Sin Prodder and manipulating your opponents draws



  • I' not trying to discuss if the card is good or not, so this isn't a spoiler discussion. Recently I got in an argument with a friend about Sin Prodder's ability and the difficulty to grasp the concept of it as a card manipulation tool (for your opponent).

    He likes the card because for him it generates advantage either way. Either you get an extra card, or extra damage (unless it's cc=0). For him, if you lose the card, you're losing a random anyway, much like if it was milled from the top. It shouldn't get in the equation if the card is good or not - much like mill.
    For me, the problem is that I think of it more like a draw manipulation tool like Jace's fateseal. It' not mill anymore if you get to look at the card. You're actually taking a good card out of your opponents hand.

    Of course, if you take Prodder's card out, it doesn't mean he won't draw anything good on his own draw step. But for me giving this power to the opponent is ehat makes the card bad.

    How do yous guys evaluate this kind of ability? I mean, you could see it as a form of card advantage for Prodder's owner, but also as giving the opponent more control over what you draw.

    Here's the card for those who don't know ehat it is:
    alt text



  • I guess if you want to build a casual deck with this, you run recoup and past in flames? It seems terrible. Imagine you flip lightning bolt, your opponent says bin it, then you draw land for the turn. Unless you have some way to flash back that bolt, are you really gaining anything? Was one damage worth it?

    Maybe you could play it in devil tribal along side charm breaker devils?

    edit: It does fuel grim lavamancer, so I guess that's a thing.



  • Well this may sound silly, but anytime you remove randomness from the process you can't really say it's a random card and thus the standard assumptions of probability won't hold.

    Your opponent has a choice, and that choice is often going to be dependent on the CMC of the card they see. Also if you can manipulate your deck with something like Sensei's Top or Sylvan Library, you can tilt the odds in your favor.

    As for a card I'm unsure of whether this is good, or bad. He doesn't really fit in aggro decks since Prophetic Flamespeaker is already there. He also doesn't really fit in blue decks since there are a ton of great 3 drops. Pre-mentor, I think this card sees play. Post-mentor, it's much hazier.


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    This is a pretty interesting question. I think there are a lot of factors here - but I think it's really important to consider your deck construction - two things specifically.

    library manipulation - like vaughnbros said, if you can control the top card of your deck, that changes things dramatically. I could imagine purposely putting lands on your deck with a divining top, expecting them to get discarded, just to get virtual card quality.

    redundancy/power level disparity- I think this is where you and your friend might be making different assumptions, leading to different evaluations. What's the power level difference between the best card you could draw right now, and the worst? I imagine the natural home for this sort of effect is some kind of aggro deck, where your draws are kind of flat - extra lands are not great, and most of the deck are just cards designed to damage your opponent, so if you discard them to damage, it's almost like you got .5 cards anyway.

    but lets think of the WORST place for this kind of effect. (Unlikely, but) If you were playing a deck with a restricted combo piece, like Vault+Key, with 0 deck manipulation, there's a 50% chance that Time Vault will be one of the cards you reveal (either an odd or even number of cards from the top of your deck). If you're running only one key, there's a 50% chance that Key is one of the cards you reveal ... if you need both to win, that means playing this card gives you a (very slightly less than) 75% chance of just losing.

    Obviously that's not entirely realistic, because you wouldn't run Vault/Key with no tutors or deck manipulation, and Sin Prodder is, in iteself, a kill card - but you get the idea. If you're in a situation where you need to draw a specific card (or just that the power disparity between cards left in your deck is very large), and you have a small number of those cards in your deck, Sin Prodder has a chance of reducing your card quality.

    The exact chance is super hard to calculate though.



  • I was the person who posted it on the old forum, since I saw some potential. Of course as @vaughnbros said, since mentor exists most 3CC creatures have to justify themshelves.

    I think one of the considerations in order to play this card is: don't throw in in a deck where you have key cards. if you are afraid of losing your vault or key, don't play this. But again, some vault decks played Gifts or even FoF, which have a chance to bin one of the combo cards.

