If you clicked this link, chances are there have been times you wondered why your deck just isn't performing as well as you think it should. Or perhaps you're happy with your deck but you just wonder if there's room to improve. Maybe someone out there knows something you don't.
The vast majority of decks out there ARE underperforming. Sometimes, it's because the core strategy just isn't an efficient one. Sometimes it's because the card choices are off. But the vast majority of the time, it largely comes down to deck design.
Think of your deck as a beautiful structure. Perhaps it's a tall proud skyscraper. Perhaps it's a sprawling museum. Perhaps it's a giant statue. Whatever the case, it needs the support of a solid foundation. Most players I've played with/against online, and most decks I've seen posted here on the forums skimp on the foundation, and the deck underperforms as a result. And when I say 'most', I mean the vast majority. Like 90% of you.
Yes, even you, guy-who-thinks-he's-got-it-all-figured-out, are most likely choking your decks' efficiency by making it top-heavy.
So what is this foundation I speak of? It comes down to escaping the game's 2 core limitations:
It really doesn't matter what your deck is trying to do. Perhaps you're trying to build up an overwhelming token swarm. Perhaps you're trying to voltron your general to epic proportions. Perhaps you're trying to assemble some sort of combo. Or perhaps you're trying to run everyone else out of gas and then clean up with the most hilarious of finishers. It doesn't matter. Regardless of its aim, your deck will accomplish its strategy more effectively with more mana available and more cards to play.
Ramp & draw is not just a 'strategy' that only applies to certain decks. EVERY strategy benefits from being supplemented by the ability transcend the 2 fundamental limitations of a turn.
Consider the following extremely simplified example:
For the nitpickers:Spoiler: Show
I chose signets because 2 mana for +1 ramp is very standard. Nearly all 'fair' ramp effects fit that metric, be it on a creature ( sakura-tribe elder ), an aura ( fertile ground ), a spell ( rampant growth ), or an artifact ( coldsteel heart )
I chose concentrate because 4 mana is a pretty standardized cost for a draw-3. Yes, there are more efficient (and more inefficient) ways to draw extra cards, but concentrate is common and cheap and accessible to everyone, and there are enough 3-for-4 analogs (eg: ambition's cost , harmonize ) to consider it a standardized 'fair' price for its effect.
Given a perfectly even shuffling distribution, goldfishing would look something like this:
By 'perfectly even' I mean that since deck A is 3/5ths action and 2/5ths land, its draws would look like:At the end of 10 turns, deck A has 7 lands in play, has drawn 10 action cards, and has had 45 mana over the course of those 10 turns that could have been spent playing action cards.
action, land, action, land, action,
action, land, action, land, action,
action, land, action, land, action,
etc - 2 lands for every 3 action cards
Deck A opening hand: 3 land, 4 action
Deck B - TL:DRSpoiler: Show
and deck B's perfect shuffle would leave the library stacked thusly before drawing the opener:At the end of 10 turns, deck B has 10 lands in play, and 3 signets, for a total of 13 available mana. It has drawn 11 action cards, and has had 53 mana over the course of those 10 turns that could have been spent playing action cards.
Action land concentrate signet land
Action action Land Action Concentrate
Land Action Signet Land Action
Concentrate Land Action Action Land
Action Signet Land Concentrate Action
land action action land signet
Deck B opening hand: 2 land, 3 action, concentrate, signet
1: draw land(3), play land(1,2), 1am, 3a
Deck B ran fewer lands than deck A (33 vs 40), yet deck A missed its turn 6 land drop while deck B made every drop up to turn 10.
Deck B ran fewer action cards in total than deck A (45 vs 59), yet drew more of them over the course of 10 turns (11 vs 10)
Deck B continuously dumped mana into ramp spells and card draw spells, yet had more leftover mana to put towards action cards than deck A had mana the entire course of those 10 turns (53 vs 45)
So basically, deck B outperformed deck A in every way.
Let's talk about that.
