Hello again readers, we're back! This time we're looking into one of the most polarizing cards in the history of the competitive scene we all know and love: Pot of Desires.
Debuting in August of 2016, Pot of Desires has fallen in and out of favor nonstop ever since its release. We're going to review some historical examples of decks that have played this powerful card, breaking down the pros and cons of using it. We'll also investigate some of the Reasoning players have given for not running it, and why those reasons aren't always rooted in mathematical fact.
There's a lot to dissect here, so let's just hop on in!
Pot of Desires is an extremely straightforward card at its core. You banish ten cards to draw two. End of article, right?
.....Well, not really. For such a simple card, it's inspired nonstop debate for almost four years and counting. Many players disregarded Pot of Desires when it first dropped, dismissing the option of seeing more of your deck , in return for simply having fewer cards to play in the long run.
When Desires first released, Burning Abyss, Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Metalfoes were all decks that had key cards they would rather not lose. On the most extreme side of things Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss and Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss were both limited in August of 2016, so banishing them would cause major issues. Still, many players saw repeated success with Pot of Desires in those strategies.
Fast forward a few months, and Zoodiac hit the ground running. Again, the player base was split and eventually the consensus was to forego Desires due to the risk of banishing key cards. The Zoodiac builds that focused on the Fusion Substitute loop were particularly likely to skip Desires. Once the Summer season started, Pot of Desires suddenly popped up AGAIN, with the benefit of seeing additional cards outweighing the risks of losing key copies of Zoodiac Ratpier and Paleozoic cards.
Skip forward again, and it's well acknowledged that Trickstars, Salamangreats, True Dracos and Sky Strikers have all seen widespread use of Pot of Desires. Despite the wealth of evidence proving Pot of Desires' validity, there are still many faulty reasons constantly used to justify not playing it in many decks that could reasonably benefit from it.
How does that happen? Simply put, it's time consuming and not much fun to do the number crunching to prove otherwise. Especially with a card like Pot of Desires, which has so many horror stories attached to it. So, being the masochist that I am, I took the time to do the work for you and showcase the real probabilities of the most common reasons people give for not playing the powerful draw spell. Let's see how the logic pans out when we apply real hard math.
Counter Logic Deck Building
Alrighty, onto the juicy stuff! Here's some fast math for you guys, so you can get a basic grasp on why Desires is so strong. For all the examples we're going to assume you're running a 40-card deck, and that you're activating Desires as the first action in your Main Phase. The math gets tricky when you add deck thinning and other draw cards into the mix, so we're going to stick to very simple illustrations of my overall points. At the end of the day small deviations don't really change the numbers much.
15.7% - The Odds Of Drawing Desires With Desires
Unless you live under Nibiru, the Primal Being you've probably heard a player at your local game store loudly proclaim, "I don't use Desires in my deck, because I always draw another copy." While sure, you'll inevitably draw a second copy sometimes, it doesn't happen nearly as often as you might think.
We're kicking off the mathy part of this discussion with the odds of seeing Desires from Desires because I need to emphasize that it's just not that common.
Let's say you play 40 cards in your deck, and the FIRST action you're taking in the first turn of the game is to activate Pot of Desires. You'll only draw a second copy of Desires 15.7% of the time. That means out of 100 individual games you'd only see Desires off the draw 16 times. That's not remotely close to "always."
The perception that you "always draw the second copy" of Desires is a negativity bias. The human brain is hardwired to remember negatives more easily than positives. How many times do you remember drawing average, stable cards off Pot of Desires? Probably not that often. But every time you draw a second copy of Desires off the first one it sticks in your mind like an annoying song. Just remember, it actually doesn't happen very often.
1.8% - The Odds Of Banishing All 3 Copies Of A Card
Another common argument you'll hear is, "I always banish my three copies of [important card] when I activate Desires".
Funnily enough, you almost never do that. You have a mere 1.8% chance of banishing three key copies of something like Shaddoll Fusion, Lady Debug or Sky Striker Ace – Raye and losing the game because of it. Round that up to a whopping 2%, and you're looking at one game in fifty where you'll outright lose by banishing three copies of a key 3-of.
While that sounds horrifying and scary just remember: most YCS events are ten or eleven rounds of Swiss. So even if you went to Game 3 in EVERY SINGLE MATCH YOU PLAYED, you're still only playing 33 games. Losing one single game out of 33 due to some poor luck isn't that bad. Sure, you might be unlucky, and volatility sometimes hits you harder than the old guy from the Solemn series strikes away hopes and dreams. Some days you see those crazy banishes more often than you should.
That's okay though, because sometimes that happens. Chances are, it won't.
19%- The Odds Of Banishing 2 Copies Of A Card You Play 3 Of
Okay so, you want to see the odds of banishing two copies of Raye? Here you go, seems scary right? A whole 19% is a big jump from 1.8%. But remember that's assuming the ONLY action you took is to activate that Desires right out of the gates. In one of every five games you'll get rid of two copies of that key 3-of, leaving you with only one available. That's still not terrible, since the other four games out of five where you don't get rid of them is enough to make it worthwhile.
