February Type One Potpourri

Have you ever wondered just how much things like Alternate Casting Cost, Madness, Flashback, and your favorite mechanic affects the Type One environment? Are you curious to see how much each set is represented in Type One top 8s? Maybe you’re simply looking for a Magic article that features less blow-hard opinion, and more analysis based on facts? Whatever the case, Phil Stanton has the scoop, so all you need to do is check inside…

It feels like it’s been a while since I did an ungodly amount of tables, so this weekend I pasted the list of all cards from February’s Type One Top 8s about ten times, and started accumulating data.

The first thing that came to my mind is the idea of prevalent alternate casting costs. Spells that give you options about what resource to use casting them have always been good, and Type One has a collection of these, which I sought to quantify. (Flashback is not counted as an alternate casting cost.)

(Out of 2118)

90.6% 1918 cast by mana only (hilariously including Worldgorger Dragon)

8.5% 178 alternate casting cost (includes cycling-triggers but not regular cycling)

0.9% 19 additional nonmana cost

I was expecting significantly higher amounts of ACC cards, but that’s probably because of the natural inclination to over-emphasize certain examples like Force of Will when examining the idea. In any case, the only place outside Vintage where you can find this kind of proportion is in Extended Madness decks. Personally, I think games are more interesting when you can’t rely on the question”How many land untapped?” to tell you what the opponent can do.

Next up was a simple breakdown of the lands that were used. No new story here, just more hordes of nonbasic lands.

(Out of 657)

36.2% 238 other nonbasics

32.4% 213 dual land

20.2% 133 fetchland

11.1% 73 basic land

I have a”small” (read:”large”) interest in the health of the color wheel, particularly in Type One where it’s so clearly unbalanced, so I looked first at how many different card names were played from each color…

(Out of 267)

20.2% 54 Blue cardnames

19.9% 53 artifact cardnames

16.5% 44 Red cardnames

12.0% 32 nonbasic land cardnames

11.2% 30 Green cardnames

8.2% 22 Black cardnames

4.9% 13 White cardnames

3.4% 9 gold cardnames

…and then at how many cards total were played…

(Out of 2699)

24.8% 668 Blue cards

21.6% 584 nonbasic land cards

20.8% 562 artifact cards

13.2% 355 Red cards

7.9% 214 Black cards

5.2% 139 Green cards

3.7% 99 Gold cards

2.9% 78 White cards

…and then at the average number of times a given card occurred. You should note that I have no idea what this measures except that”when a Blue card is good, it’s really good.” However, this might be an artifact of the number of decks using Blue and not necessarily of Blue’s broken stuff being that much better than everything else. I just got the impulse to try it.

Occurrences Per Cardname

18.25 land

12.37 Blue

11.00 Gold

10.60 artifact

8.07 Red

6.00 White

4.63 Green

Now, I know The Knut has his cheesecake sections in his articles (which are usually about some other format, so I just skip right to the semi-porn links), but, in all honesty, these tables are my equivalent. The last several months have featured a ton of graveyard-intensive decks, so I thought I’d try to examine how many cards we were using toward this purpose. (And some examples, which are usually included more to provide examples that might have been ambiguous unless I specified where I put them.)

(Out of 657)

95.4% 627 land without graveyard interaction

4.6% 30 graveyard-interactive land (Barbarian Ring, Bazaar of Baghdad, Petrified Field)

(Out of 2170, because 55 cards fit two categories)

75.8% 1644 cards doing little affecting anyone’s graveyard

7.0% 152 cards that interact with the graveyard (Goblin Welder, Ground Seal)

4.8% 103 discard engines (Wheel of Fortune, Volrath’s Shapeshifter, Null Brooch)

3.8% 83 cards with a special interaction from graveyard (WGDragon, Academy Rector, Squee)

3.6% 79 cards that act independently from the graveyard (Anger, Roar of the Wurm, Deep Analysis)

3.1% 68 cards removing-from-game parts of the graveyard (Coffin Purge, Tormod’s Crypt)

1.4% 31 cards particularly increasing size of graveyard (Oath of Druids, Read the Runes)

0.5% 10 cards reducing-without-removing the graveyard (Krosan Reclamation, Timetwister)

This turned out relatively close to what I expected, and I don’t think that anyplace else in Magic can duplicate this.

Next I looked at keyworded mechanics (and sleeping enchantments, which was easy because only Hidden Gibbons showed up). I avoided creature abilities, because that gets especially complicated when you try to factor in things like incarnations and Goblin Warchief (clearly a player has less incentive to play actually hasted creatures due to the presence of a universal grantor, but it’s impossible to know if they would otherwise simply play no haste… like I said, too complicated). Also, keyworded abilities don’t show up that often in Type One creatures except for the universal granting of haste or flying.

