Attrition Deck Impossible?

Summary: Roark-L has brought up really interesting question.  As a non-Attrition deck user, I thought it was great to see weakening of Attrition support with PSP version.  But does it take to the extreme, where you simply won’t see any more competitive Attrition deck?  Here is a quick hypothetical analysis.

What is Attrition Deck?

First of all, if you are new to the game (I don’t know why you are reading this blog to begin with) you may question what is Attrition deck.

It is what Asahara called Reset Deck.  It is essentially a deck to focus out decking a opponent rather than defeating by occupying 5 fields.

How does it work?

You win by out decking so it means your goal is to prevent your opponent occupying 5 fields until end of his last draw.

Analysis

21 – X – Y

There are total of 30 cards in a deck.  First draw is 5 cards.  So if the opponent does not draw extra card, there will be total of 25 draws before your opponent runs out of card to draw.  This means at most the opponent have 25 times to cast a creature on to a new field.

Now opponent will not win a game if he only occupies 4 fields, so the last 4 creatures, you don’t need to worry about.    Therefore, essentially the goal of Reset deck is to kill 21 creatures.

Now this 21 is absolute maximum that you need to kill opponent’s creatures.  In reality,  most players have ways to draw extra cards, which will reduce total turns get to cast a new creature.  So if we call the number of draws that is extra to the draw phase, X, then your goal becomes 21 – X.  Though I have no stat to get calculate true average or mean for X, I would say it’s safe to assume at least 2, most likely much higher.  So now it becomes 19 kills.

As there are cards to specifically destroy opponent’s library, you can further decrease the # of kill.  Let’s call this library destruction # as Y.  You now get basically 21 – X – Y.  Remember Y can be achieved by using spell such as 294. Elven Subterfuge or using creature’s ability such as 238. Tritonan Sacred Court.

(21 – X – Y)/4 < 5

As the name implies, the Reset deck is called so that rather than killing a creature by creature, it focus is usually to wipe a board at once.  This not only allow for you as a Attrition player to build enough resource to execute the big move, but also it break your opponent motivation.   Anyways, so if you were to take this reset approach i.e. wiping board from 4 creatures (check state) to none (0 creature), you need to do so for at most 21/4 = 5.25 times.  This means essentially if you can wipe board for 5 times, you can achieve your goal.  With X & Y factor, this may perhaps be able to reduce down to 4 or with great deck building skill may be 3.   So question becomes what cards can do such?  Calamity was a big one.  Blinding Sky was also one in the Set.1 era in combination with Calamity.  Biolith God or Diosokuri can do so as well.  Unforunately, Biolith Temple no longer can be used for this purpose as it only has attack of 1.  But in a quick glance, it appears at least 2 runs of wiping is possible with the listed cards.

How to achieve 2-3 more board wipe?  I guess that’s where the challenge comes.

Conclusion

It is still not clear whether the all changes will completely make Attrition deck to extinction, but for me in a quick glance making a competitive Attrition deck appears now as hard as making competitive unielemental decks.  I really hope with PSP version, we see many different types of decks with all being competitive depending on the player’s skill.

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15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Apophis on February 21, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Actually, knowing what we do from all of the cards you’ve translated so far, library defeat will still be a very viable win condition and overall will be more powerful than it was during set 3 and probably as powerful as it was in set 2 after the missionary nerfs. The types of attrition decks that were most prevalent after set 3, biolith attrition and CoP attrition decks, will no longer be played but instead an attrition deck based mainly on fire and wood creatures that is less dependent on sweeping the board multiple times during the game but instead uses a lot of efficient lancers and other multiple attackers combined with more cards to actively force library discards appears to be a dominant deck and could very well be the dominant deck by default since the biggest threats to attrition decks were severely nerfed.

    CoP is finished with the utter and complete nerf of Vengeress, and that was definitely the worst matchup for attrition players with traditional mana control decks just behind which were also weakened significantly because of the nerf of Kadena and to some extent the nerfs of Lapse and Tollgate. Speed decks didn’t lose a whole lot overall despite some cards popular in those decks being nerfed since speed decks can most easily replace their creatures with other similar creatures and not lose a whole lot, but that was always the best matchup for attrition players so it will only become more viable to play attrition with speed not having lost all that much.

    I’m not sure what other decks will be very competitive against both speed and attrition, but there have to be some very powerful cards remaining left unspoiled or the metagame could turn out to be stale fast if attrition ends up clearly being the best deck without any natural counters that don’t just lose to speed decks, since even if attrition is considered the best deck the PSP medium generally lends itself to wanting to play fast games and if there are many new players (I don’t expect there to be, but if there are) they’ll almost always start by playing speed and just lose to attrition.