65% - The Odds Of Banishing 1 Copy Of A Card You Play 3 Of
Alrighty, as you can see, the odds of losing one copy of your key 3-of in those ten banishes? It's pretty high! But that's okay: you still have two copies left, and chances are good that your extra draws will help you extend your plays to the point where that one copy you lost isn't anything major. If you're playing a strategy that hinges on seeing some key cards faster and earlier, these numbers are going to be extremely helpful.
7.6%- The Odds Of Banishing 2 Copies Of A Card You Run 2 Of
Want to know the odds of banishing those two copies of Salamangreat Rage? Here you go!
Any card you run two copies of has a 7.6% chance to go to the shadow realm when you drop Desires onto the table. So don't worry Sky Striker players, you'll still have one Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor more often than not.
28.6% - The Odds Of Banishing A Card You Run 1 Of
Finally for the simple numbers, we have 28.6%. In 29 out of 100 games you'll be banishing that Sky Striker Mecha Modules - Multirole or that Salamangreat Sanctuary. If you're playing an engine like Magicians' Souls, this is the number of times you'll banish the engine requirement you play with it assuming you only run one (and assuming you didn't draw it in your opening hand).
Playing The Odds
Now that we've looked at the core math behind what you'll lose by activating Pot of Desires, let's shift gears and look at the odds of drawing those cards you want to see, in the additional two draws Pot of Desires gets you. The following numbers are (again) assuming a 40-card deck size, Pot of Desires as your first action in the game, and that you neither drew nor banished any of the cards you want.
23% - The Odds Of Drawing 1 Copy Of A Card You Play 3 Of
Assuming the stars align, and you managed to not banish a single copy of that key 3-of, you have a 23% chance to draw one copy of that card with Desires.
That figure's important for a few reasons: it gives you a general idea of how much you can improve your chances to see your most important cards thanks to Desires, making your deck that much more consistent in the long term. Also, the ability to roughly calculate the odds of drawing a card versus banishing it can help you make more informed decisions in deck building.
15.7% - The Odds Of Drawing 1 Copy Of A Card You Play 2 Of
Let's say you didn't banish any copies of Widow Anchor; these are the odds of ripping it off of Pot of Desires. More interestingly, you can apply this number to any card you play three of too. If you were to banish one of your three Shaddoll Fusions with Desires, you simply shift all of your calculations to treat Shaddoll Fusion as a 2-of for the remainder of the game's calculations. So that 15.7% is the number you'll want to have in mind when you shift that model in your mind.
8% - The Odds Of Drawing A Card You Play 1 Of
Want to know how lucky you'll have to be to draw that Imperial Order? This is how it'll all stack up for you. As you can see, you're much more likely to banish that 1-of card in your ten face-downs than drawing it in your two draws. That should be on your mind when you decide if Pot of Desires is correct as a starter card for your deck. There are larger risks involved in this scenario than most of the others, and the value proposition isn't as good.
As a quick note, I'd like to add that per Johnny Li's awesome article here , Pot of Desires is more often an extender in many strategies, compared to this article where it's being treated as a starter card. It's important to recognize that, because it shows just how powerful a card Pot of Desires is. It's also helpful because that can help answer the question of how many copies you should play.
If you need the increased access to extenders and want to see Pot of Desires in your opening hand of five cards as often as possible, running three copies will net you an opening with Pot of Desires 34% of the time. So you can slap down that creepy-faced cup in one of every three games and ride the train to profit town.
At two copies you'll see it 24% of the time, giving you that advantage in one of every four games. It's not a huge difference, but it adds up over time. If your deck's already highly consistent and has a good set of starters and extenders, but you have a couple of extra flex slots, Pot of Desires is a pretty good card to fill the void. Finally if you randomly want to play one Pot of Desires you'll open with it in your first five cards in a mere 13% of your games. Essentially making your hand far more powerful in one out of every eight games, which isn't very high. You can also apply the numbers in this paragraph to ANY card in the game run at one, two or three copies. It's a useful little bit of deck math.
Finally, just for fun I figured I'd show just how unlikely it is to be that guy who draws two copies of Desires off the first. That'll happen in only 0.9% of games. Basically it happens so infrequently that you can just disregard the instances where it does happen as statistical anomalies.
Where Does It Go?
Giving you all a break from the math for a moment, one point that's consistently debated is "which decks SHOULD play Pot of Desires?!"
Personally, I've always felt that if your deck lacks good extenders or has mild consistency issues that can be fixed by simply seeing more cards, you should absolutely play Pot of Desires. If you're scared of losing because you'll banish key cards, I implore you to look over the numbers again and really consider if losing a couple games to variance isn't worth the chance to win all those games where you'd chalk up a W by seeing more of your deck.
Decks like Mermails, D/D/D, Burning Abyss and many others that require key cards to function would seem like strategies where you'd want to avoid Pot of Desires. But don't discount the benefits of using such a seemingly high-risk high-reward spell. It might just be the little nudge you need to get to that next level of tournament success. As always, weigh the risks of losing key pieces of your combo against the advantage of having greater access to them. Generally, if a deck already has a Big Core engine and stable combo extenders, I leave it alone. But there are very few decks I've seen that don't benefit from Pot of Desires, because it can take games that would be unwinnable otherwise and at least give you the CHANCE to win.
What do you think? Have you played Pot of Desires in strategies like Burning Abyss, Salamangreat, Trickstar, or others? If not, give it a try. You might be surprised with the resulting boost to your wins. Until next time, stay safe and have fun!