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 Red Deck Theory!

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Scott
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PostSubject: Red Deck Theory!   Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:29 am

The goal of an aggro burn deck is to deal 20 damage as quickly, and more importantly, as efficiently as possible. A card in an aggro burn deck must fulfill as many of these important qualities as possible:

Have a damage/card ratio of at least 2.85
A card's damage/card ratio is calculated assuming you are trying to win within five turns. Assuming you start with seven cards, draw 4 more throughout the game (assuming you go first), and 4 total cards are lands (4/11 appx = 33%, or 20 lands in a 60 card deck), you will have 11 total cards to work with. Subtract 4 lands, and you have 7 cards to deal 20 damage. 20/7 =2.85. And yes, I know I said assuming 37 times, but cut me some slack, Jack, isolating variables is hard.

Have a damage/mana ratio of at least 1.67
A card's damage/mana ratio again assumes you is trying to win within five turns, and are going first. On the first turn, you have 1 mana. On the seconds turn, 2. 3rd, 3, 4th, 5th 3-4. 3 is assumed to make it more difficult. 1+2+3+3+3=12 total potential mana available to deal 20 damage. 20/12=1.67.

Allow other cards to fulfill their own damage/card and damage/mana ratios
This category is sort of a catch-all for utility cards, like Threaten or Browbeat, that don't do anything calculatable without taking other cards/the game environment into consideration.

Be difficult to remove
Shroud rocks. When stuff is tough to kill, it has a better chance of fulfilling its ratio.

Be painful to remove
Cards that do something when they die are more likely to achieve their ratios. Mogg fanatic, for example, pokes for one when he dies, which is already 1/2 way to its damage/mana ratio. Just as often, being cheap counts as being painful to remove. Terroring a fanatic is obviously no fun for the black mage, but even terroring a mon's goblin raider is not fun simply because they are spending 2 mana to stop your 1 mana spell.

On to the decklists! I will list the cards, then rate them on a scale of 0-5 accordingly:
Damage/card ratio-For a creature, 1 point for dealing 2.85 damage in 1 swing or less. 1/2 point for dealing 2.85 in two swings. For spells, a point for dealing 2.85 or more, and 0 for not.
Damge/mana ratio-For a creature, 1 point for dealing 1.67 damage * the creature's mana cost in 1 swing or less. 1/2 point for 2 swings. For spells, a point for dealing 1.67*mana cost, 0 if it doesn't.
Set up Man-A point for a card that often will allow other cards to deal their ratios. 0 points if the card is 'selfish.'
Difficult to Remove-A point if it is, 0 if it isn't. Burn counts as difficult to remove because you can't terror my shock.
Painful to remove-A point if it is, 0 if it isn't. 1/2 point for being close.

Creatures
4x Mogg Fanatic - 3/5 - Takes 3 swings to get the damage/card ratio, or 2 plus a sac. Gets points for great damage/mana ratio, being a set up man, and being painful to remove.
4x Magus of the Scroll - 2.5/5 - 3 swings to get 2.85 D/C ratio, 2 to get to 1.67(D/M ratio). He is a set up man, and is painful to remove on account of being 1 mana.
4x Blood Knight - 2.5/5 - .5 each for D/C and D/M ratios (2 swings). Not a set up man, but is difficult to remove (first strike, sometimes pro white) and sometimes painful to remove, being two mana.
4x Keldon Marauders - 3.75/5 - GREAT D/C and D/M ratios (1 swing each!) along with being painful to remove. Also gets a 3/4 point difficult to remove for being 2 mana and having 3 toughness.
4x Emberwilde Augur - 2.5/5 - Good D/C, requiring a swing and a sac to get there, and great D/M ratio, requiring only a sac with each swing being a bonus. Not painful to remove, not a set up man, but gets 1/2 point for being 2 mana.
4x Countryside Crusher - 2.75/5 - Great D/C ratio (1 swing), good D/M ratio despite high cost (2 swings assuming you don't hit a land off the top of your deck). Gets the set up man point for smoothing your draws, and a quarter point difficult to remove because he has 3+ toughness.
2x Inner-Flame Acolyte - 1.75/5 - 1 swing for D/C ratio, 2 for D/M. 1/4 point set up man score because evoking him to give maruaders haste and +2/+0 is fun. Not painful or difficult at all to remove.
4x Shard Volley - 3.5/5 - Hits D/C and D/M ratios. Difficult to remove, but an average set up man because sacing the land is a painful way to kill a blocker.
4x Rift Bolt - 3.5 /5- Hits D/C and D/M assuming you suspend it. Difficult to remove, but an average set up man because suspending it to kill something takes luck, and 3 mana is a lot to invest in killing a blocker.
4x Incinerate - 3.75/5 - Hits D/C, but not D/M ratio (comes close though, .17 off). Great set up man, and difficult to remove.
2x Threaten - Difficult to rate. Gets the set up man point easily. The card must deal at least an extra 5 damage to be worth the cost (1.6*3mana).
16x Mountain
4x Gemstone Caverns

