3/09/2010 LI: "Adventures in Limited"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
On the play, most certainly ship that back.  Easy choice.

On the draw, it's a harder choice, but I would still mulligan.
Mulligan, hands down, irregardless of whether or not you were on the play or the draw.  In order to make any relevant plays by turn 2, you'd need to draw either a red creature or a swamp.  The red creatures in this deck aren't that appealing compared to the black creatures, and the red spells won't be very useful until later in the draft, when they have enticing targets.  If you get a new hand, it's likely you'll get a swamp, and that you'll actually be able to get a threat on the board.
The deck is has no late bombs, so either you win early or you lose.  In this hyper aggressive deck, you need to mulligan aggressively to almost play a creature every single turn and win quickly or you'll lose against cards of much higher quality or a sweeper.
Mulligan always.  Your odds of drawing a swamp by turn two, even if you're on the draw, are less than 50%, and if that happens you've probably lost.  Even if you get it, you're hand isn't amazing.
Terrible hand.  Ship it always.
Must mulligan.  You will NOT win with this hand, so you have to mull even if you don't want to.  You aren't going to be able to cast Urge to Feed early, point blank.  You need a Swamp in the first two turns to turn this into a good hand and keep your curve going and there is only a 22.5% chance of drawing a Swamp with each draw.  On the play, you will only draw one card by turn 2.  So the choice comes down to whether it is better to have a 22.5% chance of having a decent hand or mulliganing-I'll take the mulligan.

Also, in Sadin's scenarios, I always try to test my opinion by using the random hand generator.  I went through 20 random six card hands.  14 were better than this hand, 4 were about the same, only 2 were worse.  In other words, most six card hands for this deck are going to be better than this hand.  You won't be able to use the simulator in the real world but that's where experience comes in.   
I'd probably ship this hand back on the play or on the draw.  I can't see how this deck full of agressive 2-drops wins if it gives the opponent any time to get set up while you're waiting to draw a swamp.
Ship that hand without even taking a second thought.  Get something with both a Swamp and a Mountain at least for lands.  Plenty of two drops in the deck only have a single colored mana requirement.

I was asked recently what common I'd want to first pick in ZZW and said Welkin Tern, because it goes best in the sorts of decks I like to draft.  It's a standing thing for me I suppose, I was asked during Shards block draft in one game, "Don't you have any creatures without flying?"  To which I said, "Nope, thanks for letting me know about the Branching Bolt." (I think I actually had 3 non-flyers out of 14 or 15 creatures)
The end is always nigh.
I'd mulligan.  I'd also change the mana to 12/6 or 11/7 swamps/mountains.  We're ~2:1 in favor of black in the deck.
Ship it. Needs a swamp here.
I'd mulligan.  I'd also change the mana to 12/6 or 11/7 swamps/mountains.  We're ~2:1 in favor of black in the deck.



10:8 maybe. More cards are black, yes, and we certainly would be better off with this hand if 2 swamps were in it. But as this is a very agressive deck, and we have 3! Searing Blazes, which we want to play as soon as possible, most likely T4. 9:9 feels kinda right for that reason alone, but 10:8 would give the deck better starting chances.

With 12:6, the searing blazes won't come online until about T7 average, and that's much too late. 11:7 makes that about T6, which is still a bit slow to keep the agression rolling. 10:8 or 9:9 makes most of them. 

On a side note, I'd play Nemesis Trap SB against agressive white, but never MB in a deck like this. Too expensive, and a defensive removal. If you ever get into defence with a deck like this, something went wrong, and that spell alone won't save you. And it does nothing for your game plan. Any additional 1-3 mana creature does more. Even an additional land will be better most of the times.
I wonder if the mulligan questions in these article have ever been a close call.  This is so obvious that it is barely worth asking.  At least make it a hand with 3 mountains, and perhaps a deck that is 70% red cards.  This hand with an extra mountain instead of the rover and 5 more red cards in the main deck is still probably a mulligan in such a hyper-aggressive deck, but at least it could have made an interesting discussion.
it's not even a question. ship this back!
I wonder if the mulligan questions in these article have ever been a close call.  This is so obvious that it is barely worth asking. 



