Question Elemental: Once Upon A Time?

To start this week we had a Mathed Up article to try and assess Once Upon A Time at a high level. The conclusion was that the card is amazing but it raised even more questions. Now that we know the card is good, we need to get down to the actual in-game probabilities. Today we are diving back in to answer our reader’s many questions about playing Once Upon A Time.

Will I get stuck with multiple in hand?
Yes but less often than you would think. In regards to Leylines, we have always discussed opening with them versus drawing them. The conclusion often being to max out on them because opening with them is worth the dread of drawing them. However, what about opening with two? They are generally redundant. While this is not entirely true for OUT, it is damn close. We want to open with one and we do not want to draw one until Turn 4 at the earliest. The London mulligan helps because we can bottom extras but sometimes you will be stuck with more than one in your opening seven. The odds of this are as follows:

Four Copies: 6.3%
Three Copies: 3.4%
Two Copies: 1.2%

This means that if you run a full set, you will have more than one copy in your opening hand in about 1 out of 16 games. If you run three it is about 1 out of 29 games. Then finally if you run just two it is about 1 out of 100 games. So this does happen and it is a bit annoying but it is quite uncommon. OUT will allow you to keep far more hands than it will force you to mulligan.

Is this a Modern legal Land Grant?
No. When building a Land Grant deck, you can straight cut four lands from your deck because as far as your opening hand is concerned it is a land. OUT is maybe a land. Furthermore, when you cut four lands from your deck to run OUT you are making OUT statistically less likely to find a land. Take a look at our recent calculations for a reference. A deck with 22 lands will OUT into one more than 90% of the time. How can you pass that up? If you made room for those OUTs by going down to 18 lands, you will whiff more than 15% of the time. A chance I would not take unless the hand is particularly great. This card is more similar to Ancient Stirrings than anything else.

Can I keep no landers though?
This one really depends on your build but probably not. You would need to be playing a deck that reasonably wins off of a single land. An example of this would be Neobrand, which typically runs just 15 lands and can win without them. For this calculation, we can assume that a seven card hand has been drawn and all lands remain in the deck. The odds of finding at least one land for a few different low land counts is as follows:

Play
15 Lands: 82.5%
17 Lands: 86.9%
19 Lands: 90.3%
21 Lands: 92.9%

Draw
15 Lands: 87.9%
17 Lands: 91.5%
19 Lands: 94.1%
21 Lands: 96.1%

Unfortunately, that is a bit of a risk for the Neobrand player to take. Around 1 out of every 6 attempts will be a straight whiff and they will be left without mana. It is a bit more realistic for 17 and 19 land decks but even those probably want two lands. It is fun to live on the edge but you probably should not try to bite this bullet. However, there is the possibility that you could win on the spot with either a land or Simian Spirit Guide. That would have the same odds as a 19 lands build. With a 1 in 10 chance that you fail, I say go for it!

Okay but can I keep one landers?
Heck yeah. Not always, but there are loads of one land hands that can OUT into greatness. The key difference between a one lander and a no lander is that we have an additional draw step to pair with OUT in an effort to find that second land drop. For this calculation, we can assume that a seven card hand has been drawn and all but one land remains in the deck. Now we are looking at the odds of finding a second land between a draw step and OUT:

Play
15 Lands: 85.8%
17 Lands: 89.9%
19 Lands: 92.9%
21 Lands: 95.2%

Draw
15 Lands: 90.0%
17 Lands: 93.3%
19 Lands: 95.6%
21 Lands: 97.2%

These odds are listing the number of lands you built your deck witn. Meaning that in the scenario described above, we are looking at a deck with all but one of the lands still in it. Again, things look quite risky for the Neobrand folks but for a deck with 17 or more lands, I will snap it off and keep every time; unless of course the deck has a particularly high curve. The Neobrand players still have Simian Spirit Guide to consider though. In many situations this functions as a land so you can look to the odds that apply to a 19 land deck.

Will this benefit my threat light deck?
Probably not. There are some Modern decks that require a creature to win but are limited on the available deckbuilding options. The two that spring to mind are Infect and Bogles. There are only three worthwhile threats with infect and only three worthwhile threats for an aura-focused deck. These are critical mass decks, growth spells and auras, that do not want to mulligan but often must do so to find a threat. So if their opening hand had a threat more often it would be quite the boon. However, the low threat count that plagues them also makes OUT statistically worse. These are the odds of OUTing into a threat when keeping a hand without one:

Play
12 Threats: 73.9%
14 Threats: 79.9%
16 Threats: 84.8%
18 Threats: 88.7%

Draw
12 Threats: 80.4%
14 Threats: 85.8%
16 Threats: 89.9%
18 Threats: 92.9%

Well, as someone who plays Infect and Bogles I am sad to see it. These decks typically want a single threat and keeping a hand without one, even with OUT in hand, is a bad play. Sure it will usually work, but more than 25% of the time you pretty much lose on the spot. You could add some of the second rate threats that already existed to make OUT statistically better but now you are overloading on threats and reducing the power increasers that allow the deck to win. Worse yet, OUT truly is a bad topdeck for these strategies as their early aggressive threats are very poor late. This one does not look promising.

How consistently can I OUT into X?
Well OUT is not a tutor and we should not reasonably expect it to be. But in decks with a bunch of other tutors, it will fit in just fine and sometimes it will work as one. This could be Devoted Druid in Vizier decks. This could be the specific Tron land that your hand is missing. Or it is a Neobrand player who is just an Allosaurus Rider away from crushing the opponent. When you are banking on a four of, or something else with a small count, these are your odds of success:

Play
4 Copies: 33.6%
6 Copies: 46.5%
8 Copies: 57.4%
10 Copies: 66.5%

Draw
4 Copies: 39.1%
6 Copies: 53.2%
8 Copies: 64.5%
10 Copies: 73.4%

Well that is pretty neat. You should not keep a hand that absolutely needs to hit a specific four of but you will find exactly what you want more than a third of the time. I would not have expected that but the numbers do not lie. If you are a combo deck with some redundancy, functionally eight copies of an effect, OUT is a free tutor more than half of the time. You should not be betting everything on black but  keep in mind that OUT is going to give you exactly what you want surprisingly often.

Wrap-Up
Between the two articles, I think we have covered just about everything. The first one demonstrated the power of the card and now this one should help you to utilize it effectively. That being said, the door is always open for more questions in our discussion group. Is there anything else that you were curious about? We will do our best to answer it. If you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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