Jesse is back with Designing a Strategy Card Game Part 2. This week he discusses the core framework for a faction, alongside using math to help develop statistical value for your cards.
Written by: Jasper Birch
Battle for Sularia nationals: The road to almost champ
Last year I had to miss nationals for Battle for Sularia, because I was not able to get the day off. Therefore I had decided that this year I was gonna prepare extra good for the tournament, so I would have a good shot at winning it all.
Yeah, that ended up not happening. Being busy with work, family and just life in general I had not played much Sularia in the months leading up to nationals. With less than a week until the tournament I still had to pick what faction I was going to play, let alone put a deck together. In my head I thought that Protoan was probably the strongest faction at this point, but the deck I had in mind for it was not necessarily one I was desiring to play. So I decided to just build one deck for each faction that I thought would be strong. Even within deck building I noticed that Jotune, as much as I like them, did not seem in a very strong position right now. Exsularian seemed pretty promising, but with the lack of play and the complexity of some of their faction I thought playing it might not be the best idea. So it came down to Protoan or Synthien. As much as I wanted to favor Synthien, the Protoan deck kept beating it in test play.
The day of nationals I had still not really decided. I asked myself if I’d rather play for foil Projectus than for the title (and the foil Johnny’s!). I decided against the Protoan deck, partially because I wanted to play what fits my playstyle, partially because I felt there might be a lot of answers against the Protoan deck I would play. So Synthien it was. My Synthien deck was mostly a renewed version of the Hekaton Experiment deck that won Dustin Rogers the title last year and had been successful before the release of the Protoan and Exsularian factions. Now my version was not as heavily depending on the combo going off, or protecting it by any means necessary. I brought in just a bunch of overall good cards to just have several potential threats coming out. I was planning to make a bunch of sularium with Master Mining and Hero’s Boon and then I had multiple options to bring into play that could become a big threat. After having tested so much against my own Protoan deck I had made a last minute change where I took out the one STAB I had in the list plus a System Scramble (which I never liked in the list anyways), to replace it with two It’s a Traps, since I had issues dealing with the super aggressive Protoan list I had and was expecting to show up at nationals as well.
So here I was, not as well prepared as I had said I would be, with a deck I was unsure about that it was the strongest. Round 1 would be a first test to see how it would perform. I was playing a mirror match-up against Thomas and the first game was not promising for my deck. I kept a slightly questionable opening hand that was light on Sularium generation and my small sites got stomped before I could even get anything going. My confidence level in the deck plummeted immediately. I was just hoping to not lose all my matches now. Game 2 fortunately was the complete opposite of the first game. I played a turn 2 KYZR/Hekaton, and even when that got blown up right away with a STAB, I played a Johnny right afterwards, which controlled the rest of the game. Game 3 was close. It was pretty slow as we both got some dudes out and both had a Centropolis on the field, which prevented any possible attacks on either side. That was, until I drew my one copy of Harp from my deck. I flipped 2 Defense Overrides, played Harp, so I could play a third copy, which killed three sites and left Centropolis open in the back row, so I could hit it with my combatants. After taking out Centropolis, I took control of the game and won. I was happy with the win, but it was not a convincing win to say the least, so I was not very optimistic about my chances to reach the top 4.
In round 2 I was facing Zach and his Protoan list. I had not very high hopes for a good outcome in this match as I was facing Protoan, a faction I had lost so often to in testing, and I was facing Zach, which I know is a very skilled player. Game 1 I quickly got behind and I could never get back into it, the Protoan just making too many tokens. Game 2 went pretty quickly my way as I managed to get a pretty quick KYZR/Hekaton combo going that took care of the little sites that Protoan have. Game 3 was the closest game of the three, and every time I thought I had an answer to Zach’s rapidly growing board, he flipped either an Evasion or a Frenzy to make any combat a bad trade for me. So I went to 1-1, but the loss was not as devastating as could have been. Still I was hoping not to face two more Protoan decks.
