BigK42's blog listings. Feed Zend_Feed_Writer 1.10.8 (http://framework.zend.com) http://community.wizards.com/bigk42 Magic Numbers, Part 1 One of the best ways to fine tune your deck and improve you play is to have a good understanding of the probabilities involved with your deck.  This is the first of a series of articles intended to explore some of the probabilites involved in Mtg.

1. I want to see a card in my opening hand.  What is the probability of drawing it?

This question can be important if you run a deck that relies heavily on one card in order to win, or if it's better to have a card in your opening hand.  This matters to decks running [c]Pyromancer Ascension[/c] or [c]Leyline of Anticipation[/c], for instance.

The answer depends on how many copies of the card you're running.  Assuming you play a full play set (4 copies), the chances of drawing at least 1 in your openeing hand are approximately 40%.

You get this value by figuring out the chances of drawing NO copies of the card and then subtracting that value from 100%.  In this case, the equation is:

(56/60)*(55/59)*(54/58)*(53/57)*(52/56)*(51/55)*(50/54)=.6005; 1-.6005=~.40

2. How does redundancy affect that probability?

Running additional copies of a card that has a similar effect increases your chances of drawing a copy in your opening hand (running [c]Ponder[/c] and [c]Preordain[/c], or [c]Roiling Terrain[/c] and [c]Demolish[/c] for example).  The chart shows your chances of drawing at least one of these cards according to how many copies of the card you have in your deck:

1: 18%

2: 22%

3: 32%

4: 40%

5: 47%

6: 54%

7: 60%

8: 65%

As you can see, the most bang for your buck comes in upgrading from 2 copies to 3, as you gain a 10% chance of drawing that card in your opening hand by doing so.

3. If I get unlucky and don't draw the card I need in my opening hand, should I mulligan?  What are the chances of drawing the card I need off a mulligan?

As a strategic matter, the answer is going to depend on how much mana you drew and what other cards you drew.  If you drew an otherwise acceptable hand, you might not want to turn it in.  But if you absolutely, positively MUST have a specific card in your hand, here are the chances of drawing the card off a mulligan, by how many copies you have in your deck:

1: 16%

2: 19%

3: 28%

4: 35%

Your chances of drawing at least one card off a mulligan aren't too much worse than your chances of drawing one normally, but you're still playing the odds.

Next time, I'll brush up on sampling without replacement and talk about the probability of drawing lands.

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Wed, 21 Jul 2010 19:33:35 -0500 http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/07/21/magic_numbers,_part_1 http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/07/21/magic_numbers,_part_1 One of the best ways to fine tune your deck and improve you play is to have a good understanding of the probabilities involved with your deck.  This is the first of a series of articles intended to explore some of the probabilites involved in Mtg.

1. I want to see a card in my opening hand.  What is the probability of drawing it?

This question can be important if you run a deck that relies heavily on one card in order to win, or if it's better to have a card in your opening hand.  This matters to decks running [c]Pyromancer Ascension[/c] or [c]Leyline of Anticipation[/c], for instance.

The answer depends on how many copies of the card you're running.  Assuming you play a full play set (4 copies), the chances of drawing at least 1 in your openeing hand are approximately 40%.

You get this value by figuring out the chances of drawing NO copies of the card and then subtracting that value from 100%.  In this case, the equation is:

(56/60)*(55/59)*(54/58)*(53/57)*(52/56)*(51/55)*(50/54)=.6005; 1-.6005=~.40

2. How does redundancy affect that probability?

Running additional copies of a card that has a similar effect increases your chances of drawing a copy in your opening hand (running [c]Ponder[/c] and [c]Preordain[/c], or [c]Roiling Terrain[/c] and [c]Demolish[/c] for example).  The chart shows your chances of drawing at least one of these cards according to how many copies of the card you have in your deck:

1: 18%

2: 22%

3: 32%

4: 40%

5: 47%

6: 54%

7: 60%

8: 65%

As you can see, the most bang for your buck comes in upgrading from 2 copies to 3, as you gain a 10% chance of drawing that card in your opening hand by doing so.

