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Author Topic: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune  (Read 939 times)

The Golgari Guy

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Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« on: July 15, 2021, 12:29:17 pm »


Is Secret Rendezvous secretly better than Wheel of Fortune?

Ok, I know that this may seem crazy, and I admit that the question is phrased to be provocative, but hear me out.

Wheel of Fortune is considered a red staple and sees play (as of today) in 23 thousand EDH decks according to EDHREC.

This card is undoubtedly powerful, so powerful that it's banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage. The reason is that it can allow the caster to draw 7 cards for only 3 mana, a cards-to-mana ratio that is probably surpassed only by the power 9 member Ancestral Recall, and equaled by another power 9, Timetwister.

The dowinside, of course, is that your opponent will also draw cards from Wheel of Fortune. There are ways to negate this downside in 2-players games, for example: making sure that you have fewer cards than your opponent when you cast the Wheel, winning on the turn you cast it, or preventing your opponent from drawing cards with Notion Thief, Narset, Parter of Veils or similar effects.

In EDH, the downside can be even worse since you're giving cards to all of your opponents. Let's say that each player in a 4-players game has 3 cards in hand when you cast Wheel of Fortune: you will discard 2 and draw 7, gaining a card advantage of +5, but your opponents will collectively gain a card advantage of +12! You can easily see how this is an extremely bad exchange.

Of course, there are situations where it's worth to do this exchange, as mentioned above: maybe you can flash in a Notion Thief, or maybe you win the game on the same turn, so that it's less relevant that your opponents drew a new hand of cards. In this case, playing the Wheel is the right call. 

In addition to this, Wheel effect are very powerful with specific commanders, such as Nekusar, the Mindrazer or Xyris, the Writhing Storm, or Rielle, the Everwise. Moreover, they combo with specific cards, such as Smothering Tithe. I should also mention that a Wheel can be used to disrupt your opponent's plans, for example by making them discard the game-winning card they just tutored.

That said, I've seen several games in which a player casts a Wheel of Fortune or a Reforge the Soul just to "draw some cards", with no way to take more advantage from the play than their opponent. Often this results in a huge net card disadvantage, as discussed above.

I would argue that this is the "wrong" way to play a Wheel, and that if you cast Wheel of Fortune with no payoff, just to "draw some cards", most of the times you would be better off just casting a Secret Rendezvous, which gives to your opponents a cumulative card advantage of only +3. Moreover, Secret Rendezvous can be used as a political tool to strike a deal or to join forces against the archenemy at the table.

I should stress once again that I'm only talking about those cases in which Wheel of Fortune is used in the "wrong" way, i.e. with not payoff and no way to negate the advantage gained by your opponents. However, I've seen this happen often in EDH games (also in games from popular streamers) and I believe that if you don't have a plan for when you'll be casting that Wheel, you're just better of casting Secret Rendezvous.

What do you think?
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ApothecaryGeist

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Re: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2021, 02:19:43 pm »
In my play group, there's often a group hug deck.  There's often someone playing a howling mine.  And just about everyone runs either a Reliquary Tower and/or a Thought Vessel in their deck.  The point is ... hands are often large.  Wheel of Fortune often results in net card losses. ... in hand anyway.  It'll really stock the graveyards in this scenario too.
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CleanBelwas

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Re: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2021, 02:20:02 pm »
Interesting thought, for sure.

I could well be wrong and I'm happy to be corrected if this is the case, but I don't think there are that many decks that are considering running both. I think their purposes and effects are vastly different, so I don't think it's really a case of "I'm better off casting Rendezvous than a Wheel" in my opinion.

I completely see your point that, based on the numbers, Secret Rendezvous offers less potential upside for your opponents, and that upside is at a much lower ratio compared the upside you are getting.

I'm just not sure how many decks there are out there that are going to be picking between the two.

Wheels tend to feature in decks that can abuse them or for mono red decks that just want more cards in hand and hope to kill their opponents before the cards they've been given matter. I'm not sure how many decks that run wheels will also have access to white, but I don't think it will be many, apart from maybe some 4/5 colour cEDH decks, where rendezvous isn't good enough anyway.