    Flame Guards are particularly strong cards for attrition, mainly the set 1 and set 3 Flame Guards, and they were barely played in the more common set 3 attrition decks because they get a lot worse post-Calamity, but if you’re not running Calamity anyway the set 1 Flame Guard is often 6 damage for 3 SC with a cheap 2 SC reactivation and the set 3 Flame Guard is often 4 damage for 1 mana and not nearly as situational as it would appear as it will usually do at least 2 damage for 1 mana. The new Nagirashu Isshin could become an attrition staple as well, although I’d still probably prefer Logan or maybe Wormak depending on how popular bioliths will be. Cloud Runner losing its ability to draw cards if on a water field also hurts most five field decks vs. attrition as it’s a lot easier to reliably remove if it only has 2 HP instead of 4 but probably will still be a staple unless there is some new powerful card drawing creature.

    The mostly fire/wood attrition deck was fine during set 3 for that matter, and I preferred it in most matchups as opposed to attrition decks with Calamity because it was better against other attrition decks since it could afford to play more cards to actively deck the opponent and was also more consistent, not having to play the full 3 copies of Calamity to have the best chance of being able to play one early when it matters most and then risking 2 dead copies of Calamity later on in a deck that can already be somewhat heavy on spells. It did have a bit of trouble toward the very end of games when most other attrition decks would have games all but won, although I preferred early game consistency and the ability to generally see more of my deck before needing a specific card to the ability to gain control by the midgame with the risk of just losing games to mana control and inconsistent draws.

    I hope as much as anyone else that mono-element decks will somehow become viable and that there won’t be a stale metagame with one dominant deck and maybe one other commonly played deck, but as of now I’m not seeing any decks that will fill the holes in the metagame caused by the Vengeress nerf and the mana control nerfs. The situation is very reminiscent of set 2 after the missionary nerf where attrition was free to dominate everything except heavy mana control decks, only this time those heavy mana control decks won’t be there to keep attrition in check.

    Reply

  2. Hahaha Hello My Friend, i was wondering when you were going to comment here. You beat me to the essay i was going to post as well.

    However, i pretty much agree that the standard LD deck is dead. Calam was always a very questionable card to have in the deck and now with 6 mana. It’s just more doubtful that i would want to play it. The Sentry ( BM LookAlike ) also took a minor nerf and well there’s alot of weakening going on overall for the Attrition Deck.

    However the biggest weakness comes from these saint’s if you could potentially ascension a saint out, it’s pretty much Game Over for LD decks. Field Morph will eliminate the Lith Fields which will also depower Blinding Skies, Making a Board Wipe impossible.

    However i do agree that with the new cards available an unconventional LD deck will work one that does not rely on Calam or Skies plus alot of additional cards.

    But i also disagree that monoelemental decks are not viable so far from what, i’ve seen these decks are going to be viable. The Saints and Acsension alone can pretty much make mono decks extremely strong. The decks lacked the ability to play their game changing big cards in succession. Now i am pretty sure, you can pretty much ascension a warlord followed by a saint. Hell they can delay the game with stalling creatures and rush the board with these cards. Considering the secondary abilities these cards have i’m pretty sure it’s not a situation i want to be in. For. E.G. Belta ascensioned to be followed by hard casting another big card.

    Reply

  3. It’s just that i believe an LD deck that relys on fieldquaking is not going to be an option to win.

    @ Apophis.

    You change ur mind yet.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Apophis on February 22, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    This talk of mono-element decks reminds me exactly of what everyone was saying when set 2 warlords were first spoiled, that mono-element decks would become viable and we all know how that turned out in the end. Even if mono-element decks have a decent matchup against attrition which they very well could, I don’t see how they’re going to be able to contend with speed at all especially if they’re not running Infestation and are running an elemental Ascension instead. They’ll end up relying on perfect draws to have a chance against speed which is pretty much the same problem they’ve always had against speed and I still expect speed to be the most popular deck for the same reasons it has for most of the game’s history so anything that can’t handle speed will be suicidal to play competitively.

    Also, that attrition build I was referring to didn’t even use Skies, and had no way to flip fields at all for that matter but it was almost never a problem since Infestation in that deck was almost as good as Skies in biolith attrition decks, especially when I’d put it on a Ronin and leave most five field decks to make a decision that would effectively end the game either way.

