2/4/2010 TD: "Domestically Unprecedented"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Top Decks, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.

So, that Hybrid deck is not a new innovation. Lucas Siow piloted the deck with the Gifts/Depths/Foundry engine at PT Austin and they even did a deck check with him. Gary's innovations came in the rest of the deck, not in the fact that Muddle can tutor all the pieces. Siow knew that Muddle tutored for all the pieces, as he clearly pointed out in the video.

Video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyV-MqmXahc

Allons-y!

Doesn't Smother kill tokens? According to rule 202.3a?

202.3a - The converted mana cost of an object with no mana cost is 0. [CompRules 2009/07/08]

Or have I missed something? It should kill manlands, too, since they technically have no mana cost.

Help, Mike!
Marit Lage is indestructible.  Destroying it does not one bit of good.
The end is always nigh.
I keep saying it but people are just not paying attention. Maybe now that the Mike Flores, a better player than 99% of us out here, has called treasure hunt the strongest worldwake card in extended will people start to listen. If you saw this played at the prerelease, you noticed no one felt bad about playing it, and a few were very pleased. Its effectiveness is even greater in constructed. Once you start talking about a deck that is maximizing the power this card has as a combo piece, it will be broken. This card will bring blue domination back after a too short stint in the sidelines. Hope you had fun playing with forests and mountains, but you should put them away now and pick up the islands.
I keep saying it but people are just not paying attention. Maybe now that the Mike Flores, a better player than 99% of us out here, has called treasure hunt the strongest worldwake card in extended will people start to listen. If you saw this played at the prerelease, you noticed no one felt bad about playing it, and a few were very pleased. Its effectiveness is even greater in constructed. Once you start talking about a deck that is maximizing the power this card has as a combo piece, it will be broken. This card will bring blue domination back after a too short stint in the sidelines. Hope you had fun playing with forests and mountains, but you should put them away now and pick up the islands.



Treasure Hunt is the "strongest worldwake card in extended" because the set doesn´t offer very much constructed value in extended aside from a few cards. (Because neither Vampires/Allies nor any kind of landfall based deck is playable extended - and these are the benefiters from worldwake).

Treasure Hunt is like you mentioned a combo piece, nothing more. You need a certain deck/combo to abuse the card. Even in draft (in a format in which you really want an excessive amount of lands) the card is a filler, not a bad one but surely not a first pick. If you play it on its own in most cased it will replace itself (and sorcery speed cycling is horrible bad in the current metagame which is filled with hyper-efficent creatures!), sometimes its a worse Sign in Blood.

Don´t judge a card because of sealed - the format is a joke and it proves nothing.

The best combo so far with Treasure Hund in standard seems to be Ponder/ the new Jace. Which then takes at least 8 slots in your deck and will net you a card advantage of 2-3 cards at best, while not affecting the board at all - compare that to a card like Bloodbraid Elf/Bituminous Blast!

Yes, maybe another land-combo deck will show up, in which Treasure Hand will replace the Swans or another combo piece - but I doubt the card will have as much impact on the metagame as  cascade (or the lack of any kind of efficent land destruction/ counterspells).

 It seems ridiculous to me that a playworthy blue card with constructed potential shows up and you immediately make predictions about the coming dominance of blue in standard. Are you frightend that a less creature-heavy deck becomes available? Or, god-forbid, that blue could show up in constructed again?

Where are your complains about the new allies?  Hara Freeblade is a 1 mana drop which is capable to attack for 2 in turn 2, and 3 in turn 3 just by playing more creatures and increasing the pressure on the opponent - now thats a good card and could make allies constructed worthy - aren´t you afraid they will dominate the metagame ;)?


Flores didn't mention that Osyp acted like a huge jerk while he lost.
I keep saying it but people are just not paying attention. Maybe now that the Mike Flores, a better player than 99% of us out here, has called treasure hunt the strongest worldwake card in extended will people start to listen. If you saw this played at the prerelease, you noticed no one felt bad about playing it, and a few were very pleased. Its effectiveness is even greater in constructed. Once you start talking about a deck that is maximizing the power this card has as a combo piece, it will be broken. This card will bring blue domination back after a too short stint in the sidelines. Hope you had fun playing with forests and mountains, but you should put them away now and pick up the islands.



Treasure Hunt is the "strongest worldwake card in extended" because the set doesn´t offer very much constructed value in extended aside from a few cards. (Because neither Vampires/Allies nor any kind of landfall based deck is playable extended - and these are the benefiters from worldwake).

Treasure Hunt is like you mentioned a combo piece, nothing more. You need a certain deck/combo to abuse the card. Even in draft (in a format in which you really want an excessive amount of lands) the card is a filler, not a bad one but surely not a first pick. If you play it on its own in most cased it will replace itself (and sorcery speed cycling is horrible bad in the current metagame which is filled with hyper-efficent creatures!), sometimes its a worse Sign in Blood.

Don´t judge a card because of sealed - the format is a joke and it proves nothing.

The best combo so far with Treasure Hund in standard seems to be Ponder/ the new Jace. Which then takes at least 8 slots in your deck and will net you a card advantage of 2-3 cards at best, while not affecting the board at all - compare that to a card like Bloodbraid Elf/Bituminous Blast!

