Essential Magic Articles

Card Advantage

by Old Man Magic

X for Y Sweeps/Trade

Sweeps, more commonly referred to as WoG Effects, are basically onboard trades you can make in which you trade one card for multiples of the opponents cards. Obvious, basic cards include the namesake Wrath of God and Damnation, Pyroclasm, Hurricane, etc. However, when applying this definition, there are instances where cards like Seige Gang Commander have the same effect. If my opponent were to have three Pestermites on the board, I could sack my goblins to kill each faerie. Those cards are real, while my goblins are just tokens. In this situation, I'm still generating card advantage. Another example still is where the player can generate advantage through trading advantageously in combat.


Virtual card advantage is somewhat harder to grasp as a concept, because no actual trades are being made in the literal sense. Virtual Card Advantage is any scenario in which you can blank multiples of your opponent’s cards. An awesome example of this comes from an FNM I participated in back in February. My opponent has 5 red creatures on his side of the board and one card in hand. Facing eminent doom, I untap and rip Teferi's Moat off the top of my deck. I cast it naming Red, and now all of a sudden, I've just gained card advantage because his creatures are no longer able to function properly (aka bash my face in). Sometimes, Virtual card advantage does have to even involve you making a play. If I'm playing a monoblack aggro deck, and my opponent has four Terror and four Dark Banishing, I've blanked a total of eight cards in his deck before the game began without actually doing anything.

Card Selection

Before we go, there's one more thing I'd like to discuss, regarding Card Selection. In Magic, there are many cards that tell you to draw cards, but don't actually generate card advantage. For example, if I cast Careful Consideration in my main phase, I will draw four, then discard two. The card advantage count right there is x-y-z=n, where x equals the draw, y equals the card you played, and z equals the discard. Therefore, n, your total generated advantage, is +1. However, if you cast the consideration at instant speed, it no longer generates advantage because you have to discard an additional card, which makes n equal 0. This is called card selection.

Basically, card selection is when a card you cast replaces itself with another card, but does not actually generate card advantage. Examples of Card Selection include Telling Time, Impulse, Brainstorm, and Ponder. The Scry keyword from the Mirrodin Block is a classic example of card selection. The thing about card selection is that people sometimes see things like 'Careful Study: draw 2 cards, discard 2' and immediately think card advantage! Careful study is actually card disadvantage, as it puts you at n = -1. However, it is still card selection.

I hope this analysis of card advantage has been helpful. If I get un-lazy, I may pick up the pen again soon.

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

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