How to Stop Being Bad at GU: The Absolute Essentials

EEdit/repost Back in the day, I made this guide because the majority of advice that was given out was being given out by bad players, which made me kinda mad and disappointed. As a response to all the bad guides out there and as a sort of replacement, I wrote this one. This is essentially the ultimate guide to GU, summarizing lots of important ideas. However, it will be largely useless to those who have lots of experience with card games, something more common with the now growing playerr base.

I've reposted this article because of the new influx of players and because I've refurbished a few really wonky statements. The people needeth, I giveth.

I'm a somewhat reliable source, considering I'm a consistent mythic player and have been top 10 a few times and top 20 more often then not. I've been playing card games for a while, and I do take a lot of time thinking about this game. In the future, it's incredibly possible someone will take my place for this role of "the good player who gives good, honest advice," but for now, you'll have maybe a guide every month or two about various things GU.

Deck Building - Your Tool for Success"/> GGood players can't win with bad dcks, and bad players can't win with god decks. Of coursee, this statement as an abslute would be an exaggeration, but if you want to bump your win rate, keeping this idea in your head is essential. This part of the guide will help you with the first part (evenn if you're actualy a bad player).

Win Conditions - How am I winning this?

>You can't win wihout a win-con, so knowing what yours is and what leads to it is incredibly important. In my personal interpretation, there are four types of win-cons, and they all correlate with a deck archetype: aggro, mid-range, control, and combo. Aggro wants to win by over-powering the opponent early and reaching lethal (winning) before the opponent gets to their own win-cons. Mid-range is sort of the same thing, except tthey don't prioriize turn 1 and 2 as much in terms of reaching their win-con; they play a bit more defensively early and their power plays come out later. Mid-range also could have multiple ways to deal with the bigger cards that come from Control decks, unlike Aggro. Control's win-co is to make multiple big plays later on, so they want just enough presence early to extend the game late enough to make those plays. True Combo deecks don't reallyexist in GU right now,, but it'll be whn there are a certain combination of cards in the deck that essentially win you the game when you play them togeether. I'll go deper into each of these archetypes later when we talk about tempo and value, as those are the driving concepts between how these deckks play. A good way to think about it for now is that Aggro decks are more proactive, Control decks reactive, and Midrange somewhere in the middle.

p>hen you are building a deck, you have to think about what follows along with your win-con, since if it it doesn't, it isn't helpinou. You do don't play reactive ds in aggro unless it it enables your other proactive plays, and you never want to play defensively. You don't play ey game cards in your control deck unless it helps you advance to the late game. Yo You don't put ind-late game or slow cards in your aggro deck because yo you don't want tast st into the mid-lateme. Now that we know generally what not to playlay, let's give aick snapshot of what each archetype does want to play:ay:

  • ro: Lot's of str 1 and 2 costs (about 2/3rds-5/6ths of the deck), a few 3-drops if if they're good ugh, and a few 4 and/or 5 cost finishishers.
  • -range: A good lineup of defensive and/or strong 1 and 2 costs (about 1/3rd of the deck), a healthy spread of 3, 4, and 5 costs that accelerate the game a little, and a few 6 and 7 cost finishers that win the game a few turns afteter they're playe(about 1/5th of the deck). If your chosen god has the tools, you should also inclclude a few cards to counract big plays that come from CoControl if your deck is not aggressive enough to end games reliably before a turn or two into 7 mana (Master Indulgences and Penitence are good exampmples).
  • ntrol: A bit more complicated, but in simple terms, you want to run whatever accelerates your win-con (mana unlocking) or slows down your oopponent's win-co (removaal). You'll probaly still have about 1/3rd of your deck for early game, but that will almost be purely made up of removal and mana-boosting cards. Pack plenty of board clears and a powerful win-con (generally a big creature that costs 8-9 mana, and only one or two cards are neeeded).
p>A nce way to look at this is through the observation of mana curves, or the number of cards in each level of mana cost.t. I won't go to ep into it in those terms, as I already explained that in different words,s, but I'll go ahd and share an example curve for each archetype:

Aggro (Enrage War by me):

p>ose are the absolute basics for deck building. Thing is, that was really general, and applying those frameworks will only bring you so far. Next up will be two aspects that I think are heavily overlooked in our community.

