8/9/2012 TD: "Standard Bearers"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Top Decks, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Oh come on, who could hate a red deck? ;D
I agree that Cawblade era may have been the most skill-testing era of standard, but I think a huge part of why people hated it so much that you barely touched on was that it was THE only deck you could play with any chance of winning. Even if it was really fun to play for some people, many people, even some who liked it, grew to distain it simply because the other 1000+ cards in standard were completely blanked by the deck. It turned Magic into a game with a normal 52-card deck of playing cards (or 60, whatever). A deck could be the most fun deck to play ever, and be made completely of cheap commons, but if you can't play anything else and win, a huge part of the fun of Magic - namely, creative deck-building - gets lost.
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"Faeries hit Standard shortly after the beloved Ravnica block left, which I think exacerbated the shock of moving from the diversity of the so-called tier-two metagame to a linear one, as with the hated Faeries.

In two words: soul crushing."

Bottom line:  Gold rules, and tribal sucks.  

Dominating linear decks always emerge from tribal blocks, and are never produced by gold ones.  

Thank goodness we're going gold again this fall.  As far as I'm concerned, the Fall 2013 large release can be Wedges of Alara.   

Probably it was a combination on the secondary market cost of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and the fact that the better player won a dramatic percentage of Caw-Blade mirrors. As Mark Rosewater has worked hard to teach us, luck is good and manascrew is good for Magic. During the age of Caw-Blade, Magic lost a lot of that. Net-net, Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor bought it in Standard.



Is his entire argument here that "the better player won the Caw-Blade mirror, and that's a bad thing"? How can you even have any pretense of this being a competitive, skill-testing game with legitimacy when the matchup that showcased differences in skill the best was banned out of existence for being TOO skill-intensive?!
Psh way to describe the entire history of standard in one article Mike Flores.
Well done
 
Being a competitive, skill-testing game with "legitimacy" (the correct way to write that word) is overrated.


Minus five points for using the Heath Ledger Joker; other than that, interesting.  
I am honestly suprised he didn't mention rebels. Anyone remember when that was bashing heads so bad they had to ban Lin Sivvi, defiant hero and print Brutal Suppression.
"Faeries hit Standard shortly after the beloved Ravnica block left, which I think exacerbated the shock of moving from the diversity of the so-called tier-two metagame to a linear one, as with the hated Faeries.

In two words: soul crushing."

Bottom line:  Gold rules, and tribal sucks.  

Dominating linear decks always emerge from tribal blocks, and are never produced by gold ones.  

Thank goodness we're going gold again this fall.  As far as I'm concerned, the Fall 2013 large release can be Wedges of Alara.   




fires of Yavimaya was from a gold block?
HammerAndSickled, that is Flores being bitter.  See also the references to "the masses" who couldn't appreciate Caw-Blade's intricacies or something.

Anyway this article is an interesting retrospective yet its main point is silly.  Flores is bizarrely enough still grinding his axe about how Caw-Blade got wronged, and here, to prove it look at all these other dominant decks.  But...  this ignores the entirely obvious.  There are degrees of "best" decks.  Yes, people will always, always whine about any format.  But there are formats where the "best" deck is merely "good", and there are formats where the best deck is utterly dominant.  Deadguy Red or Tooth & Nail post bannings are good examples - they were good decks, possibly even the "best" decks, but they never consistently took 50%+ of all top 8 tournaments or the like.  They had bad matchups, they had weaknesses, and they didn't attract any more dislike than your average strong tournament deck. They existed in diverse formats.  Now take Ravager Affinity - it utterly, utterly dominated the post-rotation Standard format.  Some builds of Tooth & Nail could sort of get to around a 50% match-up (and then utterly smash some kind of maindeck artifact hate deck), but yeah.  If people weren't entirely sick of it and cared only for winning, everyone should probably have played Ravager, which is not a healthy format.

