7-mana turn, no need to say if you get totally mana screwed. So it's very important to actively discard to ensure consistent plays, especially in early games.
School Loyalty is an accelrator of tempo. Some cards(mostly spells) have a part of their costs reducible when you have loyalty in the related schools. If you can get the cards played at their lowest cost, they're usually good. Both lands and creatures provide with school loyalty, and lands provide with it more safely.
Every deck has a fixed size of 50 cards, and there are extra limitations for good decks. So you only have limited number of big threats and fit answers in the deck. In a game that drags out, it can become a deck vs. deck match where it's important to get the best value from your threat and answer cards.
While tempo gives you the reason to discard, line-up gives you the reason not to. You may want to keep your Catherine in hand for several turns or you may want to save your Polymorph for the opponent's Rihn. Whether you should keep these cards under pressure can be a tough choice. My rule of thumb is that tempo matters far more often, and only the most important cards is worth keeping.
By the way, currently there is a rule of Shadow Deck, meaning you can get another copy of your deck in case your cards running out, at the cost of 1 life/card. However, hardly any game had lasted into that phase.
If you are familiar with Magic: the Gathering, you might know that its instants resolves in the same way as the Responses in Argentum Age. To summarize it in one sentence, the last played response resolves first.
The mechanic of response can produce greater swings in the game, since it's often used to frustrate the opponent's investment.
Deck building is hard and bewildering. I don't think anyone has mastered the art. But there are some tips:
-How many cards of each mana should be included in the deck?
One thing to consider is that how many cards you can comfortably play in your first turn, especially when you start with 3 mana. That means you can draw 4-8 cards, depending on how you mulligan. Generally you want to play a 3-mana land or a 3-mana creature, but if things go bad you may use a Hypothermia to kill the opponent's first creature. Conservatively, I guess you need at least 12-15 such cards.
And you may want the majority of your cards no more than 4-mana, and also include a few powerful late game cards. Aside from these, there're not obvious rule to follow. There is much freedom in this aspect, as you can employ different discard strategies.
You can translate the loyalty costs by guessing how many mana would you actually spend in average. Maybe 1 loyalty cost = 0.2 cost, 2 loyalty cost = 0.5 cost, 3 loyalty cost = 1.0 cost, or maybe some other numbers. Depending on your deck, the average costs in matches might be twice or thrice that number, if you don't put in enough loyalty providers.
-Multi-schools vs. Mono-school:
You can combine schools freely in deck building. And there are different advantages of mono-school and multi-school.
The benefit of going mono-school is that it grants you consistency in getting loyalty reward. If you play a dual-school deck, you may start with a hand of creatures from one school and the max-cost spells from the other. But such thing would never happen if you play a mono-school deck. Besides, decks from the same school can have synergies.
On the other hand, multi-schools gives you flexibility. Every school has things that it can't efficiently do, and you can use the cards from other schools to deny the weakness. And there are multi-school combos like Valiant + Restore or First Strike + Lethal. What's more, although you don't get loyalty levels as consistently as mono-school decks, chances are you get them often enough. The loyalty cost of the most cards is no more than 2 or 3, and only a few cards rewards excessive loyalty level through scaling. So it's not really a big setback to go multi-school.
From my experience, most dual-school decks work well as long as you don't use the most loyalty-requiring cards from the schools. Including cards from 3 or 4 schools might also profit, if with care.
As a side note, you should adjust your discard strategy according to the consistency of your deck.
Lands are stapled on the ground, therefore they are more reliable loyalty provider than creatures. If not for the other effects of the lands, the cost reduction alone warrant the cards' inclusion. You should almost always include several lands into your deck.
However, there're only limited space on the board, therefore in many cases you can only safely place your lands on 7 or 8 tiles. So you don't need too many lands, 10 lands at most are often enough.
- Aggro: aims at breaking the two side lanes with force or tricks and finish with some extra damage (like breaking a third lane, Fireball, Blood Altar, etc.).
- Midrange-Tempo: drop threats on curve, trade favorably and out-tempo the opponent.
- Control: build your board with lands/buildings, finish in late game with the overwhelming value.
- Combo: Fireball + Mage Tower etc..
- In most times, discard unless you have the right card to play next turn.
- In late game, if the game goes to a race. Discard aggressively for the answer/finisher.
- When building decks, take it into consideration that any card in your deck may be discarded in some circumstances.
- Better to place a land that helps with the board in the central lane, as it's usually important to contest for the villages.
- For lands that don't help with the board but provide other values, you can place them on the 4-tile lanes. Because the 3-tile lanes are harder to defend, and the central lane are usually fiercely contested so you want a land that helps your creatures there.
- You can replace opponent's valuable lands with bad lands should you manage to temporarily seize them.
- You can place valuable lands in broken lanes. The opponent may not want to invest in the lane further.
Early Game Plays:
- Very important to play on curve.
- Get villages for increased handsize. If your initial hand is not good enough, at least secure the central lane village.
- It's risky to contest for the side village. If your hand is not good enough, might be better just to pose your threats or develop your board elsewhere. You can try to retake the village after he breaks the sigil, to force him to further invest in a lane he has already broken.
A brief introduction of the rules: http://www.argentumage.com/guide/