need help understanding mana curve

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 ive been playing magic for a while and im formitable foe until recently. I went to fnm and im one of the best at my store. A random stranger walks in wanting to play so i played him. I NEVER really get mana screwed, so he beats me because he was playing a card every turn and me every other. He tells me that i have a good deck but i need to fix the mana curve. ???? Icant figure it out can someone please help me before i screw myself in the SD PT qualifier.
mana curve basically means "lots of cheap spells, few expensive spells"
proud member of the 2011 community team
A mana curve is the distribution of the casting costs of the spells in your deck on a graph.

The objective, as you've so plainly stated in the opening post is to have stuff you can cast.  If you spend a turn doing nothing and your opponent doesnt, then you are at a distinct disadvantage.  If you have a bunch of 3 mana cards, but very few or not any 2 mana cards, you dont have an even curve and you might end up wasting your second turn.

If you have a bunch of high cost spells, your curve is top heavy.  If you only have really low cost spells your curve can sometimes be too small. 

Certain types of decks want different types of curves.  A burn deck generally has a very low curve, while a control deck is likely to have higher curve because it intends the game to last longer.

Current decks
Comments or suggestions are always welcome

Modern
nothing at the moment

okay so pretty much if you have a bunch os cmc1-3 your curve would be smaller therefore less mana? if your running a semi burn/green mana accel. you would need a small balanced amount of BL?

you need to optimize your draws

for example if you have lots of cards with cmc >=6 and you draw them in the first 5 turns they are dead cards
you could have drawn something useful instead

so cut down the expensive cards to maximize the chance to draw the cheaper cards
proud member of the 2011 community team

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
All it means is that you have to have something to do with your mana each turn.

You want to run out of cards and mana at the same time.

You really cannot break it down much farther then this because so many factors change your normal curve. Accelleration, come into play tapped land, land that returns other land to your hand, all have an effect on your curve.

For instance if you run 2 playsets of mana critters at the 1cmc slot your curve suddenly becomes 1-3 instead of 1-2. This means you do not need the 2 cmc slot necessarily filled. If you run 2 playsets of come into play tapped land your curve is 0-2. If you play play one of the many 2 mana artifacts in the 3cmc slot your curve can very easily be 1-2-3-6.
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Basically, it's this:

Assuming you have 24 lands, no accel, and you get sufficient card draw...

On any turn, you can play Memnite, Ornithopter, &c. for free.
On turn 1, you can play 1 one-drop.
On turn 2, you can play 2 one-drops or 1 two-drop.
On turn 3, you can play 3 one-drops or 1 two-drop and 1 one-dorp or 1 three-drop.
On turn 4, you can play 4 one-drops or 2 two-drops or 1 three-drop and 1 one-drop or 1 four-drop.

After that, you have an increasing likelihood to start missing lands. This is also why removal tends to cost three mana or less, so you can play them and something else.

As such, it's best to play lower-cost cards and fewer colors (which can affect your tempo by "I have a mountain, an island, and a swamp, so why can't I Hippy yet?" syndrome). Monored defines the curve, with decks like Sligh and red deck wins consistently winning on turn 5 or sometimes earlier...or not winning at all.

[sblock=Notable exceptions in Magic history]Dark Ritual. No mana accelerant in the game is more feared (save things with "mox" or "lotus" in their name, a few colorless rocks, and legendary Urza block lands). Turn 1 first striker that puts the opponent on a five-turn clock? Awesome. Turn 1 lol you're out of cards control? Don't mind if I do. Turn 1 insane card draw that's broken at any cost? Okay, that's a little bit ridiculous.

Alternate costs and free spells. Alt costs are "You may do this and this instead of paying the mana cost." Usually they're for removal spells, counterspells, and the like. Free spells tend to refer to a number of mechanics, but most relevant here (since cascade requires you have 1 more mana anyway, and "untap X lands" requires you have X mana) is affinity, which reduces a cost by . Free spells are generally something most players are wary of because, oh yeah, all three of the aforementioned free mechanics are seriously, seriously busted.

