Bamboo Harvester v Bamboo Harvester XP:A Unicorn Perspective

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Shinjo Dalu
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Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:16 am

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Bamboo Harvester vs. Bamboo Harvester XP: A Unicorn Perspective
by Bryan Murphy

“Today is the day I look at my opponent and realize that I am fully prepared to exploit every card in this deck, especially the ones that don’t get shuffled in”

As the strongholds flip at the start of a game, I often receive a stunned look when I ask “Why do you chose to run that version of Bamboo Harvesters?”.

I know that the math behind such a decision is occasionally subservient to the comfort factor or prevailing hive mind edict but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a high value in selecting the correct version of Bamboo Harvesters in order to to maximize your advantages.

Bamboo Harvesters XP is exactly the same as the original Bamboo Harvesters, except for the card text. They have the same name, they enter play due to going second and they both produce two gold. So why do I place so much energy into which one is played from your deck?


Bamboo Harvesters straightens on turn 2 which is why it sees a great deal of play in clans which gear their gold towards going second. Getting an extra holding on turn 2 is what opens up their economy to allow them to play off of three provinces as soon as they lose one. It also allows for a ‘Meta-Gold’ Holding (defined as a holding with an ability that justifies being in the deck or one that produces extra gold to your advantage for specific purchases) to be bought as you have the additional gold to buy them. Playing Unicorn says that if you open the game with two 2-gold producing holdings it will be a very short game.

Having extra gold to open with;
Turn 1: The Blessed Herd or Stables/Recruitment Officers,
Turn 2: Two guys and a Chugo Seido

This can lead to a serious advantage versus,
Turn 2: Double personality or single personality and double holding.
that you would see without Bamboo Harvesters.



Now then, Bamboo Harvesters XP is in and of itself a Meta-Gold Holding, as it has the potential to draw cards and if not it cycles them with the ability;
Limited: Bow this card. Draw a card. If you now have 6 or more cards in your hand, discard a card.”

Most would say free cards are very good, and I for one never would argue that more cards is worse than fewer cards, unless the question is what are you doing with these extra cards. Often this allows for a fate side design that allows for a great variety of silver bullet meta designed to take a game from tough to auto-win or from unplayable to 50-50.

First, as a Unicorn player you will see that in a perfect field you will start with a Bamboo Harvesters in about half of your games, and that leads to having a difficult choice between the two.

Often clans that routinely go first tend to choose the new Bamboo Harvesters XP for the card draw/cycle as their gold scheme is one that does not rely on the extra turn 2 gold. As well as they ability to refill you hand is vital to Honor/Control decks that need and use every card that they can draw. This does allow for better cards to deal with these decks on the fate side but it also limits the personalities you can run efficiently based on their gold costs.

With a Bamboo Harvesters XP the standard gold progression is turn two 6-gold and 7-gold to get 2 personalities for reduced cost. This allows for early game pressure with your first 2 turns of “card draw” are actually cycle to find your silver bullets to deal with your opponent, and you have a deck meant to run on two provinces.


The counter to this is running the original Bamboo Harvesters. As a Unicorn Player this makes your turn 2 having the ability to purchase an 8 cost personality for honour, a 10 cost personality reduced with a second personality.

The ten gold cost personality base in Unicorn either come with a spot kill action (Hwarang XP and Xiao XP) or are action defence tacticians (Ki-Chang XP and Choon-yei). All of which are very strong as they have actions that can double as card draw by replacing an anti move, force pump or spot kill effect. If you choose not to go with gaining 4 honour or a stronger personality you get the advantage of being able to purchase an extra holding which makes your turn three gold looking averaging about 17-18 production which is enough to have a 3 province using deck that can overwhelm an honour deck with targets.

At the end of the day, which Bamboo Harvesters is best for you will most likely come down to your local meta game and what your opponents are playing. The ability to have a gold scheme that can function on a different number of provinces at maximum efficiency it one that is relatively new to unicorn and makes this decision a crucial one before choosing the makeup of either your fate of dynasty decks.

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Moto Jahk-Fwah
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Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:11 pm

nice article... putting words to clarify those thoughts makes the decision easier and it was a good read to boot.
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Coopernicus
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Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:12 am

Typically, Bamboo EXP is designed to be helpful for those decks that like to throw their hand at their opponent until they lose or you win (dishonor/honor). Heavy Control military decks like Magistrates/Nonhumans might also benefit from Bamboo XP because they use a lot of actions during the first 3-4 Limited/Open phases turns of the game.

