Deck building is an art unto itself, one which can catapult you to the top of the rankings if you truly master it. So what makes a great and powerful deck in a card game, and how do the evergreen lessons translate to Gods Unchained?
The classic card game archetypes: aggro, combo and control
Depending on how you handle the board tension and what win condition you choose, there are three major archetypes which fit basically every kind of deck you can dream up.
Aggro decks, as the name implies, rely on aggression to quickly finish off the game, prioritizing direct damage to the enemy god over anything else.
They swarm the board with small minions early on, looking to deal as much damage with them as possible, and as they inevitably lose the board over time to beefier cards, they rely on direct damage spells and weapons to take care of the rest.
Here, time and overall damage output are the crucial resources to manage, as both are very much finite over the course of a regular game.
In Gods Unchained, War and Death chiefly gravitate towards this approach with cards like Bombfly or Bladecaster.
On the other end of the spectrum, control decks rely on efficient removal to win the game, betting that they can get out more of their deck of cards than you can.
Killing multiple birds with one stone is the name of the game, and the governing philosophy is that you can’t lose as long the opponent has nothing to beat you with. In its purest form, they intend to literally remove everything you’ve got, but usually even the slower control decks feature a few massive threats to eventually close out the game.
In Gods Unchained, look for Light and Nature to build the most efficient decks of this kind. Lightning Strike, The Hunt, Wildfire, Golden Sabre: all a nightmare to deal with if you’re on an aggressive gameplan against them.
Combo decks don’t really work along these lines: their goal is to assemble a specific collection of cards to pull off a devastating combination – hence the name – to win the game on the spot.
Unlike control decks, they are not at all interested in permanent and effective removal: as long as they can stall out the game and delay the opponent’s gameplan, they’re good to go. The longer the game goes, the more inevitable their victory is.
Classically, aggro decks beat combo because they’re too fast and don’t allow the opponents to set up the fancy finisher – and by the same token, control decks are often struggling against this archetype. (As you could probably guess, control decks are most in their element against pure aggression as their strategy is pretty much based on stopping that in its tracks.)
In Gods Unchained, Deception and Magic lend themselves the best for this kind of a strategy thanks to cards like Exorcise or Rune Viper Tincture.
Mid-range decks are also worth a mention. They are the chimeras of card games, adapting their strategy based on what they’re facing.
They’re slower than pure aggro decks – and therefore play a control strategy against them – but are faster than combo-based or aggressive opposition, and they go for a beat-down plan in those match-ups. Unlike the previous three archetypes, their strategy radically changes depending on who they’re facing.
The universal resources: tempo and value
If you have more cards in your hand than your opponent does, you enjoy a resource advantage. If you destroyed multiple minions with a single spell, that’s a good thing. (Hello, Dust to Dust!)
This is what value is all about, one of the two universal resources to consider during a game, and the easier one to understand at a first glance. In most cases, it’s the bread and butter of control decks, though it’s always quite relevant between matches of the same archetypes.
On the other hand, there’s tempo. You may have exhausted every card in your hand to stick two minions on the board, but if those can repeatedly hit your opponent in the face, they will win the game for you by themselves.
This sort of a board advantage is generally referred to as ‘tempo’, and it’s often what faster, more aggressive decks are trying to leverage in order to achieve victory. Yes, your opponent may have six extra cards in their hand, but what good does it do them if they’re dead long before they can make use of them?
So what do combo decks look for? Arguably, none of these are as important for them as time. Since they almost always have inevitability – a guaranteed win if the game goes on long enough – they benefit the most from simply kicking the can down the road. After all, it’s only a matter of time…
The deckbuilding secret sauces: curve and synergy
So what makes a good deck in Gods Unchained? Having enough things to do at any given point in the game and making sure the cards you’ve included alongside one another have strong synergistic effects. A hodge-podge collection of random critters will not stand up to a united army, after all, and even the best-laid plans won’t bring you victory if you have to pass for five turns before you can even begin to put it into motion.
The “mana curve” is what guarantees a consistent gameplan. The more a card costs, the more powerful its effect, and therefore the more time it will take for you to be able to play it.
Logically, this means that you’ll have to try to do something powerful at every point in the game – and the only way you can ensure you have the ability to do so is to include cards with vastly different mana costs in your deck, hence the “curve” moniker. (Of course, not every card is meant to be played at the first moment you’re able to do so: you won’t just toss out a Faraday Cage just because you’re on four mana if the board state doesn’t warrant it.)
Having the ability to affect the game at any given point is one of the keys to construct a strong deck, and this comes from an intelligently constructed mana curve. The different archetypes may have a bit of leeway here – for instance, an aggro deck will always want more things to do early on in the game than a control deck will – but no one can get away with passing the first five turns or having zero cards which are impactful past turn three.
Synergy, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult to nail down. It’s how the specific card effects beneficially interact with each other (and your God power in certain cases). The more you manage to keep this in mind as you build a deck, the more powerful overall effects you can rely on in a game. Runic Familiar works well in decks with a lot of cheap spells, especially if you also have the ability to draw a lot of them to buff it even further. If you can draw a lot of cards, Oni Spellsword also sounds like a logical inclusion.
For Nature, Rebel Quartermaster will work a lot better in decks which can summon a lot of small creatures at the same time rather than in builds which rely on huge individual minions to get the job done. There are practically endless synergy options to consider in Gods Unchained, and those who manage to fit the most effective ones in their deck without sacrificing too much consistency will reign supreme.
Now you understand the basics of card game strategy and deck building and how it relates to Gods Unchained. It’s time to build some awesome decks and crush your opposition!
~ Credit: Luci Kelemen