To aid in better grading the power level of EDH decks using a 1 through 10 grading scale, I have created a handy formula that can be utilized with any deck.or in Latex:
Let’s break down what these variables mean.
A = Average CMC of the deck.
This one is rather straight-forward. The higher the Average CMC of a deck, the slower and clunkier it becomes. By having 2 divide by this value, I am increasing the number of points awarded to decks with lower CMCs, while reducing the points awarded to decks with higher CMCs.
D = Draw that either allows you to see 3 cards, or a permanent that gives you repeatable draw
Examples: Brainstorm, Howling Mine, Fact or Fiction, Phyrexian Arena
Draw is an important way to ensure that you are always able to perform actions during the course of the game. A deck with little to no draw will spend most of the time sitting around doing nothing. The value of the draw spells are just as important as their density, which is why I have restricted this value to draw that gives you more card selection, or generates value over a longer period of time. These factors ensure that you always have things to do on your turns. In graveyard decks, it may be necessary to count self-mill cards that share the same stipulations (lets you see 3 cards, and/or is a permanent with repeatable draw) as draw for this variable.
T = Tutors (with CMC 4 or less) that find combo pieces and other win conditions
Examples: Vampiric Tutor, Muddle the Mixture, Tribute Mage, Demonic Tutor
Tutors get you exactly what you want, usually when you want them. They give EDH decks a level of consistency that more casual players would say is not in the spirit of the format. Their main function in higher power levels are to attain game-winning combo pieces. The cheaper the tutor, the more likely it is that the player will be able to use the card they tutored for during the same turn. Because of this, this variable has the greatest weight of any of the other variables in grading power level.
R = Ramp cards with CMC 2 or less
Examples: Llanowar Elves, Rampant Growth, Plague Myr. Sol Ring
Ramp is a major determinant of how fast a deck will win consistently, alongside cheap tutors. The sooner a player has access to a large amount of mana, the sooner they can cast multiple spells in a turn. A game of magic is usually over when a player can cast multiple spells in a turn before their opponents can. This, of course, is more impactful in the first few turns of the game, which is why only inexpensive ramp makes the cut for this variable.
I= Interaction such as counterspells, targeted removal, board wipes, and even stax
Examples: Mana Drain, Swords to Plowshares, Damnation, Winter Orb
Interaction stops your opponents from winning the game before you do. It is vitally important, but only when there is a high density of it. Having two or three forms of interaction won’t do much to consistently answer threats during a game with 3 opponents. This reasoning is why I have this value divided by 20, to reward a high density of answers.
Stax is a very broad-ranging term that means many things to many people. In this case, I define it as cards that slow the game down significantly as their primary purpose, limit what actions players can ordinarily take, and tax opponents to build value for yourself. This includes Mass Land Destruction (MLD), Hatebears like Drannith Magistrate and Grand Abolisher, even Pillow Fort like Propaganda.
There are a few things that I would like to note, based on community advice.
Commanders count as 2 toward their respective variable, even if they are costed higher than the respective variable’s limitation.
For example, Tymna would count as 2 towards D (Draw), and Sidisi, Undead Vizier would count as 2 toward tutor, since she is always available. This is a workaround to the fact that this formula doesn’t handle commander-centric archetypes well, such as decks like Sram and aggro Tribal decks like Krenko.
Graveyard strategies may require creative consideration for variables.
A card like Mesmeric Orb may not count as draw in most decks, but it could be very powerful draw in a Muldrotha deck. Entomb may not seem like a tutor in most decks, but it can be a very powerful tutor in a Karador deck.
Because of the difficulty of quantifying “Average Win Turn”, this formula focuses on how fast a deck can potentially amass a winning boardstate instead
Having R (Ramp) be limited to spells CMC 2 or less is an easy way to denote that early game acceleration is what it is representing. The same is true to a certain extent with regards to T (Tutors). These values are weighted heavily for this very reason.
With the commander out, the score can actually change.
However, this formula leans heavily on representing the flow of gameplay, focusing on the early game. If you can get your commander out with early ramp, that will be reflected in the formula, actually. It may be interesting to have people compare two results of the formula; for when the commander is not in play, and when the commander is in play. Many cards will suddenly belong to variables that they did not otherwise belong to.
This formula is a generalist tool, not meant to score unique commander-focused decks.
These variables work because they are metrics that can be widely agreed upon to be signifiers of power, speed, and consistency. Synergy in EDH is a very esoteric value, that varies greatly between decks. Because of that, I choose to focus my efforts on providing a tool for most decks, not all. All decks can benefit from Ramp, Draw, Interaction, Lower Average CMC and even Tutors.
Lands are largely a no-brainer, contributing little to power level in a well-constructed deck.
Playing minimal tap lands will make most decks better able to play during the early game. I make the assumption that the decks playing tap lands will be scored lowly by the variables of this formula. because those sorts of decks seldom run low cmc ramp, tutors, and draw.
From my own calculations utilizing this formula, I have been able to create a nice baseline of power levels that are usually below 10 and above 3. I have found that meta-“cEDH” decks seem to consistenly grade above 10, though this formula is not meant to accurately grade meta-specific decks such as cEDH decks. I will go through 5 examples of varying deck types. These formulas may not include changes to the variable calculations that have been implemented using community feedback.
Exquisite Invention -UR Artifact C18 PreCon
A=4.16 D=8 T=0 R=4 I=9
Vampiric Bloodlust – RBW Vampires C17 Precon
A=3.71 D=10 T=0 R=4 I=16
Jarad Graveyard Combo – GB “70%” Reanimator
A=3.30 D=1 T=7 R=8 I=19
Memnarch Control Combo – Mono-U Competitive
A=2.64 D=13 T=11 R=11 I=24
Thrasios & Tymna Combo – “Tier 1” cEDH
A=1.60 D=12 T=10 R=14 I=20
As you can see, this scoring method is a good metric to gauge a deck’s general power level when factoring in deck traits that define the EDH meta. A deck with a score over 10 is most likely a competitive deck, perhaps belonging to the “cEDH” format. I like that it appears to turn out that way, as it puts those deck in a “tier of their own”, as many remark cEDH decks as being already.
Moving forward, I will be grading any EDH decks I discuss on this site using this formula. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this grading formula, and seeing your own deck power levels as defined by this formula.