Overdraw part 2: building around overdraw

In last week’s article we visited the concept of overdraw and explored the most common situation where it is useful — when you can gain a card and play it on the same turn. We’ll finish this two-article series with this week’s addition.


To review, overdraw is the situation where you would draw a card, except your deck and discard are already empty because all of your cards are either in play or in hand.

Drawing your deck is great, especially if there is a particular card you want to make sure to draw and play every turn — Mountebank, Miser, Travellers, etc. It’s great enough that whenever it’s possible, you’ll seriously have to think about going through the trouble to make it happen consistently.

At first glance it appears that if you keep adding cards to your deck that draw nothing, this is inefficient because if you had a card to draw, your turn might be better. While this is true, and you don’t just want to overdraw your deck by a lot without a good reason, there are many good reasons why overdraw can be useful.

The reality is that unless the cards you need to draw are in exactly the right positions every shuffle, a deck that can draw itself exactly without any overdraw will not draw every card on every turn. Adding one or two cards that draw nothing on a perfect draw (i.e. overdraw) is one way to add consistency to you deck so you draw everything more often. This is especially true in decks that have consistency issues to begin with, like draw-to-X decks.

Extra consistency is also a big deal include when you’re being attacked: if I drew my deck this turn, but I’ll get hit by a Militia next turn, the overdraw was wasted now but it might not always be that way. The consequences can be even worse when your opponent plays a junking attack on you repeatedly and you lose control of your deck because you couldn’t stay on top of things. Overdrawing is a great way to prevent yourself from falling behind while you’re being attacked, and can also make sure you play your own attacks consistently. This is especially true in games with more than two players.

You may also run into the situation where you’re overdrawing your deck if you just drew your deck for the first time and trashed your last Estates and Curses. This situation is pretty good, but be careful that you don’t get to this point by trashing Coppers too fast. If you trash some Coppers but continue to overdraw your deck, you may have been better served by keeping the Coppers around to spend for a few turns before getting rid of them. In this situation, you’ll want to plan your next few turns, making sure you can still draw everything and hit the price points you care about to build your deck the fastest.

If you find yourself winning the game by a lot, either due to a lucky draw or maybe a strategy you think is much better than your opponent’s, you may build your deck more conservatively because the main way you can lose from your position is to have too many stall turns — turns where you have a bad draw and are unable to do much of anything. Building your deck to overdraw in this situation, even if you deviate from what you think is the best build path, can be the right play.

Overdraw can be OK in some situations where you plan to add some VP cards to your deck and you would still like to consistently draw your deck.

As long as you have at least one good reason to build a deck that overdraws itself, it’s usually a good idea to do so. Knowing why you’re building for overdraw can help you identify the situations where you want to go for it, versus the times where just drawing most of your deck sometimes is perfectly OK.

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