01/27/2012 LD: "Cage Match"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.

I love how this article doesn't actually addresses the issue of it shutting down archetypes that were in position to actually be born if not for the Cage. Like, why no mention of Burning Vengeance? At all? A word or two would have been nice, just for acknowledgement.

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Let's say people try to play Burning Vengeance decks and get completely shut down and lose games against the cage.  People will stop playing those decks.  Consequently, cage will be a dead card in people's decks/sideboards.  They will stop putting cage in their decks in favor of more useful cards.

Then people can play their Burning Vengeance and Pod decks.  If the decks are too good, then yes, they will get hated out, and the cycle will begin again.


What I'm curious about (and don't take this for anger or anything) is why the cage only costs 1 mana.  Did playtesting indicate that a higher mana cost was a problem?
I appreciate Zac talking about this.  It's nice to have some insight into Development's collective thinking on this kind of thing.

I want to be careful not to sound too negative, but I wonder if Development reassesses the testing process when the standard metagame diverges so radically from what they saw in testing (or what it sounds like they saw, from the article, anyway).  I understand that they're not going to "solve" the metagame in the FFL, and I agree that any metagame that they could figure out themselves in testing would be a very bad one, since the community would have it figured out and stagnant in a matter of weeks.  So I have no problem with things like missing the dominance of Delver strategies... that took the entire community a long time to work out, even though people were trying UW Blade decks in pre-launch testing, and those decks aren't closing off the metagame in the way that dominant strategies of the past have. 

But I'm surprised at things like expecting Pod decks to be powerful, to the point of requiring such strong dedicated hate.  I recall seeing people testing proxied Wolf Run Ramp decks at my local game store before Innistrad was even out (like many others, they basically started by just rebuilding Valakut with Wolf Run and Inkmoth Nexus instead of Valakut, and there it was).  It seemed immediately clear that it was a powerhouse, and it just blew less-competitive decks like Pod out of the water, even early on.  If not for the eventual power level of Moorland Haunt decks, I think the metagame would be dominated by a deck that people started building within days of Kessig Wolf Run being spoiled, but it sounds like the FFL had Birthing Pod and Reanimator as the major bad guys in standard.  It makes me wonder about methodological shortcomings in the testing process.

But again, I don't want to sound too negative.  Sets HAVE to be such that testing will miss things, or there would be no surprises.
DireWombat: some strategies are just easier to fix. If a deck can be beat by a token generator, it gets hosed through natural selection of a set design that supports a wide variety of cards.

That's why a deck (Burning Vengeance) shouldn't have too much trouble dealing with an artifact. 

 
It's difficult, as a designer and developer, to have the intellectual humility to realize that you might just be wrong, and to account for that inside the very structure of your game. We'd like to think we're perfect at our jobs, and we'd like to think we're right all the time. But that's just not true, and when we act like it is, we get punished for it.



Wow, you're building an impressive resume for yourself with these articles. 

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

The examples of former hate cards (save the two ineffective MBS cards) in the article all either occurred in the following core set or block.  I wish you would have explained why you pendulum'd to pushing hate in set 2 of 3 versus starting with pushing for inclusion in set 3 of 3 and seeing how that worked.  Please give us a chance to actually play more than 1/3 of the block before hating its mechanics.

I also wish you explained what the conscious decisions were behind why it's CMC 1 and colorless, and why, if Pod was the specific target it was felt justified to put a number of other hate riders onto it instead of just targeting Pod (even "permanents can't enter the battlefield from libraries" would have more than sufficed and not broken so much else this block could have offered).  The hate cards you bring up are all far narrower and all less accessible than this one.

I'm still unconvinced that the specifics of implementing Grafdigger's Cage are not a mistake, regardless of whether the general reasoning for why something like it exists is sound.

That is to say, I agree with the concept of your approach, that hate should try to show up faster than it has in the past.  But I'm left unsettled by how this one turned out.  Too much, I think.

