Ruthless Efficiency
Building a Killer Doomtrooper Deck
by Paul Beakley

Note that this article was written before the
Apocalypse and Paradise Lost expansions were released.

Deck Size and Composition

It all starts here.

Stick to 60 cards whenever possible. Fight the urge to jam in five of every great card just because you’re allowed to have five of them.

Consider this: how often do you actually use every card in your deck? How often have you run out of cards? I’ll bet it doesn’t happen very often. So why jam all that crap in there if you aren’t even reaching the bottom of your deck? All you’re doing is making it harder to get to the cards you really need.

There are a few cases in which you may run out of cards, usually in large multiplayer games. If you find you’re running out of cards, add five cards for each player in your typical multiplayer game: 80 cards (base 60 + 5 x 4 players) in a 4-player game.

Beyond that, fight the urge. If you build your deck and find you’ve gone over 60, go back and start taking out cards proportionally: if you take out a Special, take out a warrior and an equipment as well.

Here are the basic proportions of a playable Doomtrooper deck. Start here until you’re comfortable:

1/4 Warriors (15 cards in your ideal 60 card deck)
1/4 Equipment, Fortifications, Arts, Missions, Warzones, Dark Symmetry, Relics (another 15 cards)
1/2 Specials (the other 30 cards). Two thirds (or more) of these should be 0-action Specials. I've been playing around with treating 0-action specials as 1/2 to 2/3 of a “card slot,” so 45 0-action Specials are the “same” as 30 x-action cost Specials.

Here are the basic proportions of a killer Doomtrooper tourney deck:

1/5 Warriors (12 cards in your ideal 60 card deck)
1/3 “everything else” (20 cards)
7/15 Specials (28 card “slots”, again treating 0-action Specials as something less than one full slot)

If you’re using the Arts or Dark symmetry, I change the mix yet again:

1/5 Warriors (12 cards)
2/5 Everything Else (24 cards)
2/5 Specials (24 card “slots”)

Desirable traits in decks

Speed: This refers to the speed with which you can play your cards, especially in the early game. There are three aspects to speed in Doomtrooper: warriors in hand, available actions and available power. Warriors in hand is a function of percentages: stick to 20-25 percent warriors in your total deck size and this shouldn’t be a problem. Speed cards: Positive Karma, Industrial Complex, Initiative, Inspired, cheap warriors, Reversal of Fortune.

High card throughput: The faster you’re churning cards through your hand, the more effects you’re having on the game and the more control you have over the overall direction of the game. You shouldn’t play cards just to play them, but play your cards liberally. Throughput cards: Hidden Cache, Inspired, Secret.

Flexibility: a tight design is good, but you have to deal with a wide variety of opponents. Since Doomtrooper uses a sideboard, good sideboarding helps make your deck more flexible (more on that later). Flexibility cards: see How to Build a Sideboard, later.

Narrowness: Yes, you can have a flexible deck that’s also narrowly focused. Pick an angle and work it to death: instant-kill attacks, multiple attacks, Destiny denial, whatever. If a card doesn’t serve the purpose of your deck’s strategy, carefully consider if it’s necessary to include.

Along this same line, if you’re playing Brotherhood, don’t bother playing Dark Legion: it takes up too much space in your deck to include Arts and Equipment for both factions. This is largely true of the corporate warriors, too, especially if you’re playing a lot of cards that are usable only by one corporation ( Sworn Vengeance, any of the equipment).

Hand size: Absolutely vital. Beg, borrow or steal every Manifest Destiny you can find and get one into play as early as possible. More cards means more options, and more card throughput each turn. Hidden Cache is another way to increase your hand size, albeit in an unpredictable way. Secret is an interesting way to increase hand size while improving throughput.

Innate abilities: abilities built into a warrior are always better than card-derived abilities. There are no combos to count on and they can’t be taken from you.

Deck searching: This was largely gutted in the revised tourney rules, and it improved the game. Deck searching is still enormously important, because it guarantees you have what you need in hand. Deck searching cards: Gift of Fate, Expedite Request, Loot & Pillage, Divine Inspiration.

Low opportunity cost: Your cards should not rely heavily on other cards to work well. Avoid combos when possible. If a card is contingent on an opponent playing a certain kind of deck or affiliation, leave it in the sideboard.