The point is, Caw-Blade was far closer to the Ravager case (unfun, please issue bans) than Tooth & Nail (a strong deck in a healthy format, but that can be hated and has bad matchups).   If one deck & its variants control 70%+ of a format, that's really bad no matter how skill-testing it is, since as noted that means far fewer cards than usual are "playable."  Toss in JtMS's Mythic Rareness and you have a recipe for informing people to just stay home.  So yeah, still not buying Flores here at all.  Nobody will fault you for saying "I loved playing Caw-Blade!" but you can say that and acknowledge there was a strong case for the bans for non-snarky reasons, that is, *not* "the masses didn't understand Caw-Blade's magnificence."
This article was really interesting, well written, and most likely the only one (or one of the very few) that I read completely.
Well done!
OMG click HERE! OMG! How to autocard and use decklist format
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For autocarding, write [c][/c] with the name of the card inside it. [c]Island[/c] = Island For linking a card to Gatherer without writting the name of said card for readers, use the autocard brackets together with and equal sign and right the name of the real card. Then put the message you want inside the tags, like you would do with autocarding. Like this: [c=Curse of the Cabal]Captain Never-resolves[/c] = Captain Never-resolves For using the decklist format, follow this: [deck] 4* Terramorphic Expanse 4* Evolving Wilds ... [/deck] It equals:
Real signature, Sblocked for space:
57817638 wrote:
I like storm crow because I really like crows in real life, as an animal, and the card isn't terribly stupid, but packs a good deal of nostalgia and also a chunck of the game's history. So it's perhaps one of the cards I have most affection to, but not because "lol storm crow is bad hurr hurr durr".
Listen to my SoundCloud while you read my signature. The Island, Come And See, The Landlord's Daughter, You'll Not Feel The Drowning - The Decemberists by vimschy IMAGE(http://dragcave.net/image/rkvR.gif)IMAGE(http://dragcave.net/image/L3es.gif) IMAGE(http://dragcave.net/image/m71H.gif)
Quotes
56747598 wrote:
57295478 wrote:
Although I do assume you deliberately refer to them (DCI) as The Grand Imperial Convocation of Evil just for the purposes of making them sound like an ancient and terrible conspiracy.
Now, now. 1994 doesn't quite qualify as "ancient".
56734518 wrote:
Oh, it's a brilliant plan. You see, Bolas was travelling through shadowmoor, causing trouble, when he saw a Wickerbough Elder with its stylin' dead scarecrow hat. Now, Bolas being Bolas took the awesome hat and he put it on his head, but even with all his titanic powers of magic he couldn't make it fit. He grabbed some more scarecrows, but then a little kithkin girl asked if he was trying to build a toupee. "BY ALL THE POWERS IN THE MULTIVERSE!" he roared, "I WILL HAVE A HAT WORTHY OF MY GLORY." and so he went through his Dark Lore of Doom (tm) looking for something he could make into a hat that would look as stylish on him as a scarecrow does on a treefolk. He thought about the Phyrexians, but they were covered in goopy oil that would make his nonexistant hair greasy. He Tried out angels for a while but they didn't sit quite right. Then, he looked under "e" (because in the Elder Draconic alphabet, "e" for Eldrazi is right next to "h" for Hat) in his Dark Lore of Doom and saw depictions of the Eldrazi, and all their forms. "THIS SHALL BE MY HAT!" he declared, poking a picture of Emrakul, "AND WITH IT I WILL USHER IN A NEW AGE OF DARKNESS -- ER, I MEAN A NEW AGE OF FASHION!" And so Nicol Bolas masterminded the release of the Eldrazi.
57864098 wrote:
Rhox War Monk just flips pancakes, and if games have told us anything, it's that food = life.
56747598 wrote:
76973988 wrote:
This thread has gotten creepy. XP
Really? Really? The last couple days have been roughly every perverse fetish imaginable, but it only got "creepy" when speculation on Mother of Runes's mob affiliation came up?
76672808 wrote:
57864098 wrote:
57531048 wrote:
Nice mana base. Not really.
Yeah, really. If my deck was going to cost $1000+, I'd at least make it good.
99812049 wrote:
I like to think up what I consider clever names for my decks, only later to be laughed at by my wife. It kills me a little on the inside, but thats what marriage is about.
56816728 wrote:
56854588 wrote:
Of course, the best use [of tolaria west] is transmuting for the real Tolaria. ;)
Absolutely. I used to loose to my buddy's Banding deck for ages, it was then that I found out about Tolaria, and I was finally able win my first game.
70246459 wrote:
WOAH wait wait wait
56957928 wrote:
You know, being shallow and jusdgmental aside, "I later found out that Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people"
56957928 wrote:
"I later found out that Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates with at least two other people"
56957928 wrote:
Jon infiltrated his way into OKCupid dates
56957928 wrote:
OH MY GOD
109874309 wrote:
The only way I'd cast this card is into a bonfire.
82032421 wrote:
The short answer is that there's no rule barring annoying people from posting, but there a rule barring us from harassing them about it.
56747598 wrote:
Browbeat is a card that is an appropriate deck choice when there's no better idea available. "No better idea available" was pretty much the running theme of Odyssey era.
56874518 wrote:
Or perhaps it was a more straightforward comment indicating a wish for you to be bitten (Perhaps repeatedly) by a small yet highly venomous arachnid.
70246459 wrote:
58280208 wrote:
You're an idiot, and I'm in no mood for silliness.
57817638 wrote:
57145078 wrote:
You just... Vektor it.
That's the answer to everything.
70246459 wrote:
58347268 wrote:
I think the problem is that you don't exist.
This would sound great out of context!
56965458 wrote:
Modern is like playing a new tournament every time : you build a deck, you win with it, don't bother keeping it. Just build another, its key pieces will get banned.
57864098 wrote:
57309598 wrote:
I specifically remember posting a thread when I was just a witty bitty noob.
You make it sound like that's still not the case.
58325628 wrote:
Rap is what happens when the c from crap is taken away.
Doug Beyer:
But sometimes it's also challenging. Because sometimes OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS THING?
141434757 wrote:
Flashforward five thousand years (Click for atmosphere) :
57927608 wrote:
to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum, Vektor finds a way.
58347268 wrote:
when in rome **** AND PILLAGE
143229641 wrote:
I always find it helpful when im angry to dress up in an owl costume and rub pennies all over my body in front of a full body mirror next to the window.
Dymecoar:
Playing Magic without Blue is like sleeping without any sheets or blankets. You can do it...but why?
Omega137:
Me: "I love the moment when a control deck stabilizes. It feels so... right." Omega137: "I like the life drop part until you get there, it's the MtG variant of bungee jumping"
Zigeif777:
Just do it like Yu-Gi-Oh or monkeys: throw all the crap you got at them and hope it works or else the by-standers (or opponents) just get dirty and pissed.
57471038 wrote:
58258708 wrote:
It's true that Alpha and Beta didn't contain any cards like Tarmogoyf, Darksteel Colossus, or Platinum Angel. It just contained weak, insignificant cards like Black Lotus, Mox Sapphire, and Time Walk.
Normally it's difficult to pick up on your jokes/sarcasm. But this one's pretty much out there. Good progress. You have moved up to Humanoid. You'll be Human in no time.
91893448 wrote:
94618431 wrote:
I didn't know Samurai were known to be able to cut down whole armies...
They can when they're using lightsabers!
57129358 wrote:
97980259 wrote:
My wife brought home a baby black squirrel they found on a horse track and cared for it for a few days. We named it Grixis, but it died.
Unearth it!
70246459 wrote:
[/spoiler] And I'm on Magic Arcana. How about you? Oh, by the way, I'm also on From the Lab now. Twice, actually. And now with my own submited decklist!
Tooth&Nail wasn't the most fustrating deck in Mirrodin-Kamigawa Standard... I remember a UG deck from Mirrodin-Kamigawa Standard... Accelerate into Plow Under, Eternal Witness, Plow Under, GG...
Probably it was a combination on the secondary market cost of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and the fact that the better player won a dramatic percentage of Caw-Blade mirrors.

