Magic The Gathering news, tips, strategies and more!
readers have gathered a lot of information about me
through my writings. For those of you that haven't
though, this should tell you a little more.
I'm 25 years old and I own my own business. Well,
more accurately I own a game store. The Game Closet, my
store, is one of the premiere places to play in the
Texas. I play Magic on a pretty regular basis. I help
people build decks and teach the game to people multiple
times a week. Owning a store is neat, because it gives
me another perspective to write my articles from. I can
usually tell what the average player likes and can judge
some of the tendencies of the average player a little
better. Of course, owning a store means I have
knowledge of a lot of games and not just Magic. I also
find out my fair share of insider information on the
industry. But having other resources to pull from makes
for more informative writings.
However, I know a decent bit about pro level play as
well. I myself have
played on the Pro Tour. I have multiple Top 8 finishes
at Pro Tour Qualifiers. I also have made Day Two at two
Grand Prix tournaments. I have also been invited to the
Event horizons Invitational. These are not stellar
achievements, but high enough to let you know I have my
head on straight when talking about the game. I also
spend lots of time each week talking to, e-mailing, or
chatting with top level players. I get to see their
perspective on a lot of things as well. Between the
two, I think I get a good sense of balance of the game.
Most importantly, I still enjoy the game for the
sake of the game itself. I like the time, the
competition, and the general interaction of players. I
plan to be playing it until it fades away...if it ever
Man, 2008 was an interesting year for Magic: The
We got a restructured Pro Tour.
had another round of Hall of Fame inductees. We had a
new formatting for set releases hit us. We even got
The only thing that happened though all of this that
could potentially have a negative effect on the
competitive community is that insane multi-color
building that's happening lately. There are a ton of
four and five color decks on the tournament scene right
now. Unfortunately, I can't say I blame them.
I'll be fair here. Yes, there are other decks that have
only two colors and are doing well. There are still
decks like Black/White Token and Green/Red Warriors that
can (and do) make an impact.
But, there seem to be a much higher number of the 3-,
4-, and 5-color varieties of decks running around.
Players like having options. Players like putting all
of their favorite cards in a deck. That's all fine and
good, but right now, we are teetering on the edge of a
potentially slippery slope. It may seem harmless, but
look at the bigger picture.
For starters, it has to be hard to playtest everything.
Part of balancing the cards, is knowing what type of
decks they are likely to appear in. And if nothing
else, you can add more colored mana to balance it. But
even the 5-color decks are playing cards like Cryptic
Command and that has THREE colored mana in the cost.
Just earlier today I was having a discussion over a
similar topic with players in my store. Imagine if two
years ago someone told you that Wotc would make some
cards that cost seven colored mana to cast. It wouldn't
just be colored. The casting costs of these cards would
be of three different colors as well. And then add to
the fact that players would play these cards in
multiples of 3 and 4 in their decks.
I'm pretty sure, I'd tell this person that he was
crazy. But, with the cycle of ultimatums from Shards of
Alara (namely Cruel Ultimatum and Violent Ultimatum) we
have that. This about how crazy this is. Things are
definitely out of control.
I know that I personally have a Jund deck together that
I'm playing Ultimatums and some of the
Dumb Dragon (Hellkite Overlord). And guess what...Broodmate
Dragons are in there as well. That's a lot of high
casting cost stuff of three different colors and the
deck still functions smoothly. If I'm in R&D, that has
to be a slightly scary thought. It has to be hard to
balance a card knowing that casting cost and colored
mana don't seem to matter anymore. In this very same
deck, I'm not even adjusting my mana when I make
changes, because it doesn't matter much. The decks are
so powerful and fluid lately.
There also the issue of post creation play. After the
cards are made, do the 5-color decks choose to play
certain new cards as well. That creates a whole
different set of R&D questions. As fun as their job is,
it's got to be tough.
Sure, things can be brought back to a balancing point.