But Protoan it was in round 3. I was playing Aidan and he played a turn 2 Syrana. I answered by playing Johnny and after thinking about it briefly I decided that it was gonna be best for me to trade Johnny’s life for Syrana as I could not answer attacks at that point and I could not wait a turn, so he could answer with Evasion on top of Mind Shell. After Syrana’s death, I felt like Aidan had a hard time building up a good offense line and I had enough time to play bigger threats than his and win the game. The second game I was fortunate enough to draw the one card that can ruin Protoan really quickly, and that is double Defense Override. Aidan lost all his sites early on and never got enough Sularium production going after that to get back into the game. So I beat Protoan. It made me feel pretty good, and suddenly I was only a win away from making the top 4.
In round 4 I was facing Colin and his Jotune list. He was to my surprise still undefeated, because I didn’t think Jotune would do well this tournament. In game 1 he definitely proved me wrong. A turn 2 Oathki, turn 3 Fenris and 3 Art of Wars later I was very dead. In game 2 I fired back with Johnny, still my all-star guy, who is very good at killing early sites or taking out small combatants. Game 3 was slow as we both mulliganed into pretty poor hands, but eventually became a battle between the big guys. His Oathki and Fenris were up against my robot army. Fortunately he split his attack, so I could take out Oathki with a Trap and Feedback. Then my robot army was big enough to win me the game.
And suddenly I was in the top 4. I thought: ‘I might as well win it all now’. I think fortunately for me I was facing Colin again, so I avoided both Protoan decks in the top 4. I had more faith in my match-up against Jotune. Game 1 of our rematch went pretty quick. I was able to deny Colin of sites fairly early and snowballed it from there. Game 2 I mulliganed into a hand with 3 Hekatons. I was like: ‘Game 3 it is..’, until I saw Colin shaking his head after his mulligan. I think we both did nothing for 3 straight turns and eventually I drew cards that let me get out a KYZR/Hekaton and another Hekaton. Colin did not draw that well either, so I lucked out on that game. But.. I made the final table! I had not expected that with my last call deck decision.
Then I was facing Matt in the finals. I knew it was going to be rough for me as Matt had not lost a single game all day and he was playing a Protoan deck that makes as many tokens as my deck makes sularium. It was decided that the finals would be a best-of-5 match. Game 1 was a quick stomp. Multiple tokens plus double Blood Lust equals death. Game 2 was better for me, but I feel like the game changed into Matt’s favor after he flipped a Blood Lust make my Johnny trade for one of his many combatants. Without Johnny being able to take out some of the growing swarm of tokens I could not keep up the pace. Game 3 I was off to a good start. I got an early KYZR/Hekaton out and took out most of Matt’s sites. But Lifeblood still provided Matt with enough sularium to play a bunch of threats and Carapice Dome prevented me from getting in a lot of damage. It came down to a last round of attacks. I calculated the numbers and then attacked with everything, putting him at -13. On the swingback I just had to hope he didn’t have a Blood Lust or Frenzy or anything else that would increase his attack. He did not and took me to -12. I made it to game 4, but with him now being on initiative again a reverse sweep was not very likely. And game 4 proved just that. I could not overcome an early Materox and Matt quickly swarmed the board again, taking me out. Not completely to my surprise, Protoan won nationals, but I was very happy that my Synthien list came in second.
I think I also proved myself right to go with my gut instinct to play what I wanted, especially after playing Neil with my Protoan build and making a bunch of little play errors that ended up losing me the game. Overall, my deck performed well and did what it could do. KYZR/Hekaton remains pretty strong, though I did not play against Exsularian all tournament, which has a bunch of good answers for it. Johnny is still my favorite guy and I will pretty much auto include him in pretty much any deck right now. Centropolis still provides a lot of control and Harp was amazing every game I drew her. I was glad I included the 2 Traps, though I was slightly surprised how much sularium I sometimes made. A STAB or a fourth Feedback would have been very welcome sometimes. The one card that I was actually slightly disappointed in was Furtim. Every game I played him he seemed to be doing very little to nothing. I think I also played him over Johnny or a Terminator, where the attack threat would have been better probably. I am not sure if I should cut him, as he is still super strong against Exsularian, Synthien and any sort of Evasion, but just based on nationals I could use the 4 points elsewhere. And as far as dealing with these stinky Protoan, if you have seen some of the Alpha program cards, there will be an answer coming really soon!