3. If I get unlucky and don't draw the card I need in my opening hand, should I mulligan?  What are the chances of drawing the card I need off a mulligan?

As a strategic matter, the answer is going to depend on how much mana you drew and what other cards you drew.  If you drew an otherwise acceptable hand, you might not want to turn it in.  But if you absolutely, positively MUST have a specific card in your hand, here are the chances of drawing the card off a mulligan, by how many copies you have in your deck:

1: 16%

2: 19%

3: 28%

4: 35%

Your chances of drawing at least one card off a mulligan aren't too much worse than your chances of drawing one normally, but you're still playing the odds.

Next time, I'll brush up on sampling without replacement and talk about the probability of drawing lands.

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Most Undervalued Card in M11 So what's the most undervalued card in M11?  I was shocked when I saw the price on this:

[c]Hoarding Dragon[/c]

Weighing in at little more than 53 cents, this card is an investment piece you can bank on.  Come on people!  The next block is Scars of Mirrodin!  You really think that there's not going to be some awesome artifacts begging for a tutor?

Sure, the current standard doesn't feature much in the way of artifacts that you'd want to use a delayed tutor for, and the format is filled with exile type removal, but there's still a lot of potential in this card.

You know what'd be hilarious?  A deck built around [c]Hoarding dragon[/c], [c]Jinxed Idol[/c], and [c]Mitotic Slime[/c].  Throw in some [c]Elixir of Immortality[/c], a [c]Sprouting Thrynax[/c], and a [c]Bloodthrone Vampire[/c] for spice!

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Fri, 16 Jul 2010 16:58:23 -0500 http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/07/16/most_undervalued_card_in_m11 http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/07/16/most_undervalued_card_in_m11 So what's the most undervalued card in M11?  I was shocked when I saw the price on this:

[c]Hoarding Dragon[/c]

Weighing in at little more than 53 cents, this card is an investment piece you can bank on.  Come on people!  The next block is Scars of Mirrodin!  You really think that there's not going to be some awesome artifacts begging for a tutor?

Sure, the current standard doesn't feature much in the way of artifacts that you'd want to use a delayed tutor for, and the format is filled with exile type removal, but there's still a lot of potential in this card.

You know what'd be hilarious?  A deck built around [c]Hoarding dragon[/c], [c]Jinxed Idol[/c], and [c]Mitotic Slime[/c].  Throw in some [c]Elixir of Immortality[/c], a [c]Sprouting Thrynax[/c], and a [c]Bloodthrone Vampire[/c] for spice!

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Milling Around Until October Wizards really has it out for mill.  As if it wasn't hard enough balancing mill per turn output around the requirements of staying alive in the face of vastly superior creatures, vicious burn, and counters, they have to include things like the Eldrazi, and [c=Elixir of Immortality]This Little Gem[/c].  Seriously, can't a miller get a break?

Of course, how much you see of those cards depends almost entirely on how successful mill becomes.  The eldrazi are sometimes an exception, with polymorph - now mass polymorph - and eldrazi ramp seeing occasional use.

Here's my mill deck until Shards rotates:

4x [c]Archive Trap[/c]
4x [c]Trapmaker's Snare[/c]
4x [c]Path to Exile[/c]
4x [c]Roiling Terrain[/c]
4x [c]Ponder[/c]
4x [c]Lightning Bolt[/c]
3x [c]Reverberate[/c]
3x [c]Call to Mind[/c]
2x [c]Jace Beleren[/c]
1x [c]Ravenous Trap[/c]
1x [c]Suffer the Past[/c]

The strategy is pretty simple.  You lay the smackdown with Archive trap, twin-casting when possible, and calling up additional traps with either snare or call to mind.  And if your opponent gets wise and stops cracking lands, you force them to search with Path.  Roiling terrain keeps their mana low and can be an alternate win con if you get enough land in the graveyard.  (One turn explosions aren't out of the question).  Baby jace is in there for card draw and to legend rule his more expensive big brother.  Note that even if you don't pack any black mana in this deck, you can still play Ravenous trap off of an archive trap (and search it out to play for free with trapmaker's snare).  As a sideboard, run three or four [c]Leyline of the Void[/c] to sub in for roiling terrain against decks that need it.

