Welcome back to Deep Analysis.
Today we will return to a more theory laden article.
Magic is such a complex game, there are times that we miss some things. Card evaluation in a vacuum is one of the most difficult thing that any of us will do.
“Free your mind.” — Morphus
Morphus may not have played Magic, but this is certainly a true statement.
We typically miss some cards each set that turn out to be better than we initially think they will be. Why is that?
Missing Pieces of the Puzzle
Usually, this is the biggest reason we miss. Having incomplete information about how a format will shake out is usually where we make the mistake.
Let’s look at some that we all typically miss.
Why We Misevaluate Board Sweepers
Board Sweepers are among the hardest to judge without full understanding of the environment. Let’s take a recent example, Fumigate. Many of R&D board sweepers in the current era have been either bumped up from 4 to 5 mana or been more conditional. While Fumigate was 5 mana, it dealt with 2 problems that control decks need to deal with: mass creature removal and a life gain to keep your life total out of reach now that you have stabilized the board.
So why did this one not play out as well as we though. It was the environment that was shaped during the first few weeks of Standard that made this card not as useful. For this particular environment, both the speed of the format and the way vehicles worked (being turned off during the opponent’s turn) made this card not as good as it was on paper.
Why We Misevaluate Point Removal
Some point removal doesn’t have any restrictions other than mana. Murder is one such card but 3 mana . Others are not so easy to judge. One of the biggest ones deals with Sorcery speed vs. Instant speed removal. Certain environments force Sorcery speed removal to be lightly used or not at all. A current example of this is with Smuggler’s Copter. With this vehicle having an aggressive slant and the fact that it is only a creature when it has been crewed. This means that creature removal must be instant speed and deal with a 3 toughness creature or if it is sorcery speed, it would have to deal with artifacts as well. Cards like the ‘choppa’ have defined the hit or miss aspect of card evaluation.
Why We Misevaluate Evaluating Creatures
This is another one that can be hard to judge in a vacuum. Let’s look over this scenario. Back when Born of the Gods was in Standard, Mono Black Devotion was everywhere. Their removal of choice was Bile Blight. Creatures had to have 4 toughness to be considered effective in that environment. Creatures like Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Courser of Kruphix, Loxodon Smiter, and Stormbreath Dragon were among the creatures that saw plenty of play during that time frame due to their ability to dodge Bile Blight.
Just browsing a spoiler list before a sealed or draft event will help out a little bit, but not always. Sure it can be easy to spot ‘bomb’ rares. but some of the other cards, synergies, or decks can often be missed during the pre-release and first few weeks of a format. These can be easily missed because we often browse over them thinking they aren’t powerful enough…until we get smashed by the player who didn’t over look that strategy.
Guess less, Experiment more
Stop trying to hit me and hit me – Morphus
The best advice that I can give here is simply be open minded. Give cards or strategies a chance by testing them first before making any judgments on them. Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty playing with certain cards or strategies to find opportunities.
Being close minded up front can lead to missed opportunities, especially during the early days of the new set entering the format. In a competitive game like Magic, these slight advantage points add up to extra wins. This goes for both limited formats and constructed formats. It could be that you find a card or strategy that breaks a format and then you will be talked about on Star City Games or Channel Fireball.