Welcome back, readers, to Crit the Books! This week, we’ll be looking back at some of our discussions on resources and using the terminology we developed there to discuss some generalized game strategy. If you haven’t yet, I suggest you read last week’s article, where we define resources and engines. We’ll be using those terms a lot in today’s article, so please make sure you’re familiar with the terms!
The first bit of strategy advice I’ll be discussing today is Attack your opponent on their most limited resource. The easiest way to assure your victory in most games is to, if possible, eliminate options from your opponent. The easiest way to eliminate options entirely is to remove one of your opponent’s resources from them. If your opponent has nothing to power their engines, then they will often struggle to find their path to victory.
To illustrate this, we’ll look at 2 different examples of games. The first we’ll look at is the most popular paper TCG in the world, Magic: the Gathering. Let’s look at one of the most linear decks in most formats, Burn, or Red Deck Wins. These decks have some of the most efficient engines in Magic in terms of cards and mana to damage. However, these decks are often very limited on card draw. Therefore, decks that aim to beat those decks often attempt to win by eventually gaining more card advantage than their opponent. Of course, simply having more cards than your opponent will not win you the matchup by itself, but it will put you ahead and put you in a position to win the later game.
Another example of this style of play in Magic: the Gathering is land destruction. Lands are one of the most limited resources in Magic – you’re limited to playing one at a time, once per turn. Because of this, spells that destroy lands are often very powerful, and any deck that can do so consistently and efficiently is one to be feared. Blood Moon is a very powerful card in many decks, largely because it is functionally land destruction against much of the metagame. While it is not attacking your opponent’s mana directly, it is attacking them on another limited resource: colored mana.
The other example we’ll be looking at is from the tabletop miniatures world, and one of my personal favorite games of the genre: Guild Ball. In Guild Ball, one of your most limited resources is movement. Each model can only make a movement once per activation unless they have other abilities that do so, and those abilities that allow movement outside of that single activation are few and far between. Because of that, abilities that can stop or limit your movement are very powerful, and some models are taken into some matchups simply because they have those abilities.
Attacking an opponent’s most limited resources is the best way to turn off their engines, and by doing so, you can cost your opponent a lot of efficiency. Whether it be through turning off their ability to cast spells, stopping them from turning their action into attacks, or even limiting their actions to those which are reactions to your plays, you can gain a lot of control over the flow of the game by attacking their most limited resources.
Another piece of gaming advice that will help you moving forward is accentuate the strengths of the resources that you have more of than your opponent. That is a lot to take in, so let’s break it down further. Of the resources available to each player, there are likely resources that you will have more of than your opponent, either those that you have an excess of in the beginning of the game, or those that you gain an advantage over the course of the game. When you have resources that you have more of than your opponent, you should do your best to leverage your resources to their most effectiveness, because often your opponent will not have strong ways to contest their use.
Let’s go back to Magic: the Gathering; specifically, the burn or RDW matchup that we discussed earlier. Often, when you’re partway through the game, you’ll have more cards than your opponent. It is up to you to leverage the excess of cards that you have to the best use and gain the most efficiency out of those cards. If you can use those cards to deny your opponent cards or gain yourself more cards, then you will often find yourself in a winning position. That sort of effect that causes you to be farther ahead when you are already ahead is called a snowball effect and will often gain you the victory if you take advantage of an early lead.
As another example from M:tG, we’ll look at decks that do their best to gain an advantage over their opponent in the resource of lands, or mana. These decks will often do their best to make use of their extra mana, because it often costs resources to get yourself in a position where you have more than your opponent, and if those resources are not used, you have spent tempo, cards, and earlier mana to not gain a significant advantage – they have been wasted! When you are ahead with your mana, you don’t want to be playing cards that are the same cost and power level as your opponent. You want to be playing more powerful cards that cost more. You want to leverage the advantage you have into a win!
In Guild Ball, this same concept is in play. If your team has more movement options than the other team, do you want to engage with your opponent and put yourself in a position where you can’t use those movement options? No! You want to spread out and place yourself in locations where your opponent simply can’t reach you. You want to use the movement that you have available and put yourself out of range of your opponent’s attacks and abilities, because how are they going to be able to get over to you to stop you? When you have an advantaged position, take it!
When you have achieved an advantage over an opponent in one or more resources, that will often be a key path to winning. That excess you have will make it so your opponent cannot interact with you on that axis, and must find a way to win in other ways – perhaps with resources that they have more of than you, or engines that they have which are more efficient than yours.
Looking at the resources available to you and your opponent is key to optimized gameplay. By paying attention to where your opponent’s weak spots are, and by playing to your strengths, you’ll be able to give yourself an advantage. The important part of this lesson is learning how to accurately identify your opponent’s resources and find weak points that you can exploit. If you can do that consistently, you’ll find your win rate going up and up!
A big thank you to my Patrons for this month: Alex, TicTac, and anonymous patrons. If there are specific subjects or concepts you’d like an article written on, I suggest you look at my patreon! For just $7 a month, you’ll be able to suggest article topics for me to write on.
As always, remember that it’s not enough to just hit the books if you want to win. You’ve got to Crit the Books!