Resourcing in Cthulhu, or How to Get By in Innsmouth on One Resource Per Turn

Ahh, resources. One of the CoC CCG’s prime considerations. Do you keep the card for its own use, or use it to bolster your current Resources, allowing you to play more/better cards late on.

This article will focus on my thoughts behind resourcing, and how it differs from the startup and the midgame.

Part I: The Setup

Proper resourcing is critical at the beginning of a game, and it harkens back to the elemental stages of the game – deckbuilding. You must know your deck to resource effectively.

My key concerns for setup are:
  • What is the cost breakdown in my deck? By cost, I refer to all aspects – do you have a lot of Loyal cards? Rainbow-reduced characters? Do you need to worry about Steadfast? Do you need to build one Domain up quickly?

  • What is the faction spread? By this, you must remember what the majority of your deck consists of. If you have a Cthulhu/Agency deck with 12 Cthulhu cards and 38 Agency, then resourcing demands that you try for more Agency resources on setup. Also, how many neutral cards do you have? In general neutral cards make poor resources. But if you run “expendable Domains”, which primarily power effects like triggered abilities or returning Rituals to hand, they may be sufficient. Otherwise, you’ll need to build up the neutral Domain in order to make it useful, which places limitations on the building of your other Domains.

  • Are you going first? If you are subject to the First player penalty, then you must know what your deck can do. Can you hit hard and fast? Do you need time to build? Make sure you keep cards that will allow you to deal with the cards your opponent might flop. If you’re the second player, you have a good opportunity to see what your opponent flops, which gives you a bit more flexibility, but you’ll be catching up some. Above all, look for the opportunity to grab early success tokens.

  • How many Domains do you need for your deck to run well, and with what resource spread? If you have a lot of pay 1 effects, you may get some mileage out of extra Domains (e.g., by using Eldritch Nexus). If so, you’ll need to make sure that you both keep those cards if drawn early on, but you can probably get away with a neutral resource.

In the end, it has to come down to what's useful to you. From the initial 8 cards, you keep 5, so you have to consider both the cost and the priority of each card to your victory strategy. As a bottom line, if you can’t expect to play the card soon, it’s probably better off being a resource, and a “coloured” resource is almost always preferable to a neutral one.

For me, the cards I tend to prioritize during setup are as follows (higher priority means the more I want to keep them in hand, low means they’re most likely resourced):

High Priority
  • Low cost characters (generally a cost of 1 or 2, including potential reducers)
  • Cards essential to the deck theme (e.g., Fighting Blind in an icon denial deck)
  • Resource acceleration cards (e.g., The Reaping)
  • Cost-reducing cards (e.g., Informant, Temple of Nephren-Ka)
  • Ubiquitous control cards (e.g., Forgotten Isle, O'Bannion Warehouse, Shotgun Blast)
  • Cancel events (e.g., Power Drain)

Medium Priority
  • Mid-cost characters (cost 3 or 4 if no reducers in hand)
  • Non-essential support cards
  • Low cost events/attachments (cost 1 or 0)

Low Priority
  • Most events (cost of 2+, as they tend to have too long a "lag time" in the early game)
  • High cost characters (cost 4+)
  • Expensive attachments (cost 2+)
  • Recursive cards (unless very little in deck, then bump to Medium priority)

Look at it this way: from the start of the game, you want to be in a position to win. So unless you really need that 7-cost card you drew (and won't reliably get another copy), that's generally 4 or more turns until you can play it. Similarly, expensive events will probably sit in your hand for a long time, as you’ll probably spend the majority of your early turns using larger domains to play characters and support cards. Always consider the “opportunity cost” of a card in your opening hand. Is it going to be more effective to play this than a similarly costed character?

Support cards are also very good, and if dropped early can really maximize their effectiveness. An early O’Bannion Warehouse or Forgotten Isle can really swing the game. So keep them in hand if you can. But remember that for most decks, characters are what will win your games, so getting them played (not drawn and held in hand until you can play them) is your top priority.

Why do I have such a low opinion of events at the start? Well, in a word, your resources are often better spent on more permanent cards. It’s a simple question of economics. The earlier you play a support card or character, the more long-term benefit they provide. An event card is almost always going to be a one shot deal, so unless you’re relatively certain it will be worth its cost AND the fact you’ll have to reserve a Domain for it, it’s probably better off being resourced.

Also, as a general rule of thumb, try to keep cards of cost 2 or less. They'll be the bulk of your early plays, while more expensive cards will compete for your larger Domains.