Yes, maybe another land-combo deck will show up, in which Treasure Hand will replace the Swans or another combo piece - but I doubt the card will have as much impact on the metagame as  cascade (or the lack of any kind of efficent land destruction/ counterspells).

 It seems ridiculous to me that a playworthy blue card with constructed potential shows up and you immediately make predictions about the coming dominance of blue in standard. Are you frightend that a less creature-heavy deck becomes available? Or, god-forbid, that blue could show up in constructed again?

Where are your complains about the new allies?  Hara Freeblade is a 1 mana drop which is capable to attack for 2 in turn 2, and 3 in turn 3 just by playing more creatures and increasing the pressure on the opponent - now thats a good card and could make allies constructed worthy - aren´t you afraid they will dominate the metagame ;)?





I'll grant you that the "put away your non-islands" comment is a bit of an exaggeration; even so, you're not much better.  Let me explain:
I'll grant you that Worldwake benefits Standard more than Extended, but isn't that the case with most sets?
Playing Treasure Hunt "on its own" (not as a combo enabler) will likely average out to be better than Sign in Blood; it will draw you two cards more often than it draws you one, it's easier to cast, it costs you no life, and - this is important - you will ALWAYS draw a spell.  By the time you need to refill your hand, you can cast it and still have counter mana open.
There is land destruction in Standard.  I'll hedge my bets and say it probably won't win a Pro Tour, but it does exist.  Currently, in R/G, there are three 2-mana accelerators and three 4-mana land kills (followed then by Acidic Slime and Mold Shambler as you curve up).  You can consistently destroy a land on turns 3-6, and by that time you've probably got the game (especially if you're also splashing white for Ajani Vengeant).
To say there are no "efficient" counters in Standard is a bit imprecise.  Standard's counters are actually very efficient; there are three 2-mana counters and two 1-mana counters.  What you mean is that there are very few *versatile* counters.  WotC doesn't want you to be able to counter ALL of your opponent's spells; if you're waiting for the return of the Counter Deck, I've got bad news for you.  (Though you do have my sympathy; it's no fun to see a deck archetype you like go away.)  The modern role of countermagic is to (a) disrupt your opponent's *key* spells, rather than all of them; and (b) protect your own key spells from your opponent's countermagic.  For instance, if you're running something creature-heavy (like Allies), you can run Negates to protect them from sweepers.  You can also run Flashfreeze/Negate to protect yourself from Blightning or Cruel Ultimatum, or use Dispel if you're the one casting those sorceries.
Also, this:
"Are you frightend that a less creature-heavy deck becomes available? Or, god-forbid, that blue could show up in constructed again?"
is just as overreactionary as what you're (correctly) calling out in this:
"It seems ridiculous to me that a playworthy blue card with constructed potential shows up and you immediately make predictions about the coming dominance of blue in standard."
Please, don't become a hypocrite by over-compensating.
Hive mind has a turn 1 kill in the format. That wasn't mentioned. That's talking about godhands. Godhands aside, Hive mind can kill on Turn 2 or 3 nearly as consistently as Elves, when talking about goldfishing.
Marit Lage is indestructible.  Destroying it does not one bit of good.



Ah, no, Smother and other destroy effects do nothing to indestructable creatures. I sometimes (like this one) need to stop and read the card. There is just so much good removal in Extended: Path to Exile, Bant Charm, Terminate, Smother, even Lightning Bolt and Punishing Fire. Seems to be a bad time to be a critter in Extended.


I'll grant you that the "put away your non-islands" comment is a bit of an exaggeration; even so, you're not much better.  Let me explain:
I'll grant you that Worldwake benefits Standard more than Extended, but isn't that the case with most sets?



Sure it is, I never said anything different.


Playing Treasure Hunt "on its own" (not as a combo enabler) will likely average out to be better than Sign in Blood; it will draw you two cards more often than it draws you one, it's easier to cast, it costs you no life, and - this is important - you will ALWAYS draw a spell.  By the time you need to refill your hand, you can cast it and still have counter mana open.



I can´t agree here, yes Sign in Blood needs a heavy black aligned deck, but "on its own" its the more reliable spell. Treasure Hunt gives you a guaranteed spell but any further card advantage (which isn´t guaranteed) are allways land cards. Unlike Sign in Blood you can´t just toss it in any deck and expect it to shine. You need a use for these extra lands, otherwise its a bad cantrip and you could just stick with ponder (if you want to stay blue). Not to mention: there allways the possibility to pay a 2 mana sorcery for a cantrip. The 2 lifepoints are negligible.



There is land destruction in Standard.  I'll hedge my bets and say it probably won't win a Pro Tour, but it does exist.  Currently, in R/G, there are three 2-mana accelerators and three 4-mana land kills (followed then by Acidic Slime and Mold Shambler as you curve up).  You can consistently destroy a land on turns 3-6, and by that time you've probably got the game (especially if you're also splashing white for Ajani Vengeant).



Come on, they have nearly no impact in any format right now - yes they exist -  but would you bother playing them? No, you use Spreading Seas -  since blue mana is as bad as no mana for a 3 colour deck ;) (sorry couln´t pass up that remark). Lets stay realistic - my opponents play Bloodbraid Elf - I play Acid Slime? Simply no.


