03/15/2011 LI: "Card Advantage: A Brief Overview"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.

"Note that this type of card advantage is different from pure card advantage as your opponent still has the physical cards in his or her hand. However, the fact that these cards are useless means that you are still functionally up cards."



Virtually useless? He could have a Sky Eel School or Riddlesmith.

That was a great read. While I already have a good grip on card advantage I refresher is always nice. plus it's great for new players.

The next time you ask yourself "Who actually LIKES vanilla creatures?", well, now we know.
Too bad he did not touched any planeswalker, as most of them are dripping with card advantage and card "quality"...

"After all, it doesn't matter how many cards you've drawn if you are dead."

That works for a lot of things. eg:

...doesn't matter how many poison counters your opponent has...

...doesn't matter how many cards left in your opponent's library...

...doesn't matter how fast you can drive in a car...

...doesn't matter how much money you have...

...doesn't matter how many girls like you...

...doesn't matter if people want to vote for you to become president...

and so on...

Do people seriously confuse "card advantage" with "card quality", or did you just make that up?



"Note that this type of card advantage is different from pure card advantage as your opponent still has the physical cards in his or her hand. However, the fact that these cards are useless means that you are still functionally up cards."



Virtually useless? He could have a Sky Eel School or Riddlesmith.



That is possible, and then the "advantage" would be neutralized.  But in constructed, draw/discard cards don't always make the cut.  The point was just that you can leave your opponent with dead cards that do nothing.


 

This part really stuck out for me

The important thing is what you can do with a resource moving forward, not where or how you acquired it.



I've been guilty of treating tokens with far less respect than actual cards but it makes a very valid point and one I won't forget in a hurry

Do people seriously confuse "card advantage" with "card quality", or did you just make that up?



"Note that this type of card advantage is different from pure card advantage as your opponent still has the physical cards in his or her hand. However, the fact that these cards are useless means that you are still functionally up cards."



Virtually useless? He could have a Sky Eel School or Riddlesmith.



That is possible, and then the "advantage" would be neutralized.  But in constructed, draw/discard cards don't always make the cut.  The point was just that you can leave your opponent with dead cards that do nothing.




Constructed is irrelevent, because in constructed people don't normally main deck narow cards like slice in twain. card advantage or not, precisely because there is a real chance of them being dead(unless they are using liquimetal coating, but that's another issue). This is a column about limited.
People will often confuse differences in card quality with card advantage. While a card quality advantage can (and often does) lead to card advantage and/or advantages in other areas of the game, such as board presence or tempo, the very fact that you are playing "better" or bigger cards than your opponent doesn't necessarily mean that you will gain a lasting advantage.


Unfortunately, there's a serious problem with trying to define card advantage without considering card quality.  Consider these four scenarios:

A) You cast Elvish Visionary.
B) You cast Mons's Goblin Raiders.
C) You cast Elvish Visionary.  Elvish Visionary resolves and you draw Mons's Goblin Raiders.  You cast Mons's Goblin Raiders.
D) You cast Master's Call.

In scenario A, you gain one card.  In scenario B, you break even.  Scenario C is just A followed by B, so you gain one card.  In scenario D, you break even.  But C and D have more or less the same effect on the game: you trade one card in your hand and three mana for two 1/1 creatures.

How do you resolve this discrepancy?

You could say that A doesn't actually give you a full card worth of card advantage, or that B actually causes you to lose card advantage, because a 1/1 isn't really worth a card.  But then you're taking card quality into account.  Or you could say that D actually gives you a card worth of card advantage.  But you haven't drawn any physical cards or dealt with any of your opponent's cards in D, so again, you're taking card quality into account.  There is no reasonable way to assign numerical values to these four scenarios that does not involve card quality in one way or another.
Lux Cannon can easily put you up in card advantage in a proliferate deck or a deck using Voltaic Keys.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
People will often confuse differences in card quality with card advantage. While a card quality advantage can (and often does) lead to card advantage and/or advantages in other areas of the game, such as board presence or tempo, the very fact that you are playing "better" or bigger cards than your opponent doesn't necessarily mean that you will gain a lasting advantage.


