OGW: Colorless mana sources

http://www.mtggoldfish.com/articles/ahead-of-the-curve-colorless-mana-sources-in-ogw-draft examines the colorless mana sources available in OGW/OGW/BFZ draft.

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MM2: How many bounce lands is too many?

A lot of good players like to play as many bounce lands as they can get their hands on, but doing so also increases the risk of having to mulligan hands where your only lands are bounce lands. It may seem unlikely, but it happened to me thrice in my first 8 matches of Modern Masters 2015. (I had 3-4 bounce lands in each of those decks.) Was I just unlucky? Let’s try to quantify the risk.

An 8-person draft has about 1 copy of any given uncommon on average and there are 10 bounce lands, all at uncommon, so the typical draft will have about 10 bounce lands. This is only about 1.25 per player, but for our analysis we’ll consider decks with up to 10 bounce lands. We’ll also assume 40-card decks with 17-18 lands and where each bounceland replaces about 1.5 lands. I’m also going to ignore the case where you only have 1 bounceland and no other lands, since you wouldn’t usually keep a hand with only 1 land in most Limited games, but the risk of this does increase slightly since you’re running fewer lands in the deck.

# bounce lands # other lands P(2+ bounce lands & no other lands
2 15 0.07%
2 14 0.09%
3 14 0.26%
3 13 0.35%
3 12 0.47%
4 12 0.85%
4 11 1.12%
5 11 1.71%
5 10 2.23%
5 9 2.88%
6 9 3.93%
6 8 5.03%
7 8 6.41%
7 7 8.13%
7 6 10.24%
8 6 12.43%
8 5 15.53%
9 5 18.16%
9 4 22.55%
9 3 27.81%
10 3 31.60%
10 2 38.74%

With 3 bounce lands and 14 other lands, the probability of all the lands you draw being bounce lands is only 0.26%, and with 4 bounce lands and 12 other lands, the probability only goes up to 0.85%, so the risk isn’t as high as it seemed from my small sample size. As long as you have fewer than 6 bounce lands, the probability is less than 3%, which is well worth the virtual card advantage of drawing a bounce land, and the greater density of spells in your deck. The risk involved with running 6+ bounce lands might still be worthwhile if you compare it to the lowered probability of getting stuck at 2-3 mana sources, the increased mana you have available for multikicker/X spells, and the ease of splashing cards from other colors and maximizing sunburst cards. But it’s always better to enter such situations with a good understanding the risks involved.

KTK: Manafixing in the top 8 of GP Orlando

As a follow-up to last week’s post, let’s take a look at what manafixing players ran in the top 8 of GP Orlando. (Dual lands include both the common lands that enter the battlefield tapped and the rare fetchlands.)

Maindeck
Rank Player Colors # Lands # Nonbasic Lands # Lands Only Making Generic Mana # Dual Lands # Tri-Lands (3/2 color match) # Banners (3/2 color match)
1st Eugene Hwang Mardu (B/W/R) 17 3 0 2 1/0 0/0
2nd Melissa DeTora Temur (R/U/G) 17 2 0 2 0/0 2/0
3rd Sol Malka G/B/w/u 17 6 0 4 1/1 0/0
4th Artur Villela G/W 18 0 0 0 0/0 0/0
5th-8th Harry Corvese Jeskai (W/R/U) 17 3 0 2 1/0 0/0
5th-8th Ian Farnung Jeskai (W/R/U) 18 2 0 2 0/0 0/0
5th-8th Pierre Mondon Mardu (B/W/R) 17 4 0 4 0/0 2/0
5th-8th Frank Lepore Abzan (G/B/W) 17 3 0 3 0/0 0/0
Sideboard
Rank Player Colors # Nonbasic Lands # Lands Only Making Generic Mana # Dual Lands # Tri-Lands (3/2/1/0 color match) # Banners (3/2/1/0 color match)
1st Eugene Hwang Mardu (B/W/R) 3 1 2 0/0 1/1/0/0
2nd Melissa DeTora Temur (R/U/G) 1 1 0 0/0 0/1/0/0
3rd Sol Malka G/B/w/u 0 0 0 0/0 1/0/0/0
4th Artur Villela G/W 1 0 1 0/0 0/0/1/0
5th-8th Harry Corvese Jeskai (W/R/U) 0 0 0 0/0 0/0/1/0
5th-8th Ian Farnung Jeskai (W/R/U) 0 0 0 0/0 1/0/0/0
5th-8th Pierre Mondon Mardu (B/W/R) 0 0 0 0/0 0/1/1/0
5th-8th Frank Lepore Abzan (G/B/W) 1 0 1 0/0 1/0/0/0
Rank Player Colors # Multicolor Cards (2/3 color) # Cards in Each Color # Colored Mana Symbols in Each Color # Lands/ Banners Making Each Color Other Manafixing
1st Eugene Hwang Mardu (B/W/R) 1/4 11/5/15 12/5/18 7/6/8
2nd Melissa DeTora Temur (R/U/G) 1/6 5/13/14 6/14/16 6/9/10 Embodiment of Spring
3rd Sol Malka G/B/w/u 2/1 9/16/1/1 9/16/1/1 7/11/3/3 2x Scout the Border
4th Artur Villela G/W 0/0 14/8 14/8 10/8
5th-8th Harry Corvese Jeskai (W/R/U) 1/3 8/9/13 8/10/13 6/7/8 Sideboard: Scout the Borders
5th-8th Ian Farnung Jeskai (W/R/U) 0/2 9/4/13 9/4/15 7/4/9
5th-8th Pierre Mondon Mardu (B/W/R) 0/3 8/7/12 9/7/14 7/10/10
5th-8th Frank Lepore Abzan (G/B/W) 1/3 8/11/14 8/12/14 6/7/7 Sideboard: Seek the Horizon

