Tuesday, July 29, 2014

CLA Series - Part 2: Effects of Card Level Advantage

This is Part 2 of the Card Level Advantage (CLA) Series. If you haven't already done so, please read part 1 where I explain just what CLA is. In this post I will focus on how CLA can have very different effects depending on the cards played.

Quantity vs Quality

In very general terms, the effects of CLA will usually be improved board position and/or damage to the opposing player. However, the quality of those effects will depend on the degree of CLA, the number of turns the CLA is maintained and more importantly, the cards themselves and how they are played.

There isn't much that can be done when CLA goes beyond a certain value and due to the random nature of the game this will sometimes happen. However, most of the time, CLA will go back and forth in such a way that a well built and well played deck should be able to handle.

There have been a number of informal studies done by members of the Solforge community, looking at the probabilities in a game of going past a certain value of CLA. One of those is the analysis by Bobby2 previously mentioned in part 1. The other two are by FrostedBacon and QuantumNinja. These studies focus on CLA independently of the cards in the deck and how they are played. While this simplification is necessary to achieve any concrete probability values, it is important to realize that in practice, the effects of CLA vary tremendously due to the cards themselves. Lets look at a simple example to make this clear

If Player A can play two level 3 cards while Player B can only play two level 1 cards, but Player A's cards are Deepbranch Prowlers (a 9/9 at level 3) and Player B's cards are Shardplate Mutants (9/9 at level 1) , there won't be any differential on the board. However, if the cards Player A plays are two Chrogias (40/40 with Breakthrough and Regenerate 5 at level 3) while Player B also plays Chrogias (1/1 at level 1) then with a single turn Player B will be very unlikely to be able to do anything about the board state and will lose.

In addition to leveling differences in the attack and health stats, there are many cards in Solforge that enhance other cards, which can reduce the power difference on the board regardless of the card level advantage. For example, a level 2 Weirwood Patriarch (7/10) gives all creature with 5 or less power a +3/+3 bonus when it comes into play. So playing a level 1 Weirwood Patriarch (4/7) and then playing a level 2 version, will effectively be equivalent to having played two level 2 Patriarchs because the level 1 version will have its power and toughness increased to 7/10 from the bonus.

The first example shows that the same CLA with different cards can have wildly different effects on the game. The second example shows that even while having a negative CLA, there are cards that can mimic not having a negative CLA at all. These are just two examples of how the card quality and the play decisions have a very big effect on how CLA affects the game. In the following two posts I will point even more things that players can do to modify how CLA affects the game. The fact that there are so many tools and gameplay elements that allow this is why there is no exact value of CLA that indicates when a given player has too much advantage.

Stay tuned for part 3: Building a Deck to Handle CLA.

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