6/23/2011 TD: "What Now? What Next?"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's From the Lab article, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.
ITA Flores poorly disguises his RAGE at the bannings.
blah blah metal lyrics
This thread is for discussion of this week's From the Lab article, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.


I don't believe you
The banning of Stoneforge and Jace is simply a failure on R&D's part.

Flashback to Mirrodin: "Oh crap guys we broke it, NEVER MAKE POWERFUL ARTIFACTS AGAIN"

Mirrodin 2: "Ok guys, we need a gimmick ... how about unecessarily adding charge counters to every minor artifact in the block?"

Are Sphere of the Suns or Shriekhorn broken if they don't require charge counters? I doubt you will find anyone that would say yes. But thank god we have charge counters in the format so we have something to use with that proliferate mechanic.

The entire block is riddled with "powered down" design. So many of the artifacts are overcosted that they won't even see play in EDH ... seriously Omen Machine anyone? Mirrorworks? How about a knowledge pool? How many creeping corrosions have you seen in any competitive deck's sideboard? None? Can't imagine why an artifact sweeper wouldn't see play in an artifact block? Oh right, the artifacts suck. The problem is the artifacts were nerfed because R&D cannot properly gage a card's playability before printing it.

How about Metalcraft? Haha right ...
Infect? Hit the ball out of the park with that one. The only thing to do with infect strategies is pile in more giant growth effects, I doubt even the person playing infect is enjoying themselves when they can just lucksack 10 infect damage on turn two ... but we have mental misstep! ... right.

Sure Zendikar was a "power block" ... but you can power back down gradually ... Stoneforge was banned because R&D couldn't recognize that Batterskull + stoneforge in the same format was absolutely absurd. Jace was banned because R&D didn't print any reasonably alternative to playing Jace in standard.

Thank God the banhammer fell though ... now we can play six months of splinter twin combo decks because there is nothing else nearly as viable in the format.

Bravo!
ITA Flores poorly disguises his RAGE at the bannings.

I certainly didn't notice.

The fact that he notes that it's necessary to purchase these cards, soon to change significantly in value, if you don't have them, for play in events that take place before the ban goes into effect... well, it's a fact that he must note in an article with the given topic. To me, that fact itself shows how necessary the bans are, and the fact that this circumstance is a good reason to stay home if you don't already have the cards or are very flush with cash... is not something he exploited to send a hidden message, it's just a fact.

As to how good a Jace with three abilities can be... a Jace less insane than JTMS could be good. Jace Beleren, however, has the significant problem that its one loyalty-building ability benefits both players. Unlike the other planeswalkers, that makes it pretty much a situational card; it may have a role, but it's no pop-in replacement for JTMS.

He did his best to put a positive spin on things. I don't think it's rational to be enraged by the bannings (which is why I doubt that he is). They're unfortunate, but they aren't gratuitously unnecessary. The thing to be concerned about is the underlying problem of which the bannings were a symptom.

More good cards per set, but no truly overpowered cards; that's the cure. But it is easier to say than to do, because exciting cards, the more overpriced the better, sell boosters - and more of those can mean power inflation, and staying far away from any of them can mean a block like Kamigawa. With Richard Garfield around for Innistrad, to show them how it's done - since he engineered Magic with all its inherent mechanisms to achieve balance - I think there's hope.

A Magic:2012 rules change, anyone?

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

"This upcoming weekend will be something different; maybe something special. For many players—the players who have been plugging at it the past several tournaments—it will represent a last chance to tap four mana for Jace, the Mind Sculptor in Standard.

How is it going to be different? It's just another tournament with Jace and Mystic. The fact that it's the last of their reign of terror only means even more people will play them, just to get some final value out of them. The only real question is wether Cawblade or Twinblade will win.

"Some players—especially those who have never summoned a Stoneforge Mystic or bounced a mana-producing creature with the most vilified of planeswalkers—may see a first chance and a last chance at once."

Have you been paying attention to the results, Flores? Cawblade crushes just about everything. Unless you mean they have a final opportunity to die a heroic death against Cawblade, other decks still don't stand a chance.

"It's a strange world; about to get stranger. Let's keep it that way."

First we saw months of Cawblade monopolizing victory. Now we get a few months of Titans and 'win before the Titan comes'. I'm still missing the strangeness, as well the reason to keep it like this. It's an unjoyable world, and looks to stay that way. Let's pray for Innistrad. 

Cawblade or Twinblade will undoubtably be the strongest deck this weekend as people eek out the last chance to play with JTMS and Stoneforge in standard.  Personally, if I was playing this weekend I would MD 4 Torpor Orb as this is about the strongest answer to Caw and Twinblade at the moment.

Dear Mike


What a very interesting article. I particularly liked the bit where…


Oh who am I kidding, I came here to gloat.