Observations:

  • Most players stuck to a wedge (2 Maru, 2 Jeskai, 1 Temur, and 1 Abzan) but some player ran 2-color decks (G/W and G/B with 1-card splashes in 2 colors). There were no Sultai decks, or other decks that had both blue and black as main colors.
  • Most players ran 2-5 multicolor cards, although one player had 7 and another had none. Most were wedge cards, but many players also had a 2-color card.
  • Most players ran 17 lands, although 2 ran 18.
  • Most players had 2-4 nonbasic lands in their deck, although one player (G/B/w/u) had 6 and another (G/W) had none.
  • There were 19 dual lands in maindecks and only 4 in sideboards. This means that dual lands were usually drafted after colors were set.
  • Players always ran tri-lands that matched 2+ colors. (It’s effectively like a common dual land that doesn’t gain you a life.)
  • 2 players ran Banners in their wedge, but most left them in their sideboard, even when they matched all 3 colors. No one was desparate enough to run a Banner that only matched 2 colors.
  • Players ran 3-11 lands/Banners producing a color. The low end was when splashing a single card and the high end was when running 16 cards.
  • Manabases seem a bit fragile, with most deck having at least 1 main color with only 6-7 sources. (The only deck that did not have this issue was the G/W deck.) This makes sense given that having 8+ sources for each of your 3 colors while running 17 lands requires 7 duals (or 1 tri-land in your wedge and 5 duals).

KTK: Manafixing

Khans of Tarkir has more multicolor lands than most Limited environments. In a recent draft, I was in Sultai (U/G/B) and was taking manafixing relatively high once I’d determined my colors. By the end of the second pack, I had 7 multicolor lands that were in color (Polluted Delta, 2 Dismal Backwater, 2 Thornwood Falls, Opulent Palace, Sandsteppe Citadel) as well as 2 more that were not useful, so in the final pack I passed a few in-color dual lands for creatures and sideboard cards. (Admittedly, this was a very casual draft and it might have been more difficult to get quite as many multicolor lands in a more competitive draft.)

One thing that people sometimes miss is that the format has 10 dual lands and 5 tricolor Banners at common. Let’s enumerate the manafixing available in the format, by rarity:

  • Common (17): 5 allied color duals, 5 enemy color duals, 5 wedge Banners, Embodiment of Spring (U/G), Scout the Borders (green). I’m not going to count Mardu Warshrieker (red) since that only fixes your mana once and so is only useful for manafixing if you have a very light splash.
  • Uncommon (6): 5 wedge tri-lands, Seek the Horizon (green)
  • Rare (7): 5 allied color fetchlands, Rattleclaw Mystic (colorless/green), Trail of Mystery (green)

Using the expected number of cards at each rarity, we can determine that there are an average of 49 manafixing effects in an 8-person draft, or about 6 per player, so there’re plenty of manafixing effects and the difficulty is ensuring that you end up with ones that are useful for your deck.

Many of these manafixing effects are not useful unless you’re in a color combination that uses 2+ of the colors provided by the effect. Let’s take a look at how many effects are useful if you’re in a given color combination. (Dual lands are also counted in each of the wedges where they would be useful. Wedge lands are also counted in each of the 3 color pairs in which they would be useful, but wedge Banners are only counted for their wedge since they’re much less appealing if you can’t crack them for a card in the late game.)

Color combination Commons Uncommons Rares Expected number of
manafixing effects
W/U 2 1 1 6.1
U/B 2 1 1 6.1
B/R 2 1 1 6.1
R/G 3 2 2 9.8
G/W 3 2 1 9.4
W/B 3 2 0 9.0
U/R 4 2 1 11.8
B/G 3 3 0 9.9
R/W 3 2 0 9.0
G/U 5 3 1 15.1
W/R/U 4 3 2 13.1
U/G/B 6 4 2 18.8
B/W/R 4 3 1 12.7
R/U/G 6 4 2 18.8
G/B/W 5 4 1 16.0

Unsurprisingly, wedge decks have access to the most amount of manafixing (an average of 16 effects), since wedge C/E/D can make use of the dual lands for C/D, C/E, and D/E as well as the Banners, all of which are commons. Enemy color decks have access to the next most amount of manafixing (an average of 11 effects) since each can make use 2 of the wedge trilands whereas allied color decks (which have access to an average of 7.5 manafixing effects) only have access to 1 triland each.

Compare that to the number of multicolor cards in Khans of Tarkir. There are fewer than you might expect in a typical draft, since most of the multicolor cards in the set are uncommmon or rare. Of the 56 multicolor cards in the set, 6 are mythic, 25 are rare, 20 are uncommon, and only 5 are common, so an 8-person draft will only have an average of 41 multicolor cards, just 12% of the 336 cards in the draft. Note that this does not count cards with activated abilities in other colors and, of course, manafixing can be useful even when you only have monocolored cards from 2+ colors.

From this, it appears that it is relatively easy to draft enough manafixing in this format regardless of the colors we’re running, and so perhaps we don’t need to prioritize it as much as in previous multicolor formats. If you wait until later in the draft to pick up manafixing, you’re less likely to waste picks on off-color manafixing. However, other drafters are also more likely to be looking for manafixing at that point, so you may need to pick manafixing more highly. One possible compromise is to pick the wedge tri-lands early since each of them is useful for 3 of the wedges, 2 of the enemy color pairs, and 1 allied color pair.