This is exactly what I am wondering. To be fair, I don't read this column very often but when I do I find that the "what would you do?" situations to be total no-brainers.

Our deck has only 5 creatures that it can play without Black mana, and only 7 spells total that we can play with only Mountains. Keeping a hand without a Swamp seems like suicide in a fast format. The 3 Searing Blazes are awesome, yes, and probably reason enough to keep the 9/9 split. So I would keep the mana ratio but mulligan aggressively each game until I find a Swamp. 

As this is the first game of the first round we are presumably playing against a totally unknown deck. If we knew something about our opponent, AND we were on the draw, then maybe, just maybe you could keep this hand with its Searing Blaze and cross your fingers but in this situation I don't think you can keep it.

Too bad there were no Akoum Refuges or Pilgrim's Eyes in our pool, as I hope we would have all played them....
"Personally, I believe $50 is the roof that someone will pay for a Standard card, Mythic or otherwise." - Ben Bleiweiss, StarCity Games ----------------------------------------------------------
I wonder if the mulligan questions in these article have ever been a close call.  This is so obvious that it is barely worth asking.



True enough. Sadly, I know enough occasional players who would keep this hand, betting on drawing a swamp. Which is NOT what one should do. Obvious to us, but not to them. 

Still, this seems like a pointless question, as an halfway experienced player will mulligan such a hand without blinking. They could at least have put a Pilgrim's Eye into that hand to make it a question at all (And no, I'd still mulligan.)
weird question, since I would have never built anything like this in the first place. The pool cannot have been that bad.
I would keep the hand though.
weird question, since I would have never built anything like this in the first place. The pool cannot have been that bad.
I would keep the hand though.



You, Sir, must be joking. For an agressive R/B sealed deck, this is amazing. 7 cheap and efficient removals, 4 of which damage the opponent in addition, plus all those cheap critters... I'd love to play such a pool in sealed. Very strong deck with a clear game plan and all the tools to make it work. As I said, only cards I'd never play here MB is the Nemesis Trap.

...oh, you would keep this hand? So you ARE joking! Never mind.
mulligan regardless on the play or draw. looking at the deck, other than the searing blaze, theres no other double red casting cost but the deck seem to require at least one black source to function properly.

unless if the land count is something like 10 swamps, 8 mountains, on the draw it might be possible to keep that hand - but thats somewhat pushing it. 
Normally I am a bit of a gambler, because I like my games to close, fast, and interesting. But this is even too much for me.

Even if I am on the draw, it really only gives me two turns to draw into a swamp. And even though I have a nice set up turn two with Searing Blaze I 1) don't know if my opponent is going to play a creature. And 2) It may not even be something worth getting rid of. 
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Mulligan, hands down, irregardless of whether or not you were on the play or the draw.  In order to make any relevant plays by turn 2, you'd need to draw either a red creature or a swamp.  The red creatures in this deck aren't that appealing compared to the black creatures, and the red spells won't be very useful until later in the draft, when they have enticing targets.  If you get a new hand, it's likely you'll get a swamp, and that you'll actually be able to get a threat on the board.


Irregardless is not a word.

And I would totally mulligan that hand.
Irregardless is not a word.

And I would totally mulligan that hand.


Mulligan is not a word.

And I totally agree. Cool
If those were 2 swamps instead of 2 mountains, it would be an automatic keep both on the play and the draw, right?
Mulligan, and I also think the lands should have been 10 swamps, 8 mountains.

This deck contains 3 red creatures and 4 red spells, versus 9 black creatures and 4 black spells (as well as 2 colorless creatures).

For cards that are heavy on red mana you have 3 Searing Blazes; for cards that are heavy on black mana you have Quag Vampires, Vampire Lacerator, Vampire Nighthawk, Disfigure, Hideous End, and Urge to Feed.

I really don't understand why this deck has an equal number of swamps and mountains.
If those were 2 swamps instead of 2 mountains, it would be an automatic keep both on the play and the draw, right?