Let’s get it over with then because this day has been long coming. You were wrong about the health of the format. You have been wrong for a long time. As banner waver of an overpowered mythic that should never have been printed you’ve refused to acknowledge what is apparent to the majority of players: This. Isn’t. Fun. You haven’t said a bad word against a situation which has been the single most complained about issue in magic forums – the $100 card that is a barrier not just to those who don’t have them, but even to those who have (ie. restricting choices). Not one word. I think this is the closest you came to acknowledging the issue, almost on the eve of the banning, was this:


Most of you know that I actually like this format and don't see a huge problem around Caw-Blade or its primary weapons, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic

… I claimed a few weeks ago that the "Age of Caw-Blade" is done, and despite some continued success (e.g., PV's win in the recent Grand Prix), the deck's stranglehold seems to have loosened up...


~ Mike Flores, June 16th



Well, let me offer an alternative view, four days later:


The Standard metagame is stagnant and unhealthy at the moment, and has been for months. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is appearing in winning deck lists an alarming percentage of the time, with Stoneforge Mystic appearing almost as often. For reference, 88% of the decks in Day 2 of Grand Prix Singapore contained multiple copies of Jace, and almost 70% of the Day 2 decks contained Stoneforge Mystic. The numbers from Pro Tour Qualifiers and independent large events like the StarCityGames.com Open Series look very similar.

We haven't seen cards dominate the field like this, possibly ever.


~ Aaron Forsythe, June 20th



Okay, you’re entitled to your opinion even if many disagree. But I find it disappointing that after defending the status quo so fiercely for the last year, your article today is absent comment on the bannings. Right or wrong, Mike? Surely you must have a view. This has been my issue with your feature for some time, that you don’t venture any opinions which aren’t endorsing the status quo. Apart from a thinly veiled pout to run Jaces this weekend, there was not even a squeak of protest worthy of someone who holds to a view.


Mike, you have a wonderful ability to catalogue deck lists in a way which makes for interesting reading, a privileged seat of insight into the pro circuit, and arguably the best platform in the world to pass comment on the state of the game. I hate to see that squandered by pandering to the status quo and ignoring the issues bothering a large population of players. For example, I have made numerous references to the mythification of standard being a bad thing, but as a commercial issue that doesn’t affect you it has never formed part of your assessment. I would say, in light of the fall in attendance at standard, it does affect the game. Without the introduction of chase mythics, there would never have been the $100 card in modern standard. Without the $400 playset, would the numbers have fallen so hard? It’s all connected, so I feel you should deign it worthy of your attention going forward.


Alright, I won’t bang on. You’ve been roundly called on your claims and insular views on the game and that’s been long overdue. But most people are aligned in wanting the game to be a success, and for those in a position of power (which you are) to be responsible custodians of the game, so I will end on a positive note. Your final sentence.


 

But you know what's cool? … We don't know what is going to be the best yet… Brewers will see wide open fields of wheat and hops and card advantage… ~ Mike Flores, June 23rd


This. Maybe there’s hope for you yet ;)


 


Respectfully


 


Highwayman


Dear Mike


What a very interesting article. I particularly liked the bit where…


Oh who am I kidding, I came here to gloat.


Let’s get it over with then because this day has been long coming. You were wrong about the health of the format. You have been wrong for a long time. As banner waver of an overpowered mythic that should never have been printed you’ve refused to acknowledge what is apparent to the majority of players: This. Isn’t. Fun. You haven’t said a bad word against a situation which has been the single most complained about issue in magic forums – the $100 card that is a barrier not just to those who don’t have them, but even to those who have (ie. restricting choices). Not one word. I think this is the closest you came to acknowledging the issue, almost on the eve of the banning, was this:


Most of you know that I actually like this format and don't see a huge problem around Caw-Blade or its primary weapons, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic

… I claimed a few weeks ago that the "Age of Caw-Blade" is done, and despite some continued success (e.g., PV's win in the recent Grand Prix), the deck's stranglehold seems to have loosened up...


~ Mike Flores, June 16th



Well, let me offer an alternative view, four days later:


The Standard metagame is stagnant and unhealthy at the moment, and has been for months. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is appearing in winning deck lists an alarming percentage of the time, with Stoneforge Mystic appearing almost as often. For reference, 88% of the decks in Day 2 of Grand Prix Singapore contained multiple copies of Jace, and almost 70% of the Day 2 decks contained Stoneforge Mystic. The numbers from Pro Tour Qualifiers and independent large events like the StarCityGames.com Open Series look very similar.

We haven't seen cards dominate the field like this, possibly ever.