To say there are no "efficient" counters in Standard is a bit imprecise.  Standard's counters are actually very efficient; there are three 2-mana counters and two 1-mana counters.  What you mean is that there are very few *versatile* counters.  WotC doesn't want you to be able to counter ALL of your opponent's spells; if you're waiting for the return of the Counter Deck, I've got bad news for you.  (Though you do have my sympathy; it's no fun to see a deck archetype you like go away.)  The modern role of countermagic is to (a) disrupt your opponent's *key* spells, rather than all of them; and (b) protect your own key spells from your opponent's countermagic.  For instance, if you're running something creature-heavy (like Allies), you can run Negates to protect them from sweepers.  You can also run Flashfreeze/Negate to protect yourself from Blightning or Cruel Ultimatum, or use Dispel if you're the one casting those sorceries.



If you don´t want to call them "ineficient", maybe we should say they aren´t playworthy. The story of the boring "counter deck" which is incredible powerful and "counters all your spells" is an urban legend. I believe the last really counter-heavy (and successful) control deck in standard  would´ve been Psychatog - some builds featured 12 counter spells and more. This is now 10 years ago.

Flashfreeze proves one thing: the metagame at the moment is so heavy red/green aligned that you can use it as a Counterspell replacement - and even run it in the main deck (main-decked colour hosers are allways a sign of a warped metagame).

For the situational counters: a situational counter isn´t worth nor powerful enough to be played regulary. You can´t run an unreliable card, which has no impact on its own, and expect to build a good deck. You can use Negate if the metagame favors a certain deck, which relies heavy on certain, vulnerable cards (combo for example). This makes Negate by far the best of the available situational counters, but don´t fool yourself its easier to play other cards instead.

Your Allies are a good example - just skip Negate. Its better to just play more allies in the deck and play around the mass removal instead. And since you´re playing a creature-based aggro deck your opponent really shouldn´t be able to reach the mana for the ultimatum.

The modern role of counter magic is the sideboard or to see no play at all.


Also, this: ~
is just as overreactionary as what you're (correctly) calling out in this: Are you frightend that a less creature-heavy deck becomes available? Or, god-forbid, that blue could show up in constructed again?
Please, don't become a hypocrite by over-compensating.



That was on purpose, it was intended to be sarcastic.

But I admit, maybe I went a bit to far. (And proof reading this post it seemed I did it again;)).

It just anoys me that especially younger/inexperienced players tend to overrate countermagic or blue cards in general so much. I am also extremely dissatified with the current standard metagame, not only because of the lack of blue but because of the terrible play style (topdeck war). I can´t avoid the impression, that in the last few months (years) we went from a strengthening of creatures (not a bad thing) to the complete erasement of any other kind of deck strategy besides creatures-based aggro.


Playing Treasure Hunt "on its own" (not as a combo enabler) will likely average out to be better than Sign in Blood; it will draw you two cards more often than it draws you one, it's easier to cast, it costs you no life, and - this is important - you will ALWAYS draw a spell.  By the time you need to refill your hand, you can cast it and still have counter mana open.



I can´t agree here, yes Sign in Blood needs a heavy black aligned deck, but "on its own" its the more reliable spell. Treasure Hunt gives you a guaranteed spell but any further card advantage (which isn´t guaranteed) are allways land cards. Unlike Sign in Blood you can´t just toss it in any deck and expect it to shine. You need a use for these extra lands, otherwise its a bad cantrip and you could just stick with ponder (if you want to stay blue). Not to mention: there allways the possibility to pay a 2 mana sorcery for a cantrip. The 2 lifepoints are negligible.



There is land destruction in Standard.  I'll hedge my bets and say it probably won't win a Pro Tour, but it does exist.  Currently, in R/G, there are three 2-mana accelerators and three 4-mana land kills (followed then by Acidic Slime and Mold Shambler as you curve up).  You can consistently destroy a land on turns 3-6, and by that time you've probably got the game (especially if you're also splashing white for Ajani Vengeant).



Come on, they have nearly no impact in any format right now - yes they exist -  but would you bother playing them? No, you use Spreading Seas -  since blue mana is as bad as no mana for a 3 colour deck ;) (sorry couln´t pass up that remark). Lets stay realistic - my opponents play Bloodbraid Elf - I play Acid Slime? Simply no.


To say there are no "efficient" counters in Standard is a bit imprecise.  Standard's counters are actually very efficient; there are three 2-mana counters and two 1-mana counters.  What you mean is that there are very few *versatile* counters.  WotC doesn't want you to be able to counter ALL of your opponent's spells; if you're waiting for the return of the Counter Deck, I've got bad news for you.  (Though you do have my sympathy; it's no fun to see a deck archetype you like go away.)  The modern role of countermagic is to (a) disrupt your opponent's *key* spells, rather than all of them; and (b) protect your own key spells from your opponent's countermagic.  For instance, if you're running something creature-heavy (like Allies), you can run Negates to protect them from sweepers.  You can also run Flashfreeze/Negate to protect yourself from Blightning or Cruel Ultimatum, or use Dispel if you're the one casting those sorceries.



