How to Expect the Worst

Intro: Don't Be Greedy

When it comes to strategy games, my greatest weakness has always been thinking that my opponent won't have an answer for my clever plays. I think my strategies through several turns ahead, and make sure that my imagined opponent is simply dumbfounded by my brilliance.

"How did he pull off that combo?"

"Did he really plan that out!?"


The player on the other end of this digital game praises my deity, they worship the ground I walk on, and no one has seen an intellect of my caliber since Alexander the Great. How could I possibly lose?

So here we go... I have 8 resources.

I could easily use the God Hand in my hand, setting off my Vaettrs and Breaker to wipe their board... but I also have 2 Rat Kings, and if I play both of them and THEN God Hand next turn... I could win the game!!!

I play both Rat Kings, and look down on my opponent, anticipating their cry of anguish and defeat. Suddenly, I watch my rat kingdom crumble... my enemy has played a Thunder Surge and wiped my board.
I was too greedy. I didn't expect the worst.

Get Inside the Opponent's Hand, Get Inside the Opponent's Mind

In the early rounds of a Scrolls game, we work with very little information. The focus is on ourselves. What is my starting hand? What is my first move? What should I sac? It is when we begin to gain more information... the opponent's resources, their units, their spells... that we can begin to predict their actions and our focus can turn towards them.

If we remain solely focused on our own hand, we will not be able to prepare for the storm that our opponent's army will bring.

How does this look in a game? I will give some examples.

Example #1:
Revisiting the story from earlier, we are playing Growth, and the opponent is playing Energy. We have gained a decent resource advantage with 8 to their 5. We are starting to become confident because the board is firmly in our grasp. We want to set up for a God Hand by playing more rats, but we notice that playing 2 Rat Kings would fill our board and connect all our units. Our opponent only needs to sac to 6 resources and BAM!... our board will be wiped. We opt for an early God Hand to destroy the few units they have on the board, and properly space to ensure that they cannot hit us with the Surge they so badly want to use.

Example #2: We are playing a Decay mirror match and the opponent has a Harvester at 3 countdown. We just got to 8 resources, and have a Nuru ready to be put down. The opponent has been playing lots of wimpy creatures like Mangy Rats and Mire Shamblers and we have started to gain a lot of confidence, since these creatures are so inferior to ours. The Harvester is starting get low, but with only 5 resources, and only two scrolls, is there really any way for them to get it to attack this turn? We want to play Nuru so badly, but we realize that if the they play a Grisly Graft, even though it is not often used, it would absolutely wreck our board next turn. We take the safe option and Damning Curse the Harvester, and let the opponent keep playing their Grisly Graft fodder.

Example #3: We are playing Order, while the opponent is playing Growth. We have gotten up to 6 resources and really want to play our Honorable General, since we don't have many big units. The opponent's board is mostly weenies... some Sister of the Fox, a Brave, a Mangy Wolf, and a vaettr don't really look like much of a threat. Playing a General would perfectly set up our Speed to be played the next turn, which would completely wipe the board. We notice, however, that the opponent is at 7 resources thanks to the vaettr, and could easily pull off a God Hand next turn. Playing a Focus and Speed on our Skirmisher would give us a little more control and set the opponent back to 6 Growth. Sounds a whole lot better than getting board wiped by a God Hand.

Observe, Predict, Execute

Competitive Scrolls is not played against a scarecrow. We play against intelligent people, who have put thought into their decks, have experience in top level matches, and are studying and training to be the best in the world. Okay... that may not always be true, but we should believe it's true whenever we step into the arena. Being prepared, and expecting the worst, will allow us to weather to harshest storms that our opponents can send our way. And if we can weather the storms, then our opponents will remember us, and remember that whenever they play us... they can expect the worst.


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