How You Feel Could Tell You How Competitive Your Playing ?

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on Oct. 26, 2021, 2:57 p.m. by RambIe

Disclaimer: To date there is no set standard to determinant a decks power level.
Power levels, turn counts and descriptions provided are for reference only
This not saying how you should feel or that you will feel.
Its simply listing the most common feelings people have experienced.

Unfocused Decks

Competitive Levels: 1&2
Turn Count: None
Description: Some of your favorite cards and maybe a couple staples. A few ideas of what the deck might want to do but no clear direction.
Most Common Feeling: Flustered
Often stuck with dead cards in hand or just not enough mana to cast. Most games are spent watching other players do cool things while you continue to wait for your moment to shine. Much like learning how to ride a bike while being surrounded by professionals doing mid air back flips you walk away from most games feeling overwhelmed and flustered.

Focused Decks

Competitive Levels: 3&4
Turn Count: 15+
Description: you have direction and most the cards in the deck interact with each other. Think precon
Most Common Feeling: Disappointed
You learned a couple tricks and now your starting to have fun participating in the game. however you still loose most games often walking away feeling disappointed because you could have won if you just had 1 more mana, just had 1 more turn, or if you could just draw that 1 card.

Tuned Decks

Competitive Levels: 5&6
Turn Count: 10-14
Description: With synergy locked in ramp, draw, and cmc curve have become the focus.
Most Common Feeling: Wanting
The fun begins. The deck does what it wants to do and it does it well, you even get some W's! just one problem, Other People keep playing cards that stop you, Or combo off before you can end the game. After the game you find yourself wanting to swap cards out, wanting to stop others, or even wanting a rematch. Just an overall feeling of wanting your deck to do more then it did the last game.

Optimized Decks

Competitive Levels: 7&8
Turn Count: 5-9
Description: The deck is focused and tuned, but has now sacrificed some of its synergy for responses and/or combo
Most Common Feeling: Confident
The deck is a machine consistently doing what it is designed to do, Only now you are highly interactive in the game responding to spells, removing problems and even dropping game wining combos. Because of the interactions when you win you feel confident in your "skills", when you loose you feel confident you could win the next game with no deck changes, and many even feel confident facing off against a competitive deck.

Competitive Decks

Competitive Levels: 9&10
Turn Count: 0-4
Description: Well the deck is still tuned, But synergy is now completely cut out for response and combo. The only focus left is winning
Most Common Feeling: Stressed
Every card in the deck will now have a dramatic impact on the game and therefore every play you make must do the same. Before the game begins the pressure is on, After all the hand you keep will decide your fate. what cards should i play, what order should i play them in, how will my opponents respond to it, is this the right time to play it ???? at this level mistakes are no longer found in the deck, They fall to you as the player. Regardless if your thriving or cracking in this type of environment the pressure is real and after most games be it win, loose, or draw it is common to feel stressed.

Whats are your Thoughts?
Do you think the power level your playing effects how you feel about the game?
And if you do, Then do you think the feelings i have listed are accurate?

RambIe says... #2

if my theory is accurate play groups could adjust the levels based on how everyone feels after a game.
example: if everyone is stressed out after a game maybe its because everyone is being to competitive
or if most the group is flustered maybe one person is to competitive and the others are not competitive enough
idk just a thought

October 26, 2021 3:12 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #3

By your assessment, I tend to build Optimized decks. I aim to win the game between Turn 6 and Turn 8. If I can't that's perfectly alright :) but that's my goal.

I do this via redundancy. I try to implement 2 - 3 things the deck should do, and find as many cards with value that do it. The more overlap, the better.

For example, if I want a Dragon deck that does non-combat damage, Dragon Tempest sees fit for both of those things as I get haste on my Dragons and ETB NCD.

If I want big Stompy Bois, but I know I need to accelerate my plays, Garruk's Uprising does both by enabling Trample and card advantage.

I seek overlap and redundancy.