Or maybe people just got bored of there being literally only one deck that was good in the entire ****ing format.

Faeries was extremely restrictive for the format. Unless you had instant-speed removal, you could like never interact with a Mistbind Clique. So there went huge chunks of the populace, ending the exploration of a great many more-fun strategies before they were even birthed.

Completely unlike your favourite format, right?

Psychatog was suffocating and skill-rewarding in kind of the same way Caw-Blade was... but was much more boring for nine turns before making you miserable by erasing your whole battlefield but leaving the 'tog player a next-to-unstoppable way to win.

Because Caw-Blade didn't play any cards that made games boring and grindy for nine turns and then just kinda won the game.

So as you can see, there have almost always been scary bogeymen in Standard. Knowing this, I am vehemently in disagreement that there was ever a "good old days" when you could (competitively) "play whatever you wanted."

Well, 2006 might not be long ago enough to be considered the "good old days", but there's certainly a distinct lack of any Ravnica cards in this article...
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I like to think that WotC made a massive facepalm when they realized the banning/restriction of Black Vise gave rise to Necro Summer.

Probably it was a combination on the secondary market cost of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and the fact that the better player won a dramatic percentage of Caw-Blade mirrors. As Mark Rosewater has worked hard to teach us, luck is good and manascrew is good for Magic.



This quote is very... revealing. And MaRo is going to have to work even harder if he wants us to enjoy winning or losing to topdecked Bonfire of the Damned.
In Legacy, Blue is the best color. Let's punish blue, in Modern. And they listened!
This quote is very... revealing. And MaRo is going to have to work even harder if he wants us to enjoy winning or losing to topdecked Bonfire of the Damned.

Don't mind Flores; he's just taking a cheap shot at people who didn't like Caw-Blade. Nobody actually wants the game to be less skill-testing.

