Updated: Aug 13, 2020
I am sure everyone has at some point had the discussion of what power are you playing? If we are doing the scale of 1-10 then it's our own way of ranking what we think our decks perform at. The point of a power level conversation is to try and explain the kind of experience we are looking to have in our games. When we sit down and shuffle up it is ideal that everyone is looking to get the same thing from a game and leaves fulfilled with the night. With CEDH being all the rage and the talk of the town with the recent news of the flash ban I think it's time to have an honest discussion with ourselves. We have to remember that CEDH does not start at a 10.
Here is the Into the 99 podcast measurable guide to deck power ranking. Most of these rankings are broken into two tiers with the first being the weaker version, the second being the higher. We do believe that skill level matters a lot. Picking up a strong or expensive deck isn't going to make you a better player overnight. These are just our views on inanimate decks without a pilot sitting as a deck list online. So lets dive in! Is your deck really over 9000?!
Fooling around self expression
Jank decks and budget decks live in this tier. These are typical decks with no real path to victory. That doesn't mean the person building them is bad, just that they are more focused on being silly. New players live here and all of our first self built decks likely flopped down into this place.
These decks are full of cards that play mostly because of a theme (example: goat tribal). These decks are really starter level or just things people look to have fun and play with. Their budget will almost entirely be under 50 dollars. These are at their core just basic decks running all basic or enter tapped gain a life land. It should be noted most group hug decks live in this tier as they do not have a path to victory. Those decks are all about group experience, being silly and helping other decks go off in ways they normally cannot on their own (Examples are Isamaru hound of Konda and generic one mana beaters).
Kyanois and tiro of meletis and of course the non competitive versions of Kenrith The Returned King.
The easiest way to look at this tier is pre-constructed level decks. These decks are as unavoidable as tapping mana in EDH. At a certain point most of us have picked up one of Wizards Of The Coasts pre-made decks. Many players buy these decks as they offer great value for what's in them and are ready to play out of the box. You can easily have a good experience with these decks. They are going to be a bit more focused than an average players' first deck but aren't anything absurd or special. A few of the pre-made decks have been exceptionally strong and some of the commander options such as Kaalia Of The Vast and Aatraxa Praetors' voice belong to higher tiers out of the box. The main reason to include these in the level of power scaling is everyone has a concrete idea of what level these bring. The deck lists can easily be tuned into stronger more power lists but as an unopened product they let players explore different ways of playing a certain colour or theme such as the planeswalker decks. These decks are generally not over powered, include far too many lands but are really straightforward paths into EDH and finding mechanics you may not know you are in love with. This is our place holder tier of decks.
Average Tier Of Magic
Tier four in particular is where decks become stronger. These decks are the stronger tier pre-cons we started talking about in the last tier. A mild Kaalia of the vast edit can make a table groan for sure as she is a very strong commander. Tier four decks are ones that people bring out for a normal deck. They are pet themes that are focused. They have great synergy but the win conditions are still a little shaky. A lot are creature based and combat damage. Super friends deck that run many planeswalkers live in this tier. For tier five you have win conditions but they take a lot of assembly. This tier excites most players. It is filled with lots of high CMC, big splashy plays. These have multiple ways to victory but they are easily disrupted. These decks typically have a budget of 80-150 dollars but can easily push well into the 300-500 dollar range. Classic signs of decks in this power level are ones that are still missing land drops frequently, ones that are at a loss to come back from a board wipe or include only one path to victory that can be stopped with a counter spell. Almost all decks in this tier rely on a combat based way to victory. Infect, Voltron commanders, equipment decks and your Felidar sovereign style deck wins. These decks do have disruption and chaos theme decks like Mogis, Norin the wary, braids and other chaos based commanders that fit here. Most decks you encounter at an LGS will be within this tier. This is arguably the realm that the most "fun" magic is played in. Most decks will reasonably fall within this tier of slightly lower than average or average. The most memorable games are here and this is the true social contract form of magic. The tier is rife with political dealings, silly cards, foiled out decks and beautiful commanders with alternative art work.. Most players will end up building decks that fall into this category and that by no means implies these decks are weak.
King Of The Table- Hail The Pubstomp
If your deck is a tier 6 congratulations! You are frequently winning your games. You achieve likely 70+ percent win rates in your group and are often the player who gets targeted for personality alone. This isn't because you aren't fun but it's because the table respects that you are a threat. You have some great deck building skills. You spend lots of time editing and making sure you have answers to what your play group is bringing. Let's be honest Aetherflux Reservoir and Craterhoof Behemoth are your spirit animals! These decks have started to upgrade and have more explosive early game potential. Decks like this can easily generate a minimum of six mana by turn four consistently. They have a well thought out path to victory, include some answers to try and get there quicker. These decks commonly include mana sinks, large amounts of draw and multiple answers to their particular meta. They
cannot be easily milled or defeated and it takes the table to take them out. This tier can jokingly be called the arch enemy tier. You are likely the best of the casual group and may secretly be the player that is feared in your group or LGS. People look up to your decks, friends imitate the commanders and try their own version of your brew. You are the top of the food chain without actually running the Food Chain. The vast majority of players' collections cap out at this level and it being a six is no indication that it is weak. These decks can hold their own against low level CEDH decks and are packed full of potential.