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Mon, 12 Jul 2010 14:22:00 -0500 http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/07/12/milling_around_until_october http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/07/12/milling_around_until_october Wizards really has it out for mill.  As if it wasn't hard enough balancing mill per turn output around the requirements of staying alive in the face of vastly superior creatures, vicious burn, and counters, they have to include things like the Eldrazi, and [c=Elixir of Immortality]This Little Gem[/c].  Seriously, can't a miller get a break?

Of course, how much you see of those cards depends almost entirely on how successful mill becomes.  The eldrazi are sometimes an exception, with polymorph - now mass polymorph - and eldrazi ramp seeing occasional use.

Here's my mill deck until Shards rotates:

4x [c]Archive Trap[/c]
4x [c]Trapmaker's Snare[/c]
4x [c]Path to Exile[/c]
4x [c]Roiling Terrain[/c]
4x [c]Ponder[/c]
4x [c]Lightning Bolt[/c]
3x [c]Reverberate[/c]
3x [c]Call to Mind[/c]
2x [c]Jace Beleren[/c]
1x [c]Ravenous Trap[/c]
1x [c]Suffer the Past[/c]

The strategy is pretty simple.  You lay the smackdown with Archive trap, twin-casting when possible, and calling up additional traps with either snare or call to mind.  And if your opponent gets wise and stops cracking lands, you force them to search with Path.  Roiling terrain keeps their mana low and can be an alternate win con if you get enough land in the graveyard.  (One turn explosions aren't out of the question).  Baby jace is in there for card draw and to legend rule his more expensive big brother.  Note that even if you don't pack any black mana in this deck, you can still play Ravenous trap off of an archive trap (and search it out to play for free with trapmaker's snare).  As a sideboard, run three or four [c]Leyline of the Void[/c] to sub in for roiling terrain against decks that need it.

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Combo of the Day: Infinite Turns Ah, [c]Splinter Twin[/c].  A card that has "combo me" written all over it.  There's a few infinite mana tricks you can pull off with this card, as well as an infinite landfall trick, but why do something quick and final when you can drag out the game without giving your opponent a chance to play?

Today's combo involves three cards:

[c]Mnemonic Wall[/c]
[c]Splinter Twin[/c]
[c]Time Warp[/c]

As long as you have 5 mana, you're good to go.  First the wall goes down, then you enchant with Splinter Twin, then you cast Time Warp.  Tapping the wall for Splinter Twin allows you to retreive Time Warp from your graveyard, and you can cast Time Warp next turn, and every other turn from now on.  Sure, it might take awhile to work up enough other stuff to take your opponent out, but you're playing by yourself, so the result is pretty much determined.

The two things that will ruin this combo are removal on your wall and counters on your Time Warp.  As long as Mnemonic Wall stays in play, even a counter on one Time Warp isn't necessarily game over.  You can always retrieve it next turn and play it again.  A [c]Crab Umbra[/c] on your wall will go a long way towards keeping it around, and can serve as a way to get another use out of Splinter Twin once you have enough mana.

Of course, these combo pieces are fairly expensive. You need to survive long enough to cast Mnemonic Wall, then Splinter Twin, then Time Warp.  How you do this depends on your play style.  You could go defenseive with early drops like [c]Kraken Hatchling[/c], accelerate your mana with [c]Spawning breath[/c], [c]Brood Birthing[/c], and/or [c]Everflowing Chalice[/c], or play the bounce/counter game with [c]Unsummon[/c] and [c]Essence Scatter[/c].

