Limited Resources: Four Is the New Six

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  1. Hey, I am Semnyi on mtgo

    My initial perception was that Red/Black should have been enough to go the distance. Glad to see a video of the new format. _Al

  2. I would have dropped the goblin tunneler for the combust. You are not aggressive enough for a 1/1 to matter. Most of the time it may as well be an enchantment that makes things like the hellhound and water servant unblock-able as it will never trade with anything outside of a random child of night or sacred wolf.

  3. Nice vids! 4 pack sealed is fun but the most bomb dependent of all the Limited formats. So much so that my feeling is that it’s what I call (and it’s very likely that others do as well) a “casual” Limited format. Like Winston draft. Unfortunately, Winston is only in RL right now. But the prize payout for 4 pack sealed is solid and you guys are right that the games go much quicker.

    Thanks again!

  4. I love this new sealed format. There are often interesting sideboard choices to make, often boarding out a color is the correct choice to gain access to key cards. Just a really interesting format, with solid EV even! The best thing about this format is that there is literally no reason to ever just open packs (as if there ever was, amiright?) with this format in play, as the worst case scenario is 0-3 and you still just opened four packs. No tix is awesome!

    Good job to you guys on resisting the urge to go three color. Barring splashing for a bomb or removal I think going two color is really the number one key to victory. I think the UR build was solid, but sleep doesn’t really do much, other than act as a fog. Maybe it gets you there with some of your fire/water breathers on board, but I would have been sorely temped drop it for the 14th land.

  5. In m3 g1, it seems weird to not play Ice Cage to buy yourself turns agains the Elemental. He can’t un-equip the axe, so you’re basically forcing him to play a creature and then equip twice. That’s a pretty big hit when he’s missed a land drops drops.

    Additionally, you already know the plan for the next several turns, and it involves basically setting up a board state that you control.

    So if you spend the ice cage in that way, what cards could have wrecked your plan? I can’t think of much beyond double doom blade, really.

  6. @ thaen: You can reequip equipment to the currently equipped create.

    Re: Bomb dependency. I’m not sure that I agree with the thesis that this format is more “bomb dependent”. Or at least I disagree with the undercurrent that that statement usually carries: that the format is not skill intensive because it only matters what you open.

    Rather, the size of the decks means that you have a much better chance of executing a *plan* whatever that might be. If you can only win off of a whispersilk cloak then so be it. Build your deck with that in mind. Likewise, decks should not really be built in the way that most sealed decks are: for the mopey mid game. Rather decks should be trying to reach upper end bombs OR end the game fast.

    Anything you open two of should be considered carefully because if it has any usable niche than it should be leveraged if possible 2x in 30 cards = 4x in 60 cards. This is one of the formats great strengths in my opinion.

    Obviously not all card pools are equal. But because most decks should have a specific plan or two most pools will provide you with at least some way to counter your opponents plan. If you know your opponent has titans then you cannot go throwing away doom blades and just hoping your opponent doesn’t draw them.

  7. Seems like a few times you two were playing more carefully then is right. There’s a difference between playing around everything because you can and playing around more than everything because you can.

    That said I did have a good time watching it, good deck construction and fun banter.

    Oh but…be on the draw more if all the decks are slow anyway and you want to make all your land drops ;)

  8. @Zage – Which spots do you think we should have been more aggressive?

    Also, what is the difference between playing around everything because we can and playing around more than everything because we can? (and furthmore what does that sentence mean? ;)

  9. @RoninX – Great thoughts and well written too sir. I am personally still piecing together how to adjust to a smaller deck. It feels like you should be able to execute pretty much any plan you have, the problem seems to be having a deck cohesive enough to *have* a plan.

    I think the simplest of these plans is usually “stay alive until I can cast my bomb”. And being that the deck is smaller, you will be drawing your bomb more often than in 40 card, so it makes sense that this strategy would be considered.

    However, if you opened a pool that was particularly cohesive in other ways (very fast aggro, some sort of super synergy or combo/mill) then I think you could make a deck that was effective in this way as well.

    Good thoughts, thanks for the comments guys.

  10. “the problem seems to be having a deck cohesive enough to *have* a plan.”

    Some pools might be just out of luck. But I’ve done 9 of these now and have yet to open a pool where I can’t come up with *some* kind of plan – in fact M11 seems really well designed in this regard. I’m not sure this format would have worked in M10 and certainly not in some of the early core sets. Yes, I’m sure someone will counter this by describing their triple Incite, triple Dryads Favor pool…

    “I think the simplest of these plans is usually ‘stay alive until I can cast my bomb’.”

    That is one of the easiest plans to develop and carry out. However, because of that I see a ton of games where no one has an offensive play until the 4th turn (sometimes much later). This opens up an efficiency for aggressive decks, especially ones that can get through (or over) a 3-4 toughness blocker.

    I wonder if this is going to be a format limited to core sets, or if we are going to get to play it with expert level sets as well. Do we have any word on the future of this format yet?