If you don´t want to call them "ineficient", maybe we should say they aren´t playworthy. The story of the boring "counter deck" which is incredible powerful and "counters all your spells" is an urban legend. I believe the last really counter-heavy (and successful) control deck in standard  would´ve been Psychatog - some builds featured 12 counter spells and more. This is now 10 years ago.

Flashfreeze proves one thing: the metagame at the moment is so heavy red/green aligned that you can use it as a Counterspell replacement - and even run it in the main deck (main-decked colour hosers are allways a sign of a warped metagame).

For the situational counters: a situational counter isn´t worth nor powerful enough to be played regulary. You can´t run an unreliable card, which has no impact on its own, and expect to build a good deck. You can use Negate if the metagame favors a certain deck, which relies heavy on certain, vulnerable cards (combo for example). This makes Negate by far the best of the available situational counters, but don´t fool yourself its easier to play other cards instead.

Your Allies are a good example - just skip Negate. Its better to just play more allies in the deck and play around the mass removal instead. And since you´re playing a creature-based aggro deck your opponent really shouldn´t be able to reach the mana for the ultimatum.

The modern role of counter magic is the sideboard or to see no play at all.


Also, this: ~
is just as overreactionary as what you're (correctly) calling out in this:~
Please, don't become a hypocrite by over-compensating.



I admit, I went a bit to far with the last passage. (And proof reading this post it seemed I did it again;)). But it anoys me that especially younger/inexperienced players tend to overrate countermagic or blue cards in general so much. I am also extremely dissatified with the current standard metagame, not only because of the lack of blue but because of the terrible play style. (I am looking at you cascade!) I can´t avoid the impression, that in the last few months (years) we went from a strengthening of creatures (not a bad thing) to the complete erasement of any other kind of deck strategy besides creatures-based aggro.



Re: Treasure Hunt - I still disagree, but we're both talking in theory.  We may just have to wait and see which of us (or, perhaps, neither of us?) is correct.

Re: Land destruction - The goal of "Spread 'Em" is to neuter early lands for a tempo advantage.  I'm talking about dedicated land destruction.  Pre-Worldwake (actually, pre-spoilers) I got curious and built it for an FNM with no testing.  I went 3-1.  Every game that I destroyed a land on turn 3 I won - no exceptions.  That was before WWK increased the 2-mana accelerators and 4-mana land kills by 50% each (Explore and Roiling Terrain).  Your BBE vs Acidic Slime comparison would be valid for a "regular" deck, but is decidedly INvalid when the Slime knocks them back down to 1 land and they can't ever cast the Elf.  I dare you to try it (PM me your decklist and results) and see what happens.

Re: Counters - First, you need to do your homework - on this very website (Tom LaPille's article addressing the state of Blue) there was a decklist of a high-performing blue deck with over 20 counters (and if memory serves, none of them specified what type of spell could be countered).  That's the type of deck I was talking about.  Even so, I'm willing to listen to your argument about counters being unplayable, but I need you to me more specific: what, in your opinion, is the proper role of countermagic, and in what ways do the existing counters fail to fill that role?  Please be specific; not just the "Mana Leak or Remand plz" that most people keep reciting.  Give me reasons.


Re: omg nothing but creature aggro - Have you not noticed the strong results of UWR Control pre-WWK?

EDIT: Come to think of it, why did you make that reference to "younger/inexperienced players"?  I hope you weren't trying to suggest that because I disagree with you, I must be younger than you and/or worse at Magic than you, because that would be rather self-defeating; neither of us have the means to verifiably prove our age or skill to the other (unless you live near Little Canada, MN?), and if you wanted to make a comparison of general intellect, the only objective measuring stick readily available would be our relative proficiency with the English language.


Re: Treasure Hunt - I still disagree, but we're both talking in theory.  We may just have to wait and see which of us (or, perhaps, neither of us?) is correct.

Re: Land destruction - The goal of "Spread 'Em" is to neuter early lands for a tempo advantage.  I'm talking about dedicated land destruction.  Pre-Worldwake (actually, pre-spoilers) I got curious and built it for an FNM with no testing.  I went 3-1.  Every game that I destroyed a land on turn 3 I won - no exceptions.  That was before WWK increased the 2-mana accelerators and 4-mana land kills by 50% each (Explore and Roiling Terrain).  Your BBE vs Acidic Slime comparison would be valid for a "regular" deck, but is decidedly INvalid when the Slime knocks them back down to 1 land and they can't ever cast the Elf.  I dare you to try it (PM me your decklist and results) and see what happens.


Re: Counters - First, you need to do your homework - on this very website (Tom LaPille's article addressing the state of Blue) there was a decklist of a high-performing blue deck with over 20 counters (and if memory serves, none of them specified what type of spell could be countered).  That's the type of deck I was talking about.  Even so, I'm willing to listen to your argument about counters being unplayable, but I need you to me more specific: what, in your opinion, is the proper role of countermagic, and in what ways do the existing counters fail to fill that role?  Please be specific; not just the "Mana Leak or Remand plz" that most people keep reciting.  Give me reasons.


Re: omg nothing but creature aggro - Have you not noticed the strong results of UWR Control pre-WWK?

