Getting Ahead: Resource Ramping
by Lester E. Tisdale IV
The Main Idea
For those of you who don't know, the term “ramping” in TCG lingo means to accelerate your resources to a level that lets you play cards with higher costs earlier than you normally would. Usually, “ramp” decks do this during turns one-three then use all of those resources to play bigger, scarier cards, and try to regain any lost advantage this way. Often, these decks include some control elements that keep them alive until they have more resources than their opponent. The idea is to have so many resources, that your opponent cannot keep up with the big threats you throw at them and lose fairly quickly in the following turns.
In most games, having resources is important but having an abundance of resources usually doesn't mean as much as it does in The Spoils. Typically you want enough resources to play your cards each turn, but having them after the cards are played isn't too important. In most TCGs, you shouldn't care too much about having MORE resources than your opponent, only that you can play the cards you need when you are supposed to. In The Spoils, however, resources mean access to more cards, and even more resources, which gets you (surprise!) more cards. Card advantage is what wins in any game, and resources in The Spoils equal card advantage. That's why you never want your opponent to get more resources than you.
Not Just Resources...
Slightly contrary to what I just said, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: you need more than JUST resources to win the game! What is it you need? That's for you to decide; what I'm going to talk about are the various ways in which to get ahead in resources.
The first deck I'll talk about takes a seemingly fragile and “silly” combo and hopes to use it to seal a game. The combo was actually discovered by a local player who is always coming up with bizarre deck ideas; he is one of those players who strives to be completely creative, never going for the “easy” win, to be unique, and to win with style. He doesn't care if he loses nine times in a row so long as he wins that tenth game the way he WANTS to win it.
So, the combo he “discovered” is 4rm0r3d 31f + Ectological Hazard Suit (let me clarify: I understand people knew of this combo's existence way before we even started playing this game, but I know he figured it out on his own while he was going over the small amount of cards he had and decided to abuse it, which makes him awesome). When he first pulled it off on me, I was astonished. I loved the combo SO much! I understood that it was susceptible to removal, but I thought, if left unchecked, how powerful it could be! I told him he'd finally made the deck of his dreams; he'd won the game in one big turn! ...and then he used Voidal Poisoning to wipe my board, make me discard, and other shenanigans. And thus, Curtis-Combo was born!
Then, like all true tinkerers, he dismantled the deck. I was crushed! I told him that it was a mistake, how he'd built an awesome and unique deck that could win, how excellent the deck could be with a little tweaking, etc......but it was too late; he'd already started on another deck idea, this time, revolving around nodes.
But Curtis-Combo did not die there. No, I took up the torch and went through several versions of the deck, ending up with a pretty crazy list that's VERY aggressive. That's not to say that the deck is finished, no, far from it, as there are a few cards already spoiled from Shade that will have a home in the deck, but it is at the point of greatest consistency, all because I added a little (actually, a lot) of ramp.
The reason I bring up the deck is because one of the ways I've made the deck more consistent is by adding the Arcane Research engine. If you don't know what I'm talking about, allow me to explain.
First, you have to build your deck to start with at least 1 Obsession. Then, you include the aforementioned Arcane Research and the appropriate “Reveal X” tactic (i.e. Accidental Invention, Burly Assailment, Hidden Ruins, or Manifest). All you do is make sure you go second (which is normally pretty easy unless your opponent wins the roll and wishes to go second) and mulligan into Arcane Research + the appropriate resource(s). Then follow these steps:
- At the end of your opponent's first turn (aka turn zero): Play Arcane Research. Search your deck for all four copies of your “Reveal X” card and put them into your discard pile.
- Turn One: Play the appropriate resource. This triggers the “Reveal X” tactics now conveniently in your discard pile. Pay two. Put the first one into play. Then pay two using the new resource plus another to put the second “Reveal X” tactic into play.
- Turn Two: Play another resource. Pay four and get the other two “Reveal X” tactics into play face-down as resources as well.
So, on turn two, you should have eight resources out, four of which are detached from your faction. You have effectively DOUBLED your resources. What you do with them after that is entirely up to you. I've chosen to play big guys that can attack the turn they come into play, backing with Witty Worms and Pogo-Bears, and the ever-present threat of the Curtis-Combo.
