03/05/2011 Feature: "Fate is in the Cards"

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This thread is for discussion of this weeks's Feature Article, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
If you mulligan that hand with 5 lands, a creature, and a burn spell, you can count on getting 6 spells no lands followed by 5 lands no spells followed by the exact same hand except 3 fewer lands.  Mulligan does not necessarily mean you are getting a *better* hand.
As much as I enjoy griping about MaRo's weird articles, at least he does them right. If you're going to write from a different point of view, you have to make it seem different. This honestly was just good tips for improving the consistency of your deck with a very thin layer of gimmicky paint on top of it.

Now that I've fulfilled my 'complaining about free stuff' quota for the day, I have to say that I actually really did find the article informative. It said a few things I hadn't thought about before regarding land count, and it seemed to be genuinely useful, especially to a new player.  I have to say though, given the fact that Merfolk Mesmerist was the banner card and it's 'fate' week, I was expected some mention of how milling doesn't actually help you remove the opponent's useful cards. Probably a bit too common sense though, given that most players already know that.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
Since the ''send e-mail'' thing doesnt work (I honestly think it NEVER works.. It says Uknown Author) I just write my e-mail here:

Dear Magic Card/Gavin Verhey
In response to "Fate is in the Cards":

I got to say I got a little frustrated with the part of the sample hand. 7 cards. 5 lands, a good 2 drop and a good removal spell. But we shouldnt keep it because it doesnt have a plan.

Sure, you could have a hand with 3 lands, a one drop, a two drop, and 2 good removal spells, and that would be better, no doubt there.

I do wonder if a hand with 3 lands, a pridemage, a char, and a 4 drop is so much better though. I guess it is, and worth mulling to.

However, I found out that just not the way it works out in the end.

I used to be one of those players that never muligunned as long as he could play a single card in his openings hand, even if that was just a removal spell. Why? Because I was scared of the muligan. I was scared it would only get worse.

For the last couple of years, I have tried to make better muligan desissions, to take into account what plan (like you said) the hand actually has. So I muligan when I draw a hand like the sample hand.

Only to draw a hand with no land.

And again.

And again.

And I am forced to keep a 4 card hand with NO land.

I mean what the?.. Bad luck you say? Sure, but it would have been a lot more playable with the first hand. Now I just got myself an auto-loss, instead of a 30%/40% win chance.

Point is, this happens to me way to often. Even in team games, with the free muligan, I find myself back in the spot ''this hand isnt really great.. but it can get so much worse.. lets keep it''. Is that stupid? Because I dont want to muligan when I should? I am starting to think after all those years thats not the case.

Not that you should never muligan offcourse, but I played a recent PTQ and lost 4 of my 7 matches because I had to muligan 3 times in the first and/or second round.

Yes I play 24 land, and yes I shuffle good (and so does my opponent) but I just draw 7 land or zero. And that, is completely random as far as I can tell.

Conclusion: I think its pretty easy to say to players they should muligan more cause its not the fault of bad luck/fate that you are to stubborn to muligan a ''bad'' hand, but really dont take into account the feeling you get when your next 2 or 3 hands are just plain crap.

Greetings from the Netherlands, and give me a little luck for the PTQ next weekend will you?
I have to say though, given the fact that Merfolk Mesmerist was the banner card and it's 'fate' week, I was expected some mention of how milling doesn't actually help you remove the opponent's useful cards. Probably a bit too common sense though, given that most players already know that.



While it is true that milling doesn't help improve your current board state I don't see how milling doesn't "remove the opponent's useful cards".  In limited especially, milling can easily remove their largest threat before it ever gets played.  The only time milling really "hurts" is if your opponent is running some sort of reanimator or dredge deck and their graveyard is one of their major resources.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
Yeah, that whole "add a land for consistency" trick is pretty interesting. I don't think the reverse trick (going down to 16) really works, though. At least not in the case where the card you remove is a genuine playable. Why not? Because if the plan is to get a bit lucky then why can't you get lucky by simply not drawing the land you were about to swap out?

More technical analysis: The 18-land trick works because you're increasing the chances of land flood and you're happy to actually flood by +1 land, because that won't lose you the game since your deck is so strong. The 16-land trick fails because in order to beat a superior deck you need to be neither flooded nor screwed. Messing with your land mix increases the combined chance of at one of these two things going wrong and so it's not improving your overall odds.

