Deck Doctor #2 - How to Make Your Opponent Miserable in Three Easy Decks

Published by Tyro D. Fox in the blog The Leather Bound Book. Views: 1666

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Deck Doctor #2
How to Make Your Opponent Miserable in Three Easy Decks

So...I haven't done this in a while. So, let's change that shall we?

We might be writing a proper summary of the new set - Equestrian Odyssey - at some point as well as High Magic after we've tinkered with it but I can put on a lab coat and pretend I'm a professional for a bit right now and help some people in need!

Like Mario! Only with less drugs and more cards.

So, as before, you can submit a deck - preferably using Ponyhead - and get it looked over by me and my team of experts. We'll write up a little article talking about it.

Here we go!

~|~​

Case #1 - Crystals Shine Like Rainbows (Harmony) - jawsisra - Submitted to MLP:CCG Subreddit

Right...A crystal deck. Right...

Back in the Crystal Games set, there was a new character type released called 'Crystal'. Generally, Crystal cards are relatively expensive compared to other cards. The no-requirement cards in the set are not 'Cost-Effective' (which means that the amount we're paying for it isn't equal to or less than the power of the card, usually). The cards that have colour-requirements usually need or take advantage of how many other crystal pony cards you have in play. The prevailing wisdom is that you tend to need as many crystal cards as you can just so that you can reliably get a nice string of crystal cards to play with, boosting the abilities of all the other characters.

Why bother with a crystal deck? The appeal is that you now have a swiss-army knife of awesome to inflict upon the game.

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"Yeah, I got some room left."

Firstly, you're no-requirement crystal characters are able to synergise with each other. They gain abilities as long as their at a position on the field with at least one other crystal character. Some gain Studious or Swift, Stubborn and other keywords. Suddenly, these cards are able to pull out an extra trick, making them a little more worth their cost and far more multi-function.

The characters with Prismatic are where crystal decks become somewhat hilarious to play with. At that point in the game, certain colours had gained some notoriety with certain abilities or play styles. Crystal cards with Prismatic cranks them to eleven.

Now for those not in the know, Prismatic is a keyword that depends on how many colours you have amongst crystal friends. It grants the character that has the keyword all of those colours that spans between all crystal characters. So, it incentivises trying to play a variety of different colour crystal characters in order to boost these potentially devastating Prismatic cards which have abilities that are dependant on how many colours they currently have (including their printed colour, of course).

Prismatic Fluttershy is able to dig through the deck for friends like she's looking for Australia in there. A Prismatic Twilight can pick and choose what it fights in a face-off. An Applejack with Prismatic can gain up to another 12 power just by being in the field with other crystal cards. The most vicious is 'Rarity, Crystallized' which can perform a potentially devastating form of 'Inspired' by editing up to six cards every time. A friend has once built a deck where he threw down three of the things and managed to edit up to 18 cards every turn.

So, crystal decks are a synergy that grants hideously powerful abilities but demands crystal cards of multiple colours to get the greatest amount of use. That's a damn powerful tool but it can take a while to set up. While viable, it's a struggle to succeed against many aggro decks that know what they're doing. But, if you're in that position, you have a deck that can powerfully influence the game.

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"Don't worry! I'm going easy on you this time!"

Why tell you all this Mr Jawsisra? Well, mainly to educate some new players as, frankly, this is a perfectly standard set up for a straight-up crystal deck. It's certainly powerful with the right cards but, honestly, there's little it's not doing differently from the typical template I'd imagine a deck like this would use.

The mane ('Twilight Sparkle, Friendship is Magic') is a good choice as it can gain extra colours to help play more crystal cards by fulfilling its colour requirement. 'Twilight Sparkle, All-Team Organiser' also helps pay for new crystal cards, especially the rather costly no-requirement cards of the deck. You've even thrown in Shining Armour, Bright Smile, Mercury, Amethyst Maresbury, Crystal Guard, blah, blah, blah, which all add in more utilities as well as more crystal to play. It's the definition of straight-forward.

It's not terrible. It's just not doing much other than the standard Crystal Deck strategy. Not much to talk about. This can be very powerful. It's biggest weakness outside of play speed would be anything that causes cards to leave the field. Some dismissal or a well-timed 'Party of One' would screw you over.

Though...what wouldn't be screwed over by 'Party of One'?

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Banish everything except one card? Can I flip the table now or should I wait for it to actually be played first?