Incidentally, a lot of people, including pro players, enjoy miracles. I'm more or less indifferent toward them myself, but just saying.
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Probably the most honest article Mike has ever written, and personal bias and snotty comments about play skill aside, it is a pretty good potted history of modern standard (oxymoron?). The fact that Mike even acknowledges that the cost [of Jace] might have had an impact on some people's decisions to play standard is refreshing - this particular elephant in the room has of course by now repainted the walls in eggshell white, changed the couch and installed a complete surround sound entertainment system, but hey, you got there.

What comes across for me though is that Mike just isn't "plains folk". He is pretty much immune to the cost side of magic for starters. He has a position which allows him to enjoy the complexities of gameplay at the highest level, without having to labour through the club level end of the spectrum: endless iterations of the same deck played by people who are empirically worse players than you but who know just enough to pilot the best deck in the format by far against your own brew. He's intelligent enough to see the nuanced difference between, say, the 4-of and 3-of decisions, nerdy enough (in a good way) to catalogue this for our reading pleasure, but not really in touch with the masses who want to have variety in their magic diet - people for whom it is a hobby or distraction, rather than a way of life. In short, he's the best possibe candidate for analysing standard and the worst possible candidate for deciding what is and is not healthy and/or fun.

But on this article, kudos for the honest appraisal Mike.
Excellent article.  
I'm also tired of seeing complaints about Standard EVERY YEAR, and calls to ban certain cards.

I do wonder, however, if the increase in the number of events and the greater communication in the community causes formats to get "solved" faster than they used to. 
Perhaps Wizards should speed their rotation schedule as well?
 
By the way, in case my comments gave the wrong impression, I did overall enjoy the article. I'm always a fan of these "history" type articles even if by now I know most of the history being taught. I just found the incredible lack of self-awareness about his Caw-Blade fetish rather annoying.
blah blah metal lyrics
The skill-intensity is something that made the game into Chess. Both players had the same pieces, both were terrifyingly consistent, so who wins? He who outplays. That's not MtG, and that's not what Mark wants MtG to be. And neither do I. If those players wanted to play chess, they could spend $1000 less to play it free.
This is a great article looking back at the history of best decks.

One curiousity is the distinct lack of a certain card in most of the decklists here.  This card effectively was banned the only time that it was involved in a Standard best deck.  In a way, though Delver is a little annoying, I'm glad nothing got banned in June.  The current format is still diverse, and they avoided banning the apparently "most offensive Standard card ever" for the second time.

I mean, look at the deck lists:  Best deck Caw-Blade received bannings, and though Rebels was not a Standard best deck (in Masques Block Constructed it was oppressive and it's defiant leader received the axe), prior to Delver those were the two best Standard decks that used the offensive card.

So, next time you play Delver, be thankful that you have the opportunity to use one of the most powerful cards in Standard and that for once it escaped the ban-hammer.

Tap that Plains with gusto, because, for once, using White mana has not been banned out of the format! 
What have to do skill-intensity if luck is involved, in chess both players have the same pieces in the board and have the same options to start, in magic is not that way, when you draw you could have so many different hands...

Thats the virtude of the cards games and specially magic that you need to show your skills in deck construction, playing and the necesary luck to make those shine ;) 
I would have loved to play caw-blade, but my wallet never gave me the chance.  That's why I hated playing against it.  Caw-blade separated the mtg community into people willing to pay $400 for 4 cards, and people who weren't.  And for those of us that weren't, it was miserable trying to beat that deck.
"Faeries hit Standard shortly after the beloved Ravnica block left, which I think exacerbated the shock of moving from the diversity of the so-called tier-two metagame to a linear one, as with the hated Faeries.

In two words: soul crushing."

Bottom line:  Gold rules, and tribal sucks.  

Dominating linear decks always emerge from tribal blocks, and are never produced by gold ones.  

Thank goodness we're going gold again this fall.  As far as I'm concerned, the Fall 2013 large release can be Wedges of Alara.   




Many players love linear decks though.

Also, how is Ravagar either not a dominating deck, not a linear deck or emerging from a tribal block?

Probably it was a combination on the secondary market cost of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and the fact that the better player won a dramatic percentage of Caw-Blade mirrors. As Mark Rosewater has worked hard to teach us, luck is good and manascrew is good for Magic. During the age of Caw-Blade, Magic lost a lot of that. Net-net, Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor bought it in Standard.

 

Is his entire argument here that "the better player won the Caw-Blade mirror, and that's a bad thing"? How can you even have any pretense of this being a competitive, skill-testing game with legitimacy when the matchup that showcased differences in skill the best was banned out of existence for being TOO skill-intensive?!



