Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Ponies of Equestria

How many types of ponies are there in Equestia?

I think seven.

Earth Ponies



Crystal Ponies

Alicorns (between 4 to 7. See number of Alicorns)



In "The Elements of Harmony" encyclopedic book on pg. 53 it describes Changelings as follows:
"Changelings are grotesque shape-shifting ponies who can morph their bodies into anything. These frightening creatures have fangs as well as insect features and translucent wings designed to scare even the bravest pony into submission."

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Mana Curves of MLP CCG

(...continued from Faceoffs and The Draw...)

Searching various sites and blogs, we discover some mention of MLP CCG decks' stats.
However, like Trade Cards Online and PonyHead are all little more than distribution charts and card lists.

There are overarching values in MLP CCG decks that should be analyzed.
I think it is important to realize and identify that, unlike MTG, there are two decks present here: The Problem Deck (of 10 cards), and the Draw Deck (of minimum 45 cards).

Some values important to MLP CCG deck could be as follows:

1) Draw Curve for faceoffs (basically a predetermined roll of the d6),
2) Friends Hierarchy, or Requirements,
2) Deck Flexibility, overall deck Requirements,
3) Power vs. Cost ratio,
4) Synergy (which can be brutally difficult if not impossible to measure), and
5) Problem deck overall 'value'.

Let me break them down further.

Draw Curve
This is simply how many of each power cards you have in your MLP deck. This aspect has nothing to do with confronting Problems and everything to do with the random additional card you flip and add during a faceoff (Problem or Troublemaker) – it really isn't random but more of a variance which you can control, in a limited way, and modify.

Basically it is a roll of the d6 except in your MLP deck you have a finite and set quantity of 6's, 5's, and 4's, etc. (Yes, Yes, I know there are some cards that have 0 power (Forest Owl) and 7 (Tree of Harmony), but these are by far the exception. The d6 analogy still works best. Map this out and you get a Draw Curve. This value comes into play and shouldn't be overlooked as faceoffs play an important roll in this game. (Could you really win the game while losing every faceoff?)

A Draw Curve would look like this:
(In this example 2's are the most likely draw, with 6's being rare)
The Draw Curve should be expressed in percentages with the random generator showing as a comparison.

In this (above) example the highest probability on a draw (for faceoffs) is a 1.
This particular example is from a modified Pinkie Pie deck. What's important is that this deck has a fair number of Friends (and the MC) who have the Random ability (which is stackable), thus (potentially) negating this draw result of "1", leading to the second highest draw result of 4 or 5, making this deck good for its random draw results.

Friends Hierarchy:
This is simply taking a tally of how many cards you have with 0 requirements. How many with 1 requirement. How many with 2... etc.
Remember, your Mane Character's colour reduces all those same colour requirements by 1 (ie a purple Friend with a requirement of 1 in Twilight Sparkle's deck must be counted as “0 requirements”).
Tally these totals under the deck's Primary colour, Secondary colour (and possibly Tertiary colour, if applicable).

This gives you a Friends' Hierarchy (or Friends Requirements)

In this example deck there are 9 Friends of the MC's Primary Colour with 0-requirements to play.... but only four 0-requirements for their Secondary colour. (This could prove to be a problem!) Compound this shortage further with 7 secondary colour Friends with 3-requirements and we have problems.

Deck Flexibility:
This could even be referred to as the deck's speed, although 'flexibility' is a more apt title.
Similar to the above Friends' Hierarchy, Deck Flexibility lists all cards from the Draw Deck's requirements (but not categorized by primary, secondary, tertiary colour, but simply by requirements). (These include Friends, Resources, Events, and Troublemakers - TM have 0-requirements). This represents the chances of drawing a card (Action Tokens permitting) that is immediately playable, based on requirements.

In this example, half of the Draw Deck's cards have no (0) requirements. This would be a versatile and 'fast' deck, with many options to play.

Ultimately, what you are going to discover is that a deck's Draw Curve and its Flexibility will become a trade off. You won't find cards that have high power and no requirements. (However, Tree of Harmony, Seeds of Friendship, from the upcoming Celestial Solstice series might very well be an exception, with 7 power and 0-requirements!)

Power:Cost Ratio:
Basically, this is a card's (or the entire deck's) 'bang for your buck'.

This is critical in relationship to any and all card types. Since, unlike MTG, one player will not have a larger Mana Pool to draw from (both players 'score' the same amounts of AT, not counting special abilities – but that factors into synergy and strategy).

These are the equations I use:
Resources & Events:
Power – Cost = value

Power  + Special Ability (1 max.) – Cost = value ("French Vanilla" and/or "Double Scoop Vanilla" still only count as a +1 bonus)

Power – Bonus – Cost (always 1) – other forced costs (ie Timberwolf) = value

Although this could be calculated for the entire deck, it is better off left on an individual card basis.
(It can be divided by the number of cards in the Draw Deck - don't count problem cards or MC - to give you an per card average.