Then you're going to want a late drop that you can win with.  [c]Sphinx of Jwar Isle[/c] comes to mind, but any flying creature with decent power will do.  Even [c]Dormant Gomazoa[/c] combos well since it will untap every time you cast Time Warp on yourself.

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Mon, 03 May 2010 06:31:24 -0500 http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/05/03/combo_of_the_day:_infinite_turns http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/05/03/combo_of_the_day:_infinite_turns Ah, [c]Splinter Twin[/c].  A card that has "combo me" written all over it.  There's a few infinite mana tricks you can pull off with this card, as well as an infinite landfall trick, but why do something quick and final when you can drag out the game without giving your opponent a chance to play?

Today's combo involves three cards:

[c]Mnemonic Wall[/c]
[c]Splinter Twin[/c]
[c]Time Warp[/c]

As long as you have 5 mana, you're good to go.  First the wall goes down, then you enchant with Splinter Twin, then you cast Time Warp.  Tapping the wall for Splinter Twin allows you to retreive Time Warp from your graveyard, and you can cast Time Warp next turn, and every other turn from now on.  Sure, it might take awhile to work up enough other stuff to take your opponent out, but you're playing by yourself, so the result is pretty much determined.

The two things that will ruin this combo are removal on your wall and counters on your Time Warp.  As long as Mnemonic Wall stays in play, even a counter on one Time Warp isn't necessarily game over.  You can always retrieve it next turn and play it again.  A [c]Crab Umbra[/c] on your wall will go a long way towards keeping it around, and can serve as a way to get another use out of Splinter Twin once you have enough mana.

Of course, these combo pieces are fairly expensive. You need to survive long enough to cast Mnemonic Wall, then Splinter Twin, then Time Warp.  How you do this depends on your play style.  You could go defenseive with early drops like [c]Kraken Hatchling[/c], accelerate your mana with [c]Spawning breath[/c], [c]Brood Birthing[/c], and/or [c]Everflowing Chalice[/c], or play the bounce/counter game with [c]Unsummon[/c] and [c]Essence Scatter[/c].

Then you're going to want a late drop that you can win with.  [c]Sphinx of Jwar Isle[/c] comes to mind, but any flying creature with decent power will do.  Even [c]Dormant Gomazoa[/c] combos well since it will untap every time you cast Time Warp on yourself.

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Walls! Walls! Walls! This past FNM I played with a half-finished wall deck (the rage nimbus and vent sentinels were still in the mail.  Talk about incomplete >.<) and lost a pair of games 1-2 before I had to leave.  Now that I've got the two missing cards, the deck has really come together.  Here's what it's turned into:

0cc

1x [c]Spidersilk Net[/c] - this deck can sometimes have problems vs. stuff that flies.  The net allows any creature in the deck to survive [c]Broodmate Dragon[/c], and allows most to survive [c]Baneslayer Angel[/c].  Plus it's free to play and fairly cheap to equip.  Aggro decks really have to hustle to beat down a turn 1 [c]Perimeter Captain[/c], turn 2 equip.  A 0/6 wall with life gain is nothing to sneeze at.

1cc:

[c]Perimeter Captain[/c] - a great card to drop at any time.  This card will single-handedly prevent an opponent from attacking you until they draw removal.

[c]Hyena Umbra[/c] - originally I had this slot reserved for lightning bolt, but hyena umbra does a lot for this deck.  Besides negating removal while preserving your board presence, it pairs extremely well with [c]Rage Nimbus[/c].

2cc:

[c]Wall of Omens[/c] - great card, and fits perfectly into this deck.  You'll almost never be sorry to draw this, and it's awesome in your opening hand.

3x [c]Stalwart Shield-Bearers[/c] - Originally I ran a full set of these, but it turned out that they were one of the weaker cards when it came time to add some utility pieces.  While they make your other walls sufficiently beefy, they remain a 0/3 themselves until you pull out another copy.  For :1mana::w: I'd just as soon run [c]Eland Umbra[/c] on one of my other walls, as many times the result is the same, if not better.

