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Advanced Deck Cycles for Champions

October 29, 2021 · 4 min read

You can cycle back to your Champion with just 1 card! Is it a bug or a feature? Find out by understanding advanced Deck Cycle mechanics.

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Advanced Deck Cycles for Champions

Update 2021-11-01: Supercell has updated the behavior of how Champions cycle after a maintenance break. You can read about this updated behavior in Advanced Deck Cycles for Champions (Updated, v2).

Table of Contents

Deck Cycles until now

Until now, deck cycles had always behaved in a consistent way since the game was released:

  • 4 cards are in your Hand and 4 in your Draw Pile
  • The first card of the Draw Pile can be seen as the Next Card

As we’ll soon see, this is simply a model, a simplification that is useful for players to easily know when a card will be back in their hand. For example, after using a card, you can expect it to be in the Next Card slot after using 3 cards. When you use a 4th card, it returns to your Hand. You can then use it again, and that’s why Shortest Cycle is a very useful metric to know how agile a deck is.

Champion disruption

Champions were recently introduced in Clash Royale, and they brought a new mechanic that affects deck cycles: cards of this rarity can only be deployed in the arena one at a time.

This apparently simple condition has deeper consequences that change core aspects of the game. The first and most obvious is that you can’t mirror Champions, as that could lead to having 2 copies at once. The second is that you can’t quickly cycle back to them; to make this possible, Champions don’t return to your deck cycle until they die in the arena.

As a result, while your Champion is alive in the arena your deck rotation is now shorter, it has 7 cards. It's still early to say how this will affect deck building, but it could bring cycle decks to a whole new level.

Is this a bug?

If you have tested Champions you might have noticed this: after a Champion dies and returns to your deck cycle, you don’t always need to play 4 cards to get it back in your hand. Even more, it sometimes becomes your next card!

This behavior has confused many players as it didn’t fit into the mechanics they were used to. But is it a bug?

No, this is simply when the simplified model breaks down and isn’t useful. To understand what’s going on we have to go deeper, into a more realistic model.

The truth about Deck Cycles

Advanced Deck Cycles for Champions

There are 5 different sections of a deck cycle that are needed to understand the whole system:

  • Hand: the cards you have available to use in the arena.
  • Draw Pile: from where you pick cards to refill your Hand. A battle starts with 4 cards in this pile. 
  • Discard Pile: where cards go after being used
  • Limbo: exclusive for Champions, outside of your Hand, Draw Pile and Discard Pile. 
  • Arena: where troops are deployed by using cards

During a usual battle, you’ll use cards from your Hand, and they’ll go to the Discard pile. After that, because you now have an empty slot, you’ll pick a new one from the Draw Pile. 

When the Draw Pile is empty and you have to draw, all the cards that have been used move from the Discard Pile to the Draw pile.

Once the Draw Pile has cards again, you draw and the battle continues. As you’ll notice, the Discard Pile isn’t doing anything that you’ll notice, just keeping cards temporarily. That’s why the a simpler model was effective.

But as we mentioned earlier, Champions don’t follow this pattern. When you use their card to generate a troop they don’t go to the Discard Pile. Instead they are temporarily placed in the Limbo, until the troop is destroyed in the arena. After that, the Champion card moves directly from the Limbo to the Draw Pile, without going through the Discard Pile.

We have made this video to help you visualize a Deck Cycle in action:

📺 Watch on YouTube

The amount of cards in the Draw Pile keeps changing through the battle, from 0 cards to a maximum of 4. That’s why Champions return to the Hand earlier than other cards, they can range from exactly the next to being 4th in the Draw Pile.

Let us know what you think about this mechanic. Can this added layer of complexity be good for the game? Or would you prefer Champions to return to your hand in a more consistent and predictable way?

Examples

Here’s a video demo of the shortest possible cycle to return to a Champion.

Acknowledgements

We’d like to thank Jussi and Pavel from Supercell for providing assistance to some of the technical details published in this guide. 🥰

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Author: Alpe123
Alpe is the Director of Esports at RoyaleAPI.

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