Assigning and Understanding Value
Compared to other games, FFTCG has two pretty straightforward win conditions: deal seven points of damage to your opponent or have them draw with no cards in deck. Of course the complicated part is getting your opponent to seven damage before they deal seven back to you, and one of the most efficient ways to end up on top is to be able to understand and assign value. When I refer to value, I’m talking about the relative importance of a card or play at any given moment and its impact to the current game state or its potential impact - relative to its cost. Value can be incredibly difficult to assign to a card or play at first, especially in an unfamiliar situation.
A good baseline for determining the value of forwards is to see if the card's power is “on curve” - which is to say that its power is typical for most cards of the same cost. For example, generally 7000 power for a 3 CP forward, 8000 power for a 4 CP forward, and 9000 power for a 5 CP forward. If a card is below the curve, it means that it will usually lose to another card of the same cost in combat. Most of the strongest cards have additional abilities that add to the value of the card, sometimes even so strong that the card is worth playing despite being below the usual curve like Al-Cid (2-097H) or Edea (2-099L). Or in the case of cards that are significantly over the curve, there are usually significant drawbacks such as Delita (1-112R). Some decks can spin drawbacks like this to their advantage, but increasing the value of a card like Delita requires you to build more of your deck around it. Seeing if a card is on curve or has potential drawbacks are useful baselines, especially for deck building to weed out the majority of cards that tend to not be a good fit.
Timing is Everything
For summons and backups, value comes from the impact they make when they are played or utilized on the field. When analyzing a specific board state it is always important to see how your field and your opponent's field interact to truly understand the value of any individual card or play.
For example, using a board wipe like Shantotto (1-107L) or Ultima (3-145L) when you have one forward and your opponent has five is clearly in your favor; however there are many times when the answer is not so clear. What if you and your opponent have five forwards each? Is spending the resources to wipe the board worth it for you now? Well really it depends, if you’re currently in a position where you can continue to put in damage at little risk of taking any yourself then maybe it’s not time. However, if your opponents deck has had ways to deal with your forwards prior, you might increase the value of your play by spending an extra turn preparing to wipe the board.
Another important thing to consider is how both of your decks recover from various scenarios. If you know your deck would be able to bounce back from a board wipe faster than your opponent, then the value of the play can still be high even when your board states are similar. In this case you are assigning value relative the the cards in both of your decks. This is also tricky, but as you play more and more games you will start to immediately be able to identify the value of a card or play in any situation.
More likely than not your deck will provide opportunities to choose certain forwards to break or use removal on. On the surface breaking the highest cost, highest power forward feels valuable and would be a logical choice, but what if there’s a cheaper card that’s giving your opponent a huge advantage? It may be one that will give them a huge advantage over time, or a card that is impacting the board state in such a large way that we would assign it higher value and make it a target. Cards like Refia (2-141H), The Emperor (2-147L) and Mog (VI) (4-140H) have abilities that create more value for your opponent the longer they stay on the board and are usually worth removing first even if there is a larger forward on the field. So far we’ve only really been talking about assigning value to our own cards, but one strong advantage we gain from understanding value is that we can assign it to our opponent's cards and make decisions that put us ahead.
At the end of the game the victory is going to be decided by how you assign value and what advantages you gain by choosing the right moves based on your own analysis. Picking what characters to play, which forwards to break, and when to attack or block will come naturally once you assign proper value to your and your opponent's cards. It will be easier to identify which strategies give you the most trouble and determine if the CP cost for your combat tricks, summons or special abilities will be worth the result. Once you begin to comfortably assign and understand value, you’ll be one step closer to the end of your path to victory.
by Dan Cousillas
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