Thursday, March 11, 2010

the 95% rule

Quick thought on general combo deck construction.

When building or tuning any combo deck, especially engine-based ones where you draw your entire library, all you need to do is make sure that when you fully combo off, whether it's with Mind's Desire, Ad Nauseam, Glimpse of Nature, or anything else, you have a 95% chance of winning the game against a random opponent. This means that you shouldn't play otherwise useless cards that get your 95% to 99% or 100% in an effort to be super sure.

Last season, GerryT wrote an article on that incarnation of Elves that included one Mirror Entity as the kill, with two Thoughtseize main, and nothing such as Grapeshot, Eternal Witness, or the like. The reasoning is that if all your creatures came into play that turn so you can't kill them with Mirror Entity, or they killed it earlier or something, you can just put your deck on the table and Thoughtseize them a couple times to get rid of any way of them possibly killing you. Sure, it's theoretically possible that they have the perfect combination of cards to kill you when you have 50 power on the table after losing the two best cards in their hand, but it's incredibly unlikely, and you'll lose more games to playing do-nothings like Grapeshot.

Sometimes, this'll lead you to realizing that you don't even need the combo at all. When people first started playing Reveillark, it was with an infinite combo that did a bunch of crazy stuff with Body Double and Mirror Entity. When the deck started getting more popular, they realized that they would get that 95% win just by having good cards in play, not through an infinite combo. It was superfluous, so it got cut.

The same applies to this season's version: some people insisted on Grapeshot just to be super-duper-sure their opponent actually died when you combo'd, instead of playing a card with relevant text outside the combo, like Primal Command. This is bad. Don't do it.

By throwing in bad one-ofs to try to go from a 95% chance of killing to 100%, you're giving in to The Fear. You'll lose more to drawing dead cards than to whatever crazy situation you think of.


Matt said...

Chapin had a good article talking about this same thing:

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