Power Scaling in Altmile
Power scaling refers to the progression of power needed to hit key breakpoints at certain stages of the game and today we will address how Altmile is able to properly scale throughout the game. Power scaling is often tied to the breakpoints in magic numbers. So what exactly is a magic number? This term refers to the amount of power you need to hit to force the opponent to guard with more cards in their hand. For example if you are attacking your opponent's 13k vanguard and swinging with a 23k column, the opponent only needs 15k guard. If you swing with a 27k column, the opponent still only needs a 15k guard. Not until you hit the point of 28k does your opponent need to guard with 20k guard. In current Standard vanguard, the most common shield values are 15k triggers, 20k heal triggers, or 10k grade 1 units. Getting your attacking columns to the point where an opponent would need to use 20k shield is most common breakpoint as it forces the opponent to use a minimum of 2 cards, or a heal trigger or sentinel. Since an opponent only gains raw 3 cards a turn with their draw and twin drive, if you can force the opponent to lose 4 cards each turn by guarding you will eventually wear out their hand. Thus the goal is to make each column force the opponent to use 2 cards to guard.
Power scaling uses different numbers at different stages of the game. When you opponent as at G1 with an 8k vanguard, you will want to set up columns if possible to hit 18k or more to force the opponent to use 15k shield. When opponent is at G2 with a 10k vanguard, you will want to set up columns to hit 25k. And when the opponent is at G3 with a 13k vanguard you will want to set up columns to hit 28k. The typical Altmile deck has a lot of explosive power and can hit key breakpoints at the G2 and G3 game stages.
Altmile has one of the strongest G2 rush games out of all decks in the game. It can make a G2 rush against an opponent's 10k vanguard and can easily set up 20k columns, using violinist and any G2, forcing opponent to use 15k shield to guard. It can also fairly easily make 25k columns by using Suleiman to bounce a unit giving the additional 5k. Or it can use Tion to hit 29k which is still the same breakpoint as 25k against a 10k vanguard. Suleiman and Tion shine most at this stage in the game with an early rush to break past the 25k breakpoint. If rushing against an opponent's G1 8k vanguard the ideal number to hit is 23k. Once again most columns in Altmile create either 20k or 25k columns. Tion and Suleiman are used in the same way to hit the 23k breakpoint. When rushing an opponents G2 10k as a G3, your 40k columns are sufficient and Tion or Suleiman is not necessary as the opponent already needs 35k shield to guard and will either be using a perfect guard or no guarding at that stage in the game.
Once the opponent reaches G3, the new breakpoint is 28k. Altmile rearguard columns can fairly easily break past this number and easily hit 40k with Aerial's skill hitting the 38k breakpoint. Against a 13k vanguard, a 38k column forces 30k in shield which is most often two triggers or a sentinel crit. Using Tion to hit a 49k column or Suleiman to hit a 45k column is not as important at this stage in the game, unless you know the opponent has a sentinel crit in hand which would force them to use 2 cards to guard. Otherwise, forcing 30k in guard is generally sufficient and any additional power will just force a perfect guard. So Suleiman and Tion are better used to scale for aggression in the early game when rushing the opponent on G2. On average with a G2 10k booster behind Aerial vanguard, the opponent will be dealing with 30k for rearguard, 35k for 2 to pass on vanguard, and then another 30k for the last rearguard column, usually a minimum of 6 cards per turn.
Often times Tion is run as in the deck as only 1 or 2 copies making it more difficult to see in the early G2 rush turns where it is most impactful for breakpoints. Tion is also good as a frontrow reaguard after using your other front row rear as intercept to force the opponent to attack your vanguard and give you damage. If you have a way to reliably countercharge already such as multiple Degnud in early game, or the Pluck/Blade combo, this second use of Tion is not as useful. Thus to take full advantage of Tion for scaling breakpoints, you would want to run multiple copies which the deck cannot fit as easily due to deck space. So I would highly suggest running Tion as a 1 of as a searchable way to break the 30k guard from the opponent when you know they have a sentinel crit, or in some cases to just cut it completely as forcing 30k columns is usually good enough as a breakpoint. Suleiman on the other hand helps to not only scale well on the G2 rush turn, but also helps to find Altmile if ridden as vanguard. Many Altmile lists especially in Japan play only 4 Aerial Altmiles as their only G3 targets. Running Suleiman at 4 copies in this case increases probability of riding as vanguard to help with ride consistency and also helps to hit the breakpoints at the G2 rush turn as a bonus. I would highly recommend running Suleiman with 4 copies in decks that run 4 or 5 G3 in their Altmile lists. For my personal lists I have actually cut out Tion as I have sufficient countercharge outlets and I am running 4 copies of Suleiman as I run 5 G3.
Because of the Altmile deck's strong ability to hit key breakpoints at the G2 and G3 game very easily, the deck can play a very good aggressive game. For consistency many players choose to run the 8 crit, 4 draw, 4 heal standard trigger lineup. But due to the ability to scale easily and hit breakpoints well at early stages of the game, many players can opt to run 12 or even up 16 crit lists and really take advantage of Altmile's ability to scale well. I hope this article has helped you to understand breakpoints better and how to more properly build and transition your columns!