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Author Topic: The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)  (Read 3741 times)

ACG

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The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)
« on: June 26, 2015, 01:00:12 AM »
The ProcrastinatorA Druid Spellbookbuilt by the OCTGN SBB
Attack1 x Surging Wave1 x Acid Ball2 x Hurl Boulder1 x Jet StreamConjuration3 x Tanglevine1 x Wall of Thorns2 x Corrosive Orchid1 x Nightshade Lotus5 x Seedling Pod1 x Samara Tree3 x Bloodspine Wall1 x Etherian Lifetree1 x StranglevineCreature3 x Thornlasher1 x Gorgon Archer2 x Vine Snapper2 x Raptor Vine1 x Kralathor, The Devourer1 x Tataree1 x Gargoyle Sentry1 x Cervere, The Forest ShadowEnchantment1 x Agony1 x Barkskin1 x Nullify1 x Jinx2 x Brace Yourself2 x Rhino Hide1 x Rust1 x Bear StrengthEquipment1 x Eagleclaw Boots1 x Elemental Cloak1 x Mage StaffIncantation2 x Teleport3 x Dissolve3 x Dispel2 x Rouse the Beast1 x Force Push2 x Burst of Thorns1 x Defend1 x Disarm
Total cost: 120 pts


Opening:

Turn 1 (19): Samara Tree [7] (treebond) + Gargoyle Sentry [11] -> (1)

Turn 2 (11+1): Seedling Pod [3] + Seedling Pod [3] + Tataree [6] -> (0)

Turn 3 (10+1): Seedling Pod [3] + Enchantment [2] + Enchantment [2] -> (5)


Theory

The objective with this deck is to have a viable Samara Tree build. I do not claim that this deck is the most amazing thing since Aviary, but it is capable of holding its own surprisingly well (surprising given the general opinion regarding Samara Tree).

Many people compare Samara Tree to Vine Tree and ask the reasonable question: "Why should I use Samara Tree when Vine Tree does the same thing, only better? It is true that Vine Tree can cast Seedling Pods, and that it has the added advantage of being able to cast vine spells and place an extra vine marker, while the Samara Tree's only obvious advantage is that you can reuse seedling pods. Nonetheless, Samara Tree does have a few advantages compared to Vine Tree:

1. If your deck is built for use of seedling pods, Samara Tree is obviously the better choice. So if you can find a strategy that makes good use of seedling pods, it is superior.

2. Currently, the cheapest interceptor in the game is the Gargoyle Sentry, at 11 mana. If you cast Vine Tree, you will not be able to summon an interceptor until round 2 at the earliest, because Vine Tree costs 9 mana. With Samara Tree (7 mana), it is possible to cast Gargoyle Sentry or Guardian Angel round 1. This is extremely relevant when facing hyperaggressive mages like Johktari and Forcemasters. No matter which tree is chosen, treebonding gives a Druid tremendous defensive capabilities, and Samara Tree enables earlier, stronger protection than Vine Tree does.

3. This is just conjecture, but I suspect the sight of a Samara Tree will inspire aggression in most players. I don't have enough evidence to verify this though. Forcing your opponent to advance sooner than they might otherwise have done can be useful; if they are moving then they have a harder time preparing threats.


Now - why use seedling pods? It is a mistake to think of them as primarily mana generators, though they certainly do become that if left unattended for too long. It is also a mistake to think that the advantage lies in being able to cast any plant, because there are not enough non-vine plants for this to matter. The main benefit of a Seedling Pod is that it lets you postpone your decision about what to cast until you have seen what your opponent is doing - i.e., to Procrastinate. Normally, in the early game actions are at a premium and you have to use them or lose them. Sometimes, you make a choice that later turns out to be ineffective against your opponent's strategy. With a Seedling Pod, you can bank your action and then get it back later, making it easier to react to your opponent (and harder for them to react to you).

It is worth mentioning that the benefits of Procrastinating are strongest in the early-mid game. In the late game, quick reactions become more important. As long as you have your tree cast a Seedling Pod as often as possible, though, you should still be able to react almost as fast as the Vine Tree using the stored actions from previous turns.

Presently, the selection of options to cast with the pod is a bit limited, though there still is enough variety to make Procrastinating beneficial. In the future, as more plant spells are released, this strategy will grow stronger. Each plant is a tool in the Procrastinator's toolbox, to be used when needed.

