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 Post subject: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-13 8:57 am 
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This is not mine, but it put into words a lot of what I have been thinking about, so I thought it appropriate to paste it here so we can discuss: https://commandertheory.com/post/188329252907/quantifying-color-power-rankings

Quantifying Color Power Rankings
This post came about because I was trying to figure out how to quantify the power levels of the different colors in Commander.

Before I get into my methods, be aware that, by necessity, I’m condensing a lot of nuanced information down into numbers. Some caveats about this discussion:

I plan on focusing mainly on cards and effects that are generally useful in Commander. Although there are a ton of cards that are very powerful if you build your deck around them, they tend to push the power level of niche archetypes, rather than improving the position of all decks of that color. For example, while Puresteel Paladin and Sram helped White equipment decks with card flow issues, they didn’t do much to help White decks in general.
Also, we are going to be looking at the more efficient end of the Commander card pool. While Fissure is instant-speed creature removal in monored, it’s way too expensive to see play in Commander (EDHREC backs this assertion up; it’s in ~0% of the decks that can run it). When we talk about how many cards in a given category in a given color, I’ll be talking about cards that are cheap enough (in terms of mana) to see a reasonable amount of play, not expensive outliers.
Speaking of cheap cards, I’m not super interested in limiting the discussion based on budget concerns. I am gonna bring up ridiculously valuable cards like Imperial Seal because I think we need to talk about what’s possible in the format in order to get a good sense of where the imbalance lies.
Alright, let’s jump in.

I would argue that there are only a handful of types of powerful cards in Commander. I think that powerful cards either:

Increase your resources
Improve the quality of your resources (e.g., tutors)
Answer your opponents’ threats
Kill people
I think that we can divide up those categories where it’s appropriate:

Increase your resources
Cards
Mana
Life
Improve the quality of your resources
Answer your opponents’ threats
Spot
Instants and sorceries (counterspells)
Creature
Artifact
Enchantment
Planeswalker
Land
Mass
Creature
Artifact
Enchantment
Planeswalker
Land
Kill people
We can also remove the categories of cards that aren’t that important in Commander or which don’t really contribute to any particular color’s power in this format.

For example, straight lifegain is generally not good in Commander; most of the lifegain we see is paired with some other category on this list (like Aetherflux Reservoiror Gray Merchant and killing people). Mass planeswalker removal and mass enchantment removal isn’t as important as mass creature removal and mass artifact removal because enchantments and PWs generally aren’t as common in Commander. Planeswalkers also have a built-in answer, so spot removal for them isn’t very important, either. The best examples of spot land destruction (Strip Mine, Wasteland, Tectonic Edge, Ghost Quarter, Dust Bowl) are all colorless so there’s not much point including this category when we’re trying to determine the relative power of colors in Commander.

That leaves us with:

Increase your resources
Cards
Mana
Improve the quality of your resources
Answer your opponents’ threats
Spot
Instants and sorceries (counterspells)
Creature
Artifact
Enchantment
Mass
Creature
Artifact
Land
Kill people
I want to clarify “cards that kill people” a little bit. When I think of cards that kill people, I don’t think of large beatsticks or token armies. If a threat is easily answered with spot removal or a board wipe, when it kills somebody, it’s more a reflection on your opponent’s failure to find an answer, not your threat’s potency. To me, cards that kill people are the ones that:

kill your opponents the turn you cast them and
aren’t easily disrupted by removal.
You can Doom Blade a Craterhoof, but it did its damage as soon as its ETB trigger was put on the stack. Likewise, you can kill a creature in response to an Insurrection, but there’ll still likely be more than enough power on the board to kill you. Other good examples of cards that kill people are Expropriate and Exsanguinate, since they’re powerful enough to win the game almost out of nowhere and they can only be easily answered via counterspell. In contrast, I don’t think Storm Herd is a good win condition because it gives your opponents a round of turns to answer it and can probably only kill one person at a time without assistance.

I also want to clarify spot removal a little bit. I think of spot removal as something that can stop what your opponent is doing at any time. If it can’t stop the Zealous Conscripts that your opponent’s Kiki-Jiki is targeting, it’s not a great example of spot removal. If it can’t stop the Rings of Brighthearth from copying a Basalt Monolith’s untap ability, it’s not great spot removal.