Arcane Research, Blah, Blah
Now I know many of you have heard this before, but the combo is ridiculously good. I'm not here to tell you how good it is, but to talk about some things I've notice when playing this deck. First of all, this isn't your standard Arcane Research deck.
One thing I've noticed is that the Arcane Research combo doesn't ALWAYS go off. I try my damnedest to get two Elitism/Arrogance, and more often then not, I do, but sometimes the combo just doesn't explode into eight resources on turn two. What I quickly learned, though, was that it's not so bad! You see, simply being at six resources on turn two isn't awful at all.
That being said, usually, this type of “Ramp” deck is the most dedicated and often they rely a bit too heavily on the Arcane Research engine, failing to function properly if that combo isn't seen in the opening hand. I feel like my deck is stable outside of the Arcane Research combo, but definitely does its best when the combo is seen.
Less Ramp, More Style...
There is a combo that I'm pretty sure no one has really looked into that seriously, and that's Delusive Strumpet + Luteoderm Prototype (and other gear). I've been toying around with a Martial Artist deck for about four months and it is my favorite deck to play with. I realized at some point that Delusive Strumpet was good for stalling while also allowing me to discard Luteoderm Goliath early and even ramped a bit herself. I had previously added Luteoderm Prototype because it is good for assembling my combo pieces. What I didn't realize was how awesome those two cards are together until I just happened to have both in my opening hand one game.
If you don't see the combo, don't worry! I'll explain:
- Turn One: Play a Resource. Play Delusive Strumpet on your opponent's turn (potentially blocking something weak if you're going second).
- Turn Two: Play a Resource. Play Luteoderm Prototype (and/or any other gear) on the Delusive Strumpet.
- Discard a card to use Delusive Strumpet's Graceful Exit ability.
- Flip Delusive Strumpet and all attached gear cards face down as resources (Rule 301.4 If a target card leaves play, all cards attached to it leave play in the same way.)
- Search your deck for a card and put it into your hand (if you had Luteoderm Prototype attached).
The interesting thing about this kind of ramp is that it gives you a little more room to play defensively. Like I said, you can block with the Delusive Strumpet, attack with her, put some gear on her, and flip her down again for at least two unattached and four attached resources. It seems like a lot of minuses because of all the discarding, but everything balances out if you are playing scarier cards or using your discard pile as another source of cards (which often the best decks do) because you are also able to draw more and play even more resources thanks to the wonderful abilities of your Faction card.
I know this type of ramp deck hasn't really been explored, and that's because it's options are rather limited. But with new cards on the horizon, we can expect to see a few more that flip themselves face down and potentially more awesome gear we can attach to them. Keep your eyes open for new ideas!
Not Really Resource Ramp
There is another type of ramp that was at one time really popular. From what I can gather, back in the day, Strength in Numbers decks were doing pretty well. With the amount of board-wiping mass damage infliction going around these days, they have mostly fallen out of style. But that's not to say they aren't valid! And even though they aren't traditionally “ramp” decks, they can run a suite of cards known to accelerate other cards into play: Research Assistant, and Senior Research Assistant.
The cool thing about decks that run these cards (and other Gearsmith cards that reduce the next numeric cost) is that they do not rely on their form of ramp to play anything in the deck, the ramp just makes the deck that much faster! There are a number of popular turn one plays in decks like this that make the opponent cringe. One of them is 1337! + Senior Research Assistant + Research Assistant. If left unchecked, that combo gives you (essentially) seven resources on turn two! That's generally enough to get the deck really far ahead. They would usually play some Micromajig Masters and Micromajig Makers, 633fy 31f, 700160x 31f, and Basic Nodes to reach critical mass, or even a Schproingmajig and Micromajig Shipping Container for the auto-kill. It really doesn't matter what you do with all those extra resources, like I said, so long as it impacts the game in a big way.
The only issue with this type of deck is that it is susceptible to removal. Once those Assistants are gone, you lose your ramp. On the plus side, you don't really NEED the ramp for the deck to function. It still acts as an aggro deck and will probably play a few guys every turn anyway, maybe still getting that surprise Strength in Numbers kill.
All the Ramp
What kind of ramp decks have you had experience with? Are there any other ramp decks out there that you know of? Discuss it in the forums... I'd love to see what you come up with!