After faking us out with some minor tweaks to Commander and Vintage, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) dropped the hammer on the biggest combo in Standard! With the
main-game play environment in chaos, what new archetypes will emerge as the decks-to-beat? How does the new ‘Amonkhet’ expansion play into this? Is this all just a smokescreen on the real change that came down last week? Consipracy (not that kind)! Mystery! Adventure! Punctuation! All this and more in this week’s Magic Monday.
The Unlamented Death of Copy Cat
Devon: Copy cat is no more! Guardian has been banned!
Mike: No more copy cat. No more divining top. Wizards just won’t let us have nice things.
Devon: Nope. Bastards!
Szpirs: I think it’s a good call. I’m surprised it took them so long to kill the Saheeli/Felidar Guardian combo. As for Sensei`s Divining Top, it’s still legal in Commander. The ban only affects Modern and Legacy…neither of which affect us too badly.
Mark: They should ban Island.
Szpirs: LOL! Infinite combos should not be in Standard. When you find one in Modern or above, it’s a cool, unforseen interaction…if it’s in Standard, to say nothing of the same set, that’s a mistake.
Mike: I don’t know if I’d go quite that far. It depends on how hard it is to set up the combo.
Devon: Now that that’s been sorted, I think we will see Standard open up again.
Szpirs: What of the Top banning? What’s that supposed to address?
Stew: I like it. The price is gonna drop. LOL
Mark: Yup. Ban something in Legacy and prices plummet.
Szpirs: I’m still waiting on that price drop. Last i checked, it was sitting around $17…Protean Hulk, on the other hand, jumped from like $2 to $20 the day it was unbanned in Commander.
Devon: I don’t think there will be a huge price drop because Top is still legal in Commander. It’s a staple in so many decks that demand probably won’t change much.
Stew: Yes, but you only need one instead of four.
Mark: Apparently banning something in Commander does nothing to its price. Ask Griselbrand.
Stew: I’m thinking Top will drop to around $13-$14 and stabilise.
Devon: Oh, It’s still come down. $15 or so is better than $20-$25.
Stew: It’s like a 5 dollar card! I don’t get it!
The Costs of Command
Szpirs: Speaking of Commander, any emotions about Leovold being banned? I never played him and he seemed kinda Stax-y…was it warented?
Devon: Never played him. Couldn’t say.
Stew: Me neither. Look, what’s the strongest move you can do in magic?
Mark: Kilnmouth ain’t that great outside of multiplayer….
Stew: The strongest thing you can do in MTG is drawing cards. Without a draw, you’re a sitting duck.
Mark: Exactly. That’s why White can be a tricky colour; most of your draw is attached to spells you cast, not static effect like a Howling Mine. So, you burn cards you might not otherwise use to get at other cards. Blue clearly rules when it comes to draw.
Stew: …followed closely by Black.
Mark: Sure. You kinda need to think of the game as a resources game where your resources are mana and cards. If you get card-boned or mana-boned, you are pretty much all-around-boned.
Szpirs: So that more-or-less justifies Leovold’s ban? He made it too easy to lock down opponenets’ draw?
Mark: I think it’s not just the lockdown, but the extra card advantage he gives.
Mark: Oooooh. We should all pick which cards on the banned/restricted list we wish weren’t there.
Cards on the Banned/Restricted List We Wish Weren’t There
Stew: Sol ring, I choose you! This card should be unrestricted. It’s just a great card. 2 mana for 1 mana? Why not 8 for 4?
Szpirs: It would break the mana curve, wouldn’t it? With the right draw (especially in affinity/artifact decks), you could be rocking 10 mana or more on turn 2.
Devon: I was always a fan of Tinker….
Stew: Ag…buh…whu…TINKER?! Tinker is way too broken to do that. I simply want 8 colourless mana for 4, not a win condition online by turn 2.
Devon: …but it’s Blue and I loves it.
Szpirs: LOL It might be fun to play with either/both unbanned/restricted and see what happens…. (spoilers: Seat of the Synod, Sol Ring, Lotus Petal, Tinker, Darksteel Colossus)
Devon: Pretty much.
Stew: The better play is Mana Crypt, Seat of the Synod, Tinker. Actually, Mana Crypt should be unrestricted.
Szpirs: That’s the one you need to pay to untap?