Also, thank you for taking the time to write this article, it's much appreciated even if I still have reservations right now

Somnia, the Evanescent Plane -- A 3-set Block
Set 1 — Somnia
Set 2 — TBD
Set 3 — TBD
Planeswalker's Guide to Somnia

Build Around This
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BAT #1 was built using the Legacy format with Spiny Starfish, Sage's Knowledge, and Make a Wish. Winner: Dilleux_Lepaire with Fishy Starfishies. Runner-Up: JBTM
"The alternative [is]...to continually have to ban cards more and more frequently to brute-force an environment's evolution from the top down." Modern much?
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"The alternative [is]...to continually have to ban cards more and more frequently to brute-force an environment's evolution from the top down." Modern much?



Modern is still a very new format that they haven't gotten exactly where they want yet.  Bannings are slowing down in Modern and the format will reach a happy equilibrium at some point in the near future.

From what I understand, Legacy had a similar problem in its first years.
The examples of former hate cards (save the two ineffective MBS cards) in the article all either occurred in the following core set or block.  I wish you would have explained why you pendulum'd to pushing hate in set 2 of 3 versus starting with pushing for inclusion in set 3 of 3 and seeing how that worked.  Please give us a chance to actually play more than 1/3 of the block before hating its mechanics.

It won't stop anyone from playing the graveyard mechanics of Innistrad block. The Cage is unlikely to be run until such graveyard-based decks (or Pod decks) become dominant, as it is literally a dead card against any other deck. Unless that card is going to be effective in more than half of the games (that is, more than half of the decks in a format are the same basic build), it's not going to be mainboarded. It might still show up in a lot of sideboards, but that still gives you a fair chance in game one, and they still have to DRAW the Cage early enough to stop you in both games two and three.

I also wish you explained what the conscious decisions were behind why it's CMC 1 and colorless, and why, if Pod was the specific target it was felt justified to put a number of other hate riders onto it instead of just targeting Pod (even "permanents can't enter the battlefield from libraries" would have more than sufficed and not broken so much else this block could have offered).  The hate cards you bring up are all far narrower and all less accessible than this one.

Not quite. The creatures aren't narrower than the Cage: they still serve a purpose even if you're not facing the deck they're intended to hate; they can attack and block. Also, the Web replaces itself, so it's not card disadvantage even when it does nothing. You're effectively able to cycle it when you don't need it. The Cage does literally NOTHING against decks it's not designed to hate. It hates more things, but the other cards do more than just hate.

Anyway... This is the second time (I believe) that Zac has mentioned twitter and the e-mail link without mentioning these forums. Is it an oversight on his part, or does he not intend to read the forum discussion on his articles?
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All of that explains Creeping Corrosion. That's fine.

Grafdigger's Cage is far, FAR worse. It not only shouldn't have been printed in Innistrad, it shouldn't have been printed in the NEXT block either.

It's an artifact hoser for black cards. Black is the colour of reanimation. Black can't kill artifacts.

If that text box was on a 1W 2/1 First Strike creature? It would be fair. Hell, make it a 3/3 for all I care - but why the hell did they make it a non-creature artifact?
That was a fantastic article. I love my flashback deck and as soon as this was announced I knew the guys I play with will be main boarding it. I will hate it, I will be frustrated by it more than not but I also love a challenge much more then consistent victories. Good job guys
What I'm curious about (and don't take this for anger or anything) is why the cage only costs 1 mana.  Did playtesting indicate that a higher mana cost was a problem?



I would say that it very likely costs 1 mana to make it Vintage-playable.
76125763 wrote:
Zindaras' meta is like a fossil, ancient and its secrets yet to be uncovered. Only men of yore, long dead, knew of it.
I too would have liked even a bit of discussion as to either Cage's CMC or artifact type. My gut is that for a card which is applicable against such a wide variety of strategies it seems too easy to play, but time will tell I suppose.