Written by: Jesse Bergman
September of 2018 has been one heckuva busy month as we prepare to launch Reign of Terror to each of you on October 2, 2018. For those of you that have pre-ordered the product, your packages will be sent out by Friday of this week, and you should receive your products by the 2nd. If you have any questions regarding your pre-order, please fill out a submission form, and we will respond to each of your requests as fast as possible.
What you can find in this update:
The Good, The Bad, and The Savage – Development Update
Reign of Terror – Omega Release
Alpha Program – October Promo Cards
Escalation Series: Pack 8 – Card Update
The Good, The Bad, and The Savage Development Update
The Good, the Bad, and the Savage are progressing to the final stages of development. We will begin final Q&A proofing of the print documents for the final print file to be sent to our print partner.
We received all of the final art pieces in the last week, and we have posted them on our social media channels. But check out Sularium Depot below! We love what our artists have put into the Exsularian pieces, and The Good, the Bad, and the Savage is turning out to be one of our most stunning sets yet!
“Sularium Depot” by Filip Depot
The Good, The Bad, and The Savage ships to you on November 6th, 2018.
Reign of Terror Omega Release
Reign of Terror will release and be ready for Omega game play next week on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018. There have been many updates to cards and rules for Omega play. We will be updating our rules document in the coming weeks, to prepare for the new rules. When that document has been released we will update each of you through this blog. The new rules document will be available to download to your electronic device. We are also looking to compile a comprehensive FAQ regarding cards, if you have a question regarding a specific card's interaction please let us know so we can add it to our website.
Alpha Program October Promo Cards
October brings a brand new release of Promo Cards for October. This month introduces two impressive new combatants from the Reign of Terror and The Good, the Bad, and the Savage releases.
These cards will be available on our website for $5 per card per play set.
Escalation Series: Pack 8
Four brand new cards make their way into the escalation series for October, and pack number 8 brings a powerful new combatant and exciting new tactics the core factions. These are cards that deck builders will not want to miss regardless of whatever faction you love the most!
Ashgar's Duty is a card designed by national champion Dustin Rogers. He wanted a card that gave the Jotune a proven ability QUICK. As a two construction cost card, Ashgar's Duty is not an automatic inclusion in Jotune player's decks, but there are specific game archetypes that will benefit most from a card like Ashgar's Duty.
With a fairly high threshold cost, Ashgar’s duty gives the Jotune a powerful way to finish off their opponent in the later stages of the game.
Ashgar's Duty is a card that will see play in competitive formats, and we cannot wait to see how it fits into your Jotune builds.
Last month we introduced Simiann a new combatant that uses Energize as a reliable defensive option. This month brings another Energize combatant to the table, and this one serves as a valuable aggressive combatant for those Synthien aggro lists. Last month's post discusses how energize operates using Simiann. The same rules apply to Juggernaut Mauler with a much higher ceiling.
As a two construction cost card, the Mauler lives in an excellent sularium cost point in their combatant curve. While Hydra Reaver offers a consistent and affordable six sularium combatant, the Juggernaut Mauler pushes the ceiling of power to new heights, extending even beyond the almighty Hekaton Warhulk
Bellowing Roar is a brand new tactic for the Protoan and offers an excellent control piece for the faction. Players will be able to leverage Bellowing Roar by playing the more substantial Protoan threats. As a one construction cost tactic, fitting Bellowing Roar fits into a player's deck easily.
The drawbacks to Bellowing Roar exist in two different spaces. First, players have to decide what four cards of their sixty in the tactic and condition department could be cut to make room for it. Additionally, players have to play the more powerful combatant suite in order to turn on the card and provide a useful result. While Bellowing Roar has a similar effect to Centropolis in the Synthien, it does not offer the consistency and cards such as Evasion are much more profitable in the exchange.
From The Rubble
From the Rubble is an exciting new card for the Exsularian. As a two construction cost card, From The Rubble provides an excellent new tactic that gives the Exsularian another valuable control piece. Synergizing nicely with Anarchy mechanics, From the Rubble allows an Exsularian player to pull valuable high powered sites from the discard pile. From The Rubble can grab your opponent's sites or your own.
It does come with one major drawback in that the site's defense is reduced therefore making it easier for your opponent to remove. Additionally, the Anarchy package tends to push construction cost limits to near break point and From the Rubble doesn't alleviate this. When deck building with From the Rubble players will actively have to find a way to fit the cards all together in their 60 cards and 90 points.
