With Ivory comes the single largest change our game has had in its 15+ year run.* (Never forget – 7/29/11) With the changes to gold pooling, holdings are now more important than ever. Getting behind in gold production early cascades into future turns. In order to provide insight on gold schemes in Ivory, I have rebuilt my old calculator, using the complicated new rules for gold schemes.
This article will focus on answering three of the most basic questions for the most common decks, which are military decks under 4g producing strongholds. Strongholds that produce 5 or 3 gold, decks that have ludicrously cheap personalities (Scorpion Dishonor), or unique abilities (going second for Unicorn/Mantis) are NOT covered in the scope of this article.
Running 15 holdings is -not- enough in Ivory. Given a 40 card deck and a 4 gold production stronghold, I ran the numbers on a 15-holding deck with three Famous Bazaars (note: in order to reduce complexity, the model actually understates the value of Famous Bazaar), three other 2-for-2s, three clan holdings, and six 4-for-4s. This deck, on average, purchases 4.21 gold in production by the end of turn 1, with an ~8.6% chance to have purchased only 3 or less gold. Assuming a 16 game tournament (swiss and elims through the finals), you only have a 24% chance at avoiding gold screw over all of your 16 games. Put differently, there’s a 76% chance that you’ll get gold screwed in at least one game that tourney (gold screw defined as being able to purchase 3 or less gold worth of production at the end of turn 1).
Myth 2: I have to have rares in order to have a competitive gold scheme.
False! The 18 holding setup I talked about previously makes an assumption that the player has two playsets of rare holdings (Famous Bazaar and Productive Mine, both of which appear in Ivory Edition starter decks). Given the price I believe these two cards will reach, this might be a hefty assumption. Is the budget-conscious player screwed, for lack of a better term?
Myth 3: Then you mean rares are worthless?
False! Rares are still worthwhile, I promise. Remember that my calculator is only focusing on what happens at the end of turn 1. Both Famous Bazaar and Productive Mine really shine later on, when you’re sick of holdings. The utility in those abilities is impossible to model, and really comes down to player preference. I have not covered it here, but trust me when I say that it’s darn near impossible to run Secluded Shrine or Tea House efficiently without running Jade Pearl Inn.