  11. @mudkips: I think you are right that the tunneler should have been swapped in the maindeck for something; it was never a good draw and it was greedy to go for a two-card combo with the hound even in 30 cards. I’m actually thinking the 2/2 goblin for R or the Phantom Beast over the Combust for the purposes of stalling to our top end and not lowering our creature count even further.

    @thaen: did you play during Mirrodin? Lightning Greaves actually prevents you from re-equipping with only one creature in play because of shroud, and for a while that’s how I thought of all equipment because of it. Burt yes, as Robin says, it would only force Villain to spend 4 mana.

    @Robin: fair points, but how about “bomb-driven” instead of “bomb-dependent?” While you are correct that those statements frequently have an undercurrent of “it’s all luck,” don’t insert it into my meaning. Increasing the importance of bombs generally swings a format more towards luck, but I’ve never said that “bomb-driven” equates to a skill-free luck-fest. Being aware of the bomb-driven nature of a format and acting accordingly is itself a skill.

    While you can formulate and execute a plan when you don’t open bombs, the format still revolves around them even if you didn’t open any. Your last sentence sums this up perfectly: “If you know your opponent has titans then you cannot go throwing away doom blades and just hoping your opponent doesn’t draw them.” i.e., bombs heavily dictate how you build and play your decks.

    @Zage: I echo Marsh, I’d be curious to know where specifically you would have chosen not to play around something or play out a premium creature instead of bait. I just re-watched because I haven’t thought too much about this event since we recorded it, and I didn’t see any spots where I would have played less conservatively in terms of threats and play-arounds. I thought we always had good reasons and explained them.

    For example, not blocking the Child of Night with Titan: he would need two spells it was WAY unlikely that he had, but blocking was 99.99% chance of winning, and not blocking was 100% chance, so why not play around?

    I think when to play around and when to go for it make up some of the most critical decision points in the game, so would love to hear where you would have been more “go for it” and why you think that play has the superior EV.

  12. @Marshall: The sentence means that I felt you were sometimes playing around cards not in existence/not in M11. I thought that was pretty clear myself and I’m not even a native english speaker ;) (that’s what I meant with ‘more than everything’)

    I’ll go rewatch some things real quick now to see if I can dredge up some examples. Also it’s not like there were dozens of times or something, it was just two or three times that I thought ‘come on guys, just get it done, there’s literally nothing he could have here’.

    Btw I think you guys may be a bit too easily offended by me, like you’re assuming I’m spending 2 hours watching your vids just to troll you. Maybe it’s just me but that’s the feeling I’m getting. So just in case that’s what you think; I’m really not trolling =/

  13. R3G1 you say it is statistically a coinflip that he has a cancel in hand because he is through half of his deck… that is not true, because you know some of the cards he already has played. He has 6 cards in hand and 14 in his deck, the chance that he has cancel is 6:14, that’s a close 1:2 … just in case this changes your decision next time ;)

  14. An example would be (keeping in mind that this is my opinion and that you are free to disagree):
    M2G2: Playing Harbor Serpent instead of Inferno Titan, playing around…nothing in the set.

    I’ll outline my rationale in the next few paragraphs:

    He doesn’t care about the Harbor Serpent, it puts no pressure on him at all. It’s a wall, that’s it.
    As you say in the vid a few turns later, if he has 2 Doom Blades then there’s nothing you can do about that with your Titan and Hellkite. Running out the Serpent doesn’t change that, because he has no incentive to kill Serpent. Sure he does if you play your fifth island, but you didn’t play a fifth island before you played the Titan/Hellkite, so that point seems moot.

    Playing the Serpent first gave him several more draws to find the 2 potential Doom Blades or whatever (like a Plummet) to save himself, because the Serpent put absolutely no pressure on him.
    With the cards you had in hand I think it was obvious you were in the drivers seat. But instead of pushing the advantage and making sure he couldn’t draw out of it, you played so carefully that he actually didn’t get pressured and got a lot of time to draw potential answers.

    Sure you had 17 life and were in no risk of dying, but there was really no reason to not pressure him, as the Serpent didn’t actually play around anything. Two Doom Blades still kill both the Titan and the Hellkite, and playing a wall first doesn’t change that.
    Long story short: Playing Serpent instead of Titan doesn’t play around anything and in fact helps him out by giving him 2-3 extra draw steps to find a crucial spell.

    Again please note that this is just my opinion. I’m not saying I’m definitely right here and that my line is the only worthwhile way to do it. Not at all.
    I just personally thought that the line of play in the video was playing too carefully for your own good.

  15. @Ryan: I’ve also seen that I tend to get good red in sealed, and I was wondering the same thing as you. But you’re getting things like Lightning Bolt, Chandra’s Outrage, and Fireball, which are all really good. Plus, it seems like there are lots of red bombs, i.e. Hellkite, Inferno Titan, Chandra, Fireball. Fiery Hellhound is actually decent value in 4 booster sealed, and the 4/4 for 5 guy is pretty decent.

