News for June 2011
Exploiting Resources 2
A Call of Cthulhu strategy article by guest writer Francesco Zappon
Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 17 June 2011

In that night's wandering there was no more of strangeness than in many a former night's wandering; but there was more of terror because I knew I was closer to those outside gulfs and worlds than I had ever been before. Thereafter I was more cautious with my incantations, for I had no wish to be cut off from my body and from the earth in unknown abysses whence I could never return...
     –H.P. Lovecraft - The Book

Resourcing is the most difficult decision you’ll face while playing Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game. Do you use that card as a resource, or do you keep it in your hand waiting for the best moment to play it, thereby maximizing its impact on the game?

There are different angles from which to find an answer and, ideally, they should all be considered when making this important decision.

The opening hand and the early game

Your eight-card opening hand presents the first big tactical question of the game. Three of those cards are going to form the starting point of your domain development; a mistake in this phase can be fatal. To help address this problem, I find it useful to ask myself certain questions. This is the approach I intend to use here, giving you the instruments to make your own decisions.

1 – What is the average card cost in my deck? Also, how many Loyal cards are present? What about Steadfast? Do I have cost-reducers?

If you are playing a rush deck with a lot of one and two-cost characters, you may want to quickly build two domains with two resources in the first two turns, in order to play the majority of the cards. On the other hand, playing a deck with expensive cards (three-cost or more) may lead to the decision of building up a big domain at first with a second small domain later in the game.

Loyal cards could be a problem in a two or three-faction deck: Panic (Core Set, F77) is one of the most powerful Syndicate cards, but playing it in a two-faction deck may result in poor performances. So, while building up the domains, you should consider how many Loyal cards you have, whether they are in hand, and when you want to play them. Be very careful with Loyal cards, because while trying to play them you may risk "destroying" the linear growth of your domains, causing a loss of Tempo (see my previous article for more).

Steadfast is usually a smaller problem, but one that still must be taken into account. How many cards with Steadfast do I have in the deck, and how much do they cost? Am I planning to play the card as soon as possible or is it a late game card? Does it belong to the main faction of the deck or to the support faction (supposing you are playing a two-factions deck)?

Cost-reducers are not heavily present; the main faction that can use them is Shub-Niggurath, as with Priestess of Bubastis (Core Set, F123) and One of the Thousand (Perilous Trials, F32), and again, the resourcing should be done accordingly. If you are playing the six-cost reducers in your Shub deck, you could consider a mulligan if no one is present in your opening hand, since probably drawing the reducer in the mid to late game can be useless. Moreover, you probably don't really need to put four resources in a domain to play Y'Golonac, The Obscenity (Core Set, F122).

2 – How many factions am I playing? If more than one, what is the ratio?

This is of course connected with what I said above regarding Steadfast. You must have two things clear in your mind: which faction is the main faction, and the timing you want to adopt in playing your cards. One rule I follow is to never play Steadfast cards in a two-faction deck where I use one faction just for a few cards (fewer than 20). This is because the risk of having a card sitting in your hand for a long time is too high. As an additional point, remember this: having a Steadfast of X means that you must resource at least X cards from that faction; as a consequence, you will not play those cards!

Being able to answer these questions (which can be summarized as “know your deck!”) is the first step in making the correct decision. In doing so, you will see that you automatically divide the cards in groups according to their importance (high priority means you do not want to resource these cards).

Never resource:

There are some cards in your opening hand that you will probably never resource, simply because they are too good to be wasted as resources. If you think there are more than have been listed here, share them below!

  • Aspiring Artist (Ancient Horrors, F112): if you resource this card you have -1 card in hand, if you play it you have a +1. Do I have to say more?
  • Reducers: resourcing Priestess of Bubastis gives you one resource, but the same thing happens if she is in play...