Part II: The Mid- to Endgame

Always keep an eye on your resources and the cards you’ve not only got in hand, but in play and in your discard. Try to make sure that you can play whatever cards you may happen to draw, even if they’re still in your deck. You have to resource to what you want to be able to play as much as to play what you have in your hand.

However, no card in your deck takes priority over the cards in your hand. A card in your deck may or may not be drawn soon, while the cards you have in hand are useful now. So try to make the best for both circumstances: if you’ve got several 2-cost cards in hand, and you know that you’ve got several Steadfast cards of another faction, try to build a 2-resource Domain with one resource from each faction. Then you’ll be covered for the current card, helped along for the future Steadfast cards, and have a Domain able to be drained to pay for cards from either faction. All in all, a win-win situation.

One more thing to keep in mind is when to STOP resourcing. If you’ve got enough resources on enough Domains to pay for your cards, stop playing resources. They’re no longer useful to you, and are simply depriving you of useful cards later on. You may think it’s fun to be able to Shotgun Blast that 10-skill monstrosity your opponent has in play, but consider how much use you would have gotten out of the resourced cards instead. Each character, even, and support card you resourced is now no longer available to you, and all you achieved was removing a single card from your opponent. That’s a terrible trade-off.

So, how do you know when the cutoff point is reached? Again, that depends on your deck (see a pattern here?). If you have a lot of high cost cards in the deck and few reducers, it will be a long time coming. For me, I tend to stop once I’ve got one Domain capable of playing any card in the deck (with the appropriate reducers in play), and two others capable of most lower-cost cards (generally about 1-2 resources each). In a deck with just low cost cards (i.e., only a couple of cost 4+), I like to build 2 3-resource Domains and keep one at 1 resource. So I’ll generally stop resourcing on turn 4. At that point, I can use any card I draw (and if I need to, I can still resource to cover the cost of a 4-cost card I just drew). Each turn you stop resourcing before your opponent does gives you card advantage. Never forget that.

Part III: Special Considerations

There are a few cards/rules that I feel I should address here.
  • Transient Resources – Wow. These are tricky. Now, for the most part, you won’t want to play Transient cards on setup, but there are some cases where it works. For example, if you’ve got a cost-reducing Ritual in hand. Now you’ve got a strong lead on the Resource curve, which can really push you ahead. And you can use the 0-resource Domain in the early turns to return the Ritual to hand, then bump it up to a small Domain as time allows. Also, if you’ve got a transient character, you might be able to bounce it back into play (e.g., using Hungry Dark Young), giving you an early character advantage. Just be careful – you’ll be behind the resource curve thereafter, so make sure you keep a quick tempo. But always keep in mind that once you’ve placed a Transient resource, unless you’ve got a Dockside Speakeasy in play, you no longer have a choice – once you drain that Domain, the resource is destroyed. So try not to place Transient resources unless you are either using it right away, or you have a card that “recycles” Transient resources in play (e.g., Unlicensed Garage).

  • Loyal cards – If you’re running Loyal cards in your deck, make sure you remember how many, their costs, and prepare for them early. Also, consider if they’ll be needed. If you’re doing well and don’t have the resource base to play one when drawn, consider if it might be better off as a resource. After all, it won’t do you any good sitting in hand until you can play it. But if it is a critical/useful card, then make sure you make it a high priority to build an appropriate domain for that card. Every card you cannot use in your hand is one less tool you have to win, and one less worry for your opponent.

  • Steadfast cards – Steadfast is a bit easier to deal with then Loyal, but still must be taken into consideration. You should try to prepare for playing as many Steadfast cards as possible as soon as possible, meaning you need to consider this in the early game. A slight inconvenience with your Domain resources early on may make the midgame go much smoother, as you’ll no longer need to worry about being able to build up your resources “on the fly” to play the cards you just drew.

  • Cost-Reducing Rituals – (e.g., Theosophist Meeting, Rite of Passage) Never, ever resource these, unless you’re certain you won’t need them. They’re not only extremely potent cost reduction, they’re some of the most effective ways to power any Ritual related cards.

  • Dockside Speakeasy – This card breaks many rules of resourcing. Never, ever resource this. Each copy allows you to boost your Domains by reducing your drained Domains, providing you with extremely potent resource acceleration. Get this card in play as soon as possible. You will not need to resource as much as you normally would, as any given Domain can be considered to have +1 resource each turn set. It also works wonders with Transient resources, protecting them until needed.