Phyrexian mana cards are generally calculated assuming you pay 2 life, because life (usually) doesn't matter until you're at 0 or less. So Porcelain Legionnaire is a two-drop. I had a Phyrexian mana Tempered Steel deck that won a lot of games off this fact: t1 Vault Skirge, t2 Porcelain Legionnaire, t3 Steel, and I've gained back the life I paid casting Steel.

Monocolored hybrid cards like Beseech the Queen are calculated somewhere in-between. In nonblack decks, it's a six. In monoblack decks, it's a three, maybe a four if you use lots of colorless mana. In multicolored decks that use black, it's easily a four or a five.

If you're playing it more for the kicker, count the kicker.

A few mechanics (Time Spiral suspend, Zendikar quests and level up) use time (in a manner of speaking) as an alternate cost. Suspend used literal time. Quests used achievements like playing lands, playing creatures, or playing aggressively as a stand-in for time. Level up used paying mana as a stand-in for time.[/spoiler]

The mana curve is an important part of the game, balance-wise. In chess, non-queen pieces matter because queens are restricted until most of them are taken, but if given a choice, most of us would play 15 queens and 1 king anyway. In Magic, mana cost functions like your king, queen's bishop, and the three pawns in front of the above pieces.
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
With accelleration you can do weird things. I like hard casting lavaball trap on the third turn for instance.

In red/green
T1 taiga , arbor elf
T2 stomping ground , overgrowth on stomping ground.

T3 tap ground for 3. float mana, untap ground tap for 3 tap 2 land. Play lavaball trap

In just red.
T1 mountain , voltaic key
T2 mountain , grim monolith, fire diamond and untap the monolith with key
T3 mountain , lavaball trap

Similar mechanics exist for many other types of obnoxious large casting cost thingies. Both tooth and nail and dragonstorm spawned decks this way.
You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what I create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.
Tell me about it. Most MTGS "X is broken" Commander threads relate to "you can draw Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Gilded Lotus, and X by turn 3." Latest is Sylvan Primordial, when, honestly, I'd say Diluvian or Sepulchral is more broken in the format.

I mean, really?
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
Tell me about it. Most MTGS "X is broken" Commander threads relate to "you can draw Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Gilded Lotus, and X by turn 3." Latest is Sylvan Primordial, when, honestly, I'd say Diluvian or Sepulchral is more broken in the format.

I mean, really?


generally, when you start a post with "tell me about it", you go on to say things that relate to what anyone else has said in the discussion.

 
120.6. Some effects replace card draws.
All it means is that you have to have something to do with your mana each turn.


I quoted this because it's the most succinct and relevant way to describe what "mana curve" is.
For more information, refer to the other users' examples from this thread and there's also an article referenced on the first page that might help you.
Happy deck building

All it means is that you have to have something to do with your mana each turn.


I quoted this because it's the most succinct and relevant way to describe what "mana curve" is.
For more information, refer to the other users' examples from this thread and there's also an article referenced on the first page that might help you.
Happy deck building



No, it isn't. That means you have on curve plays but that isn't what a mana curve is. 

This thread is so hilarious because it's packed with people who don't know what a mana curve is trying to explain what it is.  
Tell me about it. Most MTGS "X is broken" Commander threads relate to "you can draw Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Gilded Lotus, and X by turn 3." Latest is Sylvan Primordial, when, honestly, I'd say Diluvian or Sepulchral is more broken in the format.

I mean, really?


generally, when you start a post with "tell me about it", you go on to say things that relate to what anyone else has said in the discussion.

 



My point is that "X is broken" is "You can draw XYZ mana accel and cast this by turn 3." Seriously. Lotta scrubs on the banlist discussion.
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
Tell me about it. Most MTGS "X is broken" Commander threads relate to "you can draw Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Gilded Lotus, and X by turn 3." Latest is Sylvan Primordial, when, honestly, I'd say Diluvian or Sepulchral is more broken in the format.

I mean, really?


generally, when you start a post with "tell me about it", you go on to say things that relate to what anyone else has said in the discussion.