We hope you are all enjoying the upcoming content. We are very excited to get the Protoan into your hands and hope you share with us your decks and favorite cards from the set on social media and elsewhere!
Until next time, see you on the battlefield.
Written by: Jesse Bergman
Wow, did this month go fast! It's hard to believe it's time to write another update to all of you! August saw some exciting new things going on and sets us up for a whirlwind to the end of the year. It's like the precursor to a big storm, you can see the clouds rolling in and the wind is picking up, but you don't quite know what all is in store!
The Battle Begins: Full-Art Booster Pack went on sale on August 2nd and many of you have taken advantage of them and we have had strong sales to start. If you are already an existing player of Battle for Sularia: The Card Game, then you do not want to miss out on this opportunity to bling out your deck. These items are selling quickly and when they are gone we will discontinue them for a while. They may return at a later date, but that will all be determined by your overall demand for the product.
What you can find in this update:
Full-Art Booster Pack information
Reign of Terror development/production update
Escalation Series: Pack 7 - Card Update
Alpha Program July Promo Cards
Full-Art Booster Pack Information
Full-Art Booster Packs were released on August 2nd, 2018 and come in two different product offerings. The individual packs can be purchased for $5.99 or if you want to try out randomized drafting of Battle for Sularia: The Card Game, then you can purchase our 4-Player Draft Pod package for $89.99.
We won't go into full detail on the packs here if you would like to read more about them, head over to our blog post on the packs and get a complete rundown and determine which packs are best for you!
These packs are a web exclusive offer and will sell out fairly soon. Re-order of the packs will not occur immediately, but they may return later this year or next.
Reign of Terror Development Update
Reign of Terror development has been closed. We are in process of placing orders with our printers and we are on track for an early October release. We will begin showcasing more about the release as we get closer to that fateful October date. We will continue to take pre-orders right here on our site. Once the pre-orders sell-through, we will open up a wave 2 for those of you that missed out early on.
If you are on the fence about ordering Reign of Terror, now is the perfect time to get in and make sure that you recieve your copy as it releases.
"Subterranean Lair" by Ascary Lazos
Escalation Series: Pack 7
The Alpha Program heads into pack 7 and the back half of the escalation series release. This pack introduces some powerful new cards, that need your attention. The idea behind the Alpha Program is for you our fans, to get an opportunity to try out new card designs before they are released into the final form. Playing games with these cards and providing us with feedback helps shape the final version of the game. Feedback can be provided directly through our feedback form found here at the Alpha Program page of this site!
Gods Among Men
This card represents a new design idea for condition cards. It functions in two separate ways. The first way is one in which the card gains tactical value in the form of playing the card in a similar fashion to the Mercenary card evasion. While the scope of Gods Among Men is limited to type 1 combatants, it further reinforces the theme we were building in The Battle Begins Starter Set.
When your opponent attempts to target your powerful type 1 combatants, Gods Among Men springs to the rescue to protect them from those effects, however, since it is also a condition card it provides a powerful ongoing effect that indicates that future and existing type 1 combatants cannot be defused by effects. This particular play pattern is narrow, but offers protection from some of the most powerful cards in the format such as Dead on Arrival, and Sularium Tactical Assault Beam.
Simiann is a backer designed card from our Blood, Profit, and Glory Kickstarter. Backer Jim O'Flaherty, who also designed Lady Worgana, came to us with an idea to build a powerful robot that was versatile and flexible. Jim was working on a self-learning AI that each iteration brought a new and improved intelligence. We latched on to Jim's idea and created a whole new keyword for this type of mechanism. ENERGIZE is a dual-modality ability that allows players to invest sularium one action at a time to do one of the two following abilities:
This combatant gets +1/-1 until the end of turn.
This combatant gets -1/+1 until the end of turn.
This sort of flexibility combined with Specialist makes Simiann a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. Many users ask how he functions, his attack value is facing the limiter of his defense value because if at anytime a combatant has a defense value of 0 it dies. However, on the defensive side, you may continue to make investments that would reduce a combatants attack value to 0 or below 0, while the defense value continues to climb. So, if you have 9 sularium, then you can invest 9 sularium into Simiann's -1/+1 ability to modify his stats to -7/15 making him a nearly impenetrable wall for one of your opponent's combatants.
