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I’ve had an interesting game today playing against one of my friends: I believe that it was the best deck compression I’ve ever achieved. If you wanna read about it, I’ll add it as a bonus at the end of the article!
What is deck compression? A term well known to most people who’ve been playing for a short while, but if you’re new, it simply means bringing your deck’s ratio of climax cards to non climax cards as high as possible after the deck refresh. The goal is to have many non-climax cards in stock, memory, field, clock and hand, but it’s not that simple. Today, I’ll talk about some of the struggles you may face while trying to compress your deck mid-game, and how to handle them best.
Triggering climaxes on your first few attacks and sending those to the bottom of stock is one of the most common obstacles, since it can be hard to remember that they’re there and they’re not the easiest to pay out as well because often, by the time something is worth using up your stock for, you already have quite some of it built up and the bottom few cards might stay untouched still. So you’re left with a choice of either leaving out those climaxes from your deck refresh or losing stock for something that’s not as worth it – neither of those are good, and shall such a situation occur, you must know your deck well enough to know what will hurt you more. Can you replace the stock soon after the refresh? Have some cost-easy characters in hand? Paying out the stocked climaxes might be a good idea for you then. Are you still at a low level? Do you need another level up before your deck reaches full potential with cost-heavy characters and abilities? Then you might try to risk it and refresh without the stocked climaxes. Personally, I don’t try much to pay out the trapped CXs if there’s 1 or 2 of them; I do start to panic when the 3rd one gets sent over though 😛 It’s extremely situational though – it works for my wall/heal GRB Madoka, since (unless I’m facing anti-heal) it eventually hurts me more if I can’t heal than if I can’t cancel as much damage. Side note: your opponent’s stock suiciders will work hugely in your favor if your first trigger is a CX and they don’t know what they’re doing or weren’t paying attention.
Sending cards to memory is also a good way to compress your deck, since getting a card to memory is equal to practically getting rid of it for the rest of the game. I don’t think there are any cards with effects to return cards from your memory to your deck, but feel free to correct me if I forgot to recall any card with such an effect. Back to the point – characters and events may get sent to memory as cost for or result of a certain ability, but climaxes don’t get sent to memory ever, so memory is utterly harmless for your deck compression, right? Right? Not always, my friends. Meet, for example, this Saber card from Fate/Zero: her climax combo effect allows your opponent to send a card – any card, even a climax! – from your waiting room to memory. And if they send one of your climaxes there… well, too bad. You’re not gonna be able to recover it. But it is fair to note that this effect is extremely uncommon, so in general, memory is a very good way to compress your deck.
Then you have the field, clock and hand left. By having a full field at refresh, you already have 5 non-CX cards less in your deck. Climaxes also don’t end up in clock by taking damage, only by clocking, clock encore and other effects, many of which you can control. So if you see that a deck refresh is approaching, you should focus on getting any climaxes from your hand to the waiting room ASAP; if you play them into the climax spot, check to make sure you won’t hit the refresh before the end of encore step, so that the played CX will already be back into the waiting room by then. If that is not possible and you’re at ?/6 damage, you can clock a climax and level up. While that allows you to return one more climax to your WR before refreshing, if you had no other climaxes in clock previously, it also means 5 other non-CX cards will go there as well. The by far best way to get climaxes from hand to waiting room, though, are effects that let you drop cards to WR, like Akatsuki and Tea Party Sayaka (she requires CXs specifically though), or any other effects that in general tell you to drop cards, like many salvage events.
All in all, the two most critical factors of deck compression are how much you know your own deck and knowing how much of your deck is where. Keep a close count on all your cards (what’s going into stock, what’s in your hand and clock) and check the number of climaxes especially. Don’t be afraid to ask your opponent for a moment to look through your waiting room so you can count the climaxes to yourself. Most importantly, watch your deck at all times. After a while playing a certain deck, it gets easier to grasp when your deck is gonna hit 0 a turn or two in advance, which leaves you with time to return all the possible climaxes to the waiting room. You also learn to stall or speed up a deck refresh over time, which can be extremely useful as well.
And for those of you interested in my story of deck compression heaven: I was playing Madoka against Angel Beats, and the amount of stock I had before refresh shocked me. I took a fair second to count it – 20 cards. I couldn’t remember triggering any valuable cards (lvl3’s, all my salvages and heals were either in WR or still in deck.) 3 characters on field, 2 events in memory. I had one climax in clock, one in hand and 5 in WR after my draw at 2/6 damage and about 8 cards in the deck. I clocked the climax and leveled up to lvl3, returning 2 climaxes to WR. I went through with 3 attacks, then next turn hit the last climax still in my deck as the last card when counting damage from my opponent’s attack. That did leave me with one climax out of the deck, which would otherwise make it utterly perfect, but regardless. With that much stock, it wasn’t even necessary: after the refresh, my deck had 21 cards, 7 of which were climaxes. One climax per every three cards. Now if I ever again reach a 1:2 ratio of CX to non-CX cards, I’ll throw a damn fine party right then and there.