3cc

[c]Rage Nimbus[/c] - I love this card.  5 power for a 3 drop is very good, and the ability to make your opponent throw his weak cards into your [c]Perimeter Captain[/c] is even better.  Stick a [c]Hyena Umbra[/c] on it an you've got a 6/4 first striker that no one wants to mess with.

[c]Oblivion Ring[/c] - Much-needed removal.  Deals with everything from [c]Baneslayer Angel[/c] to [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c].

[c]Lust for War[/c] - This card looks like a loser, but many times it's pure win.  3 damage per turn is a pretty harsh clock when you're staring at a row of high-toughness defenders with life-gain.  Often this will win the game for you all by itself.  Other times it will force your opponent to remove his own creatures.  Not as useful vs. decks that don't make extensive use of stable creatures (RDW and poly decks), but that's what sideboards are for.

[c]Survival Cache[/c] - a hands-down winner.  Life gain with built-in card advantage?  Yes please!

4cc:

[c]Vent Sentinel[/c] - this guy is the primary win-con.  If you manage to keep enough things on the board to reach a stalemate, this guy ends it.  At 2/4 he's out of [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] range, but it's still a good idea to drop him after an opponent uses his removal, or you have an umbra to protect him.

[c]Warmonger's Chariot[/c] - just 1 would probably do, but 2 wouldn't be bad either.  This would turn [c]Rage Nimbus[/c] into an enormous threat.

[c]Hedron Matrix[/c] - I like this card.  It's a little expensive, and most of the cards in this deck are fairly cheap to cast, but + 3/3 on rage nimbus is still very very good.

[c]Gorgon Flail[/c] - I know, I know...  [c]Basilisk Collar[/c] is better in every conceivable way than this card.  What can I say, I'm cheap.  Besides, the only creatures in here that can use the lifelink are [c]Rage Nimbus[/c] and [c]Vent Sentinel[/c], and Rage Rimbus is the only one that it's really scary on.  Plus, you have to do damage in order to use deathtouch, and my early drops have 0 power.  As long as I've the flail in the deck, I might even consider running a couple [c]Cunning Sparkmage[/c].

Sideboard Options:

[c]Eland Umbra[/c] - I would side these in vs. U/W control.  It doesn't help vs. oblivion ring or journey, but it does keep your walls around after a [c]Day of Judgment[/c].

[c]Volcanic Fallout[/c] - a must-have vs. poly decks, but also useful against others.  Nothing in your deck is taken out by 2 damage, so it's safe to cast.  On the other hand, :1mana::r::r: can be an awkward casting cost in this deck.  Since most of the early drops require :w:, your red/white land ratio probably slants a bit towards white.  I'm too cheap to include dual lands in my decks, so the best I can manage is a set of [c]Evolving Wilds[/c].  That said, I've never had a problem with mana with this deck.

[c]Dragon's Claw[/c] - I consider this mandatory for RDW and even jund matchups.

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Sun, 02 May 2010 05:35:45 -0500 http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/05/02/walls!__walls!__walls! http://community.wizards.com/bigk42/blog/2010/05/02/walls!__walls!__walls! This past FNM I played with a half-finished wall deck (the rage nimbus and vent sentinels were still in the mail.  Talk about incomplete >.<) and lost a pair of games 1-2 before I had to leave.  Now that I've got the two missing cards, the deck has really come together.  Here's what it's turned into:

0cc

1x [c]Spidersilk Net[/c] - this deck can sometimes have problems vs. stuff that flies.  The net allows any creature in the deck to survive [c]Broodmate Dragon[/c], and allows most to survive [c]Baneslayer Angel[/c].  Plus it's free to play and fairly cheap to equip.  Aggro decks really have to hustle to beat down a turn 1 [c]Perimeter Captain[/c], turn 2 equip.  A 0/6 wall with life gain is nothing to sneeze at.

