THS: Maindeck enchantment removal

When I first read through the Theros spoiler, I figured enchantment removal would be maindeckable, just as Shatter was in Mirrodin, because it was an enchantment themed set with a higher than usual number of enchantments. So in my first Theros event, I drafted enchantment removal highly and played 3 of the 5 enchantment removal spells I drafted maindeck. That didn’t work out too well. Nowadays I often go to the opposite extreme, picking enchantment removal fairly low and rarely playing any maindeck. But I’d never done any analysis to determine whether this was the right play from a statistical standpoint.

Let’s now use the updated card valuations from yesterday to determine whether it makes sense to maindeck enchantment removal in Theros. This spreadsheet lists all the enchantments in Theros, and then summarizes quality by color and rarity. The total row for each color does not sum the rows above it, but instead computes the average number of cards of that color/rarity/quality in an 8-person draft.

Even though Theros is enchantment-themed, it turns out that there aren’t actually that many bomb/exceptional enchantments in the typical draft. In fact, the average Theros actually has the same number of exceptional enchantments as the average M14 draft. While there are a lot more good (/) enchantments than there were in M14 (31 vs. 10), you don’t usually need removal for those. Of course, card quality can be different from whether you need to deal with a card. For instance, if your opponent has a bestowed Aura on a flyer, you probably lose the game in short order if you don’t deal with either the flyer or the enchantment.

Looking at the totals, it appears that white and blue (especially blue) have a disproportionate number of the exceptional enchantments in Theros. In fact, those colors have the only exceptional cards at common/uncommon: Heliod’s Emissary, Nimbus Naiad, and Thassa’s Emissary. If you’re playing against a U/x deck, it is likely you’ll want to keep your enchantment removal in even if you haven’t seen enchantments that you care about removing. If you’re playing against a W/U deck, you may even want to side in additional enchantment removal, even if you haven’t seen targets. On the other hand, you’re less likely to need enchantment removal against R/G, so you can consider siding it out if you haven’t seen good targets and have other cards you want to side in.

We still need to determine whether it makes sense to run enchantment removal maindeck. All the colors have roughly the same number of enchantments in a typical draft, and very few of them are completely unplayable, so let’s look at the grand total row. An average draft will have 55 enchantments between 8 players, or about 7 enchantments/player. If we exclude filler, unplayable, and TBD enchantme1nts, we’re still left with 40 enchantments, or 5 per player. If your opponent has 5 enchantments that you would be happy to destroy, that means you’ll usually see 1-2 enchantments in most games. That means you probably want to run 1 enchantment removal spell maindeck and relegate additional ones to the sideboard.

Sealed deck are built from 6 packs, so they have access to a lot more enchantments, an average of 10 playable ones per player. However, they’re also likely to be distributed evenly across the colors and so a player will usually only be playing 4-5 of them. On the other hand, since color choices in Sealed are dictated by the strength of a color, players are more likely to play a colors with bomb/exceptional enchantments, so the quality of these 4-5 enchantments is likely to be higher than in a draft. You probably don’t want to run more than 1 enchantment removal spell maindeck, though, since there are unlikely to be enough targets for them.

We’ll look at artifact removal tomorrow, but that is unlikely to change this conclusion since Theros has very few impressive artifacts.

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