Doing the Math: Working without Duals



With Ravnica, Guildpact, and Dissension, Wizards has introduced to us a new world full of multicolor goodness, allowing us to enhance our mono-color decks, create new ones out of intriguing new mechanics, creatures, and spells, and add or splash as many colors as we like as easily as we can. With the introduction of the latest block, we have seen the most varied Standard format since Invasion. As each day passes, we discover new, intriguing, powerful, but above all expensive decks.

If you look at a number of Regionals decklists, you can see that they're extremely expensive. Overcosted, even. At the source of this hideous inflation are the shocklands. Each comes at a high price anywhere from $12 to $18, yet every deck that runs two colors or more is expected to run 4 of every one of which they're capable. On top of this, painlands were reintroduced in 9th Edition, each of which holds a price tag of $3 to $9. Some Regionals decks even used Tendo Ice Bridge, which was once $10-$12 a piece, but now has sunk to $4. Despite the price drop, it still makes my wallet cringe, and I know many of you feel the same pain too.

Wizards fortunately printed the Karoos, AKA the bouncelands, like Selesnya Sanctuary, Orzhov Basilica, Izzet Boilerworks, and so on. They provided some relief for us budget-minded players, but still remained sub par on many other levels. They require an additional turn, can make you discard if you played them while on the draw (and without a turn 1 play, which slower decks typically lack anyway), and are prime targets for land destruction or bounce spells. "Still," some may say, "what else can we do?" You look at the top decks in Standard, a B/W variant for example, and you see a mana-base that costs you around $90!

But that's just a two-color deck, and lets assume you're a casual player. You play for fun, and you think playing two colors is fun, but now it's costing you a bundle to make your deck the best it can be. That's not fun. But things are even worse for your friend, who has a three-color deck. Whoa, poor him. If the poor guy's playing RGW by some chance, equipping his deck with duals will cost him $200! Makes you ask yourself: "Magic is a fun game, but is it worth that much?" Bad move, Wizards - when the lands you create raise the cost of remaining competitive so high it makes players (like myself, admittedly) stop playing in tournaments, you lose.

But all hope is not lost. There are ways to keep your deck running as consistently as possible without emptying your wallet, and this method is actually fairly useful for decks that find themselves taking too much pain from shock and painlands, particularly three color decks and decks with Red and Black. This method is also extremely useful for managing your mana in limited.

Be warned, there is a lot of math ahead. Get out a calculator, a pen or pencil, and a piece of paper, along with your deck. You can also open up "Calculator" on your computer, Notepad, and your decklist on Apprentice or Magic Workstation. If you have Magic Workstation, scroll all the way down to the note above "THE MATH" portion, because MWS will do the next part for you.

COUNTING THE COLORED MANA SYMBOLS

Go through your deck, and remove all colored cards from it. This excludes lands and artifacts, of course. We'll use an example deck to test this out with:

Sample DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Lantern Kami
4 Selesnya Guildmage
4 Selesnya Evangel
4 Watchwolf
3 Giant Solifuge
3 Selesnya Safegaurd

3 Supply // Demand
3 Seeds of Strength
3 Giant Growth
2 Story Circle

2 Manriki-Gusari
1 Crown of Convergence

3 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
20 Land



Now, I told you to remove lands, but Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree requires green and white mana to be used. If your deck is just green and white, just remove the City-Tree. But if it were green, white, and another color or two? Or if it was just white or just green? Include City-Tree. I'll tell you what to do with it soon.

I also told you to remove artifacts, but Crown of Convergence needs white and green mana to be used at its best. Do the same thing as you did with City-Tree; if your deck is just green, or just white, or is green, white, and other color(s), then add it into the count. I'll tell you what to do with it soon. If not, and your deck is just green/white, then remove it.

What if the artifact or land is off-color? For example, you're playing with a Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion, or a Sunforger in your green/white deck. Well, you have a choice: You can keep the land/artifact in and try to use it anyway, you can remove it entirely, or you can find some way to include red mana in your deck, via adding Mountains, Birds of Paradise, or whatever else you deem necessary.

For hybrid mana, it gets slightly complicated. If you're using Selesnya Guildmage in a green/white deck, it might as well be an artifact, because you're going to be able to play it no matter what balance of mana you have. Remove it from the count. Same thing with Centaur Safegaurd. If your deck has another color though, count it. As for Giant Solifuge, there is no red mana in this deck, and we won't need it to cast it, so for the count we'll just say it costs 2GG.

So here's the deck after filtering through it:

DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Lantern Kami
4 Selesnya Evangel
4 Watchwolf
3 Giant Solifuge

3 Supply // Demand
3 Seeds of Strength
3 Giant Growth
2 Story Circle



Now what you do is you count up the colored mana symbols on each card, individually. For example, 4 Lantern Kami will equal 4 white. Selesnya Evangel will equal 4 white and 4 green.

For split cards, count up only the sides that you will use, so in this case, we would ignore the Demand half of Supply // Demand. If you're going to use both sides, count up both sides.

Now, if you have a 3+ color deck, take your off-color utility lands or artifacts that require colored mana and count up the activated abilities' costs. So 3 Vitu-Ghazi would count as 3 green and 3 white, 1 Crown of Convergence would count as 1 green and 1 white.