1cc:

[c]Perimeter Captain[/c] - a great card to drop at any time.  This card will single-handedly prevent an opponent from attacking you until they draw removal.

[c]Hyena Umbra[/c] - originally I had this slot reserved for lightning bolt, but hyena umbra does a lot for this deck.  Besides negating removal while preserving your board presence, it pairs extremely well with [c]Rage Nimbus[/c].

2cc:

[c]Wall of Omens[/c] - great card, and fits perfectly into this deck.  You'll almost never be sorry to draw this, and it's awesome in your opening hand.

3x [c]Stalwart Shield-Bearers[/c] - Originally I ran a full set of these, but it turned out that they were one of the weaker cards when it came time to add some utility pieces.  While they make your other walls sufficiently beefy, they remain a 0/3 themselves until you pull out another copy.  For :1mana::w: I'd just as soon run [c]Eland Umbra[/c] on one of my other walls, as many times the result is the same, if not better.

3cc

[c]Rage Nimbus[/c] - I love this card.  5 power for a 3 drop is very good, and the ability to make your opponent throw his weak cards into your [c]Perimeter Captain[/c] is even better.  Stick a [c]Hyena Umbra[/c] on it an you've got a 6/4 first striker that no one wants to mess with.

[c]Oblivion Ring[/c] - Much-needed removal.  Deals with everything from [c]Baneslayer Angel[/c] to [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c].

[c]Lust for War[/c] - This card looks like a loser, but many times it's pure win.  3 damage per turn is a pretty harsh clock when you're staring at a row of high-toughness defenders with life-gain.  Often this will win the game for you all by itself.  Other times it will force your opponent to remove his own creatures.  Not as useful vs. decks that don't make extensive use of stable creatures (RDW and poly decks), but that's what sideboards are for.

[c]Survival Cache[/c] - a hands-down winner.  Life gain with built-in card advantage?  Yes please!

4cc:

[c]Vent Sentinel[/c] - this guy is the primary win-con.  If you manage to keep enough things on the board to reach a stalemate, this guy ends it.  At 2/4 he's out of [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] range, but it's still a good idea to drop him after an opponent uses his removal, or you have an umbra to protect him.

[c]Warmonger's Chariot[/c] - just 1 would probably do, but 2 wouldn't be bad either.  This would turn [c]Rage Nimbus[/c] into an enormous threat.

[c]Hedron Matrix[/c] - I like this card.  It's a little expensive, and most of the cards in this deck are fairly cheap to cast, but + 3/3 on rage nimbus is still very very good.

[c]Gorgon Flail[/c] - I know, I know...  [c]Basilisk Collar[/c] is better in every conceivable way than this card.  What can I say, I'm cheap.  Besides, the only creatures in here that can use the lifelink are [c]Rage Nimbus[/c] and [c]Vent Sentinel[/c], and Rage Rimbus is the only one that it's really scary on.  Plus, you have to do damage in order to use deathtouch, and my early drops have 0 power.  As long as I've the flail in the deck, I might even consider running a couple [c]Cunning Sparkmage[/c].

Sideboard Options:

[c]Eland Umbra[/c] - I would side these in vs. U/W control.  It doesn't help vs. oblivion ring or journey, but it does keep your walls around after a [c]Day of Judgment[/c].

[c]Volcanic Fallout[/c] - a must-have vs. poly decks, but also useful against others.  Nothing in your deck is taken out by 2 damage, so it's safe to cast.  On the other hand, :1mana::r::r: can be an awkward casting cost in this deck.  Since most of the early drops require :w:, your red/white land ratio probably slants a bit towards white.  I'm too cheap to include dual lands in my decks, so the best I can manage is a set of [c]Evolving Wilds[/c].  That said, I've never had a problem with mana with this deck.

[c]Dragon's Claw[/c] - I consider this mandatory for RDW and even jund matchups.