Regardless of that however, well done Zac. This is a top-notch article; you explain factors that many player dislike and are upset about, but do it in a thorough and open way that shows you're seeking to address our concerns without coming across as dismissing them unduly or in a condescending manner, as several other articles of this column have within the past year. Just a month in and already you are proving yourself to be one of the best writers DailyMTG has, and I and others thank you for it.
If that text box was on a 1W 2/1 First Strike creature? It would be fair. Hell, make it a 3/3 for all I care - but why the hell did they make it a non-creature artifact?

They didn't do that because if it could be killed that easily, it wouldn't actually do what they need it to do.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

All that cage did was make me drop my legacy dredge deck for 4color storm. I am glad, because killing someone on turn 2 and having all their hate be dead to burning wish/ silence is way better than making a bunch of zombies and reanimating a creature that dies to jace/ removal. You have my greatest thanks.
As I'm sure you already know—and if not, congratulations on avoiding an artillery-like barrage of banner-ads—the 
Dark Ascension Prerelease is tomorrow. I hope you can find some time to attend. [...] I'm proud of it, and I sincerely hope you're able to take a few hours out of your weekend and check it out.


So it's free???
I'm kinda insulted by how you humbly suggest it'll only cost us time.

and the presence of numerous Sword-wielding, Pod-saccing, Garruk-searching one-mana accelerants



Interesting. While in the real world we're busy making Stonehorn Dignitary locks with either Venser, the Sojourner or Mimic Vat, you're saying we should be playing swords and Garruk instead... 
I was also hoping to find out more about which color combinations you used. At least we know you're playing blue, so that rules out Naya and Doran, but that still leaves Bant, BUG and RUG

 
I'm thinking this ends up being a lot of hype. Price goes up, and it becomes a staple in everybody's sideboard for a month or so, at which point people decide they never use it before dropping. It might actually be rather amusing to watch: First nobody runs Pod or Vengeance out of fear of the Cage. At the same time everybody sides Cage because they're afraid they'll need it. People start being willing to take a crack at graveyard decks again just as people have started to drop the cage from their decks.

Besides, I have the perfect card for abusing the cage! I mean, look at the name of the card! Speaking of R&D feeding us deck ideas.  
Immature College Student (Also a Rules Advisor)
"The alternative [is]...to continually have to ban cards more and more frequently to brute-force an environment's evolution from the top down." Modern much?



The article talks about the long-term. Continue banning cards for years to come. Modern does not seem much like that yet.

Initial community cup: 12 cards banned
Initial sanctioned format: 9 added
Second banning wave: 6 added
Third banning wave: 2 added 
Nice article and a nice explanation as to to process of designing hate cards.
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This article doesn't actually address my concerns with this card:

1. Cost/Power Level

This isn't Into the Core.  This is more akin to Shattering Spree.  It's a vintage-level nuke in the middle of a set where it happens to kill Standard mechanics.  It'd be like printing

Format Recall

If your opponent controls two or more werewolves, draw thee cards.

2. Colourless

This is again unlike Into the Core and Creeping Corrosion.  It'd be like printing:

Format Recall

When ~ enters the battlefield, If your opponent controls two or more werewolves, draw three cards.

So...if Pod isn't the best strategy (as is the case), the best strategy can hate it out and stay dominant if it ever makes a surge in the metagame.  It's not like Ancient Grudge, which...if artifacts ever became a big part of the metagame, might make green/red more desireable than white/blue (an interesting shift).

3. Breadth

Soooo....you were scared of Birthing Pod and Unburial Rites so you decided to make a card that hits both.  And even after you had completely done that with the first two lines of text, you decided to go further and add two more lines of text which do nothing against those two cards, but nerf flashback.  So...like printing:

 Format Recall

When ~ enters the battlefield, If your opponent controls two or more werewolves, zombies, vampires, spirits, or humans, draw three cards.
 
Which means...let's say Humans are viable in-spite of the hate.  Let's say I'm a rogue deck builder and am considering making a zombie deck--it'd be silly to do so, because the human hate also hates on the zombie deck.