Unfortunately, there's a serious problem with trying to define card advantage without considering card quality.  Consider these four scenarios:

A) You cast Elvish Visionary.
B) You cast Mons's Goblin Raiders.
C) You cast Elvish Visionary.  Elvish Visionary resolves and you draw Mons's Goblin Raiders.  You cast Mons's Goblin Raiders.
D) You cast Master's Call.

In scenario A, you gain one card.  In scenario B, you break even.  Scenario C is just A followed by B, so you gain one card.  In scenario D, you break even.  But C and D have more or less the same effect on the game: you trade one card in your hand and three mana for two 1/1 creatures.

How do you resolve this discrepancy?

You could say that A doesn't actually give you a full card worth of card advantage, or that B actually causes you to lose card advantage, because a 1/1 isn't really worth a card.  But then you're taking card quality into account.  Or you could say that D actually gives you a card worth of card advantage.  But you haven't drawn any physical cards or dealt with any of your opponent's cards in D, so again, you're taking card quality into account.  There is no reasonable way to assign numerical values to these four scenarios that does not involve card quality in one way or another.



I don't think he's trying to define one without the other. Rereading what you've quoted from the article, I get this as the bottom line "don't get hung up on card advantage only, don't get hung up on card quality only."

The best way to see this is Jace's Ingenuity vs Diabolic Tutor. Both aren't high picks when you put them against bombs and removal, but one gives you tons of random card advantage while the other breaks even.

Jace's Ingenuity can be really really awesome with replenishing your hand, but it can also be really really bad (you draw into nothing that impacts the outcome of the game). Diabolic Tutor can be really really awesome for snagging that game ending bomb or key removal, but it can also be really really bad (you have to tutor for a land cause you're stuck on 4 at turn 6).

So the bottom line is that card advantage and card quality change constantly depending on what's left in your deck, what the game state looks like, and what answers your opponent has. The author is suggesting you don't confuse and interchange the 2 so easily so you can pinpoint the direction your draft/sealed has to go to win.

This is why in Limited, sometimes dinosaur.dec and lava axe.dec just get there.
IMAGE(http://i738.photobucket.com/albums/xx30/hannaleak/hlsig1.jpg) the glory of
Lux Cannon can easily put you up in card advantage in a proliferate deck or a deck using Voltaic Keys.


