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Thirst for Knowledge: Everything is Fine

Written by Joshua Claytor on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Thirst for Knowledge:  Everything is Fine

Joshua Claytor

Joshua is the current content manager of Legitmtg.com and Puremtgo.com.

In this column on Legitmtg.com, I normally talk about a deck that caught my eye. I normally have videos that show the deck in action, and while that part is true, I’m not going to talk about the deck today. Yes, I play Mono Blue Turns again, and while I have updated the list to be a Blue White deck (to take advantage of the great sideboard options that white offers, stuff like Kor Firewalker, Supreme Verdict and Leyline of Sanctity) I wanted to take time out of my normal and write an opinion piece.

I’m on social media way too much. Twitter and Facebook are all calling for Emergency bans in Modern, and I am here to say this.

Calm down. Everything is fine.

But how can everything be fine when a Starcity Event has thirty decks in day two that features four Eldrazi Temples? How can Modern just not be ruined forever now?

It’s not ruined. There is no need for emergency bans, Grand Prix Detroit is still going to be an amazing event.

But it’s all over the place, Modern has turned into a format that is a lot of different Eldrazi decks.

Yeah that’s accurate, we have UW Eldrazi, Colorless Eldrazi, UR Eldrazi, RG, UG, BG, all of them are different but the core of them are all the same. They have their Sol Lands, they have their colorless creatures, it’s just spells that are different. This is not actual diversity, despite these decks being shoehorned into different labels.

The problem is not with Eldrazi, people are going to play the best cards whenever they can. That’s certainly fair, and it is something that no Magic player should be surprised to see.

The problem is not with Sol Lands, though I can see why people would say that. I mean having a board that shows off some free 2/2s is problematic, but not a thing we have never seen before, thanks to Affinity.

The problem in my opinion is with the card pool, and with Wizards of the Coast.

How can the card pool be an issue with so many sets? There are a ton of cards legal for Modern play, but the hate that we have for the Eldrazi deck is not a large amount. I’ve seen Ensnaring Bridge, Ghostly Prison, Blood Moon, Leyline of Sanctity and Ghost Quarter mentioned the most, and those are all fine cards against the deck. Bridge and Prison keep the creatures from attacking. Blood Moon keeps them from cheating out midgame cards in the early game. Leyline stops the targeting. The tools are just limited. That is most unfortunate.

I however, blame Wizards of the Coast for this more than I am willing to blame the card pool. Here are the reasons why.

I keep comparing Eldrazi to Affinity. I remember the days of Artifact Lands and Affinity for Artifacts very well. I remember Arcbound Ravager and Skullclamp dominating Standard, and doing very well in Extended. To me the two decks are very similar. For Endless One we could say Frogmite. For Thought-Knot Seer we could say Myr Enforcer (yes I know Seer is not a vanilla 4/4, and that is an issue). For Eldrazi Mimic we could use Arcbound Ravager. The Sol lands are Artifact lands (since they made it cheaper to cast the Affinity artifacts). I do not think there is a good parallel for Reality Smasher, but that’s an unreal card, so I think it might be okay to not have something to compare it to. The two decks though had the same game plan.

Play cheap creatures in the early game, and back those up with cheap giant monsters in the midgame.

The difference though from Affinity to Eldrazi is this.

When Wizards of the Coast pushed Affinity, there was an ample amount of hate already in the game. Shatterstorm existed already. Molder Slug, Viridian Shaman, Echoing Ruin and Oxidize were all printed in the same sets to help against the influx of new artifacts from the artifact themed block. Disenchant was printed, Detonate was around, and other tools existed to, in theory, keep the artifact menace fair.

That theory of course did not work out well because the Affinity deck was so powerful it regularly beat through the hate, and that might have been more the fault of Skullclamp and Disciple of the Vault more then the actual quality of the hate cards. At the time though, artifacts (like colorless creatures) were a known quality but were getting pushed to the moon.

Sometimes when Wizards of the Coast pushes something to the moon, they over do things.

Which brings me to Eldrazi. The creation of true colorless (or diamond mana or Wastes mana or whatever) led them to overpower Eldrazi, and it makes sense that they should overpower the noodle creatures, they are powerful plane eating titans and their lineage and other creatures should be powerful as well. No one would be excited by Thought-Knot Seer if it were just a plain 4/4. To sell packs, which is their main goal they have to print powerful cards in the theme that is being promoted.

That part of Magic is nothing new. That’s why we get stuff like Siege Rhino, Primeval Titan and Snapcaster Mage. That’s old hat.

