How to Build a Mana Base Correctly?

Standard forum

Posted on Jan. 15, 2013, 6:48 a.m. by MagicalHacker

So many times, I realize that Magic should be also known as Mathematics: the Gathering.

This is one of those times.

Anyone know an webpage or a program that shows STEP BY STEP how to determine EXACTLY what amount of lands and what kind to run in a deck? How many Evolving Wilds , Shocklands, M10 Dual Lands, Shimmering Grotto , and Transguild Promenade to run in a two color deck, a three color deck, a four color deck, and a five color deck? Including if a certain number of functional lands that tap for colorless or mana producers are included?

I think that something like this could DEFINITELY be quantized and mathematically understood, and that it could then be turned into a computer program, but the old "trial and error" method of mana base building is not even close to effective.

MagicalHacker says... #1

*(Not effective relative to this method.)

January 15, 2013 6:48 a.m.

Takahashiryu says... #2

It's a natural knowledge that comes with time.An empirical discovery that lies within each deck own strategy.

January 15, 2013 7:09 a.m.

MagicalHacker says... #3

That's what they used to say about science. Then they got smart.

January 15, 2013 7:26 a.m.

Demarge says... #4

well you could try out any of the many such mana base calculators found when you google "mana base calculators" or you could spend the time actually making this calculator of your dreams, all it takes is typing up a few hundred to a few thousand lines of code in the right language and with the right engine/compiler.

January 15, 2013 7:36 a.m.

Demarge says... #5

Or you could spend likely a lot less time just getting the hang of trial and error for your mana base...

January 15, 2013 7:36 a.m.

MagicalHacker says... #6

If it's not made already, there should be a reason that it hasn't been done. :/

I disagree. I feel like trial and error spends a lot of time to reach "good enough" when a program like what I said would reach optimal within a couple of seconds.

January 15, 2013 7:53 a.m.

rkreutz says... #7

Doesn't that kind of take the fun out of test games? I'm always tweaking my mana base until I'm happy with it. In fact, I'm more prone to tweak mana than anything else. Just go look up what lands/creatures/spells and whatnot produce the right colors for you and start playing with them!

January 15, 2013 8:30 a.m.

Demarge says... #8

mstancea I meant trial and error will probably be faster than making the program, and such programs have been made, you and I are just too lazy to sift though the google search.

January 15, 2013 8:42 a.m.

eze01 says... #9

It sounds like a good idea on paper but when you actually sit down and try to figure out what numbers to assign things in a program, or what algorithm to use, you run into the same problems you have right now. It depends on so many factors that even if you had a program tell you how many lands to put it who says you could actually trust the results? This may be more true for some decks than others.

For a fairly simple way to calculate your lands count up each mana symbol of the cards you want to play then ratio them and Use as many dual colored lands as you can afford. 9 times out of 10 this will would quite well.

January 15, 2013 9:46 a.m.

VykkDraygo says... #10

That wouldn't work, as even decks with similar mana curves, don't necessarily want the same number of lands. When you build a deck, you should have some idea of what you are trying to do, and how important land drops are for your deck. You need to prioritize some spells over others, which influences color choices as well.

For example, I have a deck that tops out at 4cmc, but I'm running 26 lands. Any less, and I wouldn't have the correct ratio of colors, and I'd miss too many land drops.

You really do just have to test each deck to find the correct number of lands. What gets me though, is the decks that are about .5 lands off. That's annoying!

January 15, 2013 9:59 a.m.

RedZebra says... #11

I think all you mathematically-inclined people should get right to it! I'll just be over here getting color-screwed until you've finished XP

January 15, 2013 10:11 a.m.

Jimhawk says... #12

Here's probably the simplest one with the best interface for finding the right number of basic lands: Simple Land Calculator

There a couple of articles I found on this very site that concern the mathematical approach to finding the proper land ratios for your deck.