VIRUS has represented itself as a powerful ability that gives a player the ability to reduce incoming damage or potentially kill off major threats on an opponents board. VIRUS is a dangerous ability that opponents need to respect. A Protoan player has so many proactive ways to net value with Gorgarid while impacting their opponent's board state. Gorgarid is the type of combatant that provides that complete upside of combatant removal/reduction, with an affordable package in their decks.
With a base attack of 2 and a base defense of 3 Gorgarid can focus by dealing 2 damage to a combatant on defense, and then die from combat damage or through a sacrifice outlet to put the two infection counters on that combatant, and effectively deal 4 damage that turn. Dealing 4 damage for only 3 sularium and 1 construction cost is an excellent trade in the game.
Hideout continues the theme of Influence matters. This time synergizing with Ruffian combatants. Hideout at 6 influence requires some work to get into play, especially when many constructed games only play to turn 6 or turn 7. Combined with Power Broker, Exsularian players could see this site as early as turn 4, giving them plenty of opportunities to build up powerful sites, but the less obvious play is the impact that Power Broker and Hideout can provide to playing tactic and condition cards with higher threshold values.
A player also gets additional value by being able to deploy their Ruffian combatants into the hidden zone reducing the number of opportunities that a player has to interact with those combatants. Powerful Ruffians such as Tunnel Rat become very difficult for an opponent to deal with and handle when they are in the hidden zone. Additionally, with a sularium generation of 2, it provides a much needed sularium boost to play more expensive Exsularian combatants.
With a base attack of 3, it is single-handedly one of the most powerful Exsularian sites and a prime target for It's a Trap. Additionally with a hardy 8 defense, an opponent will need to commit serious firepower to the sites removal.
August Alpha Program Promo Cards
This month's Alpha Program Promo Cards are an absolute must-have for any Jotune or Synthien player's collection. For those of you tournament players who have asked how to update cards we have errata'd, then Centropolis will give you an outlet to do just that! These cards will remain in the store until September 18th, 2018!
One last little bit of information, if you didn't see on the Full-Art Booster Pack blog post we have added a checklist that covers every card we've released to date. It is up to date and includes the current Alpha Edition promo cards. If you are attempting to be a collector then this checklist is a must have!
Download The Checklist!
Until next time, see you on the battlefield!
We've been talking about it, we've covered them on Live Stream back in May, and we even ran an invitational tournament with Full-Art Booster Packs. Punch-It Entertainment is excited to release Battle for Sularia: The Battle Begins—Full-Art Booster Packs.
For those of you who know exactly what this product is, no need to read on any further here, other than potentially downloading the checklist for you to reference when collecting all of the cards. You can find the checklist linked at the bottom of this post.
For those of you hearing about this product for the first time here is what this update will provide:
Wait, What, Random Packs? I Thought Battle for Sularia was an Expandable Card Game!
How to Draft
Four-Player Draft Pod Package
Wait, What, Random packs? I Thought Battle for Sularia was an Expandable Card Game!
Battle for Sularia: The Card Game is an expandable card game, which means that the base game will continue to be released in a non-randomized distribution model, where you will always get four copies of every card in the set. The introduction of the full-art booster packs will not have an impact on the actual standard Battle for Sularia game or how it plays. The full-art booster packs are merely cosmetic upgrades for your deck. The packs allow you to replace our standard card with a beautifully illustrated full-art card.
However, The full-art cards also solved a gameplay variant problem for us as well. All of us here at Punch-It Entertainment are huge fans of limited formats in games like Magic The Gathering. For those of you new to this idea, a limited format means that you have a limited pack of cards to build your deck with.
Battle for Sularia: The Card Game has had a semi-limited format in the form of cube drafting. This meant that players could craft a cube of cards and deal out "packs" to players to select and draft. The format was incredibly fun, but the cube always guaranteed a certain number of cards to be available. This was never a truly random distribution and after a few times doing it, you began to know what cards you could not pass on to an opponent.
With the full-art booster packs, now players can execute a truly random limited format for Battle for Sularia: The Card Game. With each card broken down into ultra rare, rare, uncommon, and common, players will have to make choices when drafting as each of these packs will produce unknown quantities of a particular card.