    @Roark:

    Nah, I’m still not planning on getting EoJ PSP. Honestly from what I’ve seen of it it’s been handled even worse the release of sets 2 and 3 so far and the balance will probably be as bad as it was after set 2. Barely any of the changes or new cards spoiled so far really interest me, and actually prove more than anything else that the devs still either don’t care about competitive play or don’t know enough about it to balance everything decently. The only chance I’ll get back into EoJ again is if there’s some sort of revival of the PS3 version sometime in the future…

    Reply

  5. Posted by houshasen on February 24, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Wow pretty detailed analysis there.

    I believe the split of opinion among people who has been playing the game since the start simply make me believe that with so many changes no one can really predict what’s going to happen.

    So Apophis is not planning to get EOJ PSP? Despite I am devoting my time making all these translations, I’m actually in the same situation. I really liked the physical card + digital gaming aspect of the EOJ. If there wasn’t physical card, I wouldn’t have picked up the game.

    So I’m still debating whether to get the game or not. If they make EOJ2 on PS3, that’s different story. That would be day 1 for me.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Apophis on February 25, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I’m almost definitely not going to get EoJ-PSP, especially since each time you post a translation of an updated card it leaves me wondering more and more exactly what Sony was trying to accomplish with these changes other than pandering to players who complained about some specific cards and decks without balancing the rest of the game adequately to compensate for making entire archetypes unplayable.

    I was in much the same position as you when deciding whether to get into PS3 EoJ initially but the use of physical cards along with the mechanics of the game convinced me. I have to say by far the most fun I had was during set 1 and it only went downhill from there, yet EoJ has an appeal that most other CCGs lack from my perspective that hasn’t allowed me to let go entirely in hope that the game could somehow return to what it was back then as far as balance, communication from Sony, timely card distribution to all of the major markets, and the other reasons that allowed there to be a vibrant EoJ community back then.

    From the time EoJ-PSP was announced with information about the rebalancing of cards and that there would only be 30 new cards upon release and 5-card expansions from time to time later on, it became obvious to me that the PSP version was meant to make some final profits off the players who started with the PS3 version. If Sony was serious about keeping support for EoJ in the long run, they would promise to revive the PS3 version in the future (and they could be planning to if your analysis of the images of the new cards is correct), which is what they’ll have to do to retain my interest.

    I don’t have much of an issue playing with digital cards since I’m involved in Magic Online now, but then again that has valuable cards and as such still has a collectible aspect which PSP-EoJ won’t have for all intents and purposes, and despite being a player first and foremost if cards are all essentially worth the same or not worth anything the game would lose even more of its appeal to me since part of the appeal of CCGs over regular card games is the whole collectible aspect.

    So basically, there have to be some amazing cards remaining in the 15? or so cards still not spoiled for me to be interested, since at least if there are some new competitive decks in the metagame it could at least be worth picking up EoJ-PSP even if it’s fun for a short time, but otherwise I’m not too interested.

    Reply

  7. Posted by houshasen on February 25, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    @Apophis

    Really? Though I’m in the same situation as you are and debating whether to get the game or not, the changes that I’m seeing so far are intriguing to me. Most of changes does not appear drastic except ones that were broken to begin with.

    With the blinding sky, Dhee’s command, and Biolith God changes, the biolith attrition appears to be significantly weakened, but we are not sure whether boost of other cards are so much that Biolith attrition becomes completely extinct. Sure they will require significant change as do all other decks, but I believe or hope these changes are to make Too strong cards weaker, and too weak cards stronger so in the end, overall, balance is restored. By the way I agree Set.1 was the best era.

    I believe the same can be said for even CoP deck. Rather than playing without thought and making deck without thought, I believe you need to put effort into making viable CoP deck, and play carefully as all other decks are(were). You can potentially still bring back Zealots from your graveyard. There are several options such as those graveyard summoning spells. Perhaps, Missionary Ship may now truly be useful.

    I guess I don’t know what’s gonna happen with all these changes, but I hope we’ll see many different types of deck rather than couple dominant ones and all others are simply meta decks for them.

    Having said all this, again NO physical card just doesn’t attract me as much. That’s one of reason why I’m no playing Magic Online despite my friend asked me several times.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Apophis on February 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    @houshasen

    Well, there’s no reason to play a biolith attrition deck any longer since so many of its important cards were weakened so it’s now pretty much strictly inferior to a fire/wood attrition deck. Calamity and Skies are no longer worth playing, and the game-breaking potential of that combo was the main appeal of playing a biolith attrition deck during set 3 over a CoP attrition deck or even a fire/wood attrition deck.