If it can set itself up, the deck can be devastating but it relies heavily on being able to play just the right cards when you need them. Very often, you'll likely need to make do with only one or two colours for your Prismatic characters. But, it does allow for some room for creativity. Which, I consider a speciality!

Prescription - You must construct additional colours

Hmm...How about looking for more fixer cards to put into the deck to grant temporary boosts to all crystal cards with Prismatic? The issue with your deck is that you need to play cards to boost the Prismatic characters. They are your most powerful assets but playing those all important crystal friends is rather slow. Circumventing this when you need it seems like a top priority.

Sure, it's only for a turn or even a phase depending on the card, but it's something you can attempt to use when your deck needs a good kick up the flank or a shot in the arm due to your draw deck's sudden desire to hoard it's best cards from you. Or your opponent is getting trigger happy with dismissal.

I'd consider removing the extraneous cards, keeping just the entry requirement crystal cards and the Prismatic cards. That said, keep the Twilight friend because she is handy for helping with cost efficiency. In fact, you may wish to look at 'Truffle, Newsworthy' as well, because it's common and able to generate action tokens for you as well. The rest of the deck ought to be fixers, which are cards that can grant character's extra colours.

I'd recommend Makeover like it's going out of style. Rainbowfied sounds handy for such a deck so I'd keep it. Then, I'd side more towards the various fixer resources that were introduced around the same time. They are able to plug holes in the colours you need for at least a turn, but they also offer extra utilities too, simply making your deck even more of a swiss-army knife of doom. Cards like 'Boneless' or 'Seabreezes' Flower' grant those precious colours as well as extra abilities. It's also because cards like 'Royal Guidance' can only be applied to purple and yellow characters. Now, yes, Prismatic would allow you to use these cards on such a character if you have a purple or yellow crystal character in play but I prefer not to risk it. It seems like a very late game move. Plus, trying to chain these things seems very risky but would allow you to grant all colours to one character for a phrase.

With these little shots in the arm, your deck can leap forwards for a turn when you need it, making Prismatic just that little more reachable in a pinch.

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She's shaking because of how hard she's Inspiring your deck right now.

Or, do what brokenimage321 said and use Crystal Headdress. I like mine better but, I suppose I would, wouldn't I? Just remember, both methods are trying to get around the sluggish speed of the crystal deck. A little lateral thinking, and you can get around such limitations.

That being said, if you do go for brokenimage321's idea, I'd carefully consider two-colour friends. Mainly because their colour requirements are very risky to play. Granted, the pay off is a card that can grant two colours instead of only one to the pool of colours that Prismatic can soak up. Plus, two-colour cards are often decently powerful. However, in a deck made of likely 6 colours, trying to find the two you need to pay the colour cost is awkward. The Twilight mane helps. I'll leave the risk up to you.

Before I end, I should talk about your problems. You see, again, you shouldn't be so specific with them, considering how hard it is to assume that you'll always have a particular colour on the field. While it's fine to count on having purple on the field, try looking for problems with either a not-colour requirement or a wild requirement to solve, simply so that you don't come up short when you need those all important points.

~|~​

Case #2 - Eccentric Laughter (Harmony) - Foxytail - Submitted to MLP:CCG Subreddit

Yes, this is one of the things our other Fox-Themed Admin get's up to when not on her duties. She's also who I usually consult about these decks, making her effectively my 'Nurse'. And, I don't think she's too shabby with her deck building either. She wanted someone to look at it so, I thought I'd step in and see.

In fact, knowing Foxy, the fact that this is deck with dismissal is not surprising. What is surprising is that it's a deck that takes as full advantage as it can of the new keyword 'Eccentric'.

For those not in the know, Eccentric means that friends with the keyword add an extra wild-power requirement to the problem it's at. If you have 'Eccentric 1' on a character at a problem, then your opponent needs one power more of any colour to solve the problem. It's a simple mechanic that can force an opponent to need a greater and greater amount of power just to solve a problem. This can mean the difference between victory and defeat, just by how well you can strategically move the goalposts.

So, not only does Foxy plan to spam as much of this devastating keyword as she can to ensure that you can't solve that problem, there's a few dismissal cards. Yes, this is intended to set up an impenetrable wall on one problem then snipe off the opponent's cards at all possible times from on high. From there, she tries to hold this position for as long as possible, scoring points, then probably just doing a double face-off when in a strong position.

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Everything in this deck suggests only one thing: "Come get me."

