Making Yomi Click

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by skeller, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. skeller

    skeller Well-Known Member

    The Learning Yomi series of articles focuses on helping new players improve their game. This installment by Coffee concentrates on understanding the relative value of different cards as the game progresses. You can find more useful posts for new players on the FantasyStrike forums.

    Update: This article caused some interesting discussion, see the end for more comments.

    I'm somewhat of a card game veteran, but when I initially started researching Yomi I knew in theory that the depth was somehow there, but I couldn't make any sense of the game. I was missing something that was required for the game to click.

    That missing element was the playfield and card costs, and more precisely the clues they gave as to the stage and general development of the game. Without that information I couldn't evaluate plays—why did this play make sense here, but not later, or vice versa?

    This understanding of the different phases of the game was something necessary to start playing seriously.

    As with most games, a Yomi match can be divided into three different parts: the early game, the mid game and the late game. The biggest single indicators of the game's state are the cards held by players and their life totals. Players can be in slightly different spots on the journey to the late game, but assuming a relatively even pace, this is how a game of Yomi develops:

    The Early Game
    Yomi's early game is characterized by both players having high life totals, relatively small and undeveloped hands, and little information about the opponent's tendencies. The strong plays early on are block and throw. Consider your other options: big combos or multi-Ace plays are usually impossible due to the random nature of your starting hand, and undesirable even if you have them.

    Think about Grave's True Power of Storms in the mid or late game, when life totals are less than 50. It pretty much ends the game in one fell swoop if it hits. Grave probably has a good amount of cards in his hand at this point, so he won't be totally out of options if it doesn't hit. He also won't have to sustain the game for too long, so having a smaller hand is acceptable.


    In contrast, even a Storms that hits is rather unremarkable in the early game. Sure, it takes a bunch of your opponent’s life, but now you have a small hand severely lacking in power. Your opponent can simply start throwing more than usual and thus deny you the ability to rebuild your hand with extra cards. In contrast, your opponent’s hand is in better shape and he can make more judicious use of his cards, including blocks to keep his hand healthy. Your opponent isnot under as much pressure as you are, and he can probably close most of the damage gap by just winning combat more frequently with better cards. When you enter the midgame, you'll have a distinct disadvantage in hand quality.

    Since attacks that use a lot of cards are undesirable early, dodges are also relatively weak. You're not in any immediate danger of dying, and the opponent may be unwilling to follow up a throw. Blocking is safe and builds up your hand, giving you more power and options later in the game. You want to block or snipe the opponent's blocks with throws to starve him of card-drawing abilities.

    Characteristics of the early game:
    • Lack of immediate danger of death.
    • The number of cards in your hand and their quality is important, as they allow you to keep your options open.
    • Block is the default option, attacks for safety, throws for aggression. Dodges are generally weak.
    The Mid Game
    The mid game is characterized by both players starting to have strong, developed hands. This means they have strong options and/or large hand sizes (which translates into power for some characters). Life totals likely hover around fifty points or a little lower.

    The first thing to understand about the mid game is the danger of death is slowly starting to become a reality. Multi-Ace moves can drop a player to about 10 hit points if not outright kill him. The relative strength of single moves increases the value of dodges.


    With bigger hands, throws also start to gain usefulness as genuine damage dealers. Even without Aces, many characters can slam throws that do about 20 damage for reasonable card expenditure in relation to the now-bigger hand. These multi-card plays are viable now because they don’t cripple the player in the future. Thus Aces aren't the only thing a player needs to worry about: a few major combats can actually kill, which wasn't the case previously.

    Highly efficient, fast, safe Enders deal a bigger chunk of a player's life now, and start to be a consideration here, damage-wise. They are still above all a safety play: blocks can't kill and it is unlikely a dodge will, either. But attacks and throws can and will hurt like hell. The dodge may lead to a throw and thus knockdown, but being comboed when getting up from knockdown is far from a sure thing.

