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Author Topic: How Many Colored Mana Sources Do You Need to Consistently Cast Your Spells?    (Read 5957 times)
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« on: 07-01-2014, 02:54:58 PM »

Frank Karsten wrote a very interesting article about it:

This calculation is certainly imperfect but can be a good guideline as I see a lot of decklists with "flaws" in their mana base/mana requirement.

I had the impression that the 4C-Blood lists are too greedy regarding their mana requirements and took a look on the HLGP winner list ( based on Frank´s schedule.

The 4C-Blood winner deck requires:


Not taking into account that you usually want T3-5 spells even a turn earlier with your mana ramp creatures and that you do not want to play some of the cards ASAP (e.g. Eternal Witness)

I counted the following Mana:

G - 26 (4x CIPT, 1x Reflecting Pool)
B -  21 (1x CIPT, 1x Reflecting Pool)
W – 20 (2x CIPT, 1x Reflecting Pool)
R – 19 (1x CIPT, 1x Reflection Pool)
Mana creatures – 8 (8xG, 6xW, 4xR/B)

Based on this you will not reliable able to cast the following spells ASAP:

T1: Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Duress, Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize
T2: Hymn to Tourach
T3: Phyrexian Arena, Liliana of the Veil, Eternal Witness
T4: Elspeth Knight Errant, Chandra Pyromaster
T5: Garruk Primal Hunter, Obzedat Ghost Council, Thundermaw Hellkite

Sure, some of these cards are not necessarily cast ASAP but there are some situations where you want even that (e.g. Witness for Fetchland, Path to Exile on T1 Hermid Druid)

A reliability improvement could be to cut either the RR or (?and?) WW spells and support the GB Mana Base (e.g. City of Brass, Twilight Mire, Urborg Tomb of Yawgmoth, Elves of Deep Shadow- or even Three Visits and Nature´s Lore if you want to add more expensive cards)

Finding excellent replacements should not be a big problem. Some examples out of my mind: Thragtusk, Bonfire of the Dammed, Sword of Fire and Ice, Zealous Consripts, Wolfir Silverheart, Primeval Titan, Desecration Demon, Olivia Voldaren, Shriekmaw, Wickerbough Elder, Rakdos´s Return…)

In the comments of the article is also a link to a land calculator which could come in handy for you:

I have certainly also verified by own list and realized that I have also played a suboptimal mana base which could be improved by cutting Seachrome Coast for Yavimaya Coast and perhaps even Darkslick Shores or Volrath´s Stronghold for Hinterland Harbor.

@ 4C-Blood deck designer: I just took this deck as best possible example available due to the greedy coloured mana requirements. I do not want to question any deck building skills at all.

« Last Edit: 07-01-2014, 03:15:23 PM by MMD » Logged

Feel free to browse through my MKM account:

I also have a huge amount of chinese and japanese foil HL staples not listed yet,  which I would like to downgrade to english foil. Just let me know!
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« Reply #1 on: 07-01-2014, 03:28:23 PM »

Thank you for drawing our attention to this great article.

"He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense"
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« Reply #2 on: 07-01-2014, 05:30:35 PM »

I was about to write about the same article, applied on the exactly same deck! I counted the following manas, using mana creatures as a half source and cantrips as 1/4 a source:

Total: 41, 36 lands
G: 30, 21 turn 1
B: 24, 19 turn 1
W: 24, 18 turn 1
R: 23, 17 turn 1

Then look at the tables:

I run the simulation for 100 cards / 41 lands deck with free mulligan applied (though it has no effect on numbers) and unsurprisingly got the same numbers as the 99 card deck. So let's see:

Mana Elf by turn 2: With just 21 untapped sources, the list has just 87,6 % change of having untapped green first turn in otherwise keepable hand. It's just two sources off optimal, so that could be reasonable.

Thoughtseize/Swords/Bolt by turn 2: Given that the deck wants to lead with a mana elf anyway, noncreature 1CC spells being always active from second turn seems more than fine to me. Odds for 1st turn B were 84 %, 1st turn W 82 % and 1st turn R 80 %.

Garruk/Thrun/Witness by turn 3/4: This works.

Hymn/Liliana/Arena by turn 7: This is where things go sour. You have 69 % change to be able to cast 2nd turn Hymn if you draw it, which means it will be uncastable almost 1/3 time second turn - or even more, as some mana acceleration and cantrips won't work until third turn. Third turn castable Liliana is at least 75 %, so you're gonna miss her 1/4 time. About five more black producing lands will be needed to reliably cast early Hymns or Lilys.

Elspeth/Ozbedat by turn 7: Given that 4th turn WW is 80 % with that mana base, this sounds reasonable. However, I'd like three more sources.

Chandra/Hellkite by turn 8: Borderline. 78 % 4th turn RR, 82 % 5th turn. Again, a couple of more sources needed.

Garruk, Primal Hunter by turn 8: Just one triplecaster in whole deck. With this manabase, odds are 79 % 5th turn and 83 % 6th turn. I think this is acceptable. The deck doesn't necessarily need more green sources total, just a couple of turn one sources more.

Conclusion: you can play 4C manabase very well - as long as you stick to single casters. You can include double casters form one or two colors, but you have to tweak manabase more heavily towards those colors.

What I'd like to do next is recode the simulation to calculate optimal number for lands with both free and spoils mulligan, then recalculate suggesterd colored mana ratios based on new land counts. Stay tuned.
« Last Edit: 07-01-2014, 05:32:54 PM by Nastaboi » Logged

0:13:51 [Nastaboi] Nastaboi plays Invincible Hymn from Hand
0:14:25 [Nastaboi] Nastaboi's life total is now 221 (+213)
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