It's a surprisingly powerful idea for a deck. Flooding a problem with Eccentric is despicably easy, especially with the Mane 'Pinkie Pie, Ambassador of Laughter' and it's ability to reduce the action token cost of any friend you play down to one. So, not entirely broken but still nothing to be sniffed at. This is exacerbated by 'Pinkie Pie, Everypony's PFF' which allows Foxy to search for what's needed in that moment when it's played. The problem 'Winter Start-Up' is here specifically to provide an instant 10 wild requirement to work from with the rest of Foxy's Eccentric cards.

The curious thing is the necessity to flip Pinkie Pie. If Pinkie Pie does not flip, the pace of the deck is far more sluggish. It's 'control by use of swarm tactics' plan makes for a deck that can live and die on how many action tokens it has to play with. This Pinkie flips when she starts the turn with more friends in play than the opponent. This is what 'Torch Song' is for. It sets up a chain of card plays to ensure a steady stream of cards come through. Torch Song when played allows the user to search their deck for another Pony Tones card. Foxy's choices are either more Torch Songs, Singing Barrel or a Rarity.

If flipping Pinkie is the priority then it'll likely be another Torch Song that's picked, mainly because it's relatively cheap and able to find another to Torch Song to play. When that's played, Foxy can find that Rarity, which it's arguably, rather powerful. Having that to hand could stifle any possible attack.

Lastly, 'Rarity, Truly Outrageous'. Because having contempt for your opponent's plans is almost required to play this game competitively.

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It's quite incredible that this card is still devastating even after all
the expansions that's been added so far.

If the opponent dares trying to get around such shenanigans, then Foxytail has plenty of ways of smacking down such disrespectful behaviour.

First, the problem card 'Get Lost' which can dismiss by itself. There's also 'Rolling Tones' for slightly expensive dismissal but it's still Immediate dismissal without any other strings attached, able to target anything on the field. The fact that it's Immediate is powerful enough as it can save a situation that's going sour in a second. 'Puppet Show' boosts the requirement of a problem for a turn, just to ensure that the problem isn't solved then and there.

'Moving Mare' is a little odd though. It powers up cards but can then dismiss cards when they gain a certain amount of power. While a little odd, it's cheap on action tokens by itself. For roundabout methods of dismissing characters, it's variable on how powerful the target is initially. It's surprisingly powerful against cards with Diligent (winning face-offs gains +1 power tokens) that have been previously successful as it's a cheap way of culling anything that gets too powerful. This counter is similar for a lot of deck strategies so it's a decent pick for a deck that's all about setting up a position to dismiss constantly from.

What else? 'Rarity, Soprano' edits the opponent's hand, culling potentially dangerous cards. 'Bulk Biceps' can dismiss and retrieve certain cards. Aloe lends a little more power. Seabreeze's Flower is only for resource dismissal. There's little of it anywhere else so, it makes sense. Lastly, 'Singing Barrel' allows for the re-deployment of Pony Tones cards as well as so that their abilities are repeatable on top of adding more colour to the Pinkie Mane.

If all that is breached then BAM! Snips and Snails or Party Favour can force a problem change, pushing all characters away, giving Foxy a chance to rebuild at the new problem. BOOM! Cardboard Box renders characters (including the Mane) useless in a face-off. FOOM! 'Party of One'. Wipe the board, banish all affected cards, rebuild in the desolation.

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I'm sorry. It was too tempting to resist...

This deck is just vindictive, like a kid that drops eggs on people from on top of a skyscraper.

Prescription - A couple of tweaks

The deck is pretty solid. Sure, a troublemaker can flumax it for a turn and some heavy frighten, dismissal or movement could render it disarmed long enough to counter it. A deck that can use a well-placed villain could render this almost tragically useless.

Though again, there's little that isn't tragically useless in the wake of a good villain reveal.

There are a couple of tweaks I can think off. First, why are you using Spike as a white, entry requirement friend. Why not something else? Perhaps something cheaper or has an ability too? Granted, pickings are slim but you could have 'Noteworthy' or 'Octavia, Star Cellist' if you want to live a little more dangerously. It gains power for a phase by exhausting a resource at home. It's riskier than the others due to its resource necessity.

Everything else doesn't help you out much. Or at all. Still, Noteworthy seems like a better bet as it's cheap. If you want to flip Pinkie now and not when your deck feels like it, cheap friends are your best friends.