Full-Art Booster Packs will be broken down into the following distribution:
- Two Cards: Rare (Potentially one of these cards will be an ultra rare)
- Four Cards : Uncommon
- Ten Cards: Common
How to Draft
Drafting Battle for Sularia: The Card Game is easy to do. Here are some things that players will need.
- Dice, tokens, gems, and some way to track their life total
- Four packs of The Battle Begins: Full-Art Booster Pack (per player)
Draft Round 1
During Draft Round 1, you will open one pack from your four, and select a single card from the pack. Each other player in the draft will do this as well. Set that card aside, and pass the remainder of the pack to the player sitting on your left. Wait until all players have made a selection and then pick up the pack from the player sitting on your right. Again, you will select a single card from the now smaller pack of cards, and pass the remainder of the pack to the player on your left. This process will continue until all the cards from the packs have been selected. This will leave you with 16 "drafted" cards.
Draft Round 2
Following the same procedure from Draft Round 1, you will open a new pack from your remaining three packs, and select an individual card from the pack. The remaining cards will be passed on to the player on your right. Continue this process passing to the right until all packs have had all cards drafted. This will leave you with 32 "drafted" cards.
Draft Round 3
By this time, you should be feeling comfortable with how the draft works and you will begin by opening your third of four packs. Just like the previous draft rounds you will select one card from your pack and pass the cards to the player on your left. Continue selecting cards and passing the remainder to the player on your left until there are no longer any cards to pass. This will leave you with 48 "drafted" cards.
Draft Round 4
Continue doing the same thing you did in the previous three draft rounds and open your final pack of cards. Select one card from it and pass it to the player to your right. After all cards from this pack have been drafted you will now have 64 cards to work with.
For your first few drafts, I would recommend not setting a time limit on how long a player can spend building a deck. If all the players involved in the draft are experienced Battle for Sularia: The Card Game players, we recommend setting a timer for a 30-minute deck building time limit. Feel free to experiment with this and let us know how much time you feel is necessary to construct your draft deck.
Unlike the standard constructed play format, there are a few differences in deck building that need to be adhered to.
- Each deck must have a minimum of 40 cards
- Construction points on cards do not matter during draft play
- There are no playset restrictions
- Players are not restricted to a single faction during deck construction.
A draft game is played exactly the same as a standard constructed game. If you are unfamiliar with the rules for Battle for Sularia: The Card Game, please reference and download our Learn to Play Rules Guide: Alpha Edition HERE.
Four-Player Draft Pod Package
We know that some of you only want to draft Battle for Sularia: The Card Game and we think that is great! It is one of the major reasons we have designed and built this product offering; so that it is more affordable and easier to gather your friends and draft.
This package will give you and three of your friends a ready-built draft pod to begin a draft game immediately. If you were to purchase each of the packs individually, you would need 16 packs at $5.99 per pack for a total of $95.84. With a discounted price of $89.99, this is the most affordable way to draft Battle for Sularia: The Card Game. Combined with at least four players, this pod package makes for the perfect draft experience.
Individual packs are an excellent way for you to add full-art cards to your favorite Battle for Sularia: The Card Game decks. It gives you that extra cosmetic customization that sets your deck apart from others across the table for you.
Punch-It Entertainment will continue to offer individual packs for players to purchase on an as-needed basis. And of course, we encourage you to trade these cards amongst your friends to help you collect and complete the set.
Attached below you will find the complete set checklist, which you may download and print off. This checklist can be used as a guide to helping you complete the full-art set. Additionally, we have included check boxes for any additional promo cards that may exist for this set.
Written by Jesse Bergman
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Battle for Sularia's 2017 National Champion, Dustin Rogers, from Kansas City, Mo. Dustin and I discussed how he got into Battle for Sularia, his process to prepare and win Nationals, his thoughts on an underplayed card, and the Alpha and Omega Program. You do not want to miss out on his insight!
Jesse Bergman: I have the pleasure today of interviewing the Battle for Sularia 2017 National Champion, Dustin Rogers. Dustin, obviously I want to give you a big congratulation on the win, I know that field was diverse and very well played. Before we jump into your Nationals experience, let's talk a little about your card game history. Is Battle for Sularia your first strategy card game?