In Practice:

I tested my Procrastinator build against a slightly modified version of this build earlier today. My opponent's strategy simply consisted of summoning Skeletal Knights and Bridge Trolls (along with equipment and various enchantments) and directly attacking my mage  or (if not available) my other plants. I took heavy damage early on, but then my plants overwhelmed my opponent's army. The game ended with a boulder to the face followed up with a 6-die attack from my (buffed) Druid. I had 4 damage on my Druid at the end due to her spectacular regenerative abilities (via Barkskin).

Some observations:

- Tataree is fantastic. More on how best to use him below.

- I usually do not cast many enchantments, but found myself casting a lot. This build works well with enchantments.

- I only ever had 4 Seedling Pods out at a time. 5 may be overkill, though I might have been able to put out another if my opponent had been less aggro.

- Vine Raptors are amazing guards, especially when enchanted with Rhino Hide

- Vine tokens are great for blocking your opponent's escape, especially since you use them much less.

How to Use Tataree

Here is a simple heuristic you can follow to optimize use of Tataree's ability:

1. Which do you need more: actions or mana?
     If actions, go to 2
     If mana, go to 3

2.  Do the first available action from the following list:
     1. Pollinate a pod with exactly 1 mana.
     2. Pollinate a pod with 2+ mana or the Samara Tree
     3. Pollinate a pod with exactly 0 mana.

3. Do the first available action from the following list:
     1. Pollinate a pod with 2+ mana or the Samara Tree
     2. Pollinate a pod with exactly 1 mana.
     3. Pollinate a pod with exactly 0 mana.

Note: When choosing between pollinating a 2+ mana pod or the Samara Tree, you should pollinate whichever one you think is more likely to cast a spell next round.

Here's the logic:

- If a pod has 1 mana, pollinating it will allow it to bloom on the following round (2+1 from channeling), so this is highest priority if you are in need of actions. In other words, pollinating a 1 mana pod gives you <+1 action> next round, relative to not pollinating anything.
- If a pod has 2+ mana, pollinating it will give you an effective discount if you decide to let it bloom on the following round. Mana soon is better than mana later. <+1 mana>
- Similarly, pollinating the Samara Tree will give you a discount on the next pod you cast. If you think you are more likely to cast a pod than to let a pod bloom, then the tree is a better choice. Usually, you are more likely to want to allow a pod to bloom (unless you are currently Procrastinating). <+1 mana>
- 0 mana pods are the lowest priority because pollinating them does not give you a benefit next round. Never pollinate a 0 mana pod unless you have a really good reason (the rest of your pods are burning with poisoned flames or something) or no other options.

There may of course be occasions where positional considerations make a particular pod more attractive to pollinate than the above would suggest.

Planned changes for the next iteration of this deck

- Remove 1 seedling pod
- Add Enchanter's Ring, 2 rhino hides, and Eagle Wings

Enchantments are encouraged in this build, so an Enchanter's Ring is a good investment. I found myself casting a lot of enchantments (Enchantments are another way to procrastinate, though with less flexibility). Rhino Hide is the number 1 enchantment for plants, as it dramatically improves their survival rate.

Anticipated Questions

Why no Druid's Leaf Ring?
I have found that my Druid on average only personally casts about 2-4 plant spells over the course of the game. Spending 2 mana and one of my precious early-game actions is not worth the measly return.

What is the deal with the Gorgon Archer?
You want to encourage your opponent to rush you, counter-intuitive though it may seem, because of the lack of mobility of your army. Gorgon Archer is quite effective at this, and good at deterring the strategy of sniping you from outside your grove of seedlings. Eagle Wings, which I plan to add, makes the Gorgon dangerous even at 0 range. Plus, she can shoot over Bloodspine walls.

Why Cervere, rather than Grizzly?
Cheaper. Also, you have no shortage of heavy hitters; Cervere provides mobility and elusive attacks to get around guards.


That's it for now. Suggestions, questions, and comments are welcome, of course.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2015, 01:49:23 AM by ACG »

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Re: The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2015, 03:26:57 AM »
I actually don't question your creatures or opening at all. They're pretty dang solid.

Tataree is great but easily killable. Since you're not casting an enchantment till turn three do you fear an aggressive move like flameblast, arc lightning or force push against a wall toward the little bugger? This of course would have to be a pretty fast move and your gargoyle is there to protect it but there are some ways around it. If you're not already considering it, I'd cast some armor enchantment on Tataree asap. I've done this math too and the build starts to falter when the butterfly dies.

Also with that many pods it's incredibly hard to protect them all. My calculations made me realize that one destroyed pod is a set back while two destroyed pods makes this build pretty ineffective.

