Card Evaluation

Welcome back to my little series here. I hope you’ve all had a merry Festivus without an overly long feats of strength. Apologies for the lateness of this article but I’ve had a lot going on so I had to postpone writing for a couple of weeks.

I wanted to discuss card evaluation as a common pitfall among some drafters I’ve witnessed is to misevaluate one or more of the factors I’m going to go over. It skews towards optimism rather than pessimism which is usually more harmful. I’ll give you an example:

A couple of players at our The New Order release draft liked Unexpected Attack as they were able to play two to draw a card even if their opponent didn’t have a terrain (which was quite often as the terrains in TNO weren’t cards you’re particularly interested in).

This is quite clearly an awful deal. They were playing multiples of an incredibly situational reactive card that had a good, not great, payoff if your opponent played into it but the vast majority of the time was going to rot in your hand or require itself and another terrain to draw a card.

There is some degree of overlap between the categories I’ve used. There are also some subtopics that could have easily been placed into a different category. I’ve put things where I believe they are most appropriate.

It’s important to note that this has been written with an eye to evaluating the spoiler of an upcoming set. Parts of it are applicable within the draft itself though.

This is also by no means an exhaustive list. If you have anything you think is important please comment here or on the AEG forums: so others can share in it.

Now, let’s get down to it.


Does the card require or encourage you to be aggressive or defensive? Is it proactive or reactive?

The first part is straightforward but some cards can be deceptive in how they can be applied or you can simply misread them at the first pass. I recommend familiarising yourself with the spoiler, especially the commons, ahead of time.

Generally I prefer proactive cards as you want to be on the front foot whether that is making attachments or pressuring your opponent’s key cards in battle. The quality of a reactive card depends on the likelihood of being able to play it and having a big enough effect to warrant it’s inclusion. This is another area where familiarity with the set is a great asset.


How fast is the format? How does it measure up with similar cards in the format? How relevant is it?

Speed matters as it can force out cards which would have been playable in other formats. For example, playing a personality that costs more than six in The New Order is very tough due to the cheapness and efficiency of a lot of the personalities and attachments and the low impact of most of the expensive guys.

Alternatives are something to bear in mind too. Their significance hinges on the quantity and rarity of those available. A strategy that straightens a personality is unexciting if that effect is a dime a dozen but if there is only one common method of doing so you should be coming into a draft looking to prioritise it.

Relevance is nothing more than how useful or important a particular effect is. To use my previous example if there are few bow effects straighten cards go down in value as you want less of them and any you do have could just sit in hand.


Which parts of the game does this play well and play poorly in? Which situations does it excel in?

Some cards will only be good at a certain point in the game. You will usually need it to have a high impact to justify it. Escalating Violence is an almost blank early game card but is decent in the mid game and huge in the late game which makes it worth playing. Cards which are the reverse (Early +, Mid ~, Late -) tend to be weaker.


The importance of gold cost relies upon the amount of gold production you can expect in an average game. Looking over the common holdings first will give you an idea of this which you can then use to gain a sense of where the pinch point on cost alone for personalities and attachments are.


Rarity, Uniqueness of effect

I don’t think these factors are important ordinarily but they come into play if you’re looking to force a deck that has to have a build around card such as Iweko Miaka, the Princess (The Love Letter win condition). By doing this you have the potential of passing on an objectively more powerful card at the benefit of doing something out of the ordinary. In the case of a rare card like our aforementioned princess if we pass it we do so at the risk it won’t table. You also have to consider the possibility that she just isn’t opened either.

A brief one today but this Sunday I’m running a draft day with three different formats: The Coming Storm, A Line In The Sand and The New Order. I’m going to bring a roundup of those drafts next Wednesday.

I’m also soliciting article ideas. If you have a topic you’d like to see me discuss or think others would like please get in touch.

See you next time.

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