Did all of these effects need to be on one card?  Could you not make two or three cards so that hate against one archetype did not render rogue builds of a third archetype unplayable?

Cats land on their feet. Toast lands peanut butter side down. A cat with toast strapped to its back will hover above the ground in a state of quantum indecision.

I don't feel like this article explains the cage at all. They knew they were crushing whole strategies implies that it was a minor cost to them, to fix a theoretical problem. It nerfs the major themes of the block.

If it beats monsters and zombies, put it into Avacyn Restored where it fits thematically.

If it's a bit of human magic in response to the bad situation on Innistrad, put it into white (or green, I guess.)

Why 1cc? Why an artifact? Why nerf undying, reanimation and flashback? There's already Nihil Spellbomb... why wasn't that sufficient?  In a top down designed set, there's a 1  cc artifact that crushes the most powerful magic the plane has to offer.

They're aware of players feeling like they never got a chance to play with the toys... but printed it anyway.

Is this a reaction to leaving faeries untouched for so long? Some kind of reaction to Caw-Blade?

Looking forward to:
1 E-Z-Mind Artifact
If a player has no cards in their library, reshuffle their graveyard and removed from the game cards into the library.

1 No Harm No Foul Artifact
If a player takes combat damage that would reduce their life to 0 or less, set their life at 20.

1 Travel Poster Artifact
At the beginning of any upkeep, remove all loyalty counters from all planeswalkers.
"Buh Bye"

Playa Nice Land
Players may not play instants.

This card is a slap in the face, and this article says they knew it was a slap in the face, but doesn't provide a reason for it.

This card is a whole new kind of mistake, ban it now.
Great article. I'd love a series on the FFL and what that changed and why. It's great to see what dominated for them at the time with their limited playtime in the format compared to the masses.

I think that cage could be annoying but could also be nothing. One in the side at FNM only really matters if they play trinket Mage or similar to Tutor it.
I'll gladly play a nonblue deck that beats decks with 16 free counterspells and loses against the rest of the field, because currently there's no rest of the field. The only way you can beat these decks is if you heavily sideboard against the parts of the deck that are not "12 free counterspells" and they don't sideboard against you.

The problem is that the only deck that beat "16 free counterspells + other cards" was dredge because it didn't cast spells. And it is no longer the case. All the other cards that are good against counterspells can ironically be countered, or have the same effect you would get if they got countered in the first place (example, duress).

The problem is that decks with FREE counterspells are effectively casting timewalks on you every time they counter a spell on your turn (they didn't have to slow down their game to leave mana open). Because those decks have a fast clock due to R&D not following design principles and giving blue undercosted monsters and turning merfolks into better slivers, tempo decks with blue only need to "timewalk you" once or twice to win the race no matter what the opponent does for the rest of the match.

I think it's not the dice roll, but the amount of free counterspells each player draws, the only deciding factor in who wins a match, and I constantly confirm this theory every time I read a Top 8 match since 2006, in fact, I think I've never seen a Top 8 match coverage without FoW.

The problem is that there isn't a single card printed in the +15 years of the game that effectively hoses that "free counterspells" strategy, and as a result these decks have been dominating the eternal formats since the first of those free counterspells got printed. This has the effect that tournaments players and long-term players will be heavily skewed towards the blue spectrum, as the rest gets bored of constantly losing and leave. Add to that the incredibly rising costs of the cards due to promoted and encouraged speculation, the small and limited prints of key pieces like dual lands, and the fact that only one color is tournament playable, and you'll see why so many people just can't afford playing the game for longer than five years. The eternal formats that should be a way to retain them are doing the opposite work because they're broken, some people even think they've been broken on purpose.
I think it's not the dice roll, but the amount of free counterspells each player draws, the only deciding factor in who wins a match, and I constantly confirm this theory every time I read a Top 8 match since 2006, in fact, I think I've never seen a Top 8 match coverage without FoW.