The downside though is that we're going to head one of
two ways (or both ways). The first option is to punish
players for playing so many colors or high casting cost
cards in one deck. The other option is to reward
players for playing fewer colors.
Sure, we can encourage people to play more basics. I'm
sure by now, many of you know that the Domain mechanic
is being brought out again for Conflux (the next MTG
set). I don't think that's enough though. Unless they
make some ridiculously powered Domain cards, am I going
to give up the raw power and versatility that these
5-color builds bring me?
We've seen things like this in the past, like Price of
Progress. I don't think we need anything that harsh
though. I'd be down with something that dealt one for
each land instead of two though. Even then, it could be
a lot of damage at once. But, here are some card ideas,
that I've had in mind that could work:
Creatue - Lhurgoyf
When Manamonger comes into play, choose a player.
Manamonger gets +1/+1 for each color among cards in the
chosen player's graveyard.
Something like this doesn't outright punish someone for
playing a lot of colors, but at the same time, it can
make their life difficult. You usually are going to be
paying 4 mana for a 4/5 creature, which is more than
acceptable. There's a chance though that he could be a
7/8 and that could be awesome.
And then there's something like this:
Fires of Greed 1RR
Whenever a player plays a spell with converted mana cost
greater than 3, Fires of Greed deals three damage to
This one could be too good. At the same time though, it
could hurt the caster. But, you can build your deck
around this card to stay under its restriction.
We could do some things that border on crazy even:
Power Degradation 1BB
Target player discards a card for each non-basic land he
controls, up to three.
This is a strong discard spell. It's not a random
discard, so the player gets to choose what to drop. It
can really wreck havoc on some of these control decks
though if it's timed well. Against one or two color
decks it definitely has potential to be less than
exciting. But, many times it's going to be stud-tastic.
I'd even be willing to add one mana to the cost to add
more card of discard from the effect.
R&D could even get more specific and make cards reliant
one basic mana in a more interesting way:
Golbin Macabre BR
Creature - Goblin Zombie
If you control 3 or fewer non-basic lands, Goblin
Macabre gets +1/+1 and Haste.
This works the situation from a different angle. You
are no longer punishing the current decks. You are
leading the way for new styles of deck building.
Players can start focusing on most streamlined decks and
play fewer non-basic lands. It rewards them for playing
more basics while leaving the rest of the field as it
Standard right now is full of deck choices. I don't
think the current environment is bad. I believe it's
quite the opposite actually. Everything is great. I'm
just afraid that if changes aren't made, we could head
dark a very dark road.
The game has potential to become boring and un-fun to
new/semi-competitive players. If we continue to produce
cards that power the 5-color decks, we are eventually
going to have insanely powerful monstrosities trudging
through the tournament scene. I don't think any of us
want that. When that happens, players become
discouraged. Many quite playing competitively. For
some, the experience is so negative, they quit the game
altogether. I'd hate to see that happen when it could
There are still upsides to having lots of colors crammed
into one deck. There's some interesting innovation
going on. Though, I don't think we are seeing the best
possible builds of a lot of decks. That's partlly
because you can get away with sloppy deck building right
now. The cards are so strong and the manabases are so
forgiving that it lends itself to this type of
situation. That's all good though.
We are seeing lots of neat ideas right now. We're
seeing a lot of things that make our ears perk up and
get out minds thinking. There's still a lot of
creativity there. R&D has done a great job in that
regard. Now, we are in a situation where we need to
just keep the balance in line without drastically
reducing the power level of cards. That's a very fine
line to walk.
For now, things seem fine. I just wouldn't be surprised
if we saw something similar to these cards make an
appearance in the next couple of sets.
DeQuan Watson is a game store owner and tournament
organizer from Waco, TX. He's been a Pojo writer since
2001. Feel free to chat about this article or whatever
else at his store's website at www.thegamecloset.com.
Copyrightę 1998-2008 pojo.com
This site is not sponsored, endorsed, or
otherwise affiliated with any of the companies or
products featured on this site.
This is not an Official Site.