I didn't exactly expect Lux Cannon to get its proper respect in a column about limited, even if this itself is a broader column.
I'll keep this article around for teaching new players the concept of card advantage. 
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57817638 wrote:
I like storm crow because I really like crows in real life, as an animal, and the card isn't terribly stupid, but packs a good deal of nostalgia and also a chunck of the game's history. So it's perhaps one of the cards I have most affection to, but not because "lol storm crow is bad hurr hurr durr".
Listen to my SoundCloud while you read my signature. The Island, Come And See, The Landlord's Daughter, You'll Not Feel The Drowning - The Decemberists by vimschy IMAGE(http://dragcave.net/image/rkvR.gif)IMAGE(http://dragcave.net/image/L3es.gif) IMAGE(http://dragcave.net/image/m71H.gif)
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56747598 wrote:
57295478 wrote:
Although I do assume you deliberately refer to them (DCI) as The Grand Imperial Convocation of Evil just for the purposes of making them sound like an ancient and terrible conspiracy.
Now, now. 1994 doesn't quite qualify as "ancient".
56734518 wrote:
Oh, it's a brilliant plan. You see, Bolas was travelling through shadowmoor, causing trouble, when he saw a Wickerbough Elder with its stylin' dead scarecrow hat. Now, Bolas being Bolas took the awesome hat and he put it on his head, but even with all his titanic powers of magic he couldn't make it fit. He grabbed some more scarecrows, but then a little kithkin girl asked if he was trying to build a toupee. "BY ALL THE POWERS IN THE MULTIVERSE!" he roared, "I WILL HAVE A HAT WORTHY OF MY GLORY." and so he went through his Dark Lore of Doom (tm) looking for something he could make into a hat that would look as stylish on him as a scarecrow does on a treefolk. He thought about the Phyrexians, but they were covered in goopy oil that would make his nonexistant hair greasy. He Tried out angels for a while but they didn't sit quite right. Then, he looked under "e" (because in the Elder Draconic alphabet, "e" for Eldrazi is right next to "h" for Hat) in his Dark Lore of Doom and saw depictions of the Eldrazi, and all their forms. "THIS SHALL BE MY HAT!" he declared, poking a picture of Emrakul, "AND WITH IT I WILL USHER IN A NEW AGE OF DARKNESS -- ER, I MEAN A NEW AGE OF FASHION!" And so Nicol Bolas masterminded the release of the Eldrazi.
57864098 wrote:
Rhox War Monk just flips pancakes, and if games have told us anything, it's that food = life.
56747598 wrote:
76973988 wrote:
This thread has gotten creepy. XP
Really? Really? The last couple days have been roughly every perverse fetish imaginable, but it only got "creepy" when speculation on Mother of Runes's mob affiliation came up?
76672808 wrote:
57864098 wrote:
57531048 wrote:
Nice mana base. Not really.
Yeah, really. If my deck was going to cost $1000+, I'd at least make it good.
99812049 wrote:
I like to think up what I consider clever names for my decks, only later to be laughed at by my wife. It kills me a little on the inside, but thats what marriage is about.
56816728 wrote:
56854588 wrote:
Of course, the best use [of tolaria west] is transmuting for the real Tolaria. ;)
Absolutely. I used to loose to my buddy's Banding deck for ages, it was then that I found out about Tolaria, and I was finally able win my first game.
70246459 wrote:
WOAH wait wait wait
56957928 wrote:
You know, being shallow and jusdgmental aside, "I later found out that Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people"
56957928 wrote:
"I later found out that Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people"
56957928 wrote:
Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates
56957928 wrote:
OH MY GOD
109874309 wrote:
The only way I'd cast this card is into a bonfire.
82032421 wrote:
The short answer is that there's no rule barring annoying people from posting, but there a rule barring us from harassing them about it.
56747598 wrote:
Browbeat is a card that is an appropriate deck choice when there's no better idea available. "No better idea available" was pretty much the running theme of Odyssey era.
56874518 wrote:
Or perhaps it was a more straightforward comment indicating a wish for you to be bitten (Perhaps repeatedly) by a small yet highly venomous arachnid.
70246459 wrote:
58280208 wrote:
You're an idiot, and I'm in no mood for silliness.
57817638 wrote:
57145078 wrote:
You just... Vektor it.
That's the answer to everything.
70246459 wrote:
58347268 wrote:
I think the problem is that you don't exist.
This would sound great out of context!
56965458 wrote:
Modern is like playing a new tournament every time : you build a deck, you win with it, don't bother keeping it. Just build another, its key pieces will get banned.
57864098 wrote:
57309598 wrote:
I specifically remember posting a thread when I was just a witty bitty noob.
You make it sound like that's still not the case.
58325628 wrote:
Rap is what happens when the c from crap is taken away.
Doug Beyer:
But sometimes it's also challenging. Because sometimes OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS THING?
141434757 wrote:
Flashforward five thousand years (Click for atmosphere) :
57927608 wrote:
to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum, Vektor finds a way.
58347268 wrote:
when in rome **** AND PILLAGE
143229641 wrote:
I always find it helpful when im angry to dress up in an owl costume and rub pennies all over my body in front of a full body mirror next to the window.
Dymecoar:
Playing Magic without Blue is like sleeping without any sheets or blankets. You can do it...but why?
Omega137:
Me: "I love the moment when a control deck stabilizes. It feels so... right." Omega137: "I like the life drop part until you get there, it's the MtG variant of bungee jumping"
Zigeif777:
Just do it like Yu-Gi-Oh or monkeys: throw all the crap you got at them and hope it works or else the by-standers (or opponents) just get dirty and pissed.
57471038 wrote:
58258708 wrote:
It's true that Alpha and Beta didn't contain any cards like Tarmogoyf, Darksteel Colossus, or Platinum Angel. It just contained weak, insignificant cards like Black Lotus, Mox Sapphire, and Time Walk.
Normally it's difficult to pick up on your jokes/sarcasm. But this one's pretty much out there. Good progress. You have moved up to Humanoid. You'll be Human in no time.
91893448 wrote:
94618431 wrote:
I didn't know Samurai were known to be able to cut down whole armies...
They can when they're using lightsabers!
57129358 wrote:
97980259 wrote:
My wife brought home a baby black squirrel they found on a horse track and cared for it for a few days. We named it Grixis, but it died.
Unearth it!
70246459 wrote:
[/spoiler] And I'm on Magic Arcana. How about you? Oh, by the way, I'm also on From the Lab now. Twice, actually. And now with my own submited decklist!
This article reminded me why I enjoyed Alara Reborn so much... Cascade. Sure, cantrips are nice because they replace the card in your hand. But cascade (generally) creates a much more immediate impact on the board. Enlisted Wurm into Stormcaller's Boon into Ardent Plea into Qasali Pridemage, etc.
Brilliant article, loved it. I'm showing it to my mates who're just getting into drafting Magic because it's easier than explaining things myself a heap.
People will often confuse differences in card quality with card advantage. While a card quality advantage can (and often does) lead to card advantage and/or advantages in other areas of the game, such as board presence or tempo, the very fact that you are playing "better" or bigger cards than your opponent doesn't necessarily mean that you will gain a lasting advantage.