Dustin Rogers: First of all, thank you for inviting me to do this interview. (super politician during a debate right there) My strategy card game history started, as many players in my age bracket all seemed to start, with the American launch of Pokemon. After that game became stale, and let's face it, I was young and I didn't commit to anything back then, I moved onto a game titled Young Jedi. It was released after the Phantom Menace was released. I gave that game up after a couple of years as well, as the content was not forthcoming. Then there was a 17-year hiatus from strategy card games, a short break, and I made my glorious return to the card game world with Battle for Sularia.
Jesse: That is a pretty diverse, I consider myself a pretty avid card player, but I've never heard of the Young Jedi game. That is pretty awesome! So after 17 years what was it about Battle for Sularia that drove you back to strategy card games?
Dustin: I think it was the planets that aligned, a perfect storm of my yearnings that ended in my picking up of Battle for Sularia. I am an avid science fiction connoisseur, so it spoke to me thematically. Coupled with the amazing art that was enticing and vivid. If that wasn't enough, which it certainly should have been, it was a new concept (to me) of a strategy card game that was not a trading card game, yet containing all of the joys of deck building as one of the pillars. It all hit me at once, in one demo. (Thanks, Matt Ochs.) I had been looking for this exact style of game at the exact moment it appeared.
Jesse: So Sularia grabbed your attention? When you played your first game, what exactly said to you—man, I have to have this game? Was it the Deckbuilding? A certain faction?
Dustin: I know that I had spent a major chunk of my play time, just fascinated with all the possible play combos. My head was just running a bunch of the "what-if" scenarios in my head even after the game was over. I also remember thinking that here is a game with a level playing field. I won't get beat by a bank account, and I won't win in that fashion either. I liked that it was how well I played with what deck I built.
Jesse: Very true, that was, and has always been, the goal of Battle for Sularia. So when you first started playing the game, which faction drew you in?
Dustin: I think it was the Jotune faction, that honestly pulled me in at first. It was pretty obvious there were some serious attack numbers that you could put on the board, and then boost those numbers to indefensible heights.
Jesse: That's interesting, yet when you went to Nationals, you decided to run a Synthien combo deck. Were you fearful that the Jotune simply wouldn't compete or what was your rationale?
Dustin: Well, even up through Regionals, I was still running Jotune. It was the Jotune faction I competed with at Regionals. When it came time to get serious about Nationals, and to really tune what I was going to run, I had been toying with K.Y.Z.R. builds, with both factions and I just really enjoyed how well I had built my Synthien, K.Y.Z.R. combo. So that was what I focused on, getting that deck tuned and ready to compete.
Dustin: I want to add that, here in Kansas City, K.Y.Z.R. decks, they were not in our meta. So he was also a unique approach, from those of us out here who were playing.
Jesse: That's interesting that K.Y.Z.R. decks weren't really pushing the meta in KC. They had become so prominent around here that many were playing cards specifically to counter against him. Obviously, the plan paid off, as you won Nationals 2017. Take me through your preparation for that tournament. It sounds like you used the Regional to decide what to run, and then once you committed how much time did you spend practicing with your deck?
Dustin: Let's step back just one step, I just went to Regionals. That was as far as I had intended to go. I hadn't even considered going to Nationals before Regionals was a wrap. My major match partner, Logan, was actually the one who both won Regionals, and had decided to go compete in Nationals. That moment was when I got serious about my tournament deck. So we both struck out to be as ready as we could, and after I settled on a general deck build I probably played at least 100 matches to not only tune my deck but also to tune my play style. I had to get all those pesky rookie mistakes out of my game. I honestly was thinking in the month leading up to Nationals, when I lose it will not be because I messed up, but because I was beaten. I was going to go down swinging.
Jesse: That is awesome that you have a great test partner in Logan. So how many of those 100 matches do you think it took to dial your card selection in and what was maybe the most difficult decision you had to make in final preparation for you Nationals list?
Dustin: I would say the first quarter of the matches we deck tuning. It was like play 6 to 10 matches, let the deck get a feel, for what worked, and what needed shored up and then adjust with a few card changes. I remember my last major change was adding in Projectus. Then I just tuned how many numbers of each card I wanted. All of these were small tweaks though, I was happy with my decklist as a general rule. I think the hardest decision was figuring out what was going to be my general strategy, but once I had committed to my general path, I didn't turn back.