So we have some categories of powerful effects, and we can consult Mark Rosewater’s Mechanical Color Pie article to see what colors have access to what effects. How are we going to turn these into numerical scores for power level for each color?

In a 100-card singleton format like Commander, what a color can do is not as important as what it can do consistently and efficiently. Monored can answer enchantments efficiently because it has Chaos Warp, but that’s one card in 99, and you’re not likely to draw it in most games.

I think the best measure of whether a color can do something is whether there are enough efficient versions of that effect that you can expect to consistently find them by the time you need them. Figuring out when you “need” a way to kill your opponents or a way to increase your cards in hand is tricky, but figuring out when you “need” an answer is a little easier.

In some playgroups, you need to be able to answer a threat by turn 5 or you’ll die. Most Commander metagames are a bit slower than that, but it’s not super difficult to figure out when the haymakers usually come down in your playgroup; I think in most, it would be turn 8-10ish. Let’s say that a 90% chance to draw the effect you need by turn 8 is proof that a color is “good enough” for the purposes of ensuring you have an answer to a threat reasonably consistently.

If we plug a 99 card deck, a sample size of 15 (7 card opener + 8 draw steps), and a desired success percentage of 90% into a hypergeometric calculator, you’re told that you need to run 13 redundant effects of whatever you’re trying to do. This may seem like a lot, but note that some effects can substitute for others. A Beast Within counts toward Green’s spot removal for artifacts, creatures, enchantments, and planeswalkers (and lands, I guess). Efficient card draw spells increase the number of cards you see, so you don’t have to run as many of the desired effect if you’re running a bunch of card draw.

Most importantly, efficient tutors are wild cards that count towards every other effect you could possibly want in a game of Commander.

So if your color has enough efficient tutors that you can expect to draw one or more by the critical point in every game, then you only need to have access to a single copy of any given effect to ensure that you’ll be able to find that one effect every game.

For example, there is one spell in Black that kills artifacts (not really counting Gate to Phyrexia):

Image
It’s incredibly inefficient, but it exists. If monoblack was in the same boat as monored, then there’s no way this could help you answer artifacts in most games. But monoblack has access to a million tutors; just counting the ones that cost four or less, we have:

Demonic Tutor
Vampiric Tutor
Cruel Tutor
Beseech the Queen
Imperial Seal
Grim Tutor
Diabolic Intent
Doomsday
Diabolic Tutor
Insidious Dreams
Mastermind's Acquisition
Adding those 11 cards to Phyrexian Tribute, we get an 88% chance to find artifact destruction in monoblack by turn 8. Sounds good enough to me!

There only needs to be one color pie mistake in Black for the effect to show up in every game, and I’d argue that it’s the same for Green.

Green is not supposed to be the color of creature control, and by the numbers, that appears to be the case. In terms of unconditional instant-speed Green spot removal that hits creatures, it’s basically just Beast Within. In terms of mass removal, you’re limited to Ezuri’s Predation and the newly printed Apex Altisaur.

Green may only have one Apex Altisaur, but it has a hell of a lot of ways to find it:

Green Sun's Zenith
Worldly Tutor
Sylvan Tutor
Chord of Calling
Fierce Empath
Fauna Shaman
Tooth and Nail
Survival of the Fittest
Natural Order
Finale of Devastation
Summoner's Pact
None of the above are bad cards in Commander; most of them are format staples and you’re not hurting your deck by running any of them. They also make it so that you are practically guaranteed to find any one-of effect that makes it to print, provided that card is a creature.

Also, while other colors have to run 13 ways to kill artifacts, 13 ways to kill enchantments, 13 ways to kill creatures, and 13 win conditions if they want to have access to those effects by turn 8, Green can get most of the way there by running 11 efficient tutors, 1 Bane of Progress, 1 Apex Altisaur, and 1 Craterhoof Behemoth.