Unfortunately, there's a serious problem with trying to define card advantage without considering card quality.  Consider these four scenarios:

A) You cast Elvish Visionary.
B) You cast Mons's Goblin Raiders.
C) You cast Elvish Visionary.  Elvish Visionary resolves and you draw Mons's Goblin Raiders.  You cast Mons's Goblin Raiders.
D) You cast Master's Call.

In scenario A, you gain one card.  In scenario B, you break even.  Scenario C is just A followed by B, so you gain one card.  In scenario D, you break even.  But C and D have more or less the same effect on the game: you trade one card in your hand and three mana for two 1/1 creatures.

How do you resolve this discrepancy?

You could say that A doesn't actually give you a full card worth of card advantage, or that B actually causes you to lose card advantage, because a 1/1 isn't really worth a card.  But then you're taking card quality into account.  Or you could say that D actually gives you a card worth of card advantage.  But you haven't drawn any physical cards or dealt with any of your opponent's cards in D, so again, you're taking card quality into account.  There is no reasonable way to assign numerical values to these four scenarios that does not involve card quality in one way or another.



I count tokens as extra cards.  So, Master's Call is -1 card (to play the call), +2 cards (to get the tokens), so +1 card advantage.  Discrepency solved.

I'll keep this article around for teaching new players the concept of card advantage. 


They should sell a book of this sort of thing. Maybe just a guide to basic strategy, maybe a bunch of classic columns. Maybe a bit of both.

I still have an old copy of Baxter on Magic. Don't think it's aged well. 

"After all, it doesn't matter how many cards you've drawn if you are dead."

Maybe. But I didn't really need the other 19 life I had at the start of the game anyway.


While it is important to consider card advantage effects, many new players overrate marginal forms of card advantage because they fail to consider the importance of mana and the life cycle of tight mana into mana flood over a typical game of Magic.