Wasn't there a famous final a while ago where a Bant deck without FoW beat a Hive Mind deck? 
Printing a card like Grafdigger's Cage in a set like Inistrad is like printing a card that prevents land drops in Zendikar (and I mean "prevent", not make them painfull with (colored + creature) cards like Tunnel Ignus and Leonin Arbiter). Period!

Why printing a set the resolves around the graveyard and then sealing the yard off with a one mana colorless artifact?

I understand that it can be difficult to predict the state/health of the metagame when you are developing sets that will see the light of day only after more than 6 month in the future, but you can simply look at the Inistrad set alone without even considering legacy formats and know that this card simply kills the fun in the set.

The fact that it also prevents flashback means one thing: It will stay in main and sideboard for a very long time. Preventing Snapcaster Mage, Lingering Souls, Think Twice, Geistflame, Ancient Grudge, Faithless Looting or Forbidden Alchemy from flashing back is reason enough to include this card even if the opponent is not playing Birthing Pod or Unburial Rites.

Thank you for printing the two most interesting, diverse and flavourful two sets in a long time and then simply rendering 90 % of the cards useless with this artifact!
Prepare yourself for another 3 month of UW Delver and White Weenie in Standard!
I'll gladly play a nonblue deck that beats decks with 16 free counterspells and loses against the rest of the field, because currently there's no rest of the field. The only way you can beat these decks is if you heavily sideboard against the parts of the deck that are not "12 free counterspells" and they don't sideboard against you.

The problem is that the only deck that beat "16 free counterspells + other cards" was dredge because it didn't cast spells. And it is no longer the case. All the other cards that are good against counterspells can ironically be countered, or have the same effect you would get if they got countered in the first place (example, duress).

The problem is that decks with FREE counterspells are effectively casting timewalks on you every time they counter a spell on your turn (they didn't have to slow down their game to leave mana open). Because those decks have a fast clock due to R&D not following design principles and giving blue undercosted monsters and turning merfolks into better slivers, tempo decks with blue only need to "timewalk you" once or twice to win the race no matter what the opponent does for the rest of the match.

I think it's not the dice roll, but the amount of free counterspells each player draws, the only deciding factor in who wins a match, and I constantly confirm this theory every time I read a Top 8 match since 2006, in fact, I think I've never seen a Top 8 match coverage without FoW.

The problem is that there isn't a single card printed in the +15 years of the game that effectively hoses that "free counterspells" strategy, and as a result these decks have been dominating the eternal formats since the first of those free counterspells got printed. This has the effect that tournaments players and long-term players will be heavily skewed towards the blue spectrum, as the rest gets bored of constantly losing and leave. Add to that the incredibly rising costs of the cards due to promoted and encouraged speculation, the small and limited prints of key pieces like dual lands, and the fact that only one color is tournament playable, and you'll see why so many people just can't afford playing the game for longer than five years. The eternal formats that should be a way to retain them are doing the opposite work because they're broken, some people even think they've been broken on purpose.



Im glad to see this stayed on the topic of the cage and not some random rant about lega....ohhhhhhh lame

I like fun, but competitive decks. So I might not play what is optimal but they have normally been tested to have a 2/3 winrate.

Soooo....you were scared of Birthing Pod and Unburial Rites so you decided to make a card that hits both.  And even after you had completely done that with the first two lines of text, you decided to go further and add two more lines of text which do nothing against those two cards, but nerf flashback. 



i guess by the statement the two biggest offenders you assumed he meant the only two?
I like fun, but competitive decks. So I might not play what is optimal but they have normally been tested to have a 2/3 winrate.
I don't see where this card affects dredge !?
I'm not qualified to talk about Vintage/Legacy. What I do know is that the Cage is not the all-powerful hoser for Standard that some are saying it is. Both the Burning Vengeance and Solar Flare decks are packing anti-artifact measures (Ancient Grudge, Revoke Existence, etc). And these are the only two decks that are really affected, and they're tier 2 at best so that spending SB slots on a reactionary card is a waste. This card is going to act as a nice safety valve if a graveyard deck ends up being too powerful. Which is the whole point of the article.

