Making the most of your first two turns
In the beginning of a game: cash is king. Novice players quickly learn the earlier you purchase powerful cards from the market, the greater your chance of victory. The start of a match can feel like an arms race, with each Lord striving to amass the greatest arsenal.
Of course, the fastest way to purchase cards is by using Crayne's discount mechanic. Each faction card in your discard pile gives you a discount towards purchases of that same color (faction.) Buying a card with a value of five (5) is costly. However, with a few discounts it becomes an absolute steal.
In the first two turns of a new game, most Lords resign themselves to paying retail price for new acquisitions. This is because your starting deck contains only 12 cards. With three cards in your hand, you'll be forced to make a shuffle before the end of your second turn. Once you shuffle, your faction discounts disappear. Outside of a few select cards that will allow you to make a discard in the first turn, it's almost impossible to enjoy a market discount until round three.
There is a strategic exception: The Mercenary Camp Opening.
The Mercenary Camp is a low cost stronghold available at the start of the game. For just two (2) revenue, a Lord can enjoy the security of three (3) defense until the camp is destroyed. A unique feature of this card is that once it is purchased, it is placed on top of your deck instead of in the discard pile. This means it will be ready to use next turn.
This makes the Mercenary Camp Opening a popular first round game plan. As long as you have not removed any additional cards, this card will boost your draw pile to five cards for your second turn. At the end of your second turn, you will be holding three cards, and have no draw pile. This means you will not need to shuffle again until you play your first card in your next turn.
Why is this an advantage? Because you'll be able to use your faction discounts in your second turn. This benefit is amplified if your opponent has not played the same strategy. You'll have access to higher cost cards earlier, and may be poised to have an early edge in this game.
Here's an example of how this strategy might play out in a real match.
Fortune has shined upon you and in your starting four you receive a Pikeman and a Shield Bearer: both from the Knights of Kalimas (White). Your luck continues as you pick up both cards in your first turn. You play them both, along with a Skeleton Warrior. The last two cards you play are both trade carts, giving you two revenue in your first turn. You wisely invest that revenue into a Mercenary Camp, which is placed on the top of your deck.
You have successfully executed the Mercenary Camp Opening.
At the end of the second turn, you prepare yourself for some spending. You play your final basic card Battering Ram, followed by four trade carts. Holding the Mercenary Camp in your hand, you've survived the shuffle. This means that during the buy phase, you receive a two (2) revenue discount on White cards (Knights of Kalimas) and a single (1) revenue discount on Servants of the Baron. You have your eye on the Spearman Battalion. Normally, purchasing this card would cost six (6) revenue, but with your discount, it's only four (4) and within your reach.
The advantage of a purchase like this will reap benefits quickly. With the Spearman Battalion gaining a +2 bonus on defense when played alongside another White card, it will keep your Lord well protected while your deck is thin. With three of your 14 cards being from the same faction, you'll be able to use the Spearman bonus quite regularly.
This strategy is not ideal for every match. If you are dealt a rainbow to begin (four cards from different factions), you'll find it difficult to take advantage of The Mercenary Camp Opening. Furthermore, if there isn't a particularly desirable card available in the market, it is likely a better strategy to purchase multiple lower cost cards and plan a big purchase later in the game. A consideration of who will purchase first in the second turn should also factor into your planning.
When used correctly, this Opening can give a Lord a huge head start. When played poorly, it will be a mostly harmless strategy. In Crayne, your early phases can dictate your chances of victory late in the game. Choose wisely.