~ Aaron Forsythe, June 20th



Okay, you’re entitled to your opinion even if many disagree. But I find it disappointing that after defending the status quo so fiercely for the last year, your article today is absent comment on the bannings. Right or wrong, Mike? Surely you must have a view. This has been my issue with your feature for some time, that you don’t venture any opinions which aren’t endorsing the status quo. Apart from a thinly veiled pout to run Jaces this weekend, there was not even a squeak of protest worthy of someone who holds to a view.


Mike, you have a wonderful ability to catalogue deck lists in a way which makes for interesting reading, a privileged seat of insight into the pro circuit, and arguably the best platform in the world to pass comment on the state of the game. I hate to see that squandered by pandering to the status quo and ignoring the issues bothering a large population of players. For example, I have made numerous references to the mythification of standard being a bad thing, but as a commercial issue that doesn’t affect you it has never formed part of your assessment. I would say, in light of the fall in attendance at standard, it does affect the game. Without the introduction of chase mythics, there would never have been the $100 card in modern standard. Without the $400 playset, would the numbers have fallen so hard? It’s all connected, so I feel you should deign it worthy of your attention going forward.


Alright, I won’t bang on. You’ve been roundly called on your claims and insular views on the game and that’s been long overdue. But most people are aligned in wanting the game to be a success, and for those in a position of power (which you are) to be responsible custodians of the game, so I will end on a positive note. Your final sentence.


 

But you know what's cool? … We don't know what is going to be the best yet… Brewers will see wide open fields of wheat and hops and card advantage… ~ Mike Flores, June 23rd


This. Maybe there’s hope for you yet ;)


 


Respectfully


 


Highwayman




Do you think before you type?  It's his job.  Yeah it's definetly a smart idea to say hey the bannings were wrong when he writes for the company that initiated the ban to begin with.  And if you aren't capable of reading in between the lines or maybe going outside the webpage to find info(like on twitter) then you're probably not capable of even playing a deck like caw blade even if you did have the money for it.  If you're going to whine at least have some amount of common sense.

The sun is shining. The Jace is banning. Sorry, Numdiar, no amount of trolling will spoil my mood today. :p
ITA Flores poorly disguises his RAGE at the bannings.

I certainly didn't notice.

The fact that he notes that it's necessary to purchase these cards, soon to change significantly in value, if you don't have them, for play in events that take place before the ban goes into effect... well, it's a fact that he must note in an article with the given topic. To me, that fact itself shows how necessary the bans are, and the fact that this circumstance is a good reason to stay home if you don't already have the cards or are very flush with cash... is not something he exploited to send a hidden message, it's just a fact.


Note the timestamp. I was making a prediction.
blah blah metal lyrics

Do you think before you type?  It's his job.  Yeah it's definetly a smart idea to say hey the bannings were wrong when he writes for the company that initiated the ban to begin with.  And if you aren't capable of reading in between the lines or maybe going outside the webpage to find info(like on twitter) then you're probably not capable of even playing a deck like caw blade even if you did have the money for it.  If you're going to whine at least have some amount of common sense.



Actually, I think you're the one not applying common sense.

MF has for a long time refused to acknowledge the dominance that Jace has on the format and, more recently, in conjunction with Stoneforge Mystic has created a deck that dominates standard.  It is not just the best deck in standard it is overwhelmingly the deck that has to be played if you want more than a miniscule risk of winning.  Just take a look at the figures from today's article to see how dominate it is and the fact that MF himself says that if you want to play a deck this weekend you should be running 4 JTMS and SM. 

Last week, MF said that he thought that the power of Cawblade was in decline and used some very biased figures to support that position (as he ignored the fact that most people were playing Cawblade at the invitational and simply used the Starcity figures), which is clearly, at best, a misunderstanding of the position or, at worst, a deliberate attempt to manipulate perception.  What Highwayman and myself and other people were hoping for was an acknowledgement by MF that he was wrong about the strength of Cawblade and that, on that basis, the bannings were correct.  Alternatively, MF should have said that despite an environment with the most powerful (relatively speaking) deck ever in standard he didn't think the bans were necessary.  Instead, MF ducked an issue that last week he was more than happy to discuss because he has been proven wrong.

As for saying you need to read twitter (or something similar) in order to be able Cawblade that's such rubbish it doesn't even bear responding to.

Here's to a game where you have to know more than just how to win the control mirror!

Ironic that Bjorn won a PTQ in Philadelphia for Pro Tour Philly?



It's not ironic, it's just coincidental!

Also, except for GW infect, all of the decks you wrote about have either Jace or Mystic as a critical deck engine. They're not a vision of any future past Sunday.

The banning of Stoneforge and Jace is simply a failure on R&D's part.

Flashback to Mirrodin: "Oh crap guys we broke it, NEVER MAKE POWERFUL ARTIFACTS AGAIN"

Mirrodin 2: "Ok guys, we need a gimmick ... how about unecessarily adding charge counters to every minor artifact in the block?"

