Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mana Bases, Applied

Last time, I wrote about an excellent article by ChannelFireball's Frank Karsten on creating mana bases. I ended the post with the intention of applying his numbers and analysis to a specific decklist from a recent Monday Pauper Deck Challenge event.

Of course, I should have realized that this would be more challenging than I expected. As it turns out, most of the successful decklists right now in the metagame are either mono- or dual-colored, with pretty simply color requirements.

Fortunately, the Dimir Mill archetype is just complex enough to be worth applying Karsten's numbers. For reference, here's the exact decklist I'm referencing, which took 2nd place in Monday's MPDC 23.10:

Dimir Mill
2nd place by Ajcapra in MPDC 23.10
4 Archaeomancer
4 cards

Other Spells
4 Devour Flesh
4 Essence Scatter
4 Grisly Spectacle
4 Pharika's Cure
4 Pilfered Plans
4 Psychic Strike
3 Thassa's Bounty
2 Cancel
2 Crypt Incursion
1 Tome Scour
32 cards
11 Swamp
9 Island
4 Dimir Guildgate
24 cards

Psychic Strike

So, what are the mana requirements for this decklist?
  • Access to either B or U on Turn 2 (for Devour Flesh or Essence Scatter)
  • Access to both B and U on Turn 3 (for Psychic Strike and Pilfered Plans)
  • Access to BB on Turn 2 (for Pharika's Cure)
  • Access to UU on Turn 3 (for Cancel)
Based on Karsten's numbers, here's the total number of colored sources corresponding to each of these requirements:
  • 13 sources of Black and Blue
  • 12 sources of Black and Blue
  • 20 sources of Black
  • 19 sources of Blue
As written, the decklist certainly falls short of these recommendations. It has 15 Black sources and 13 Blue sources. So what are our options?

Well, playing 39 Lands isn't going to happen.  And even with the dual-colored Gates, that only reduces the Basics needed to 16 Black and 15 Blue, which is still excessive. So the question is, how important are these last two requirements?

Turn 2 Pharika's Cure is helpful, but certainly not necessary for this decklist to function, especially since Devour Flesh accomplishes a similar role. In the same way, a Turn 3 Cancel isn't a requirement, since Psychic Strike is a much more viable Turn 3 play.  As it stands, the deck should practically always have access to Pharika's Cure by Turn 6, and Cancel by Turn 8. This same guideline applies to both Grisly Spectacle and Archaeomancer. Is this good enough?

I actually think this is correct as built. With only 2 Cancels in the main, and with Archaeomancer being a late play for this archetype, favoring Black sources over Blue seems to be the right choice. Considering how controlling this archetype is, I might even be tempted to run a 25th Land for a Swamp, easing the BB threshold to Turn 5. What do you think?

I hope you've found this application of Karsten's article to be helpful. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. 23-25 lands are good for this list. I favor the lower count because even if it's important to reach 6 manas at some time for Card advantage, you don't want to draw too many lands late game. And as you pointed out, the list features enough removal and counters to control the game using 3-4 mana sources.
    Even if the main topic is consistency, I think cutting to 23 lands is worth risking because the deck mostly relies on card advantage as a control and win condition, Pilfered plans does great job giving you more mana sources or more fuel for control.