For comparison, shock rates 3/5. Fails at the D/C ratio, hits the D/M ratio, and is a good set up card. Also difficult to remove. Gets better with more creatures in your deck (and your opponents) and worse with fewer.

Burn rates highly because it is almost guaranteed damage. It does not, however, deal enough damage per burn card after the big 3 to justify a deck entirely filled with burn. This is why creatures are essential. If they stay on the board, they can be considered repeated burn spells. If they are difficult/painful to remove, then they are even better for this purpose. These ratings show why Keldon Marauders and Mogg Fanatic are so powerful, why Inner-flame Al is slowly being cut from my deck, and why shock is close, but not quite good enough for the maindeck. Soon I will see how the ratios change when going second, when taking 6 turns, and, if I can figure out how to do it, with minimal opponent interaction.

I am curious what you guys think of the rating system. I don't think it covers anything, but as a first draft, it's not bad. I am considered weighing the ratios more.
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PostSubject: Re: Red Deck Theory!   Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:45 am

I found this a very interesting read. Now that I look at it, it seems you came up with the theory, then found the cards to fit it. Completely different then how I've operated which is find some kind of inspiration in a card and run with it.

I like your way better...much less stressful and far more interesting.

I don't the the formula takes in enough variable though.

I mean, assuming one swing, Keldon Marauders deals five damage for two mana.

But if it's chump blocked it's a far less impressive two damage for two mana. That's wore than a shock.

On the flip side, if you throw in other variable, Mogg Fanatic is incredible valuabe, whereas in your current analysis it takes three swings to make up the difference. It's guaranteed at least one damage (Keldon is valuable in this regard too). I think the guaranteed damage in the burn and creatures like the fanatic are what really make this deck tough. People can block creatures, they can't do a whole lot about that rift bolt to the face.
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Scott
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PostSubject: Re: Red Deck Theory!   Tue Feb 26, 2008 11:13 am

You bring up a very good point on guaranteed damage. I did my best to take it into account with the set up man and painful/difficult to kill categories, but it certainliy doesn't take the opponent having a pulse into consideration. This theory is based mostly on potential power playing against a braindead opponent. Without interaction, cards like magus of the scroll are just 1 mana 1/1s. With interaction and a slightly elongated game, he becomes far more powerful, and justifies his inclusion in the deck. Another error I made last night was underrating Inner-Flame Al's hastey damage. Its psudo guaranteed, as you get to pick your spot to deal 4 damage. That's the only reason he is in my deck as of right now.

I really want to expand and improve on this, but am unsure where to go from here. Am I overvalueing the ratios? What other qualities do cards bring to the deck that I did not mention?
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PostSubject: Re: Red Deck Theory!   Tue Feb 26, 2008 12:32 pm

I dont know what else that can be done using math mostly because the number input is subjective. I think that the numbers may be overvalued, but I dont know.

Perhaps a ranking system only factoring in total damage (marauder counting as 5 due to 3 to a chump blocker) over the first 2 turns for creatures and just the damage from spells. and have two ratios, one for damage/mana and one for damage/card. Unfortunatly in magic there are so many other things to consider.