If you're feeling a little dangerous, Foxy, I'd suggest 'Pinkie Pie, Remix Master'. Your own one. I'm not likely to trade either of mine because I'd like to use them somewhere but for you, you'd get a fighting chance of keeping a high-requirement problem. For any other player, it would be death to keep difficult problems around, but you use them to smite from on high! If you can keep your purch for longer, all the better! Though, that three white requirement and possibly four action cost isn't ideal. Not a deal breaker, just not ideal.

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Foxy's actual face after I showed her the above paragraph.

No, being an ultra rare makes it a possible deal breaker. I wouldn't usually recommend such rare cards but for you, it could be enough to push your deck to something formidable. It just might cost quite a bit. Depends on what you trade it for. I wouldn't recommend trading blood, souls, stranger's emails, teeth or the ultra rare Fancy pants that gains points for everything underneath it.

~|~​

There, that looks good though, I do wonder if some will doubt my credentials. Hmm...I know! I'll show off one of my Harmony decks. I'm always making new decks. Usually very gimmicky ones but usually just to take advantage of a new or interesting way of making use of whatever cards I have. I'm not that interested in being competitive. But that doesn't mean I build pushovers!

Doctor's Deck - The Miner Beat Deck

Mane - DJ Pon-3
Colours - Pink and Orange
Strengths - Relatively Easy to Build, Unexpected Power, Powerful Troublemaker Lockout, Able to Roll Through Problems With Minimal Numbers of Friends
Weaknesses - Can't deal with Troublemakers Too Easily, Has Little Defence Against Frighten, Dismissal and Card Dismissal, 'Pinkie Pie, Grump'.

Strategy Summary
Gain power through card draw and card dismissal to 'inflate' characters to huge levels of power.

Overview
The Miner Beat deck is a particular favourite of mine because it's bloody hysterical to play on a good day, and surprisingly tenacious even when it's not feeling up to snuff. I have to admit, it pleases me that I can get quite so much power out of what are largely very common or easy to procure cards. You've probably got tons of these somewhere but I've weaponised them!

The stars of the show are Twist and Babs Seed. If you haven't noticed, there's two events in the deck that can gain extra cards in the same turn. 'Let's Get This Party Started' and 'Surprise Party!' allow the player to draw a shed load of cards! That's an instant +3 or +6 respectively to add to either Twist or Babs Seed who gain power for every card you draw. Heck! If you're particularly lucky, it's possible to draw into another of these events after using it, causing another +3 or +6 to your characters. That can be topped off by DJ Pon-3's ability that exhausts it to draw another card.

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Behold! The tool of your complete decimation. OK, stop laughing!

But what to do with your new found cards? This is where 'Applejack, Summer Sun Caterer' and 'Feedbag' is for. All those newly drawn cards can be dumped in the bin for just as large amounts of power on orange friends too. A decent choice for being fed like a suckling pig is 'Maud, Like a Rock', as it can't be moved or dismissed or put into my hand. It stays put so it's a handy dumping ground for any cards I don't think I need right now.

But! If I change my mind, I have 'Juggling Routine'. It's a necessity in this deck as burning through the deck only to throw it away again is it's main aim. If the draw deck is looking low, a Juggling Routine could save the deck from bottoming out, rendering it utterly powerless.

Yes, I'm using 'Pinkie Pie, Grump' in this too. Because if I can't agro my way to victory, I can sure as heck turtle up and spam card draw until your looking at a 40 or 50 power sour-puss pony instead. Oh! And remember that it's when both players draw cards that Pinkie grows more powerful! 'Surprise Party!' causes both players to draw cards, thus increasing the power of the card by twelve instead of six.

Other handy cards are 'Apple Bloom, Re-Markable', because turning that card draw into free card play is so lovely. I have all these cards coming in, I ought to do something with them! Toe-Tapper adds to the card draw though, that's about it. Vittles Stand allows me to move generated power from one character to another without moving anything, saving action tokens for card draw or other cards. 'Too Much Pie' is here because sometimes, you just need to nullify something. Especially in a world where 'Applejack, Ambassador of Honesty' exists. Lastly, 'Rarity, Hoarder' seemed like a decent idea if played. There's no penalty to playing it and it increases innate card draw, boosting Pinkie Grump, Babs Seed and Twist every turn by two instead of one.

Screwball is here, mainly to annoy the opponent. It's annoying, end of. It's easy to deal with if you have the space, but is still, at least, an action token penalty just to move it.

