Getting it Right
this Time - 12.12.03
By John Hornberg
* - Good luck to those making the trek to Grand Prix:
Anaheim. Have fun, win many games, make lots of money in
trades and all that fun stuff, and be sure to leave a
lasting impression on the town (what I mean is, to
heckle the Anaheim Mighty Ducks if they have a home
** - It feels good to be writing again. Rather than
explain to you why I wasnít, Iíll just sum up to you why
I am now. By summer, I had almost stopped writing,
mostly because I was tired of it after two years of High
School Newspaper tyranny and bullcrap. A friend of mine
at the store where I play (and currently now work)
started up a newsletter, and asked me to write for it.
One thing led to another, and now, Iím here Ė writing
for Pojo again on a semi-regular basis.
Earlier this year, Wizards took aim at certain cards in
the Extended format with the full intent of balancing
the format to its greatest extent. After monitoring
cards and decks for months, the DCI presented their bans
in September Ė
Frantic Search, and
Goblin Lackey got the axe.
Everything seemed to have been cleaned up. Goblin Sligh
allegedly didnít have the deadly third turn kill
Goblin Lackey in the deck; Reanimator supposedly
lost its second turn Akroma, and many decks,
particularly Mindís Desire, did lose its way to
untap its lands when it lost
Frantic Search. The original bans saw a lot of
controversy and a lot of uproar, especially since it
deeply affected the status quo, managing to shake up its
Then along came Mirrodin, and all seemed resolved for
All the speedy decks that had their hearts ripped out by
the September bans were replaced by an insanely fast
Tinker deck that played cards like Ancient Tomb and Grim
Monolith to acquire fast mana to win the game. The
popularity of these decks was evident at the most recent
Pro-Tour, which was held in New Orleans, where seven of
the top eight decks were some variant of Tinker.
It became clear that the bans in September were not
enough to grasp control of the Extended formatís pension
for quick, uninvolved play. So, in a surprise move on
December 1, Wizards made more sweeping bans to
accommodate for the changes Mirrodin had upon the
format. The new banned list includes
Oath of Druids, and
Some of the bans, like Tinker and Grim Monolith, should
have been expected. Decks currently playing both cards
are some of the top cards in the artifact decks that
dominated at PT New Orleans. However, certain cards that
were banned, like Hermit Druid and Goblin Recruiter,
have less obvious reasons for being banned, but still
presented a problem that needed to be addressed.
Hermit Druid, which is primarily used in the newest
incarnation of the Reanimator deck
Goblin Recruiter, which has been featured in
Extended Goblin decks across the board, was brutal. Many
Extended Goblin decks relied on it to more or less stack
their deck to gain the advantage, so that if the
Goblin Charbelcher doesnít get their opponent, the
Goblin Warchiefs, and other goblins moved to the top
of the deck by the Recruiter will.
However, the DCI should have taken the December purging
of the Extended format another step further. Cards like
Goblin Welder and
Metalworker are still present in the format, and
could still deeply affect the format in many nasty ways.
Granted the current changes were a lot, and will deeply
impact the format, but may turn out to be too little in
the grand scheme of things, especially if both of those
cards turn up in a newer more format friendly, but still
as quick and vicious, version of the Charbelcher deck.
In the end, Wizards most recent action was in many ways
making up for completely missing the target in
September. The bans in September were necessary, but
didnít address a problem that could have, and should
have been taken care of before Mirrodin was released.
All of the bans now are intended to clean up the format
further, and to eliminate many of the top combos in
Extended right now, many of which hurt the game more
than they help.