Re-Defining Net-decking, an Essential Tool for All Players

Yep>Yes, I'm about ell you how to net-deck.eck. You're not g to win with whatever hipster deck you have going on in your workshop ifp if you don't know the gwell enough. Sorry if deck building is an integral piece to the fun for you; unless you really know the meta wta well, you're not goingmake a fully original deck that will do well on high ladder without some luck. Even top players (including myself) look at decks that are doing well for reference, ce, so there's no shame i. it. Creativity can also be practiced through optamization instead, which omethiething I'll go fur into depth right after this. For now, all you need to know is that you you don't need tpy a deck card-for-card to net deck efficiently. In factfact, it's betterexperiment with slots of the deck you feel are weak.

The main lesson I want to emphasize in this section is that there is no shame in net-decking! Don't feel aed about it, and and don't get aluck-up if you dou don't do it! Loof you want to do well in this game, especially in high-level play, such as 1400+ MMR games and tournaments, you have to have a good deck, no ands, ifs, or buts about it. There are plenty of people out there who make good decks, and their information is out there for you to sample. Shoot, as well versed in the game I am now, I still gotta look at other versions to see something I might not be seeing, or or if I'm incred unfamiliar with the deck itself (my Slayer War list ist is ju variation of something I saw on GUDecks when scrolling through high win rate decks a week bek before I started playing it a while ago).

w, to find the good decks to net-deck, there are 2 resources I like to use in particular: Unchained Stats and GUDecks, both used in tandem with each other.

When I net-deck, I typically start in GUDecks, where I select thect the "Top Decks" tab andsure to look up under the specifics of within a time frame of whatever includes weekend ranked but no further (7 days7 days if it's a Wednesdahursday, 3 days if ys if it's a MondTuesday, or 1 day if ay if it's duringnd ranked) and exclusive to Mythic rank.

high-level Mythic, which is a very important distinction. If you want a deck that can win, you want a deck that can win vs. Jackhigh and Dragonstorm. Herm. Here's an exaf a deck I woulI wouldn't use:

Now, after reading this through and editting it, I'd like to emphasize that this is not a perfectly reliable method to see how good a deck is. These are incredibly low samples after all, and there aren't that many decks that do that well in the first place. The last sentence in my previous paragraph is the most important here, since if that is negative, you're much less likely to do well with it.

Okay, so you've gotte net-deck chosen or you think yhink you've builtlly good deck. Should you play the samhe same exact deck 100 in a row? Depends, really, but chances are the answer to that is no. This is where optimization comes in.

Optimization - The Most Important Skill in Deck Building

It is extremely rare that you make make a "perfect-list" on the shot. Part of the reason why I say that is because of the quotations I put there. Technically, it is impossible for us as human beings to determine what the exact best list is; t is; we can't calculate e c, we can't calculcket metas, and we cd we can't run evssible scenario of this deck in our heads... but we can try. There is a hypothetical best list, and knowing how to get as close to there as possible is key to building a good deck.

So, how do we do that? To be honest, it mostly takes experience with the game and the deck itself. Eventually after playing a deck for long enough, you stop thinking about the hypothetical situations a card could be useful and more about remembering if it was useful in your deck. During the optimization stage of building a deck, yoeck, you'll typictice that e that there's a card or two that's under ing for you (if yo (if you're obserough; if you do you don't noticeice actively thinking about the roles of the cards in your hand and whether or not thenot they're usefuu during each turn). From here, all you need to do is try an alternative that might be better in more situations. Iions. It's hard tin perfectly, so let me give an example from one of my previous Enrage decks: Respected Jarl.

This approach could also be used when trying to make a deck you do you don't have acards to. What serves a similar role? If there is none, is the card important enough for me to wait whether or not I need the card to play the deck?

Now, in order to optimize correctly, you gotta know how to play and analyse your games properly. Lerly. Let's talk aat now.

Playing the Game Correctly: Concepts You Should Know and Understand

Before I begin, let me tell you the absolute best way to become better at the game: watch a good player play the game and explain their choices as they go. Back in my Hearthstone days, Kripparian was a big influence on my game play, and thernd there's a lot I wouldn't know ireit weren't for hir constantly watching him explain his thought process in Arena mode for his card picks and plays, I started to passively integrate his thought processes into &nbnto  my o play. This was further strengthened by Swim in my DOTA Underlords days (anays and a lot now for Legends of Runeterra, whantly challenged the ideas people had for the meta and always explained in detail the intricacies of the game. I doe. I don't know md streamers for GU since I doce I don't typicach GU streams, but if they sound like these two and if the if they're in Myeep watching them! One person that comes to mind in the GU realm is Petrify; very descriptive content, whether its a stream or an informational video, and i, and it's from what I've seen lid advice. A lot of what he says may be applicable here. The reason why I stress watching content to improve is that content provides more examples, and examples are essential to figuring out how to figure out situations you encounter on your own.