CEDH Starts Here – Welcome To Big Boy Magic
So you finally want a challenge! Winning against your play group isn't enough or the arms race has finally gone nuclear. These decks will run the table on a normal game and seek to win with an infinite combo or Staxx locking the table. They sadly still take many pieces to get to this point and has low tutors to achieve it. That being said these decks have tons of creative ways to win. Self mill and infinite graveyard recursion are included in decks like this that do not involve infinite. They can cheat massive creatures and effects into play. Muldrotha The Grave Tide, Sidisi Brood Tyrant and Taisgur The Golden fang and its' wild control decks are reborn in glorious fashion in this tier. These deck win conditions are generally sorcery speed and require hard casting or recurring an effect on the stack as the main win condition. Minimal pet cards remain, less than 15 cards in these decks are not optimized towards this. These decks still have some personal flavour and weird alternate win paths that are not as efficient. Many players with these decks know they can easily up the power with the investment into a more solid mana base but they do not want to or simply can't afford to at the time. This is where game knowledge starts to matter as well as use of the stack. Decks that are in this tier will try to exhaust their opponents' resources while also trying to gain an advantage over opponents such as table mill with Sidisi Brood Tyrant. Low end CEDH is still CEDH and you are a forced to be reckoned with. You have approached this deck building with an efficiency mindset and are interested in finding a quick path to victory.
CEDH Second Tier
This is where you are actively seeking the path to victory from this time on. These decks start to refine their mana curve and look for cards with similar effects at a lower level. You drop some of the higher cost commanders and begin looking at partners for colour fixing options. People will have answers to many deck types but generally only have one or two win conditions. These are decks that are attempting to all-in a demonic consultation into Thassa's Oracle. These decks begin to run dual lands, generally have the fetch lands for deck thinning and will win uncontested within the first five turns of the game. Win conditions still have sorcery speed conditions but can interact and respond to a spell. Less than 3 pet cards in the deck. Less than seven permanents that enter tapped in these decks. At least 10 percent of the deck dedicated to draws or tutors. Most players at this level have invested hundreds of games into these decks. There are combo based lines and they know the competitive meta. These decks often build answers around the common themes that pop up in deck lists but are shockingly weak to things that are not considered “meta”. These decks know their threats inside and out. This is the most common tier of CEDH player. These players build decks that can win out of nowhere with little board state established. Tapping out against them and missing an answer by even one turn can be the end of the game. These deck lists are frequently sitting in the 1000 dollar play range, have well flushed out lands, might even pack things like tabernacle and pack a plethora of spot removal.
High Level CEDH
Welcome to your Thrasios and Tymna Tier! These decks are extreme focused, generally winning within the first four turns or having the disruption to utterly stop other wins if left entirely uninterrupted. Many of these answer to opponents instants. Many stack intensive cards, are packed into these decks. You are very unlikely to cast your win condition against these decks. They run graveyard exile and most frequently will attempt to safely win with a Laboratory Maniac. These decks have the ability and win conditions to occur at instant speed seemingly out of nowhere. Decks in this tier run efficiently at a high end casting cost of 4 and an extremely low average CMC. Twenty percent of these decks are dedicated to mana ramp, tutors or draw at a minimum. The cards included are split into these categories and nothing else. Cards that win the game. Cards that stop you from winning the game. Cards that ramp you to cast your spells. Cards that tutor for a win or an answer. These decks also run no pet cards and commander choices are extremely limited due to actually relying on them for combos or answers. Some of the absolute most explosive turns in magic will happen in this tier with the stack sometimes reaching into the hundreds of triggers for resolution.
CEDH Mythic Tier
These decks can win seemingly out of nowhere within the first three turns with the infinite generation of mana. These decks are optimized and run extreme budget restrictive cards like the original dual lands, fetch lands, lion eyes diamond, grim tutor and many other tutors etc. Many of these decks are in the multiple thousand dollar budgets. There is no “fun” built into the deck, no pet cards remain and everything is built for extreme speed. These decks have heavy investment. They are the pride and joy of a persons' collection and are likely unattainable for the average player. Thirty percent of these decks at a minimum contribute to or search for the win conditions. Usually smaller than normal land bases and extremely low cmc sitting around 1-2. The point eight percent might not seem like much but it's a monster difference in speed. These run the most optimal cards. Budget is not a factor in this style of deck building it is all power and speed. These decks tend to run riskier by running more aggressive ways to reach a win condition over safe answers. Many players do not build these all in style power decks and opt for a lower tier of CEDH that is built with more safety in mind. Safety slows down a win condition and this tier is likely to try bypass it with turn one win potential and the ability to win from a nearly blank board state. Flash Hulk lived here and this is the boogeyman tier that everyone believes all CEDH decks live in. Most people will not give CEDH a shot because they believe all decks resemble these and that the player base isn't interested in fun at all. This is the highest level of available focused play. Magic is a game that spans decades. Players building at this tier invest countless amounts of time perfecting the game and scouring databases for cards that will work with their obscure combo.
So there you have it! Tier one to ten laid out in clear terms. All of these can be based on what experience you want from the table. Join us listening to this weeks' episode of into the 99 podcast where the group discusses this tier. If you are uncomfortable using the number system simply tell people what you're looking for. EDH is a game for literally everyone and a little conversation can do us well. Let us know if you agree with our power scaling! What would you change? Where do most of your decks sit? There is nothing worse for most people than a lie or miscalculation in this scenario. If you tell the table you are playing a relaxing tier 6 deck and it's your Urza staxx deck where you turn one winter orb the table people aren't going to like playing with you very much. Express what you want out of a game, express what your deck can do and was built for. Most of all express yourself with your deck building and remember that at the end of the day this is a game. We all want to make sure we have a great time and look forward to playing again.