EDIT: Come to think of it, why did you make that reference to "younger/inexperienced players"?  I hope you weren't trying to suggest that because I disagree with you, I must be younger than you and/or worse at Magic than you, because that would be rather self-defeating; neither of us have the means to verifiably prove our age or skill to the other (unless you live near Little Canada, MN?), and if you wanted to make a comparison of general intellect, the only objective measuring stick readily available would be our relative proficiency with the English language.




I agree on the Treasure Hunt matter and I am curious about the deck list you used.

As for the article:

Trust me I´ve read it, more than one time and each time it made me more angry. Its a cheap and badly written article, with the simple intention to claim thats nothing wrong with blue atm (which is not the case in my opinion.) Just look how Tom tries to influence the readers opinion in the beginning with the posting of a ridicilous old MUC decklist. (A deck which, in this way never existed again). Also his claims that you need to think BEFORE the tournament how to build your deck and which counterspells to use - just an excuse, and every long-time player knows it. Its called metagame, exist nearly since the beginning of magic. The fact ist: you can´t run a game with counterspells which could possible be unplayable and expect to win. No, your metagaming will just show, that its better to just run no counters.

To make it specific, since counters are absolutley reactive cards, thus highly situational allready they need to be versatile enough to be playworthy. In addition since they aren´t capable of influcing the board position at all, they need to be cheap + powerful enough to compare with the (at the moment) effective creatures/permanents. The people mention cards like Mana Leak + Remand because they are incredible well balanced cards.

I don´t want (or expect) to have dozens of effective counters available, but 1-2  of the mentioned playworthy counterspells would really help the format in my opinion. Something to make a step away from this format, which plays like portal magic and forces players to think again about their manacurves.

For UWR Control: Jund is still incredible dominant and I´ve watched so many games where a UW variant played Walletslayer and won the game, just because the opponent didn´t have that removal ready, its not funny anymore.

The inexperienced players was a reference to the post of gildedhorse (which is no insult in my opinion), I just got the impression that he doesn´t play magic for very long since he overrates TH so much. My proficiency of the english language certainly isn´t the best, I am german. But I try to improve it by reading english websites and arguing on english boards. (I can´t prove it to you, but I assure you that I am 30 years old and play magic since Mercadian Masques (tournaments 1-2 years later).
To make it specific, since counters are absolutley reactive cards, thus highly situational allready they need to be versatile enough to be playworthy. In addition since they aren´t capable of influcing the board position at all, they need to be cheap + powerful enough to compare with the (at the moment) effective creatures/permanents. The people mention cards like Mana Leak + Remand because they are incredible well balanced cards.

I don´t want (or expect) to have dozens of effective counters available, but 1-2  of the mentioned playworthy counterspells would really help the format in my opinion. Something to make a step away from this format, which plays like portal magic and forces players to think again about their manacurves.



But what role are they supposed to play, in your opinion?  You've said that counters need to be more versatile, cheap and powerful.  But my question is what they have to be powerful enough to do.  For instance, I claimed that their role was to deal with a spell an opponent's relying on to win (Cruel Ultimatum), a spell that hurts you pretty badly (Blightning) or a spell that directly interferes with your own plan (your opponent's countermagic when you cast your own Cruel Ultimatum, or their sweepers if you have important creatures).  If you agree with that perspective, then we can debate the power levels of the counters that perform those functions.  If not, then please specify what it is you think counters should be contributing to Magic.  We can't really debate power level if we're not in agreement on the task at hand.  If I'm trying to bake a cake and you're trying to make clay pottery, then we'll never agree on what the right type of oven is.  ;)  Let's see if we can come to an understanding of what we're each wanting to do with our countermagic (even if our stances turn out to be different).  Then we can talk about whether the available counters are filling those roles. 

Also, sorry about my comment regarding English.  It didn't occur to me that it might not be your native language.  I hope you'll forgive that insensitivity.

EDIT:  I forgot to mention - I'm curious how a lack of commonly played countermagic causes people to ignore their mana curves.  Please elaborate.
words


I'd like counters that would be flexible enough to put the hurt on early game rushes, while still being somewhat powerful against decks whose main gameplan would be to windmill slam a Cruel Ultimatum on turn 7. Like Mana Leak. Hell, even Miscaculation.

I'd like to create a hiccup in my opponent's tempo and possibly steal a turn. Like Remand.

Y'know what I don't want to use? A slightly amped Disrupt that removes the cantrip. A glorified collusion of Envelop and Flash Counter. A 3-cmc soft counter that's worse, on it's face, than Convolute.

I'd like the format to no longer be just about playing big dudes and removal. There has to be some finesse.
i feel like the problem is A LOT of counters, not good counters. wotc controls the environment, so why not just print a good counterspell or two, wait for it to rotate, and then go ahead and repeat. cryptic command was not format warping. cryptic command + reflecting pool + 5 vivid lands + spellstutter sprite + bitterblossom was. without some cards that are inarguably broken, some that are at least poorly designed, and some very bad reprint choices, coming up against cryptic wouldn't have been much of an issue.

they could reprint remand or mana leak, and nothing else. people can maindeck those cards because they aren't so ridiculously situational, but if you only reprint one or two (or come out with something new but similarly powerful) then the dreaded super counterspell deck will not be able to happen anyway (especially if you keep draw and flash creatures under control). and something like remand or memory lapse really doesn't ruin timmy's day anyway. he gets the spell back, and he can just replay it next turn. no harm on the kitchen table crowd either. i understand that they don't want the game to be "unfun" but counters are an inherent part of blue's flavor. i don't think anyone could argue that. when the only counters that exist are highly situational hate cards that no one maindecks unless the format is screwed up, then counters are not a central part of the color's philosophy anymore and it just doesn't feel right.

i know i'm out of my depth here, but this is how i see it.

