7 things about life I learned from the game Ascension – Part 3

23 01 2013

3. To make optimal use of your best assets you must cut the chaff

One of the most efficient things a player can do is to remove cards from their deck permanently through banishment. This is sometimes a difficult concept for players to grasp at first; “If part of the game is acquiring new cards for my deck, isn’t my deck more powerful the more cards it has?” they ask. Players who see the effectiveness of banishing cards from their deck soon realize the true benefit and it becomes an essential component of any game plan.

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Banishing cards from your deck is the specialty of the Void faction, but there are other cards that provide this benefit as well, even a few monsters.

Once a card of a given effectiveness is purchased, all of the other cards in your deck less effective than that card are now hurting your deck. The reason for this is that the more cards you have in your deck, the less likely and the less often you will draw the very important and powerful cards. This is called deck dilution, and it’s something that experienced players try to avoid as best they can. Imagine that you have a jar full of pennies. You can use the jar to buy things and you get refunded, but only draw 5 coins at a time are drawn from the jar to make a purchase, and the refunded coins return to the jar after they’ve all been used(messy analogy but this is basically how Ascension works). Now let’s say we get some nickels to go into the jar. Now we have the chance of getting a more valuable hand of coins when we draw randomly from the jar, since we now have the chance of drawing nickels as some of the 5 coins. We could increase the chances of getting a valueable hand by adding more nickels, however equally as effective is to remove pennies from the jar, which makes it more likely that a given draw from the jar will contain one (or more) nickel. This is why as soon as you purchase even 1 Mystic, it is time to start getting rid of your Apprentices, who are now actually decreasing the chances of you drawing the Mystic! This is also why you must be wary about buying cards that don’t support your deck in a useful way; doing so also contributes to deck dilution.

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Banishing just a few starting cards can mean the difference between seeing hands like this…

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…and hands like this.

All strategies benefit from banishment/deck optimization. What you are basically doing is ensuring that you draw and use your more powerful cards more often. Consider that a card is only as useful as the number of times it is played; if you are lucky enough to buy an 8-cost card, but end up never playing it…it was basically a waste of 8 runes except for the honor that the card was worth. Conversely, if you manage to play a card like Nairi, Henge Queen 4 times instead of 2 it’s the difference between pulling in 20 honor instead of 10, and if you have a slimmer deck, you’ll be seeing her more often. The best banishment cards tend to be the ones that allow you to banish from your discard pile, since doing so doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of your current turn.

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Your most powerful cards are that much more effective if you are able to play them more often, and you will be able to if you have less “junk” cards to draw through before they show up again.

Another thing you can try to do if you can’t manage to banish many of your unwanted cards is to “cycle” your deck. You can cycle your deck by getting cards that allow you to draw multiple cards from the deck, even if you have to discard most of them. Basically if you know you’ve played your best cards from your deck already, you can “fast-forward” through the crappy ones that remain just by exhausting your deck as quickly as possible, since reshuffling your discards into your deck frequently also translates into getting your powerful cards more often (just make sure to pay attention so you don’t fast-forward through your good cards. See Part 2 about paying attention).

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Cards that allow you to plow through your deck are also effective at enabling you to play your best cards more often if used carefully.

It’s easy to analogize this to your waking hours in a day or your effort and energy divided amongst all the things we’ve included in our lives. How much better would we doing if we invested more of our potential into the things that are the most effective and produce the best results? When was the last time we had a good “banish turn” on our lives?


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