Desirable traits in deck design strategy

Here are the items I consider, in order of importance, when I put together a deck:

Limited liability: You might have the urge to play really giant warriors. Fight that urge. The Bio-Giant is flash, and he’s also half the game at 20 Promotion Points. As big as the Bio-Giant is, he’s an enormous liability. The same goes for other big characters.

I aim for two groups of warriors in my deck: shields and hitters. Shields are 1 or 2 point warriors who can soak up an attack and keep a big character from hitting my undefended side. Ex-Cybertronic Freelancers are your best choice: they have the highest armor and they’re immune to the Dark Symmetry and they can use the Arts if a Cathedral is in play. Put five into every deck and make sure there’s at least one in play at all times.

Hitters use equipment, make attacks and generally do the most work in the game. Restrict your hitters to the 5-8 V range when possible, with a couple of 12 V warriors if you like their built-in abilities. My favorite hitter right now is the Mercenary; using Reversal of Fortune and Negative Karma, it's usually a snap to get the Merc into play very cheap (besides, you control the circumstances in which you play him, barring nasty surprises like Positive Karma).

One more note about limiting your liability: avoid cards that increase the V of your own warriors. I don’t like the heretic powers for just this reason: it’s nice to have +5 to everything, but there are enough ways to die that I don’t want to put my opponent 5 points ahead for no good reason.

Instant kills: Especially in multiplayer games, your attacks must kill on a hit. Leaving enemy warriors gimped in a multiplayer game means your opponent gets the V. Look for every possible way to make your enemies dead in one action. Instant kill cards: Sworn Vengeance, Eat This, Nazgaroth, Armor of the True Assassin, Great Rust Desert.

Control over Specials: You gotta take control of Special cards in Doomtrooper. Pack five Miscommunications if you own them. If you’re playing Brotherhood, five Repudiates (which are especially diabolical because you can't Miscommunicate a Repudiate!) and a Foreseeing Talisman.

You also need ways to deal with Specials in play. Undercover Agents, Curse of Algeroth and some Arts are your best choice.

Extra attacks: Running a close second to Instant Kills is the ability to make extra attacks. First, you can whack a warrior twice and get the V, rather than giving it to somebody else. Second, it lets you hit an undefended side twice. Extra attack cards: Smell of War, Initiative, the CORPORATE LEADERS, Grand Assault, Nimrod Autocannon.

Destiny control: Mighty important, both to speed up your deck and to slow down everyone else’s. Positive Karma is helpful; Negative Karma, Reversal of Fortune, Fool’s Gold, Wartime Retribution, Watchful Eye, Bamboozled and Economic Collapse are all good ways to drag down your opponents. For just this reason, the Cardinal’s Bank is a staple of any serious tourney deck.

Recycling: If you’re playing through a lot of cards very quickly, recycling your deck can be devastating. Nathaniel’s Opportunity is your best choice, although you’d better make sure you have two or more in your deck. Deja Vu is very nice, again if you discard at least one before actually playing Deja Vu. Play it Again is good, especially if you aren't playing with the Arts.

First Strike: Very, very handy, especially in combination with instant kills and extra attacks. The best first strikes are those that stop the combat when the opponent is wounded.

Cards You Must Have

I don’t like absolutes, but here’s my list of cards that go into darned near every deck I built:

Positive Karma
Hidden Cache
(always 5, no matter what. In fact, I add in the 5 Hidden Caches after I’ve built my 60 card deck and don't count them in the deck total. There's almost never a time you can’t use them).
Cardinal’s Bank
Undercover Agents
Wave of Righteousness
x 1
Cleansing Flame x 1
Secret Assassin x 1
Reassignment x 1
Manifest Destiny x 2
Negative Karma
Reversal of Fortune
Expedite Request
x 1
Gift of Fate x 1
Ex-Cybertronic Freelancers x 5 (like Hidden Cache, I drop these in after I’ve built the rest of the deck and don’t include them in my total card count)

And that’s it. The list isn’t long, but every deck starts out with these and grows from there. Many long-time players may be surprised at what isn’t on the list: no Industrial Complexes, no Personal Anti-Personnel Mines, no Loot & Pillage or Divine Inspiration (I’m not convinced the three-action cost warrants their effects). There are some other cards conspicuously absent, but these are what works for me.