Now that we have the arguably most important part of this half of the guide done, lets explain some ideas and how we use them.

Tempo - The Fundamental Idea Behind Success in Card Games

The simplest way to describe tempo (or at least, the way that I understand it) is how much presence you have on the board, aka how many usable stats are on the board. Playing a creature gives you tempo, while using removal takes away tempo from your opponent. To win a game, you must have more tempo than you opponent for a considerable amount of time. Every play influences tempo, even if ien if it's for lans (something ething I'll detai). Each turn you hold tempo, you do one of 2 things: deal damage to your opponenopponent's face ( or to your opponents creatures. Some call these beats (as verbalshadow describes in his guide to tempo), but thabut that's honestt confusing to me to explain it that way; I just focus on whether or not or not I'm properding tempo, which is something wthing we'll go inil in now.

Each archetype is a representation of when a deck focuses on making tempo-heavy plays. Aggro has tempo-heavy plays early game, Mid-range has them mid-game, and Control has them late game. Essentially, your win-con is determined by when you place tempo on the board. The rest of the deck is based on managing your opponenopponent's tempo ohile you're not ug it yourself.

The hardest decisions are helped by using tempo as a reference. For example, let's let's say I'm plnrage Warage War (old deck, I know, but it's fairly similar to Face War today, and this is a very similar scenario) and I hdshark, Tartessian Improviser, Pyramid Warden, and n, and Out of it's Misery in my hthe first turn, and n, and I'm going gainst Magic with the Blastwave god power. I have plenty of excellent plays in hand, so how do I determine which is the best one? Well, leell, let's list oplays and what they do for us:

    • CardKinda weak against Blastwave, as they could (and probably would) use a bag to just kill everything on our board to no cost of cards in their hand. Bad move!d move!
    • Tartessioviser: Very weak by itself, but it gives potential for a high-tempo play next turn. Buffing either Pyramid Warden or Cardshark would work well in our favor, as r, as we'll proba playing both our next turn using our bag, and the 1/1 token from Cardshark gives us a target foret for Out of it's Misery the turr that. Although it gets killed easily by Blastwave, it probably iably isn't worth your opponent, as it would cost them a bag just to kill a 2/1. This is a good playd play.
    • Pyramid : A solid choice. We could buff it next turn if we want, though since we have have Out of it's Misery in our hand, we'd ratherthat next turn. Pyramid Warden cannot be killed by anything Magic has this early in the game, so we know for sure sure it'll be apg pressure from tempo for a while while also protecting our other cards for more secure tempo. Simple and safe plae play.
    • Cardshar Tartessian Improviser: Under normal circumstances, this would be a high tempo play; three buff-able tokens on the board, a buffed Pyramid Warden in hand, and a few potential targets ets or Out of it's Misery are ally good to have. However, remember that the opponent has Blastwave and can easily chip down two tokens. You could try to buff Cardshark with Tartessian Improviser first, but even if you play Pyramid Warden afterwards, they still get a second free kill from Blastwave. The buff is also arguably better on Pyramid Warden anyways. This play is might be good.
    • /li>
    • Out of it's Misery and Tarsian Improviser or Cardshark: Eitherher play's goal wd be to be able to drop a huge tempo play next turn while sacrificing tempo this turn. Using Cardshark will leave a 1/1 token on the board that could bait removal from our opponent and save Tartessian Improviser for a better buff later. Tartessian Improviser will leave nothing on the board, but will give us more tempo in the future. Either would be a solid play.ay.
    prd choice,ice, isn't it? Let's go deethen by remembering our win-con as Enrage War: to provide as much tempo possible early, or, in other words, to put as much stats on the board as possible. With this in mind, I see two possible best plays: either Tartessian Improviser by itself or a 1-drop plp plus Out of it's Misery. Althouhis gives us low tempo turn 1, Magic likes its opponent putting things down one at a time. If we prepare for powerful plays the following turns, we can easily provide a strong lead Magicagic can't handleediately. However, I would say the 1-drop plp plus Out of it's Misery play iskier, as our pull from it might not be as good on turn 2 (Tavern Brawler or Dread Pirate for example, both of which rely on the opponent having a creature on board to be good). If we sae save Out of it's Misery for tur we have less bad pulls, and if we do get a bad pull, we likely pulled another 2-drop to temporarily fill in instead.