    CoP decks are dead without some new support because Vengeress was the sole reason to play CoP after set 3, and Vengeress was weakened so much to be unplayable that there won’t be enough support for competitive CoP decks of any type. There were essentially three different decks utilizing Vengeress in set 3: attrition, balanced, and combo using zealots and the most number of CoP creatures overall, which played quite differently from one another but all of those decks will now no longer be playable because Vengeress isn’t.

    I see a lot of problems with these various changes, starting with cards that were slightly overpowered such as Vengeress and Blinding Skies that could have been weakened less to remain viable but instead were weakened enough so they’re now unplayable. Then a lot of cards needed to be changed because they were previously unplayable, but few of those cards were changed enough so they’ll now be playable. Also, some cards that were barely even playable got weakened for some reason so they are now unplayable. I’d have to say about 90% of the changes we know of so far will make the game worse from my perspective, while a select few such as reducing the SC of Sword of Juno from 6 to 5 should make the game better.

    Reply

  9. Posted by houshasen on February 26, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    @Apophis

    Well, you may be right, but I really hope you aren’t. 🙂

    I believe the difference here is that with changes you just can’t simply make same deck as before and assume that they’ll do the same.

    For instance, Biolith Attrition is unarguably won’t work as before because of the changes you listed. But that does not mean you will not see Reset/Library Out decks. There will be new type of LD decks. Similarily, I’m hoping there will be new type of Biolith decks. Sure they may not be Reset type deck, but we will still see Biolith deck.

    As for CoP deck, Vengeress was popular because it was easy to use and simply overpowered. Now that’s gone does not mean CoP deck is dead. Vengeress driven CoP deck is dead, but there are potential to make CoP decks. For example, the cheaper cost of 196. Aluhjan Regeneration or once useless spell Mourning Reanimation etc. There are options. These weren’t used before because there simply weren’t reason for using these as CoP deck were simple to make with Vengeress without tactics/strategy.

    Now just as you listed, main competitive decks were limited in PS3. What about Lizard deck? What about Goblin Deck? What about Unielemental Deck? All of those were just simply not competitive enough in comparison to the major decks you listed.

    The changes are pointing in direction to make these decks more competitive, and previously dominating decks less competitive. Maybe you are right all those competitive decks on PS3 (like 3 main types) will be obsolete on PSP, but instead you will see 10 or 20 different types of decks that are competitive.

    Which one would you rather see?

    Boy, I hope I am right on this one. Because if you are right.. Then I guess EOJ is the end there.

    Reply

  10. It’s good to see someone else engage apophis is debate lol …

    Sigh, Lith Attrition is over, but as far as the rest of the decks go i can’t say much. One thing i’ve learnt in EOJ is that even the most amazing cards on paper actually turn out to be shit and the best cards and decks are ones no one ever thought about. That’s the surprise of the game, i will pretty muc post all my thoughts and strategy points once i get into the game. So till then i’m really refraining from speaking out much

    Reply

  11. Posted by Apophis on February 27, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    @houshasen

    I fully agree with you that there will be a new type of LD deck in the case of fire/wood LD as I’ve said, although it’s not so much a new deck as a deck that will gain a lot more popularity as it will in all likelihood become the best LD deck by default. It was already a viable deck during set 3 although not played very often because it lacked the raw power and inevitability of biolith and CoP LD decks, but it made up for most of that with more consistency in the early game.

    I’d be shocked if CoP manages to somehow remain viable, because those spells you listed are very situational and simply by using them you’d be severely limiting your choices of how many other spells you could play so you don’t risk getting flooded by them early and not have enough creatures as you’d definitely need 3 rituals and a dominion in CoP decks, and it would probably just be better to use more CoP creatures than either of those spells if you are trying to make a CoP deck competitive in PSP-EoJ. I won’t argue that Vengeress wasn’t overpowered at all, but after the missionary nerfs in set 2 CoP wasn’t viable again until the printing of Vengeress and it didn’t gain anything much from set 3 other than Vengeress except for Darkwater Syren which only works in more attrition-style CoP decks as it is so barring any more CoP support I can’t see how it will remain competitive.

    I definitely don’t see anywhere near 10-20 different types of decks that will be competitive, and it’s mainly because of two decks that are already popular: speed and attrition.

