Scion's School: Basics #1 - Proactivity and the Aggro Deck

What’s the biggest lie in Battlestar Galactica?

The Cylons (the series antagonists) never had a plan.  They had numbers, they had resources, they had spies and information, they had basically every advantage - but at the end of the day, they just tooled around and passively let the humans do whatever they wanted until somebody finally figured out how to beat them.  

If they had a plan, it would have been a very short show.

The full run of Battlestar Galactica lasts about three and half days. The average game of Eternal lasts about five minutes. If you want to make the best of those five minutes, you should know what victory is and have a plan to achieve it.

So, before you even start, ask yourself:  How do you win a game of Eternal? 

Well, the simple answer would be that you reduce your opponents health to 0.  

What reduces your opponents health to 0?  Again, the simple answer: Cards that do damage.

The simplest plan is often the best one. So let’s plan on doing that:

Firestarter Basic

4 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
1 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Ruthless Stranger (Set1 #11)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Bladekin Apprentice (Set1 #22)
4 Blazing Renegade (Set0 #4)
4 Kaleb's Favor (Set0 #3)
4 Piercing Shot (Set1 #25)
4 Rakano Outlaw (Set1 #20)
2 Granite Acolyte (Set1 #31)
4 Stonescar Sawed-Off (Set3 #32)
4 Flash Fire (Set0 #6)
2 Stonescar Maul (Set1 #52)
1 Kaleb, Uncrowned Prince (Set1 #61)
21 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)

There are 75 cards in this deck, the bare minimum number required (in virtually any deckbuilding game, the bare minimum number is best, because it maximizes your chances of drawing the best cards in your deck).  Every single non power card in the deck (and 4 of the power cards, too!) can deal damage to the opponent. If you draw a card and that card isn’t the fundamental resource that makes all your cards work, that card is going to deal damage to your opponents face.  This deck has a plan - direct, simple, and to the point. It wants to kill our opponent.

In addition to doing damage, a lot of our cards care about attacking.  Oni Ronin and Rakano Outlaw have Warcry, which means that the more that you attack with them, the bigger the next card you draw is going to get.  Bladekin Apprentice beefs its attack up with each swing, which when combined with Quickdraw means it can consistently kill blockers without taking damage back.  And Blazing Renegade’s Charge ability means its ready to attack a turn earlier than any other two drop, hitting in for a little bit of damage the instant it’s dropped.

All but 7 of these cards cost 3 power or less, which means that we play cards faster and more often than our opponent will in the early turns of the game.  This, combined with our damage plan, is what we call an Aggro deck.  Aggro decks are defined by cards that are cheap to cast and proactive towards Eternal’s ultimate goal, earning them names like “Red Deck Wins”.

Aggro decks tend to be good choices for new players because they limit the amount of total resources coming into play for each player, making it easier to take games off of people with more experience and a more diverse array of cards.  Fancy legendaries? Can’t play those if you’re dead. Complicated combo that does infinite damage? I’ll bet that requires them to live more than five turns. Even a balanced, reasoned deck with a slower plan can have trouble making good decisions with a swarm of gunslingers up in its face.  To put it into yet more sci-fi metaphors: if your opponent has an Empire and you have a couple X-Wings, don’t muck about in a drawn out resource war. Rush the Death Star.

This also combats one of the most common problems of getting started in any new game, which is decision paralysis.  You’ll feel this from time to time in any new space - there’s a lot of cards being played, the board gets complicated, it feels like your opponents hand might have any number of nonsense cards in it that will totally dismantle your plan.  And hey, maybe it does! But there are a few things to remember about games like this:

  • Even the perfect play involves risk - you cannot win them all.
  • Mistakes are pretty good learning tools! It’s worth charging into the unknown if it helps you know more about it.
  • The longer you let the game draw out, the more complicated it is going to get.  

The tendency of new players in games is to take it slowly, try to see every card in the deck.  And once you have enough rares to put together a something like a Crystalline Chalice control list, that might be a winning possibility. But first things first - want to win a game?  Then make a deck that just does that.  

Because your deck is your plan.  And you should always have a plan.