How to Build a Sideboard

First off, leave every card that is contingent on another player’s deck design out of your main deck. Just dump them.

Next, look through your collection for cards that target broad categories of cards: Dark Legion ( Mutiny, for example), Brotherhood ( Lack of Faith, Unofficial Doctrine), Arts ( Fizzle and Reflection), Dark Symmetry, Squads ( Destroy Squad), Kohorts ( Destroy Kohort), and so on.

Alliances can be bothersome sometimes, but packing Hostile Takeovers just to counter the Alliances is cost-ineffective: leave them out of your sideboard and just deal with the Alliance.

Equipment denial probably belongs in the sideboard, although I’d rather be safe than sorry. See below about dealing with equipment.

Don’t sideboard warriors, unless you’re summoning them up with Loot & Pillage, Scroll of Unholy Invocation or Meeting Planner effects.

Always include 25 cards in your sideboard.

The Truth About Doomtrooper Dynamics

Some cards and some combinations are just more efficient than others. If you're serious about being competitive, you have to find the most efficient route to victory possible.

Truth #1: Equipment Sucks. Between Age of Catastrophe, Wrath of Algeroth, Malfunction, Heist, Sabotage, Asteroid Settlement and all the other equipment-killing cards, it turns out Equipment is just less efficient in terms of actions and needing a warrior in play to carry the equipment. For five D and three actions, I can invalidate every equipment card in an opponent’s deck. Equipment denial is cheaper than equipment.

However, if you’re going to play equipment (and there are some good reasons to) you must include ways to deal with equipment denial. Undercover Agents, Miscommunications and Repudiates (saved for the Age of Catastrophe, Wrath of Algeroth, Heist, Malfunction and Sabotage attacks -- meaning you have to sit on them instead of Miscommunicating every Special that comes along), the Bauhaus Alliance are your best defense.

Relics are a different story. They’re very difficult to get rid of. The best Relics are those that can be played on a wide variety of warriors: Armor of the True Assassin wins Best Relic for just this reason (first strike, instant kill, can be played on any Doomtrooper).

Truth #2: Brotherhood is the affiliation to beat. The Arts are very, very flexible and warriors who can use all the arts are fairly easy to come by. Use Mystics, Keepers of the Art, Inquisitor Majores, Renegade Apostates and other warriors who can use any Aspect. Add Repudiate (a game breaker, even if it’s removed from play) and liberal recycling via Nathaniel’s Opportunity, and the Brotherhood becomes an enormous headache. Mortificators are the best choice, because they can attack anyone they want and not be attacked.

Truth #2a: Some Arts are better than others. Manipulation is the best Art, period. Next on my list is Mentalism: Improve Self and Invulnerability can be game breakers. Kinetics is fair, but D-intensive. At the bottom of my list is Elementalism, Changeling, Summoning (yes, I’ve heard strong disagreement about this but I've never seen a Summoning deck come even remotely close to winning in a tournament) and the other ones I can’t remember.

Truth #3: Bypass combat whenever possible. Remove enemy warriors without combat. Pacifism is a better deal than combat any day. Missing in Action, Don’t Call Again, Special Orders are all good ways of getting warriors out of the way. Combat is usually a card-intensive experience, and if you don’t have all the cards lined up in the combo you need the whole thing will be a wash. In any case, every deck must have the means with which to take out any size character ( Wave of Righteousness, Cleansing Flame, Secret Assassin, Reassignment, Personal Anti-Personnel Mines, Brainwave Bombs, Annihilation), even if it’s only once or twice in a game.

Truth #4: Bypass affiliation restrictions whenever possible. It’s maddening to not be able to attack an opponent just because their warriors share affiliations. Dark Legion is the obvious choice, although you get beat up by everyone in a multiplayer game. Mortificators are another, excellent choice, especially since the freedom to attack is a one-way street.

Truth #5: Warzones and Missions are usually a waste of space. With a very few exceptions, Warzones are sufficiently unpredictable that they don’t belong in a tournament deck. But there are some exceptions: the Graveton Archipelago if you’re playing Sea Lions/ Chris Jackson, Phobos & Deimos if you cobble together a Muawijhe/Semai deck. Same goes with Missions: many rely on how your opponent is playing, but the ones you can fulfill without dealing with your opponent are sometimes okay.