It's pretty easy to see that card draw played a huge role. How else does the deck with fewer lands in it draw more lands, and the deck with fewer action spells draw more action? It's easy to see the value provided by playing card draw effects. If you aren't playing cards that draw extra cards, you're choking your deck's performance by obeying the 1-card-per-turn limit.
What most newer players underestimate is the value of the ramp. Drawing extra cards costs mana. If you're spending mana to cheat on the 1-card-per-turn limit, but are still obeying the 1-land-per-turn limit, you're choking yourself in a different way: you now have more cards to play, but even less mana to play it with!
These 2 effects feed off each other. Ramp helps you play your cards faster. Draw gives you more cards to play. The more ramp your deck has, the more powerful card-draw effects become. And the more card-drawing-power your deck has, the more powerful ramp effects become.
Again, remember that this is just structural integrity we're discussing. I'm not telling you to change your decks' gameplan. I'm telling you to tighten it up a little and make room for the draw+ramp turbo-charge it needs to really fly.
Doesn't every EDH deck run a bunch of mana and card draw?
not enough. Or I wouldn't have felt the need to post this.
I take exception to labeling concentrate as something other than an action spell.
I agree with the principle though. I've said as much before.
So what about non-blue monocolour decks, where there really isn't much card draw available, especially of the Concentrate variety (especially in mono-red)?
Concentrate doesn't interact with the board in any way. It's resource development/investment.
Mono-color decks still have options. Black is easy: tutor for necropotence , done! For red, use artifacts like mind's eye and staff of nin , and if your build can unload its hand quickly, use plenty of wheel of fortune effects.
Red is probably the hardest to draw cards in repeatedly. Especially in the early stages of the game. Mana ramp that isn't land fetching is also more dangerous now because of cards like vandalblast.
Which is probably why blue black and green are such popular colors, and red is relegated to a support color in most cases.
I still take exception to not calling card draw action. Drawing cards and producing mana are the two actions that most directly influence who wins the game (in general). Yeah, its a bit semantic, I get that you're parsing between the different kinds of cards played... but it just feels so good to draw cards how can that not be action?!
Because "action" cards do something to the board/gamestate. Drawing cards doesn't actually do anything until you start casting those extra cards. It doesn't mean that drawing cards is bad, just that they fit into a different category.
I get what niheloim is saying. When your hand is weak and you're in a bad state and you're thinking "man I need to draw something good soon!", you're pretty happy to rip concentrate.
But still. It's a support card that helps your deck do its thing (better).
@Tremor... would you mind if I linked to this in my advice section in the Decklist Compendium? I really like the example you gave with the number between the two hypothetical decks. It was an easily understood illustration of the POWER OF RAMP AND DRAW!
In all honesty I posted this so I'd have something easy to link to when replying to deck help threads. It's one of those things that seem common sense to vets but a lot of newer players (and some vets) have a hard time understanding.
"ramp" isn't optimal for every EDH deck (although I can agree that a large majority of EDH decks require at least some kind of "ramp" especially if your play group plays "fair" decks).
I guess you could argue that tribal decks have a lot of cheap creatures and therefore don't need ramp. You could also argue that a deck built around card advantage wouldn't need it as much, since with extra draws come extra land. But then you are back to what I said before: Good card draw doubles as bad ramp.
Both arguments are fallacious. The title of the OP said how to run "better", and every deck will be better with the right ramp. Maybe one deck the right ramp is mana elves. Another may be mana rocks, and another may be land fetches. The two decks I run with the most dedicated ramp package both perform rather well despite one of them being a brainless Timmy deck and the other being a gimmicky Ally deck. That they both overperform, and both have more ramp than most of my eight or so other decks, makes me a believer in the idea put forth in the OP.
Can your next thread please be about when to switch the core strategy. I find that to be a bigger problem.