This all being said i think you're red deck is great and all of the math only made it better. i'm going to post maralen later...

Maby my advanced statistics course could help, perhaps i'll talk to my professor and see what he thinks?
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PostSubject: Re: Red Deck Theory!   Thu May 01, 2008 9:51 am

The more I play with this deck, the more I realize that the goal is NOT to win by turn 5. The goal is to get to the point when winning is all but guaranteed. If the opponent is at 5 on turn 5, but I have an empty board, I am still in good shape because there is virtually no way they will finish me off before I draw 5 guaranteed damage off the top of my deck. Without lifegain, An opponent who has stabilized on 8 life is still in dire straits.

Updated decklist!

4x Tattermunge Maniac
4x Mogg Fanatic
4x Magus of the Scroll

12 1 drops seems heavy, however, these cards are so stupidly strong that dropping 1-2 on turn 2 isn't bad news. Additionaly, The Cohort below needs a dude to show him how its done.

4x Mudbrawler Cohort
4x Keldon Marauders

Cohort lept over Blood Knight because haste > everything. The additional 1 drops I was having trouble trimming down becomes a boon rather than a bummer. 1st turn Maniac, 2nd turn Cohort, swing for 4 is fun, and happens very often. Maruaders is still a better card, but no longer my best turn 2 play.

2x Countryside Crusher
4x Boggart Ram-Gang -Hurray for Jaws reference in flavor text!

Crusher is on his way out. My wallet and ego weep, but haste > IwinthegameifCrusherseesanupkeep. Against good decks, Crusher's giant red ass is a giant red target that doesn't do anything on the way out. I cannot believe that a 3 mana 3/3 with one of the best abilities possible tacked on simply doesn't cut it anymore. Now that I've cut 2, the last 2 will eventually go when I get the guts to do it. What goes in their place? Is Inner-Flame Al better? Is more burn the answer? Is 2 copies of Spiteful Visions the answer? I feel so lucky to have a bajillion options for this spot.

4x Rift Bolt
4x Incinerate
4x Flame Javelin
2x Shard Volley

Shard Volley is easily the worst of the bunch, but my burn count, even at 14, is lower than I feel comfortable. Haste pretends to be burn quite often, but if they got stuff out, ripping a cohort off the top is a bummer. 4 Shard Volleys is incredibly unwieldy, because 2 in the opening hand is like having a 5 card hand. Flame Javelin is obviously amazing. Because of it, Mutavault may not even make the deck if I ever get them (at least without manamorphose shenannigans). The drop off after the big 4 is really rough. Shock is decent, Lash out is good if the opponent cooperates, and any of the 3 mana 3 damage cards are decent for late game reach, but Shard Volley is better at that. I want more incinerates Smile .

20x Mountain - Gemstone Caverns is colorless too often anymore, and doesn't do enough even when it goes off.

My sideboard went from 12 cards strong to 3084 cards strong after shadowmoor. Ironing that out will be quite the challenge.

Thoughts on anything?
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PostSubject: Re: Red Deck Theory!   Thu May 01, 2008 5:58 pm

I know from experience that playing your old version was a nightmare. I could get a perfect draw with my black/white deck and anticipate what you were doing and make every right play and my life total would still whittle down no matter what. It's a very unnerving deck to play because there is a sense of inevitability surrounding it. Whether you win or no feels out of your control because you can't stop the damage. Even if I'm at twelve life I feel like I need to drop a bottle gnomes or a Riftwater immediately, leaving me unable to play better things like Caliderm or Grim Harvest craziness. It's just a really tough deck to play against and no match-up is really going to favor your opponent as far as I can tell. The guaranteed damage is just so ridiculously powerful early.
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Sn0man13

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PostSubject: Re: Red Deck Theory!   Tue May 06, 2008 12:20 pm

dragon's claw is leet tech against the red deck...

joking

Red aggro seems really strong post shadowmoor. I just hope that the other decks can keep up
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