Now, let’s cover some basic, general concepts for building a Card File.
The first thing you should think about editing is your Soul Cards.
The great thing about Soul Cards is that, unlike play cards, where you typically need 2 or 3 copies of a non-grimoire card to make it viable, you only need 1 copy to use it as a soul card. This makes Soul Cards the part of your card files that will be the easiest to tweak. The Soul Card line-up of our starter files generally follow a pattern of raise sphere/give 2SP, damage/damage + buff, big damage, and a 3LP anchor card. That’s a fairly solid setup, but you might decide you want to use some of your current soul cards as play cards, or vice versa. Don’t forget, you also have a small assortment of cards from Spheres other than your main one in your starter, so using some of those as Soul Cards can help free up some room for you to focus on getting more versatility from your main sphere.
The general rule for Soul Cards is, 1LP = powerful Soul Skill; 2LP = moderately powerful or useful Soul Skill; 3LP = Soul Skill that can actually hurt you, depending on your style of play. You might say,
“Why not just use five 1LP cards and bulldoze your opponent with them?”.
That works sometimes, but then you’ll only have 6LP total. You’d better be able to rush them pretty quickly if you want to survive long enough to win. There’s also the chance that your opponent might not put many cards on the field, and in that case your Soul Skills might not do much to hurt them at all. But at the same time, giving yourself 16LP with five 3LP Soul Cards means you can last forever, but you’re not really helping yourself with your Soul Skills. Therefore, at least when you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to balance things between the three values. A total LP of 8 or 9 is a good target value for a well-balanced deck. Soul Skills that raise sphere levels often play well in slot 1, as they save you 3SP that you can spend elsewhere. Other options are buffing soul skills that benefit most or all of the units you have on the field by the time they go off. Slots 2-4 is where the most mixing up tends to happen. This can be any combination of buffs, attacks, or combos of the two. Slot 5 is most often where you’ll want to put a 3LP anchor card if you feel like you need an extra LP or two. It’s not always necessary, though. Other popular options for slot 5 are resurrection soul skills, ones that sap all of your opponent’s SP (so he can no longer Iczer Attack you that turn), or ones that engage all units on the field (which also temporarily stops Iczer Attacks). Stick with the 8-9LP range at first, but do plenty of experimenting with what cards you use and their order. Soul Cards, when set up properly, can make a huge difference in how a match flows. They often save the day when you’re a in a tight spot.
Now, on to play cards. As you can see, aside from a few higher level characters, most of your starter is made up of unit cards levels 1-3. These are generally the easiest cards to play consistently, without a lot of planning. In many ways, 2 is the magic number. You automatically recover 2SP each turn, so provided you don’t spend it on anything else, you’ll always have enough to put out another level 2 card. Managing your SP usage and thinking ahead are two of the most valuable skills you’ll develop in Alteil, and starting to think about when you’re going to have SP to bring out or use which unit at what time. At the very least, you should have some idea how you want to start. If you skip the first turn, you can put out two level 3s in a row, but generally it’s better to use level two cards, or a level one to save enough SP to bring out a level 3 the turn after. When you’re building a deck, a good way to start is to pick either three level 2’s, or a level 2, 1 and a 3 that work together well. These will be your first three moves, assuming your rival doesn’t do anything to change your plan. After the first three turns things can get a bit more unpredictable, so you’ll need to get some experience.
To start, bear in mind general strategies for what cards you want out and active at the same time. For example, you could set up 1 or 2 tanks in the front that can take plenty of abuse, and then put support cards and ranged attackers behind them, where it’s relatively safe. I know it’s nice to have six units on the field, all buffing, supporting and tanking for each other, but this can be difficult to set up. If you have two units out that compliment each other well, they’ll survive against the enemy’s units long enough for you to add a third, then a fourth. If they don’t, you’ll spend all your SP Reviving and never get anywhere. Pay attention to card level as you choose the rest of your cards, and try to think ahead about how much SP you’ll have, and when, so you know how quickly you can get your units out. Take a look at the skills of your cards and build around them. As a general rule, cards with skills that permanently burn SP are better in the late game, so you can save your SP to set up in the early game. It’s also a popular idea to pay attention to card types when you put together a deck. For example, Folrart Knight Captain gives a start skill buff to all cards of type Solar Kingdom. That’s definitely a good unit to have out if you have other Solar Kingdom cards in your deck.
Finally, choose some Grimoires. Ah, grimoires. It can be very tricky choosing how many, and what kind of grims to put in your card file. Generally, when you’re getting started out, you’re going to need units more than you will grims. In most Card Files, I advise only using about 3 or so. It of course depends entirely on what kind of Card File it is, as some effective Files don’t use (or need) any grims at all, and some are chock full of them. One of the great things about grims is that you don’t need three copies for them to be useful, they are one-shot effects. One type of grimoire to look out for are the ones that give you 4 or 5 SP for spending 3. This is a good way to build up your stock of SP, and open up options for you. Apart from that, you will probably want defensive grims for a defense-oriented deck, and attack grims for aggressive decks. Watch out for high level grims, like level 5s, as it can be tough to get your sphere up and have enough SP to play them at the right time. You generally don’t need to pack more than 1 or 2 copies of those expensive ones. Lawtia probably has the most well-rounded assortment of grimoires, while Falkow has the best field manipulation in their grim pool. Refess and Gowen (especially Gowen) both benefit from grims as well, but they tend to be more straightforward: Gowen’s do lots of damage, and Refess’ protect and buff.
In an actual game, you’ll have to make lots of decisions that deviate from your original strategic plan. But the plan is a great place to start, and will help you assemble your Card File. Then you’ll have to play it in the Training Arena a few times, and see how it flows. From there, you can tweak your cards. For example, if you find you never have enough SP to bring out all your level 3 units, trade some in for more level 2 units. If you find yourself with a few extra SP in the mid game, switch a level 3 with a level 4. If you get a late-game SP bloom when your mid game units start going to the cemetery, add a heavy hitter or a unit that uses that SP to power its special attacks.
As you get more experienced with Alteil, you’ll find it becomes easier to take in the big picture and know everything that’s happening with your side of the field. You’ll also get a better handle on what’s happening on your opponent’s as well, and once you can start to sometimes predict what they’re going to do next, your strategy will only get stronger. But to get there, you’ll need to experiment with the cards you use until you find combinations that suit your own style of play.
I think that just about does it for building Card Files. Best of luck to you, and may you have fun during your time playing Alteil.