But what role are they supposed to play, in your opinion?  You've said that counters need to be more versatile, cheap and powerful.  But my question is what they have to be powerful enough to do.  For instance, I claimed that their role was to deal with a spell an opponent's relying on to win (Cruel Ultimatum), a spell that hurts you pretty badly (Blightning) or a spell that directly interferes with your own plan (your opponent's countermagic when you cast your own Cruel Ultimatum, or their sweepers if you have important creatures).  If you agree with that perspective, then we can debate the power levels of the counters that perform those functions.  If not, then please specify what it is you think counters should be contributing to Magic.  We can't really debate power level if we're not in agreement on the task at hand.  If I'm trying to bake a cake and you're trying to make clay pottery, then we'll never agree on what the right type of oven is.  ;)  Let's see if we can come to an understanding of what we're each wanting to do with our countermagic (even if our stances turn out to be different).  Then we can talk about whether the available counters are filling those roles. 



Mana Leak, Memory Lapse, Remand - those offer the necessary powerlevel. Its important that the spell cost 2 mana in my opinion, not less and certainly not more. In a time where I can cast 3 power creatures (with additional ability and without any drawback) for 3 mana, (heck some even for 2 mana) I can´t play Cancel. Also it must be capable of "countering" any kind of  spell. A situational card like Negate/Essence Scatter is just to unreliable and a sideboard card at best (Scatter especially, since unless you fear Cip triggers, it is just a terrible bad removal spell).

Personally I believe reprinting the original counterspell wouldn´t have as much of an impact as some players think. Counterspell needs a heavy commitment to blue mana which isn´t easy ensured in a 2 or more colour deck (unless Wotc prints an overabundance of land based manafixing again). But I understand that a spell which stays equal powerful from turn 2 to turn x seems a little awkward in modern magic, therefore Remand,Mana Leak, Rune Snag, Condescend or similar counterspells are much more elegant.


EDIT:  I forgot to mention - I'm curious how a lack of commonly played countermagic causes people to ignore their mana curves.  Please elaborate.



You really put a strain on me here ;). In short: counters tend to punish decks with a high manacurve. Creature-based midrange Decks like Bant (even Jund, altough its a bad example since the cascade mechanic crushes any kind of counterspell) have a much bigger problem with counterspells in general. A fast sligh-type deck or a control deck isn´t influenced as much (because a sligh deck can undercut the counterspells, while the control deck can afford to enter the lategame).

If you look at old decks (from a time where Mana Leak and/or Counterspell where available) you´ll notice that many decks have a much tighter manacurve unlike today. Few aggro decks would dare to play no first turn drop back then - today some jund players argue that the 2 mana drops are just unnecessary. 
Engineered Plague isn't extended legal, I really hope that wasn't in Osyp's deck. 
Blue is almost always underrated when a set first comes out. Not just by players but by WOTC too. When the onslaught block came out everybody expected blue to be the worst color of the set because it was all creatures. Wizards ended up being a very strong option. More recently, faeries surprised everybody as the deck to beat. The current extended tournaments are very heavy in blue, and still the best card to come out of this set for extended was a blue card. Also, a couple of writers have written dismissively of Treasure hunt getting you only one spell and land. But no one has mentioned this is the land set. Some decks are going to want to activate landfall, I do think that this card is going to prove to be too strong. As to the comment about aggro being the only choice, I do agree that Jund is very dominating, but isn't it about time that aggro dominates. Am I the only one that thinks that after Psychatog was dominant in every single format it has ever been except legacy, blue should be curtailed a bit?
Blue is almost always underrated when a set first comes out. Not just by players but by WOTC too. When the onslaught block came out everybody expected blue to be the worst color of the set because it was all creatures. Wizards ended up being a very strong option.


What? Wizards where no option at all!  To be exact, they were so bad even Wotc admited that! Wotc apologized to Kai Budde for this, since his Card (Voidmage Prodigy) was turned into a useless crap rare...


More recently, faeries surprised everybody as the deck to beat. The current extended tournaments are very heavy in blue, and still the best card to come out of this set for extended was a blue card. Also, a couple of writers have written dismissively of Treasure hunt getting you only one spell and land. But no one has mentioned this is the land set. Some decks are going to want to activate landfall, I do think that this card is going to prove to be too strong.



Bitterblossom gave faeries the tool it needed, thats not even a blue card. Before the deck was not dominant.

That aside, the extended tournaments are not "very heavy blue" in my opinion, but a healty format which features blue decks/cards. My last extended ptq featured a balanced metagame from combo to aggro altough very few control decks. Anyway I believe, thats the way it should be, each colour was played. And the reason for that is that in extended necessary blue disruption like Mana Leak is available.

