Well, I said I would be posting it to the CX forums. So here it is. I'll also be adding this to GURC in the near future.
Lecture originally given on 5/2/2003
Resource Management in Deck Design
I. The Importance of Resource Management
Why is resource management such an important topic for deck design? Shouldn't we be discussing what kind of combos would give better win conditions? Or how to create a deck that fits a certain deck type, like BSM or Direct Damage? Or how to use the metagame to our advantage? Well, proper resource management is important in making good, consistent decks, regardless of the win condition, deck type, or metagame you are trying to address.
A. Winning requires using resources
You won't win any games unless you spend resources. There are only a few possible ways to win a game in Chron X without ever using one resource point (you play Diplomatic Victory, or your opponent plays Nobody Wins, your opponent concedes). But chances are, no one will ever win a game without using resources unless his opponent intentional throws the game! In general, deploying assets, attacking, using special abilities, and running programs costs resources. The good news is that you can anticipate your resource needs in most cases.
B. Unused resources is wasted potential
Not even Breakpoint has changed the fact that no one has ever won a game simply because they had more resources than the other player. Because they were able to spend more? Perhaps. But like money, resources won't do you any good if you just stuff them in your mattress. Ever played a game where you were just swimming in excess resources? Just think, instead of those 15 extra military resource points, you could have had one more attacker or blocker instead (e.g. by replacing an Ammo Cache with a Mawson Force Trooper).
C. Case study - Resource Denial
Have you ever had to play against a Resource Denial deck? Maybe you had your opponent drain away all of your resources through his Dresdner Outsource HQ. Or maybe someone used Black Ops Virus and Power Sink to drain away all of your covert and cyber. What was the result? You probably found yourself unable to even deploy your assets, let alone move, search or attack with them. Resource denial decks can be very powerful because of the basic principle that you need resources to win.
II. Planning Resource Management
Lets look at some issues to consider when we put together a deck.
A. General rule
To start, your decks should have between 30% to 35% of its cards dedicated to producing resources. By "resource card", I mean any card that is primarily there to provide resources. This means more than just your bases. Arell Cartel Contact, H. Thalmann, and Satellite Imagery are all resource cards. And not every base is a resource card either -- High Flux Nuke is one example. That means that a 40 card deck should start with between 12 and 14 resource cards. As you tweak your deck, you may go outside of these boundaries. But that's ok, they're not set in stone. We just need a good starting point.
Interesting note: I chose 4 of my decks which I consider to be fairly well tuned resource wise, and they tended to fall in that 30% to 35% range. One deck which isn't very competitive and tends to suffer from resource starvation has 28% resource cards. Coincidence? I think not!
B. 2 resource types or 3?
It's always harder to make a deck work consistently when you try to use all 3 resource types, rather than just relying on 2 of them. Ever found yourself drawing military and covert bases, but your hand is filled with Anceph Warriors and Tantric Crusaders? If you're having problems tuning a deck with all 3 resources, try emphasizing just 2 resource types instead.
C. Early resources or late resources?
Do you plan to try to win quickly with your deck, like you would with speed? Or do you plan to win later on, like you would with a WarMachine based deck? Six resources immediately is worth 15 resources later on (e.g. you can either a card slot for H. Thalmann, or a common base). If you plan to win later on, there's not much sense in emphasizing early resource cards when they'll result in fewer total resources in the long run.
For early resources, consider the following cards: H. Thalmann, Scavenger Gang, dual-resource bases (NSA Franchise, Ops Center and Tinker Base), and RGAs (they cost you resources up front, but you aren't limited to deploying one each turn like you are with bases).
For late resources, consider common bases and contracts. Contracts require you to use 2 cards to get 2 resources a turn, so they're like bases. Plus, the fact that you have to sacrifice an asset usually slows down your deck anyway.
