Now that ACen’s been over for a week and I’ve mostly recovered from that whole ordeal, it’s time to follow it up with a guide on how to play my favorite deck-building card game that involves maids: Tanto Cuore.
Now this guide assumes two things from you: the first is that you’re sort of familiar with Tanto Cuore’s mechanics, and the second is you’re playing only with the first set (the box doesn’t have the subtitle “Romantic Vacation” or “Expanding the House” on it). If you’re not familiar with this game at all you should ideally play it first
because blah blah blah arrogant remarks or check out this really verbose explanation of the fundamental game mechanics right here.
So if you’re already familiar with the game’s fundamental mechanics, let’s get started.
Optimizing your deck building in Tanto Cuore is intellectually simple, but emotionally hard to execute. In general, it can be broken down into three steps:
Step 1: Avoid Deck Clutter
At the beginning of the game, you start out with three of this card in your deck:
While Colette is important once the game is over and everyone tallies their Victory Points, she is nothing but a thorn on your side before this point in the game as she does absolutely nothing useful when you play her, and she’s also the only card in the entire set that requires two service points to chambermaid, and you still get no bonus for doing so.
The reason why the developers shoved Colette in your deck is to give you a taste on how devastating deck clutter can be. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, this is one possible best-case scenario for your hand on your first turn:
With your second turn looking like this (or vice versa):
If it weren’t for Colette taking up space in your deck, your chances of drawing a full hand of 5 Love cards every turn is 100%, and having this kind of hand during the first deck cycle (going through your entire deck of ten cards in the first two turns of the game) is a very powerful opening. The obvious way for you to always have a full hand of 1 Love cards every turn is to ‘declutter’ your deck by finding ways to chambermaid your starting Colettes as fast as possible.
To make deck clutter more obvious, let’s say that your hand for the next turn looks this awesome:
You play Genevieve and the next card you draw is this:
It would’ve been nice to draw something else other than this card, right? Another Genevieve would’ve been cool, or even a 1 Love card.
Now there are cases where you do want to keep Colette in your deck, but that applies to more unorthodox strategies which we’re not going to cover in this guide. And even if you remove all of your deck clutter, the aftermath might result in a new type of clutter to deal with.
To give you an example, let’s assume that on another turn you drew the same awesome hand I mentioned earlier, but this time you’ve chambermaided all of the Colettes from your deck. You play Genevieve and then you draw out this card:
This scenario can realistically happen, and while Kagari is infinitely more useful than Colette during the Serving Phase, she’s completely worthless with your current hand because you have nothing else to play. If you keep drawing cards like these when you don’t want them for every deck cycle though, it’s safe to say that you just recluttered your deck and need to fix it by getting the right combination of cards that work together with what you currently have. Or maybe you just need to shuffle better.
Step 2: Create Card Synergy
Now that you’re aware on how deck clutter can slow you down, the next thing you have to worry about are what kind of cards you need to start buying to accumulate Victory Points as quickly as possible.
Even if you’re playing the game using the official rules which limits the number of General Maids available to Employ for each game session, most new players get overwhelmed with the number of options available to them, so my advice is simple: start off by deciding what card looks interesting to you and then figure out how to implement that card into your strategy by acquiring cards that compliment it well.
If it’s an expensive card (costs 6 or more Love), you’ll have to think of a way to accumulate enough Love as quickly as possible in order to buy those cards every turn while stalling the game as much as you can in order to acquire a comfortable number of them before ending the game.
If it’s a cheap card that catches your eye, then you need to figure out how to either end the game as quickly as possible with the most Victory Points or find a way to transition into buying those more expensive cards as the game progresses.
The rest of this section explains one of the first strategies I discovered which is quite flexible if you have no idea what you’re doing, which I dubbed the Workhorse Maid strategy. Essentially you choose a General Maid that will serve as the backbone of your deck and playing her must both make you draw a card and provide an additional service point so you can play any other maids from your hand. The reasoning behind this strategy is to try and offset your initial deck clutter by increasing your chances of drawing a Love card if your hand already has a Colette in it and then play any other useful maids if they’re available. Genevieve is one of the more straightforward examples and is an inexpensive card to get which is why I mentioned her earlier:
Once you’ve identified who your workhorse maid is going to be, you’ll want to increase the chances of having this maid in your hand at every turn, which means you have to buy more than one copy of her. You can also have more than one workhorse maid in your deck if you so choose; if you can add Ophelia into your deck because you managed to snag 6 Love by playing Genevieve and ended up with a hand full of 1 Love, get her over Genevieve (unless you’re sure you’ll end up with an even number of Ophelias by the time the game ends, that is):
The problem new players have when they discover this strategy is that they start to focus on accumulating these workhorse maids and then forget they don’t provide them with Victory Points (unless they’re going for Ophelia if she’s around for Employment). There’s also the possibility that if you spend too much time buying them you will end up wasting at least two turns pulling out either a 1 Love card or Colette (since the maids you currently have in your deck aren’t able to chambermaid her out of your hand) when you should’ve spent your resources getting other cards to further optimize your deck before everyone else does. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to determining how many of these maids you need to have.