The reason I do 6 - 8 turns is because of time. If each player takes 2 minutes per turn, and four players a table, that's 2(6x4) or 2(28) or 54 minutes. That's an hour of gameplay; plenty of time for everyone to fall in and get their groove on. At 8 turns, that's 2(8x4) or 2(32) or an hour and 4 minutes.

October 26, 2021 3:22 p.m. Edited.

RambIe says... #4

As an optimized player would you agree with the assumption that you feel confident in most games you play ?
Edit: in my playgroup we have found Optimized to be the sweet spot that everyone gets to enjoy the game.

October 26, 2021 3:29 p.m. Edited.

Um, saying that lower-power decks are frequently unfun/less fun is a charged statement that feels VERY biased. Bringing assumed general emotion to a discussion of power level is not something I recommend.

Past that, I enjoy building around the T6-8 marker as well, especially in a way that takes out all three opponents at once ;)

October 26, 2021 4:14 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #6

I enjoy being between 7-10, but preferably on-par with everybody. I love CEDH, and have to try really hard not to optimize every deck I play, but getting to play some bad cards that I "just like" can be fun in certain decks and settings.

Regarding the assessment: The 9/10 description sounds more like how a casual player would view CEDH, rather than how most CEDH players actually feel. I like figuring out tight lines, and like seeing other people do the same. To me, it's much more satisfying to know I won (or lost) based on decisions and skill, rather than because my deck or my opponent's deck was just willfully worse than it had to be.

October 26, 2021 4:15 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #7

I think your "most common feeling" points very subjectively towards what you think is the best way to feel about your games of Magic. I have felt confident with focused decks, I have felt wanting with competitive decks, disappointed with optimized decks, every game has highs to enjoy and lows to endure, and if they don't, there's no excitement and I'd just feel bored.

That being said, most decks I build are right on the cusp between tuned and optimized on your scale. I refuse to adjust my pet cards for more win%, I'll enjoy losing with Kaldra Pieces even if I should play Sword of Hearth and Home instead and easymode stomp all the green decks at the table. And I refuse to be left wanting, it makes the game more interesting if your deck is optimized but your wincon is jank to the max.

October 26, 2021 4:26 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #8

I can become disheartened when my deck isn't working right, due to lack / excess mana or perhaps horrible draws out of order. But that's really more of a testimate to perhaps poor deck construction, accidental bulk shuffling, or just the once-in-a-while game where that just unfortunately happens.

But when the deck works, I am yes both confident in my plays as well as engaged and focused. I don't feel "pushed out" of the game, even if I happen to be in a losing position.

For example, my Rule:0 deck Hydra Rudemaster won a 5-player pod recently. I got hammered all the way down to just 9 life and pulled the cannons out to win.

But like that deck does 3 things: Land tutors, draw and trample.

Get Hydra Broodmaster out, big and win.

October 26, 2021 4:36 p.m. Edited.

RambIe says... #9

Omniscience_is_life says. "Um, saying that lower-power decks are frequently unfun/less fun is a charged statement that feels VERY biased"
True, ive learned charged and biased statements are an unintended side effect of me speaking.. but I do feel that playing a lower-powered in an average play group will leave most players feeling flustered. Which could be used to adjust the groups levels so that everyone can have more fun.

Grubbernaut my intent was to say that competitive decks do not worrie about deck themes and focus playing the best responses with the fastest combos, that winning with these decks greatly depends on piloting skills. As everyone here knows English and grammar are not my strong suits if I'm open to update with better wording if you have suggestions

October 26, 2021 5:07 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #10

By the nature of competitions, You strive to win first and foremost. With minimal exception, such as NASCAR where 90% of the cars on the track are merely cash cows for advertisers, the goal is always to win.

So to say that CEDH players don't have winning as their forefront motivation and will do everything available to them to trim the fat off decks so that it focuses on winning as quickly as possible is disingenuous.

I've built CEDH before and have won as early as Turn 2. But it's neither my forte nor my cup of tea. I take no delight in saying I am "the best" because I simply paid the most for my deck and copied various wincons from online.

I'd rather lose, and have fun losing, than make everyone else feel terrible because I am "winning".