Let's consider a paradigm case of straight card advantage - Sign in Blood.  Pay 2 mana and 2 life, draw 2 cards.  You used one card and you got 2, straightforward card advantage, right?  But consider the full resource picture when you decide to add one Sign in Blood to your deck.

Suppose you have reasonably low curve and run 24 land out of 60 cards.  The Sign in Blood does not replace a land card, but a spell, in that budget.  When you cast it, however, you are not guaranteed to draw 2 spells.  On the contrary, that will only happen 36% of the time (.6 per card).  16% of the time you will draw 2 land, and 48% of the time you will draw one of each.  You can also think of it as drawing "1.2 spells and 0.8 lands".  OK, but you paid a spell for it.  Your net is 0.2 spell and 0.8 land, actually.

And what is the value of that 0.8 land?  From the first turn you would otherwise miss a land drop, plus 1 mana per turn.  You paid 2 mana to gain this, however.  It takes 2.5 turns after the first missed land drop  to draw even on mana (fractions because we are dealing with expectations yada yada).  In the meantime you've also paid 10% of your starting life total to be up 2/10ths of one *spell*.

If Sign gets you out of a 2 land start into a smooth curve it has clearly helped.  But when you draw it later, or only get around to playing in later after your "gas" - thinking "I need to refill my hand" - you are probably already in mana flood - able to play anything you draw.  If that Sign in Blood you just top decked were a sweet winning spell, it wouldn't need to wait to cycle; there wouldn't be that 16% chance of only getting land.  You are really only ahead in this instance if you get that 36% two actual spell, result.

Like Preordain, Sign is actually better at getting you out of mana screw on turns 2-4 than later in the game.  Because both lands and spells are pretty full value at that time.  Later, the lands aren't, and you are likely to only get one spell for it.

The faster a deck and the lower its curve, the less it actually cares about this.  If you are ramping toward a Grave Titan, land number 5 of that Sign is still sweet.  If your fast aggro Vamps deck tops out at 3 mana and only has 15% of its cards costing even that much, Sign is much less useful - especially because you are likely to only draw a 2/2 alongside that unneeded extra Swamp.  (Dark Tutelage is a better "draw engine" for vamps for this reason).

Similarly, the power level of spells compared to lands and the importance of that point on your curve, can change the value of a card advantage spell.  A good example of this is Forsee, which is a very potent draw card in Limited.  The Scry lets you avoid the usual problem of drawing too much land when you don't need it, and means you will practically always gets 2 full spells for your spell, and maybe better than average ones at that, and more fitted to the current game state.

But Forsee sees practically no play in Standard.  Because it competes at the same mana slot with Jace the Mind Sculptor, a much more powerful draw engine, or at 1 mana less, with his little brother, which doesn't have scry but can draw card after card is left alive, and frequently "eats" an enemy spell.  Other effects at 4 mana are also pretty steep - A Koth or an Abyssal Persecutor or a Day of Judgment.  Forsee is almost guaranteed card advantage in the narrow sense, and only Day might occasionally match it in that respect among these rival effects.  But you don't see lots of Standard lists jamming 4 Forsees to make use of this.  They will play 4 Jaces or they won't bother.  Using a full 4-mana turn has to have huge game swinging effects to keep up with the metagame and not get you blown out.

FWIW...
Jason:

1) Your point on what you are getting now is valid.  However, there is another point...  If you draw a land now, you aren't getting that land later.  The kind of card advantage that Sign in Blood gives has another impact: digging.  Let's say "Answer to current board state" is 3rd from the top.  If you cast Sign in Blood, it is now on the top, and will be drawn next turn.  If you don't, you have to deal with the current board state for 3 more turns, if you get no answers. 

2) Big Jace is currently run in place of Foresee because Big Jace is run in place of pretty much everything that costs 4 and is blue.  I'd be highly surprised if there is another blue 4cc card that is run in standard atm.