Art by GruEliSm

The Fundamental Turn

The concept of the Fundamental Turn is relatively simple: it’s the turn where you win the game, either right then or in a near and inevitable future.  It’s essentially a way to gauge the speed of your deck, and it’s a useful method of judging your latest creation against the top decks in the current metagame.  The Fundamental Turn concept was introduced by a pro Magic: The Gathering player, Zvi Mowshowitz, and you can read his original article here.

“For beatdown or combination decks, the Fundamental Turn is the turn you kill your opponent. It’s an easy concept and you have one number. For a control deck, each aspect can be said to have an Fundamental Turn. But the most important one is the turn in which the deck’s strategy begins to work and you make up for any early disadvantage.” - Zvi Mowshowitz

In my opinion, the definition of the Fundamental Turn can be simplified:

“The Fundamental Turn is the turn at which a deck is capable of unleashing its full strategy.”

This is a more universal interpretation which handily encompasses all deck types.  Let’s examine a powerful Hex TCG deck in order to illustrate this concept.  We shall use the Mono-Wild Fist-Ramp deck which is featured in’s “Best Decks of Alpha” article.

This deck attempts to play a Fist of Briggadon as fast as possible because the Fist is invincible and it punches people right in the face.

4 Howling Brave
4 Dandelion Sprite
4 Moon’ariu Sensei
4 Wild Root Dancer
4 Honeycap
4 Fist of Briggadon
2 Crazed Squirrel Titan

4 Chlorophyllia
2 Chaos Key
3 Secret Laboratory

25 Wild Shard

Let’s examine just how it does this:


This deck has a Fundamental Turn 3 because that is how fast it can deploy its winning strategy.  Now, this is obviously a case of the perfect game start, but if your strategy for victory is “I hope my opponent gets a bad draw,” then.. well… good luck?

If any deck is going to be competitive in an environment with this Fist Ramp deck, it needs a rock-solid answer by the time Turn 3 comes around -or- you need to be able to kill your opponent before that Fist kills you (around turn 6 or so). So take a look at your deck and ask yourself, “Can my deck counter a turn 3 Fist of Briggadon?”  If the answer is no, it’s time to head back to the deck-builder.

Eventually, the above deck will be brought down by a new meta-game, but the concept of the Fundamental Turn will remain.  Take a look at the current powerful decks and watch for when they really “turn on.”  That’s the moment you need to either out-race, prevent, or immediately counter.  If you can’t manage that, then your deck is not competitive.

Art by GruEliSm

Art by GruEliSm

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2 thoughts on “The Fundamental Turn

  1. So, when do you disrupt this plan? assuming you can disrupt it at any round. Suppose you have a blood/ruby deck and you have burn, murder and demolition to work with..
    Suppose you have a sapphire / diamond deck – you have inner conflict, chronic madness and flock of seagulls.
    You have a mono wild – Survival of Fittest, chlorophyllia, Howling brave and wrathwood collosus

    I am looking for your thoughts. I would be sweating the minute I saw howling brave hit the board…

    1. It wouldn’t be totally off-base to label my example in this article as ‘phobic’ to some degree, but it does a good job of illustrating the concept. Disruption is difficult because most of the effective spells for dealing with the Fist combo are themselves 3 cost or more.

      At this point in the Alpha, Blood has no means to counter the Fist strategy except by crossing their fingers and hoping the game is mostly over before he hits the table. They can also potentially discard the Fist? Seems unlikely.

      Ruby is in similar straits, but it can at least Burn the Howling Brave to delay the Fist, giving you time to ram home victory. There is also Demolition and a highly buffed Mancubus.

      Sapphire has tons of tools to counter fist: Mesmerize , Time Ripple, Buccaneer and others can delay the big guy, providing time for Polymorph and Monkey of the Nine Tails to finish the job. You can also Mimic the Fist.

      Wild has Fist to cancel out the other. Diamond has Inner Conflict, as you said.

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