I'd say so. Only Searing Blaze is a dead card for the moment, and since the deck is heavy on the black side and very cheap, most cards you will draw the next few turns won't be dead either. And you have enough action the first few turns plus a removal that plays nice with your 2 vampires. With 2 swamps, I'd keep.

Mulligan, and I also think the lands should have been 10 swamps, 8 mountains.

This deck contains 3 red creatures and 4 red spells, versus 9 black creatures and 4 black spells (as well as 2 colorless creatures).

For cards that are heavy on red mana you have 3 Searing Blazes; for cards that are heavy on black mana you have Quag Vampires, Vampire Lacerator, Vampire Nighthawk, Disfigure, Hideous End, and Urge to Feed.

I really don't understand why this deck has an equal number of swamps and mountains.



It's a tougher desicion than it seems. In a perfect world, this deck wants to kill very fast and have all options with SSMM in play by turn 4-5.  Searing Blaze are among the best cards, and you really want to make sure they get online early enough to make the biggest impact possible. 9/9 gives you the best chance to play all possible cards early on, and this deck really doesn't want to reach the mid to late game. Plus, you will not need any double black card until you have at least 3 lands in play.

On the other hand, 10/8 might lessen your mulligan needs, make the bigger part of the deck more stable, and it is very possible to win with the black cards alone or at least deal enough damage to make a later Searing Blaze deadly. And you will want to play 2 black cards in one turn more often than 2 red cards.

It seems like a small difference, but with a deck so dedicated to aggro as this one, timing is utterly important, and your mana can ruin your game plan.

In the end, I'd go 10/8 (or 10/9 and kick the useless trap), but 9/9 isn't unreasonable.

I think it would be best as 10/8.  Searing Blaze is probably your best card but it is still good mid-game.  This deck really wants to be dropping creatures (mostly vamps) turn 2,3, and 4.  Seize the game early then use its removal later, Searing Blaze is still good turn 5 and on, while Vampire Lacerator and the two drops aren't.  I wouldn't play 19 lands in a deck this aggressive.  The trap, while clearly out of place, was probably his 22nd card. 

I think it would be best as 10/8.  Searing Blaze is probably your best card but it is still good mid-game.  This deck really wants to be dropping creatures (mostly vamps) turn 2,3, and 4.  Seize the game early then use its removal later, Searing Blaze is still good turn 5 and on, while Vampire Lacerator and the two drops aren't.  I wouldn't play 19 lands in a deck this aggressive.  The trap, while clearly out of place, was probably his 22nd card. 




Yup, Traps smells like 22nd card. But still, with a deck so dependend on double mana in 2 colours early on, and the trap doing NOTHING for the game plan, I'd play a land over it (or any cheap creature, if any are left in the pool). Think of it this way: How many times will you be happier about the trap instead of a land in your hand? And how many times the other way around? Yes, 19 lands in such an agressive deck with little landfall and low curve seems odd, and I'd play 17 lands if the searing blazes weren't there. But they are, and stable mana will help the deck more than the trap could (if there is nothing else in the pool). 


I really don't understand why this deck has an equal number of swamps and mountains.



Probably to ensure the for 3xSearing Blaze. But I agree, I would not have built the deck this way, and I would always toss this hand.

Now, if there were a Pilgrim's Eye somewhere in the deck, I'd consider keeping. But with zero mana fixing, it's hard to stay with this.
 
Well, the hand is a four sure mulligan. But I think I build decks differently then most others. I would play 17 land or even 16 with a crazy fast pool like that. I mean, I guess the pool is kinda shallow with the inclusion of the puma... but still.
Grow old or die trying.
i would def mul...this doesn't have to do with question but the article.

What do you guys think about chalace, i like it but i wouldn't want to top deck it...

The biggest Vorthos Ever I'd rather have an awesome mechanic than the most flavor any day. Constantly coming up with cards all the time. So if you see a card you like tell me. Constantly trying to get into card of the week if you see a card you like please nominate.

This is a weird exercice. I don't think anyone would keep this
Mulligan on the play, as well as on the draw. As Martin Juze so elegantly put it:

"If you are keeping, always have a plan."

