The L Curve, V Curve, and W Curve

by Felix Leong on 06 September 2017, Wednesday

Felix Leong

The L Curve, V Curve, and W Curve



To newer Magic players, Limited formats can be the most fun format of all. For example, you get to rip open your Prerelease kits and happily play all your powerful rares to sweep your opponents. However, things are different in Booster Draft. New players may feel less confident about this very challenging format and often fail to pick up a powerful deck.


Often, we may hear them blaming it on luck, saying that "all their three packs were crap" or "I was so unlucky to get nothing good". However, that is quite untrue in Booster Draft. While picking very powerful cards is the first step, we should focus on areas such as synergy and mana curve.


In this article, I would like to focus on the three basic types of mana curves. Once you understand them, it will greatly improve the quality of your draft decks, even when you do not open powerful rares! I generally break down my decks into three subtypes, the L curve, the V curve, and the W curve. Let's find out what they mean!




L Curve - The Aggro Deck


The Aggro deck is what I call the L Curve.

Sometimes, you may not even get to play a single rare in your draft deck, but that does not mean you cannot win all your three matches. The objective of the L Curve deck is to put maximum pressure on your opponent during the early turns and swiftly end the game before your opponent can control the game or cast their expensive, powerful rares.


The L Curve


As you can see from a sample draft deck of mine, the pressure starts as early as turn one, and there are very few cards that cost four mana or more. To build this deck, prioritize early one-drops and two-drops, as well as cheap spells such as one-mana combat tricks.


Even if your opponent has very powerful cards such as Glorybringer or The Scarab God, your early attacks should reduce him to such a low life total that it should not be hard to finish him off (this is also why reach is important). In addition, you'll also likely have more creatures than your opponent, which means you can even mount an all-out attack.


However, the weakness in this strategy is that you tend to run out of gas in the mid game or late game because your creature quality and spell quality do not stack up against your opponent's. Imagine drawing Sacred Cat on turn seven! That probably wouldn't help you much at all, because your opponents are busy casting larger creatures and crushing you with it.


Gust Walker Rhonas's Stalwart Oketra's Avenger


When adopting the L Curve strategy, the key is to never miss your second turn drop because you always want to be attacking as early as possible. In the case of Amonkhet Block, the most powerful cards for this purpose often come with Exert, because they help you push so much damage. Rhonas's Stalwart and Gust Walker might be commons, but they are more powerful than a lot of rares! I won't even mind picking Oketra's Avenger as a first pick.


Curving out is very important and you always want to spend all of your mana during your first four or five turns. You don't really care about card advantage and you rarely want to be blocking. Your goal is to bring your opponent down from 20 life to 0! You'll also not want to have high drops in your opening hands, which is why you put very few four-drops and five-drops in your deck in the first place.


Shed Weakness Gift of Strength


Cheap pump spells are important to help in your early rush. Having a combat trick in your hand means that you are more likely to be able to attack, and that is very important. You cannot win unless you are attacking most of the time, and combat tricks allow you to always turn your creatures sideways. Cheap tricks are also great in helping you advance your position. For example, on turn three, you can use a one-mana pump spell while attacking, and still have two mana left over to cast a two-drop. This puts tremendous pressure on your opponent.


In the mid game, or around turn four or turn five onwards, you may often find yourself getting low on cards. With only three to four small creatures on the board and one or two cards left in hand, you might find it hard to attack past four-drops or five-drops.


Trial of Solidarity Overcome



This is where you need a couple of game-breakers which can swing the game back in your favor! This is why cards like Trial of Solidarity and Overcome are so great in this kind of decks! Your opponent will often scoop up his cards before he gets to cast his late-game, high-mana bomb rares!




The V Curve - The Midrange Value Deck


As the name suggests, this is the midrange value deck. The reason why I call it the V Curve is because the shape of your deck (after you lay it out according to mana curve) is shaped like a V.



Instead of focusing on small effective beaters, you tend to pick up cards that are a little slower, but have a little more value / abilities. For example, your two-drop of Wretched Camel is not exactly an aggressive card, but it can help you deter theaggro deck while also generating some card advantage.


As you can see, the focus is on quality creatures and quality spells to help you build up a board and grind out a victory.


For example, White-Black Zombieshelps you attack while still maintaining a solid defense against aggro decks. While the L curve peaks at two-drops, the V Curve wants to peak on three-drops while gently sloping down on both sides. You do not want to be caught missing both your two and three drops, and if you only start playing the game on turn four, you are basically throwing the game away already.



The removal spells are extremely important in the V Curve. Not only can they stop early rushes, you can also kill off bombs and even fizzle a combat trick. Whatever you need to do to stay alive. Remember, as long as you survive to the late game and you are paired against an aggro deck, you have practically won the game because your card quality is much higher.




The W Curve - Ramp & 5-Color Green Strategy


The W Curve is basically the ramp deck or the 5-Color Green strategy, where you pick up a lot of bomb rares and mana fixers. The reason why I call this the W Curve is because it often has a odd shaped curve. Due to your mana accelerants, you are often "skipping the curve", which means you do not have a sloping curve most of the time.


Naga Vitalist Oasis Ritualist The Locust God


For example, with Naga Vitalist, you can skip your three-drops and ramp into a four-drop, such as Oasis Ritualist, thereafter, you can skip the four-drop, five-drop and go up to a six-drop or seven-drop! This W shape may look wierd but plays out very powerfully.


Manalith Gift of Paradise Hope Tender


Green is generally the base color as you want to be casting early ramp spells such as ManalithGift of ParadiseHope Tender, among others.


When drafting this deck, the biggest advantage is the ability to pick up any rares that come your way. Sometimes, your opponents drafting on your left and right may not be in the color of the rare they open, and they would pass it along. It is not wrong to pick Oasis Ritualist early if you get a few early bombs that you are happy to splash.







I hope this simple guide has helped you understand the basics of the L Curve, the V Curve, and the W Curve. These concept has been around since the beginning of time and you'll soon find out that most Limited formats conform to these patterns.


With more practice, you'll also start to realise that the L Curve Aggro deck is extremely good against the slow W Curve deck, while the slower W Curve deck can overpower the V Curve midrange deck! Simplifying it, it's something like Rock, Paper, Scissors!


Thanks for reading!

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