    SDT, preordain, ponder, brainstorm, jace, magma jet (yes, magma jet)... help controlling your draws. If you are not playing those cards, or just a couple, sin prodder is probably poor, and can effectively limit your access to the best cards. But I also think as your friend: with Sin Prodder in battlefield you are going to draw the same cards as normal (with the average quality) and then you will have another effect (damage, extra draw or nothing) with other cards. It cannot be a downside unless you are losing unavoidable cards in the process, so don't play those kind of cards with prodder.

    This card can work wonderfully with Delve and Miracle cards. Also any card with alternative cost as Fow, Misdirection, Gush...



  • While I don't really like this card, I've decided that the ability is not deleterious to a properly constructed deck. It's just so weak that I don't think it's worth a card and 3 mana.

    He ain't that bad...

    You're familiar with the Monty Hall problem, right? If not, go look it up; it's an example of how asking someone with knowledge of hidden information to make a choice can make a seemingly random choice not so random anymore. The thing is, here, you don't really keep the information the opponent gained; the opponent makes a choice that immediately removes the option that the revealed card is behind the closed door.

    It's true that your opponent is replacing one random draw with another. But, they also get to see every other card you're drawing and get a chance to deny you that specific card. It's kind of like a Fateseal, except that you draw past the card whether it is good or bad - the only choice is whether you get it in your hand. So, it's a bit more like showing your opponent a random card in your deck and allowing them to mill it.

    If your deck relies on silver bullets to function, this might actually be a really dangerous thing to do. Sure, it's only one card a turn, but if you're going to late game, the opponent is seeing 3, 5, maybe even more cards and milling them. If one of those was your only Hurkyl's Recall, you might be in trouble. If it was one of your twelve copies of Lightning Bolt / Chain Lightning / Rift Bolt, then no sweat.

    So yeah, as long as your deck is constructed such that it doesn't mind getting randomly milled, the ability itself is probably okay.

    ..but he's also not very good.

    HOWEVER, this Demon still costs you a card and 3 mana. Is it worth that expense? Well, you wouldn't pay that for a vanilla 3/2 Menace; not in a world full of tokens, anyway. So, if the ability isn't really BAD for you, is it actually any GOOD?

    Put another way, how often will this card actually DO anything?

    Well, first off, you will never draw a card you really need with this Demon. The opponent won't let you have it. So, the only thing that can happen is you get a useless card OR the opponent gets burned.

    Assume an aggro deck has 16-18 lands and Vintage acceleration, so we're talking 23 or so cards costing 0 mana. Then maybe another 10 costing 1, and the rest ranging from 2 to 5 (Force?) or something like that.

    About 33.3%, the Demon will do nothing (they'll mill cards with zero CC and no one wins).

    Another third of the time, the Demon will give the opponent a choice between taking 1 damage or giving you an irrelevant card. Let's say 4 of your 1 drops are Mental Misstep, which might be basically pointless in the midgame depending on the matchup. Probably a Sol Ring when you're already at 4 - 5 mana is also boring. So, let's say that half of your 1 drops are useless in a given situation, so another 8% of the time or so, showing a 1 drop does nothing.

    If you're running Demon, you're probably running 2 drops and you need to be running at least 1 Demon as a 3 drop. Let's say you have 10 2cc cards, 10 3cc+ cards. These guys are probably usually gas, often removal or creatures, so let's assume none are ever useless. That is, assume that your opponent will always burn themselves here.

    That means something like 41% of the time, I'd expect Sin Prodder to do absolutely jack-all. The other 59% of the time, he will randomly deal somewhere between 1 - 3 damage, very rarely more in a typical Vintage deck.

    With all that in mind, would you play Sin Prodder if he said this?

    During your upkeep, flip a coin. If you win the flip, flip the coin three more times and deal 1 damage to your opponent for each flip you win after the first.

    Because that's what you're getting here.



