Essential Magic Articles

Card Advantage

by Old Man Magic

Card Advantage

For as long as I can remember, I've been a huge fan of control decks. It's pretty funny and strange for me, as I never really got into casual magic, and as the very first archetypes I played were Affinity and Tooth and Nail, it took me awhile to figure out where my blue mage roots came from. Then it hit me.

Drawing cards is awesome!

Everyone knows this, and everyone pretty much agrees that if the price is right, drawing cards is probably the most impactful thing you can do in magic besides putting your opponent from 1 to 0 (die in a fire, Platinum Angel). Control decks are often designed to gain an incremental advantage over the course of the slow game by doing things such as, you guessed it, drawing cards.

Drawing cards is very commonly labeled 'Card Advantage' which, to be aptly put, means that the player with more cards probably has the advantage. Therefore, cards that draw cards are awesome and have a deeper impact on the game than card that reads "destroy target creature".

However, it seems that people don't fully grasp the concept of card advantage, because drawing cards is only one aspect of the full array of advantage you can gain. Bear with me, as I'm just going make up labels as I go:

The major types of card advantage are Card Draw, Discard, X for Y Sweeps, and Virtual. I hope to explain each type individually so that players might better understand the roles of cards that produce advantage, and give examplets of each type.

Card Draw

Card Draw is basically what we have been talking about. Cards that trade themselves for more cards are producing card advantage. Tidings is a great example of a simple card that produces card advantage. Controlish archetypes often rely on card drawing spells to help them gain advantage. Most control decks play spot removal, which is one of your spells used to take out one of their creatures; no advantage is gained. The card draw keeps those removal spells coming, and eventually yield a late game threat that the opponent cannot overcome. Also, cards like Dismiss are considered card drawing advantage because you are trading with the opponent's spell then calculating the draw you get as an addition, putting you up one card.


Discard is more often than not proactive disrupting card selection, ie trading one of your cards for one of theirs. However, some discard spells are incredibly powerful forms of card advantage, namely Persecute, which used to be UR Magnivore's worst nightmare several years ago. A persecute against a monocolored deck can yeild drastic card advantage. Jon Finkel made his opponent, Chris Benafel, discard 6 cards from his hand in the finals of Nationals 2000, which essentially put Benafel much too far behind to win at that point. Jon played one spell, and Benafel was forced to bin 6 cards. That trade allowed Jon to easily win the match, and put him on his way to being the only magic player in history to win the National Championship, Team World Championship, and individual World Championship trophies in the same year.

Last edited 5/27/2008 5:29:04 PM Page 1 of 2  Prev  Next  Go to page:

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