For the Treasure Hunt matter: Jiggy777 is right, only time will show its impact. But your statement that the card will bend the format is very very unlikely for me. Yes it is the land set, but its not like a land orientated deck is played at the moment. Even if - the card is comparable with Sign in Blood, not Skullclamp.


As to the comment about aggro being the only choice, I do agree that Jund is very dominating, but isn't it about time that aggro dominates. Am I the only one that thinks that after Psychatog was dominant in every single format it has ever been except legacy, blue should be curtailed a bit?



The only format where aggro saw no play must have been Urza. A single dominant deck (and Jund is even more dominant than faeries were- maybe because its much easier to build and play) is never a good thing. You´re pretending that aggro saw no play the last blocks, but the truth is aggro decks were always played in standard (especially with the strenghtening of creatures in the last years). The current metagame resembels more and more the affinity-era, every deck you build needs to be able to deal with Jund, otherwise you shouldn´t bother building it.

Psychatog was dominant more than 10 years ago (and the deck wasn´t as annoying to play against with aggro as AstralSlide or Mirari´sWake...) it saw play in the other formats, but it certainly didn´t dominate them.

I'd like counters that would be flexible enough to put the hurt on early game rushes, while still being somewhat powerful against decks whose main gameplan would be to windmill slam a Cruel Ultimatum on turn 7.



Thank you, this is the type of explanation I've been looking for; I was beginning to think I was articulating my question poorly.  Previously I was only seeing two uses for counters: the Counter Deck, and shielding your spells/dudes/face from your opponent (as I described before).  I think I could categorize what you said as a third option.  To make sure I understand you, you're saying you'd like something that could be played as an Essence Scatter early to screw with tempo, but also be able to potentially Negate a game-ending spell in the late game.  Does that sound right?

I'm having trouble deciding what I think of this idea.  It sounds reasonable enough in theory.  If Magic 2010 had used Mana Leak instead of Cancel, but kept everything else the same, would that achieve what you're wanting?  I wonder what that would do to the metagame.  In the current format (plus Mana Leak), I worry that it would kill decks that wanted to break the game with big spells - either Cruel Control style decks or pretty much any mana ramp deck - because you would start with Mana Leak and then board in Negate, and seems like too much for those decks to overcome (unless those decks also run blue for counters, but having to run blue in order to compete with blue seems like a step in the wrong direction).  Would that kill big-mana-finisher decks?  If so, is that okay?  You've got me pondering.  Thanks!
Today some jund players argue that the 2 mana drops are just unnecessary. 



Add this to my argument that Land Destruction is viable in Standard.  ;)  With WWK added to the mix, you can blow up a land on turn 3 every game and seriously punish any deck that's not playing Goblin Guide on turn 1.  :D
Today some jund players argue that the 2 mana drops are just unnecessary. 



Add this to my argument that Land Destruction is viable in Standard.  ;)  With WWK added to the mix, you can blow up a land on turn 3 every game and seriously punish any deck that's not playing Goblin Guide on turn 1.  :D



I'm finding with WWK in the mix it's pretty easy to find decks that can handle controll, and midrange, but get slaughtered by aggro.
It's a shame becuase they'll look pretty fun, and i'll test vs Jund or Cruel to great efect, then I give the other player my Boros and there's next to nothing I can do.

I hate straight rock-paper-scisors matchups, especally becuase the bulk of the format is going away from Jund and beating Eldrazi and Vamps is gonna be key in the next few months.

Blue Land destruction is pretty lol, locking them at 3 lands (which are islands) at you beat them with Turtles.
But Mono Red or RG are probably much better becuase they can establish that turn 3 Runiblaster/Roiling Terrain a lot more offten, then win with Valakut/KHE combo.
But Mono Red or RG are probably much better becuase they can establish that turn 3 Runiblaster/Roiling Terrain a lot more offten, then win with Valakut/KHE combo.



Actually, in RG Land Destruction you win by attacking with the Slimes and Shamblers that you used to blow up their lands.  That's part of why the deck works - you don't have to fit a kill into the deck *next to* the land destruction (and risk drawing the wrong things at the wrong time), you just kill them with the things that blew up their lands.
Turn 2 - Rampant Growth/Trace of Abundance/Explore
Turn 3 - Demolish/Goblin Ruinblaster/Roiling Terrain
Turn 4 - Ditto or Acidic Slime
Turn 5 - Mold Shambler/Acidic Slime OR 4-mana land kill and another ramp
Meanwhile, they haven't cast anything, and you have dudes to swing with.
Would someone mind explaining the Scapeshift / Valakut combo?  I've seen this discussed a few places now but don't quite get how it causes 18 damage.  "With seven lands on the battlefield, this deck can cast ..."OpenTip(event, "Scapeshift")" href="...:autoCardWindow('Scapeshift')" style="outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 12px; color: #990000; text-decoration: none; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border: 0px initial initial;">Scapeshift to find ..."OpenTip(event, "Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle")" href="...:autoCardWindow('Valakut,_the_Molten_Pinnacle')" style="outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 12px; color: #990000; text-decoration: none; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border: 0px initial initial;">Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and six ..."OpenTip(event, "Mountain")" href="...:autoCardWindow('Mountain')" style="outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 12px; color: #990000; text-decoration: none; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; border: 0px initial initial;">Mountains to hit the opponent for 18."