Are Sphere of the Suns or Shriekhorn broken if they don't require charge counters? I doubt you will find anyone that would say yes. But thank god we have charge counters in the format so we have something to use with that proliferate mechanic.

The entire block is riddled with "powered down" design. So many of the artifacts are overcosted that they won't even see play in EDH ... seriously Omen Machine anyone? Mirrorworks? How about a knowledge pool? How many creeping corrosions have you seen in any competitive deck's sideboard? None? Can't imagine why an artifact sweeper wouldn't see play in an artifact block? Oh right, the artifacts suck. The problem is the artifacts were nerfed because R&D cannot properly gage a card's playability before printing it.

How about Metalcraft? Haha right ...
Infect? Hit the ball out of the park with that one. The only thing to do with infect strategies is pile in more giant growth effects, I doubt even the person playing infect is enjoying themselves when they can just lucksack 10 infect damage on turn two ... but we have mental misstep! ... right.

Sure Zendikar was a "power block" ... but you can power back down gradually ... Stoneforge was banned because R&D couldn't recognize that Batterskull + stoneforge in the same format was absolutely absurd. Jace was banned because R&D didn't print any reasonably alternative to playing Jace in standard.

Thank God the banhammer fell though ... now we can play six months of splinter twin combo decks because there is nothing else nearly as viable in the format.

Bravo!



A vast majority of cards in every block are Limited fodder; this isn't something exclusive to the new Mirrodin block. Cards such as the Swords and Batterskull are artifacts of a power level we haven't seen since Jitte. Sure, if you simply look at the common cards that set a block's identity in drafts and ignore the cards that are actually being played in tournaments, it can look like they're nerfing all artifacts. Manic Vandal and other artifact removal is being maindecked in many lists; does it have to be Creeping Corrosion specifically to satisfy you?

The last two times they pushed artifacts heavily (Urza's and Mirrodin blocks) it blew up in their faces. I think it was wise for them to use caution this time around. The fact that they printed several powerful artifacts for tournament use without artifact-based decks becoming the problem in the format seems like a huge success to me. They obviously know how to gauge the power level of cards well enough to correct past mistakes.

Also, Omen Machine, Knowledge Pool, Mirrorworks all do see play EDH. You might want to check things like this out before you start non-constructively criticizing them. 
I find it ironic Mr. Flores, that in the very next article after you tried to explain why Caw-Blade was not a problem, that you would display this image:




While a positive outlook is no doubt good for future employment, Mike has often indicated that he's free to write whatever he wants.  And I don't mind that he has his own opinions.  I do wish he'd stop trying to lingo-up his writing though, because sometimes it's hard to get to the bottom of that opinion.


To wit, it took me a couple columns and a podcast before I understood his Jace position.  Mike wants Magic to be a game of skill, first and foremost.  Variety is further down the list.  Yes, Jace lists (and specifially Caw-Blade) are dominating, but they're dominating in the hands of good players.  A random person couldn't just buy the best deck and randomly win, as could happen with (say) Jund.


So he would rather have 1 deck with maybe 10% variation - provided it requires skill - make up the whole format than have a dozen decks and wild variation that sometimes just wins.  Now I don't much care for that point of view.  I like lots of variety, not least of which because it requires skill-based decks to be even more skillfully played.  Bud I understand it.  People play poker, and that deck hasn't changed in centuries.


But anyone who acts like Mike is crazy because he values things differently is just being willfully stubborn, and I can't respect that.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

I find it ironic Mr. Flores, that in the very next article after you tried to explain why Caw-Blade was not a problem, that you would display this image:




This article should have been called "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics."
I gotta say... Flores seems... Upset... At the banning.

He's not very enthusiastic about endorsing something that was obviously good for the format.
On a totally unrelated note, have you noticed that the first two standard bannings since original Mirrodin both come from Ken Nagle's first lead design? Not to blame him (because it's ultimately development's fault), just saying . . .
On a totally unrelated note, have you noticed that the first two standard bannings since original Mirrodin both come from Ken Nagle's first lead design? Not to blame him (because it's ultimately development's fault), just saying . . .

I blame Hasbro.

Given that quarterly report where they said they were breathing down everyone's neck after the stock market crash, following up Zendikar's "hidden treasures" with JTMS should not be considered... unusual.

They were fighting to ensure that Magic would survive, and they won that battle. It came with a cost to the game, a cost that was unsupportable. Hence, the current bannings, even though so little time remained before rotation would cause the problem to solve itself.

Things happen - it's tough all around.

Is Magic: 2012 going to have enough hate in it so that the bannings can be reversed? That probably won't happen, since that would really cause ill feelings on the part of people who sold their copies at lower prices to partially recoup their paper losses... and, anyways, while JTMS could be hated out, I don't see an obvious way to do that for Stoneforge Mystic that wouldn't cause other problems.

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.