Removal by turn two is not a plan - it's damage control - so the only possible plan would be to draw into a Swamp, and that's when you realize you should have mulliganned.

I don't find this particularly close.
On the play you've got a 72% chance not to draw a swamp before turn 2. This deck being all about fast agression I wouldnt ever keep a first hand that just will fail putting pressure on the opponent almost 75% of the time!

On the draw you've got 47% to draw at least one swamp during the first 2 draw steps... Which still means that your hand will be suboptimal more than 50% of the time with a real risk of being unplayable...

My choice would be to mulligan this whatever the toss result is. 
At the first card you draw the chances to draw a Swamp is 27%, and the chances of getting a red creature is 9% (all the red creatures are two-drops btw),  that you get either a Swamp or a red creature is 36%.

Unless you draw a Swamp or red creature the first time the chances  that you draw a Swamp is 28% and a red creature is 9% the second time. In total 37%.
The chances that any of the first two cards is a Swamp is 48%, the chances that any of the two first card is a red creature is 18%. The chances that you at least drawn either a Swamp or a red creature during the two first turns are 65%.

Unless you draw a Swamp or red creature the first two times the chances  that you draw a Swamp is 29% and a red creature is 10% the third time. In total 29%.
The chances that any of the first three cards is a Swamp is 63%, the chances that any of the two first card is a red creature is 26%. The chances that you at least drawn either a Swamp or a red creature during the two first turns are 88%.

=====================================================================

As many of you guys have stated very clearly it's not even worth considering taking a playing with this hand if you are on the play. If the deck aren't gonna stop on your third turn one of the two top cards of the library has to be a Swamp, or alternatively the first card being a red creature directly followed up by a Mountain (the chances of that are 1,6%). This means the total chances of deck deck running smoothly are slightly less than 50% on that hand. Mulligan will probably give you a better start (the chances that you will get at least one Swamp and one Mountain on a six-card-hand with that deck is 61%).

If you are on the draw it all turns into a harder decision of course. You've got three cards to draw the important stuff, and one of the three cards can be total crap and the deck will still run smoothly. You really want to draw a Swamp of course, but even if the 63% that say that you will draw a Swamp isn't too nice there are other possibilities for the deck out with red creatures for a little while. This deck really needs an effective early game, and if the two first creatures die to a Marsh Causalities the deck will have a way harder time to catch up if you start on a five- or six-card hand. So if you have reason to believe that your opponents deck is heavy on removal you have bigger reason to refrain from mulliganing. I believe I would keep. I'm not sure through, if I should keep.
Kokirin has some good points here, which echoes some of my thoughts.  On the play, this hand is awful.  I have a rule that I see what is playable out of a hand in a worst-case scenario, and in this case it's only 1 spell (the artifact could theoretically work if you kept drawing mountains, but that's no incentive).  1 spell is never enough, ship it back.

On the draw, the math starts getting complicated.  You can easily remove an opponent's creature during the first couple of turns, but by turn 3 the deck has to start working.  Turn 3, as outlined by Kokirin, has good odds of working on the draw.  I won't disagree that it would still be better odds to mulligan, but I'm a gambler and I like card advantage, i.e., a fistfull of spells.  I'd keep it on the draw.

Disclaimer: my decision is colored by preferences, I have bad luck with mulligans and good luck drawing into things.


As to the deck's makeup, he must have had a powerful but shallow pool.  Stonework Puma is so-so, and the trap is nearly abysmal (if he's doing a lot of racing, it could make for a swingy late game I guess).  While I might suggest another swamp over the trap, that's hard to swallow with a low mana curve (I have been flooded in an aggressive deck with 14 lands before).  He clearly didn't have anything better to put there, or, as we are all known to do, had a moment of error.
I see some people have brought up the non obvious problem with this question: the deck has been badly misbuilt. For one, the mana base is completely wrong. There are 17 black symbols and only 9 red ones. Plus, the red cards (mostly) hold their value late in the game whereas the black cards do not as well. If you start to take things into account like Quag Vampires and Slavering Nulls, it's pretty clear that you should have at least 12 swamps in this deck. If you were to only change that about the decklist, this hand becomes a lot more playable (especially on the draw.)