This factors in derogatory issues like having a deck that is simply too large (After all, according to the rules, there is no max. limit in deckbuilding). My son has a friend with a MTG deck of over 250 cards. It has a good basic balance of mana/creatures/spells (c. 40%:  30% : 30%) (that's over 100 land cards!!) and many good and powerful cards; but it rarely wins. Why? Cards (mostly mana) "get caught in the mode". ( to speak...)

This doesn't really translate into any sort of chart, and to be honest, these calculations just give you an idea of an individual card's bang for its buck.

For example, if you had to choose between Red Gala
or Golden Harvest (and requirements weren't a factor) Golden Harvest has more 'bang for her buck'.

Red Gala:
Power (+2), Cost (-2) = 0
Golden Harvest:
Power (+2), Cost (-2), Ability (+1) = +1

Golden Harvest has more value.

This is a difficult one to measure and calculate (maybe even impossible). I've yet to figure it out.

~ ~ ~

Then, finally, there's the Problem Deck's value. Have a Problem deck that allows your opponent to confront its problems easier then you and you're giving them points.

A simply equation is as follows:

Your Requirements (-), Opponent's Requirements (+), Bonus (-) = value
A positive value favours you, while a negative value favours your opponent.



Your requirements are 7 (4 orange + 3 white).
Your opponent's requirements are 9, and its bonus is 2.

-7 + 9 - 2 = 0
It is a balance problem. (You'll find most problems balance out).

Dank Dark Dungeon

Your requirements:  7 (4 yellow + 3 white)
Your opponent's requirements: 9
Bonus: 3

-7 + 9 - 3 = -1
This problem is in your opponent's favour (as it has a negative value).

It's Alive!

Your Requirements: 2
Opponent's Requirements: 4
Bonus: 1

-2 + 4 - 1 = +1
This problem is in your favour (as it has a positive value)

However, these should not be absolute values, written in stone. Problem text as well as their synergy with the rest of the deck definitely come into play. These are little more then estimates.
For Problems, a high bonus score is not necessarily good. You could be giving your opponent these bonus points. Allowing your opponent to be the first to confront a tough problem with a bonus of 3 points (+1) puts them 25% on their way to winning.
Pinkie Pie's deck (unmodified from the Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Two Player theme deck) would score a total of -4

Faceoffs and The Draw

(...continued from Discord & Chaos!...)

Underestimating the value of "The Draw" is a critical mistake.
MLP CCG relies on a variable card (not random) in every faceoff. It will usually be between 1 and 6 (as the vast majority of cards' powers are between 1 and 6). However, these variable results are finite and fixed, unlike a d6. (If I roll a d6 29 times, I could - potentially - roll 29 6's. If I flipped 29 MLP cards from my Draw pile, it would be impossible to flip 29 power 6's. This is an important distinction).

Why? Because the amount of 6's, 5's, 4's, 3's 2's, and 1's are predetermined when the deck is built. A random generator has the same chance of rolling any given number. Not so with the draw pile.

On a chart, these chances would look like a straight horizontal line. The Faceoff Draw does not generate random numbers. Only unknown ones.

We'll use the standard Fluttershy's deck (from the Two-Player Set of Pinkie Pie vs. Fluttershy) as an example. Problem cards and the Mane Character don't come into play.

In this deck there are 2 0-powered cards, 16 1-powered cards, 8 2-powered cards, 7 3-powered cards, 6 4-powered cards, 2 5-powered cards, and 2 6-powered cards.

This changes everything with the chances of the Draw. It creates what we'll call a Draw Curve. (In this case Fluttershy has the highest chances of drawing a 2's and 5's. (Now, admittedly, there are other factors that effect and modify this: the abilities of "Random" and "Inspired" are good ones - but we're not speaking of a deck's synergy or a player's strategy; we're only looking at the deck's potential. If your MLP deck contains no 6-powered cards you can never draw a 6).

If we plot Fluttershy's spread of power cards on the same chart we see something like this.
This is the deck's Draw Curve.

(...continued on The Mana Curves of MLP CCG...)

Discord & Chaos!

Not too long ago, my son and I came up with the idea of Discord as a Mane Character, along with a "Discord Deck", or "Chaos Deck" for MLP CCG.
What more chaotic than all colours - a skittles deck? (Unrelated, I only recently became aware of the upcoming February 2015 release of the 4th set, preceding The Crystal Games: Absolute Discord!)

So we threw a deck together with extra/spare cards - basically restricted to 0-requirement Friends and cards. We tried to match the Problem deck's colour requirement to low numbers (1 main colour, 1 secondary colour) and in predominant colour patterns in the skittles deck, but I figured - with low powered (1), low cost (1), 0-requirement Friends - it would be a fast deck and we could score point primarily by confronting your opponent's problem with wild colour requirements.