Thank you for printing the two most interesting, diverse and flavourful two sets in a long time and then simply rendering 90 % of the cards useless with this artifact!
Prepare yourself for another 3 month of UW Delver and White Weenie in Standard!



Or you can run some artifact removal and/or Mental Misstep to easily get rid of the card.  Sure it will hurt while it is in play, but the means of removing it are plentiful.
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I have forced numerous opponents to concede games with an early Thought Hemo/Memoricide, Extirpate/Extraction...and I really don't think this card is that big of a deal in Standard (it is, in fact, a big deal elsewhere).

Surprised at the level of QQ in here.
Well written, great article.
Indeed, for standard this isn't a big deal, just sb ancient grudge or a even mainboard if you're running Burning Vengeance.
For other eternal formats, there are definately a variety of solutions if you really want to run Reanimator or the like, so I don't see what the big deal is. I mean they already get hosed to sh*t with Nihil Spellbomb, the Leyline, even Wheel of Sun and Moon maybe.
Eh. We're not talking about the Dredge mechanic here, but the Dredge archetype. This deck dredges until a fair number of Narcomoebas and/or Ichorids have gotten into the battlefield, so that it can combo out with Cabal Therapy / Dread Return + Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Iona, Shield of Emeria + Bridge From Below. All this can happen in a mere 3 turns.

More than that, I want to state something Caleb Durward stated: Green Sun's Zenith (like Natural Order and Oath of Druids) have been rendered useless by a turn-1 Cage + available counterspell. Same goes for the artifact destruction dredge might pack.

When control decks get better, due to the lack of combo decks (like what happened in legacy when Mental Misstep was still legal) aggro decks tend to be made even more powerful. (remember how many players where playing Zoo back then?) I wouldn't be surprised if Legacy turns out to be an ugly, unfun battle between aggro decks and control decks. Just a guess though.
Just addressing one thing: I do read these forums.  I rarely mention it in the body text of an article because the link to the forums is already there regardless

-Zac
Just addressing one thing: I do read these forums.  I rarely mention it in the body text of an article because the link to the forums is already there regardless

-Zac



Good to know, Zac.  We unwashed masses always like feeling heard.

My only real question about the article is that you mention that Cage probably won't be useful at the Prerelease... but I'm not sure about that.  I see flashback in formats like limited and sealed all the time, and the Burning Vengence deck is quite popular in my metagame.  Wizards does seem to have these 'collateral damage' hatings happen often, where an attempt to hate or ban to death one deck also kills other strategies.  I can see how you would want to hate out a birthing pod deck that now has access to undying, but hating out flashback at the same time just seems careless and ill planned. (Even if as you say, it was planned.)  The same thing happened when you killed Ravinger with fire during the first Mirrodin block. You also took out one of the few decks that could beat affinity in KCI, and at the time Wizards made it quite clear that they were just fine with that.

So my suggestion is that if you are going to have hate appear in a timely manner (which in concept is a good thing, because waiting for the formats to break is not a good strategy) you need to be very precise in your haterade production. Don't print cards that are meant to hate on Decks A and B, but also screw over major block concepts and strategies you have been pushing for three months.
~ Current Decks I'm Playing or Building ~ (Click a deck's name to see list) [] CorpseJunk Menace/Township Counters (Standard) [] Reanimation/Clerics Theme Deck - Commander: Ghost Dad [] Devouring Tokens (Planechase, Multiplayer) [] Krark-Clan Ironworks: 2012 Edition (Modern) [] Azorious Turbo Fog (Modern)
I'm in the camp that agrees printing Grafdigger's Cage was a good call.  Against non-reanimator/Birthing Pod decks it's pretty much a dead drop that a U control deck could have used to ponder up a counterspell or some such.  There are plenty of answers to artifacts, and it's unrealistic to say 'it hoses a black strategy and black doesn't have answers to artifacts' just splash for a color that does (which is pretty much every other color).