The second problem with this deck is that the choice to go B/R aggro was probably the wrong one, unless you had an exceptionally weak pool. You already have four removal cards in black, so you don't NEED the Searing Blaze. In order to play red, you've been forced to play crap like Akoum Battlesinger. You really think going into a color is a good idea when you don't even have three decent creatures in it? If your red is this shallow, you shouldn't be splashing for it to play a RR card. Even one as good as Searing Blaze.

To answer the question: In this case you throw this hand away. But a properly built deck wouldn't have to.
Maybe we've finally stumbled on what the problem is supposed to be; is this build so mediocre that a six-card hand may not even rate to be any better? That is, after all, the basic goal of mulliganing in the first place.

I'm sure I'm stretching here; I threw this hand in long ago like everyone else. It's just that figuring out someone's obscure point is a bit of a hobby of mine.
There are the same number of BB spells as their are RR spells (Not counting Quag Vampires and its kicker) but twice as many two drop black creatures, which is my reasoning behind 12:6/11:7 since you need black by turn 2 and would prefer double black on turn 3.  Searing Blaze is actually better as a late play in this type of deck as opposed to a turn 3 play.

There are the same number of BB spells as their are RR spells (Not counting Quag Vampires and its kicker) but twice as many two drop black creatures, which is my reasoning behind 12:6/11:7 since you need black by turn 2 and would prefer double black on turn 3.  Searing Blaze is actually better as a late play in this type of deck as opposed to a turn 3 play.




First,
Mulligan in both cases. An Aggro deck with No Aggression is useless.

Secondly,
I agree with Steve's mana distribution. You HAVE to be able to cast removal on turn 3 or 4 to clear the way for your attackers. Since Searing Blaze is 3 of his 7 removal spells(not counting nemesis trap because it can't kill blockers), you need to have the ability to reliably cast one by at least turn 4. 

My all time favorite deck to play is Boros Aggro, (a very similar strategy). Even with 20 burn spells, Boros decks needed to get about 10 damage out of their creatures, and that usually required burning blockers on your opponent's side until your creatures got their life into single digits. For this deck, Remember that 10 of your 14 creatures have 1 toughness, so almost all blocks will involve you losing a creature. Also this deck doesn't have the luxury of consistently getting around 10 damage from burn so your creatures will have to stay around much longer. Simply put, If your opponent can get 1/3 or better on the board early and you can't remove it, you will lose the game. 

I see some people have brought up the non obvious problem with this question: the deck has been badly misbuilt. For one, the mana base is completely wrong. There are 17 black symbols and only 9 red ones. Plus, the red cards (mostly) hold their value late in the game whereas the black cards do not as well. If you start to take things into account like Quag Vampires and Slavering Nulls, it's pretty clear that you should have at least 12 swamps in this deck. If you were to only change that about the decklist, this hand becomes a lot more playable (especially on the draw.)



I agree completely with this and would myself definitely play 11 or 12 Swamps in this deck.

The second problem with this deck is that the choice to go B/R aggro was probably the wrong one, unless you had an exceptionally weak pool. You already have four removal cards in black, so you don't NEED the Searing Blaze. In order to play red, you've been forced to play crap like Akoum Battlesinger. You really think going into a color is a good idea when you don't even have three decent creatures in it? If your red is this shallow, you shouldn't be splashing for it to play a RR card. Even one as good as Searing Blaze.

To answer the question: In this case you throw this hand away. But a properly built deck wouldn't have to.




I don't agree with the rest however. On my local prerealease at least the half of the twenty top decks were black-red aggro. It is a strong archetype in the format and as well as Searing Blaze is a top-notch card, and with three of them it is just awesome. Akoum Battlesinger is a card with great potential that has worked out great for me. Though I can't praise it too high in this deck with just three allies, and I'd prefer a Goblin Bushwhacker, but I still don't believe it is crap in the deck. This is not the best built deck I can imagine, but it with the exception for the screwed up mana-base, I still think it's a great deck in sealed.
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