In my previous article, I covered how to form a team. This directly links to today’s article, as I look at how to playtest efficiently, so check it out if you haven’t yet.
Getting a team together can definitely streamline the testing process, but it’s important you have a clear objective for each game to make sure you’re utilizing your time wisely. The more productive reps you can get in, the better your end result will be. As I run through the key points in testing, do remember it’s important to keep each step at the back of your mind. Even though I mention the metagame as the last point, it’s very important to keep in mind even if you’re just getting started.
So you have a deck idea. It’s a unique take on a particular hero and it’s insane in theory. You can just see the lines in your head and how broken they’ll be. I love theorycrafting and I love planning out new deck ideas in my head. But as a wise man once said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.
This is why playtesting your ideas is extremely important. It’s a great way to show you if your idea is viable or not. Note, the deck idea could be a totally new build or just a slight tweak to a crowd favorite. From my experience, usually less than five percent of my deck ideas are actually viable in competitive play. What’s the best way to test? Test against the best.
When testing, you should focus on what I call the “gauntlet decks.” These are the most prevalent and most successful decks. For example, when looking at Blitz, you might want to focus on Ira, Dorinthea and Kano matchups (this is written before Monarch is legal). Starting off a new build against the gauntlet decks helps you quickly see how your deck performs in the metagame, what the good matchups are, what’s bad and can even quickly show you if the deck is viable at all.
Beating decks that aren’t competitive won’t give you much information and everyone has limited time to practice. The sooner you can cross off unsuccessful ideas, the better. Failure is a huge part of the process. Come up with an idea, play it against the gauntlet, refine the list and test against the gauntlet some more. Once you’re comfortable with some of the matchups, I suggest you switch your deck with your opponent and play against it with the deck you struggle against the most. This way, it can open up potential weaknesses of the deck you’re struggling against, or show the weaknesses and strengths of your build. This has helped me tremendously in improving a particular matchup.
Refining a list is usually more time consuming than the initial building. In this game, every card counts and in many formats, you see every card at least once.
What I like to do in the early stages of refinement is use one-offs for potential cards and see how they play out. You can take it even further and add little proxies to your sleeves and write a little piece of paper with the second option for that slot so when you draw it and play it, you still use the card that’s in the sleeve, but the little proxy reminds you of the second best option. If you find you’d rather have had the proxy, it could be a better choice for that slot.
Do remember that some cards are simply better in some matchups and not necessarily in others. This is where focusing on your metagame comes into play. Pay attention to things like your pitch per hand. Are you getting enough blue pitch cards or are you getting too many? These things are best to be addressed in the refinement stage.
Now you’ve refined your list and you know what’s good and bad versus what matchups. It’s time to play the metagame. Write down your predicted spread of decks for the tournament you’re practicing for. For example, 45 percent Ira, 30 percent Dorinthea , 15 percent Kano and the rest. Also, if you know what players are playing what deck, keep your biggest competition in mind.
Your deck should be tuned in a way that favors you versus the most prevalent decks, but also ones played by the top players. In Classic Constructed, it’s a good idea to write down your exact sideboard plan for each matchup. In Blitz, the same applies for your equipment. This will make it easier to prepare before the game, and allow you to focus your mental energy on the game itself.
We’re seeing tremendous growth in the player base of Flesh and Blood. As the game grows, we can expect more and more tournaments popping up all over the world. As this happens, make sure to be ready, regardless of how much or how little preparation time you have. Practice in common matchups will let you autopilot to an extent and leave your mental energy to focus on the overall strategy and help you last the whole tournament. In future articles, I’ll give some useful tips on how to make it through a full tournament day in peak form. Stay tuned!