Once you reach a comfortable number of workhorse maids, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what you want to do. For example, you can get a Private Maid that can provide you one of the resources that the workhorse maids already give:
Acquiring Lucienne is a big deal (in fact, she’s one of the best Private Maids in the base set) because you always start your turn as though you just played a Kagari, so you can then compliment her by getting a few copies of Moine and chambermaid a Colette whenever you don’t have Moine in your hand for that turn:
With Moine being used you can start buying the cheap chambermaidable cards in bulk or chambermaid two of them at a time with Lucienne’s bonuses. Assuming you chose Genevieve and/or Ophelia as your workhorses, you’ll also be getting free Love whenever they show up in your hand.
However, this combination is risky because Lucienne can be targeted by Illness cards, and if Claire isn’t around for Employment, your purchasing power at this point in the game might not be high enough to get the 3 Love cards you need to reverse the effect in time.
Step 3: Don’t Get Distracted
Now even though I laid out a possible strategy for you to follow, chances are really good that you probably won’t go through with it because three things will happen when you’re actually playing Tanto Cuore:
– Other players will observe what you’re doing and attempt to buy the same cards you’re trying to get
– You will observe what other players are doing and attempt to buy those cards they’re trying to get
– Every player watching each other buy a card each turn instills a habit into everyone that they need to buy SOMETHING every turn
These are amusing phenomenons that even more experienced players fall victim to. The reason for this is simple: any card that you choose to purchase in this game has its own viable strategy wrapped around it. Yes, even the 1 Love cards if you have the right maid in your deck.
Let me give you one example. Suppose someone buys this maid while you’re still trying to acquire your stable of workhorses:
What’s probably going in your head right now is, “Crap, this strategy I’m using might be going too slow. I better buy Safran before there’s none left!” and then waste your stock of 4 Love for this turn on one of these instead of getting another Genevieve. That sounds ridiculous, but this situation does happen once in awhile.
The reverse is also true. Let’s say everyone else starts scrambling to pick up Genevieve the turn after you buy the first one in the stack. The other players are probably thinking you’re onto something big and are trying to cash in on this opportunity before it’s too late. This situation is actually a good one to be in because it will quickly teach you how many copies of Genevieve you actually need in your deck before you should to move onto something else.
While all of this is going on, everyone then enters this mindset that they have to buy a card with the current amount of Love they have at their disposal, regardless of whether or not the card makes sense to include in their deck.
So what happens when you start buying things indiscriminately? You fall into the problem I addressed in Step 1: Deck Clutter. Keep in mind that unless those cards that you bought can be chambermaided, they’re going to be stuck in your deck forever. The more random cards that you buy, the less chances for you to have a consistently high number of Love to spend to get the cards you need to create the right synergy, so you’ll be tempted to spend your 1 Love to get another 1 Love card, which will then lengthen your deck cycle even more, wasting more turns before you get the actual card you need, but then realize that the other cards that worked well with it were drawn three turns ago.
Step 4: Go Play the Game Already
If you ever wonder why you lost the game, it’s usually because you weren’t following one of the three steps in this guide, so the best way for you to quickly find out why you lost is ask yourself these questions:
Was I getting the cards that I wanted consistently every turn?
If not, try finding what’s cluttering your deck and avoid it next game.
Did I fail to execute the strategy I had in mind for this game session?
If so, remind yourself next game to only buy the cards you have a specific strategy for and see if it really works.
Was I buying enough maids that gave me Victory Points?
If not, remember that Card Synergy is a balanced combination of maids that can give you Victory Points while not cluttering your deck unintentionally at the same time.
And as long as you follow these three steps mentioned in this guide, you should have a leg up over everyone else. Of course, there’s a whole bunch of other nuances about the game I haven’t covered yet, but I’ll save those for another post. In the meantime, go find someone who has a copy of this game and try out what I’ve pointed out here.
– Carl Dayagdag