Tolarian Tutor: Card Advantage – Improve Your Magic: The Gathering Gameplay

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Card Advantage. It’s a term that we hear thrown around in games of Magic, particularly during coverage at Pro Tours or other competitive level tournaments. Most of us have a general idea of what Card Advantage means, but it’s not always clear what the specifics are or when it’s appropriate to use the term. So instead we nod and smile and hope no one catches us out.

Today, we’ll be putting an end to those moments of doubt by covering the major aspects of Card Advantage. We’ll be going over what Card Advantage means, what it isn’t, and when to use it. We’ll also be covering Card Advantage versus Board Advantage, and take a look at what slices of the color pie yield the most Card Advantage.

We’re not n00bs anymore, but we’re not yet at the Pro Tour yet! This is for people who already play at Friday Night Magic but want to imrpove and get better. This is for intermediates, and this is Tolarian Tutor!
Defining Card Advantage

So what is Card Advantage? The best way we can define Card Advantage is:

A game action that either generates more quantifiable benefits or resources to you than it costs, OR
A game action that takes away more quantifiable resources from your opponents than it costs.

Game actions in Magic are usually playing cards, which are your main resource in the game. Remember, Card Advantage is Resource Advantage in Magic, so when we evaluate cards to see if they can give you Card Advantage, you’ll need to ask yourself three questions:

How many cards did this cost you?
How many cards did this make your opponent lose?
How many cards did this gain you?

EXAMPLE 1:

Let’s take a look at Divination. Divination is a sorcery that costs 2 and a Blue, and says: “Draw Two Cards”. So for the cost of one card – casting Divination – you gain two cards. This is what many players call a “Two For One”. You’ve basically come ahead by one card, which gives you more resources – therefore, more Card Advantage.

EXAMPLE 2:

You can also gain Card Advantage without having to draw cards. For example, say your opponent has a Sanguine Glorifier with the enchantment aura Mark of the Vampire attached to it. You’re able to kill it using an Impale, getting rid of two of their cards using a single card. Again, this is a “Two For One” situation, but instead of coming ahead by a card, you’ve pushed your opponent back and deprived them of two resources.

EXAMPLE 3:

Discard effects, like Mind Rot, also gain you Card Advantage by depriving your opponent of resources. For 2 and a Black, you force your opponent to discard two cards from their hand – cards that they could have used to establish board presence or hurt your resources. Again, this is a “Two for One”, and you’ve pulled ahead.

Comments

Tristan says:

Your camera is so good.

Duncan Ellis says:

very illuminating. Thank you.

Kai Di Mino says:

Love the new series!! Looking forward to the rest of season 2 🙂

TURBODERP says:

IS POT OF GREED CARD ADVANTAGE

ThisIsMyAlt says:

thanks prof!

Nelson Chandra says:

A video on tempo is on the way I hope! Explaining to players the idea of higher value cards vs higher tempo cards and when to use each would be very helpful to most. You touched on it here, but it’s not an easy concept to grasp. For example, Young Pyromancer and Storm Chaser mage both look like strong cards, and they both take advantage of you casting spells. One may be tempted to toss them together into the same deck, but Young Pyromancer gains you incremental advantage over time, in contrast to Storm Chaser who can deal damage immediately and gains temporary advantage each turn but ultimately fizzles out.

OOM- 32 says:

Mill is not difficult to happen. In limited, it’s a hugeee thing. Just remember when the prof died by mill when playing on game knights.

addam barcelos says:

really awesome to hear about card advantage. nice video

FluffyFractalshard says:

guess im off to the protour now.. knew pretty much everything said here.. still a great video i enjoyed to watch! 🙂

Zachary Lindahl says:

Thanks for the video professor! Tolarian tutor is definitely my favorite series of yours. If you ever do an advanced class you should make a video on layers and time stamp

TheBirdNerd says:

Tolarian Tutor is a genius invention, some many videos I have seen are either “how to attack” or “how to be a spike”. A perfect middle hard to find any where else.

JMAXICUS says:

Just wanted to say thanks for the sub! Really enjoy your channel!

BunBros Gaming says:

Would you call dredge mechanic am example or card advantage? Been thinking about it because instead of utilizing the deck as a resource dredge utilizes the graveyard and having the access to use cards from there. Dredge is a self milling so should I say self-mill/graveyard based decks considered more along that same line?

Parallelepiped2 says:

That was a great explanation, thanks!

James Wright says:

I want to comment something; This series has helped me not only to understand the game better, but to format my own lessons better. As a teacher, I used to feel I was lacking something during my lessons and the format in which Tolarian Tutor is presented (and how it closes by making a neat summary) helped me re-design my lessons and as a result they are more consistent and easier to understand. I’m very thankful to the Prof, Emma and Michelle for that and I think it is just fair to tell you guys that you can learn more about a video than its intended purpose

M. Arbah Binamin says:

Seems like there’s a lot more finger snapping in this video. Lol.

Logical Order says:

Willy wonka is that you?

Emery says:

Hey Prof, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Dominaria leaks by now. Do you have any thoughts?

Ninjahankin says:

Mill can be card advantage, but not to make your opponent to run out of cards. What about milling/discarding myself to put cards with flashback, embalm, and eternalize into my graveyard? It’s not in my hand but I have more options to do stuff with my mana which I believe is card advantage.

Andre Carter says:

For some reason, the professor reminds me of Jeff Daniels. Great channel, I love the after hours skits; quite humorous. Subscribed.

Alexander Hoare says:

Professor, great video. I would love to see a similar video that explains the use of the word “value” for MtG. in MtG the word “value” seems to be a catch-all for any positive exchange or interaction but is often terribly vague. Tireless tracker’s pseudo landfall ability creates value, same with K of kruphix’s land-related abilities. These are effects that accumulate game advantages regularly over the term and are what I would consider value, but I understand it to often be a catch-all for any one time or continuous advantage generated by any particular card.

hollow heart says:

He just gets better and better

Kajemby says:

Great video professor!

Gage Griffin says:

When do you know if you should be on offense or defense

OOM- 32 says:

Turn card advantage into board advantaje with ensnaring bridge shenanigans!!

Yay!

pedropohren says:

Hey Professor, will you do a Tolarian Tutor episode about Mana Acceleration? :3

Lockslie says:

What about embalming creatures and flashback spells? Seeing as how you get to use them twice, would that be card advantage of virtual card advantage?

Zach Chaffee says:

card advantage and me not wining are way too real, ive drawn my entire library multiple times in commander and still lose wayyy to many times

Rodrigo Pizani says:

That is a video every player should watch

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