Do you have a fallback in case of this?
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Re: The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2015, 09:22:53 AM »
Tataree is great but easily killable. Since you're not casting an enchantment till turn three do you fear an aggressive move like flameblast, arc lightning or force push against a wall toward the little bugger? This of course would have to be a pretty fast move and your gargoyle is there to protect it but there are some ways around it. If you're not already considering it, I'd cast some armor enchantment on Tataree asap. I've done this math too and the build starts to falter when the butterfly dies.

Force push could be pretty damaging. Brace Yourself on Tataree is probably the simplest option, followed by an Etherian Lifetree. Tataree gives a tremendous amount of flexibility, though I wouldn't say the build hinges on him. I am considering including a second copy, though, just in case.

Also with that many pods it's incredibly hard to protect them all. My calculations made me realize that one destroyed pod is a set back while two destroyed pods makes this build pretty ineffective.

Etherian Lifetree makes it much harder to one-shot the pods, at which point non-swarm mages will have to expend many actions in order to take them out. Since each pod costs me only 2-3 mana, I consider this an acceptable trade. I am a little concerned about swarm mages who have actions to spare, so I am still considering my best options for dealing with those (Suppression Orb comes to mind). I did lose a pod in the game I played, and while it hurt, I would not say that it was crippling. When your opponent is advancing, they will likely take out the forward pods. However, once you have some defenders the pods become a lower priority. The best defense, as usual, is a good offense. Your druid can also make a pretty good distraction, equipped with a mage staff and buffed with Bear Strength/Barkskin.

As far as a fallback goes, the heavy hitters (Cervere, Gorgon Archer, Kralathor) can be pretty effective once you have the mana (which does not take long, since you do not pay much upfront with this strategy). The Gorgon Archer in particular does a wonderful job of distracting your opponent from the pods, if you summon her early enough.



If your opponent turtles, you will end up with a mana advantage, so after some thought I have realized that hyperaggression is possibly not the best case scenario. On the other hand, you will have an action advantage over a hyperaggressive opponent, and your Gargoyle mitigates the blow. So...different challenges, different advantages.

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Re: The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2015, 02:01:49 PM »
Hey ACG!

I've been really looking forward to your post on this. I really love the write up. I think you are spot on that Samara tree tends to force players into early aggressive actions, your Gargoyle Sentry is perfect for this. Did you choose Gargoyle over Guardian because of Turn 2? It looks like your Gargoyle is only meant to survive until your build is in full swing, I really like this!

I really like how you are using the Druids regenerative and defensive buffs to the fullest.

I've looked at a lot of posts about Samara tree, and this one is the most well thought out.

Tataree - I like the analysis. Do you find yourself using the action list more? It seems like pollinating a pod with 2+ mana is very specific. How often have you followed your second list? How often have your opponents gone after your Tataree?

I noticed you don't have any chest armor. Would a bearskin help you at all against early aggression? Would you consider adding a Lion Savagery for your Cervere? I find it better then Bear Strength for him.

I'm curious on your decision for 2 Vine Snappers. I know they are great creatures, but do you find one is left out of the action a lot? Are you comboing them with the Thronlashers?

I really like the build and want to try it out! I hope you don't mind me copying it :P
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Re: The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2015, 07:48:34 PM »
I've been really looking forward to your post on this. I really love the write up. I think you are spot on that Samara tree tends to force players into early aggressive actions, your Gargoyle Sentry is perfect for this. Did you choose Gargoyle over Guardian because of Turn 2? It looks like your Gargoyle is only meant to survive until your build is in full swing, I really like this!

Yes, I chose the gargoyle because it is 1 mana cheaper. That opens up many options that are not possible with the Guardian Angel. As you say, the angel's staying power is not necessary because by the time the sentry dies, your opponent will have other problems to worry about.

Tataree - I like the analysis. Do you find yourself using the action list more? It seems like pollinating a pod with 2+ mana is very specific. How often have you followed your second list? How often have your opponents gone after your Tataree?

Once the enemy has closed the distance and is attacking, I find that I almost always value actions over additional mana (of course, you get the mana either way, but if you were only planning to bloom one pod anyway, you may be better served by pollinating a 2+ pod). So I tend to follow list #2.

I only played the one game (which I realize is hardly a representative sample size), and my opponent did not go after Tataree at all (possibly because he was busy having his face eaten off by a raptor vine). I may try it out on OCTGN soon, but unfortunately I don't get much time for games these days.

