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Watch those curves ...

12.16.04    OK, before the bad jokes get started, this article isn't referencing the uh...how should I put it..."girth"...of our larger gamer brethren.  I guess that would be a fun (and mostly funny) read sometime, but not today.  This is to delve further into the "curve" of a deck's build.
 
I know just from e-mails that many of the more inexperienced players have no idea what a curve really is when referencing decks and their builds.  Long story short, curve is simply a term used to described the amount of cards at each casting cost in reference to each other. 
 
But even once you understand the "curve" concept, that doesn't help build a good deck.  You need to also be able to see how it all fits together.  For different deck types, different cards make up each casting cost slot.
 
I know this still isn't totally clear, so let me break down a curve my deck type.
 
Weenie Decks (and other fast creature decks)
 
The curve on this deck type should definitely be front heavy.  The emphasis should be on getting creatures early and just using removal spells to keep your opponent's permanents out of the way.  Also, because these decks run very little lands, they must include more small spells.
 
0 casting cost - 2 casting cost slot
 
This is where the bulk of the deck is made up.  The number of spells in this category can sometimes be 30+ spells.  Don't fool yourself though.  Part of this reason is that there is a lot of efficient removal that fit this category in addition to creatures.  Disenchant, Mana Leak, Naturalize, Swords to Plowshares, Reciprocate, and even Terror all fit in here.
 
3 casting cost - 4 casting cost
 
For a quick creature deck, I generally refer to anything in this spot to be clinchers.  Spells such as Glorious Anthem or Armageddon can fit this slot.  Spells here should be solid support to your early creatures.  If nothing else, there should be something in this slot that forces your opponent into a do or die turn if you can.  Because you may end up with some trouble casting these spells, they need to be strong when they hit.  Usually this is no more than six slots or so for this deck type.
 
5+ casting cost
 
This is obviously where this deck type doesn't really want to be casting spells.  If you must, this slot just becomes backup spells.  These are usually big creatures that help you recover from a Wrath of God or help you fight your opponent's problems guys in long games.  Something like Serra Angel generally fits this slot.  However, this usually won't make up more than one or two cards here.
 
 
Control Decks
 
Control decks try to draw the game out.  These decks tend to be a little heavier on the back end.  However, that can also come down to what cards are available in a given format.
 
0 casting cost - 2 casting cost
 
Cards in this slot are setup spells.  These are there to help set the tone of your next few turns and for the game.  Spells in this slot are there to get you a few lands.  Some will slow your opponent down.  Spells like Counterspell and Terror are perfect here.  Spells such as Night's Whisper and Serum Visions generally find their way into this spot as well.
 
3 casting cost - 4 casting cost
 
These are the stabilizers for a control deck.  If the deck plays any creatures, the bulk of them will fall here.  These are creatures that have some good "comes into play" abilities usually.  Also, this is where the true control cards that start setting your opponent back hit the table. 
 
5+ casting cost
 
Of the various deck types, this one is likely to have the most cards in this slot.  Decks like Tooth and Nail abuse big spells here and have 10+ cards in this slot sometimes.  However, there are other card such as Death Cloud and such that basically fall into this slot as well.  Also, the big finisher creatures all fit here.  Dragons, angels, and even Memnarch and some in to bat clean up in a control deck.
 
 
Combo
 
Of all the deck types, this one is probably the most balanced among the casting cost.  There obviously isn't total equilibrium between them all, but usually more so than other decks.  This can be for a variety of reasons depending on the deck.
 
0 casting cost - 2 casting cost
 
From the get go, control decks want to start hunting for combo pieces.  Spells in this slot generally draw cards and or search out particular cards.  If they don't do that, they are usually accelerating the mana base of the deck.  Combo decks have a limited umber of turns to get to business, so there don't even usually waste slots on removal spells here.  It's just all business all the time.
 
3 casting cost - 4 casting cost
 
Spells here are many times, creatures with the key ability or enchantments that are key to the combo at hand.  These spells can start hitting the table in multiples if the early game went well.  If the combo player gets to have his way, these spells will even hit on turn two, which is great, because it allows them to technically skip a turn of spell casting.
 
5+ casting cost
 
These spells are the closers for the combo.  These are usually the finishers that have double duty.  Something along the lines of a Fireball or Stroke of Genius can be used to help push things through if the combo breaks down.  In some cases they can be used to by you time to get to key pieces.
 
 
 
Looking over these, I just came to another realization.  This is a decent article for players not understanding how some decks need to be built.  There is a lot to be learned in the ways of deck building.  The biggest thing that effects all the parts of a deck is simply the cards that are available.  It's important enough that one new set can sometimes shift an entire metagame.
 
Well, that's my time for this week.  Pay attention to the curve of your deck and your opponent's decks next time.  You will be surprised what you can learn.  And if nothing else, you can clean your deck up a little.
 
Until next time
 
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com
 

 

 

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