    The general theme is that combos are threatening but not lethal and single attacks sting but aren't really worrisome. Given the increased power of combos and generally lower life totals, blue bursting with Jokers (using Jokers to escape a combo) starts to look more attractive.

    The main focus of hand management starts to veer simply from hoarding cards to keeping your options open—when the threats are for your life instead of some tickling, you better have answers ready if you wish to survive. Fast attacks and throws are very valuable for mounting a more risk-free offense. Size still matters, as a large hand enables you to squeeze damage in with throw and poke (normal/linker-starting) combos and random pumps.

    The Late Game
    The main characteristic of the late game is the ever-present fear of death. Life totals are usually 30 or less, so a couple of normal combats can just kill kill a player then and there. Aces are death incarnate, which in turn makes dodges very valuable. Dodges also avoid chip damage, which is a real danger in the final stages of a match, where it all comes to reading your opponent and optimizing your play for safety.


    Fast attacks and dodges should be your default play. They minimize the risk of being killed while wearing the opponent down. Blocking feels impotent, merely stalling for little actual gain in exchange of exposing yourself to desperate throws and chip damage. Throwing is outright foolish because it is so risky. One missed throw and you can easily be dead.

    Closing Words
    New players who wish to learn the game should use this article as a proper framework on which they can build their own understanding and improve. As a new player, getting better is largely about your increasing your understanding of valuation—meaning that you know what cards are valuable when. Good valuation tells you what the sane, strong, safe options are at any time.

    Contrast valuation with reading, the skill of knowing what your opponent will do. You need to play sane, strong options because no one’s reads can be right all the time. If the only thing keeping you in the game is strong reading, the few moments you are wrong against a player with solid valuation can cost you the game.

    Understanding the three stages of a Yomi match will help you know which cards are valuable at any given time, thus giving you a start on valuation. To summarize:
    • Early in the game, both players will want to build up hands, so blocks are valuable and throws are valuable to beat your opponent’s blocks.
    • As players build good hands and life totals start to shrink, blocks become less valuable and attacks and dodges start to become viable.
    • In the late game, fast attacks can be devastating, so dodges become very valuable as well. Throws and blocks tend to be weak.
    Huge thanks to Bob199 for creating the banner image for this article.

    Editor's Update (Oct. 10, 2012): This article was an edited version of an older post by Coffee that may not reflect the community's consensus on optimal Yomi play. I (skeller, your friendly neighborhood editor) wanted to provide a few of those comments here for context.

    In particular, saying that landing True Power of Storms early in the game is "unremarkable" is not true. Beyond that, waterd provided a good explanation (read his comments below) of the game's various phases. As he puts it, if your starting hand is capable of doing 79 damage, "your job is just to land it and go home."

    But the reality is most starting hands don't have that sort of damage, so blocking early is generally good in order to get better cards so that you can deal more damage. It also allows you to build up pairs and sets of cards that you can power up for aces, and in general gives you more options for later in the game.

    I strongly recommend that new players read through the comment section to get some more perspective on this article.

    Attached Files:

  2. Lofobal

    Lofobal Well-Known Member

    variable, Mililani, Bob199 and 7 others like this.
  3. Birdman

    Birdman Active Member

    Late game throws are strong due to the popularity of late-game dodges. Throws late game are only a bad idea against Rook, and sometimes Jaina.

    Great post though, it really helped me out when I was a new player!
  4. deluks917

    deluks917 Yomi League 1 Champion

    I think this article is best thought of as a primer of "classic" yomi strategy. I think alot of recent players do not approach this game in a different way. I think the "new school" is basically a reaction to the stuff in this article.
    Remy77077 likes this.
  5. Lofobal

    Lofobal Well-Known Member

    I do not know of any "school" that doesn't like hitting with TPoS and throwing vs dodges.
    CWheezy likes this.
  6. deluks917

    deluks917 Yomi League 1 Champion

    Well I certainly don't agree that hitting an early tpos is "unremarkable."

    I think myself and many newish people are very happy to go down in cards early if it means a life lead. Cards are overrated.

