It is hardly revolutionary for me to claim that simply trying to rate your deck on a scale of 1-10 is not a good way to predict whether everyone will have a good time. Different people have VASTLY different ideas regarding what a 7 would look like and measuring relative power levels between vastly different deck archetypes isn't exactly a winning proposition. I wanted to explore a two Binary measurements that I think are generally a bit more useful for predicting what type of game you want to have.
Measurement 1: Board-Accretive Victory (BAV)
Board-Accretive Victory is a fairly straightforward measurement.
If your deck is BAV-Positive, that means:
1) Your deck accumulates a presence on the battlefield (not counting rocks/dorks).
2) The board presence is accumulated over the course of several turns (typically 3+ turns)
3) This board presence is used as the primary win condition for your deck.
So, what is BAV-Positive and what is BAV-Negative for this purpose? The shortened version is that you "build up" if you are BAV-Positive and "go off" if you are BAV-Negative. If you want a better idea of what falls where...
Quite a few stax decks.
Most Aggro/Voltron decks.
Board-based value engine decks (including blink decks)
Even though they technically don't add new permanents to the board, mutate and counter-based decks are typically counted here
A majority of token-based decks.
Most tribal decks.
Purely toolbox pod decks
Most Discard decks.
Most wheel decks
Most Life Gain
Some "board-based spellslinger decks" relying on tokens from cards like Talrand/monastery mentor/young pyromancer/etc.
Most infect decks
Group Hug decks.
Most Chaos Decks
Most Theft/Clone decks.
Most Land-based decks
Some control decks.
While perhaps controversial, I count decks that try to accumulate a known "presence" in zones other than the battlefield (such as Feather having known spells in hand that it casts each turn or Chainer trying to build up the right combination of cards in the grave) as BAV-positive unless they are otherwise acting in ways described below.
Decks that use infinite combos to win the game (including those that get infinite mana and infinite card draw to cast your entire deck and win).
Decks that use alternate win conditions (like Thassa's Oracle) to win in the space of a single turn.
Decks that routinely throw out a couple of permanents out on the same turn and attempt to win with them instantly, even if there is no combo (such as throwing down Ulder Ravenguard and Blightsteel with Defense of the Heart or Tooth and Nail to instantly attack everyone with a Blightsteel out of nowhere).
Decks that try to chain extra turn effects to win with little to no prior board commitment (like some Mizzix/Narset decks).
Storm decks and storm-like decks (including some Cheeri0s/Enchantress) that try to win off of effects like storm, reservoir, sentinel tower, etc.
Most mill decks (other than petitioner decks), surprisingly.
Measurement 2: Commander-Inherent Resilience (CIR)
If you are playing a game where people are fine with BAV-negative decks, you can skip this factor entirely. If the game table is fine with the game suddenly ending at any given point, after all, a factor that becomes more salient in longer games is kind of moot. If the playgroup decides that they want a BAV-Positive game, though, an important question to ask is if they are okay with commanders that have built-in resilience.
Examples of Commander-Inherent Resilience:
Obviously, commanders with keywords that protect them like Hexproof/Protection/Ward/Regeneration/Shroud/Undying/Persist/Indestructible
Cards that can effectively pay for their own commander taxes one or more times (like Atsushi/Tivit/Jolene)
Cards that revive themselves like Scorpion God/God-Eternal Kefnet
Cards with cost reduction mechanics that can effectively cheat around commander tax like Korador/Emry
Cards that ignore commander tax like Derevi/Yuriko
Cards whose effects carry over between several castings and who are not "reset" by killing them (like Mairsil or Grolnok)
Examples of what does not count for this purpose
Effects like Prossh/Marath/Gyrus that scale up to the number of times you've cast the commander.
Commanders with punishing death triggers (like Yosei) that opponents may not want to trigger.
Commanders that protect other permanents but not themselves (like Kyodai/the second Tajic/the Second Gerard).
If a game table discusses these matters, you should ideally end up with one of three different scenarios:
1. BAV-Negative: The table doesn't mind if the game suddenly ends and may in fact enjoy getting the chance to shuffle up and play again. Players recognize the importance of their interaction effects for this purpose.
2. BAV-Positive, CIR-Positive: Players don't want the game to end out of nowhere and ultimately want the game to finish on the battlefield. Players don't mind if players use commanders that are difficult to disrupt or have elements of inevitability to them, however. The game has to end some time, after all.
3. BAV-Positive, CIR-Negative: Players want the game to be won and lost on the battlefield with a fair amount of time for interaction and want to make sure that everyone's strategy is vulnerable to basic removal so anyone could be knocked down a few pegs with the right wrath. The player in the lead of the game should have the potential to naturally eb and flow several times in each game, even if it takes a while.
Of course, these two factors do not take the place of the entire rule 0 discussion. Some players may still have preferences for what they play against (such as "No MLD" or "No Stax") and not all BAV-negative decks or CIR-positive commanders are made equal so talk about the expected speed of the deck may also be useful. At the end of the day, though, I think the determining how the table feels about BAV/CIR is much more useful for setting up a good game than telling everyone to take out a deck that's a 7 in power.
May post the idea elsewhere later. Wanted to check with this community first, though.
snap thoughts on this is that its already intimidating to approach.
its easier to throw out a number to the table pregame, like my deck is a 7 (all of them are am i right?) than it is to determine if your deck is positive or negative - especially when a deck can actually be both by your listed criteria - and they can further fall into different spectrums of power within that group. things like combo aren't an all or nothing and your deck doesn't automatically hit a higher tier of power just by including one. stax can be brutal and oppressive just by building itself up regardless. those sorts of things. then we're throwing in commander resilience on top of that - which can also be a sliding scale based on whats in the deck and what that commander does, and not just whats printed on the card...
i think its also important for everyone, EVERYONE, not just here but all players, to recognize that hoofing ends the game just as effectively as thoracle. things like that aren't really that different in their goal and ability to just close it out. if i smash your face in with commander damage by turn 4/5, thats not at all any different from you killing me with a combo turn 4/5. they're the same. i've certainly seen players cry about combo and how cheese it is, and then zerg out in less turns like it didn't just do the same thing to the pod. i mean, the times i've been recklessly smashed down within a few turns by a voltron player, or an extra combats player, or whatever... it happens every single week at least once.
i can't help but feel you're holding some aspects of edh to different standards despite ending games in similar timeframes. just because a combo isn't seen coming doesn't put it on a different level from an effective board state that ends the game. you just got there a different way - you built up presence - the combo player dug for pieces - both require work - both end the game.
it might be effective, it might get everyone on the same page, but even a quick glance says who wants to read all this ***** and then figure out where my deck falls. simplicity is absolutely key and until someone figures out how to communicate power of a deck as simply as possible to a pod nothing is really going to change. thats why we see so many gravitate toward a number scale despite it being so subjective or simply saying i aim to win by turn X.
Nobody is ever going to figure out how to communicate the power level of a deck to a pod succinctly, because it isn’t possible. It’s not even possible, in general, to compute a deck’s power level (should such a thing even exist).
It’s also not really what people care about. They say they do, but actually in a multiplayer game one deck being a bit more powerful doesn’t matter that much. People get moody over specific cards or whole strategies. What they actually want is things like “no extreme stax” or whatever.
Then, of course, there’s the variance. I can make a deck of astonishingly low power level that can win on turn 1 with the right hand. What then do I say is it’s power level? High because it can combo right away? Low because it almost never will? Take the (geometric?) average?