Military decks typically don't actually use terribly many cards from hand until they actually reach the battle phase. During this time, they already have a near full grip of cards and the additional personalities/attachments purchased through the use of Bamboo INEXP, gives potentially MORE possible battle actions to use than Bamboo EXP would have provided by the first battle.

Potential Military deck ideas where Bamboo EXP would be much more beneficial would be if you played a large number of very cheap attachments. If you plan to start loading up reasonably cheap personalities with 0G-5G attachments and easily drop your hand down to 4-5 cards before your first attack, then Bamboo EXP greatly improves in value.

Bamboo EXP can be a real loser in the Military vs Honor match where you don't actually get to use all of those nifty battle actions in your deck. The slower production will make it slightly easier to keep a control grip on your personalities while you struggle to keep up in production. By the time Bamboo EXP comes online, they're already ~20+ honor into the game with 3-4 control personalities on the table.

Other cards that you could potentially "overload" on if you're playing Bamboo EXP would be the "Spirit of" cards or "Arrival of the Obsidian Champion"-like cards. These are all free and Bamboo EXP can help get new battle actions in hand or get more of these cards to put additional actions on personalities in play.

Bamboo EXP will also be better or worse based on the amount of other card draw that comes in during EE. If they don't bring back Peddler, then things might get a lot tighter for card draw. Currently, I don't see many military decks having problems being at 7-8 cards before the first combat which usually doesn't take many cards. By the time there is a major combat that eats a significant amount of your hand, you've either won or lost most of your army.
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Shinjo Dalu
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Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:04 am

The way I see it, at the moment its difficult to jusity not playing Bamboo XP in Unicorn.

The way the meta game is sitting at the moment, the best way to meta agasint honour and the likes are to focus on fate side meta (Only Actions, Beloved, Det Force and so on). Now that Honour decks have so many ways of dealing with the anti-honour events, and the fact that events are simply unreliable, I feel I coan only ever rely on my fate deck to provide useful meta. Because of this I use Bamboo XP. Used aggressively it can really burn through the deck to th important cards.

In a game against Embassy Honour for example, my Battle actions are almost useless, so I will happily ditch them as early as possible to get to the 10-12 cards in my deck that will ever be really relevant.

I understand that some people feelthe really need the extra gold when they are going second to try and catch up, but or Unicorn an extra 2 gold early game isnt amazing. Buying an extra holding early to help churn out guys is nice, but I have found that being able to effectively reach the meat in my deck is far more disruptive to control/honour than me having maybe an extra guy turn 3 or 4.

I played 5 Crane at Gencon this year (managing to beat 3 of them), every single game was close, and every win I got was squarely down to Bamboo Harvesters XP drawing into my meta. For me, until EE at least, I will be playing Border Keep basic and Bamboo Harvesters Xp.
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Ide Yesugei
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Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:04 pm

Moto Jahk-Fwah wrote:nice article... putting words to clarify those thoughts makes the decision easier and it was a good read to boot.
Thanks always good to get positive feedback.
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Ide Yesugei
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Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:26 pm

Coopernicus wrote:Typically, Bamboo EXP is designed to be helpful for those decks that like to throw their hand at their opponent until they lose or you win (dishonor/honor). Heavy Control military decks like Magistrates/Nonhumans might also benefit from Bamboo XP because they use a lot of actions during the first 3-4 Limited/Open phases turns of the game.

Military decks typically don't actually use terribly many cards from hand until they actually reach the battle phase. During this time, they already have a near full grip of cards and the additional personalities/attachments purchased through the use of Bamboo INEXP, gives potentially MORE possible battle actions to use than Bamboo EXP would have provided by the first battle.

Potential Military deck ideas where Bamboo EXP would be much more beneficial would be if you played a large number of very cheap attachments. If you plan to start loading up reasonably cheap personalities with 0G-5G attachments and easily drop your hand down to 4-5 cards before your first attack, then Bamboo EXP greatly improves in value.

Bamboo EXP can be a real loser in the Military vs Honor match where you don't actually get to use all of those nifty battle actions in your deck. The slower production will make it slightly easier to keep a control grip on your personalities while you struggle to keep up in production. By the time Bamboo EXP comes online, they're already ~20+ honor into the game with 3-4 control personalities on the table.

Other cards that you could potentially "overload" on if you're playing Bamboo EXP would be the "Spirit of" cards or "Arrival of the Obsidian Champion"-like cards. These are all free and Bamboo EXP can help get new battle actions in hand or get more of these cards to put additional actions on personalities in play.

