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

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