Markets, Sideboards, and Competitive Play
With The Fall of Argenport dropping today, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss Markets and how they will affect competitive Eternal gameplay. For more information on markets, check out the DWD announcement HERE. Up until this point, almost all Eternal tournaments have been best of three (Bo3) with sideboarding. We have confirmation from Scarlatch that the officially supported competitive play will not use sideboards, but will include Bo3 in some events. We do not know yet what the rest of OP will look like so I will not be addressing that today.
The general consensus among the community has been that Markets are objectively worse than Sideboards for Bo3 gameplay. We have no data to actually support this, so I wanted to do an analysis of the differences to see how Markets and Sideboards actually compare. This analysis is comparing markets and sideboards as mutually exclusive, I know that community tournaments will be experimenting with combining the two in various ways, however I want to directly compare the format we are familiar with (Sideboard only) vs. the one we can expect from DWD (Market only).
At face value, comparing Markets to Sideboards, the first thing that players have noticed is that 5<15. Replacing Sideboards with Markets reduces the true number of cards you have access to through a match. However, having access to your Market cards starting in game 1 provides a substantial increase in the likelihood of seeing those cards in a match. The ability to run 4+ Merchants gives you additional “virtual” copies of your Market cards compared to Sideboards, especially if you were running fewer than 4 copies in your Sideboard. How we build decks with Markets will absolutely change from Sideboards, but I want to see if there is a meaningful difference in the effect of each.
For the analysis below, I made a few assumptions to make it less complex. All of the percentages are based upon turn 6, my estimate for an average number of turns in a game. The numbers should be proportional to higher or lower turn numbers. My analysis does not include the cost of having to actually play the Merchant to see a Market card, just the likelihood of drawing it. This also is just regarding seeing the first copy of your Market/Sideboard card, not if you need to draw multiple copies. The second merchant will typically be substantially worse than the second sideboard card you see, so keep that in mind when reading the analysis and when building your markets. The analysis below will compare the likelihood of seeing a card from your Market by turn 6 to seeing a sideboard card by turn 6, and the average through a Bo3.
In a standard 75 card deck with 4 Merchants, you have a 50% chance to draw one by turn 6.
In a Sideboard game with 6 sb cards added, you have a 67% chance to draw a Sideboard card by turn 6.
Market: 50% chance across all three games. SB: 45% chance across all three games. 34% in 2-0
4 sb cards:
50% to draw a sb card by turn 6.
Market: 50% chance across all three games. SB: 33% chance across all three games. 25% in 2-0
8 sb cards:
75% to draw a sb card by turn 6.
Market: 50% chance across all three games. SB: 50% chance across all three games. 38% in 2-0
10 sb cards:
84% to draw a sb card by turn 6.
Market: 50% chance across all three games. SB: 56% chance across all three games. 42% in 2-0
15 sb cards:
95% to draw a sb card by turn 6.
Market: 50% chance across all three games. SB: 64% chance across all three games. 48% in 2-0
For additional data, check out these charts by my teammate jez2718:
To get an overall average, I used some stats from Pro Tour Dominaria to determine the average rate of 2-1 games vs 2-0. Based on the stats, it is approximately 60% 2-0, 40% 2-1. Applying this to the 3 gave average vs 2 game average tells us that you need more than 8 cards that would be sideboarded in to have a greater probability of them being seen in a match than using markets in an average match.
Markets are going to have a substantial impact on all types of play, and will be very different from sideboards in competitive play. The market is most beneficial for decks that want a strong haymaker that wins matchups by itself, however choosing which haymakers you want in your market will require solid metagame predictions. Markets are excellent at giving you a very high chance at seeing the first copy of a specific card, so key build around cards, combo pieces, and powerful value engines are very strong. The Market reduces the impact of cards that you would include in your sideboard just to gain value in the matchup, such as suffocate, since you would usually want multiple copies of those cards very early in the game. Basically markets are great if you want one silver bullet, but less good if you want multiple cards. Merchants also provide the option to include more situational cards in your main deck by giving another option to loot them away if they are poor in a matchup. Markets can be very useful in Bo3 and especially Bo5 in preventing early losses in a match by allowing access to tech cards in games where sideboards wouldn’t allow. Markets have serious tempo issues both for and against fast aggro, you will often not be able to take a turn "off" to play a merchant in a high tempo game.
Markets are an incredibly powerful and unique way to more closely align day to day ladder play and competitive Eternal. I am greatly looking forward to seeing how they affect player's deckbuilding decisions and deck choice. It's a strange new world for us with The Fall of Argenport dropping with nearly 300 new cards in addition, and your first opportunity to show off your new brews is right around the corner!
Eternal's Casual Friday #16 is the first tournament with The Fall of Argenport legal, and it starts at 5:00 PM EDT on Friday, June 29th. Registration closes at 3:00, so you have up until then to come up with your first sweet brew for the event! For more information and to register check out our battlefy HERE. We hope to see everyone there!