Bamboo EXP will also be better or worse based on the amount of other card draw that comes in during EE. If they don't bring back Peddler, then things might get a lot tighter for card draw. Currently, I don't see many military decks having problems being at 7-8 cards before the first combat which usually doesn't take many cards. By the time there is a major combat that eats a significant amount of your hand, you've either won or lost most of your army.
You have brought up some really interesting points bewteen the synergy of your BH choice with your overall fate design and requirements. I have found that the existence of BK xp has lead to some very specific design choices, one being the number of generically good cards versus the number of silver bullet you want to carry in your deck.

The primary advantage of being able to say when a battle takes place is to know when you can punish the defender for a poor defense choice and to that end having an extra guy for turn 4 often breaks the game far more than 2 extra cards for me since I am running cards with generic utility ( the best actions available). Have you considered writing down your thoughts on deck design in a general format (ie 1 ilke 25 action slots broken down like such 6 kill 3 meta etc)? There seems to be a very solid grasp of that in your post.
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Ide Yesugei
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Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:31 pm

Shinjo Dalu wrote:The way I see it, at the moment its difficult to jusity not playing Bamboo XP in Unicorn.

The way the meta game is sitting at the moment, the best way to meta agasint honour and the likes are to focus on fate side meta (Only Actions, Beloved, Det Force and so on). Now that Honour decks have so many ways of dealing with the anti-honour events, and the fact that events are simply unreliable, I feel I coan only ever rely on my fate deck to provide useful meta. Because of this I use Bamboo XP. Used aggressively it can really burn through the deck to th important cards.

In a game against Embassy Honour for example, my Battle actions are almost useless, so I will happily ditch them as early as possible to get to the 10-12 cards in my deck that will ever be really relevant.

I understand that some people feelthe really need the extra gold when they are going second to try and catch up, but or Unicorn an extra 2 gold early game isnt amazing. Buying an extra holding early to help churn out guys is nice, but I have found that being able to effectively reach the meat in my deck is far more disruptive to control/honour than me having maybe an extra guy turn 3 or 4.

I played 5 Crane at Gencon this year (managing to beat 3 of them), every single game was close, and every win I got was squarely down to Bamboo Harvesters XP drawing into my meta. For me, until EE at least, I will be playing Border Keep basic and Bamboo Harvesters Xp.
Funny you should mention that. I made the switch back to good ol basic BK for our winners choice. I found that the extra cards weren't as much of an issue as the extra guy turns out to be for running them out of options. I learned that when he has to send home multiple guys to save a province I don;t need to deal with their shikishi based tricks. I also tend to run more battle open actions that straighten me so I don;t have many cards I don't want either after BK xp's card swp kicks in.
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Shinjo Dalu
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Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:11 pm

Ide Yesugei wrote: Funny you should mention that. I made the switch back to good ol basic BK for our winners choice. I found that the extra cards weren't as much of an issue as the extra guy turns out to be for running them out of options. I learned that when he has to send home multiple guys to save a province I don;t need to deal with their shikishi based tricks. I also tend to run more battle open actions that straighten me so I don;t have many cards I don't want either after BK xp's card swp kicks in.

Maybe its more of a playstyle thing than I thought then, cause all the testing for Gencon and the testing for Euro's, (shameless aside; Come to Euros), showed that the extra card draw was key to the Embassy and LSC match up. Although the LSC game is still really tough, it certainly helps.

Even without the gold I have never had too much of an issue with their control element over taking my production to the point that I cant attack. It happens sometimes, but normally when they get an incredible start and I dont see any early meta (straighten or the other kind).

I am not sure about Bamboo xp with the experienced version of Border Keep, as I much prefer the consistancy it brings to mid game, so that would obviously change things too.
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Ide Kirik
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Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:51 am

I run Harvesters xp in my FotW Commanders because I can't really justify not running it. We go first half the time, which means that a Unicorn gold scheme can't rely on Bamboo Harvesters anyway. Because of this, that extra 2G on turn 2 isn't often terribly relevant, as I've already planned not to have it.

reinoe
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Fri Sep 16, 2011 1:15 pm

I would definetely run the xp if I were running more dual purpose meta cards. Beloved Of The Clan, The Direct Approach, Determined Force, Justly Earned Victory, etc. Will there be an article discussiong the merits of Border Keep basic vs B.K. EXP?

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