Which Pages Should You Put In Your Spellbook – Part 1
Hello friends!!! Douglas “DiRTy” Haas here, back again with my second article for Caster Society helping you to become the best Caster you can be. Today we will be talking pages!!! In this two-part series I will be helping you to understand how to judge pages and which pages you should put in your spellbook. Again, this article will be assuming you have a basic understanding of Metazoo and how it is played. So, sit back, grab your tea, your favorite cryptids, and let’s talk about this game we love, Metazoo!
First, we will start with a basic term every TCG/CCG player should know, “Card Advantage”. What is card advantage some of you may be asking? Well, it’s pretty simple, you count the total number of pages that you have in your chapter and in the arena and then do the same for your opponent, the player with more pages has what is commonly referred to as card advantage. Meaning that if you played one page to destroy one of theirs and repeated this over and over you would eventually reach a point where you still had pages and they had none. Why is this important? Well, if you have more pages then your opponent, you have more options then your opponent and are in a better position to win the game. Should you fall behind in card advantage the opposite becomes true, you have less options and therefore a higher likelihood of losing the game. Whether the pages are in your chapter or in the arena matters though and if you read my previous article, “What’s Your Gameplan?”, you should be familiar with the concept of tempo. But this article is about judging pages before you ever sit down to play a game.
So, what does this have to do with judging pages and which we should put in our spellbooks? Well, we can break pages down into three very basic categories: pluses, minuses, and net neutral. What do these terms mean? This is also pretty easy to understand, both you and your opponent start with same number of pages, assuming neither of you mulligan to less pages, for the purposes of these examples we will be assuming this is the case. Now, you and your opponent start with 8 pages, if you contract a page that keeps the total number of pages between you and your opponent the same, this is known as a net neutral play. Plays such as contracting an aura or most beasties are net neutral plays, because after doing so, you and your opponent still both have 8 total pages between your arena and chapter, nothing has changed in terms of card advantage. Another example would be a page like Hateful Demise or Death Beam, assuming again that you and your opponent both have 8 pages between your arena and chapter, when you contract Death Beam, you lose Death Beam and your opponent loses a beastie, both of you have lost 1 page under normal circumstances, taking you both from 8 pages to 7 pages, nothing has changed in regards to your card advantage versus your opponent. Other pages that may be powerful can still be net neutral, something like New Years New Beginnings draws both you and your opponent the same number of pages after discarding your chapter, and if neither caster has more pages in the arena, this play does not give any advantage to the number of pages you have versus your opponent. As I said, these pages can still be very powerful if played at the right time, but they may not provide any card advantage.
Now let’s discuss what a plus is. A plus is probably the most important type of play that can be made in any TCG. Again, assuming you both have the same number of pages between your chapter and arena, if you contract a page that gives you more pages then your opponent this is known as a plus. Normally pages like this are referred to as a plus-X, where X is the number of pages gained versus the opponent. For example, the card Bookmark is a plus-1, why? Because you lose the page Bookmark to the cemetery when played, but then you gain 2 pages from your spellbook, this gives you one more page then you started with and one more page then your opponent if you have any equal number of pages, you now have 9 pages versus their 8. But there are other kinds of pluses too, remember that any page that generates you more pages than your opponent is a plus, so something like Flood the Earth can give a huge plus if you destroy let’s say 5 of your opponent’s beasties with it. Assuming you both have 8 total pages between your chapter and your arena, playing Flood the Earth in this position will lose you Flood the Earth to the afterlife, taking you down to 7 total pages between chapter and arena, but your opponent will lose 5 pages, taking them to a total of 3 pages between chapter and arena, that means it is a plus-4 in this circumstance, you gained an advantage of 4 pages over the opponent. There are also pages like Chessie who when contracted allow you to bookmark a page, meaning you keep Chessie, but also gain 1 more page then you had before, making Chessie a plus-1 when it is contracted. Destroying a page in combat is also a plus-1 because it removes one of your opponents’ pages while you retain the same number of pages you had to begin with.
I feel it is also important to mention that going first is one of the biggest pluses of all, on your turn you will always have one more page then your opponent by nature of the game, assuming no page has been played to change card advantage prior, this is also why going first is 99.9% of the time the most optimal choice if you get to choose, because you will always be one page ahead of your opponent on your turn. There are very few decks throughout the course of TCG history that prefer to go second for this reason. Also, something like a page that generates tokens can be a plus if we consider these tokens to be pages of their own. Something like a Dingbelle can be a huge plus given the number of tokens it can be used to generate. New Years New beginnings can also be a plus if you play it at the right time. Lets say we play 5 of our 8 pages into the arena and our opponent still has all 8 of their pages in their chapter, playing New Years New Beginnings will bookmark us both 7 pages, but in doing so will bring our total number of pages between chapter and arena to 12 while it will bring our opponents to 7, a plus-5 play. Being mindful of pages that work in this way will be important when deciding which pages to put into our spellbooks.
Ok, lets discuss what is generally the worst type of play, the minus. A minus is a page that takes you from the same number of pages as your opponent to less pages than your opponent. That doesn’t mean that a minus is necessarily a bad play, it just means that if you are going to minus yourself, you better have a very good reason for doing so, such as disrupting your opponents power plays or saving key artifacts or beasties. As with pluses, minuses are notated the same way, minus-X, where X is the number of cards you are losing. A card like Smokey Spirits is a minus-1 because if you and your opponent both have 8 pages between your chapter and arena, you will be taking yourself to 7 pages after playing it, where as your opponent will still have 8 pages, putting you one page behind your opponent. As I said, that doesn’t make it a bad play, it just means that in doing so you better have a very good reason. Using Smokey Spirit to protect an integral beastie to your strategy would be one example of this, another would be something like Borne From the Earth if your opponent has a terra in there spellbook as well, you are losing Borne from the Earth but gaining a terra, a net neutral play, but your opponent is also gaining a terra, meaning that they are gaining one page over you in the total number of pages you both have between your chapter and arena. Borne from the Earth can be very powerful given the right circumstances, but it may also backfire, giving your opponent the edge they need to overpower you.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way we can discuss how this ties into judging which pages we should put in our spellbook. Obviously, we want our spellbooks to contain as many pluses as possible and at the very least pages that are net neutral. We want to avoid running any pages that minus us and only run minuses if we have a very good reason for doing so. Sometimes pages that are normally a minus can be made into a net neutral or plus when combined with other pages or actions. For example, a card like lightning in a bottle is technically a minus, but when combined with a powerful beastie or a card like Dingbelle it can be used to take out an opposing casters beastie or generate a bunch of tokens, making it a net neutral or a plus positive play. By looking at pages in this way we can avoid putting too many pages into our spellbooks that reduce the number of pages we have and in doing so reducing our total number of options.
Not all pages are created equally and therefore not all pluses and minuses are created equally either. In part 2 of this article we will breakdown pages even further and discuss the power of the effects of pages, splitting them into categories such as power, value, disruption, and more. If you learned something from this article or just plain enjoyed it, you are not going to want to miss my next one. Until then, this is your friendly neighborhood caster signing out, much love and happy casting.
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