I have heard a lot about the success of symbol based decks, containing few creatures, or none altogether. The decks, as far as I understand them, feature a lot of movement based cards to accelerate laps, and a host of cards that manipulate the quanity and value of symbols. I have tried to create a deck with this theme, but all attempts have been somewhat unsuccessful thus far. Does anyone have any suggestions or formulas for a successful symbol-based deck?
I'll try to field this but Ben-Ra might have some more things to say as he plays the stock market around here. I'll discuss what's in his deck, which isn't to say it's the best configuration of a symbol deck, but it's been through a few iterations and it's difficult if not impossible to beat without playing very carefully against it or directly metaing against symbols.
Money cards: Manna, Fairy light, Drain magic, Mistletoe, Magic fountain (this could go either way, but either you get it and buy more symbols or another Cepter gets it and ultimately raises your value by taking or levelling up a territory.) Toll avoidance: Blackout, Peace, Fog Symbol related: Aurora, Shine, Grace (typically you want to hold these until the very end when you have a ton of symbols, and Shine is there to cap off a win as you're about to hit the castle.)
I believe he uses some movement, notably Fly, but it's not a heavy aspect of the deck. Creatures such as Wraith and a combination of Goblin+Sleep Scroll for emergency toll avoidance never seemed to pan out, and the deck is creatureless.
The general strategy is to gain money through lapping or other means and spend all your money on symbols, saving only in the event that you need to cast a spell next turn or something. As I said, it's very hard to use an "average" deck against a well-played symbols deck. You have to be extremely careful about your chains and which lands you level up, as what would substantially increase your value will often increase the symbol user's value to a higher degree.
I found this quite insightful, thanks! I do have a few questions, however:
Does Magic Fountain work in the same manner as Mine, or can the location of the Fountain be designated?
And how does Mistletoe work? The wording on the card is somewhat confusing. Does the user just recieve 50G each time someone rolls between 5 and 7? And will you recieve money from Mistletoe if one or both of your dice roll between 5-7 using Fly?
And, lastly, do these decks typically fail on a board that has no Shrines?
Magic fountain works differently from Mine, it can target any square occupied with a creature.
Whenever someone rolls 5-7 while a Cepter is mistletoe'd, it immediately pops up a message that that Cepter has received 50g. It's extremely useful in 4 player games, only marginally useful otherwise, and can be affected by what the possible die rolls on the map are. As for Fly, the question occured to me as well, but I've never actually seen a Fly that rolled high enough while someone was mistletoe'd.
Re: Boards with no shrines, you mean temples? The random shrine effects have just as much chance of being harmful as good to symbols. On a board with no temples the book would completely fail, yeah.
I recently added Barometz and Gold Totems to my symbol deck (the one ExMortis is talking about), but haven't tested it enough since then. I have pretty much given up on using creatures to avoid tolls (Wraith or Goblin+Sleep, as Mortis said), since they take up too much space in my hand and are useless against anyone with FA.
Maps have a really big influence on how well the symbol deck works. Maps with multiple areas can be bad, unless there is a main area where most of the leveling-up takes place (example: story map where you fight Ryvern and Balberit).
Another good money card for the deck is Echo. Just buy as many symbols as you can, but save 80g, then on your next turn Echo the opponent with the most money.
I'm actually working on a Culdscience column about symbols which will hopefully be as complete as possible. if you have any questions at all about symbols let me know so I can make sure to address them.
What would you do if you are not able to beat me?!
Great to hear! Your Culdscience columns have been one of the main reasons that I have continued to read the GameFAQs boards since discovering this one. And since symbols are the one aspect of the game that I have yet to fully embrace (I rarely by them), it'll be a welcome column indeed.