Hello, welcome to the first installment of my new series called, Deckbuilding 101. In each article, I will be talking about deckbuilding strategies that are primarily for Age of Primes, but hopefully can be used elsewhere in the game playing universe. Age of Primes is very similar to other games, but has a different perspective on attacking, so let’s jump right into how that aspect alters your deck building strategy.
Attacking the System
When we began the initial design of Age of Primes, we obviously wanted to included a mechanic for attacking your opponent’s house, which came to be known as dueling. However, something interesting happened in our first few test games: we learned that unlike other popular card games, generally dueling is not something that you do as an offensive tactic. Strange, right?
In many card games, your objective is to kill your opponent. Therefore, your most efficient means of accomplishing your goal is to punch your opponent in the face over and over until they are “dead.” That doesn’t work in Age of Primes. Since we are based on accumulating Prestige to win the game, you would think that dueling would take a backseat to other ways that focus on gaining the Prestige points. Instead, what we discovered is that dueling is your primary means of stopping your opponent from winning — which is why I call it a defensive mechanism.
Don’t get me wrong, once you see how Wren’s Blackguard wants to win via Glory, you will question this logic. However, of the nine primes, only one normally wins the game via attacking, which is 11.1% of the time. Because this is the anomaly, I will be placing my focus elsewhere for ease of learning the game and its strategy.
Selecting your Persona
Perhaps the hardest part of Age of Primes is Choosing Your Persona. I mean, there are nine people to pick from… who do you want to be? Think that is a tough decision? Just wait until Episode 2 arrives with nine more and you have 18 Primes to select from. **Mind Blown!**
Your single most important selection is your Persona. If you only focus on the Glory of Wren Theme Deck, you can probably play six different deck-styles simply by playing one of each Prime and then playing more or less control / aggro oriented. Your options are wide open in Age of Primes, but it all starts with picking a Prime that you both understand and feel comfortable with as your Persona. Trust me… it matters!
Once you pick the Persona, you automatically select your House, which filters out a lot of cards that are House specific. For example, if I chose Taren Blaine as my Persona, then my House is Wren (since she belongs to Wren), therefore I can build my deck only from House of Wren cards and Neutral cards. I cannot play Council or Clarity specific cards. This is another illustration as to why your Persona selection is so critical to building a successful deck for your local meta environment.
This is a term that we came up with during playtesting which basically means, “Primes that are included in my deck, but are not intended to be my Persona.” Please don’t mistake this as me saying, “they **can not** be your Persona.” When you start your game, you search your deck for any Prime to be your Persona, which means that any Prime can be selected. Off Primes are generally included in your deck to compliment your Persona and offer you a large power swing.
In our testing, we found that drawing an Off Prime provided tremendous amounts of decision and strategy swings to occur, which almost always created, “feel good” moments. Obviously, if you needed to draw removal and pulled a Prime from your deck instead, that didn’t feel too good.
Many times, we discovered that whatever my gameplan was prior to drawing the second Prime was going to be placed on the backburner; I really wanted to play the second Prime and get it refreshed as quickly as possible. If you can train yourself to understand that a Prime activation is approximately equivalent to a card played from your hand, then by default, you have two activation/plays per turn. The extra Prime increases that number to three, but you don’t get that bonus until it refreshes. This gives your opponent exactly one turn to answer the Prime before it comes online, therefore it typically nullifies their next turn.
Don’t forget! Unlike your Persona, Off Primes can be killed by certain cards, so make sure that you don’t squander your turn by foolishly playing the Off Prime in a bad situation.
Face of the House
Within each House, you will notice that we designed multiple faces or mechanical themes to allow the same cards to feel differently depending on which Prime you chose as your Persona. If you look at the Glory of Wren theme deck, you will notice several themes, including: Glory cards, Combat oriented Followers and an even heavier dose of removal cards. You can use any combination of these cards with your Persona and get a different deck. Taren Blaine loves her child army, but functions just fine with big tanks and removal.
To me, the most interesting part of Age of Primes has to be the Neutral cards. Even though a Neutral card is found in a given theme deck, they do not belong to a House. Because of this, they can be played in any deck, regardless of your Persona. Many times you will be able to find a couple of choice Neutrals that fit the deck theme that you are building.
Building Your First Deck
Now that we’ve gone over some of the basic strategy of deck building, let’s take a look at a McCormick deck and the easiest deck to build around him.
The theme behind Sylvester McCormick, or Sly for short, is that of a very powerful Prime hailing from the tough streets of Grime Alley. While very adept with the sword, Sly is most known for his witty banter, cunning mind and ability to win combat before swords are even drawn. We decided to represent that with our Prime story (yes, we design the Prime abilities together to tell a story!):
Sly is our Rogue-style Prime design. He likes it when things go to the trash and he doesn’t mind getting board-wiped. When was the last time you heard that? He actually makes you look at a few cards in a different light.
Another card that takes a different approach with Sly is Recover. Sly doesn’t change what the card does, however, just like Call to Arms, Recover is three prestige for Sly for a single play. The follower must be defeated and hit the trash in order to trigger Recover, therefore it pings Sly and then Recover hits the trash for another ping. The Follower dying a second time registers the third ping.
I am a huge fan of the Glory mechanic in general with Sly. Followers with Glory are tough to begin with, but for this style of deck, I love attacking with a Glory Follower in a trade situation (both Champions dying in combat). You get the Glory prestige plus the two Followers hitting the trash.
Best of all, there are two other rares in the Glory of Wren theme deck that truly sing with Sly as your Persona. Sly’s Intuition is a crushing game ender. Assuming that you have a larger Follower as Champion, you can choose to draw zero cards and discard them all plus Intuition goes to the trash. You could be looking at a 6-7 prestige splash. The other is Firebomb. I think this is pretty self explanatory, but really, what is better for Sly than a board wipe?
Don’t forget! Deck minimum is 40 cards in Age of Primes, so let’s see how the deck turned out.
1 Sylvester McCormick
2 Taren Blaine
3 Jacques LeVanche
1 Ginger Hind
3 Glory Seeker
3 Hired Killer
3 Blackguard Thug
3 Guild Master
3 Call to Arms
2 Sly’s Intuition
3 Midnight Raid
3 Cold Blood
2 Bitter Reprisal
I hope that walking you through the thought process of building a constructed deck helps you understand how diverse the playstyle can be in Age of Primes. I have successfully built two different Sly decks and have a third version in mind that focuses on Rogues in general. I’ll save that deck for another day.
Next week we will get a little deeper into deckbuilding and beginning to discuss metagaming in Age of Primes.
What did you think of my Sly build? Would you change a few card selections? What kind of meta decisions would impact your deck build? Place your responses on either our Facebook page or in the comments below so that we can discuss your thought! Also, if you have a topic idea that you would like me to discuss in the future, please feel free to let me know.
Don’t forget to join our Age of Primes Discord channel where you can talk with other fans and our design team in real-time.