October 26, 2021 5:16 p.m.

RambIe I get the sentiment. The important missing piece was mentioning that the supposed unfocused player is in a "normal" pod--that's all!

October 26, 2021 5:36 p.m.

RambIe says... #12

plakjekaassays...#7 I think your "most common feeling" points very subjectively towards what you think is the best way to feel about your games of Magic.

you are correct, i believe magic is just a game and just like any other game the best way to feel is that you enjoyed playing it.
the only thing i enjoy more then playing magic is building decks. while helping others build or tune decks, i have found that when you ask them how there decks performed last time they played most people spend more time expressing how they felt about the game then they do explaining the brake down of performance. at first i found this annoying but over time i noticed a pattern of common feelings people experience when in a group that are playing at different power levels. i tried it for myself playing different levels in my play group and found i often felt the same way they did. since then i have used it as a point of reference to help tune decks to be more balanced in there meta

people are different and feel differently. im not saying this is how you should feel or that you will feel. im saying post game, when your chatting with your buddy and you hear them express there disappointed in how there deck performed maybe you could use this guide as a point of reference to help them out.

October 26, 2021 5:36 p.m.

RambIe says... #13

Omniscience_is_life says...#11 RambIe I get the sentiment. The important missing piece was mentioning that the supposed unfocused player is in a "normal" pod--that's all!

lol true true. in the initial post i did fail to explain that this pattern of feelings only seems to come to surface when there is a imbalance in the play group
if you are playing a unfocused deck in a meta that's unfocused you probably will not feel flustered at all

October 26, 2021 5:46 p.m.

KBK7101 says... #14

I think most people are (roughly) on the same page about power levels. Your version of a list seems pretty similar to a few other ones I've seen. While reading through the comments, though... something struck me. What if we're going about this the wrong way? What if instead of measuring a deck as a whole, we measured cards with power levels?

Example :

Cards like Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile would be 5/5 or 10/10 or whatever due to their efficiency, while cards like Vengeance or Aerial Assault would be something like a 2/5 or 1/5 or whatever due to their higher cost and sorcery speed.

The deck's overall power level would be the total power level of all the cards contained in it. If the scale is a 10, the highest decks would be in the 900 range. Then again, we'd probably just being having the same argument/discussion about individual cards power levels instead of decks.... but it was just a thought I had.

October 26, 2021 5:48 p.m.

KBK7101 the issue with that is a pile of the best cards with no lands would be considered the best deck in the format by power level.

October 26, 2021 5:55 p.m.

RambIe says... #16

KBK7101 that's a really good thought, and individual cards are tracked with there own power levels. so far using the individual card levels to determine a decks overall power level has not been solved because it does not take into account how the card interacts with other cards in the deck.

p.s. unintended side effect of your method would be my dumbass screaming my deck is over power level 9000 before every game

October 26, 2021 6 p.m. Edited.

Is there a “Serendipitous” category? Like, when Kaldheim comes out and I remember remember there’s still a Cold Snap card in my natural disaster deck? ;p

October 26, 2021 6:38 p.m.

Abaques says... #18

KBK7101 I think that sometimes looking at individual card power levels will be a better method of evaluating deck power level, but this won't often capture how well the card works with the rest of the deck.

Deck power level is a really challenging thing to measure. To do so scientifically would probably require multiple metrics including card power level, card synergy levels and probably more. The thing is it would be a lot of work to truly evaluate every deck that way.

October 26, 2021 7:33 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #19

I think the best way might be to ask several questions, each with a point system depending on the answers. Assign points objectively, and the more points the "stronger" the deck is. For example:

How many infinite combos are there? In this case, "infinite" does not mean where it ends in a draw. It means you can effectively combo off as many times as you want, uninhibited. But yes, Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood count also.