 



My point is that "X is broken" is "You can draw XYZ mana accel and cast this by turn 3." Seriously. Lotta scrubs on the banlist discussion.


Which has nothing to do with understanding mana curve. 

Thanks for playing!  
A mana curve is the distribution of the casting costs of the spells in your deck on a graph.

The objective, as you've so plainly stated in the opening post is to have stuff you can cast.  If you spend a turn doing nothing and your opponent doesnt, then you are at a distinct disadvantage.  If you have a bunch of 3 mana cards, but very few or not any 2 mana cards, you dont have an even curve and you might end up wasting your second turn.

If you have a bunch of high cost spells, your curve is top heavy.  If you only have really low cost spells your curve can sometimes be too small. 

Certain types of decks want different types of curves.  A burn deck generally has a very low curve, while a control deck is likely to have higher curve because it intends the game to last longer.




It depends on your strategy.  If you are more of a control deck then you can take some turns doing nothing.  If you are an agro deck you need to empty out your hand as fast as possible and push through damage before they have a chance to set up.  Then if you are a combo deck you don't care what they do as long as you get your combo pieces and a window to not be disrupted.

Mana curve is just if you put all your deck in piles of converted mana cost and lined them up from 1, 2, 3, ... what would it look like.  Generally you want it to look like a bell curve with a few at 1 and 2, and bunch at 3 and 4, then taper down on 5 possibly 6.  Though this can all change with what strategy you are trying to do, what kind of ramping you have, what kind of recovery you have in your deck, and other things like this.

Nobody can really give you good advice without knowing your deck and what it is trying to do.
Which has nothing to do with understanding mana curve. 

Thanks for playing!  



Something that normally comes out on turn 8 or later is really busted on turn 3? That is mana curve-related.
139359831 wrote:
Clever deduction Watson! Maybe you can explain why Supergirl is trying to kill me.
---- Autocard is your friend. Lightning Bolt = Lightning Bolt
Something that normally comes out on turn 8 or later is really busted on turn 3? That is mana curve-related.



This thread is so hilarious because it's packed with people who don't know what a mana curve is trying to explain what it is.  



120.6. Some effects replace card draws.
It depends on your strategy.  If you are more of a control deck then you can take some turns doing nothing.  If you are an agro deck you need to empty out your hand as fast as possible and push through damage before they have a chance to set up.  Then if you are a combo deck you don't care what they do as long as you get your combo pieces and a window to not be disrupted.


Saying control decks don't need to do something every turn isn't really relevant to mana curves though. You may not cast your Dissipate on turn three, but you definitely want to have that option available if you need it. Sure, you may not cast your counter until turn four or five but that doesn't mean you want to be stuck sitting on Rewind on turn three when your opponent casts that Silverblade Paladin that's going to kill you.

Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
It depends on your strategy.  If you are more of a control deck then you can take some turns doing nothing.  If you are an agro deck you need to empty out your hand as fast as possible and push through damage before they have a chance to set up.  Then if you are a combo deck you don't care what they do as long as you get your combo pieces and a window to not be disrupted.


Saying control decks don't need to do something every turn isn't really relevant to mana curves though. You may not cast your Dissipate on turn three, but you definitely want to have that option available if you need it. Sure, you may not cast your counter until turn four or five but that doesn't mean you want to be stuck sitting on Rewind on turn three when your opponent casts that Silverblade Paladin that's going to kill you.





Counter isn't the only form of control though.  If you have a wrath card then you want them to dump out their hand, you wrath them, and then have a full hand while they are drawing off the top.

Edit:
This was also a reply to the person saying that if you don't do something every turn while your opponent is doing something every turn you are behind.  Was just pointing out that its not always your strategy to do something every turn, and that you are not always behind if you skip a few turns of playing something while your opponent is still playing things.
Which has nothing to do with understanding mana curve. 

Thanks for playing!  



Something that normally comes out on turn 8 or later is really busted on turn 3? That is mana curve-related.