Not only does Green get to stretch its few extremely efficient answers very far because it has so many tutors, but it also gets to make much more efficient use of its limited deck slots. Those 14 cards that cover you perfectly across 4 categories of useful effects would take up 52 card slots if there were no overlap among the cards and no wildcard tutors in your color identity.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at how many efficient effects we have in each color:

Ways to Increase Your Resources
Cards

White: Mentor of the Meek (if running tokens/weenies)
Blue: Too many to count
Black: Too many to count
Red: Wheel of Fortune, Reforge the Soul
Green: Shamanic Revelation, Collective Unconscious, Regal Force (if going wide), Hunter’s Insight, Hunter’s Prowess, Soul’s Majesty, Rishkar’s Expertise, Garruk, Primal Hunter, Return of the Wildspeaker (if going tall)

Mana (permanent)

White: Knight of the White Orchid, Smothering Tithe
Blue: Trinket Mage, Fabricate, Whir of Invention (for Sol Ring/Mana Crypt)
Black: Cabal Coffers, Crypt Ghast
Red: Neheb, the Eternal
Green: Too many to count
Tutors
White: Enlightened Tutor, Idyllic Tutor, Recruiter of the Guard
Blue: Mystical Tutor, Merchant Scroll, Personal Tutor
Black: Too many to count
Red: Gamble, Imperial Recruiter
Green: Too many (creature-based tutors) to count
Answers to Opponents’ Threats
Spot Removal

Instants and sorceries (counterspells)

White: None
Blue: Too many to count
Black: None
Red: None
Green: None
Creature

White: Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Generous Gift
Blue: Pongify, Rapid Hybridization, Reality Shift
Black: Too many to count
Red: Chaos Warp, Redcap Melee
Green: Beast Within
Artifact

White: Disenchant, Generous Gift, Aura of Silence, Seal of Cleansing
Blue: None
Black: None
Red: Abrade, Chaos Warp, Goblin Cratermaker
Green: Too many to count
Enchantment

White: Disenchant, Generous Gift, Aura of Silence, Seal of Cleansing
Blue: None
Black: None
Red: Chaos Warp
Green: Too many to count
Mass Removal

Creature

White: Too many to count
Blue: Cyclonic Rift, Evacuation
Black: Damnation, Toxic Deluge, Crux of Fate, Hellfire, Nightmare Unmaking, Extinguish All Hope, Life’s Finale, Black Sun’s Zenith
Red: Blasphemous Act, Rolling Earthquake, Chain Reaction, Earthquake, Subterranean Tremors, Fault Line, Starstorm
Green: Apex Altisaur, Ezuri’s Predation
Artifact

White: Austere Command, Cleansing Nova, Purify, Consulate Crackdown, Hour of Revelation (kinda), Planar Cleansing (kinda), Akroma’s Vengeance (kinda)
Blue: Cyclonic Rift
Black: None
Red: Shattering Spree, By Force, Meltdown, Fiery Confluence, Subterranean Tremors, Shatterstorm, Vandalblast
Green: Bane of Progress, Wave of Vitriol, Creeping Corrosion, Seeds of Innocence
Land

White: Armageddon, Ravages of War, Cataclysm, Hokori, Catastrophe
Blue: Sunder, Rising Waters, Back to Basics
Black: Infernal Darkness, Death Cloud, Contamination
Red: Ruination, Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon, Bust, Thoughts of Ruin, Epicenter, Keldon Firebombers (kinda)
Green: None
Win Conditions/Cards that Kill People
White: None
Blue: Expropriate
Black: Exsanguinate
Red: Insurrection
Green: Craterhoof Behemoth
Here’s what that count looks like without the tutor wild card effect. Some things to note:

I’ve capped each category at 10 unique effects because of diminishing returns; 20 board wipes are not twice as good as 10 and for most effects there is a maximum beyond which drawing more is not particularly useful.
I’m including counterspells as spot removal for creatures, artifacts, and enchantments, although obviously there’s a temporal component to their ability to answer threats.
Green card draw is variable depending on whether your deck is going wide, going tall, both, or neither.
image
What does this tell us about the power level of the various colors?

If you discount the effect of tutors, Blue seems to be in the lead, since its large suite of counterspells give it efficient answers to every spell type. Green comes in second, Black third, and White and Red are 4th and 5th, respectively.