    Now, often here I referenced making plays that provide low tempo on the turn it is played but high tempo in future turns. This one example of value.

    Value - The Trick to Winning the Long Game

    Value is the observation of how much mana it takes to out-tempo the opponent; the higher the ratio of you mana use vs. their mana use, the higher the value of a play or a series of plays. For example, just about any board clear is typically a high value card, as the opponent probably spent a lot more mana developing their board than it did for you to clear it. Another set of great examples are the classic Deception 3-drops Vault Vagabond and Shady Merchant. Both oth aren't even aplete 1-drop worth in tempo, but the longer they live, the more cards they put into your hand, thus the more value they produce. Value and card advantage are roughly the same idea, just in different contexts; while value is the observation of mana-to-mana, card advanage is card-to-card. If we bring up board clears again, we can say that they provide high card advantage because it took only 1 card to eliminate the many that your opponent played on the board for the past few turns.

    The sooner a deck archerchetype's tempo ully utilized, the less they want to rely on value. This is because value relies on either waiting to make bigger plays and is typically reactionary rather than proactive. Aggro only uses value in the form of small-scale, tempo-based removal (such as Primal Guidance and Mugging) and early hand buffs (such as those from Tartessian Improviser or Out out of it's Miseryat benefit 2 turns later at the latest, as Aggro typically wants to end the game before it is even capable of utilizing the higher mana cost of high value cards, and they want as much tempo early as possible. Mid-range has a mix of value and tempo plays through out its curve, as it wants to be able to efficiently manage the oppressiveness of Aggro while also defeat Control before they unload. Control is made up almost completely of value or anti-tempo cards before it reaches its win-con.

    The concept of vof value's main pse is to help decide what to use removal on and when to use it, since you want the most out of it. For example, is using Starshard Bolt on a Marsh Walker a good idea? Typically, definitely not, since you just spent 2 mana on something that costed them 1 mana. Yeah, the little bugger is annoying sometimes and can do a bit of face damage every turn, but unless the opponent is playing an Aggro deck and is likely to buf buff it, it's worth keepyour Starshard Bolt to help kill something bigger like Overgrown Rhino or Agrodor Protector (plus your god power of course, but that dat doesn't cost aards!). Another example is when to time your board clears. Sometimes if you notice your opponent conserving cards to avoid a board clear, it may be smart to wait to use your board clear later and bait out your opponents resources, since that provides much more value. It may cost a card or two to pretend thatthat you're doingr best to prevent an advance, bu, but it'll pay on the destruction of all the resources ces they'd eventu push to finish the game.

    Speaking of which, th, there's once mpiece of advice when making decisions in GU: when and when not to conserve cards.

    Counter Play - The Closest to a Hard Read in Smash Bros.ros. You'll Get iCard Game

    This section will be short since ite it's hard to explain without lots of context, and it would take watching lots of examples to fully understand. However, I'll try to explain it in this concise paragraph. Sometimes, it's worth going alt becauecause there's no other wf winning otherwise. Other timesimes, it's worth ing down to avoid being painfully punished. The general rule of thumb is that ift if you're Aggro, there's no way to "dodge" it, and if you don't play high tempo early, you risk not hitting lethal soon enough and losing to your opponent's win-con. Somes going all in is the counterplay; playing lots of high-health creatures makes Faraday Cage nearly useless. However, when playing against decks like Control Deception where their board clear is conditional (in this case, Rapture Dance), play your cards in a way that makes it least effective. This may not be an option if you play lots of low-health creatures and/or if you rely on burst to finish off your opponent. Essentially, it comes down to your end game goal and whether or not you can afford to receive a board clear to win.


    Looks like I didn't need to update it too much, which is nice. Hope this was helpful for you!

Comments 6

When it comes to netdecking, I think the most important thing is that you understand the deck you are copying. I find too many people copy a list from top players exactly while not really thinking about it at all. Examine every single card and how it advances your win condition, and potential synergies in the deck. Knowing the purpose of a deck and each card is essential to both understanding how to pilot it and how to refine it. Just because the data looks good doesnt mean the deck is refined either, especially on lower sample sizes.

16.01.2020 17:35

All very relevant stuff here, and I want to make sure I bumped this. I did kinda forget to mention actually trying to understand a deck before playing.

17.01.2020 06:29

Good post

14.02.2020 05:08

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23.02.2020 21:47