High Priority (Rarely Resource):

  • Low cost characters (generally a cost of one or two)
  • Cards essential to the deck theme, like Binding (Core Set, F36) in an icon-denial deck
  • Ubiquitous control cards like Shotgun Blast (Core Set, F16) or Deep One Assault (Core Set, F56)
  • Cancel events like Power Drain (Core Set, F100)

Medium Priority (Sometimes Resource):

  • Mid-cost characters (cost three or four if no reducers in hand)
  • Non-essential support cards
  • Low cost events/attachments (cost one or zero)

Low Priority (Resource Freely):

  • Most events (cost of two or more, as they tend to have too long a "lag time" in the early game)
  • High cost characters (cost of four or more)
  • Expensive attachments (cost of two or more) 

The mid to late game

The definition of “the mid to late game” depends on your deck. In general, you can think you are in the mid to late game starting at turn four. In the first three turns you should set up your domains to play almost all the cards in your deck; now you are ready for the fine tuning. It is always good to have a clear idea about the cards that are in the discard pile or used as resources, but at this point in particular it becomes fundamental. If you know that you might draw a Steadfast and the condition is not met, then it should be a good move to resource cards from the same faction as the Steadfast. But if the card you want to resource is the only one you have from that faction and it is really important, then keep it in your hand. The cards you have in your hand are always more important than the cards you might draw.

In the mid to late game, the important and right decision to make is when to stop resourcing... and this, as always, depends on your deck. I personally don't like to play high-cost cards. When I build a deck there are only a few cards that cost four or more. So, what I usually do is build a domain up to three resources and then wait to draw a four-cost card before putting the fourth resource in the domain. In this way I can maximize the cards in hand without losing the possibility to play all the cards in the deck.

On the other hand, when I play a rush deck, I keep the cost of my cards at two, at the highest. This is because I want to stop resourcing after two turns, in order to be able to play as many cards as possible to have an immediate impact on the game.

So, let's be clear: I’m not saying you shouldn't play cards that cost more than four. What I'm saying here is that it should be clear to you, based on your deck, when to stop resourcing...and for a very good reason: the first player who stops resourcing is the first player that takes pure card advantage!

One other note: Sometime during the playtest of your decks, you might notice that there are cards that always end up as a resource. Replace those cards with something else! Resourcing must not be seen as a way to use useless cards; on the contrary, you should see every card resourced as a tough choice. It's up to you to decide which loss is acceptable and which one is not.

To conclude...

What is the message I want you to take out from this article? Resourcing is the first and most important strategic decision you have to make in the game. You must know your deck and have a clear view about the development of your domains. Without a clear understanding of the implications of every card you resource, you will face problems and (more importantly) you will lose games. How to resource at the very beginning of the game is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult decisions. It is not a bad idea to shuffle your deck and draw a starting hand several times, in order to get a better knowledge of the possibilities your deck offers to you.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and I’d like to credit HiredMistake with many of the concepts that inspired it. As always, for any comments, requests, clarifications, remarks, or critiques, I invite you to continue the discussion in the official forum! Join me again next week when I will focus on non-linear aspects of the resourcing.

Are you a capable writer who wants to share his or her insights into one of our LCGs? We want to hear from you! Contact submissions@fantasyflightgames.com to find out how you can help support your favorite LCG.

Based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and his literary circle, Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game takes two players deep into the Cthulhu Mythos where investigators clash with the Ancient Ones and Elder Gods for the fate of the world. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Asylum Pack expansions to the core game.

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Comments (2)

jhaelen
Published: 6/20/2011 3:45:36 AM
#2

A good article - definitely some food for thought for me.

I never really worried much about including steadfast cards in my deck. I suppose this is something I should be more careful about, particularly if the total number of cards from that faction is small.

The question what to resource is always painful for me, and it's almost always the high cost cards that get resourced. One reason I currently like Yog is that they have several ways to put cards that have been resourced back into play. That's extremely useful if you survive into the mid to late game.

Tokhuah
Published: 6/19/2011 1:50:06 AM
#1

Great article on this subject.  Another thing to look at as you continue to resource during a game is the usefulness of specific cards against the particular deck you are up against, indicated not only by the cards your opponent is playing but also what they are resourcing.

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