If you have a weaker deck than the opponent, the best way to improve your odds is to try to make your deck faster. The more cards you both draw, the more each deck's fortunes will tend to the average. Consequently, sideboard with a view to ending the game quickly and just hope your opponent keeps a hand that needs time to stabilise (or mulligans it into a 0-lander and then has to go to 5!). In comes Furor of the Bitten and Traitorous Blood, siding out Grizzled Outcasts and Somberwald Spider.
Chance is feminine.  It should be "bonne chance"

While it is true that milling doesn't help improve your current board state I don't see how milling doesn't "remove the opponent's useful cards".  In limited especially, milling can easily remove their largest threat before it ever gets played.  The only time milling really "hurts" is if your opponent is running some sort of reanimator or dredge deck and their graveyard is one of their major resources.



In a randomized library, the card is equally likely to be in any position.  So if mill the top card, you could be removing their threat, but you also could be making them draw their threat a turn earlier.

Just imagine this card:
Millstone v2
Artifact
, : Put a mill counter on Millstone v2.
If an opponent would draw a card, instead he or she puts the card in his or her library that's X cards from the top into his or her hand, where X is the number of mill counters on Millstone v2.

While this doesn't entirely replicate Millstone's functionality, it does illustrate what it does to card selection.  Surely you can see that this isn't an effective means to remove the opponent's good cards.  They're just as likely to be X cards from the top as they are to be on the very top.  On average, it does nothing to their card selection.

The only way mill can help in that way is if the library is non-randomized (i.e. some card was looked at or put into a specific position and it wasn't shuffled afterwards) or if you remove all of the cards.
Gavin,

just last week I started reading your Design Space blog, and was lamenting the fact that it hasn't been updated in a while. Now I see you're writing for the Mothership and couldn't be happier.

Hopefully your working at WotC is not the first step towards the possible future glimpsed in "the day the magic died" Wink

Best wishes,
Matt
One problem a lot of players have as far as bad experiences with mulliganing is that they just don't shuffle enough. After a long game, there could be 8-10 land in play. If that player just picks them all up as a pile, it will take a ton of shuffling to actually randomize having up to a very specific 20-25% of the deck stacked together. For players that are bad at shuffling, it is much more common. Chaos orb is banned over manual dexterity, but many games are lost to the manual dexterity required to actually randomize a deck during the shuffling process. And it is almost never mentioned in these basic advice columns.
12three45, i've gotten really frusterating mana-screwed experiences from mtgo many times! i don't say this to discount your point -- maybe it is true that getting into the habit of proper shuffling in paper magic is a good idea --; but sadly, it obviously doensn't eliminate mana screw experiences from happening far more than you /think/ should be likely!
One problem a lot of players have as far as bad experiences with mulliganing is that they just don't shuffle enough. After a long game, there could be 8-10 land in play. If that player just picks them all up as a pile, it will take a ton of shuffling to actually randomize having up to a very specific 20-25% of the deck stacked together. For players that are bad at shuffling, it is much more common. Chaos orb is banned over manual dexterity, but many games are lost to the manual dexterity required to actually randomize a deck during the shuffling process. And it is almost never mentioned in these basic advice columns.


This is key. I'll be honest, the first lesson I teach anything about MtG is if you don't shuffle enough, it's not even worth playing.


My hands IRL are better than online. Randomized shuffle programs just can't beat the real thing. 
My hands IRL are better than online. Randomized shuffle programs just can't beat the real thing. 

This is probably just psychology, but if you really see a difference it's your real-life shuffling that's failing. Computerised shuffling can perform the equivalent of half an hour's worth of shuffling in under a millisecond. I assume you're not seriously suggesting you can beat that?

There are entire articles dedicated to mulligan decisions. This article just gave a few brief "have you thought about this?" bulletpoints.
The example he gave with the Pridemage and Char is a very simplistic one, but there's a ton of nuance that's underneath it. For example:
- What format is this? If we were playing Limited, and your opening hand had all 3 of your colors of land, a good 2-drop, and a removal spell, that's a no-brainer keep. But likely, the example he gave is a Modern format Zoo deck, in which case that hand is in fact bad.
- What info about the matchup do we have?In this scenario, do we know if our opponent is playing a deck that Pridemage is particularly good at? Or is our opponent playing a combo deck that we can't possibly beat with this slow start? Also, has our opponent already decided to keep? Don't take this article to be a detailed article ABOUT mulliganing... it just wanted you to re-think common conventions.

