In today’s meta matches are ending in record times. Matches that last 10 rounds or less are the norm and matches are often decided by one or more critical moves. As such, today’s matches revolve less around multi-round, multi reshuffle combos/set-ups as in the last age and, instead, revolve around launching overwhelming 1-2-3 combination strikes. With this kind of meta in effect- drawing your critical cards at the right moment is often the difference between losing and winning the battle. As such today’s article will focus on another organizational strategy to better ensure desirable results: card cycling.
Card Cycling and its Uses
Card cycling is the principle of keeping a constant influx of necessary resources flowing continuously into your hand. This meta rewards those who have a constant cycle of key cards while reducing deck clutter. Card cycling involves discarding enough cards from your main hand to ensure you have enough spaces to draw from your side deck and still receive cards from your main deck the following round. Proper card cycling reduces deck clutter, enabling you to keep less copies of a card in deck, which in turn leads to better card cycling. The end goal of card-cycling is the same as the end goal of deck segregation- organizational efficiency. In this meta, the opponent who has a better command of his/her resources is often the winner. In an age where RNG is prominent, card cycling is one way to reduce the effect of RNG on your hand and positively influence the outcome of battle.
Types of Card Cycling
Card cycling can be as complex or as simple as you want to make it. Often when teaching people about card cycling I give them a basic generic cycle to work with until they are comfortable with the system. As they get used to it, they can add their own variations to it to fit their own unique and developing playstyle. As such, this section will highlight the basic types of card cycling and their usefulness.
Beginner (Neutral) Cycling– This cycling is the type of cycling I often introduce to players just beginning to learn. It involves discarding 3-4 cards while drawing 1-2 cards from your tc deck. In this way you are ensuring you are “cycling” 1-2 tc cards into your deck every turn while also cycling in 1-2 cards from your main deck into your hand the next round. It also involves playing at least one zero pip card per cycle. This is the most basic type of cycling often used in your neutral or build phase (the phase you are shielding, buffing or using zero pip utilities). In this meta, this type of cycling is best used in the beginning phases of the match, as you will most likely quickly be shifting into an offensive or defensive cycle, depending on your style of play. Neutral cycling is of great use to begin to get your offensive and combo cards in line and ready for the upcoming battle phases.
Offensive Cycling– Offensive cycling is a slightly more complex principle than neutral cycling. Offensive cycling works best with a segregated deck. It works by discarding the majority of the cards in your hand (between 5-6 cards) so as to ensure a constant influx of offensive and combo cards. If your offensive cards are centered in your main deck then you may only need to draw 1-2 tc cards per round. If your offensive cards are centered in your side deck you may need to draw 4-5 cards per cycle. In your offensive cycle you should be playing an offensive card (preferably an offensive utility such as Loremaster or fire beetle) every round. Your offensive cycle should end when your opponent is defeated, you are low on pips or your opponent’s defenses/heals make sustaining an offense ill advised.
Defensive Cycling– Defensive cycling is a less popular method due to the prevalence of offense in this meta. However, it can still be a viable method to counter an opponent’s offensive cycle particularly if you are a higher health buffer school such as ice and life. Defensive cycling is the exact same as offensive cycling except the focus is on casting and “cycling” defensive cards. If your defensive cards are centered in your main deck then you may only need to draw 1-2 tc cards per cycle. If they are centered in your tc deck then you will need to draw 4-5 cards per cycle. Your defensive cycle should be centered around limiting your opponent’s offensive cycle. Your defensive cycle should end when your opponent’s offense fades or you are able to counter-attack with your own offensive cycle.
Note: These are only the 3 basic types of cycling. Cycling is not a hard science. As you get to know your own habits you will improvise your own cycling techniques that may not fit neatly into these categories.
Recommended Cycling Techniques
Different cycling techniques are better suited for different schools in different situations. This section will detail some of the more commonly encountered strategies in PvP and the type of cycling needed to counter it with varied schools.
Against Jade/Jade Juju/High Heal Strategies
Blade/Trap stack oriented strategy– If you are facing a jade and you have a method to stack blades or traps on your opponent you will focus on neutral cycling most of the match. Slowly build a bladestack while removing jujus and other universal debuffs. Wait for an opening and OHKO. Against a guardian juju user save pips for when he/she revives and then switch to offensive cycling.
Balance Strategy/Players with no blades or traps– Balance or players with limited stacking ability will have to play an offensive cycling game. Enchant and multiply attacks via shuffle and remove jujus as they are put on. At the point when you have multiple pips and you are relatively clear, cast shrike/infallible and immediately assume offensive cycling.
Against High Aggro/Spam Strategies
Multipurpose spells strategy- Against schools utilizing a spam strategy, schools with offensive/defensive spells (loremaster, luminous weaver) should immediately go into offensive cycling. Cast conviction and commence assault and the majority of the time you will win the battle due to your spells accomplishing more than one thing at once.
High health buffer schools– High health buffer schools can actually play in defensive cycling with a sprinkling of support spells thrown in. Your plan is to exhaust your opponents offense while building towards a game ending combo (i.e offensive cycling) when given an opening. While I am no advocate for jade juju or angel strategies this tactic is undoubtedly one of the best strategies against high aggro/spam schools.
Against Combo/1-2-3 Strategies
Beat Combo with Combo– Against schools that can utilize combo moves to end you, you will have to beat them with your own combos. This battle will be a mix of different cycling techniques that varies with your opponent and their playstyle. By the time you get to the ranks where effective combo strategies are prevalent, you should already be comfortable with cycling and can adopt your own techniques.
Beat Combo with Hyper Offense– A high/aggro spam strategy can easily overwhelm a combo deck if they do not focus enough on defensive cycling. If you are uncertain that you can strategically defeat your opponent’s combo, then constant damage may be the way to go.
Beat Combo with Control– While less popular in this meta- well timed control spells can still be key in limiting a combo strategy. Say your opponent wanted to execute a Spinysaur to pillar combo. By utilizing Mana Burn one can significantly neuter the potential of your opponent.
There you have it: the basics of card cycling.
Tell us how you cycle cards in the comments below!