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The Dragon's Den
Ch-ch-ch-changes...
By DeQuan Watson - 3.3.05

Well, I'm sure if you are cruising the net looking for Magic content (which you are if you stopped here to read), it's like you are more mentioning of the recent bannings that you care to see.  But, unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective), this is big news.  So, I fell that I might as well do my part and let you know what I think about them.

 

Disciple of the Vault

 

I had this card on my "no doubt it's getting the axe" list.  I have no clue how Disciple of Vault managed to escape the wrath of R&D for so long.  We all knew it was a problem.  We all knew that it's a key piece to Affinity decks.  Even WotC had to have had an eye on it.  The only savage grace I think this card had was that opponents were able to play the card in the their sideboard as a method to potentially battle Affinity.  However, as it turned out, it was usually only played in Affinity v. Affinity matches.  The same can be said about Moriok Rigger. 

 

Another issue that I'm sure WotC had to examine was that ability to have DotV outright be a game winner.  In some ways, it turned Affinity into a combo deck of sorts.  It also allows players to win without ever attacking.  A creature deck that doesn't attack to win is a very strange and peculiar thing.  It is also counter intuitive to the gameplay and mechanics of Magic.  In the end, DotV got its second run and proved itself to be too good.

 

Arcbound Ravager

 

This one sort of surprised me.  In a way, I felt that if you dealt with the other cards that were problematic in the deck, then this guy wouldn't have been such an issue.  If you doesn't have DotV around, he has to attack to kill you.  He doesn't fly.  There is a lot of artifact hate to deal with him.  I was initially confused at this choice.

 

But after sitting and thing about it, I came up with some decent logic as to why it may be on the list.  Believe it or not, WotC does listen to their customers.  They do try to change things and make things better.  And right now, they have been doing all sorts of things to increase the overall pleasure of the players.  I think that getting rid of Arcbound Ravager was simply a statement. "No, the deck is not going to be played." "No, you don't have to deal with this at your next tournament." "We don't care what the jerk in your local tournament scene says, the deck is dead!"  Many casual/semi-competitive players will see this on the list and immediately rush back into their local tournament scenes.

 
 

The Artifact Lands

 

These both surprised me and didn't surprise me.  If you made me choose the three most important cards in Affinity last week, I would have said: Ravager, Disciple, and Hat (Cranial Plating).  The artifact lands do make all things possible for the deck to begin with but even that's not a enough to get them on the ban list I wouldn't have thought.  But obviously, I thought wrong.

 

My guess with all of this is that WotC was trying to make sure that Affinity went away for good.  And truth be told, WotC doesn't want to get those casual/semi-pro players back into the stores and slowly have Affinity find a way to creep back into the metagame and chase those players off again. 

 

And the other thought has to do with what R&D knows that we don't know.  It's very likely that they could have seen an issue with Krak-Clan Ironworks and didn't want to give it any real shot at winning either.  Because if they left the lands and KCI becomes good, WotC gets even more criticized. "Great! Wizards got rid of one turn four win and replaced it with another!"

 

So needless to say any potential Affinity ha to dominate a tournament scene is just about gone.  Obviously Affinity can still be played, but it's not likely we'll see it has the speedy damage engine that it used it be.  It's also very unlikely that you will see more than two deck utilizing Affinity well in any tournament from now on. Of course, you can still play it in Extended if you choose, we for now, we are just discussing Standard.

 

This list was acceptable.  I would prefer to have seen Eternal Witness join them, but it's OK that she's not on there.  The only reasons he bothers me is that she is in a ton of decks.  Some people are wanting to play green just to use that card.  And make no mistake; it is definitely a great card.  It's honestly bordering on "too good." 

 

The only other things I think I've heard people mention involve Tooth and Nail.  It usually comes in the form of, "Why didn't they hit Tooth for any cards?"  My answer is simple, "I don't think they needed too."

 

I know some of you think I'm crazy.  But don't think I'm going to sit here and tell you that Tooth is not a good deck.  Tooth is indeed a good deck.  However, it is much more beatable than Affinity was.  Well, you are  more likely to beat T&N more consistently.  The reason some people had trouble beating right now is due to metagame planning.  The real concern was Affinity.  Some players between deck and sideboard were playing as many as 15 ways to deal with artifacts are kill key pieces of Affinity.  This can make it really hard to deal with some of the easier problem cards in T&N decks. 

 

Now that players can put the spotlight on T&N if they feel like it, things won't be so bad.  Also be aware that there are a lot of strategies that work against T&N decks.  And because of the lack of Affinity floating around, a lot of these T&N issues will start popping up more frequently.  For starters, you can use an outright speed/weenie rush strategy to deal with T&N.  If you put the pressure on them, you force them to make players before they are ready and you can cause some pretty serious issues.  Discard is an issue for T&N was well.  Monoblack Control has been slowly making it's comeback.  Players have deck laying in wait and were looking for that windows of opportunity.  Well, that window is now wide open.  Also, another good strategy against T&N is land destruction.  Decks like Big Red tend to deal with T&N reasonably well.

 

So, in short, things are pretty good for the Standard tournament scene.  And regionals could very well turn out to be the most diverse field we've seen in at least three years.  That's a good thing.

 

For a special closer this week, I'm offering you guys a decklist.  It's monogreen.  However, it's a little different than what I posted previously.  It takes into account the new, expected tournament environment.  But this serves a good example to show how the environment changing can affect the build of a deck.

 
Old Deck
            Maindeck                                                      Sideboard
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Tel-Jilad Chosen
4 Fangren Firstborn
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Eternal Witness
2 Viridian Zealot

4 Chrome Mox
4 Echoing Courage
4 Beacon of Creature
4 Creeping Mold
2 Reap and Sow
  
20 Forest
3 Choke
3 Naturalize
2 Reap and Sow
2 Oxidize
3 Scrabbling Claws
2 Pulse of the Tangle
 
 

And now, with Affinity out of the way, we can remove many of the cards in the main deck in exchange for more power and utility.  I still believe the deck is strong.  And honestly, this should hold up to decent amount of the new decks that should start popping up.

 
Big Green Machine
            Maindeck                                                      Sideboard
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Eternal Witness
3 Fangren Firstborn
4 Karstoderm
4 Troll Ascetic

4 Beacon of Creation
4 Creeping Mold
2 Plow Under
3 Echoing Courage
2 Genju of the Cedars
2 Pulse of the Tangle
 
4 Chrome Mox

20 Forest
3 Choke
3 Fecundity
2 Iwamori of the Open Fist
3 Sword of Fire and Ice
3 Naturalize
1 Rude Awakening
 
I hope you guys enjoy!
 
Until next time,
 
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
at Pojo dot com

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