Ask Ken, 08/19/2004

Today’s question about Limited mana curves is answered by four-time Pro Tour top 8 competitor Anton Jonsson.

Welcome to another edition of Ask Ken, I’m your guest host Anton Jonsson. Since I’m not a very funny guy, I’ll leave the fat guy/ladies man-jokes to the Osyps of the world and instead get right to the point. Today’s question comes from John Aeder in sunny California:

I learned about mana curve from a guy named Sligh, but that was years ago. Can you talk specifically about what the proper mana curve would be for a limited deck today? I read that it should resemble an upside down bell curve. Correct? How many 1 drop and 2 drops? How many Equipment cards, how many utility cards and how many mana fixers should be run? i’ve read all of the articles I can find about strategy, but they don’t cover the”basic” basics.

Thank you,

John Aeder Pyramid Technologies, Inc. VP, OEM Sales

This is one of those questions, that if it could be answered easily, Magic wouldn’t be the great game that it is. There just isn’t a nice little formula that you can use to get a good deck. Basically what you want to try for is a deck that uses as much of its mana as possible every turn. Still, because this is Limited, you can’t really be a slave to this principle since all the mana curve in the world won’t help you if the cards you are putting into play are awful.

That being said, for the MDF format in particular I have yet to see a deck with too few one-drops (having none is still fine) or too many two-drops. The upside down bell curve (only took me an hour to understand why it would be upside down) you talk about seems to be what most decks end up like, but I’ve seen a lot of weirdly shaped curves do well (Gabe Walls, a long time ago).

As for how many equipment cards or mana fixers you should run, this will be totally dependant on the rest of your deck and as such, can’t really be answered. If you are drafting the Sunburst-archetype you obviously need quite a few manafixers, but not many (if any) equipment cards. On the other hand, if you are drafting White the opposite is often true.

The only real way to learn what is right for any given deck is to practice a lot and try to analyze why you are winning/losing and what can be done to win more and lose less.

The source on curves and mullets,

Anton Jonsson