I
was originally going to write the next odds article on **Treasure Hunt**, but I have already run through some of the numbers
on it and the prospect of looking at **Rowdy Crew** was new and too tempting. We will get back to **Treasure Hunt** eventually.

Now,
the first thing to look at with **Rowdy Crew** is just the raw numbers assuming no decision will be made to optimize the
odds of discarding cards of similar types. This will be deck dependent, but we
can consider a “standard” deck to start with. The table below shows the odds
for discarding two cards of a particular card type given how many of those
cards are present in a forty-card deck.

To
apply these numbers to a given deck is fairly easy. Let us say that the
“standard” **Rowdy Crew** deck contains
seventeen lands, thirteen creatures, six instants, three sorceries, and a
planeswalker. All that needs to be done is add the odds for seventeen,
thirteen, six, and three together to get the total odds of discarding two cards
that share a card type. Ignore any card types with only one card as it is
impossible to discard two cards with the same type if there is only one card of
that type. This “standard” **Rowdy Crew**
deck gives us the combined odds of 29.74%. This is as if every time **Rowdy Crew** is cast, it is a 3.6/3.6
with trample that nets a card.

Unfortunately, Magic does not work that nicely. Getting a 3.6/3.6 every time versus a 3/3 70% of the time and a 5/5 30% is not the same thing. Either a 5/5 is powerful enough on turn four to justify getting a 3/3 70% of the time, or getting a 3/3 is too weak to support getting a 5/5 30% of the time. This concept is easier to understand with a more radical example. Imagine a card that said: Flip a coin. If you win the flip, you win the game. Otherwise, you lose the game. That is a 50% chance of winning the game, supposedly fair odds. However, if a player is more than 50% likely to win the game because they are ahead, they will simply not cast the card and roll with the higher odds. When they have a lower than 50% chance of winning the game, they will wait for the last possible chance and then cast the card. Effectively returning their odds to 50%. This imaginary card is incredibly broken. Perhaps highly skilled players who believe their overall win rate would go down from playing a dead card in games they were more than 50% likely to win would not play this card, but everyone who’s win rate is close to 50%, maybe as high as 60%, would see a win rate jump from playing it.

Now
that we can understand this concept, we can return to our **Rowdy Crew**. Usually 3/3 for four is very underwhelming. A 3/3 for
four that draws a card is probably playable in most cubes. **Phyrexian Rager** is a powerful card and it is a 2/2 for three that
draws a card. However, this effect gets worse the higher the mana cost as the
former is certainly worse than the latter. This means that ideally, we want to
raise the expected value of our **Rowdy Crew** from 3.6/3.6 to around the 4/4 level. Getting a 5/5 trampler that
draws a card half the time would certainly be worth the 3/3 case.

What
we need to factor in now is that we have control over when we cast **Rowdy Crew**. The ideal time to cast it
is when our hand is two or more lands and nothing else. That gives us the
greatest chance of pitching two lands and having two to three action spells in
hand and a 5/5 **Rowdy Crew** This is
the best-case scenario. Another scenario to consider is when holding two
creatures as that is the card type with the second most hits. Lastly, if we are
holding any two cards with the same card type, the odds of drawing three and
discarding the original two is 10%. So, that is always a line to keep in mind
when deciding to cast **Rowdy Crew**.

Starting
with holding only two lands in hand as holding any more will only make the odds
better. We will assume that the current deck density of each card type is the
same as the overall deck density. Meaning that although at least four lands on
board are required to cast **Rowdy Crew**
and two more lands are in our hand, enough other cards have been played (they
are on the battlefield, graveyard, or exile) that the remaining deck has the
same odds of drawing a land off the top as the entire forty card deck has. Thus,
the total odds for getting a 5/5 **Rowdy Crew** when holding two lands is roughly 45%. This accounts for the cases
where zero to three lands are drawn off the top as well as the cases two cards
that share a type are drawn and those cards are discarded. This is a
significant increase from our base line of 30%. However, it is important to
keep in mind that if too many lands have already been drawn or removed from the
decks, this 45% will be decreased, while if very few lands have been drawn, it
will be increased. Keep in mind that even “missing” and discarding one land and
one spell in this case would still net as a two card draw as two lands were
exchanged for one land and one spell.

Given
that even holding two lands, we could not get our odds to 50%, the case where
we are holding two creatures, it is probably undesirable to cast **Rowdy Crew**. Much better is to cast
those creatures first and roll the odds with **Rowdy Crew** and an empty hand later. Discarding two spells to
replace with two lands is not an ideal situation.

Overall,
what this teaches us is that **Rowdy Crew**
is better played as a curve topper. It wants you to hold your lands past four
to achieve its full power and to cast your other cards when it is in your
opening hand. The 3.6/3.6 trampler that draws you a card is still acceptable
when cast on an empty hand, but it will be a 4/4 trampler that draws you one to
three cards later in the game once there are a couple of lands in your hand and
you possibly exchange them for something useful. Given these odds, the only
reason **Rowdy Crew** did not make an
impact on standard is that it had to compete with **Chandra, Torch of Defiance**, and **Hazoret the Fervent** pre-rotation and with **Rekindling Phoenix** in its post-rotation. Cube designers should be
used to seeing this as it has happened with many now cube staples like **Brimaz, King of Oreskos**; **Kytheon, Hero of Akros**; and **Young Pyromancer**.

Although
**Rowdy Crew** is worse than **Chandra, Torch of Defiance**, and **Hazoret the Fervent** those cards are
already not played in the modular cube for their high power level and poor
gameplay (especially the latter.) **Rowdy Crew** creates some tough decisions and tests a player’s understanding of
when it is correct to roll the odds and when not to given the current state of
the game, which I have found to create a much more intriguing gameplay
experience than the more powerful options. I would recommend including **Rowdy Crew** in all but the most powerful
of cubes.