Saturday, February 11, 2017

Defining "Deck Learning" - in case I haven't yet...

In a comment on a recent post, my friend Thomas asked exactly what I meant by "Deck Learning".
"Deck Learning" is the term I coined for Eminent Domain to set it apart from "Deck Building". I know I've talked about this before, but I don't know that I've formally defined the term. Since I use that term a lot it's probably worth a post defining it.

In a deck BUILDING game, you add cards to your deck because you want them in your deck, and that's cool and interesting because they'll come up later. In a deck LEARNING, your deck gains cards as a side effect of the actions you take. This is similar in some ways -- your deck changes over time and the new cads will come up later like in a deck building game -- but also different in a few important ways. By way of example, in EmDo you might call a Survey role simply because you want a Survey card in your deck, but MOST of the time you do it because you want the effect of the Survey role. In fact, one could argue that after a point, adding another Survey card to your deck is actually a detriment.

So the more often you call Survey, the more Survey cards you get in your deck, and therefore the better you are at surveying (you can boost Survey more and more often), so it's like your deck "learns" how to Survey.

In Eminent Domain, one of the main features is this deck learning, but the catch is that you can't do well by just being really good at one of the roles. Rather you need to manage your deck so that you can pursue some strategy, and any successful strategy needs to incorporate at least 2 and usually at least 3 of the roles in the game.

Hopefully that helps clear up any questions you have on what I mean by "deck learning", if you would like any more information, lease leave a comment below!

4 comments:

Josh 'Dagar' Zscheile said...

Hey Seth,

on a side note, I have picked up a game called "Valley of the Kings" (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/150999/valley-kings) in a Christmas sale which is some interesting merge between deck building, deck learning and set collection. I do not claim it is a good game (my wife and I pretty much 'solved' the game after three plays, which is not a good sign), but it has interesting mechanisms.
You can use as many of your hand cards per turn as you like either to buy new cards from a public display, to play them as their action or to put them into your grave (from where you usually do not get them back). Most cards belong to a set, and sets give more points the bigger they are. At the same time, cards belonging to a set tend to do similar things (e.g. the set of books tends to give you some cards under certain circumstances without buying them, while sarcophagi are attack cards). Your goal is to have the most points in your grave at the end of the game. This means that as you are trying to collect sets of cards, your deck also kind of learns what these collected set of cards does.

If you can find it for cheap, I encourage you to try it out.

Cheers,

Josh 'Dagar'

Seth Jaffee said...

Valley of the Kings is pretty cool. I've only played it once, but it seemed good.

I don't think I'd categorize it as Deck Learning though, because as I recall, you choose a card and buy it into your deck - the deck building is not a side effect of other game action.

Josh 'Dagar' Zscheile said...

Hey Seth,

no, it is a side effect of the set collection. Though I agree that it has not as strong and straight forward a deck learning aspect as EmDo.

Cheers,

Josh 'Dagar'

Seth Jaffee said...

@josh - I see what you mean. I don't think the main reason to draft a card is because of the set collection, rather you want the cards for their abilities at first.

Interestingly, maybe as the game goes on, it switches -- in the late game maybe you'll draft based on sets while in the early game you were drafting based on card effect.