If you include each color’s tutors as wildcards for effects for which they have at least one good card, the numbers look like this (highlight on big swings):

image
Once you count tutors as additional copies of the effects they can search out, the landscape shifts. Green and Black get a huge boost from their tutors, to the point where the gap between them and Blue almost completely closes. In fact, Green may surpass Blue in a deck that can run all of Green’s somewhat-conditional card draw effects. Meanwhile, White and Red, the colors least able to tutor, barely shift at all from their standing when tutors are factored out.

Discussion
What does this tell us about how the disparities between the colors could be evened out?

It tells us that tutors are the real problem. To get white on a comparable level to green, Wizards would need to print 10 win conditions, 4 spot removal spells that hit artifacts or enchantments, and 5 mass removal spells that hit artifacts or enchantments; that’s 19 cards that all have to be efficient enough to see play in Commander. Alternatively, Wizards could print a bunch of enchantment tutors and then the few high-powered enchantments in those categories can provide all that the color needs, in the same way that Green’s creature tutors cover for relatively few mass artifact/enchantment removal effects and win conditions.

However, I want to note that Wizards is pretty down on printing new tutors at the moment. We talked to Gavin Verhey at MagicFest Vegas and he said that Wizards doesn’t think that tutors make games of Commander more fun, so it looks like Green and Black’s duopoly on tutors is unlikely to be challenged anytime soon.

How much does the raw power of individual, high-profile commanders skew this argument?

In both measures of color power level (with tutor wild card effect and without), Red was dead last. However, in recent years, the community’s narrative has been that Red has surpassed White in power level. I’d argue that these facts are not inconsistent, because the power rankings above do not take into account the power level of commanders. If you look at the monored commanders on EDHREC, 8 of the top 10 were printed in the last 7 years. In contrast, that’s true of only 6 of the top 10 monowhite commanders. I think this is an indicator that Wizards has printed better (or at the very least, more interesting) monored commanders than monowhite commanders in the last 7 years.

Another interesting point that supports the idea that monored has gotten more good commanders than white lately is that people don’t like running red cards, yet monored commanders are more popular than monowhite commanders. If you tally up the numbers of copies of the top 100 white cards being run in Commander, you get 859,692 cards– over 250,000 more than Red’s top 100, which total to 610,187 cards. However, if you total the number of decks for all monowhite commanders, you get 7,850, thousands less than the monored commanders, which total to 11,716.

So the actual numbers of cards being run in the maindeck favors the idea that white is better than red, but people’s perceptions are skewed by some real sick legends in monored.

Counts of Monocolor Decks

White: 7,850
Blue: 11,061
Black: 11,241
Red: 11,716
Green: 11,235
Counts of Top 100 Cards

White: 859,692 cards
Blue: 1,175,579 cards
Black: 991,569 cards
Red: 610,187 cards
Green: 1,327,266 cards
Does this argument implicitly over-emphasize control with a combo finish?

I think the constraints of the format makes it so that control decks with a combo finish are more likely to win, and this argument just builds off of that premise. If the starting life total was lowered, the definition of what constitutes a good card would change and maybe more aggressive cards would become more generally useful.

How does the cost of cards impact color balance?

The fewer redundant effects there are, the more high prices handicap colors. There are a lot of replacements for cards like Imperial Seal and Grim Tutor, so Black doesn’t feel the pain of their outrageous price too much. In contrast, there is only one Craterhoof and only one Expropriate and the number of copies printed of those mythic rare cards has not kept pace with demand. This is a significant handicap on Green, since it can’t effectively make use of its tutor suite if you can’t afford the one copy of Hoof to tutor for.

Assuming the assumptions we’ve made about color balance are correct, how can White and Red shore up their apparent weakness, especially if Wizards is not keen on printing more tutors?

Well, Wizards can put a band-aid over White’s weaknesses by printing good commanders, in the same way that they’ve hidden Red’s fundamental flaws by giving it some busted commanders.

Printing redundant copies of effects White can already do will definitely help the color out; Generous Gift is a good start on this path.

