In Development liner notes – CawBlade, Faeries, and the area under their curves

After a work-related hiatus, In Development is back up and running.

In case you missed it, here’s this week’s In Development, in which I discuss cumulative mana curves and the idea of cards being useful at certain points in a game.

The article itself uses the current Standard for examples, so if you read it you’ll see cumulative curves for Delver, Wolf Run, Solar Flare, and others.

My original motivation for examining this issue was Paulo’s love affair with aggro-control, so I found myself asking…what about his other examples? How did CawBlade and Faeries match up?

So here you go. Drawn from two Pro Tours, we have CawBlade, Faeries, and some of their opponents.

Pro Tour Paris 2011

This Pro Tour featured several CawBblade lists in the top 8, along with some fast aggro and one example of a control deck. Two things stood out to me here. First, Grixis is all utility cards and trumps, with nothing in between. Second, CawBlade is pretty trump-tastic compared with Delver. Of course, four of those trumps are Jace, who saw a banning relatively soon after.

Pro Tour Hollywood 2008

PT Hollywood had a lot of Faeries decks, but they didn’t really make it through to the top eight (except for Paulo, who did pretty well but get rolled by one of the nastiest “empty my hand” openings I’ve seen from an aggro deck in the quarterfinals). It also saw the debut of early Vivid Control in the form of Manuel Bucher’s Quick’n Toast, which had a solid day one performance before falling off into day two.

Notably, Elves hits its power cards very quickly. You can see how it could overwhelm Faeries, and how it sure would overwhelm Quick’n Toast.

The area under the (Delver) curve

Pretty much inspired by PV’s excellent article about aggro-control this week, I decided to take a couple of the major players right now and lay out their “cards that you can play and that matter” along the turn curve (which is sort of the mana curve, but accounting for things like acceleration):

These are cumulative curves, meaning that the things you can cast on the first turn also count on the second, third, and so forth. The Wolf Run and Strangleroot (R/G Aggro) curves drop off because the early acceleration cards don’t count in the mid-to-late game.

What’s interesting, in light of Paulo’s thesis, is how Delver forms a smooth curve that comes up over the top of the other three archetypes. Esper Control has a similar curve, but is a consistent two turns late.

As a final note on this quick conceptual knock-together, the Delver curve as shown assumes paying the Phyrexian costs for those cards where it applies. Obviously, it’ll push a little bit toward the start of the aggro curve if you instead pay full price.