I noticed you don't have any chest armor. Would a bearskin help you at all against early aggression?

It might. I think I would rather add Leather Boots/Gloves though; with the stockpiled actions from the pods, I generally have an abundance of actions but a lack of mana later on in the game, so cheap spells are more efficient. I suppose the trouble is that I can't wear Leather Boots and Eagleclaw Boots at the same time. The cheap equipment cards in Academy (pretty sure I am not violating the NDA here) should help this build quite a bit in this area.

Would you consider adding a Lion Savagery for your Cervere? I find it better then Bear Strength for him.

Good point. Since I am planning to give the book a larger focus on enchantments next time, I will certainly include a copy. The Bear Strength is actually intended for the Druid, who makes a strong attacker in this build.

I'm curious on your decision for 2 Vine Snappers. I know they are great creatures, but do you find one is left out of the action a lot? Are you comboing them with the Thronlashers?

They can combo with Thornlashers. They make decent guards (although, as it turns out, Raptor Vines are even more AMAZING guards due to their vampiricism). The main benefit is how cheap they are. I use the teleports to re-position them. Usually, you won't have to move them very much because your opponent doesn't want to retreat (because of the pods). It is possible that I would be better served with just 1.


I really like the build and want to try it out! I hope you don't mind me copying it :P

I would love it if you would try it out. I do request that you let me know how the game goes, so I can make appropriate adjustments. Obviously, I already have some changes that I am planning on making, which I will post in this thread once I have figured them all out.

Thanks for the feedback!

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Re: The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2015, 12:15:04 AM »
I'll let you know what I find when I try it out! I can't wait for academy! We're all gonna have to learn some new things from academy:P
« Last Edit: June 28, 2015, 12:43:02 AM by Coshade »
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Re: The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2015, 06:26:49 PM »
The Procrastinator v2
Attack1 x Surging Wave1 x Acid Ball1 x Hurl Boulder1 x Jet StreamConjuration3 x Tanglevine1 x Wall of Thorns2 x Corrosive Orchid1 x Nightshade Lotus4 x Seedling Pod1 x Samara Tree3 x Bloodspine Wall1 x Etherian Lifetree1 x StranglevineCreature3 x Thornlasher1 x Gorgon Archer2 x Vine Snapper2 x Raptor Vine1 x Kralathor, The Devourer1 x Tataree1 x Gargoyle Sentry1 x Cervere, The Forest ShadowEnchantment1 x Agony1 x Barkskin1 x Nullify1 x Jinx2 x Brace Yourself4 x Rhino Hide1 x Rust1 x Bear Strength1 x Eagle WingsEquipment1 x Eagleclaw Boots1 x Elemental Cloak1 x Mage Staff1 x Enchanter's RingIncantation2 x Teleport3 x Dissolve3 x Dispel2 x Rouse the Beast1 x Force Push2 x Burst of Thorns1 x Defend1 x Disarm
Total cost: 120 pts

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Re: The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2015, 12:07:40 AM »
I need to try this!  :)

What's the time range for this build?

I guess this isn't build for live tourney games?

With 4 Rhino Hides it looks like a Mage Wand and Heal or Group Heal, could be a good addition. (but of course making the games longer)

Idol of Pestilence and Deathlock with a few Wall of Bones might give this build trouble?
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Re: The Procrastinator (Samara Druid build)
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2015, 04:11:54 PM »
I need to try this!  :)

What's the time range for this build?

I guess this isn't build for live tourney games?

I don't have a good enough sample to know. Most of the people I play with IRL are prone to AP (and new to the game), so games take a lot longer than they might otherwise (3-4 hours, often, even when I am not playing as the Procrastinator). I need to play more on OCTGN, probably.

I wouldn't say that it is particularly slow, though. Sure, it takes 2-3 rounds for a pod to mature, but you will (hopefully) be putting out one every round, so you will soon be maturing about 1 per round. If your opponent rushes you (as is likely), the game will take even less time.

With 4 Rhino Hides it looks like a Mage Wand and Heal or Group Heal, could be a good addition. (but of course making the games longer)

Rhino Hides are mostly to complement the Regeneration of plants. I don't like healing spells personally, but perhaps you can make it work.

Idol of Pestilence and Deathlock with a few Wall of Bones might give this build trouble?

Eagle Wings + Kralathor (vs necromancers) or Gorgon Archer (vs everything else) makes that a rather dangerous strategy for your opponent. That said, yes, those spells will be troublesome.

This book is very much a work in progress.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2015, 04:15:01 PM by ACG »