However, these ideas won’t fundamentally solve the color’s problems. Not being able to increase its cards, increase its mana, increase the quality of its resources, or end the game are massive drawbacks, and without addressing at least some of these problems, White is always going to be fighting a losing battle.

When we did our episode on 8-mana game enders, we suggested that maybe White could get effects that draw the game, a la Divine Intervention, as a way to end the game that felt flavorful for White. The problem with that sort of effect is that it might feel a bit anticlimactic; at least with Craterhoof and Insurrection, there’s a visceral, Timmy-pleasing moment of attacking for a billion, and even Exsanguinate lets you cackle to yourself while you calculate exactly how much life you just gained. An 8-mana sorcery that says the game is a draw is not exactly an epic conclusion to an hour-long game.

A more appealing alternative might be to give White more overrun effects. As the color that gets the most creatures, it’s a little strange that White’s mass pump appears to cap out at +2/+2, while Green’s skyrockets off the graph.

From Maro’s Mechanical color pie article:

+N/+N to your team

Primary: white

Secondary: green

White is the color most likely to pump its team, most often with +1/+1, but it will occasionally go up to +2/+2. Green’s team pump starts at +3/+3 and often also adds trample.

This seems like a pretty arbitrary rule and making this change would be pretty easy. Getting access to Craterhoof levels of mass pump will give White a way to turn all its value weenies, hate bears, and 1/1 tokens into a lethal fighting force.

As for Red, I would like to see more rituals (Dockside Extortionist was a great start!) to better enable its combo potential and help it sneak in wins before it runs out of resources. I think Red can get away with not having great answers or great ways to win a war of attrition if Wizards helps it become more explosive.

Wrapping Up
I know there’s a lot that’s debatable about what cards qualify as “good enough” to count towards a critical mass of effects but I’d love your input to strengthen the ideas here. Thanks for reading!

_________________
Shabbaman wrote:
The usual answer is "the social contract", but I guess that is not what you are looking for. Try house rules.


With perfect mana, reasonable removal, disruption, and card advantage, we're back to pitchforks and torches. And it's about to get worse for those who do not enjoy the game as Richard Garfield intended, playing as few win conditions as possible and prompting concession after all hopes (and spells) are lost. - Shaheen Soorani


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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-13 9:08 am 
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My thoughts:

I have largely felt that BUG/Sultai is the most powerful 3c combo in EDH, and that Green is the arguabely strongest color here. Now some say that Black is, and I think there is a very strong argument for that when you consider how powerful the tutors are, but as many frown on Vampiric Tutor while praising Cultivate, G will win the "socially acceptable" tutor prize all day long. Also, my opinion, if you do not need a specific answer tutoring out two lands from your deck is a stronger play anyways.

I think I will reexamine the numbers in the next day or so, but overall I agree. What are your thoughts?

_________________
Shabbaman wrote:
The usual answer is "the social contract", but I guess that is not what you are looking for. Try house rules.


With perfect mana, reasonable removal, disruption, and card advantage, we're back to pitchforks and torches. And it's about to get worse for those who do not enjoy the game as Richard Garfield intended, playing as few win conditions as possible and prompting concession after all hopes (and spells) are lost. - Shaheen Soorani


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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-13 12:45 pm 

Joined: 2016-Feb-13 2:14 pm
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Location: Orlando, Florida
Hate being pedantic about it, but white does have a counterspell in the form of Lapse of Certainty. Its not amazing, but it exists. Red also have an incredible amount of artifact destruction, in the realms of having too many to count.


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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-13 2:52 pm 

Joined: 2014-Jul-26 11:35 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Firstly, this is very well reasoned. You have clearly put a lot of thought into your analysis and while numerous players will make the anecdotal observation that BUG is the strongest combination in EDH, it is interesting to see it presented in this way.

I wonder about what comparisons can be drawn between card draw and tutors. the difference between black card draw and blue card draw is that it usually black does it one at a time and blue can take large chunks. Due to the hand size limit, there comes a point at which drawing a bunch of cards stops being additional resources and start being improving quality, so I would argue blue should score higher in that category than they have.

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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-13 3:43 pm 
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There's a lot of good here, but I think most of what is good is more or less obvious and goes without saying. And I do think there are some pretty big issues with the argument's input that for me weakens the overall conclusion, as I will describe below.

