Everyone has played Star Realms games where they are certain that they’ve lost due to a lack of scrap. The critical ability to thin the starter cards out of your deck is key to improving chances to faction as well as replaying your bases and other big bomb cards. Scrap can become so scarce that players will pass on top tier cards to keep their opponents scrap starved. One question that’s been on my mind is how much scrap does someone really need? How quickly can it turn your deck around?
We’ve all seen how much of an impact that a mid-game Brain World or Megahauled Ark can do, but those are really outlier cases. There’s only one copy of each and as such, only one player will get that benefit. It’s also possible to buy either card too late in the game to really catch up. This article references Brain World and The Ark, but discounts their impact because generally, they massively upset the balance of a typical game. Yes! They exist, but we can’t count on them with the frequency of the other cards, so we won’t focus on them in this article.
Let’s look at the numbers a bit. In Vanilla Star Realms, there are 13 cards that can guarantee a scrap (Trade Bot, Missile Bot, Supply Bot, Battle Mech, Junkyard and Machine Base, Brain World) which are represented across 7 cards total. Of the original Star Realms Trade Deck of 80 cards, that’s a little over 16% of the deck, making scrapping cards a 1 in 6 proposition.
In Type S Play, there are 4 additional Cards that can guarantee a scrap (All Vanilla, plus Fortress Oblivion and The Ark) as part of the 18 additional cards added to the trade row This moves the total up to a little over 17% making them still about a 1 in 6 chance of showing up. When you add in Patrol Mech and the other Machine Cult bases and ships that can trigger faction, you can find your way back to the approximately 20%, but because these additional cards are situational, it’s hard to count them consistently when trying to determine how much a scrap card can impact your deck.
Assuming that you can get one or more of these cards into your deck, how quickly to these Blue Collar scrappers do their job?
If you haven’t had a chance to read HomerJr’s awesome post A Game of Four and a Half Decks, you need to! The rest of this article references it.
If you full commit to a scrap down at every chance strategy in this deck, here’s what your deck looks like over time with regard to the remaining starter cards in your deck. (click to enlarge)
Now the key point of this chart is to demonstrate how effectively a scrap card helps get rid of starters, it has no bearing on whether you buy anything else into your deck. Hopefully, what we add to the deck is a substantial improvement, but there’s no way to be sure. Sometimes you can’t get more than one scrapper in your deck and at that point your’e in a bit of a lurch as evidenced by the chart. Maybe you can’t scrap because your opponent is hogging it all!
This creates the opportunity to introduce a new term for our glossary!
Dominated – When one player has a substantial in-faction card advantage over another.
For example, when a player buys all the Star Empire or Blob ships, it can be said that they are dominating yellow or green.
Lets take a look at how your strategy shifts depending on which side of this fence you’re sitting on.
There’s a certain sweet point of 3-4 scrap cards that is really more than enough. You still want to be able to buy a big card should it show up. That means the need for Patrol Mech and Supply Bot to stick around in your deck. Once you’re at the point of 3-4, you probably won’t need to much more in the way of scrap. If your opponent is willing to go into scrap mid game (sans Ark and Brain World), you should let them, it’s almost certainly a dead buy. LET THEM DO IT. If they are ahed of you in draw, pulling into a lone trade bot is not likely to upset your outcome.
If the Trade Row is not friendly to you on the scrap front, taking a single Trade Bot or Missile Bot is not likely to really have much impact on your average game. If you start down the scrap path and you end up dominated by your opponent, don’t rush into the very next scrap card (unless it’s The Ark or Brain World). If you don’t have a scrap card by the time your are in your second deck, it is not likely to help you, unless it’s one of the previously mentioned bombs.
What can you do? Turn your focus to Control and Cantrip cards – Essentially, force discard and draw cards. The additional draw cards will speed up your deck and allow you to play through your cards much faster and more frequently, not to mention improving the chance of triggering a critical ally ability. The discard cards will potentially disrupt your opponent’s momentum, maybe even force them to miss a scrap, which can be costly when they are all in on scrap.
Hopefully this gives you some insight on how scrap impacts your deck! As always, Keep Scrappin’ Those Scouts!