The deck tested extremely poorly. Faceoffs were brutal and nearly always ended in failure (due to what we'll later discuss, a poor or non-existent Draw Curve).

Now granted, I didn't put a lot of time or energy into this deck. I'm sure with a larger resource of extra cards and booster decks it could be tweaked and fine-tuned into something playable.
But this isn't the point. As we are beginning to see on MLP CCG forums and online discussions, people are beginning to wonder and ask questions about what's the equivalent of Magic The Gathering's Mana Curves might look like in MLP CCG.
Initial reactions tend to be, "Don't be silly! You can't have a Mana Curve in MLP CCG - they don't work the same way!"

Yes... but I think the questions being asked simply don't have a framework to be asked yet.

... which brings us to the question of what values should MLP CCG decks have?

( be continued on Faceoffs and The Draw...)

Monday, August 18, 2014

How Many Alicorns are there really?

Princess Celestia
Princess Luna
Princess Cadence
Princess Twilight Sparkle

...possibly Queen Chrysalis (a fallen alicorn?)
and Queen Galaxia (Celestia and Luna's mother)...
...and King Cosmos (Celestia and Luna's father), 6 or 7

...and 3 Royal Alicorn Guards
from A Canterlot Wedding - Part 1, but according to MLP wiki, "some guards saluting can be seen having both a pair of wings and a horn due to an animation error", ...
so they don't count.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Season 4, Episode 26

A fully powered-up Alicorn Princess Twilight Sparkle...vs... Tirek

...holy shit!...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Celestial Solstice Deluxe Set

I've heard, > in August, we’ll see the MLP: Celestial Solstice Deluxe Set arrive. The deluxe set features a fancy storage box for all of your cards, two oversized Mane character cards, 24 exclusive foil cards (three each of eight new cards), 6 card packs, deck protector sleeves (I believe Celestia & Luna), and a poster identifying every card released thus far, as well as a d20, all for  $29.99
Also heard rumour that the two additional new foil Mane Character cards will be new versions of Princess Celestia and Twilight Sparkle (I hope Princess Twilight Sparkle!)

Update - Aug. 15/14
I like it when I'm right!  :)

According to MLPCCG tournament tumblr website, Celestrial Solstice Deluxe set is premiering on August 14-17 at Gen Con. I can only assume it's release date with follow.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Princess Celestia Synergies: "A Mixed Bag of Beans"

Princess Celestia has a wide assortment of potentials.

Dismiss Friends & Resources:
The Horror! The Horror! (event)
Liza Doolets (Friend)
Manny Roar (Friend and Critter - see below)
Anything I Can Do To Help? (event)
Sunset Shimmer (troublemaker)
Prince Blueblood (troublemaker)

These cards can collectively allow you to diminish your opponent's Friends and Resources.

Back from the Dead!:
Rarity, Nest Weaver (Friend) x2
In addition to her (bonus) ability of Inspired, this card allows you to play a card from your discard pile, as does Foggy Fleece (Friend) x2

Golden Gavel, Fast Talker (Friend) x3
Timberwolf (troublemaker) x2
These two cards together on a problem create a brutal blockade for your opponent, costing them +3 AT to  play a Friend to the problem or +1 to move a Character to that problem.

More or less, this is Fluttershy's ability with Caretaker and Critter Friends
Lemon Hearts (Friend)
Fluttershy, Animal Team (Friend) x2
supported by an assortment of Critters: House Mouse, Blue Jay, & Winona.
Eagle, Soaring Raptor (x2) Raccoon, Scrounger (x2)
make good additions because of their abilities to move easily and/or cheaply.

And finally Doctor Horse, M.D. (Friend) x3 round out this section of power-ups nicely.

Power-ups to meet Requirements:

Initially it might seem that there are a fair amount of secondary colour (Diamond - white) cards that could prove difficult to get into play. However, these following cards are awesome at powering up for the Main Phase in order to get those pesky requirements met and into play!

Coco Pommel, Fashion Apprentice (Friend)
Octavia, Star Cellist (Friend) x3
All have the ability power up during the Main Phase to meet requirements.
Octavia, Star Cellist should be accompanied by Private Party (Resource) x2.
It should be noted that  Resources attached to Friends at Home can be used for Octavia, Star Cellist's activated ability to power up. (For example, if a Friend at home has Marvelous Chapeau attached to it, Octavia, Star Cellist can still exhaust it and power up!)

Which brings us to
Attitude and Pizzazz! (Problem) x2
Marvelous Chapeau (Resource) x2
Chic Beret (Resource) x2 (This resource will also come into use when meeting requirements for Diamond (white) cards! Bonus!)

Although the Celestia deck may never be able to play all these strategies at once, there's no reason why it can't be extremely versatile and toggle back and forth, never letting your opponent know where you're going!