• Editing Theme Decks - Tips from a Pony CCG developer

    Hey everyone! Cups here to share an article written by Adam from the MLP: CCG development team, giving some great suggestions on how to edit the Nightmare Moon and Fluttershy theme deck from Absolute Discord. Take a look below the break to see what he has in mind to take the Unlikely Duo deck and turn it into something pretty terrifying!

    So you’ve got your new blue/yellow Absolute Discord Theme Deck, played some games with it, and decided you’re ready to start tweaking it with other cards? Excellent! AD Theme decks have a lot of potential, and customizing your own deck is a big part of the fun in a CCG. Today I’ll go over the process I went through for taking a theme deck and building something new with it.

    One of the best ways to start improving a theme deck is to find something the deck already does and focus on it, replacing the parts that pursue other strategies with ones that work better with your chosen strategy. For this article, we’ll start be picking the new Nightmare Moon Mane Character as our mane, and turn our theme deck into a deck that is focused on frightening our opponent’s Friends in order to stay ahead.

    The stand-out thing to keep when we’re on a frighten-heavy plan is Changeling Drone, who gets more powerful the more frightened Friends there are in play. We’ll also keep Princess Celestia, Fair but Firm and Spooky Scary Story–both valuable frighten effects with neat Chaos abilities.

    We can probably afford to cut Emerald Green and replace him with something more powerful, since we know we’re going to have a blue mane, and thus don’t need any 0-required blue spotters. Instead, we’ll find something that requires 1 blue, which will still spot for us but can pack a little more power on its own. I’m going with Little Strongheart, a new card out of Absolute Discord which does something that can help us–it gets more powerful when an opponent’s Mane Character is boosted, which is valuable for us since we’re going to be frightening a lot of Friends, forcing our opponent to rely more on his mane (which means Strongheart gets her extra abilities faster!). Unlocking blue with a 3-cost, 3-power Swift Friend definitely puts us in a good spot.

     The other major component in our frighten strategy is actually an older card out of the Canterlot Nights set–Rainbow Dash, Goosebump Giver. Goosebump Giver’s ability makes all of our frighten effects much more powerful by letting us frighten an extra Friend with them. She creates a lot of opportunities for value, especially since we can frighten things with Chaos triggers–meaning that if things go well, we might be able to frighten two opposing Friends in the middle of a faceoff, without having to pay any action tokens to do it!

    We’ll also be backing this strategy up with Haunted Castle and The Scariest Cave in Equestria, two new Resources out of Absolute Discord. The Scariest Cave in Equestria makes it more expensive for our opponents to Rally their frightened Friends, giving an extra kick to all the frightening we’ll be doing, and Haunted Castle allows us to get extra frighten triggers whenever we flip a Chaos card. We’ve already got several Chaos effects in our deck, but we’ll be keeping an eye out for more, since Haunted Castle gets better the more Chaos cards we pack.

    On the yellow side of the deck, since we want to be running Chaos cards, we’ll keep Discord, Gone Cuckoo and Big Mac, All Bark No Bite. They’re both perfectly good on their own, but with Haunted Castle, now they can advance our frighten plan, too. We’ll also hang on to Blue Jay, since he’s a respectable way for us to get yellow power for play requirements, and since it looks like we’ll be running a healthy number of critters let’s keep Flitter, Sitter as well–she doesn’t frighten anything, but with enough critters on the board she’ll usually work a lot like Little Strongheart–a 3-power body that we can move around cheaply.

    Since it seems we’re on the critter plan, we’ll definitely want to grab Falcon, Fast and Furious from the Premiere set. Falcon gives us even more cheap movement, as long as we’ve got critters to use him with, and between Falcon, Flitter, and Little Strongheart we’re likely to be moving Friends around for only one action token each fairly often, allowing us to save up action tokens to pay for Nightmare Moon’s frighten effect.

    Once we bump most of our cards up to three copies each, we’ve only got a few slots left in our draw deck, so we’ll round it out by adding Petstrosity, a card which helps make our Falcons better (by adding another critter for them to carry around), our Flitters better (by adding another critter for her to follow), and which advances our frighten plan (by having a Chaos ability which will help us activate Haunted Castle more regularly). We’ll also add Sweetie Belle, Cat Sitter for blue spotting, and make sure we keep our Making a Differences around to help us unlock whichever color needs unlocking–and that should wrap up our draw deck!

    On the Problem front, we’ll hold onto Protect and Serve and a copy of Looking for Trouble. The Scariest Cave in Equestria makes Villains ironically bad news for us, since we’d have to pay extra to unfrighten our stuff, too–so we’ll make sure we pack some Problems that make Troublemakers riskier for our opponent to play. We’ll also add Through the Cave from Crystal Games and 800 Years of Sweltering Heat from Canterlot Nights–some nice Problems from previous sets which come with useful frighten effects that become a lot more powerful in our hands. Fill our last few slots with High Speed Chase, which synergizes with Falcon and helps us keep our Mane Character in position to help drive our fear engine, and we’re done! The list looks something like this:

    1 x Nightmare Moon, Mistress of the Night - AD (Absolute Discord)

    2 x 800 Years of Sweltering Heat - CN (Canterlot Nights)
    2 x Through the Cave - TCG (The Crystal Games)
    1 x Cloudbursting - PRE (Premiere Edition)
    1 x Looking For Trouble - PRE
    2 x High Speed Chase - AD
    2 x Protect and Serve - AD

    3 x Changeling Drone, Fear Eater - AD
    3 x Little Strongheart, Quick on Her Hooves - AD
    3 x Princess Celestia, Fair but Firm - AD
    3 x Spike, The New Rainbow Dash - AD
    3 x Sweetie Belle, Cat Sitter - AD
    3 x Spooky Scary Story - AD
    2 x The Scariest Cave in Equestria - AD
    2 x Haunted Castle - AD
    3 x Discord, Gone Cuckoo - AD
    3 x Big Mac, All Bark, No Bite - AD
    3 x Petstrosity, Nightmare Fuel - AD
    2 x Flitter, Sitter - AD
    3 x Making a Difference - AD
    3 x Rainbow Dash, Goosebump Giver - CN
    3 x Blue Jay, Warbler - PRE
    3 x Falcon, Fast and Furious - PRE

    So now we’ve taken the blue/yellow Absolute Discord theme deck, and tweaked it into a deck that focuses on confronting Problems efficiently while frightening the opponent’s Friends to stay ahead in the game, by adding some new cards from Absolute Discord and some older cards you might already have! Try it out, or turn your theme deck into a new deck of your own!