Personally I think the best piece of advice in this column is about # of lands to run in your limited decks. Basic strategy most players have is "23 spells and 17 land, maybe 16 if you have a low curve, maybe 18 if you have a high curve". But very rarely do you see players siding in additional land when they know their deck is superior to their opponents, or siding out land when they know they need an extra edge. I've even played 20 land before, when deciding that the guaranteed flow of land was better than the weak last 2 cards of my deck (granted this was an odd corner case, Zendikar Limited with Valakut and multiple Spire Barrage). But the main point is that knowing "the rules" is good, but knowing when its correct to break those rules is what gives you that extra edge.

One problem a lot of players have as far as bad experiences with mulliganing is that they just don't shuffle enough. After a long game, there could be 8-10 land in play. If that player just picks them all up as a pile, it will take a ton of shuffling to actually randomize having up to a very specific 20-25% of the deck stacked together. For players that are bad at shuffling, it is much more common. Chaos orb is banned over manual dexterity, but many games are lost to the manual dexterity required to actually randomize a deck during the shuffling process. And it is almost never mentioned in these basic advice columns.


This is key. I'll be honest, the first lesson I teach anything about MtG is if you don't shuffle enough, it's not even worth playing.


My hands IRL are better than online. Randomized shuffle programs just can't beat the real thing. 


IF you're consistently getting better hands with hand shuffled cards, then either you're not shuffling enough or you're mana weaving which are both infractions, the second more extreme than the first. 

The hand in the article is an easy mulligan if you're playing a Modern Zoo deck. If the top two cards of your library are not creatures you can play on turn three you're going to lose. If they have a single removal spell in thier opening hand, what are going to do? You'll be applying no pressure and have very little distruption.
No, I just get better randomization out of truly randomizing the cards (a couple of pile shuffles, a couple of riffles, and clumping for the rest of the 2 min) versus. simulated randomization a program uses. Everybody who uses online programs for MtG knows there's something "off"; the randomization is difficult to truly simulate, the programs designed to mimic randomization aren't truly random in computer science.
In a truly randomized system, such as the online system, you should expect clusters.  It's the way random really works.  If you expect to see a roughly even distribution of land and spells, then you have to do it by hand, deliberate or not.  Live players just don't understand statistical clustering.
"Not 100% random" and "Not as random as real-life shuffling" are two completely different concepts. No computer program can be truly random, but they are still significantly more random than any normal shuffling method, especially pile shufffling. (Which isn't actually random of course) The 'off' result you get from online random shufflers is mainly a combination of confirmation bias (You only remember the misses, not the hits) combined with a total lack of control over the shuffling process: Being unable to shuffle yourself leads you to blame the computer when things go wrong, especially since you're associating every bad shuffle with the well known fact that computers can't reach 100% randomness.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
If you mulligan that hand with 5 lands, a creature, and a burn spell, you can count on getting 6 spells no lands followed by 5 lands no spells followed by the exact same hand except 3 fewer lands.  Mulligan does not necessarily mean you are getting a *better* hand.

Nice, can you provide mathematical data proving your theory? I think it'll be hard, since shuffling is a randomization process, so by its own definition, you can't predict the result with 100% accuracy.
If you mulligan a hand with 5 lands and 2 spells, it's true you can get something worse. However, it's also true that you an get something better.You can't "count on" anything. It's random. And if you have a bad hand, you should mulligan.


As for the article, while I didn't really like the writing style, it has some useful information and I'm sure I'll quote it to someone in the boards sooner or later.
OMG click HERE! OMG! How to autocard and use decklist format
--->
For autocarding, write [c][/c] with the name of the card inside it. [c]Island[/c] = Island For linking a card to Gatherer without writting the name of said card for readers, use the autocard brackets together with and equal sign and right the name of the real card. Then put the message you want inside the tags, like you would do with autocarding. Like this: [c=Curse of the Cabal]Captain Never-resolves[/c] = Captain Never-resolves For using the decklist format, follow this: [deck] 4* Terramorphic Expanse 4* Evolving Wilds ... [/deck] It equals:
Real signature, Sblocked for space:
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)
Quotes
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!

I regularly play a "screwless" Realms variant. In short: The lands and spells are in separate decks. When you draw a card, you pick which deck to draw from.

Realms uses decks with thousands of cards, but were I to try a constructed variant I would start here:  Each player uses two 50-card decks. 


Link to REALMS format

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