D. Counting costs
The easiest way to quickly gauge cost is to "classify" your cards under a resource type. For example, Mawson Force Trooper is clearly military. Bounty Hunter requires both military and covert to deploy, but requires only covert to attack, move and search, so can be considered covert. Use this count as a rough guide for how many military/covert/cyber resource cards you need. You should also favor a resource type if you notice a lot of high cost assets for that type, or if you know which assets will be your attackers. e.g. even if you have an equal number of cyber and covert assets, if all of your attackers are covert and all of your defenders are cyber based, you should favor covert resources.
For a more rigorous analysis of costs, try counting what it will costs to deploy all of your assets, equip all enhancements, invoke all interventions, and run all programs. Now count the resources that your resource cards will provide. For infinitely producing cards, only count the resources that they will provide if you have them in play for 15 turns (so contracts would count for 30 resources). Also count the resources your HQ will give you. The difference between the two counts you come up with is what you'll have left for attacking, moving, searching, using special abilities, etc. For a utility which can help automate this process, check out DeckAlyz.
Once you've considered these issues, fill in the resource needs of your deck.
III. Testing Resource Management
Getting your deck to be consistent with its resources requires work!
A. Test driving your deck
The best way to see if you deck needs tweaking is to give it a try, by actually playing the deck. The AI is a good way to test your deck as far as your resource needs. Playing against other players may be more fun, but it takes more time to set up a game in the Core than it is to just play against the AI.
B. Interpreting the results
Don't let just one or two games cause drastic changes to your deck: even a well tuned deck will behave like a randomly generated pile of cards due to bad luck. But if you consistently see that your deck has too much of one resource, or never enough of another, that's a good sign that your deck needs tweaking.
C. Tweaking for success
Remember that your goal isn't just to spend resources. The goal is to spend resources in a way that will help you win more games. Using Pillboxes on the attack will quickly soak up any excess military, but it's not terribly efficient! To decrease costs, try substituting assets that require fewer resources, not just to deploy, but also to attack, move, or search. The reverse is also a good idea: to make use of excess resources, try substituting assets that require more resources. The extra cost for moving Utopia assets is balanced by the fact that they get to move untapped.
Fine tuning your deck will require the previous three steps to be done in cycles. You can always play decks without spending time tuning them. But a well tuned deck will be more consistent than one that has been hastily put together.
From the Question and Answer session:
Q. How do you plan resource management for facing resource denial decks?
Unless you're specifically making a deck to counter resource denial, you shouldn't design your deck against it. Instead, you should adjust the way you play your deck. It's actually a Catch-22: a well tuned deck is likely to get bogged down by resource denial, while a poorly tuned deck that overproduces resources is likely to stand a better chance.
Q. How does the map affect resource management?
You should rely less on bases for smaller maps, since there are fewer cities to place bases in. This is especially true in Northern Sprawl. With Northern Sprawl, you may have to rely almost exclusively on RGAs, interventions, and programs to generate your resources. Also keep in mind that if you can't generate a lot of resources, you can try to reduce the amount of resources your deck will need.
Q. How do you rate Emergency Funds when it comes to resource management?
The further you get into a game, the harder it is to meet the requirements for using Emergency Funds (unless you make use of some tricky combo to make yourself lose resources). Don't rely Emergency Funds for regular resource management. Instead, leave Emergency Funds for emergency use, as the name implies. If you're afraid of Account Freeze, then it would make sense to use Emergency Funds.
Q. How does HQ choice affect resource management? Is it more difficult if your HQ only produces one resource?
Your choice of HQ has a big effect. Using Regular HQ is like starting the game with 3 bases already in play. Underground HQ only provides the 3 resources for 5 turns, so you'll need more resource cards with UHQ than you would with Regular HQ. An HQ that only generates 2 resource types isn't necessarily that big of a disadvantage. Many decks concentrate on just 2 resource types anyway. If you absolutely have to have a resource that your HQ doesn't provide, you can always use Build Site to start getting that resource.
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- Kosh K95x
These walls may one day fall, but not today.
These walls may one day fall, but not today.
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