Thursday, December 26, 2013

SolForge: Zimus the Undying

Zimus the Undying is a legendary card featured in pretty much every single good deck I've seen in constructed tournaments. I happen to have two of him myself (snagged one in my free coupon draft) though I was still winning with him when I had a single copy. I was wondering how big of a difference having 2 or 3 would be compared to having just the one. Playing the level 3 version of him on the first turn of age 3 seems like an auto-win in any situation that isn't critical so maximizing the odds of that happening seems like it should be strong. But how strong is it, really?

Level 3 Zimus the Undying is actually only a 14/7 creature. 14 is an average power for a level 3 card but 7 toughness is terrible. That can trade with pretty much every level 2 creature and some of the level 1 creatures! He won't even trade with many level 3 creatures. Why is he so good? Oh, because he's actually undying. If he dies at level 3 you put him back in play in a random empty slot (guaranteed to exist because he was in one of them that is now empty). Come back into play makes him a new creature so he loses all debuffs and comes back at 14/7. So your opponent can easily 'trade' with him, but trading with him doesn't do anything because he just comes back. He does 28 damage per turn (14 on yours, 14 on his) unless your opponent starts treating him as a double abyss. You basically can't beat it if you weren't in a position to win soon. Or play your own! Actually, a level 3 Hearttree might be a good answer to him since that's a 30 toughness creature that regenerates 6 per turn. So at least he gets to absorb 3 attacks? That's not actually very good. Maybe power reducers and never kill him? But a good deck probably has a way to sacrifice him if it needs to. Anyway... I've mostly found I need to ignore him and win fast or else I lose. And the same is true when I play him. I lose fast (probably from some obscene grimgaunt dude) or I win.

The later you play him, the more likely it is that you're going to lose fast. So clearly you want to maximize the chances of playing him as soon as possible. That means playing any low level version as soon as you draw them and playing as many copies as possible in your deck. The low level versions aren't even terrible! His level 1 version is a basic 5/2 dude. Not exciting but trades with most things on defense which is just fine. His level 2 version is a basic 10/5 dude. Still not exciting, but it trades with many level 2 things. Oh, and it comes back to life once, so it pretty much trades with at least 1 thing (or 2 half things) and could very easily trade with 2 or more things. Only losing half the card to a removal spell is a pretty big deal too.

To work out the odds of getting to play an early level 3 Zimus I need to make a few assumptions...

  • You're not playing any card drawing and you're not playing any incidental levelers.
  • You always play an on age Zimus when you draw him even if it isn't your best immediate play. I can actually envision situations where you need to play a removal spell and a Zimus out of a hand containing 2 Zimus and a removal spell but I don't want to have to worry about guessing how often that comes up.
  • You never play a below age Zimus even if it would be your best immediate play. This isn't actually true and often playing a level 2 Zimus in age 3 is a good idea. But for now I'm only caring about the early level 3 Zimus and this case doesn't lead into an level 3 age 3 Zimus.
  • If you're playing with 3 copies of Zimus you'll actually draw all 3 of them in the same hand almost 1% of the time! This isn't an assumption, this is a fact, but I found it moderately interesting and wanted to stick it in here anyway.
I made a spreadsheet, because if I was a carpenter Excel would be my hammer, and came up with the following results...

# Zimus in deckBy Hand 1By Hand 2By Hand 3By Hand 4

This is looking at the odds of not drawing 0 level 3 Zimus' by that particular hand of age 3. Going from 1 copy of Zimus to 2 copies of Zimus puts me over the 50% mark to play a level 3 Zimus sometime in age 3. Going up to 3 copies makes me likely to have played Zimus by the third turn of age 3 and makes it more than 1 in 5 that I do it at the absolute first opportunity. I've marveled at how unlucky I've been in games to have my opponent bust out his Zimus on turn 1 of age 3 but looking at it now it's actually not that unlucky. Someone who owns 3 copies of Zimus is going to do that a noticeable amount of the time. Having 2 Zimus is pretty good but getting up to 3 copies is a huge deal. And that table is neglecting the times you get out a 2nd one! If you have 3 copies in your deck you're 20.3% to play at least 2 of them by the end of age 3. GG!

Looking at the numbers makes it seem even more wrong to play constructed right now. I need to scoop up a 3rd copy of Zimus (likely from winning drafts) and then I can think about it again. But throwing away a turn 1 age 3 level 3 Zimus more than 6% of the time just seems terrible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the goal is to get the card out sooner wouldn't drawers be good? I have enjoyed metasight something? It lets me discard two cards and upgrade them both. There's another one that is similar that lets me draw one.