Wouldn't the first 5 mountains do nothing (because Valakut requires 5 mountains under control) and only the sixth would do 3 damage, for a total of....3?

I'm sure there's a finer point I'm missing and if someone would gently point out the error in my thinking it would be appreciated ;) 
The way the game sees it, all 6 Mountians are Mountian #6, so each one does its 3 damage.

Playing Treasure Hunt "on its own" (not as a combo enabler) will likely average out to be better than Sign in Blood; it will draw you two cards more often than it draws you one, it's easier to cast, it costs you no life, and - this is important - you will ALWAYS draw a spell.


Treasure Hunt, from the standpoint of Standard constructed play, is in no way comparable to Sign in Blood. The life loss of Sign in Blood is negligible, else people would not have played with Thoughtseize or Putrid Leech.
In Standard, drawing a bunch of lands will probably lead to a game loss. So it doesn't matter if you draw two with Sign in Blood or 10 with Treasure Hunt.
Treasure Hunt is reasonable in Extended, if one is playing Swans, or maybe it could fit in Scapeshift, I'm not sure.
It's good in Legacy, in the 42Land.dec.
There is land destruction in Standard.  I'll hedge my bets and say it probably won't win a Pro Tour, but it does exist.


I think he was leaning more toward the playable land destruction as opposed to a card that happened to say "destroy target land."
Currently, in R/G, there are three 2-mana accelerators and three 4-mana land kills (followed then by Acidic Slime and Mold Shambler as you curve up).  You can consistently destroy a land on turns 3-6, and by that time you've probably got the game (especially if you're also splashing white for Ajani Vengeant).


Currently, a deck full of mana accelerators, curving out on land destruction spells, and Ajani Vengeant isn't a very good idea.
"It seems ridiculous to me that a playworthy blue card with constructed potential shows up and you immediately make predictions about the coming dominance of blue in standard."
Please, don't become a hypocrite by over-compensating.


I don't feel as if he was overcompensating. A card that is unusable in Standard, okay in extended, and good in Legacy (in one deck) just won't be a "broken" card. And it won't do anything for blue.

I can´t play Cancel.


We have to. We just have to.
I read Tom's article on more than one occasion, and that's basically what he was saying. Play with Cancel, because a turn 1 Nix followed by a turn 2 Daze followed by a turn 3 Sage's Dousing is just unfun for people. My thing is, so what? Let them figure it out.
If your opponent goes "counter, counter, counter" to everything you do, just go "manland, manland, manland, discard, discard, discard, unearth, unearth, unearth" and swing for the fences. Or curve with a turn 2 Vexing Shusher into Great Sable Stag into Spellbreaker Behemoth, then Timmy is free to resolve Krosan Cloudscraper after Krosan Cloudscraper with no problems.
Also, a couple of writers have written dismissively of Treasure hunt getting you only one spell and land. But no one has mentioned this is the land set. Some decks are going to want to activate landfall, I do think that this card is going to prove to be too strong.


Yes, this is a land set. But in and of themselves, and only counting Standard, the lands are okay, at best. Meaning, it really doesn't matter how many you can draw in a turn. And most of them don't even do anything all that impressive, or anything that really matters all that much to the outcome of a game.
And this card really won't prove to be too strong, unless something broken comes out in the next set.
Also, the decks that take the most advantage of Landfall don't want to play with this card.
The way the game sees it, all 6 Mountians are Mountian #6, so each one does its 3 damage.


Wait, what?
I showed the deck to a friend, and I know that it does work. But he asked me to explain how it worked by the rules, and I was at a loss.
Doesn't Smother kill tokens? According to rule 202.3a?

202.3a - The converted mana cost of an object with no mana cost is 0. [CompRules 2009/07/08]

Or have I missed something? It should kill manlands, too, since they technically have no mana cost.



You did miss something. To a token, Unsummon is equivalent or better than Path to Exile.

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The way the game sees it, all 6 Mountians are Mountian #6, so each one does its 3 damage.


Wait, what?
I showed the deck to a friend, and I know that it does work. But he asked me to explain how it worked by the rules, and I was at a loss.



When an effect puts more than one permanent onto the battlefield, they enter the battlefield at the same time. once they arrive on the battlefield, they trigger valakut 6 times, and valakut sees that you control enough mountains, and you may deal the damage. it wouldn't make sense for one mountain to deal the damage, because none of the mountains arrive before any other mountains. by the time valakut sees there are any mountains and triggers, you already control enough mountains for it to deal the damage.

Doesn't Smother kill tokens? According to rule 202.3a?

202.3a - The converted mana cost of an object with no mana cost is 0. [CompRules 2009/07/08]

Or have I missed something? It should kill manlands, too, since they technically have no mana cost.



You did miss something. To a token, Unsummon is equivalent or better than Path to Exile.



i think i missed something, because he's right that smother kills tokens and man lands. so what exactly are you trying to say to him? his thought that smother worked on marit lage has been corrected for a long time.

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