    On a different point I disagree about endgame. Dodge and throw are about equally dangerous in terms of possible dmg. Many chars get extremely good damage off throw. The reason throw can seem "weaker" late isn't that it is especially dangerous but because lategame fast attacks are super strong and common. Most chars get the least dmg off dodge and fast attack is super safe if you have or can threaten jokers.
  7. skeller

    skeller Well-Known Member

    If anyone disagrees with this -- and I'm far from a good Yomi player but I found it very useful -- I would be very happy to post a well-written and interesting counterpoint. :)
  8. Lofobal

    Lofobal Well-Known Member

    dude it has nothing to do with "new" or not, the article is just outright wrong on some points. calling it "old school" is a gross misunderstanding
  9. skeller

    skeller Well-Known Member

    Lofobal, if you could illuminate those points (TPoS point taken) I would love to hear them. I think it would make a good follow-up. I'm trying to post stuff regularly on the front page but am limited because frankly I'm not very good.
  10. Waterd103

    Waterd103 Well-Known Member

    I do not want to be harsh, but TPOS is remarkable at any point. The main point is that players are unlikely to have it. Early on you want to block to create pairs and trips to CREATE a TPOS. but if you start with one in hand, you basically cheated the game, and went over a big step. If you start with a TPOS and land it , you basically jumped the whole phase. The early game exist, because players do not have that in hand, or have poor hands, so you want to get cards to crete pairs/trips/straights. Or just to improve the quality of your combat options (Draw fast throws, and trade the slow throws for aces). But if your hand with graves is something like 88AAAQQ you just cheated the game and do not even want to block, just kill the guy.

    People want to block because generally the hand is composed by normals and bad throws like 2356KK9 with graves. In the first hand if all landed you have 79 damage... your job is just to land it and go home. But in the second case, more reasonable, you have 37 damage. Characters(it depends though) have an average of 40 damage in inital hand. So your job is to increase that damage , and the best way is blocking, and is better blocking now than later because it has bigger chances to improve your damage. If you decide now to go KK, you are missing the chance of getting a third K and trade it for AA which is easily 24 damage over 21 (easier to land and potentially becomming 30 damage if another ace). if you have a bigger hand, better chances to make trips and straights and also you have better vision of your cards available during the match. Which makes have faster and better moves.

    But the point is that the early game exist because initial hands are average and you want to improve it, but if you start loaded....well you got lucky, and the right play is to unload.
  11. ratxt1

    ratxt1 Well-Known Member

    I get at what he was trying to say there, and TPoS is just a bad example (first turn throw into J++ as val would be a better one), the rest of the article seems decent, also this is an old article, written by a fairly new player at the time of writing it.
  12. Lofobal

    Lofobal Well-Known Member

    I was going to respond but WaterD did a much better job of explaining what I was going to say, so +1 to that.
  13. Coffee

    Coffee Active Member

    Yeah, the article is old. Just outlined what was the prevailing wisdom back then before the "punch him in the face" school rose up bigtime. (Personally had more success with aggro-Grave than a more passive one back in the day, but haven't played online in a looong time.)
  14. skeller

    skeller Well-Known Member

    I've edited the original article with an intro blurb and an addendum that hopefully captures some of the reaction.
    Lofobal and zem like this.
  15. SirHandsome

    SirHandsome Well-Known Member

    the article is a fantastic intro to Yomi IMO. It gives new people who struggle to get started stuff to think about with the game phases and hand management etc. so they aren't just randomly picking Dodge into normal on their first turn.

    Yeah, after reading this your play will probably continue to evolve, so it's not the final word in Yomi (that's a good thing right?), but it's one hell of a good intro baseline strategy.
    Remy77077 likes this.
  16. Birdman

    Birdman Active Member

    I think another thing that sculpts the early game valuation that wasn't touched on was MU. If the opponent has an endgame that beats yours, or your early game is stronger (this is either by virtue of cards, reads, playstyles, or matchups), then the onus is on you to break up the block v block pattern that the opponent probably wants.

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