Magic Memories: Dark Ritual

Discussion in 'Single Card Strategies' started by Oversoul, Feb 14, 2017.

  1. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    They're obnoxiously rare in booster packs of the sets that have them (Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, Amonkhet, Hour of Devastation). I heard the ratio was supposedly around one masterpiece per booster box. So it's either get super lucky or buy from someone else who did. Stores sell that ugly version of Dark Ritual for over $40 apiece. :eek:
  2. Terentius The Instigator

    Puh, I bought a box of Hour of Devastation and more boosters, and got none! Screw those near-unattainable cards.
  3. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    If I remember correctly, I opened over 80 packs of Aether Revolt without ever seeing a single masterpiece. Doesn't hurt my feelings too much because I'm not into foil cards anyway. But yeah, they're stupidly rare. Some people have taken to calling them "lottery cards."
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Do I file this under Dark Ritual or under Necropotence? I have no strong opinions on it, so I'm sticking it here arbitrarily...

    So I've been reading Stephen Menendian's Gush book, the item that gets joked about in Magic communities because of how silly the prospect of a 400-page tome about a single card in a single format seems. And yes, I agree it seems kinda silly. But it's also pretty cool. I'm a little disappointed there isn't more about my favorite card, Dark Ritual. I realize that most competitive Gush decks in history didn't also run Dark Ritual, but it seems like Menendian gives a bit of extra attention to some other, more obscure, strategies and tactics, because he is trying to be comprehensive. It's not just that I'm a Dark Ritual fan: the card does some interesting things in Gush-based decks, and I'd argue that it deserves more attention than some of the other cards that have been expounded on. Lately I've been drawn with some interest to decks with both Dark Ritual and Gush because they strike me as historical Vintage decks with the greatest capacity to squeeze value out of Yawgmoth's Will. And considering the power of Yawgmoth's Will, that's saying something. Although he has written a lot about Yawgmoth's Will, he seems to have glossed over this. That's so far, anyway. And of course, it's just, like, my opinion, man. Anyway, I came across this interesting scenario.

    The premise is that you had an opening hand of Underground Sea, Polluted Delta, Misty Rainforest, Dark Ritual, Necropotence, Force of Will, Preordain. You then successfully executed a first turn like so...

    -Play Underground Sea.
    -Tap Underground Sea for Dark Ritual.
    -Cast Necropotence.
    -Activate Necropotence 6 times.

    There's some analysis of how many times Necropotence should be activated in this scenario. It's an extremely tricky question and one of the reasons I love Necropotence. He settles on 6 for this scenario. So, after the cards are added into your hand, you end up with a hand of Misty Rainforest, Polluted Delta, Force of Will, Preordain, Dark Ritual, Tropical Island, Gush, Duress, Steel Sabotage, Mox Jet. That's a ten-card hand...

    I should probably note that I concur with his analysis of this scenario. I don't have much experience with Gush decks, but the first- turn Necropotence play seems to be almost certainly correct. Activating Necropotence 6 times seems intuitively right to me, and even though we aren't told the exact decklist, I can't realistically imagine that less than 5 or greater than 8 could possibly be right in this scenario. So I'd settle on 6. I'd be sorely tempted to go with 7, but I think my temptation would be wrong in this case. Then it comes to which cards get discarded/exiled. And I also agree that Dark Ritual should be pitched in this case.

    But what I find intriguing here is that it's not intuitively obvious, across a variety of decks, when Dark Ritual should be discarded. Necropotence players need to make crucial decisions when it comes to discarding down to 7 cards, and although it is more common to keep Dark Ritual than to discard it, that quandary can be a bit of a mess. In Stephen Menendian's scenario in the book, it's a somewhat cut-and-dried case: you are extremely unlikely to get value out of Dark Ritual on your second turn, and the marginal utility of saving it for the third turn is not worth the cost of taking up a slot in your hand for your second turn. This could potentially be outweighed if you know you're going for a Yawgmoth's Will kill, because Dark Ritual is so valuable in your graveyard on a Yawgmoth's Will turn, but you cannot know that and it would be incorrect to hedge so much. However, many other scenarios aren't as clear. In all my years of using Dark Ritual and Necropotence together, I don't know that I have a good handle on this other than through intuition or a kind of brute-force analysis. With the right application of Magic theory, there probably are rules of thumb for when to discard Dark Ritual, but I'd be at a loss attempting to devise them.

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