Before I dig into this, I need to preface that this isn’t going to be a “Nerf Spelljammer gaiz” thread. While Spelljammer’s effect is going to be a very large part of this opening post- suggesting a change to Spelljammer is simply beyond my scope as a player. In my last thread, I suggested ways to make “do nothing” Vetruvian cards add play and flavor to the faction. But the ubiquity and scale of Spelljammer’s impact on the game puts it in a position that is best evaluated by the professional developers.Their hard data is far more important for that decision than my player anecdotes.
Please don’t turn this into a salty nerf thread.
I. Pivoting Explained
“Pivot” is a term adopted into the “language” of CCG players, having roots in it’s uses in Magic. The definition is fairly simple- as a noun, it describes the tool which turns a part in a machine; as a verb- it describes the act of doing so. As such, card games use it in both noun and verb form to describe two fairly unique aspects of play and construction.
To “pivot”, is to use utility cards (draw, life, other resources,) to extend the player’s pool of resources, and not run out of options (due to things like the natural hand decay of playing 2 things in the same turn.) Then rely on a higher quality of plays (more mana intensive, more effect,) to enter what is often described as “late game” (a term, I’ve grown to detest for it’s vagueness.) To successfully pivot, is to successfully stabilize, to resist early pressure and develop one’s gameplan.
A “pivot”, is a card that gives a player the power to do this, either by supplying the extra resources, or providing the advantage sufficient to making their opponent’s options weaker than their own. Often, these are threats that either do so through passive effect, or being a sufficiently powerful “Mulldrifter” (a catchall term used to describe “spells with legs”.)
##II. In Context for Duelyst
Have you ever played a clutch Dancing Blades that allowed you to answer a threat, and disengage your general from the enemy General’s range, or put you far enough away from an enemy beatstick to let you begin deploying a series of powerful threats? Have you ever cast a Rite of the Undervault, and positioned yourself far enough away from the opponent to make them have to spend their turn chasing you? In these instances, you’ve pivoted! Duelyst has several great options for performing pivots- securing your general’s safety for a few forseeable turns, and leaving your more aggressive opponent’s hand and board in shambles.
If you find yourself trying to build a midrange or control deck- it’s best to imagine your pivot tools at their baseline value (the minimum value you can acquire for the play)- to best understand their “utility” (their power as individual cards.) While many pivots have a high cap for value, it’s important to weigh their baseline with more urgency than their potential- to understand what to expect out of the card.
##III. The Spelljammer Complex and the Decimus Dilemma
In spite of the wealth of options for pivoting in Duelyst, there are a fairly absurd number of games in which players attempting to pivot simply never get to.This isn’t necessarily because the aggressive options in the game are so wickedly powerful that they aren’t properly counterbalanced by their mana intensive foils. Instead it is likely because at little to no opportunity cost, the most aggressive decks in Duelyst never have to slow down, they can keep ramping up pressure and answering every potential pivot their opponent develops. I would tentatively like to refer this as the “Spelljammer Complex”, since it is most prominently fueled by the titular card.
Duelyst thusly, contains a unique archetype that I would tentatively coin “Turbo Aggro”, that I feel should be observed more.
In Magic, turbo-decks are usually control or combo decks that thin their deck out quickly and amass resources, then rely on tools like Fog to counter their opponent’s plays. In these style of decks, and in some aggressive lists, “symmetrical draw” (effects that allow both players to draw cards,) aren’t considered a weakness.
The overall effect of Turbo Aggro has informed most of my experience playing Duelyst, from the “midrange” Kara decks that would sandbag tigers, while sitting on Jammers and hyper-efficient 1 and 2 drops, to the Rush-dense Vaath decks that would never run out of steam, the Tempo Argeon decks which have never been bad, to today’s Aggro Reva lists which drop one bomb play after another making the 25 health start seem paultry and frail.
The consequence of this, tends to be that the bulk of the game’s available tools are simply too slow to matter, and any attempt at building significant card advantage by mitigating the opponent’s plays are made drastically worse. A phenomena I would tentatively coin “The Decimus Dilemma” in honor of the newest tool introduced that attempts to foil the Turbo Aggro lists (see also, Sun Sister Sterope, Emerald Rejuvenator, Nimbus etc.)
So what are your favorite pivots? How do you manage against Turbo Aggro? Do you have some interesting decklists or theorycraft to share? How do you feel about the effect of Turbo Aggro on Duelyst? Please share constructively, and let’s get this ball rolling