First off, I think that there are two glaringly large missing categories here. The first would be cards that answer answers. I would argue three sub-categories there: Protection (protection, hexproof/shroud, indestructible, Turn Aside and friends), Abjuration (Dosan, the Falling Leaf, Overwhelming Splendor, counterspells), and mana denial (land destruction, taxes, land tap/untap shenanigans, potentially artifact removal). I also think you could argue that recursion/reanimation effects can also function as anti-removal as well.

The other category is basically all non-tutor card quality generators. This is mostly top-of-library manipulation, cantrips, and looter effects, but can also include deck thinners like ramp spells or Manipulate Fate-type effects.

Secondly, I want to say that the bar for efficiency here is WAY too strict, but in all honesty it's more of inconsistent in some places and leaving off a lot of cards in others. Some examples include:
1. Missing quite a few efficient green draw spells (Greater Good, Harmonize, and especially Sylvan Library!)
2. Ignoring all Outpost Siege/Light up the Stage effects for red card advantage
3. Leaving off Treasonous Ogre and Weathered Wayfarer for mana
4. Leaving off a slew of white creature removal that's equally efficient to Generous Gift
5. Including a Idyllic Tutor but not equally (in)efficient and narrow artifact tutors in blue

And finally, I do not get the win condition section at all. I could go on for days with cards that are at least as efficient and independent as the ones listed. Hell, I can't even remember the last time I've seen someone win the game the same turn they cast Insurrection.
_______________________________________________________________________________
Personally, I think if all of the things I said were accounted for, it would be a pretty massive overall boost to green and blue, a still sizeable boost to red, and a small but not irrelevant boost to white. Green and blue excel in the two categories I'd add, while white and red can hold their own in the first and second category respectively. I also think a lot of the inconsistencies and ignored cards tended to disfavor green the most, although white and red felt it too.

EDIT: Another thing that feels like it should be accounted for is how much each color is affected by the existence of artifacts/colorless spells, as that is a relevant consideration when deckbuilding. I don't have the numbers on me at the moment, but my guess would be that green would take the biggest overall hit, as the one thing artifacts are phenomenal at is permanent(ish) ramp.


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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-14 4:12 am 
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For me, stuff like this seems somewhat irrelevant to commander. one of the cornerstones to the format is being able to play with your suboptimal fun cards, so power level on a per-color basis should not include only max-power level cards. I run Fissure all the time in commander, for example. and it works out nicely. especialy in mono red


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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-14 5:30 am 
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Shoe wrote:
For me, stuff like this seems somewhat irrelevant to commander. one of the cornerstones to the format is being able to play with your suboptimal fun cards, so power level on a per-color basis should not include only max-power level cards. I run Fissure all the time in commander, for example. and it works out nicely. especialy in mono red


I agree 100%, the main reason I wanted to have this discussion is I am going to try to define "Casual" as far as EDH goes, and figured if we can come up with a better scale or some way to talk about power level we might be able to crack that nut.

_________________
Shabbaman wrote:
The usual answer is "the social contract", but I guess that is not what you are looking for. Try house rules.


With perfect mana, reasonable removal, disruption, and card advantage, we're back to pitchforks and torches. And it's about to get worse for those who do not enjoy the game as Richard Garfield intended, playing as few win conditions as possible and prompting concession after all hopes (and spells) are lost. - Shaheen Soorani


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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-14 6:42 am 
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Inkeyes22 wrote:
Shoe wrote:
For me, stuff like this seems somewhat irrelevant to commander. one of the cornerstones to the format is being able to play with your suboptimal fun cards, so power level on a per-color basis should not include only max-power level cards. I run Fissure all the time in commander, for example. and it works out nicely. especialy in mono red


I agree 100%, the main reason I wanted to have this discussion is I am going to try to define "Casual" as far as EDH goes, and figured if we can come up with a better scale or some way to talk about power level we might be able to crack that nut.


I took a crack at that once. The way i went about it was ranking legends/generals into tiers. It was sort of helpful, but sort of not. Its rare that Arcum is a the helm of a casual deck, but it does happen. Same with Zur, and other "clearly" competative general.