  16. @Zage

    OK, in that spot, though, there’s a strong chance that he has Doom Blade, right? He’s stuck on land, two spells have been played, so he has roughly a 6 in 15 chance of holding Doom Blade…larger if we assume he would have cast his small-drop creatures had he had them.

    While you are correct that he is not insta-blading the serpent, the play is not *just* about baiting out a Doom Blade with the creature we play on that turn, but giving us something else to do this turn so we can bait out the Doom Blade with the hellkite next turn, and, if we draw a land in the next two turns, then go Titan, equip with cloak the turn after that. We decided to go servant/pyro the next turn, but I still have no regrets about just dropping the titan in a spot where we kill nothing with his etb ability.

    I will grant you that the superior play there is to cast the servant and equip it, which really would have demanded a blade right there on the spot in response to the equip. I do not agree, though, that the play is to run your absolute best card into a likely Doom Blade when the alternatives will draw out the removal with more-expendable creatures, and set up a likely cloaked titan play a couple turns later.

    Another argument for waiting on the titan is to at least give him a chance to play out other targets for the ETB ability. So yeah, I can get behind playing out something more demanding of removal there than the serpent (i.e., the servant), but disagree that we should run out the titan in that spot when even playing the serpent allows us to lead with the hellkite.

    Thanks for the interesting perspective, this kind of discussion is why we love this game and like making videos.

  17. As for the “win in two turns” option, you can attack, and if he doesn’t play anything, you can play Water Servant, play Act of Treason on it, and win the game.

  18. Well I’m glad we can agree about throwing down a threat instead of the Serpent in that particular scenario :)

    Looking at the hand again I definitely agree with you that the best play would be playing and equipping Water Servant. But between Titan and Serpent, I’d say Titan every time for the reasons mentioned earlier.
    I don’t think having extra creatures for Titan to kill with his ETB ability is really that big a bonus, because he can kill those creatures just fine when he attacks. It’s not like he needs the ETB value to be good :p
    Having either the Hellkite or the Titan in play equals a win if he has no removal. I don’t think it’s very important that the Titan survives rather than the Hellkite. Sure the Titan has a 1-turn faster unopposed win, but Hellkite is no slouch. Either of them being Doom Bladed is no big deal as long as the other survives, I think.

    Allright that’s enough overanalyzing for my part. Thanks for the vids and see you next week :)

  19. @cotd: He’s drawn 16 cards in his 30-card deck; the odds that one of those 16 is a Cancel are 16 in 30. His revealing some set of those 16 cards doesn’t change the overall odds. While you can make some adjustments to that estimate based on strategic precepts (“He would have used it to counter that spell three turns ago if he’d had it in hand”), from a pure probability standpoint, the odds that he has it are 16 in 30, or roughly a coin flip.

    If you disagree, I would be happy to play a wagering game with you based on this scenario. I pull 16 cards from a 30-card deck containing a single Cancel, reveal 10 of them to you, and then you bet $14 to my $6 that the Cancel is in those final 14 cards. We can do that as many times as you like…

  20. Without any strategical thinking: every card has the same chance to be a cancel. 14 chancen in the library, 6 in hand. The revealing changes definately the odds calculation. Please inform yourself because I don’t wanne talk about that, I have to deal enough with that in my study.

    But the fact that it’s not a coinflip is relevant, because if you say he wins if he has the cancel, he wins in 30% of the games, that’s less than a third. you need 2 of 3 games win to win the entire game, so you should play it.

  21. s3lv: You’re making the classic mistake from the Monty Hall problem. He has information about the cards that you don’t, which changes the odds. Godot is correct, absent strategic considerations.

    Consider: if Evil has tapped out every turn and thus not had a chance to play the Cancel in response to you, then it’s obvious that his chances of having it in hand is just the number of cards drawn/size of deck.

    Evil of course leaks information about if he has it or not if he hasn’t tapped out and not cancelled things.

  22. I’ve never had the pleasure of captaining an Inferno Titan in a limited format, but it sure looked like a lot of fun. I keep hearing how fast the 30 card decks play, but the games were still going long enough to hardcast your Hellkite. Thanks for the videos and keep them coming. If you get the chance, check out Draft Beer over at for some more limited goodness.

  23. @Ryan,

    I agree with you about the Serpent->Hellkite->Titan play, but I think you’re overvaluing being able to immediately Cloak the Titan. Being able to Equip the turn you cast it is only advantageous in two situations: If your opponent has Doom Blade, but is tapped out, or if your opponent doesn’t have Doom Blade but will topdeck it on his turn. Otherwise if he has it, he’ll just cast it in response to your equip and take your Titan out. Those possibilities are worth taking into account, but I don’t think they’re usually worth sandbagging the Titan for.

    That said, the Serpent->Hellkite->Titan is the right play there, since the Titan is so much stronger than the other two creatures that it’s the one you really want to stick. The Hellkite is going to force Doom Blade if he has it, clearing the way for your Titan.

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