  • 0 = 0 points
  • 1 - 2 = 1
  • 3 - 5 = 2
  • 6+ = 3

Wincons? These can be singular cards such as Craterhoof Behemoth, it can also be cards like Felidar Sovereign. Maybe it's your Commander who aims to win via combat damage? Basically, how does your deck intend to win - and how many ways can it achieve it? Zero is defined as you don't have a wincon - you merely play and hope for the best. Note above that Bond+Blood is also a wincon. Wincons should be considered with all parts, not singular ones. Craterhoof Behemoth as a single creature is only a 6/6 and won't win you the game. But with an Avenger of Zendikar with 12x 0/1 tokens will. Consider ALL pieces of the wincon, and consider the whole thing as one unit.

  • 0 = 0
  • 1 - 2 = 1
  • 3 - 5 = 2
  • 6+ = 3

How many LAND tutors are there, INCLUDING fetch lands? These are anything such as Arid Mesa, Vampiric Tutor, Evolving Wilds and Cultivate. If it gets you a land, it counts.

  • 0 = 0
  • 1 - 5 = 1
  • 6 - 9 = 2
  • 10+ = 3

What about non-land tutors? These are more for securing wincons and answers. In this case, Vampiric Tutor counts again. The rest do not.

  • 0 = 0
  • 1 - 5 = 1
  • 6 - 9 = 2
  • 10+ = 3

Some decks want to run basic lands. Most don't. We should focus less on whether a land is basic or not and more on whether that land enters tapped. That is to say, how many lands does your deck run that enter untapped or are able to enter untapped? So this includes not just shocklands who can be chosen to enter untapped, but also cards such as Amulet of Vigor and other similar cards.

  • 0 = 0
  • 10 - 15 = 1
  • 16 - 24 = 2
  • 25+ = 3

Draw. Simple enough. Anything that helps you draw outside of your draw step counts. 0 is not being able to draw outside of your draw step.

  • 0 = 0
  • 1 - 5 = 1
  • 6 - 9 = 2
  • 10+ = 3

Mana rocks / dorks. How many nonland sources of mana does your deck have?

  • 0 = 0
  • 1 - 5 = 1
  • 6 - 9 = 2
  • 10+ = 3

I think this is a good start to begin debating, testing and modifying.

October 26, 2021 7:48 p.m. Edited.

TypicalTimmy says... #20

Maybe also add in card advantage.

Muldrotha and Outpost Siege do not draw, but they do give you more cards to use that turn.

So card draw and card advantage should be different, with draw referring to going into your hand, and advantage referring to anything else.

October 26, 2021 8:03 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #21

There's too many variables to realistically try to science-ify it. For example: Diabolic Tutor is unplayable at high level, but it would be hard to accurately quantify with a points system how much worse it is than Vampiric Tutor, or the other "strong" tutors. If it had the same value as other tutors, that'd be a huge flaw. The same could be said for Crop Rotation vs something like Cultivate, or Fierce Empath against Imperial Recruiter.

I don't mean to say nobody should try or that it's impossible to determine, but it would be a lot of work just to show what most players can already see: which cards, and decks, are strongest.

Perhaps an "easier" way to determine a subset of this would be to take stock lists and run them through a gauntlet of pods with the other most commonly played (or strongest, or whatever category) list and see what wins the most against the field.

October 26, 2021 8:48 p.m.

RambIe says... #22

I really hate to pop bubbles here. But one of the major factors that decides how well a card will perform is meta. In another words a card that is over powered in one play group can be rendered useless in a different group. This is a factor that no universal formula can predict

October 26, 2021 9:04 p.m.

legendofa says... #23

I have a couple of EDH decks whose focus is less on winning and more on messing with the table. If your deck isn't really designed to be the Last One Standing, what would be the best way to determine its power level? Like a pure group hug or randomizer deck.

October 26, 2021 10:53 p.m.

shadow63 says... #24

1-2 actively bad decks. You have to go out of your way to make a deck this bad

3-4 either lacking in stuff like ramp and draw or your playing a strategy that isn't strong like goat tribal

5-6 average $40 pecon deck. Decent focus on what your doing with the deck and a good number of ramp and draw effects

7-8 tuned decks. They are capable of winning early but it doesn't happen often.

9 excellent ramp packages infinte two or three card combos can easily win in a few turns if left uninterrupted.