Power level is such a subjective thing within a casual format. I consider myself a pretty uber casual player, but I have decklists (that i rarely play) where i run stuff like Devastation. I, on the other hand, dont prefer Armageddon, because armagedddon doesnt make the caster win right away, but devastation in an artifact usually is just a game ender.

quantification is hard because of this type of thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-14 7:33 am 

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Uktabi_Kong wrote:
Secondly, I want to say that the bar for efficiency here is WAY too strict, but in all honesty it's more of inconsistent in some places and leaving off a lot of cards in others. Some examples include:
1. Missing quite a few efficient green draw spells (Greater Good, Harmonize, and especially Sylvan Library!)
2. Ignoring all Outpost Siege/Light up the Stage effects for red card advantage
3. Leaving off Treasonous Ogre and Weathered Wayfarer for mana
4. Leaving off a slew of white creature removal that's equally efficient to Generous Gift
5. Including a Idyllic Tutor but not equally (in)efficient and narrow artifact tutors in blue.


I agree with these, also would note Land Tax as either cards or mana, and black's ability to wrath seems skewed. There were a few cards I didn't recognize, whilst decree of pain isn't on the list. I'd argue black's ability to wrath efficiently is overstated, with damnation and toxic deluge being a tier ahead of everything else. I also think black's ability to draw cards is overstated. It is probably over 10, but "too many to count" for black is significantly different to "too many to count" for blue. Not all infinities are equal.

Finally white must have at least as many ways to disenchant as green has to naturalize. I haven't done the math there, so I could be wrong, but seems like they should be closer than they are.

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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-14 5:28 pm 

Joined: 2012-Oct-24 8:05 pm
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TIL there are only 4 spells in Magic that can win a Commander game, and Redcap Melee is the second best red creature spot removal.

Seriously, though, I think the conclusions about the relative strengths of the colors are reasonably accurate, but they're mostly based on one deck archetype: goodstuff control. In addition to artifacts and cards that counteract disruption, as some have mentioned, it's worth considering synergies, what commanders bring to their decks, and that aggro or combo decks can answer problems with player removal.


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 Post subject: Re: Quantifying Color Power Rankings - From CommanderTheory
AgePosted: 2019-Oct-14 8:43 pm 
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Age: Elder Dragon
Inkeyes22 wrote:
My thoughts:
I think I will reexamine the numbers in the next day or so, but overall I agree. What are your thoughts?


My first thought is that the author doesn't understand EDH at all.

EDH should be the equivalent of having a drink while shooting darts with your mates at the local hang-out; not the equivalent of binge-playing "Game Du jour" hoping to top the leaderboards.

One is an activity defined by its the social nature, the other is a personal experience largely unchanged whether it is pursued solo or in a group* (except maybe the "live" smack talk). Both are considered fun by people, some people may even find both fun (depending on mood), but the experience itself is fundamentally different.

Inkeyes22 wrote:
Shoe wrote:
For me, stuff like this seems somewhat irrelevant to commander. one of the cornerstones to the format is being able to play with your suboptimal fun cards, so power level on a per-color basis should not include only max-power level cards. I run Fissure all the time in commander, for example. and it works out nicely. Especially in mono red


I agree 100%, the main reason I wanted to have this discussion is I am going to try to define "Casual" as far as EDH goes, and figured if we can come up with a better scale or some way to talk about power level we might be able to crack that nut.


Casual is simply the mindset of deck choice, card choice, and play style** based on priorities other than winning.

This often includes what may be termed as "sub-optimal" deck design and card choices because the player chooses based on theme/tribe/pet-card, etc.(e.g. Broken Visage in a Spirit tribal instead of Assassinate/Doom Blade what-have-you).

I also think any analysis of color(pairs/groups) power levels leads down the opposite path of what you hope to define.



*Where "Group" is defined as all people being physically located in the same room.


**Sure - "build casual, play competitive" but there is still a difference between playing your deck to win and choosing to Strip Mine the mana screwed player on turn 2/3... that's what I mean by making play choices based on priorities other than winning (group enjoyment, in this example).

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