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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 game.)

** - 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 Entomb, 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 without 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 base.

Then along came Mirrodin, and all seemed resolved for the players.

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 Tinker, Ancient Tomb, Goblin Recruiter, Grim Monolith, Oath of Druids, and Hermit Druid.

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 numerous Goblin Piledrivers, 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.

 

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