Atraxa, Praetors' Voice
5, Jan, 23

New Tool Lets MTG Players Show Off Their Hipster EDH Decks

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Article at a Glance

Thanks to the devotion and size of the MTG community, creators and companies have created all manner of interesting tools to aid players. Deck builders, for instance, are widely available resources that are often packed with features. To help players to find cards for those decks, websites such as Scryfall provide an exhaustive and accessible search engine. If deck building isn’t your thing, several websites also offer pack-opening simulators to delight Draft fans. Alongside pricing tools, life counters, and Arena assistance, there is no end of tools on offer for MTG fans to utilize. 

However, MTG players are often left on their own when it comes to tools that rank homebrewed decks. While frustrating, this lack of comprehensive deck ranking isn’t all too surprising when you remember that MTG has 25,354 unique cards. This immense number of cards allows for a literally incalculable number of possible deck combinations. As you might imagine, finding a mathematically perfect deck in any format is difficult. Thankfully for statistic-hungry MTG fans, power isn’t the only way to rank Magic: the Gathering decks. This was recently proven by EDHREC, who took it upon themselves to create a new EDH ranking system for MTG decks. 

Hipster Dragon Highlander

The Ur-Dragon
The Ur-Dragon | Commander 2017

While competitive cEDH decks certainly exist, Commander is, first and foremost, a casual MTG format. Offering an unrivaled playground for players to get creative and experiment in, Commander is home to all manner of weird and wild decks. Boasting 24,199 of the released 25,354 cards, it’s safe to say that EDH players have a wide range of MTG cards to choose from. Subsequently, MTG players are able to vividly express themselves and their interests within their 100 card creations. For some players, these unique creations are a point of pride. Now, thanks to EDHREC, that sense of pride is a measurable resource, as a deck’s uniqueness can now be ranked!

Announced in a recent EDHREC article, MtGDS (Magic Data Science) has pioneered a new deck ranking system. Known as Hipster Dragon Highlander, this ranking system does as the name suggests and analyses the uniqueness of a Commander deck to find out how hipster it is. This is done by measuring any given EDH deck against the “almost 1.9 million” other MTG decks on EDHREC. After some quick calculations, the new web app churns out the deck’s overall “Hipster Quotient.”  As MtGDS explains in the blog post, “a deck’s Hipster Quotient is the sum of the proportion of all recorded EDH decks in which its constituent cards (excluding basic lands) appear.” 

Hipsters to the Rescue

Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines | Phyrexia: All Will Be One

Beyond giving players a tool to rank their deck’s uniqueness, MtGDS explained this tool does have a noble purpose. While uniqueness is one of Commander’s greatest strengths, power creep threatens to reduce “the heterogeneity that can make the format so appealing.” The most recent example of this growing power creep is Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines. Releasing in Phyrexia: All Will Be One, Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines appears to be so powerful that it might be banned upon release. Boasting incredible control, there’s hardly a reason to avoid playing Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines.

While a card like Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines being an auto include isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it isn’t very creative. For Commander Rules Committee member Sheldon Menery, this is a real problem. “When twenty or more of our cards have been decided before we actually start building the deck, we’ve headed in a dangerous direction,” Meneary stated in a recent Star City Games article. “We’ve sacrificed creativity on the altar of efficiency. That’s good in formats which privilege the mechanical. It’s a contrarian position in Commander.” Thankfully, while it’s hardly Commander 2.0, this is where Hipster Dragon Highlander comes to the rescue. 

In their EDHREC article, MtGDS proposes the Hipster Quotient as a “voluntary deckbuilding restriction/metric,” essentially creating a new format. “One idea is to agree with your playgroup to a HipQ cap, build decks that fit under that cap and play games on equally obscure footing. If you want essentially no cap, 1500% should be sufficient; if you want moderately hip decks, I’d suggest something like 500%. If you want something truly obscure, try 150%: you’ll likely see a bunch of cards you’ve never seen at the table before!” 

Hip To Be Square

Blessed Hippogriff
Blessed Hippogriff | Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate

Upon showing off the Hipster Quotient calculator on Reddit, MTG players quickly took to competing with one another. Disregarding all sensible deckbuilding practices and the promising new format, MTG players instead raced to create the most hipster deck EDH possible. At first, u/PlaneswalkingBadger showed off their 99% hipster “‘Do stuff with each player on my turn’ Group Hug Deck.” This, however, would quickly be bested by u/bryan-b’s 81% hipster Wyll, Blade of Frontiers Critical Roll deck. An hour later, u/mountaintop-stainer would drive that score down even lower, pushing the Hipster Quotient to just 73%. While impressive, u/mountaintop-stainer’s deck wasn’t the most hipster deck on display, nor did u/SmashPortal and their 46% Hipster deck. Instead, that title belongs to u/superawesomedman, who showcased a 4% Hipster Quotient deck to claim the crown, for now. 

Ultimately, while Hipster Dragon Highlander provides a fascinating new deckbuilding restriction, by MtGDS’ own admission, it isn’t perfect. “I do want to note that while ubiquity correlates with power level, the two are not synonymous.” Subsequently, MTG players will still be able to build niche but surprisingly powerful decks to dominate their equally hipster opponents. Alongside this, Reddit user u/NoExplanation734 complained that the model excluding basic lands isn’t ideal. Due to this, Hipster Dragon Highlander “‘punishes’ people who play more nonbasics.” This doesn’t exactly feel fair when “a lot of basics are very hipster,” u/NoExplanation734 claims. 

Read More: MTG Accidentally Nerfed Iconic Tron Land in Jumpstart 2022

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