Jesse: Yeah, we do believe in order to find success with tournament play, committing to a plan and doing the best at it will always be better than any list just thrown together. So you obviously have a very strong handle on the deck building and 60/90 construction system. If you had to go back to your early days in Sularia, what would you wish a more experienced player could tell you to help get you off the ground with your own custom deck builds?
Dustin: Simple, plan then execute, and always be thinking on your feet. I can't count the number of strategies that emerged in the middle of a match, and when you are first starting to explore the game or even a new faction, just goof off a little. When I started, I had no idea what I was going to find, but I always discovered new strategies in the game, in the "well I wonder how this is gonna go" moments.
Jesse: That is great advice, and I think exactly what new players should adhere to. I think because every player has access to every card as a full playset that players should enjoy the experience and not worry about honing in on a specific build and just enjoy the creativity. Recently, we released a blog talking about the 5 Jotune cards you are not playing but should be. What is one card you think is currently being criminally underplayed and why?
Dustin: This sounds so award show-y. The Criminally Underplayed Card of The Year goes to...... (insert your own drum roll) Grey Harrier! I get it, the deck building cost is for its just static number values is a hard run of mental gymnastics to overcome. But its great early game, to put your opponent on the defensive quick when you can turn one a combatant, its great mid game, to throw down more damage, with the one extra Sularium you generated. And the number of ways you can buff it, Fire from the Sky, Art of War, Fenris, Storm Citadel. I could continue to praise the utility of the card, but its greatest strength is that its that this card is immune to Sularium denial strategies, so you can always get one down on the field.
Jesse: Yeah, I think in a past life I was a game show host! Gray Harrier is a great card but I do fear its defense value in the early game. So we've discussed your deck building strategies and your criminally underplayed card. You recently signed up for our new Alpha Program. As a player, what do you think of these two new Alpha and Omega formats?
Dustin: I think whatever roadmap gets your cards into players hands is a successful venture. I have been enjoying the new alpha cards, and without a doubt, I will be getting the Omega cards as well. I am glad that you have committed to making sure there is a goal even for the Alpha cards, with the Alpha Tournaments. It adds a certain something, a jes ne se qua if you will, to this format that makes it more than say a beta release. I know that I am in full preparation mode for exactly that right now.
Dustin: Plus as a pseudo-ambassador, as I know that program is changing, it is great to have some Alpha to demo with as well. It shows that there is a future to the investment, for players that is a great sell. It also is fun to show off stuff that has not been released, in a standard sense, to players. It is a behind the scenes that new players get to see.
Jesse: I agree that the Alpha program keeps the game constantly fresh and able to be played without any investment, a sort of try before you buy. Do you feel, as a competitive player, it could lend an advantage when it becomes time for these cards to be Omega released and played at the higher level tournaments such as Nationals?
Dustin: I think a player that has more exposure to cards is likely to feel more comfortable with them. If that unto itself is an advantage, I do not know. I was not subjected to the cards before their official releases before Nationals, and I don't think that it put me at a disadvantage with any of the players who had been exposed to them at an earlier time. The deck builders out there, the ones who like to experiment like I do, probably benefit the most from early exposure. It just gives them more time to play around.
Jesse: Good point, and I agree that early play time doesn't necessarily translate to better results during Omega tournaments. Okay, so one last question, after the alpha release of Reign of Terror and a chance to look at the two new factions, which one excites you the most? And, which card interests you the most? Okay, so maybe that was two questions.
Dustin: Honestly, I am more excited about the Exsularian faction a tiny bit more than the Protoan. I think that they are going to have more interesting, in game, "a-ha" moments to them. Which translates to the slight advantage in my mind as to whom I want to tinker with at the moment. That being said, I have to say my current card of most interest is in the Parasitex combatant. I can see so many strategies evolving around that card alone, like a power-up build or, my current favorite, the suicide bomber build. I know there are undiscovered gems, yet to be unearthed with all of the Reign of Terror cards, and I can't wait to discover each and every one of them.
Jesse: Great Dustin, thank you so much for your time today! It was awesome to hear your insights regarding the game and we can't wait to see what you brew up next.
Dustin: Absolutely, it was my pleasure, it's not often it is socially acceptable to talk about yourself.
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