Part 1: The Basics

Part 2: The Nonbasics

They're actually well-written and quite helpful. Once you know the correct basic land ratio using a calculator such as the one I posted, you have to tweak it from there according to your deck's nonbasic land needs. There are innumerable factors that come into play concerning nonbasic lands: dual lands and their restrictions, colorless lands and their abilities, search lands and their costs, and so on. These factors cannot be simply entered into a program that can spit out a perfect mana base for a deck. The truth is that trial and error through experimentation is the absolute best way to find out what your nonbasic needs are.

Finally, as an example from a logic and theory standpoint, how are you supposed to value Wasteland for a mana base? It provides only colorless mana. Shouldn't you just run a basic land that helps make your color ratios better for casting your spells? That's what a computer will think. However, as humans, we have to think in strategic terms beyond simple mathematics. Wasteland is a detriment to reaching my perfect color ratio, but it can utterly and completely mana screw my opponent for the entire game. Is it more important to cast my spells or prevent my opponent from casting theirs? A computer program cannot possibly implement this level of reasoning because it is dependent upon shifting factors such as the metagame, player skill level, the power level of key cards in your deck and your opponent's deck, so on, so forth...

This has been a bit of a ramble, but the key thing to take away is what has been mentioned before: there is no such thing as a "perfect land calculator" because there are too many variables, many of whose value cannot be accurately (or even possibly) quantified.

January 15, 2013 10:51 a.m.

RedZebra says... #13

Extremely helpful post! Thank you for all of that!

January 15, 2013 11:11 a.m.

Lhurgyof says... #14

Just over one third of my decks are delegated to lands. The tappedout deckbuilder is perfect for determining what colors go where. Generally I put all the nonbasics I have in first and then use basics to correct my mana base so that my lands match up to the same ratio as the mana symbols on my cards.

January 15, 2013 1:57 p.m.

zandl says... #15

Unless you have some sort of land-based strategy, Evolving Wilds doesn't really need to be used once Gatecrash hits and we have all the Shock-lands.

Shimmering Grotto and Transguild Promenade aren't really worth it ever in Standard (or anywhere but five-color EDH).

If your deck is 3 colors, just use 8 or 9 shock-lands, 12 M10/Inni duals, and fill the rest with utility lands/basics.

January 15, 2013 3:20 p.m.

acbooster says... #16

What I do is I separate my cards into their respective colors, and see how often a color appears in the cards. For example, if I'm counting black, Murder would count as 2, Golgari Keyrune would count as 1 because of its ability, and Walking Corpse would count as 1. After I count up the mana symbols, I figure out the closest round ratio of lands and work from there. For example, in my Grixis deck, I had a ratio of about 1 red to 1 blue to 2 black, so my mana base consists of 12 swamps, 6 mountains, and 6 islands. I later tweaked this to 10 swamps, 6 mountains, and 8 islands based off of the results from playing with my friends.

As far as dual lands/shock lands go, I include them in the first pooling of mana and adjust the numbers accordingly.

January 15, 2013 7:50 p.m.

DPDickens says... #17

There does seem to be a lot of individual need and subjectivity to this whole discussion. Some decks run heavy because they need to--even if it looks like it'll flood. Burn decks with a lot of X-damage, for instance. On the other hand, I run a deck that looks like it should be land-starved, but so many creatures generate mana or let me dig in my library that I'm usually flooded. I doubt there's one pat formula that will be useful for everyone in every situation.

To hearken back to the beginning of this thread, Takahashiryu said it well: practice and natural knowing will be of more use than a calculation in the long run.

January 16, 2013 8:58 a.m.

Azure124 says... #18

trial and error is the only way. some decks like reanimator may look as if they need 26 lands but with 23 they get flooded half the time. no program can do this it is all done by your experience and the decks individual needs.

January 16, 2013 12:27 p.m.

ijuanda says... #20

Yeah I'm all for tweaking. Playing mtg for me is about having fun and trying to create a deck that I enjoy playing but is also as competitive as possible. As a relatively new player creating combos and mana bases is the fun part. I don't want some program/machine to tell me how I should make a mana base when I think differently. I remember starting out playing on a 2:1 ratio of spells to mana. It took me some while and a lot of mana shortage to see that 20 lands for most 60 card decks just wasn't enough but I'm glad I found out on my own rather than have a program tell me.

January 16, 2013 3:29 p.m.

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