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Against the Odds: Krark's Thumb Luck Test (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode seventy-nine of Against the Odds. Last week, we didn't have an Against the Odds poll (don't worry, it's back this week—you can find it at the end of the article), which means we are having a special episode this week. There's a rumor going around that, when it comes to playing Magic, I'm basically the anti-LSV. Instead of being super lucky all the time, I'm super unlucky. With this in mind, I decided to put this theory to the test. What's the best way to test how lucky you are? Flip some coins, of course! Since I'm pretty sure I'm unlucky, I cheated a bit and added Krark's Thumb to our deck, which bumps our odds of winning a flip all the way from 50% to 75%. 

Our deck can do some crazy things if we manage to win our coin flips, like kill the opponent for just one mana with Mana Clash, take an extra turn for just three mana with Stitch in Time, or draw nine cards and untap all of our lands for only three mana with Fiery Gambit! On the other hand, our deck does nothing if we lose our flips. So, are we lucky enough to win with Krark's Thumb in Modern? We're about to find out! 

Let's get to the videos, and then we'll talk a bit more about the deck, but first a quick reminder. If you enjoy the Against the Odds series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel.

Against the Odds: Krark's Thumb Luck Test (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Krark's Thumb Luck Test (Games)

The Deck

The basic idea of the deck is pretty simple. We use cantrips to find our Krark's Thumb; then, we start casting coin-flip cards. If our luck is good, just one coin-flip card can potentially win us the game. If our luck is bad, we spend a bunch of mana for nothing, Time Walk ourselves, and probably lose the game. 

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The good news about Krark's Thumb is that it's fairly cheap at only two mana, which puts it on curve with our powerful three-mana coin-flip cards. The bad news is that even with a Krark's Thumb on the battlefield, we aren't guaranteed to win the coin flip. Without Krark's Thumb, we have a 50% chance of winning a coin flip (there are two possible outcomes—heads or tails—and one of these outcomes is positive). With a Krark's Thumb, the odds increase to 75% (with four outcomes and three being positive). As such, instead of random chance, we are actually favored to win every time we flip a coin. (If you want more about the odds of on coin flips with Krark's Thumb, make sure to check out this great Frank Karsten article on ChannelFireball).

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Our coin-flip cards are extremely high variance. Take Fiery Gambit for example. It's possible we spend three mana and get absolutely nothing for it. It's also possible we spend three mana to kill an opponent's creature, deal six damage to our opponent's face, and draw nine cards, which is extremely powerful. It all depends on how lucky we can get. By the numbers, we should win all three flips about 42% of the time. Stitch in Time is the same way—when we win the flip, it's the cheapest extra-turn spell in Modern; when we lose the flip, we essentially Time Walk ourselves by spending three mana for nothing. 

*Chart from Frank Karsten's article, Magic Math: Krark's Thumb and Mana Clash in Legacy

Finally, we have Mana Clash, and I'm still not really sure how this card works (I probably should have looked at the above chart before playing the matches). After playing with it in the matches, it seems like the most common outcome is either "you kill yourself" or "the game ends in a draw." In theory, we can do a lot of damage to our opponent. The problem is that Krark's Thumb actually makes this one more confusing. When we flip our two coins, we don't know what our opponent got on their coin flip, so if we want Mana Clash to keep going, we sometimes feel like we need to choose tails (because two heads ends the card's effect), but this guarantees we are taking damage. Because of this, we often kill ourselves trying to kill our opponent, and we end up with a draw rather than winning the game. 

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Snapcaster Mage is in our deck to flashback things like Stitch in Time and Fiery Gambit, but it's also great when it's flashing back a removal spell like Lightning Bolt or a cantrip like Serum Visions to help us find our combo pieces. 

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Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand help us cycle through our deck to find our Krark's Thumb, and once we have our Krark's Thumb, we can use these cards to find our coin-flipping-payoff cards to try to get lucky and close out the game. 

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Lightning Bolt, Remand, and Spell Snare do double duty. On one hand, they can help us disrupt our opponent, killing their early-game creatures or countering their plays. On the other hand, they can help us force our Krark's Thumb and coin-flip cards through our opponent's counters and protect them from removal. They also give us even more value with Snapcaster Mage as the game goes along. 

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Yes, we technically have Blood Moon, but no, we aren't really a Blood Moon prison deck. When it comes to building blue–red decks, it's super easy to manipulate the mana base in a way that can support the enchantment, and it's powerful enough that it's hard to leave Blood Moon on the sideline if it can work in a deck. The main hope is that Blood Moon will help make up for some bad luck. In a "normal" game of Magic, losing a coin flip can be deadly, but with a Blood Moon on the battlefield, we may have enough time to recover and flip some more coins. 

The Matchups

When it comes right down to it, it's all about luck and the matchups themselves really aren't all that important. We can beat just about anyone if we can resolve a fully powered Fiery Gambit because drawing nine cards for three mana is so absurdly strong. On the other hand, we can lose to anyone as well if we flip poorly (see: the ultra-budget UB Mill deck we ran into). 

This said, we'd rather avoid really fast aggro decks, since we are fairly light in true removal, and heavy counterspell-based control decks can also be problematic, since our deck doesn't really do anything without resolving our Krark's Thumb and coin-flip cards. As far as good matchups, I don't think they really exist—we are just hoping to get lucky with our coin flips and steal some wins. 

The Odds

As rumored, we aren't very lucky. We managed to miss on a ton of coin flips, which had a pretty devastating effect on our ability to win games and matches. The good news is that we were able to draw a few games with Mana Clash, which in a sea of losses sort of feel like wins, in a weird way. By the numbers, we finished our games 2-10-2 (good for a 14.2% game-win percentage and also a 14.2% game-draw percentage), but we didn't win a single match. We had a few times where it felt like we were close, only to lose a coin flip at a very inopportune moment, swinging the match back into our opponent's favor. That said, I think the deck could actually win some matches. Apparently, I'm just not lucky enough to play a coin-flip deck, but if you are luckier than I am, you might want to give it a try!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

With Standard stale and new sets right around the corner, we are in a time when everyone's looking toward the future. So this week, for our poll, let's go back to a time when Magic itself was looking to the future: Future Sight! Which of these Future Sight cards should we play next week for Against the Odds?

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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