I've been a big fan of the recent set of cards that hose a certain strategy, it's just that this is the first one to really cause a stir because reanimation is such a strong strategy.  No one (okay probably someone) complains about witchbane orb, torpor orb, Mindlock orb (huh, lot of orbs) that 'hose strategies'.  I'll conceed that Grafdiffer's Cage is much more aggressively costed than the afformentioned cards, but it is also more narrow in a broader sense (compare the number of cards that let you play cards from your graveyard or library versus the number of cards that target opponents).

To each their own.
Everyone seems to be focusing on the GY-hosing effect of the cage. There are already better effects out there for this, like Leyline of the Void, or in standard, Nihil Spellbomb. My problem with the cage is how it hoses GSZ. Decks like Maverick, Nic Fit or Team X in Legacy will have a hard time against the cage, and dont deserve the hate. This is just going to make blue-based decks
even more dominant in Legacy again. It is simply to broad an effect for a 1cmc artifact, it hurts diversity. Also I hate how much sweet stuff in Standard this hurts. I'm usually behind everything wotc does but I really think with this card they dropped the ball.
The very printing of this card will ensure that the strategies it hates will never be dominant enough for this card to merit a main board slot. This is actually incentive for the rogue risk-taker to build those decks in spite of the cage's presence. When that happens and the strategy gets copied, people will be very glad to have the cage around to board in. Even then, the cage may not completely shut it down. Of all the two color combinations, only Blue-Black will struggle to find answers to the cage, so it really isn't capable of dominating anything and doesn't warrant all the backlash. This may be the challenge that leads to the rise of exactly the strategies is was made to combat. Maybe we'll all be glad that it is so accessible if that happens. 
All of that explains Creeping Corrosion. That's fine.

Grafdigger's Cage is far, FAR worse. It not only shouldn't have been printed in Innistrad, it shouldn't have been printed in the NEXT block either.

It's an artifact hoser for black cards. Black is the colour of reanimation. Black can't kill artifacts.

If that text box was on a 1W 2/1 First Strike creature? It would be fair. Hell, make it a 3/3 for all I care - but why the hell did they make it a non-creature artifact?



 The game's fundamental design is to force you to balance consistency, versatility, and power.  Mono-colored decks have great consistency and have access to great power (via spells which demand costs like or ), and in order to keep multi-colored decks viable it is necessary to make every color not necessarily able to answer every threat.  How difficult is it to add a red or white splash to your almost-mono black deck?  Not very much, but it will cost you something.  That is the tradeoff the game demands you to consider when designing your deck: do you want to be able to take out artifacts that can potentially wreck you, or would you rather try to find a way to play around the card?

Edit:  Or you could just run Ratchet Bomb, a card I forgot existed but which is available to mono-black.  Clearly, someone wanted the deck to be viable.

"The card was not created to keep Iona and Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur decidedly non-animated "   Oh but see there is this one card... show and tell. This card only stops dredge.
A well-written article and a well-designed card.

The Cage's impact on Vintage has been greatly exaggerated. Its primary problem is that against non-dredge decks, it's a passive defense against your opponent's finishers that does nothing to disrupt his intermediate strategic goals. In many games you will resolve Cage, and it will proceed to do nothing. In others, the opponent will shrug, patiently build up card and board advantage, then get rid of the cage with Nature's Claim, Hurkyl's Recall, Repeal, Echoing Truth, Steel Sabotage, etc (to name only the common maindeck answers) before going off.

Compare to Null Rod, Chalice of the Void, and Sphere of Resistance. Each of these immediately hamstring your opponent, disrupting his ability to develop his game even before he's in a position to resolve the game-winning Tinker, Yawgmoth's Will, or Oath of Druids trigger.