    In the case of speed, a lot of theme decks and mono-element decks for that matter are at a severe disadvantage when going against speed because speed decks can naturally take advantage of field bonuses better than any other deck and also play the most efficient and effective utility creatures from each element. Card drawing, rotation, anti-dodge, extra mana upon death, lowered AC to attack, etc. are abilities common to creatures in nearly every speed deck that are spread across the four elements, and if you’re playing a deck to win relatively fast you’re going to be at a severe disadvantage because you can’t take advantage of field bonus as well as a balanced speed deck and you’ll also have fewer types of utility creatures available to you when compared to balanced decks.

    In the case of attrition, mono-element and theme decks could still generally have problems because of the aforementioned issue of being unable to most effectively take advantage of field bonus to pressure attrition decks early. There are some mostly mono-element decks that could probably be competitive against new LD decks, specifically decks with a lot of earth creatures, but those decks will struggle a lot against speed and are very unlikely to fill the holes in the metagame caused by the CoP and mana control nerfs.

    Essentially, a lot of theme decks are midrange decks that lack the ability to effectively pressure opponents early and also lack the ability to dominate the game toward the end, so they’re forced to play speed-style tactics against LD decks but are conversely forced to play attrition-style tactics against speed decks when they’re not all that good at doing either. Some CoP decks and some mana control decks fell into this category during set 3 and they were top-tier decks, but as of now I don’t see enough support for another type of midrange/theme deck that’s anywhere close to the power of these CoP and mana control decks capable of doing decently enough against both speed and LD decks.

    All that said, at least it shouldn’t be much longer until we have the full spoiler, so within a couple weeks or so I should have a good enough indication of how many decks will be viable. 🙂

    Reply

  12. Posted by houshasen on February 28, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    @Apophis

    First of all, I must say boy I enjoy this conversation.

    Speed deck has been strong ever since the first set, that was mainly due to as you said field bonus. In another word, unielemental deck were never competitive enough because lack of field bonus support. So seeing all different cards or changes so far, I think we are yet another step closer making support for unielemental deck.

    But is it better than speed deck?

    Not sure. But what I can say is the old speed deck like using creatures who have 1 summoning cost and 2 HP or 2 summonng cost with 3HP i.e. with field bonus 4HP or 5HP are no longer there. I know I haven’t finished translating but most of those creatures lost their effiency. Even the verzar swordman lost its power as he can only have +1 attack when he is not on earth field.

    So cheap efficient creature speed deck will change. And the change may be to the point that they will not be able to compete against combo deck. As without combo power, they are readily trashable, and resulting in opponent player to have enough time to execute his combo.

    Reply

  13. Why not just wait a few weeks after release and then discuss more 😉

    Reply

  14. Posted by Apophis on March 1, 2010 at 9:15 am

    @houshasen

    I’m enjoying this conversation as well. I definitely didn’t expect it to continue this long but may as well keep it going at this point. 😉

    From what we know about old speed deck staples, some of them were weakened enough to no longer be viable but speed decks can most easily replace cards with other similar cards because of their very nature whereas other decks will have a lot more trouble replacing cards and infact may no longer be viable at all, which is apparently the case with CoP decks.

    Bewitching Elf Archeress, Cloudrunner Marauder, and Elven Berserker Maiden are now no longer playable in speed decks because of three blind sides, but it wouldn’t be at all difficult to find adequate replacements for them that would barely weaken speed decks at all. Goblin Fanfare appears to have been buffed slightly, and I was already running that over BEA in my mana control deck although now I’d also run it in a speed deck as it’s still a decent 1 SC 2 HP creature with an ability that can be backbreaking if the opponent skips first turn. It now also has an attack which will be useful if for some reason players are intent on continuing to play their old speed staples that now have 3 blind sides instead of only 1. Maiden can be replaced by additional copies of Elven Plaguedancer if it hasn’t been nerfed at all, or even Samurai Nagirashu. Cloudrunner Marauder can probably be replaced by Cloudrunner Shipmate. Dwarf Sniper still has 5 HP on an earth field for 2 SC, so it will remain a staple in speed decks despite its AC being increased to 2.

    Novogus Catapult now has 3 blind sides, but it is barely worse than it was before because you’d almost always just want to neutralize it unless you could be sure to drain the additional exit mana immediately after killing it as it would otherwise accelerate the opponent into a potential Dragoon Dragon Cavalry, Arc Satellite Cannon, or now maybe a Sword of Juno the following turn.

    The rest of the speed deck would remain the same for the most part or would at most have some minor changes, so in the end it lost barely anything compared to the other existing competitive decks with the exception of fire/wood attrition.

    Reply

  15. Posted by WARBEAR on March 2, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    The new ‘child’ cards (details on eoj manager) that are 3sc (all rare) are all anti-speed.

    Reply

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