@Perpetual - you've got the idea. As you've noticed, even a tribal 'aggro' deck can't adopt the same philosophy as the aggro decks of 1v1 20-life formats. Your opposition has multiple chances to draw some kind of sweeper each turn, and you have probably 5 times as much damage to deal before you win. You can't rely on the gas in your starting hand to go the bulk of the distance in 3 or 4 turns and then top-decking your way into lightning bolts to finish. In this format, aggro just means building up a dominating board position and overwhelming everyone. It takes many more turns, has to fight through more disruption, and has to be prepared to protect and rebuild several times. You need a massive resource supply to fuel that kind of aggression. In fact, I'd suggest that being the table's aggressor necessitaties MORE ramp and draw than a more defensive control or combo strategy.
The initial investment is a factor. I think I play the mage because it comes back with reveillark... but I'm probably better of with picking up another little jace and a sun titan.
Fecundity as a combo engine maybe ... play fecundity, sac to ashnods altar, pay for words of wilding, net 1 colorless and repeat?
I'm actually looking for more non-green land ramp in the vein of Terrain Generator , Walking Atlas , Expedition Map and Solemn Simulacrum . I do rely on rocks in non-green decks, perhaps more than I should. Thawing Glaciers is a bit overpriced for me at the moment as well, and both of mine are already spoken for.
There isn't even one.
In monowhite I'd tutor aggressively for an engine of some sort. Mind's eye and staff of nin are good, just like in monored. White also has land tax and scroll rack which is stupidly powerful if you can pair them (and you have access to enlightened tutor and idyllic tutor to help make it happen).
Depending on the deck there are other ways for monotwhite to draw cards too. Stoneforge mystic and steelshaper's gift can get you sword of fire and ice to equip to an evasive creature. Ideally a double-striker. Also, in the right deck well of lost dreams can do a lot of work.
Cards like sun titan and crucible of worlds with fetchlands can help too.
To be honest, white and red are the two weakest colors in this format, and don't really lend themselves to strong monocolor decks (despite having some really powerful and cool generals).
I've resorted to armistice in my monowhite. Inheritance might be worth playing.
I've got the land tax/scroll rack thing going but it is hard to consistantly get it early game. I like Inheritance, I'll add that, good suggestion. My ramp is working well, so I should have the mana to use it just enough to have cards to play. Well of Lost Dreams will work well too. I'm building Darien, so there's at least four "when a creature comes into play, gain a life" creatures in the deck. Should work well.
This is a great thread by the way, definitely helped me tune my decks.
I posted this as its own thread but Ill post it here too
This post is a response to a post from Jan 13, 2013 -- 8:47AM, Disturbed185 wrote:
Can your next thread please be about when to switch the core strategy? I find that to be a bigger problem.
I know I have fallen victim to this conundrum many times when building and EDH deck. I look at a general and see so much that I could do with that card, and then I start deck building and I end up with a big card pool and narrow it down to a deck. This can lead to a deck that lacks focus and win-conditions. I think a lot of problems with deck building come from not knowing what you are going to do with a deck. So here is a list the main deck types that I see out there and what they generally include. To help determine what type of “core strategy” you are trying to play and how to best build to them. All of these strategies will benefit from the previously mentioned ramp- draw strategy
Now I know the examples that I have given above are very simplistic and rudimentary strategy list of deck building ideas. I also may have left a few of them out but they were the ones I could think of off the top of my head.
Now the reason I bring these up is to help focus a deck. I find that if I try to build in more then three of these ideas into a deck things will always end up going to Hell. So for EDH I think that 2-3 is a perfect number when building a fun multiplayer deck. Now as far as competitive 1 v 1 decks the more focused you are on one of these strategies the better your deck will perform. I find that building a deck that is so focused on one aspect of the game is bad in group because your deck is not prepared to deal with the chaotic nature of group magic and you end up not having fun. (It’s like playing a great 1 v 1 deck in a group game) Sure you might kill one person but the table turns on you and you die quickly. So to answer the question, find your general find two things you want to do with that general and build accordingly. I see a lot of decks on here that people are asking for help with that have no idea what they are trying to do with the deck. So I think it is not a matter of “switching the core strategy but focusing on one or two you already have in the deck and removing the cards that are not working toward that cause.
I hope this was moderately helpful in answering your question and helping people on this board build better decks, as usual discussion and ridicule are always welcome.
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