Monday, July 2, 2012

Perfect Memory

When exploring a game and trying to build new and unwittingly powerful strategies to give you a total edge over all others without them, the key tool will always be to focus on one simple mechanic of a game, and build from there. For this article, let's look at the Drive Check.

Every time the Vanguard attacks, you reveal the top card of your deck and check for a trigger. If you reveal any type of trigger or another certain card that would activate its skill at this time, you may apply effects and activate your cards' skills, respectively. Then, you add the revealed card to your hand. Interestingly, you reveal all the cards you check, not just triggers. Now, it makes a lot of sense to reveal the card in question if it is a trigger, to help avoid cheating and giving a player unjust advantage. But instead, all cards are revealed as they enter the trigger zone, and this opens up to 3 extremely useful and threatening skills, all working together to create a major upset in the game and give the player executing them a huge lead in a fight.

The first skill created from this the actual concept of Perfect Memory, to watch and keep track of all the cards your opponent Drive Checks and keep them in check. Many clans' characteristics allow them to fully take control of the game with this in mind. The Paladin clans, Genesis, Nova Grappler, and similar clans that can control the opponent's frontrow can all use this principle to stay on top of the opponent's field development at all times. If, for example, I see that you just drive checked a Palamedes, I can immediately slow down my advances in the case of any clan that can directly retire. If I have a Blaster Blade in hand, I can opt to wait the Palamedes out, maybe using a different intercept in its place to bide time so I can surely kill a threat instead of giving it an open Rear-Guard circle to enter the fight. Alternatively, this can also work to signal when you should speed up your aggression. While intercepts are still going to be a pain to deal with, you can use this knowledge as a signal to turn all aggression towards the opponent's Vanguard, rather than flat out wasting your attacks or extra attacks on Rear-Guards that are literally going to be replaced by the next turn by something even better than what you can retire. Alternatively, the opposite is true when dealing with Kirara type clones — on-hits that can activate upon hitting a Rear-Guard. A full fledged column can essentially drive the opponent into a terrible dilemma of either being forced to drop X amount of guard only to keep their Rear-Guard on the field and stop them from throwing down the better one from their hand, or let it hit and watch the opponent benefit through whatever the on-hit skill gives.

Of course, this sort of tactic of observing your opponent's hand and sniping at all their worst points is nice for the clans that have access to the sort of skills to best utilize this knowledge, but in the hands of the clans that basically dedicate their playstyles on these principles, being able to abuse this knowledge can become a blessing. Of course, if you're playing a retire heavy clan like Kagero, Narukami, or the oddball build of Dark Irregulars, you'd probably already have preemptive knowledge over the opponent's decks and its strongpoints, and you'd probably already know which strike targets are going to hurt the most, but the problem with going into a fight with preemptive knowledge like this is that application in a very controlled and predetermined environment can be much different than that in a fight. Along with certain queues like watching a complete lack of or major influx of boosters or beaters, you can take retiring a step further from decimating power lines to being able to possibly force holes in your opponent's field formation using the knowledge of your opponent's lack of boosters or beaters. This concept extends into both Megacolony and Link Joker's abilities. While the latter may need time before we can see more reliable forms of early to midgame Locking, both Trapping and Locking can benefit from being able to scout out the opponent's hand. By watching the Drive Checked cards that enter the hand and tracking where and what they are, you can activate Locking and Trapping skills to shut down columns even before they are completed. With enough coordination and experience, you can make grand leaps in performance by being able to manipulate your opponent's hand just as actively as you do their field.

Now there's one major problem with this whole gig here, not every clan is Kagero. Yes, there is a pretty solid number of decktypes that have access to these sort of skills, but so few are actually able to fully utilize them and so many others don't even have access to these sort of skills at all. So let's say you're a Great Nature player or a Pale Moon player or a Spike Brothers player and otherwise don't necessarily care or are capable of so heavily about manipulating the opponent in this fashion, what's in it for you? Well, how about knowing exactly when you can finish off the opponent if you gun all your forces at them? Now, this next concept is incredibly easy to recognize if your opponent is at 5 damage, but this is where the second strategy plays in, B.a.s.s. Values.

B.a.s.s. Values are, in short, a term I coined for the average amount of advantage through battle you can generate per turn, and when you fully understand the concept of it, you can draw this out to exactly how much shield your opponent needs to guard your attacks to as far as 1 damage, the minimum danger zone from losing without any outside skills involved. Now despite this, for the majority of decks, the probability of taking out the opponent while they're still at 1 or 2 damage is astronomically small for the majority of cases that you can't really even begin to consider them in a rational sense. However, come 5 or 4 damage, or even 3 damage for decks that can work with Criticals and/or multiple attacks, this all begins to change. From this point on, the amount of shielding needed to keep losing at bay suddenly rises to tangible levels, and if you can fully make use of them, you know exactly when you can win. Now at the time of writing this article, I've already begun something similar to this with the first of the new format of Card Reviews, with Revenger, Raging Form Dragon. Here, I explain that the danger zone for the opponent is anywhere under 65K shield in the form of 7 cards while the opponent is at 5 damage, or 45K shield in the form of 5 cards while the opponent is at 4. By combining your knowledge of the contents of your opponent's hand with the physical amount of cards they have, you can easily track exactly when the opponent lines up into the killzone to snuff them out.

