## Mana Curve?

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dakrum
Joined Oct 2012
1 Post
Could anyone explain to me what EXACTLY mana curve is and possibly how to calculate it?

I have a solid idea but not sure what it really, really is though I know I've been thinking of it when I build decks. I tried reading online (Wiki) about curve calculations "60 cards, draw first" but didn't understand it at all. Not the shiniest foil in the pack.
JaxsonBateman
Joined Sep 2009
4230 Posts
Mana curve is basically the mana cost of each card in the deck. You get the total values, and you should see a curve in a solid deck (that is, most of the spells usually fall in the 2-4 mana range, hence, curve).

So, for example, in a typical deck, you might see these mana costs:

1: 8
2: 8
3: 8
4: 4
5: 4
6: 3
Lands: 25
Total: 60

I use Magic Workstation for deckbuilding, and it can plot the mana curve for you on a graph so you can see (though it has some issues with hybrid and phyrexian costs). magic.tcgplayer.com has a deckbuilding function as well that might be able to map you the costs. In any case, if you were to plot the aforementioned deck, you'd see 3 equally sized columns from 1 to 3, trailing off towards 6.
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rezzahan
Joined Mar 2011
8788 Posts
The mana curve is simply a graph that shows, how many cards you have at each converted mana cost (CMC). To see any decks mana curve, just count the cards for 1 mana, 2 mana, 3 mana, etc.

This is a rough example of the mana curve a midrangy deck might have:
CMC - number of cards
1 - 4
2 - 8
3 - 12
4 - 8
5 - 2
6 - 2
7 - 0

Typically, the mana curve roughly resembles a bell curve with the peak around the 3-4 mana slots. Most deck archetypes have a very telling mana curve, like an aggro deck having one with the peak around the 2 mana slot and then going a downward fast, usually ending at 4 mana already, having nothing at 5+.

Examining your deck's mana curve can show you some problems, like having too few or too many cards in a particular slot. A deck with a mana curve like this

1 - 4
2 - 7
3 - 15
4 - 2
5 - 6
6 - 2
7 - 0

has a serious lack of 4 mana spells and a bit too much in the 3 and 5+ departments. So the deckbuilder should try to get some 4 mana cards in and cut some of the costlier stuff as well as some 3 CMC cards. But even this wonky mana curve already tells you, that the deck is likely a midrange one, neither going for the fast win nor trying to stall the game with heavy control.

By fixing your mana curve, you can avoid wonky plays, where you have nothing to put down in an early turn because your cards are too costly, or where you can only cast a spell without using all your available mana. Thus mostly wasting either an entire turn, or at least a portion of your available mana for the turn.

In short, the mana curve is a tool you can use to find the rough edges and some serious flaws in your deck. By adjusting your curve you can smooth out your early plays during a game, getting a stronger deck by being able to utilize all your available mana.

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Joined Oct 2011
2364 Posts
It should be noted that the mana curve isn't important for a large number of decks.  Basically, the only decks that care about mana curve are going to be aggro decks, where either the deck plays all the spells on time or it loses.  Control, tempo, midrange and combo decks do not care at all about their curve outside of knowing when they need to be casting certain types of spells (removal, counters, bounce, etc.).  Their curves may be extremely strange looking, yet the deck will still be perfectly fluid.

Really, the only time the mana curve is useful at all is in Limited, where every deck is going to care about when it can cast it's spells.  Constructed decks typically don't care because whatever cards you pick for the style of deck you're playing are generally going to fit the curve already.
cyklown
Joined Apr 2008
4016 Posts
Arg. No. That's an end result of the theory behind mana curve.

So, try this on: Time is a resource in the game. You want to make as much of saud time as you can. As such, most decks want to use the mana available each turn. If you build your deck in a way that you're able to do things on the early turns you're either taking 'more' turns than your opponent or you're at least keeping up.

Granted, cards are also a commodity. You want each card to do as much as possible. As such, things that you'll need to wait to play because they're more expensive still bear value.

So! The math winds up being about figuring out how much mana you'd like to hit, then running the right ballance of 'stuff' and lands to be able to maximize the odds of you being involved in the game early (low drops for aggro, ramp for midrange, removal for control as nonrestrictive examples. This is why 2 cost restrictive targeting black removal is better than Murder) .

In the end, the concept of a Mana Curve in deck design isn't a prescription. There isn't a 'right' in. It's a set of principles and a way of looking at the behavior of a deck using math.

I'd post examples and explain them, but... well, it'd ve a lot to type from a mobile and it'd turn this into a novel. PM me if you want a bit more explanation

ALSO: we really just need to keep a few good articles bookmark and post them. It's key fundamentals and it comes up every month.
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dakrum
Joined Oct 2012
1 Post
I understand now. It's the way I've always been setting up my creatures and spells from the start. Starting at 1 - 6 CMC and having that curve at around 3 is where I usually keep for any of my decks since I don't have a WHOLE lot of cards to choose from. But reading from this now I've learned there's different for aggro, control etc., and I will being to change my decks that way.

Thank you all for the replies.
MoiMoi
Joined Sep 2008
1198 Posts
Mana curves will also vary in between archtype and within those archtypes.

A white/blue control deck will usually run 24-26 lands because it usually run more big 4-5-6 mana cards. But for example a colorless/artifact control deck can get away with running 20 lands even if it's mana base is even heavier than the W/U deck because it's running 4 cloudpost 4 glimmerpost 4 vesuva 4 thespian's stage and I forgot the last 4... and obviously 4 expedition map and 4 amulet of vigor
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Smoke_Stack
Joined Mar 2013
3379 Posts
I use Magic Assistant (I think it's free). Enter in your deck and it shows you a nice graph with your curve on it. The program also gives you a curve to aim for. 'Course, I just look at the two lines (which usually don't match very well) and go "hmm... OH WELL WHATEVER".

EDH decks I play:

Kaalia (the beats)

Zur (disgusting combo)

Damia (Bug Elf deck)

Numot (Stax)

Griselbrand (French)

Ghave (Uber combo)

Muzzio (Oops, Blightsteel)

razorborne
Joined Mar 2006
20039 Posts
it gives you one curve that all decks should aim for?

that sounds pretty worthless.

why are you here when NGA exists and is just better

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bay_falconer
Joined Oct 2010
9679 Posts
There's no unified mana curve theory. Burn decks usually get away with 20, mostly because practically nothing is over , and the kill spells are usually .

Control decks will go with closer to 26-28. It's not so important to cast spells as it is to answer everything.

A deck focused heavily on lands, such as Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle with Primeval Titan, will run 30 or more.

Mana dorks, mana rocks, and spells that grab lands are usually worth about 1/2 a land, but again, 1) never go below 20, 2) only count ones with CMC less than or equal to 3, and 3) why are you putting them in your deck if you don't need as much mana as possible?
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