  • Well, take in mind this deck

    4 sin prodder
    4 Thunderous Wrath // fireblast
    4 magma jet
    4 price of progress
    4 jace tms
    4 preordain
    1 ponder
    1 brainstorm
    1 ancestral recall
    1 time walk
    4 gush
    4 fow
    1 misdirection
    1 dtt
    1 treasure cruise
    2 fire//ice
    1 lotus
    1 mox sapphire
    1 mox jet
    8 fetchlands
    4 island
    4 volcanic

    I'm not saying that is a good deck at all, I wrote it in less than 1 minute and it's messed up. There you can manipulate a lot. so most of the time you know what is coming. Costs are really high, two 8cc, four 6cc, nine 5cc, six 4cc... There Sin Prodder probably shines, despite it will have little game against some decks. If you are revealing a 5cc card, what is your opponent going to do? bin it or just give it to you?



  • @xouman It's certainly a solid point that you can include 8 CMC delve stuff, Tasigurs, etc. But does this card really belong in the same deck as Tasigur?



  • I'm actually not even thinking about the viability of the card, but trying to grasp an abstract concept to understand the game better. Just like it's good to undestand things like card advantage, card selection, virtual card advantage, etc.

    For me, the card your opponent takes out of your hand with Prodder is a form of draw manipulation. I mean, if you play an Extract on your opponent, you're taking out of the deck a card that may not have even come into the equation this game. Like if you mill him, etc. But here, his decision to bin the card or not actually affects the game directly, right? My point was that the possible card advantage the card can give you would not be sufficient enough to overcome this manipulation against you.
    My friend's point is that either way, Prodder generated one more effect for you (damage or card) and that's card advantage any way you look at it, even in a hard control deck.


  • TMD Supporter

    @fsecco To start with, your opponent has no more control over your normal draws than before, he only gets a measure of control over this extra one. So let's think about what happens when this ability resolves.

    Now, it's never going to put a land into your hand and lands won't deal any damage, but you don't want to be drawing those lands in a mono-red deck anyway so there's still value to be had there by not drawing them.

    As to the spells in your deck, for most of them it's probably going to be a better deal for your opponent to take damage than put it into your hand. But that's damage you get without spending a card or mana. It's free, and free is a great price. Occasionally you'll see a card you didn't want to mill get sent to the bin, but you can't base decisions on repeated effects like this based on the worst thing that could happen; you need to look at the average case.



  • @Klep that's the point for me. On a monored deck, where you pressure your opponents life, then ok, I can see it. But in a control deck I believe having this guy is worse than not having. You're paying mana and a card just to let your opponent have the opportunity to take good spells out of your reach. Of course, I'm not considering things like 4 Prodder, 4 Snapcaster builds. That could be something.

    The ting is if you analyse all the options, you're in bad shape in most of them. If you think in terms of Good and Bad cards, good or bad meaning something you would want to draw or not, this is what you get with Prodder and your draw step (G is good, B is bad):

    GG
    GB
    BG
    BB

    Half that options take out of the game a good card out of your reach. The BG case is the only one you profit, since you get to dig deeper. BB is not that relevant.



  • I have upvoted Klep because, without any manipulation, that is how it works. If you need specific cards, don't play this, otherwise the average draw of your draws is EXACTLY the same, your opponent only affects the extra effect. And with that, if card was just mana, you are losing it (not a big deal). If card is business, it's either damage or CA.

    Saying that Sin Prodder has a bad effect because you are playing it in a wrong deck (no manipulation. silver bullets) is like saying that confidant is bad because it kills you all the time (deck with high CC, no manipulation) or that oath is bad because your opponent gets 50% the effect (deck without orchard, 15 creatures). You can't see the effect in a generic deck, it must be seen in a correct build.

    @AmbivalentDuck Well, tasigur was not on the list, but it could be a card too. If you are going for an aggro kill, tasigur or Gurmag Angler are good choices. I don't know if it's really possible to create a good deck, or even playable, from those cards (I have seen Angler even in vintage). Maybe something like the legacy Dragon Stompy deck, with moons and other prison cards, overall high costs.



  • @xouman that's the thing, though. My discussion was more theoretical and abstract, based on the effect in a vacuum and trying to understand the value of being able to decide if certain card in an opponents deck wouldn't be drawn by him. We weren't trying to get to a Sin Prodder perfect deck, but analyse the card and effect in a more global scenario.

