How to Star Nerd, Part 2: Calculords deck-building advice from Seanbaby

 I see some real genius in your calculating, Maverick, but I can't say that in there.

I see some real genius in your calculating, Maverick, but I can’t say that in there.

NinjaCrime’s one-of-kind arithmetic-battling collectible card game Calculords has been with us for a whole week now. Designer Seanbaby was kind enough to give us some strategies for beginners earlier this week, but if you’ve spent the last seven days glued to Calculords then you’re ready to graduate to some more advanced training. And probably a stronger glasses prescription. Nerd.

If you want to get some advice from Seanbaby on building a great deck from the cards you’ve collected, I’ve got it for you right here.

The Basics

Try to have a good mix of red (offensive) and green (push) cards. Push units are just like offensive units except that when they find themselves in a gunfight, they shove the enemy back one zone before firing. This technically lets them move an extra space each turn, and you get that bonus for every push unit in your column. Of course, the enemy can block each push with one of their own. The only problem is that most of them hit like wet kleenex. If you find a green card that can hit, rad– use it!

Try to also have a good mix of high and low cost cards. If every card in your hand costs 122, you will probably never be able to play them all. If every card in your hand costs 2, you will probably play them all and then watch them bounce harmlessly off an enemy tank’s treads.

Add tactic cards to your deck, but in small numbers. They are extremely powerful when you use them at the right time; consider them your ammo and your unit cards your guns. If you go to war holding only ammo, all that does is make you die more eventfully. Please note that some tactics summon troops just like unit cards because not a single aspect of this game is simple enough to explain without seven paragraphs.

Broderbund should sell the rights to Number Crunchers to Seanbaby.

Broderbund should sell the rights to Number Crunchers to Seanbaby.

Synergy

The basics of any deck building game is to have your cards work together. Almost any card in Calculords kills just fine on its own, but putting together combos is the key to avenging Earth.

There are 3 main “types” of units– vehicles, soldiers, and mutates. Soldiers are cheap and plentiful, vehicles are thougher to cast and tougher in a fight, and mutates hit hard and die easy. There are many exceptions to those rules, though. The main reason to know them is because most buffs only affect one type of unit.

For instance, you start with a MOTO REAVERS card. Like most motorcycles, its main job is support. Its INSPIRE ability pumps up the attack power of your soldiers. So the obvious combo is to drop a few soldiers into play, then bring the MOTO REAVERS in behind them. However, the MOTO REAVERS card also has the SQUAD ability, meaning you get two vehicles. This makes it just as valuable to put it into play first and follow it up with a card that buffs vehicles.

A great deck will have lots and lots of potential targets for each of its cards. For example, if you have a card that gives +1/+1 to all mutates and only one mutate in your deck, you blew it. Also think about the potential of combinations. Putting ARMOR on a tank with 10 HP is terrifying for your enemy. Putting it on a grunt with 1 HP is just kind of humiliating to everyone involved.

For beginners, the number of abilities in the game might be intimidating. However, here’s a hot tip: a wrench means it’s good for vehicles, a pill means it’s good for soldiers, and a mushroom means it’s good for mutates. Purple is a bonus to HP, red is a bonus to AP, and green means heal.

Deck Size

A deck has to have 30 cards. This might sound strange to non deck-builders, but your deck gets crappier and crappier as you add more cards. A deck with every card is not more versatile– it’s a pile of lottery tickets. The best way to think about it is this: pick out your dream hand. Every card you add to your deck that aren’t THOSE lowers your chances of drawing your dream hand.

The number editor is for closers.

The number editor is for closers.

Number Editor

This is some high-level star-nerding, but as you win number cards, you can add them to your number deck to lower the difficulty of frequently-used cards. For instance, if one of your favorite cards costs 39, that’s a bit of a fuss. Add a 13 to your number deck and then BAM– it’s only a 3 away.

Overall Strategies and Deck Themes

You can focus entirely on one of these themes or mix 2 or 3 of them together to create a more versatile deck. You’re allowed to save 3 decks, so you can make 2 highly specialized ones and one that’s sort of ready for anything.

Mutate Assault

Mutates hit very hard for their easy costs, and its common for them to buff each other. It’s one-dimensional, but if you hit first and hard enough, you don’t really need a second strategy. It’s important to note that your units in Calculords only attack when its your turn. Units move four zones each turn and won’t fire until they reach an enemy. So with clumsy planning or bad luck, a fragile mutate unit might be vaporized before he ever gets a chance to pull the trigger. So if you want success with this strategy, you need perfect timing.

  • Cards to look for: MUTATE PRINCE and MUTATE PRINCESS make all of their spore cousins stronger, and the insane MUTATE MULTIBOX card puts 5 units into play.

Rolling Death

Focus on getting one massive unit in play, then buff it with everything you’ve got. Support him with units that can heal his “type” and he will never die. Add some push units behind him and he won’t even have to hit hard to win– the pushes will smear his enemies against their own base. Be sure to protect your other lanes, though– this is a longterm strategy.

  • Cards to look for: Use ARMOR RESUPPLY to add armor to your units and MEDIC DISPATCH to add HP, but also look for units that come into play with more than 1 armor. They are instantly immune to a huge percentage of the enemy population. Look for more ROCKOIDs or the DEFENSOR MK3 tank.

Long Range Damage

One way to clear the way for your troops is to blast enemies from long range. Units with the SURPRISE ability get a shot off the second they enter the battlefield. There are also several tactics that will hit one or all enemies in the lane. A lot of times one or two cards can erase a commander’s entire column, but don’t put all your faith in it. Flying units will avoid most damage tactics and armored units will shrug them off.

  • Cards to look for: You can blast every enemy unit for 3 with ARTILLERY BARRAGE or blast a single one for 4 with ORBITAL PHASER. Or you can just use UFO ABDUCTOR and immediately yank their weakest troop right out of play.

Control

A crafty player can stun all enemies, teleport them back to their own base, or even take over their minds. If your opponent has combined all his MUTATES into an unspeakably powerful MUTATRO, hit it with a MIND CONTROL and run it back into his own base.

  • Cards to look for: BLOK’S SHOUT will destroy every red card in your opponent’s hand. AIRLOCK MISHAP does the same to their green cards. If you play them together, all your opponent can do next turn is complain.

Dash and Smash

Filling your deck with low cost soldiers and a bunch of cards that buff them is a risky and spazzy way to turn a fight into a race. There are a million ways that plan can end in tragedy, but if it works, it’s the fastest way to victory since you won’t be bothering to protect your other lanes.

  • Cards to look for: Find cards with the DOUBLE TIME ability like COMBAT CYCLE or DARE DEVILS. These units move 10 zones instead of 4– that’s more than halfway across the battlefield in a single turn. Be careful not to put them behind slow units, though. It’s a single lane highway, and they can’t pass their friends.
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