Strengths

Building a similar deck really isn't that hard. Sure, a few cards in here are rare and 'Surprise Party!' is only ever found in the 'Celestial Solstice' card box but they're all far easier to find than many 'game-winning' cards I could mention. This utilises a mechanic that is often overlooked and turns it into a hideous weapon.

The way that it works is by 'inflating' characters to greater amounts of power until they can confront a problem for a single turn, then return to normal when the turn is over. Strategically, you now have a card that can steal bonus points very efficiently but avoids face-offs until it's ready to swat back with a greater amount of power to win. It's also a deck that doesn't need any more than one character to potentially solve a problem. This negates some tricky problem cards like 'Blending In' that increases the requirement for each colour used to confront the problem.

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"Ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-taaahh! Pony Powerrr!"

On the flipside, increasing the amount of cards running through the player's hand also presents them with a greater range of actions they can do, obviously. It could save you in a pinch.

Lastly, it's just hilarious to play. With only a handful of action tokens, there could be two ten power characters bearing down on both problems within moments. 'Surprise Party!' makes its use highly disruptive to an opponent's plans as they have to shuffle their hand away into their deck and re-draw as well. If you feel particularly vicious, a Pinkie Grump is here for you.

Y'know, if you can live with the consequences of the aftermath.

Drawbacks

It's funny I should mention 'Pinkie Pie, Grump' because Pinkie Grumps are also one of it's most powerful and total weaknesses. For a deck that grabs card draw and runs with it, turning that asset into a choke hold that gradually suffocates the deck feels almost like a Judo move of some kind. You can try and defeat that troublemaker as quickly as you can, hoping to outrun its growth with your own then face it off, though this leads to another issue.

Outside of a few cards, there's not much that can be done about troublemakers. Some cards like 'Maud, Like a Rock' can handle most threats, but the inflate strategy can only be activated in the main phase. Troublemaker phase only allows for one card to be drawn unless you have a 'Rarity, Hoarder' in play. All that power can only ever be utilised during problem face-offs. So, you have to sort of deal with them with everything but your most powerful cards.

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"Well, that's a big oversight, isn't it Mr Doctor Fox, hmmmm?!"

There are cards that allow a player to take on a troublemaker in the mane phase where I'm likely to have the power to take on anything! Too bad most of the ones I have are blue...Bugger.

Otherwise, dismissal can screw you over. Frighten can screw you over. Movement can screw most cards over. This is mainly why 'Maud, Like a Rock' is in this deck; to stay put in the face of control decks. Though, hand dismissal is it's other weak point. If you can force the huge amount of card draw to amount to nothing, then this deck is simply sunk. It can't get the power needed to confront and it could lose those all important 'Juggling Routine' cards or card draw events.

And, yes, you've probably guessed it. 'Nightmare Moon, Deep Darkness' kills this deck stone dead. You get two cards and that's it.

Where to Go From Here

So, this deck, now that I look at it again, needs some method of dealing with Troublemakers and some dismissal. 'Too Much Pie' is nice, but it can't send truly problematic cards packing like a good dismissal card can. This could allow the deck to remove cards that are blocking it's inflate strategy like 'Nightmare Moon, Deep Darkness'.

Also, something that allows for a better chance against troublemaker cards would be lovely. Perhaps Diligent cards. Granted, they're only useful when they win a face-off, but that could be what 'Barrel Through' could help with. The flip chance isn't amazing in this deck but doubling the draw is hardly a terrible idea.

It could also benefit from 'Snips and Snails, Problem Solvers'. The deck's biggest strength is stealing bonus points so being able to simply replace the problem then scoop up more points with a Twist powerful enough to level cities with a sneeze could be a highly viable play.

Even funnier, if I had it, 'Bell Tower'. Being able to magic up a Pinkie Grump on the same turn could be the saving grace of a game turning sour.

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"YOU CUT THAT WINNING STUFF OUT, MISTER!"​

Next in the list of cards I wish I had, 'Pie Family Rock Farm'! Yes, double the amount of cards drawn each turn, at the ready phase! All for only two action tokens!

Lastly, 'A Vision of the Future' could be the edge needed when a nasty troublemaker comes knocking as it allows me to replace the card I would draw for a face-off, for a guaranteed six power card. And it's only an action token to play. Not too bad if it's prepared for.

There! I hope that helps. Remember, if you'd like your deck featured on Deck Doctor, please contact me on either here on Everypony, UK of Equestria or post it up on Reddit and I'll find it eventually. I hope you'll come back next time!

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With this knowledge, you can spread misery and torment to your enemies! Just like the show always taught us.
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