10 these decks are perfect. They can win in the first few turns of the game even when facing counter spells. These are the tier one vintage and legacy decks of the format. If your not on their level you will lose

October 26, 2021 10:54 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #25

legendofa If you're not trying to win, you're essentially playing to lose, from a power perspective. There are faux group hug decks that exploit the benefits, but those that don't would be low on the scale. Is a deck that can't close games powerful?

October 27, 2021 1:14 a.m.

RambIe says... #26

legendofa the decks you described fall between levels 1-4 By the fact they close games turns 15-never.

Universally we have come to except the term powerlevel but honestly a better term would have been competitive level becouse it more accurately reflects what we're measuring

October 27, 2021 6:46 a.m.

RambIe says... #27

Correction competitiveness meter

October 27, 2021 6:55 a.m.

RambIe says... #28

Nope, I take that back competitive meter is stupid. Gana stick with competitive level, becouse really it's just measuring how competitive your playing and has nothing to do with power, skill, or money spent.

October 27, 2021 1:56 p.m.

RambIe says... #29

In fact I like that so much I edited the topic to reflect that change

October 27, 2021 2:01 p.m.

legendofa says... #30

Grubbernaut Well, I don't expect them to win games, but I hesitate to call it playing to lose. And it looks like Ramble changed the title to reflect competitiveness over straight power.

Sure, there's a correlation, but I consider my casual decks more "powerful" than my serious decks, because they work the way I intend more often and more smoothly. And they do occasionally wander into a win, which is just the cherry on top when it happens.

I'm sure it's obvious by now that I'm not a competitive EDH player, but it sometimes feels like the only options are play to win or don't play at all. And I'm starting to just complain, so I'm stopping here.

October 27, 2021 2:31 p.m.

RambIe says... #31

Again meta is a factor, also the biggest factor overlooked that sets edh apart from other formats is politics.
beleave it or not group hug is a real thing and can be a power house in the right meta. The same is true for winless stax.
many of the current edh players come from 60 card formats they may not have experienced metas that focus on politics and piggy back off of support decks to share the wins. Which could be the source of the confusion.

Edit: to add to that I have personally witnessed people join store competitions with support decks and pull off 2nd place by striking up deals at the tables.

October 27, 2021 4:07 p.m. Edited.

RambIe says... #32

Example: psst hey Grubbernaut I can untap all your lands and make you draw 10 cards in exchange you have to kill me last. Deal?

October 27, 2021 4:17 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #33

The ability of a player to politic isn't indicative of the strength of a deck, though. The skill of a player is divorced from the power of the cards, themselves, and it's not a bad thing to determine (or, try to) which cards are strong.

That being said, there's a reason there's no "politics cEDH" decks.

October 27, 2021 4:24 p.m.

Abaques says... #34

I'd say that some decks enable politics better then others and I think that can impact deck competitiveness level.

October 27, 2021 5:10 p.m.

RambIe says... #35

One could argue a weak deck wouldn't have good enough offers to make a deal with
To me when I hear "How powerful a deck/card is" I interrupt it as how well it can perform its intended function.
As for "no politics cedh", there's also "no loops", "no wins before 5", "Havoc Festival at 30", "planeschase", "archenemy", can't forget "rule 0" and hundreds of other custom versions of edh that have absolutely nothing to do with actual edh so i see no reason to dismiss politics in edh

October 27, 2021 5:14 p.m.

Grubbernaut says... #36

Certainly... but that can be filed with the same idea as competitive decks needing competitive pilots. And the point is moreso that the very best deck built around politicking is still going to be worse than an optimized deck, even ones typically considered below the top tier.

A set of cards can certainly lend themselves to a particular playstyle, but there's still a raw power level that the given cards/combination has; that's moreso what I'm trying to express, not that politics are bad or anything like that. I like playing at various power levels, but I still understand that they're different, more or less.

I feel like there's a couple of sentiments butting heads a bit, here. If the question is about power level, politics would be comparatively low; that doesn't mean it's pointless, or it's bad to enjoy it. It's just not going to be keeping up with higher-tier decks, which is (or, at least, was) the thread topic.