Stew: 0 drop, taps for 2, but you pay for it on the upkeep. With multiples and some bad luck you can take 12 damage really quick. You’re thinking of Mana Vault…which also doesn’t need to be restricted.
Szpirs: The restricted list is why I love EDH/Commander.
Stew: Yeah, EDH is pretty good. I still miss the fast pace single PVP play, though. It’s why I play Hearthstone and Animation Domination.
Szpirs: I’ve never played AD, but one thing I’ve noticed about games like Hearthstone is the constant resource curve. Each player gets the power to play cards at more-or-less the same rate with very little ramp.
I’ve heard of magic variants that do similar…like one mana deck, one everything-else deck..either alternate draws or draw once from each deck.
Stew: That sounds fun. You advance at your own pace. You can focus on strategy instead of hoping that the mana isn’t too fast or too slow.
Combat Rules Change
Szpirs: Hey, did we ever talk about the change to combat rules? It sounds like the idea is that when the active player says, “combat”, the priority automatically goes to the other player(s) to give them a chance to play instants at the same time as beginning-of-combat triggers. Was this a problem?
Stew: Yeah it’s more the declaration of combat can be subverted and when announced you can’t try to trigger abilities as the opponent has priority to make choices (tap down, RFG, etc) than you choose who’s coming into combat.
Devon: I think this is a great move that helps keep the lines between phases clearly defined.
Szpirs: So let’s say some old school wierdo is coming at me with a craw wurm…6/6 trample…and I want to tap 4 servos or whatever to crew a big vehicle…so when I go to do that, dude plays lightening bolt to kill a servo. I think under the old rules, I couldn’t crew my vehicle because the servo dies before it taps to crew and I’m left to block 6 points of trample damage with 3 1/1s. Am I right? Do the new rules affect this situation?
Devon: I believe under the new rules you would loose a servo but you still crew the vehicle because the defending player has priority.
Stew: That was the rule thus far. Think of it like throwing a grenade. If I have cast it, that trigger’s gonna happen. If you kill the creature throwing it before does, I can’t have a corpse toss something.
Devon: The new rules really just clean up when you can and when you can’t react and who has priority.
Szpirs: So if craw guy declares his attack then the defending player has priority so his crew tapping happens ‘before’ the lightening bolt?
Devon: Priority passes to you only if you are going to respond. If you have no response, priority stays with the attacker.
Stew: I dunno if this was needed, like I understand the point but I watched Pro Tour Qualifiers and everyone declares combat and then moves forward so everyone is clear where they are in the board state
Devon: I think most experienced players will not notice any real change since most play this way already. New players will know that they have a window to respond when moving into the combat phase.
Szpirs: I think I get it. In our example, what if the dude cast lightening bolt in the main phase BEFORE he declares the attacker…can I tap my crew creatures in response to turn the vehicle into a creature?
Devon: I believe so. Either way, your servo dies and you activate your vehicle.
Stew: There is no time limit on crew per turn. So I lightening bolt your dude in response you crew it’s active until end of turn.
Szpirs: So I block with my vehicle…but because you’re running G/R, you throw an artifact smashing instant on my vehicle…I now have no blockers because attacker has priority?
Devon: If they smash your vehicle before declared blockers, you have no blockers. If you block and THEN they smash it, the block still counts.
Szpirs: Is that part of the change?
Szpirs: Ok…so the change basically says, concretely, that the defending player has priority after the attacker declares that combat begins?
Devon: Yes, but the defender receives priority only if they choose to respond.
Szpirs: Ok…so it goes, “I’m attacking with my craw wurm. Respond?” “Yes. In response, I tap these servos to crew my Heart of Kiran (or whatever) and block you wurm with it.” “In response, I cast Smash and ruin your heart of kiran” “…but you’re still blocked, right?”
(Judge pours 1.5 litres of vodka into his coffee cup)
Devon: LOL No, if he’s smashing in response to the crew, then there is no block. If it’s in response to the block, the block happens.
Stew: It works in your favor the drunker they are.
Szpirs: Cool. So let’s say attacker then drops a creature with flash and is all…. Nice block, but THIS guy… Under the new rules, he can’t declare that creature attacking because he’s moved out of his main phase into attack phase?
Devon: He couldn’t declare it as an attacker because you are in the middle of resolving blockers and should have cast it before. That’s one of the things the new rule clears up.