Nope! That's wrong! 
Actually that is why pure draw/go loses so often and was replaced in the control paradigm with counter aggro (such as faeries). Counter CANNOT afford to just sit around doing nothing, the land drops on the other side add up and make draw/go lose to some very weird mid range decks.

Against draw/go the best response is usually just to draw and do nothing. It is really funny to play a goblin deck and just draw the first 3 turns but that is usually best.

Why I normally play my faerie ninja deck instead of a real draw. go deck. (faeries are counter aggro)

4 faerie impostor
4 cloud of faeries
4 spellstutter sprite
4 mistbind clique

4 curfew
4 bitterblossom
4 force of will
4 force spike
2 crystal shard
1 viridian claw
1 moonsilver spear

4 underground sea
4 creeping tar pit
4 watery grave
4 dimir aqueduct
4 gemstone mine
4 secluded glen

sideboard
4 surgical extraction
2 mistblade shinobi
2 ninja of the deep hours
2 Throat Slitter
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
1 Sakashima's Student
1 Walker of Secret Ways
1 ornithopter

You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what I create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.
Actually that is why pure draw/go loses so often and was replaced in the control paradigm with counter aggro (such as faeries). Counter CANNOT afford to just sit around doing nothing, the land drops on the other side add up and make draw/go lose to some very weird mid range decks.

Against draw/go the best response is usually just to draw and do nothing. It is really funny to play a goblin deck and just draw the first 3 turns but that is usually best.

Why I normally play my faerie ninja deck instead of a real draw. go deck. (faeries are counter aggro)

4 faerie impostor
4 cloud of faeries
4 spellstutter sprite
4 mistbind clique

4 curfew
4 bitterblossom
4 force of will
4 force spike
2 crystal shard
1 viridian claw
1 moonsilver spear

4 underground sea
4 creeping tar pit
4 watery grave
4 dimir aqueduct
4 gemstone mine
4 secluded glen

sideboard
4 surgical extraction
2 mistblade shinobi
2 ninja of the deep hours
2 Throat Slitter
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
1 Sakashima's Student
1 Walker of Secret Ways
1 ornithopter


Wrong.

Draw go is dead because the current creatures are too good and the current spells are too bad.

Period.

My forever unfinished blog of the 2010 MTGO Community Cup: if you're ever bored...
With accelleration you can do weird things. I like hard casting lavaball trap on the third turn for instance.

In red/green
T1 taiga , arbor elf
T2 stomping ground , overgrowth on stomping ground.

T3 tap ground for 3. float mana, untap ground tap for 3 tap 2 land. Play lavaball trap

In just red.
T1 mountain , voltaic key
T2 mountain , grim monolith, fire diamond and untap the monolith with key
T3 mountain , lavaball trap

Similar mechanics exist for many other types of obnoxious large casting cost thingies. Both tooth and nail and dragonstorm spawned decks this way.

okay i have avacyn's pilgrim,hinterland harbor and reliquary tower so when it says add g to your mana pool does it have to be from your hand? i never really played a mana accel so this is my first time with that and what the colorless mana how do i add that?

okay i have avacyn's pilgrim,hinterland harbor and reliquary tower so when it says add g to your mana pool does it have to be from your hand? i never really played a mana accel so this is my first time with that and what the colorless mana how do i add that?



": Add to your mana pool" is what forests do. Llanowar Elves doesn't find you a forest, it acts like a forest. You don't go get a forest from somewhere else. So for instance your can tap a Llanowar Elves to play a second one. You can tap a Llanowar Elves and a Forest to play an Elvish Warrior and so on.
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
okay i see same thinb with border posts right. okay now that i understand that what about Trace of abundance
Okay, so, you're on of the best players at your store, and you just learned how a mana ability works.

I'm sorry, but what.

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MOWN:

It's a very new store!!!
okay i see same thinb with border posts right. okay now that i understand that what about Trace of abundance


Trace of Abundance causes your land to produce two mana instead of one. So for instance you can tap a forest enchanted with Trace of Abundance to play Elvish Warrior (Choosing for the Trace mana) or you could also tap the enchanted forest to play Shambleshark (Choosing for the Trace mana)
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)