What kind of things didn’t show up? Growing enchantments. Echo.

That said, the mechanics that did show up aren’t surprising. Basically, they’re mechanics that inherently promote card or tempo advantage. (My gun has silver bullets; don’t even start telling me I’m mis-defining the terms, you nihilist jackals.) Flashback gives one automatic reuse, Wishing is very much like tutoring, Madness saves you mana, Storm is just friggin’ broken, etc. Even Imprint works, because it showed up only for Isochron Scepter (a card-drawer) and Duplicant (which doesn’t imprint from your own cards). The only reason Buyback isn’t more popular is that those costs are wicked high and that mechanic is very underdeveloped. (It’s things like Buyback and Kicker, which have near-infinite potential combinations, that convince me Magic will still be vibrant when I’m a crusty old man.)

65 FlashbackRoar of the Wurm, Cabal Therapy, Coffin Purge, Deep Analysis

40 Wish – Cunning

38 Madness – R/G

16 Storm – Tendrils

14 Incarnation – Anger, Wonder, Genesis

10 Imprint – Scepter, Duplicant

10 Kicker – Orim’s Chant, Dismantling Blow, Overload, Rushing River

9 Cycling – Rebuild

5 Threshold – Werebear, Mystic Enforcer

5 Cycling trigger – Decree of Justice

4 Cumulative upkeep – Illusions of Grandeur

3 sleeping enchantment – Hidden Gibbons

2 Equipment – Lightning Greaves

1 Buyback – Shattering Pulse

As a Vintage player, I also have a historical interest in Magic sets. Not to mention an inherent desire to see cool new things happen in my format. So I returned to my accounting of what expansions showed up the most. And of course, proving conclusively what most peoples’ instincts had already told them. Expect me to keep counting this for the rest of the year so that I can make some kind of uber-table (maybe a chart!) at the end to show that yes, the Power Nine are still amazing.


(Out of 2643)

23.6% 624 Alpha/Beta/Unlimited (excluding 136 basic land)

7.5% 198 Onslaught

6.6% 174 Tempest

5.0% 132 Urza’s Saga

4.9% 130 Urza’s Legacy

4.9% 129 Antiquities

4.6% 122 Mirrodin

4.0% 105 Odyssey

3.7% 97 Alliances

3.7% 97 Torment

3.6% 95 Scourge

3.4% 90 The Dark

2.8% 75 Ice Age

2.6% 68 Apocalypse

2.3% 61 Legends

2.2% 59 Mercadian Masques

2.1% 56 Exodus

2.0% 54 Arabian Nights

1.6% 42 Judgment

1.5% 40 Visions

1.5% 39 Nemesis

1.4% 37 Weatherlight

1.3% 35 Invasion

1.0% 27 Urza’s Destiny

0.6% 16 Mirage

0.5% 14 Planeshift

0.5% 12 Promos

0.3% 7 Stronghold

0.2% 4 Homelands

0.1% 3 Prophecy

0% 1 Legions

0% 0 Fallen Empires

0% 0 Portal



27.8% 741 Alpha/Beta/Unlimited (excluding 73 basic land)

7.4% 197 Onslaught

5.6% 147 Urza’s Saga

4.6% 123 Alliances

4.1% 109 Odyssey

4.0% 105 Ice Age

3.8% 101 Antiquities

3.8% 101 Urza’s Legacy

3.8% 101 Mirrodin

3.5% 92 Tempest

3.1% 83 Judgment

3.1% 83 Scourge

2.8% 75 Nemesis

2.7% 71 The Dark

2.6% 68 Apocalypse

2.6% 68 Torment

2.1% 56 Legends

2.0% 52 Urza’s Destiny

1.9% 51 Exodus

1.7% 46 Mercadian Masques

1.7% 45 Arabian Nights

1.3% 34 Visions

1.2% 32 Weatherlight

1.2% 31 Mirage

0.9% 23 Invasion

0.7% 19 Planeshift

0.6% 16 Promos

0.4% 10 Stronghold

0.2% 6 Homelands

0.2% 6 Legions

0.1% 3 Fallen Empires

0.1% 3 Portal

0% 1 Prophecy

Wow, that was fun. (Don’t forget that I do take requests for different things to count if there’s something you’d like to see.)

Philip Stanton

a.k.a.”Dr. Sylvan”

prstanto at uiuc.edu