The creation of true Colorless however opened a can of worms that I do think was anticipated but not really cared about. There is no effect in Magic that says Destroy target colorless permanent (to go with the artifact parallel). The closest thing that we might have is Dead Ringers, and that is not even Modern legal! There is no Shatterstorm for us to cast. No Ancient Grudge against the Eldrazi (there probably should be though, they have put Zendikar through hell!). There is no Creeping Mold or Natuarlize for these colorless creatures (yes I know Doom Blade, and creature removal works, my point is there is no dedicated colorless hate).

When someone shuffles up Affinity, they do so knowing they may have to pay war wages to Kataki. They might have to sit in Stony Silence. They play these powerful cards knowing the risks of playing them.

When someone shuffles up Eldrazi, they do so know that the risks of playing the deck is limited.

I blame Wizards of the Coast for not having hate card options already in place. They had the chance to print them in Standard legal sets and just did not do so. Again that is fair, they have to sell packs, and Standard and Limited sell packs. Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Rainbow Stairwell, those formats do not sell the packs. The bread and butter is Standard and Limited. Those are the formats that are tested, and the ones that remain the healthiest.

Apparently Wizards knew about Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin, and made the choice to ignore them, and that is fine, it’s given us some great creatures. By ignoring them we get to play in a rich full Standard format. By ignoring them in Modern though we have to slog through the overreaction of #Eldraziwinter tweets. Maybe while there is a Modern Pro Tour, Wizards of the Coast should make some time to at least test possibly problematic Modern cards.

Of course, that would also imply that they already test Modern, but that’s not the case at all.

I personally do not think anything needs to be banned in Modern. Yes I know that cards will more than likely be removed from the format again. I think doing so in April would be an overreaction. I believe that Wizards has made some answers to the cards in following sets, but only believe that because when they promote something as hard as they did in Eldrazi, then the need to have a safety valve has to follow.

So what would I do in regards to Modern if I were WotC?

The first thing I would do is change all the Pro Tours to Modern, but that’s not what the point of the article really is.

The actual first thing I would do is communicate with the community that help is coming. While it may be to early to announce a ban, it is not to early to conveniently spoil a hate card from Shadows (yes Shadows has already been to print, but I think Wizards might have overestimated how much they would get played in Standard, and has subtle help on the way). This shows the community that, yes things suck, but they will not always suck, give us some time!

The second thing I would do is actually test Modern within the company. While Modern doesn’t sell as many packs, Modern is a format that players will get more in to as their Standard cards rotate out of Standard. If testing Modern is too time consuming, maybe create a player panel, players that love the format, to help test out the old cards with the new.

The third thing I would do if I were WotC would be to make sure that if a theme is getting heavily pushed, that the hate for that theme already exists. Should there be an effect that says destroy all colorless creatures? Well there is Wrath of God, Day of Judgment and Supreme Verdict already in the format, but if 2CC effect existed that said destroy all colorless creatures existed, that would be a risk the Eldrazi pilot knew about before making that choice to play the game. If it wrecks the day, it wrecked it doing so with the knowledge that was possible.

Yes, I know I just spent 1600 words railing against things that die to Doom Blade and tons of other stuff, but not having answers to colorless (the new pushed mechanic) with the same dedication that the game has to answers for Artifacts or Enchantment seemed harmful.

tl;dr

Yes fast mana is an issue, but the bigger issue is lack of dedicated hate and the reluctance to test the Modern format.

In my perfect world Modern would be the Pro Tour format of choice, and Modern Masters (with its own Pro Tour!) would be a yearly release and everyone would be excited about the format, but I can see their points, and while I do not agree with the need for a ban (emergency or otherwise) I understand that it will probably happen. I don’t want to lose the Modern Pro Tour, because I am selfish and that is my favorite thing. Maybe making Modern Masters a yearly release (which would help card availability issues for the influx of new players) and adding another Pro Tour (for the Modern Masters release, which would help sell even more packs) would be the best move.

Maybe a better tl;dr would be the issue with Modern is that while most players know that there is a risk to playing their deck of choice, Eldrazi players get to play their deck without facing a true risk.

Whatever, I’m done, here is a picture and some videos.

http://gunshowcomic.com/648

Credit: KC Green, Gunshow


Match One

Match Two

Match Three

Match Four

Match Five

I went 3-2 losing to Infect and Bogles, where I made questionable plays, but I at least beat Eldrazi?

Sigh.

Next time we’ll go over the UW turns deck and how that has progressed. Thanks for putting up with me!

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