Raw Deal Theorycrafting Part 1: You Play To Win The Game
People play Raw Deal for many different reasons, some of which include camaraderie between its players as well as taking the reins of your favorite WWE superstar. This series of articles is focused on the competitive aspects of Raw Deal. Our goal, once you've read this series, is to be able to make decks that are more competitive and that have higher win/loss percentages.
The first step in doing that is figuring out how to win.
A deck without a full focus or a way to win is like a person without direction. Sometimes they may find what they're looking for, but often more time is wasted wandering around rather than focused on the task at hand. A deck without focus is a deck with a glaring hole to fill. Good decks should at least have a solid plan A and a backup plan B to end matches in their favor. If the deck don't have two ways to win matches, either the deck is a combo or the deck needs another way to win.
So how do you build a focused deck? To answer that properly, we have to split this article into two parts: standard decks and combo decks.
For this purpose, “standard decks” are going to be defined as any deck that does fall under the definition of a “combo deck”. This could include anything from heavy attacking decks to damage absorption decks and anything in between.
1. Compose your plan A
To do this, you need to plot out a detailed way to win. Map out how many turns it will take (assuming no reversals) to trigger your win condition and how you will effectively pin your opponent. Take yourself through the process in your mind, making sure you can consistently get the Fortitude and the cards you need to make the victory happen. It could be as simple as slinging moves, or as intricate as lasting long enough to use Enter the Stratus-phere to burn your opponent to death. Once you have a consistent plan of attack as to how you will win, it's time to move on to step two
2. Test your deck under some stress
This will hereforth be referred to as “stress-testing.” Start to generate some random pattern of reversals to the cards you play to get to your win condition. A common way to do this is rolling a 20-sided die to generate random reversals. When rolling the die, don’t assume every reversal is going to be a BANG! BANG! loss of your hand either. Err towards somewhat more common reversals, such as Elbow to the Face or A Revolution of the Mind.
Another way to do this is to "shadowbox," or pilot two decks against each other to simulate the game experience. The same rules apply as for above; you don’t want to choose your deck packing Ham n’ Egger when trying to test your Test of Strength deck. You want to test with a deck that has a more standard reversal base that is, at most, tailored to your area. Also of note: if you do choose to use this method, try not to get hung up on the particulars of the Superstar-specific problems. At this stage, your primary focus is to look to make sure the deck does not falter under normal game conditions, not under specific stresses caused by other superstars (that will come later). If you find one, go back to step one and tweak the concept some more to further harden the weak link in the chain.
Once you have Plan A set to run through some acceptable level of stress testing, it's time to move to the next phase:
Step 3: Always Have A Plan B.
(Don't fret, Raw superstars; we're not talking about the Smackdown reversal.)
Plan B and, if desired. anything beyond Plan B, is usually a one or two card combo to bail you out in case Plan A gets nullified somehow. Some good examples of “Plan B” cards are Goodnight, Everybody, Victory Roll, Slingshot into the Ring Post, or Mania. In All Axxess, you have the option of adding a Pre-Match Corner to your Arsenal, which can add to your finishing plan. Common options include Revolution (henceforth ) The Rated R Spear, The Phenom's Streak, Burn In My Light, or Takin' Care of Business + Maintain Hold. And finally, sometimes your Superstar comes complete with a finishing card that could be considered a Plan B. Being The Great Khali, you'd have access to Pinned by One Foot as part of your standard card pool, so you come complete with a Plan B.
The important thing to remember when making a Plan B, Plan C, or beyond is that you don't want to put too much effort into stuffing your deck too full of these cards at the expense of your primary goal. You will end up taking away from the focus of your deck and/or its defenses. Plus, some of these cards or combos may be easily breakable. If you find yourself relying mostly on your Plan B cards to win games, then perhaps you should re-examine your Plan A validity.
For the purpose of this article, we're defining “combo deck” as a deck that focuses on one trick to win, usually quickly. Rey Mysterio First of All decks are typically a good example of a combo deck. In this case, you've made the decision to not pack a Plan B, and to focus on completing Plan A before your opponent has a chance to set themselves for the match. So in the case of a combo deck, the questions also become more focused as well.
1. How do I execute the combo?
It's a simple question, but it still requires some thought. How do you go from a clean Ring to a win condition in the fastest possible time with minimal interruption?
2. Does the combo require certain cards in hand?
If so can those cards be searched for reliably in the Pre-Match phase or afterwards? Can I pull these cards out of ringside or even RFG if necessary?
3. What are the Fortitude requirements of the combo and can the deck survive at low Fortitude levels until the combo goes off?
Pretty self-evident that if your deck can't execute immediately, it has to buy itself a turn or three.
4. How reliable is the combo?
Is this something you can make happen every game reliably, on your own? How much has to go right for your combo to trigger?
5. Is there an optimal fortitude I would like my opponent at so that he can’t respond easily?
Most decks in Raw Deal have a flashpoint at which major reversals go off. Cards like Get the F Out and Sloppy, Very Sloppy can ruin your day if your opponent is allowed to get a little Fortitude on the table.
6. What disrupts your design?
We’re only going to touch on this lightly here, as opponent disruption and dealing with it is getting its own section. But in general, what you’re looking for at this stage of deck development is to see if there’s a common card that pokes a huge hole in your combo, to the point of unusuability. There will always be bad Superstar matchups, but try to think of popular tech cards such as Restricted Use in this Area or Feminine Wiles that would throw a kink in to your plans, and start to turn your head towards how (if at all) you’re going to negate this disruption.
There are many ways to poke holes in your design. Ask yourself if your entire strategy is susceptible to hand scrambling in the Pre-match such as OG Spinner Belt or Backstage Donnybrook? Am I dependent on a blankable Backstage card and susceptible to Feminine Wiles?
As to how to to stop the discussion? Well, that’s a topic for part two.