Tolarian Tutor: Mana Curve and Land Bases – A Magic: The Gathering Study Guide

Tolarian Tutor: Mana Curve and Land Bases – A Magic: The Gathering Study Guide


so you’re prepping for Friday night magic going over your deck with your friends you look at the ratio of lands to spells and one friend says you clearly need to take out those scry lands I mean look at your curve you’re too aggressive for them well another friend argues no you need to keep those in maybe add a few more and stay flexible in order to reach your hydrops who’s right in this situation how would it be any different if you were building a limited deck from draught for Friday night magic instead mana curving and land bases are both important parts of deck building and I’ll be covering them today in our second episode of tellurian Tudor and even though I touched on mana curve a bit in the first episode for this lesson I’m going to be delving a lot deeper into the intricacies of how curving and land-based construction change throughout limited and constructed formats this may not be an advanced lesson but we’re far from beginning there’s more to this than just the right ratio of lands to spells what else do we want to pay attention to and how else can we build upon that foundation of knowledge which we already possess this is tellurian tutor [Music] so what exactly does mana curve refer to and where do we get this term from well if we were to take a look at a magic deck and group the spells by converted mana cost from left to right we can clearly see that we’re creating a graph of our deck to see how many low middle and high drop cards we have now while every deck is different most decks will have the majority of cards in the center with a few cards to the left that can be played during our first few turns and not too many to the right as drawing these at any early point in the game is just going to clog up our hand this creates a bell curve which is the origin of the term mana curve you want a steady manner curve so that you can actually play magic and cast spells every turn curving out like we discussed during our last session so how important is having a mana curve that centers on three to four drops well the answer to this question of course varies from format to format set to set and even deck to deck again you’ll need to keep all of these things in mind when you build your deck and design its strategy but let’s focus on some recent limited sets and more aggressive formats like almond ket draft your curve will probably peak earlier at around two to three drops Lots usually a 2 to 4 2 is just considered a vanilla creature but here a card like Watchers of the Dead is more relevant given the aggressiveness of this format in contrast to the aggressiveness of almond ket limited an example of a slower format would be modern masters 2017 where your curve rested around the 3 to 4 drop range with creatures like dine rova horror at the top so what are some of the signals to look out for in limited when figuring out how to optimize a mana curve this too is a difficult question but one way to begin to determine how aggressive a limited format is is by examining just how good the mechanics of that format are at at let’s take almond cat for example with almond cat exert is a bad mechanic for blocking but it’s very good at attacking so we get a bit of a hint here that we need to be more aggressive going all the way back to a format like gatecrash battalion was a mechanic that incentivized attacking with multiple creatures this too is a clue that you are playing in a more aggressive format if it’s a slower format you’re going to see more efficient low-cost adream ooh ville that takes care of lower drop creatures and as a result three to four drops become much more important and have a bigger impact on the board state again looking at modern masters 2017 we saw the return of lightning bolt and path to exile which made creatures like mist meadow witch and dine row of a horror more playable and able to hold their own on the battlefield so what rolled is taking another color play on our curve and land base at what point is it dangerous to go into an additional color should you just take a card that looks good even if it’s not in your color the answer to those questions lie in what phase of the draft you’re in and what colors your deck is in for example let’s say you wanted perfect mana fixing well the only way to have true perfect fixing is to be in just one color so let’s say you’re in mono black in this type of a deck you’d want about 23 spells but since you were only taking black that means that about three to four to those spells in your deck are probably going to be pretty mediocre I would recommend trying to be in two colors instead of just one color in this situation you’re trying to pick one color at the beginning of your draft but as soon as you find a reason to go into a second color go for it let’s take a look at a draft an almond cat if you open Hazar at the fervent pack one pick one then you might go ahead and try to pick red as much as possible but if you see good removal or another great spell it would be wise to pick that card and around it however I recommend against going into three or more colors unless you have great fixing for example almond cat has cars like painted Bluffs gift of paradise and spring to mind which help make three color decks more possible keep in mind though that your deck is still going to want to stick to two primary colors if you are gonna splash for a third then we’re talking about one to two cards of that splashed color and you only want one man a symbol of that splashed color on each card ideally what if you want to splash for a card that has multiples of one man a symbol so its pack three you haven’t drafted any red and you open up a glory bringer which has not one but two red mana symbols in its casting cost are you able to splash and play this in your deck well the answer is probably not I know it takes a lot of discipline but you’re not going to be able to splash four cards like this you’re just going to have to say to yourself instead of having one really powerful card in a problematic deck you’re going to have a consistent deck instead well you might think that one extra mana symbol doesn’t make a difference the problem is that there’s an astronomical mathematical difference between drawing one and drawing two mana sources of the color you’re splashing for at that point you need to be playing six to seven sources of that one color instead of just three or four so unless you’ve got what is essentially free man affixing such as a shimmering grotto or a gift of paradise to get that glory bringer it’s usually going to take more lands than you will be able to use effectively for the rest of your deck also those lands you’re using to splash the third color will take up space and hinder your ability to implement your winning strategy let’s go over some additional tips on mana curve for limited before we move into constructed so how do we determine what the composition of our lands should be a useful way of figuring this out is to count every single one of the Manus on your cards then figure out the ratio of one man a symbol to another you math for example if I’ve drafted a blue-black deck and out of 25 mana symbols 18 of them are blue and eight of them are black I can conclude that this is about a 70 to 30 ratio as a result my lands should reflect this ratio if I had 16 lands then 11 of them should be Islands and 5 of them should be swamps of course this is just one way of figuring out your mana base if you have many low drops of one color you may consider skewing towards that color in your mana base so that your odds of drawing them a higher in your opening hand another thing to consider is the value of fixing which can go up if it plays with the mechanic of a set for example ether revolt had a new mechanic revolt which