Okay, great. I just told you to memorize the contents of your opponent's hand which can lead to many, many forms of advantage for you, depending on how and how well you utilize it. Along with this, I gave a pretty well spread way for virtually any and all decks to use this principle, so what's missing? Well, while the Twin Drive makes up 2/3 of the expect card advantage the opponent can generate without outside skills and the draw to start the turn happens before the Ride and Main Phases, making that card much more likely to be played right away, the fact remains that there will be unknown cards in your opponent's hand. This is where the third major skill plays in, being able to correctly guess the opponent's hand.

Now this section relies heavily on probability so just keep in mind that there may be some slight kinks and/or flaws in the system. However, the fact remains that probability has been a well tested and well proven area of mathematics, so please note that while yes, there may be times when this is just completely off, this is still an otherwise extremely reliable tactic for the job it was meant to do.

As for that, even though you can't actually know the unknown contents of your opponent's hand for certain until you actually see them be played, however, it's quite easy to have a general idea of what it is. For example, for most decks, the average amount of shielding comes to just over 5K shield. Even after you consider some form of manipulation out of the opponent, you can still usually expect, say, 5 unknown cards in hand to sum up to 25K shield overall. With this, we can fill in certain gaps created by only memorizing some of the opponent's hand in order to better execute certain things like using B.a.s.s. Values to see if the opponent's in the danger zone. This all adds up well until you consider for a moment that not all attacks are dictated by regular shielding, and Perfect Guards come by to mess things up. Once again though, math comes through to help clear things up. Assuming your opponent runs 4 Perfect Guards because they're not crazy, this would mean that 4/49 of their deck is made out of Perfect Guards. Let's just shift the denominator down by 1 and instead we have 4/48. So what's so important about this? It all comes down to probability and showing when you'll see Perfect Guards.

If we were to simplify 4/48, we would be left with 1/12. This would basically mean that within each set of 12 cards from your deck, you can expect to see 1 Perfect Guard. Keeping this in mind, we can set up an in general idea of when you can expect to see Perfect Guards. If, for example, you're reaching the end of your opponent's second cycle of 12 cards, and you've only seen 1 Perfect Guard the whole fight — in the Damage Zone, then you only have 1 Perfect Guard to account for 2 cycles. Since we should expect to see a Perfect Guard within every cycle, we should expect that the opponent has already gone through their second Perfect Guard, somewhere that you don't know. There's only one way for cards to enter your opponent's immediate sources of card advantage without you knowing what that card is, through drawing. This in mind and seeing that you should be facing yet another Perfect Guard, it's extremely likely that the opponent has a second Perfect Guard in hand waiting for you, at which you can take on, depending on how your deck is supposed to work and face those certain threats.

And so, from this one simple mechanic, we can create and build into 3 strategies and tricks that can immediately serve to your advantage. Obtaining knowledge revealed by Drive Checks, utilizing it in threatening forms, and filling in the blanks with general math, when utilized together, the trio can lead to devastating effects on the game and leave you that much closer to victory.

Sidenote, I realize not many people know exactly how to make a B.a.s.s. Value, so the second point may fly completely over your head. On that note however, I'm more than willing to write up some numbers and it will be far faster than trying to write an article. So if you'd like to know the B.a.s.s. Values of your certain decktype, just send a request over to the Request Box and I'll get to it as soon as I can.


  1. as pointed out in the thread on pojo, you should give tips on how to maintain that state, since i have tried that, and i got tired so, so fast, i almost couldnt look my friend in the eye when we were finished, however, remembering, even though it isnt precise, just stuff like "could have sworn he got a palomedes" "could have sworn he checked a perfect guard" "could have sworn he checked two grade 3s so i dont have to worry at all" helps tremendously

    i am definitely keeping tabs on this blog

  2. In the request for the B.a.s.s values of our deck type, would it make it easier to have the specific deck list we use, or are you going to go with more generalized values?

    1. An overall decklist would work if you want me to get as detailed as possible, however I can also just work with just a field set up or if one just told me what type of deck they're using.

  3. I will surely get back to this post, as I am now reading another article available for free at! Many thanks for sharing! Both posts are truly amazing!