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Shadow Era TCG  »  Articles  »  SE Strategy: Who's The Beatdown?
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(This is a guest article by He-Man, which originally appeared here.)

Introduction

Back in the olden days of Magic: The Gathering, famous Mike Flores once wrote an important strategy piece called Who's The Beatdown?. The gist of it is that it's crucial for the outcome of your game to correctly determine who plays the fast, aggressive role (the beatdown; also called the aggro in SE), and who plays the defensive role. I believe that this concept also applies to SE. If you have all the basic strategies down and feel you are ready for the next level, this may be a nice piece to have a look at.

At the moment, it is often straight forward who is the beatdown, as some deck archetypes are aggressive in nature, whereas others are slower and more controlling or even just defensive. There are, however, situations where it is not so easy: in a mirror match, for instance. When the number of cards will increase in the future, this will likely become more of an issue.

So, who is the beatdown?

The beatdown is the person controlling the deck that will be in the offensive mode. Usually the quickest deck of the two involved. Warrior decks are a straight forward example of beatdown decks. They have a lot of low-cost allies, and a quick curve, since they have what I call resource acceleration in the form of Jeweler's Dream, which lets them spend 2 additional resources, hence making it possible to play more cards early on. Besides the obvious strategic points mentioned in many other threads, it is good to keep in mind then, that when you run into a warrior deck (and playing something different yourself) you have to be prepared to be in defensive mode. Knowing this will affect your choices for what cards to sacrifice, and when (and in what order) to play other cards.

There are two especially tricky scenarios: the mirror match, and a match where two different beatdown decks meet. What to do in these situations? The trick here is to have good knowledge of the metagame. If you are running a warrior deck, but you have a relatively large number of high-cost allies, chances are the other person will have the quicker deck (i.e. a casting cost curve with more cards at the lower spectrum). In this case, your opponent is the beatdown. In SE, the impact of going first or second is also enormous. So, if you are playing a fast deck, and your opponent might have the same, whoever goes first is generally the beatdown. When, say, Amber meets Gwen, you have two relatively fast and aggressive decks. Often though, in the current metagame, Amber will rely a bit more on, often low-cost, allies, whereas the Gwen deck really revolves around the bows. Thus, generally, I would say in Amber vs Gwen, Amber is the beatdown.

The above may not sound very straight forward, perhaps somewhat vague even, but if you have some experience under your belt, you will know what I am talking about. Often this is really circumstantial, and I cannot give a definitive list of who is the beatdown in what match up, so you will have to rely on your own good judgment.

Conclusion

When you start a match, have a look at the hero the opponent is playing, their deck size, whether you are going first or second, and, as long as there is no mulligan rule in SE, you also want to consider your own opening hand in the equation. Decide who is the beatdown: him or you. If you are the beatdown, you will have to be come out of the gates quickly, and give it your all early on. If you are the one playing the defensive role, you have to manage to live through the first couple of turns, and make your move later in the game.

Knowing who is the beatdown will affect the choices you make in the game (e.g. which cards to sacrifice). If you are the beatdown, you want to hold on to your allies and get rid of removal cards; if you are in the defensive role, you may want to keep that Retreat! in lieu of a Blake ...

Hope this has been insightful, please leave comments and ask questions if you have any!


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