“Who’s the beatdown?” One of the most iconic articles in the history of card games written by Mike Flores analyzes the importance of assessing the role you have in a game.
To correctly determine and execute your gameplan, you have to know the roles your deck and your opponent’s deck play in your specific matchup. This is often strongly tied to both of your decks’ power curves, so let’s take a look at those.
“The length of round 3 is always more important than the card advantage in round 3 with this deck.” -Swim, in his axemen guide
The general consensus among most of players is that you don’t want to go down 2 cards, and going down 3 cards is seen as a death sentence. In his video guide, Swim goes down 3 cards to win round 1 only to win the game in a dominating fashion later on.
Axemen thrive in long rounds as they gain an incredible amount of passive points per turn. In short rounds, however, they don’t have enough time to set up and get enough points.
On the other end of the spectrum is Queensguard, which starts off with a huge burst and then gradually declines to the point where they have to resurrect things like Clan Dimun Pirates. That’s why Queensguard decks prefer short rounds.
Now, for this example I’ve just evaluated these decks’ power curves on their own. This is because they’re extreme examples, so it’s easy to figure out which kind of round 3 you want to play. Generally, you want to evaluate power curves as a relation between two decks. Try to figure out which deck prefers which kind of round 3 and take that into consideration if you decide to bleed your opponent.
*Rule #1: If you have a higher power curve than your opponent, you want to bleed, if possible. *
How to bleed
Let’s think about what you play if you decide to bleed your opponent round 2. It should be obvious that we have to have won round 1 to be able to bleed round 2, because only then do we control when the round ends.
Now assume an empty board after you have won round 1. By passing here (dry-passing), you get a guaranteed +1 card advantage. If you decide to play a card, you make yourself vulnerable to your opponent playing a higher tempo card to overcome you, leading to you losing that card advantage. As the bleeder, you have to evaluate the risk of losing that card advantage and decide if bleeding your opponent out of specific cards is worth the one card (this is why Rule #1 says: “if possible”). You can avoid losing that card by staying in front of your opponent and then passing.
Rule #2: Look for opportunities to pass while you’re ahead to retain your card advantage while also shortening round 3.
Rule #3: As the one being bled, look for opportunities to punish your opponent by overcoming him and thus denying him his card advantage.
Another way of preserving your card advantage is to play a spy in round 2. This way you can bleed without having to pass while being up in points as long as your opponent doesn’t have a counter-spy, in that case we’re back to trying to stay in front of our opponent.
Rule #4: Spies, if uncountered, allow you to bleed without having to worry about being out-tempoed.
Until now we assumed that the board is empty at the start of round 2. Of course, this is not always the case and there are instances where your opponent has carryover, denying you the option of dry-passing to get card advantage. If this is the case, you’re in the same situation as if you decided to not take the dry pass: You either have to pass while being in the lead or play a spy if you want to get a card back. The former is only possible if your opponent only has small carryover.
When your opponent has carryover you also don’t lose anything by bleeding because you wouldn’t have gotten the card back in the first place. So you can bleed your opponent until round 3 has the exact length you want (or instant pass if you want a long round).
Rule #5: If your opponent has carryover, you can try to get card advantage back by making tempo plays or playing a spy. Otherwise, you have more incentive to bleed because you’ve already lost your card.