If you are in a deck that wants to run wheels, the cost of inclusion is so low because of their potential pay off that they are always the right choice, even if you have to occasionally cast them the "wrong" way. I personally think that the disruption that comes from making your opponents discard their hand is an underrated effect, especially if you can do it early on in the game. For every "sweet, seven new cards" there seems to be as many "aww, but I like my hand", especially with the amount of card draw and tutoring that happens in your average EDH game. Most peoples hands tend to be fairly well sculpted. Not to mention that the players will likely have formulated plans based on what is in their hand, so even just the mind games that come from wheels can be effective.

Rendezvous is most likely going to be used in Group hug or White-X decks that struggle for card draw. You can't use it for disruption in the way a wheel can. It's just card draw, which is nice, but does make its application much narrower.

I think Boros decks are likely to be the only decks that are really considering both of them. Once you're in Green, Blue and Black, you have better options.

Outside of Osgir who is very well positioned to take advantage of all the cards you've discarded, I think Secret Rendezvous is a perfectly reasonable shout for most Boros decks. A lot of Boros commanders tend to be combat focused and therefore aren't running an extensive package to recur things from the graveyard, so discarding cards isn't ideal. That said, if your hand is empty, a wheel can be a very efficient way of restocking it, so the chance of you discarding anything important is low.

So, to finish rambling and answer the question, let's suppose:

I'm building a Boros deck. It's not Osgir and isn't inherently interested in the graveyard. I have one slot left that I want to fill with card draw. I have a Wheel of Fortune (I wish) and a Secret Rendezvous sleeved up and ready to slot in. All I'm looking for is refilling my hand. I don't have ways to abuse the wheel by locking out my opponents or punishing them for drawing cards. Which do I choose?

It's honestly closer than I thought it would be, but I still think I'd choose the Wheel.

I do like Secret Rendezvous in this scenario. 3 cards for 3 mana is a good rate for those decks, and I like the political tool of forming an ally to give the other cards to for mutual benefit later in the game.

That said, I think the disruption I mentioned earlier, plus the fact that you see 4 extra cards, makes Wheel take the slot for me. While not as political, a wheel can still have political ramifications. Either an opponent is happy to wheel, which is usually good for at least 1 "Hey, I gave you seven cards, don't attack me", or they aren't happy with the wheel, which meant the disruption was worth it.

Secret Rendezvous is probably the better choice if you are playing around counter magic or an opponents Notion Thief, but that's entirely a meta call. As an objective choice, wheel wins for me.


Great question! I really didn't think it would be as close as it was for me. Goes to show what some critical thinking can do for ones opinion on a card.

Morganator 2.0

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Re: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2021, 02:22:09 pm »
Wheel of Fortune is a much more symmtrical effect. Everyone discards their hands, everyone draws 7 cards. With Secret Rendezvous, you net 2 cards while your chosen opponent nets 3, so it's not a symmetrical effect.

And given the choice of drawing 7 cards versus drawing three for the same mana cost, it's not a hard choice.

anjinsan

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Re: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2021, 02:35:00 pm »
The two cards perform different roles.

You are right that just blindly playing a wheel could be a lot worse than a Secret Rendezvous, but that doesn't make SR a good card; it just means you're misplaying. Conversely, even without combo abuse, you're expected to be breaking parity by using it when you have an empty hand and others don't - and even when opponents gain cards overall, they're often losing something they were keeping hold of as they don't get to choose the timing of the wheel.

I actually think that, despite all the hate it got on reddit or whatever, SR is a pretty good card - primarily because of its lopsided nature. Even in the worst scenario, at least if it's still multiplayer, you can minimise its drawback or negotiate for some advantage. Still, if you are using it like a wheel and just refilling your hand regardless, you're likely not getting the best out of it.

By the way, I'm not sure that raw card numbers make so much sense; if they did, activating Temple Bell would be a net loss and counterspells would have no card disadvantage. It's probably more accurate in *most* situations to consider average card advantage so a conterspell costs you 1, your opponents collectively 1/3, etc. This is why SR is decent, because it's typically better than +1 each whilst you get +2 (so at least on a par, roughly speaking, with Divination).

robort

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Re: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2021, 06:02:04 pm »
Ignoring price of each card I would go more with fortune. Drawing 7 to refresh your hand compared to just drawing 3. By the way of Boros though it is getting way better at drawing cards for itself. Off the top of my head tome of legends can net you at least 2 cards, war room gets you 1, endless atlas, conch horn allows you to draw and put whatever back on top of your library, and even the newest white esper sentinel gives you card draw.
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anjinsan

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Re: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2021, 06:39:23 pm »
Wheeling will usually be better than drawing three (though not always). The point is that the drawback of having everyone wheel is also often a lot bigger than the drawback of Rendezvous.