If you have 3+ colors in your deck, we'll count each hybrid mana symbol as .5 green and .5 white, or whatever colors it is.

Now, after we're done, we end up with these numbers for the sample deck:22 white - 0 blue - 0 black - 0 red - 23 green

If you have Magic Workstation, it does the most time consuming part for you. At the top of the grid-square-area-thingy your deck is in, you'll see a little folder, a little Floppy Disc, etc. To the right, between an 'i' and a little flashlight, you'll what looks like a black, yellow, and magenta book standing upright next to each other. It's actually a chart. Click it. At the top, you'll see Color and Mana Breakdown.

Note that it will not take sideboard cards into account, and it will count both sides of all split cards, so if you're only using the R/B (Fall) part of Rise // Fall, then ignore any blue the program will count up, as well as any extra black. If you want more clarity, count the number of Rise // Fall cards you have in the maindeck. Say there are 3 copies, and Rise costs UB. Then there should be three extra blue symbols and 3 extra black ones. MWS will also count guildmana symbols as one of each color. If there's no red in your deck, but you run Giant Solifuge, just ignore the red symbols it counts up.


If you're prone to headaches, you'd
better let someone else do this for you.

THE MATH

So now we have the numbers we need.

White = W
Blue = U
Black = B
Red = R
Green = G

This Example:
22 = W
0 = U
0 = B
0 = R
23 = G

Then add them all together:

Equation: (W + U + B + R + G) = M
This Example: (22 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 23) = 45

M in this case is 45. Now figure out how much room you have/want for basic land- in this case it's 20 slots. We'll divide 45 by 20. (For the equation L will equal this amount of room.)

Equation: L / M = N, N being some absurd decimal number.

This Example: 20/45 = .444444. . .

Almost done! Now multiply the each color by N.

Equation:
W * N = # of Plains
U * N = # of Islands
B * N = # of Swamps
R * N = # of Mountains
G * N = # of Forests

This Example:
22 * .44~ = 9.77 Plains
0 * .44~ = 0 Islands
0 * .44~ = 0 Swamps
0 * .44~ = 0 Mountains
23 * .44~ = 10.22 Forests

For decimals, you have options: you can round to the nearest whole number, use a two-color land like a karoo or a painland if you have it available, or use your better judgment. In the example, we have Story Circle included in the build, which requires a good number of white mana to be used well. That pushes me to put in 10 plains instead of just 9.

Also, if you have a decimal less than 1 or even less than .5, it can only tell you one of two things: take the off-color card out entirely, or put in one land from that color and lots of land-search or alternate means of getting the mana.

KAROOS AND SIGNETS
As this article’s main intention is to insure that you don’t find yourself having to pay a huge amount for duals, it is well within reason to run the new common lands, the karoos or bouncelands: Azorius Chancery, Rakdos Carnarium, Selesnya Sanctuary, Golgari Rot Farm, and so on. To make room for these lands isn’t as easy as it would be to make room for duals or painlands: if I’m running 2 or 4 Azorius Chancery, for example, I simply remove 1 or 2 Plains or Islands, but the rest of the room comes from the maindeck slots. This is because karoos do not function as regular lands do and cannot be played on turn 1 (to any real effect). Karoos can also be used to increase your mana potential; though you seem to lose a turn early in the game, you're ahead a mana later on.

Signets can be argued to be "just like land", but really what they are is something like a 2-mana Llanowar Elves that produces two colors. Typically maindeck slots are used to make room for them, but they are not entirely necessary for most decks unless it is part of a greater strategy.

Both signets and karoos can be used to splash colors or even color pairs fairly effectively as well.

CONCLUSION

And you're done! So here's how the example deck turned out:

Completed Sample DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Lantern Kami
4 Selesnya Guildmage
4 Selesnya Evangel
4 Watchwolf
3 Selesnya Safegaurd
3 Giant Solifuge

3 Seeds of Strength
3 Giant Growth
3 Supply // Demand
2 Story Circle

2 Manriki-Gusari
1 Crown of Convergence

3 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
10 Forest
10 Plains



If you go testing this out on MWS (by the way, don't expect the example deck to be great - after all, it's JUST an example for the mana base) and you still find your Plains and Forests to be chunked and unbalanced, keep in mind that the shuffler is terrible. There are tricks to getting around it though. Simply add in different versions of cards from different sets. For example, put one Plains from Mercadian Masques, one from 8th Edition, one from 9th, and so on. Do the same with whatever other lands and other cards that have been reprinted, like Giant Growth and Wrath of God. This will really help with the shuffle.

I hope I can find enough information to turn this into an article series, but if not, here's to my first article on MTGS. This article is dedicated (but not limited) to all of you casual players without $200 to burn on a manabase, and even if you do have the money lying around, I think this article will still come of use to you sometime or another. It's simply just a matter of doing the math.

-Zyrakris
Questions? Comments? E-mail [EMAIL="[email protected]"][email protected][/EMAIL] or drop a line in the article thread.

Comments

Posts Quoted:
Reply
Clear All Quotes