    It seems nice enough with Tasi and Gurmag. ;)



  • To me, you have to consider this card in the context of Grixis Delver. You're going to want to be able to flip Gush, FoW, 8 CMC delve spells, and Gurmag/Tasigur. The question is, do you really want this guy over Dack Fayden or Vendilion Clique? I don't think you do. Menace basically only gives this evasion from Lodestone Golem. Thalia/Mentor/etc is always going to have a second critter to block with without losing value. Also, I might just play Dark Confidant and eat the damage if I think Grixis Delver is where I want to be.



  • Consider splitting your deck into two piles: those your opponent would bin and those she will let you keep at any moment in time.

    Contrast drawing a card. Sin Prodder's ability's value is the weighted average of the converted mana cost in damage of the binned pile plus the in-hand value of the kept pile.

    Plainly, the ability shines when your bad cards are good and your good cards are expensive.



  • My though on seeing this was how it's a little like Gifts. Ideally you want the cards to be usable from the graveyard so they have no good choice.



  • @benjamin_berry said:

    My though on seeing this was how it's a little like Gifts. Ideally you want the cards to be usable from the graveyard so they have no good choice.

    Could play this in some sort of Life from the Loam deck with the new Frog so when they mill a land you draw a card anyway.



  • Discounting everything that has been mentioned already about him being of more value than just the draw in the proper deck, even if he was a free fate seal as you described, he is still a free fate-seal attached to an additional draw.

    What I think is interesting about the guy is that if he was just 3/2 menace with "every upkeep draw a card" I don't think we would be having this conversation. I think he would just not see play. But because of how his ability interacts with the yard and delve, it potentially adds value to him.

    This is a similar situation to some other famous punisher cards, like Vexing Devil and Browbeat in other formats. If vexing devil was just a 4/3 for R it probably would not even get considered in Burn, and likewise if browbeat was just sorcery draw 3 for 3cmc, the decks that want browbeat would likely not even look at the under-costed draw 3. As is the recent trend with punisher cards, when you can build a deck that can utilize both halves of the card, it tends to wind up being stronger than the sum of its parts.



  • @Protoaddct said:

    Discounting everything that has been mentioned already about him being of more value than just the draw in the proper deck, even if he was a free fate seal as you described, he is still a free fate-seal attached to an additional draw.

    What I think is interesting about the guy is that if he was just 3/2 menace with "every upkeep draw a card" I don't think we would be having this conversation. I think he would just not see play. But because of how his ability interacts with the yard and delve, it potentially adds value to him.

    If the drawing was granted, the card would be better. As it is now, the opponent can choose to make it work that way, but often it's better for him not to give us the card.

    This is a similar situation to some other famous punisher cards, like Vexing Devil and Browbeat in other formats. If vexing devil was just a 4/3 for R it probably would not even get considered in Burn,

    Disagree again. The opponent can choose, making it worse. In fact, a 4/3 for R would be played in lots of decks.

    and likewise if browbeat was just sorcery draw 3 for 3cmc, the decks that want browbeat would likely not even look at the under-costed draw 3. As is the recent trend with punisher cards, when you can build a deck that can utilize both halves of the card, it tends to wind up being stronger than the sum of its parts.

    And again disagree. Some decks would play a non-optional draw 3 for 2R. Now, vexing devil and browbeat are played in decks where the bad mode can be taken profit. That is the same I suggested for Sin Prodder: play it in a deck where the opponent has to choose between bad and worse cases.



  • 2R for draw 3 cards and R for a 4/3 with no drawbacks on either would see a lot and I mean a lot of play. Giving your opponent a choice is never good, but when it's all or nothing it's even worse.

    The good thing about this card is its not all or nothing. It's more like Gifts or Fact than Vexing Devil and Browbeat. So it compares to cards that have been playable in the past in terms of giving your opponent options.



  • @vaughnbros said:

    2R for draw 3 cards and R for a 4/3 with no drawbacks on either would see a lot and I mean a lot of play. Giving your opponent a choice is never good, but when it's all or nothing it's even worse.

    The good thing about this card is its not all or nothing. It's more like Gifts or Fact than Vexing Devil and Browbeat. So it compares to cards that have been playable in the past in terms of giving your opponent options.

    Nah, the kind of option Prodder gives your opponent is more comparable to Steam Augury than Fact or Fiction.


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