The Golgari Guy

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Re: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2021, 09:51:23 am »
Quote
That said, I think the disruption I mentioned earlier, plus the fact that you see 4 extra cards, makes Wheel take the slot for me. While not as political, a wheel can still have political ramifications. Either an opponent is happy to wheel, which is usually good for at least 1 "Hey, I gave you seven cards, don't attack me", or they aren't happy with the wheel, which meant the disruption was worth it.

Secret Rendezvous is probably the better choice if you are playing around counter magic or an opponents Notion Thief, but that's entirely a meta call. As an objective choice, wheel wins for me.


Great question! I really didn't think it would be as close as it was for me. Goes to show what some critical thinking can do for ones opinion on a card.

Very good point about the disruption. Yes, WoF is clearly more versatile. My point however was that if you cast it with no synergy just to "draw some cards", you may be better off just playing Secret Rendezvous. The secondary point being that SR is probably not as bad as people describe it.

Glad you found the question interesting!  :)

Quote
Wheel of Fortune is a much more symmtrical effect. Everyone discards their hands, everyone draws 7 cards. With Secret Rendezvous, you net 2 cards while your chosen opponent nets 3, so it's not a symmetrical effect.

And given the choice of drawing 7 cards versus drawing three for the same mana cost, it's not a hard choice.

True, but that's my point. With WoF your opponents can gain a huge collective card advantage, seeing 21 new cards, which can be disastrous if you don't have any synergy or plan when casting the Wheel.

Quote
I actually think that, despite all the hate it got on reddit or whatever, SR is a pretty good card - primarily because of its lopsided nature. Even in the worst scenario, at least if it's still multiplayer, you can minimise its drawback or negotiate for some advantage. Still, if you are using it like a wheel and just refilling your hand regardless, you're likely not getting the best out of it.

I agree that SR is underrated, it's not nearly as bad as people describe it. I'd consider it in mono white or even Boros.

Quote
By the way, I'm not sure that raw card numbers make so much sense; if they did, activating Temple Bell would be a net loss and counterspells would have no card disadvantage. It's probably more accurate in *most* situations to consider average card advantage so a conterspell costs you 1, your opponents collectively 1/3, etc. This is why SR is decent, because it's typically better than +1 each whilst you get +2 (so at least on a par, roughly speaking, with Divination).

I think that Temple Bell is absolutely a net loss! You draw 1 and each of your opponent draws 1, so that collectively your opponents are up by 3 cards. And counterspells (and in general any 1-for-1s) have an intrinsic card disadvantage since you leave two of your opponents up by 1 card (see also this post: https://deckstats.net/forum/index.php/topic,61891.msg187993.html#msg187993).

I don't think that considering the average card advantage gained/lost by your opponents is very helpful, however I recognize that this may depend on the situation. if you're "archenemy", there's a high change that every card drawn by your opponents will be used against you, so you should consider the raw card advantage gained by your opponents.

However, if you're in a weak position, there's a high likelyhood that some cards will be used against other opponents, and therefore considering raw card advantage may be misleading in this situation.

So for sure it's not so clear-cut.

Quote
Wheeling will usually be better than drawing three (though not always). The point is that the drawback of having everyone wheel is also often a lot bigger than the drawback of Rendezvous.

Yes, exactly!

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terminalgeek

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Re: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2021, 09:18:46 pm »
I think you overlooked another key piece to wheels in general; hand disruption and throwing your opponents' plans into disarray. This is more relevant the earlier you cast the wheel because they probably mulliganed for a decent hand or even key combo pieces.

 

Varatius

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Re: Secret Rendezvous vs Wheel of Fortune
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2021, 06:30:08 am »
The political implication with secret rendezvous is honestly it's highest selling point to me. I think it's huge when there is a pause in the action. Because if played correctly you can ask the person you give cards to do one or two things in return and can take the game.

I think secret rendezvous is better for a control deck that needs politics sometimes to win, with the exception of decks like nekusar, the mindrazer stax build.

When it comes to combo I think secret rendezvous is slightly better depending on the type of combo. I mean you give less opportunity for an answer to your combo when you get there.  However if you need to storm off I think wheel is better as you can cast way more spells to build the storm casts.