Part IV: In Closing

In closing, above all else, remember this: The goal of resourcing in the Call of Cthulhu CCG is to be able to play as many of your cards as possible as soon as possible. Ideally, you’ll never have a time when you cannot play a card you want to, due to not having a Domain with enough resources, not having enough resources to allow for Steadfast and Loyal cards, or having too few Domains of one faction. Proper consideration before you play your deck can make playing your deck that much more easy and enjoyable, and certainly more effective.

If there are any comments or questions, you can contact me here.

Thanks for reading.

- HiredMistake


Addendum 1: An example of early game resourcing.

This addendum will deal with the initial resourcing decisions for an Agency/Cthulhu deck I’ve recently put together. First, some statistics:

Total cards in deck: 57 (needs to be cut down later)

Number of Agency cards: 41
  • Cost X: 3 cards
  • Cost 0: 4 cards
  • Cost 1: 12 cards
  • Cost 2: 15 cards
  • Cost 3: 3 cards
  • Cost 4: 0 cards
  • Cost 5: 4 cards
Steadfast? Yes (6 cards); max 3 Agency symbols
Loyal? Yes (2 cards), 2 Agency needed.

Number of Cthulhu cards: 16
  • Cost 0: 4 cards
  • Cost 1: 4 cards
  • Cost 2: 8 cards
Steadfast? Yes (4 cards); max 1 Cthulhu symbol
Loyal? None.
So, breaking things down, I’d like to start with 2 Agency and 1 Cthulhu Domains. My first resource should probably be an Agency card, and I’d like to end up with 2 2-resource Agency/Cthulhu Domains and one larger Agency Domain of 3-4 resources (I have several Agency reducers). Keeping that in mind, let’s draw to opening hands.

Hand 1:

6 Agency cards: Rite of Passage (cost 0, SF3), Taking No Chances (cost 2), Informant (cost 1), Undercover Security (cost 2, SF2), Shotgun Blast (cost X), Forced Entry (cost 1).

2 Cthulhu cards: Deathless Mask (cost 0, SF1), Shoggoth-Twsha (cost 1).

So what do I resource? Here, it’s fairly obvious. Taking No Chances will sit in my hand too long at the start, so it becomes Agency resource #1. Deathless Mask becomes my Cthulhu resource, allowing me to play Shoggoth-Twsha right away and enhancing the Shotgun Blast and Forced Entry I drew. However, I’ll resource the Shotgun Blast as well, since I want to keep my 2 characters, my ritual, and the Forced Entry is better character control early on.

So I end up with this:
In hand: Rite of Passage, Informant, Undercover Security, Forced Entry, and Shoggoth-Twsha.
Domains: 2 Agency (1 each Taking No Chances and Shotgun Blast) and 1 Cthulhu (Deathless Mask).

Looks like a good opening draw.

Hand 2:

5 Agency cards: Unmasking Cowardice (cost 0, SF2), T-Men (cost 5, SF2), Undercover Security (cost 2, SF2), Shotgun Blast (cost X), Forced Entry (cost 1).

3 Cthulhu cards: Deathless Mask (cost 0, SF1), Forgotten Isle (cost 2), Master of Silver Twilight (cost 2).

So here, I decide to resource the T-Men first – great character, but I won’t be able to play them until much later, so they serve better as a resource. Master of Silver Twilight is my Cthulhu resource, as it gives me the ability to play both the Deathless Mask and the Isle, strong cards in the early game for this deck. Lastly, I resource Shotgun Blast again, as the Forced Entry works very well in the early game.

Why did I keep Unmasking Cowardice? It’s very good early on. It will lock down numerous characters from running wild on stories (I’ve found it to be a great slowdown to Ghoul Khanum decks). It’s good character advantage at the beginning, especially coupled with Forced Entry/Forgotten Isle.

So, with this second hand:
In hand: Unmasking Cowardice, Undercover Security, Forced Entry, Deathless Mask, and Forgotten Isle.
Domains: 2 Agency (1 each T-Men and Shotgun Blast) and 1 Cthulhu (Master of Silver Twilight).

Note that I’m a bit light on characters, but odds are I’ll draw another right away, and the Undercover Security tends to last a bit longer than most. Plus, Forgotten Isle coupled with Forced Entry and having Unmasking Cowardice early on should slow my opponent down considerably.

As always, feel free to email me with questions, comments, or general friendliness.

Note: This article was made possible by a grant jointly issued from M-BOP (the Make Blackwood Office Pointless campaign) and CHUM (Coalition of Heros Unravelling the Mythos). All rights and rituals reserved, in whole, in part, and in unstable pockets of reality.