Most people who follow competitive coverage are aware that Patrick Hoban spent the format smashing draw power into his decks with Upstart Goblin and Reckless Greed, setting off a running trend that saw countless others follow suit. Seemingly without concern for which deck you're playing, it's become instantly viable as a strategy to set aside six slots during deck building for three copies of each, and that's raised some questions and interesting conversation. Is it really better to pack those cards into whatever, or is this a case of mass-bandwagoning?Calculated Decisions
As long as deck building's existed, there've been people worrying about speed and consistency. They're always important factors at all levels of play when it comes to optimizing your deck. All sorts of things factor into a final deck list: the number of copies of each card you play; tech choices; and the gauntlet of staples the game's seen over the last twelve years, among other things. Universally speaking, one thing that applies in every situation is that you can always count on having the perfect six card hand if you have a six card deck. It's guaranteed, because there are fewer cards to draw. Upstart Goblin in particular plays to that concept, reducing the number of cards in your deck right from the get-go.
I've heard the argument before that "you'll just draw the card you would have drawn anyway with Upstart Goblin; there's no reason to play it." You could say that, but the real strength of Upstart comes more from what you won't draw. Maxing out on Upstart's like playing with a thirty-seven card deck, so you get to exclude three cards and improve your opening hands. Just about five years ago, fellow TCGplayer author Jason Meyer wrote an excellent article on some dueling math that comes into play here for anyone looking to spice up their life with statistics and probability.
The spice of predictability. Zesty.
In that article, Jason points out that there's a 39% chance to open the duel with at least one copy of a card you run three of, and your odds of drawing whatever that card may be go up by about 5% for each subsequent card you draw (that wasn't what you were looking for). Each Upstart you come across in that process is an automatic jump to those numbers, and that's huge. The same kind of benefits apply to each of the statistics in that article, so definitely go back and check out those numbers. If you're anything like me, too much math can leave you with a look on your face like you're thinking of one sustained, high-pitched note, but everything's laid out super clear and the information's exceptionally helpful – especially when you're dealing with cards like Upstart.
Handing out 1000 Life Points used to be a pretty big drawback in the days when damage was hard to bust out. Average-ATK beaters weren't nearly as strong as they are now; Special Summoning wasn't as prominent; and there definitely weren't droves of ubiquitous boss monsters waiting on the sidelines to smash your opponent to pieces. The way the game is now, there might as well be no real consequences to that Life Point gain. Having to deal 1000 more damage is so negligible for most strategies that you probably won't need any extra turns to seal the game anyway. In some instances, like Hope for Escape and Life Equalizer, it's actually a benefit to hand over those Life Points. Unless you're playing Chain Burn, you probably won't even notice.Unabandoned Reckless
Reckless is kind of the opposite of Upstart, despite the two cards seeming similar and having synergy with each other. Most of the time, holding onto Upstart Goblin doesn't make any sense; unless you have searching to do first, you're going to put them down and start cashing in. Reckless, on the other hand, requires a bit more patience. If you activate multiples you draw two cards for each, but you still only skip the same two Draw Phases. The easiest way to look at it is that you're trading one card for two, but then losing two cards over the next two turns; a -1 overall. If you fire off two Greeds at the same time, you're trading two for four and losing two; you'd break even overall. At the full three copies, you wind up with a +1 total, ditching three to draw six, then losing two.
The want to draw Reckless Greeds in multiples is a big part of why it works so well with Upstart. More often than not, playing them one at a time sets you back and causes more harm than good. With Upstart effectively Shrinking your deck, you're maximizing your chances of digging into a second Reckless to avoid that. You had a 39% chance to open with one of them, and pulling out that second copy as fast as possible makes your first one playable without taking a loss.
Just like Upstart Goblin's single draw affects the chance you'll hit a specific card, Reckless Greed does it in doubletime. If you had two copies of Reckless in your opening hand, and you were hoping to snag a card you ran three of, you would have a 44.8%, 49.8%, 54.5% and 58.9% chance of drawing what you wanted on the four successive cards you pick up (before figuring in the possibility of Upstart). Considering you don't lose anything, pushing yourself ahead that many turns is amazing, not to mention the chances to get an Upstart in those four and keep drawing. Tearing through your deck and filling up your hand that fast puts you in the driver's seat so you can control the tempo of the duel.Drawing Conclusions
Conversely, Leandro Rodriguez Correa's Top 4 Dark World deck and Carlos Henrique De Araujo Freitas' 1st Place Harpies are good examples of decks with smaller core suites of cards and more room left over for tech. Instead of piling on excess flash or some kind of gimmick, Reckless Greed and Upstart Goblin helped trim the fat and keep things running as smoothly as possible.
How do you think Upstart Goblin and Reckless Greed are going to fair once the new format rolls around this April? There's no way to predict a new Forbidden and Limited List this early, but they're almost timeless in that they could be good in most anything that becomes popular. I'd say it's a safe bet that we'll see them stick around for a while.