166.html|@/@@TEXTR*chlt~/& Strategic Hand Management

Strategy Week Day 4: Strategic Hand Management

Keeping track of your hand, as well as your draw deck and discard pile, is another essential thing in playing METW, as in almost any card game. Managing your hand correctly, and planning appropriately for it, allows you to have every card you need at the right time, while managing your hand badly can result in many turns of waiting for certain things to happen.

The goal of managing your hand is to make sure you have the right cards at the right time and don't have any unnecessary cards sitting and taking up space. Of course, the more precise goals vary partly on your deck. In a faction/marshalling point deck, your goal is to get cards of a certain type, occasionally with combinations, but mostly just trying to get cards that aren't that hard to take advantage of and use. In a ring deck, on the other hand, you need a few specific cards in order to continue with your strategy and to win the game. As a result of this, how you go about playing in each strategy is different. In a faction deck, you basically try to get new cards you can use as fast as you use the old ones, since the goal of faction decks is to get more marshalling points than your opponent in the same amount of time. In ring decks, meanwhile, you want to get new cards as fast as you possibly can, to try to sift through all the other cards in your deck and get that one needed card. Since strategies vary so much for these, the next two paragraphs each deal with one of those strategies' specific hand strategies.

First we'll look at faction decks. For these decks, you want to keep a fairly steady stream of cards coming in to replenish the ones you use, and may occasionally need to get a specific card from among those. So when you're playing try to make sure you always get a few new cards every turn, but not too many because then you might discard cards you want to use. A card or two that increases hand size can be good here to facilitate this, like Emerald of the Mariner or Elrond. Whenever an enhancer like Muster comes along it's usually a good idea to keep it in your hand, even if you don't need it right away, since you'll probably want it for later use. Also you'll want to keep around any unique cards (resources OR hazards) that aren't usable/playable much right now but may be in the not too distant future, so that you'll have them when they're useful. But don't load up too much with these cards: you should probably have at least half your hand devoted to cards that can be played within a turn or two, like some factions, short-events, and characters.

For ring decks, you'll need to use a much more aggressive strategy to get the needed cards. Don't keep around any more than one or two cards that aren't useful right away or related to getting out rings. You'll need to devote most of your hand to storing cards for the combos you'll be using soon, and very little of it to anything else for anything other than quick use. Radagast is a GREAT help here, allowing you to draw as many as eight extra cards per turn from his special ability, and therefore cycle an entire deck in only a few turns. You can use him with a rapid-fire "draw run" in which you keep drawing as fast as possible and store away all the needed cards until you have enough for your combo, then play that and go onto another run if you like. Often using Sacrifice of Form or another card that can safely discard Wizards is useful too, to discard Radagast after you've got the needed cards and play Saruman to use them efficiently. Palantiri are a big help here as well.

You also need to factor hazards into your hand strategies. These are generally more spontaneous in a ring deck, since you don't have much space for hazard combos, but in a faction deck you may want to devote a few slots just to gathering killer hazard combos with Dragons or Nazgul so you can set back your opponent in significant ways. It's sometimes handy to store some card you know will be useful soon enough in your sideboard, then bring them to your deck or discard pile once you have the other needed cards. Though this is mostly good with Palantiri because they let you take cards selectively from the discard and draw deck. Anyway, hope you found this somewhat useful, and tune in tomorrow for my review devoted exclusively to playing hazards.

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