October 27, 2021 5:17 p.m.

RambIe says... #37

Bumping of heads can't be helped when we are lumping so many versions of a game with all the diffeent play styles to create a general labeling system for a large group of people that mostly do not like to be labeled.

With that said you are not wrong. it's actualy common that different opinions can both be right. But somewhere in here is a commen middle ground and when I find it I'm gana label it :)

October 27, 2021 5:34 p.m.

RambIe says... #38

Keep in mind, it is possible that someone somewhere could find this topic like it, use it, and share it with friends. So if you honestly beleave there are errors in any of the categories by all means please speak up and suggest an edit.

October 27, 2021 5:47 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #39

RambIe "people are different and feel differently. im not saying this is how you should feel or that you will feel."

That's the disclaimer I missed in the original post, the feelings were just listed as "Most Common" without an explanation, that was the complaint I had.

I'm not sure about the "sacrificing synergies for responses and combo" in 7-8. I'd imagine the synergistic decks culminating their synergies into an unbeatable boardstate that would end the game akin to how a combo would. I do agree with the answers part, the more competitive your deck, the more you want to prevent others from winning before you can. But you can do that by either winning faster yourself (focus on combo/consistency) or by preventing or stalling others from winning (focus on answers). The optimized decks do either really well, but not both yet, that separates them from the top tiers. But exchanging the "and" for an "and/or" would be the only textual modification needed in the Description.

October 28, 2021 12:25 p.m.

hejtmane says... #40

Here is the basics of it all as you move up the ladder of power level. How fast is your mana fetch lands alone do not move your deck from a five to an 8. The higher the power level the less lands you run (with a few exceptions land decks are that exception) so the more 2cmc and lower mana rocks,rituals.

You are playing the most efficient cmc cards you can and the lower average cmc of the deck of the entire deck.

Basically think of these factor for power level speed,efficiency and consistently you can get to your win con the higher the power you deck staxs .

Example my Eslha deck I have has an average cmc 1.7 there are some exception of course like most things in magic but that is generally an indicator of your 9/10 decks

October 28, 2021 2:02 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #41

Power = Speed.

The faster you are, the sooner you win. It's as simple as that. I may have decks that can clear the table by T6, but if yours wins on T3, it's twice as powerful as mine; at minimum. Conversely, if someone else's wins T10, mine will crush theirs with a T6 win.

October 28, 2021 2:20 p.m. Edited.

TypicalTimmy what about control? Their goal is to make the game last as long as possible, and that’s certainly not a weak archetype

October 28, 2021 3:46 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #43

Control is about controlling who can play what, defeating each opponent's win before (or while) it can happen. A Chalice of the Void with the right amount of counters can single-handedly eliminate multiple opponents way before they're actually dead. The game doesn't end in the first few turns, but in those turns the winner is established, by the boardwipe, stax piece, removal- or counterspell that solves all your problems, giving you time to piece your win together to actually finish the game.

October 28, 2021 4:10 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #44

Omniscience_is_life, fair point. I often forget about control because - solely in my experience - it never seems to win.

I've lost to like Oloro cEDH control, sure. But I seldom ever see any non-cEDH control win the game. So I kind of forget about the That archetype entirely.

October 28, 2021 4:29 p.m.

RambIe says... #45

plakjekaas fantastic suggestions i updated the disclaimer and optimized decks
hejtmane very true i tried to cover the evolution of cmc and ramp becoming part of a decks priorities as it moves from focused to tuned levels. i just assumed people would understand that stays a priority as the deck keeps evolving. maybe there's a better way to word it.
TypicalTimmy I disagree Power = Speed. I think Speed = Power. Ramp ramp stomp stomp my brother!
Omniscience_is_life i tried to sneak stax,tempo and control in the evolution with responses. hinting in the tuned decks that "people keep stopping you" & "wanting to stop others" and therefor its something you would want to address as you move up to optimized. Maybe my hints were to subtle. im open to suggestions for better wording

October 28, 2021 8:14 p.m.

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