To those of you who know what a Mana Curve is, and how general escalation of tempo usually accrues, you may skip this article, or skim it. For those whom are not as sure of it, this article may be interesting or informative to you. This article is aimed at near-beginning players-- people who know the basic rules of the game, but not how to build decks or play very well.
One misconception that is hard to remove from a new player's mindset is the 'big creatures=better creatures.' Wizards of the Coast's introductory set give the new players a pair of creatures that excellently demonstrates this fact: Vizzerdrix and Trained Orgg. Using Magic Online's 'Status' button in the deck builder, I will now prove that the seven mana 6/6 creatures are not effective cards because of the tempo they require.
Before that example, however, I will give the basics of Tempo. On your first turn, you want to play one land and something that costs one mana. On the second turn, you want to be able to play a second land and use both of those to cast a spell or spells; the same is true for the third turn and possibly the fourth, fifth, sixth... until you hit the highest cost of a card in your deck. In this example, the highest turn we will analyze is turn seven-- the turn Trained Orgg or Vizzerdrix can be played without any form of acceleration.
First, the most logical time to play a spell is as soon as you possibly can given the mana. Thus, you want to play a land each turn if possible. This article is based on a deck with twenty four land in a sixty card deck, or a 40% ratio of lands:spells.
On the first turn, you may play a single land. If you are to play a single land, you must have a land in hand. Magic Online can tell us the chances of having a land in our hand using its 'stats' button in the deck editor. Once the Stats box is open, click the 'probabilities' tab in the middle of the window that opens.
There are several useful abilities with this window. You can drag a specific card from your deck to see the probability of getting a single occurance of the card by turn X, or you can see the chance of getting any single card type by clicking the buttons above the window. For this lesson in how tempo unfolds in a game, we will be using the 'any land' button, symbolized by a globe.
The chances of drawing, and thus being able to play one land on your first turn is as follows, according to Magic Online:
Second turn, you usually also want to be able to play a land, as most decks play cards that cost more than one mana. To find the probability of this, either click the 'any land' button a second time, or highlight the current 'any land' and click the 'add 1' button on the upper right corner of the probabilities window. The chances to draw your second land and being able to have played a land each turn are as follows:
Third turn is the last turn that many decks require a third land to play that turn, as the later lands are not as useful as the first three. Notice how quickly the chance drops off from this point on. From 98% on the second turn's not missing a land drop to 78% on the third turn. An eighty percent chance is not a bad chance, however.
The fourth turn is the first turn where the odds of playing a land that turn drop fairly significantly when playing forty percent land. The chance of playing your fourth land on your fourth turn is slightly over half the time you play.
Fifth Turn's land occurs slightly less than half the time you play, so it cannot be counted upon to happen. If your deck needs to get to its fifth land more than this amount, you should play more than 40% land.
On the sixth turn, your odds of playing the land for that turn decrease even more.
On the seventh turn, the optimal turn that Trained Orgg or Vizzerdrix should come out to play, your chances of actually being able to pay their bail cost is not very high at all, even with forty percent land in your deck.
Take another look at the chances for the seventh turn. Look at the chance of drawing the seventh land by the eighth, ninth, and tenth turn. On your tenth turn, three turns after the optimal time to play Vizzerdrix or Trained Orgg, there is more than a fifty percent chance of not having the required lands. This is why these two and other non mana efficient creatures are not as good as they seem.
CPAlliance The Orgg on Magic Online.
Feel free to contact me online if you need any assistance.