How to determine number of mana sources

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
My friends and I have been playing an m12 limited tournament amongst ourselves this past weekend. So far we have done a sealed and 2 drafts, with one draft left to go. We've already drafted the cards for the third draft, but because of time constraints are making the decks on our own and playing the games on Wednesday.

The events we've already had went just okay for me so far. I came in 2nd (out of 4) in the sealed, placed first in the first draft, and last in the second. Each time I've made some bad choices and completely revamped my decks after the first game (we've been playing that you can change your deck after any game, and not have to reset it). In the drafts, however, I seem to be picking too many high CMC creatures and spells, and left without enough early game. As a result, I've frequently been left with either nothing to play for several turns, or never drawing the land I need. Sometimes I don't even draw any land in my hand, even after two mulligans! (With the exception of the game in which, ironically, I drew 10 of my 17 land....consecutively).

None of my decks have had less than 17 land, and I started going up to 18 when I was consistently not getting enough. My question is, how do you determine how many lands or "mana sources" to put in a limited deck? I've read a few of the Limited Information articles on the Daily MTG site, and the authors keep saying "So I knew I was going to need X mana sources, and X of this color", and "I knew I would need X of this color to draw it by turn X"

How do you guys go about figuring how many mana sources you put in your limited decks relative to the cards you're playing, how many of those are lands, and how many of each color? (including splashes) Any articles I may have missed would be welcome.
An easy way some people put it is you want 1 land per 2 mana symbols in your deck on average. That goes for color as well.

So it depends on how your deck is curved, as well as whether or not you have cards that can get land, or produce mana.

Cards that fetch land, or produce mana tend to be counted as 1/2 of a land, but still factor in their cmc. And always round them down, so if you only have 1, don't take a land out for it. Keep in mind how easy to kill they are as well. Like myr in scars set you might not want to count at all considering how many things can kill them.

Also, 17 is the accepted norm and is based around a curve that has its majority in 2-4 cmc spells in a 40 card deck, and nothing over 7 cmc that you expect to cast from your hand. If you have no high cost spells and a majority of 1-3 cmcs you should play less land. And if you have a lot of 5+ cmc cards you should play more land.
I usually go 17 or 18. if you have a high-ended enough curve that 18 isn't enough, you should really lower your curve a bit. you shouldn't be consistently mana screwed with 18.


why are you here when NGA exists and is just better


Sets I Made: Fleets of Ossia (complete) | Wavebreak (in progress)

I almost always play 18 lands, barring 4+ nonland manasources, or good fetching/monocolour.

For colours, I usually look at it this way... If it's just a small splash, you still want a couple of sources. Splashing a single Hero of Oxid Ridge in an otherwise one-coloured deck is worth 2½-3 Mountains (ie. 2 Mountain and something like a Leaden Myr or Blackcleave Cliffs), but that's probably enough to otherwise support, say, a Galvanic Blast, a Volt Charge and an Artillerize.

Once we're above splash size and more like "side colour", look at the ratio of mana symbols (MTGO's "Stats" section is excellent for this) to get a good picture, then count other factors (ie. splashing a total of 8 Green symbols in a Wg deck is a wholly different matter if it's Blightwidows and Rotted Hystrixes in a deck with a couple of WWs than if it's Death-hood Cobras, Viridian Corrupters and Glistener Elf to go with your Priests of Norn, Tine Shrikes and Shriek Raptors. In the first case, I'd probably play 13 Plains and 5 Forest, whereas in the other case, I'd need as many as 8-10 Forests because the cards are green-intensive, low-cost creatures, and the whites are later and less intensive).

Even building around two main colours, this depends a lot. I recently posted an M12 Sealed deck where I ended up playing more Swamps than Plains despite a slight majority of White cards, because of the intensity of the black ones (as well as a couple of mana-sinks; a shade and a repeat-sac Reassembling Skeleton).

Hope this helps
Preparing for the M14 Prerelease - New article up! IN THE TANK - my very own blog for rambling about Magic!
Sign In to post comments