triggered when a permanent you controlled left the battlefield therefore sac lands like evolving wilds became much more valuable and more wanted for that kind of a format what about for constructed how does mana curve in land bases change when we look at a constructed format as opposed to limited limited is a much more nuts and bolts kind of format where you’re trying to solve a puzzle or you’re trying to make the best use of the limited resources in front of you whereas constructed gives you access to all the cards available in that format and therefore allows more creativity and flexibility in your deck building in a way constructed just has more tools for self-expression with your deck and this means there are many ways to go about building a mana base to support that deck what key factors of our deck affect our mana curve and land drops the first thing you need to do is look at your deck and realize what its goals are and how it’s going to win if you want your deck to be aggressive then you want more two to three drops if it’s more defensive than focus on your 4 to 5 drop range from there you can create your mana base and figure out how to optimize your land drops when it comes to hitting those land drops there are decks that don’t need to hit them more than once or twice and there are other decks that need to hit every single land drop every turn if your deck is trying to cast Gideon ally of Zendikar on turn 4 every single time you’re going to need to play something in the 24 to 25 lands range but if you need to play your torrential dear Hulk on turn 6 you’re going to need to play 27 lands in order to hit a land drop every turn what role does the type of deck you’re playing have on your mana curve and land base agro tends to run fewer lands than other decks since its mana curve is going to peak pretty early for example red deck wins and modern runs about twenty lands you need to hit your first three land drops so that you can play the majority of your burn and creature spells from lightning bolt and lava spike’ to spark elemental and killed in Marauders it’s a fast deck that needs to start hitting your opponent from turn one so having a third of your deck be lands is a good balance between getting the mana you need and blasting your way to victory right off the bat a mid-range deck wants to hit its first four land drops in order to set the stage for its early to mid costed creatures and spells most of them run twenty-four lands but can sometimes throw in a 25th or 26th in those cases that extra land does something special like Westville abbey if we look at jund gods and standard we see that those four land drops are important in order to play some key creatures including Hazar at the fervent Ronis the indomitable and bristling Hydra control typically plays between 26 to 27 lands making sure to have enough lands each turn so that you can respond to whatever it is your opponent is trying to do in white/blue control and modern we can see that most decks run around twenty-six lands most of which can do more than just produce mana for example these decks favor celestial colonnade ghost quarter cetera allowing the pilot to pick a ready answer for whatever threat opposes them combo unsurprisingly can be a bit all over the place depending on what kind of combo deck you are creating when your entire deck is the combo for example Cheerios and legacy eggs in modern you’re going to need to have a lower land count so you can draw the pieces you need in order to make the deck work some decks like eggs run fifteen to sixteen lands other combo decks that rely on a two card engine needs to run more lands and more ways to be able to protect the combo usually up to 25 or 26 lands if you have a ramp deck that employs affinity or Elves you tend to play around 18 lands since you have other ways of making mana through artifacts or creatures what’s exciting about these decks is that you tend to accelerate your mana curve in your early turns being able to pull out large and hards to deal with threats earlier than your opponent’s expect what if you already have a constructed deck and you want to make a dramatic change to it such as splashing for a new color what are you going to look for in terms of ratios land base mana curve okay so let’s take a look at one of my favorite decks modern merfolk let’s say I have a mono blue build and I want to make a blue-white version so that I can run cards like paths to exile and rest and peace how exactly do I go about doing this answer not in isolation even if no one else is currently playing blue-white merfolk at the moment I’m still probably not the first person to ever make a blue-white version of that deck and you should definitely utilize online information and read what other players and professionals have done there you can extrapolate from their conclusions and start tinkering around for example white bloomer folk had a presence in the past and I can take a look at deck lists to see what variations included paths to exile and rest in peace I can even start looking at other merfolk variations perhaps I’ll find a blue green merfolk deck that added collected company what did its mana base look like and how does that inform the construction of mine ultimately the approach you want to take to altering a deck should be as if you were sculpting with a delicate scalpel not a hatchet make small adjustments tests see what makes sense it’s the subtle changes you make that personalize your deck and will make it absolutely unlike anyone elses on the field but what if you want to make a deck from the ground up if you’re starting from the ground up the mana base and curve is going to come last first just find a card that excites you let’s take Sam at the tested from there let’s figure out what cards work well with Sam it and then decide what lands work for that build if it turns out that Sam it does better with a bunch of five drops then you’ll need more lands say around 25 but if she tops out the curve in an aggressive deck you’ll need fewer another example would be if you wanted to add a card like arlen cord to your existing green white deck and standard this means that you’re going to need a way to handle tapped lands one way to do this is to dramatically reduce the three drops in your deck which will help you in this area and help optimize your strategy like setting a gem and a piece of jewelry you need to be sure that the supporting pieces complement and strengthen your key cards building a man a curve and land base that’s both optimized and consistent is a key part of becoming a great magic player studying from others and rigorous testing are both great ways to help you improve your skills and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it this episode covered what a mana curve means the importance of mana curving and deck building for both limited and constructed formats how to create an optimized land base for both limited and constructed how mana curves and land-based numbers change in different archetypes and how to tweak your mana curve and land base when making your own decks I hope very much this second episode of tellurian tutor has been you vil to you our next episode we’ll explore in depth the various tech archetypes of Magic the Gathering this is tellurian Community College I’m the professor our professional consultant is my own tutor emma handy michele rap is our script supervisor and remember it’s not about winning individual games of magic it’s about getting better win or lose [Music] this week’s episode of tellurian tutor as well as last week’s and next weeks as well as all other videos on this channel has been made possible only because of the kindness and support of our patron alums over at patreon do you think this show has value if so you might consider going over to patreon comte and offering your support to keep this channel going and growing strong thank you [Music]