Things are not black-and-white. Magic is neither a 100% skill game nor a 100% luck game. Anything too extreme is a bad thing. As others have said, if you want 100% skill you can spend far less and just play chess. Poker is very competitive and very skill-testing while still having loads of luck. The two don't have to exclude each other.

I like Magic somewhere between those two (poker and chess)

Actually, he isn't saying it was banned for being TOO skill-intensive. It was banned for being not enough luck-dependent. That's not the same. 
Hola!

I just wanted to comment on how great I thought this article was. I can tell how much Mike must have loved writing it by how long it was! Mike always had the most enthusiasm and best memory for decks than anyone I’ve ever met. Would have liked to see the Stompy deck in there, but I think Mike could rightly argue that it didn’t utterly dominate the way many others did. Anways, Mike, great job.

— Mark Jelfo

BTW: Completely surprised you didn’t try to insert your own Pile o’ Bitches deck in there. Would have been funny. ;) 
I quite enjoyed this article, but then again, I love every article that calls back to Rubin's 98 Sligh, the deck that got me into competitive Magic.

As for Caw-Blade, I'm still in the camp that thinks it's prohibitive cost was its biggest strike against it. The immutible 4-of Jace, plus the standard cost of U/W in this new age of Mythics simply kept a lot folks from being able to play the best deck. Occasionally, you could show up with a rouge deck and smash through to the finals when a majority of the field sideboarded for the mirror instead of everything else, but its not often you can catch an entire room with their pants down like that.

As for Delver? Well, this too, shall pass. Ravnica is right around the corner and will likely shake things up, so it can enjoy it's time in the sun for now.

Just my two coppers.
I think the primary reason people (like me) hate the dominant Standard deck is simply because it is impossible to build without investing a massive amount of money.  As a collector, for example, Mythic Rares are a pain to get, and they're almost always required for the "best" decks, and some set of regular rares are driven to Mythic prices by the demand.

Let's look at  the Geist of Saint Taft.  Single copies are running $30.  Snapcaster Mage, not a mythic, is comparable.  Since I can't afford to buy them on the secondary market, I have to get extra copies of unwanted cards by buying packs in the hopes of getting one or more of the cards I need to build a competitive deck.

If there were multiple decks which could win, or a larger card pool for Standard, or less impossible to collect mythic cards, then there wouldn't be such contention for the "best" cards.

 
I love these little history lessons in life, but one of the things missing, which others have harped on, is the mentioning of the number of playable decks that could play against the best deck and have a good chance of winning.  As people have mentioned, Caw-Blade was so oppressive that it was the only deck worth playing competitively in the format!  Other decks were considered the best, yet you could play other decks competitively and still have a good chance of winning.  Fires was a huge part of the environment, but Rebels had a very good matchup with it, especially with Defiant Vanguard and countermagic back up.  You could also play Blue skies or red/black (Dark Ritual was still legal at this time) and Ports helped slow down the matchup.  That format was very diverse, even with a deck like Fires.

Also, Ravager Affinity was pretty brutal, but even in the pre-Clamp ban days, it wasn't the only deck in the field.  Goblins, Tooth and Mono-White control decks were also very prevalent.  Hell, I played Red/Green LD at Regionals that year when Clamp was still legal and went 8-3 overall with a 4-1 match win over Affinity in which the only match I lost was a game 3 aberration in which my opponent had 0 board presence in the mid game and drew out of it while I drew land (even he admitted I should have won).  Affinity was very VERY good, but it wasn't Caw-Blade at all.  You could metagame against it and be successful.  The diversity of building allowed for a very fun environment. 

One of the decks I was surprised not to see at all was Wake.  That deck was everywhere for a time, even in a diverse format. (GP Atl 03 for example)  Also, Ravnica/TS era just seems to be largely ignored, maybe because it was an open environment?  (I even had my own memories of that format disproven, which I was surprised to see and glad to know.)  Even the Teferi-blue or BrineShape decks were able to be played against.

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
First off, this was an interesting read.  I've never been a competitive player, nor do I really have the intention too, but Magic history is always fun to read about.

As far as the issue of Caw-Blade goes, I think there are many sides to the arguments as to whether it was good for standard or not.  For one, it was arguably the most in-game skill testing deck, but only because it was the only deck you could play and hope to win with.  Thus, the game became purely skill testing due to the fact any real game (Caw vs. Caw) was two players playing almost the same deck.  Others have compared this to chess, and I would tend to agree.  If magic were about playing the same decks against each other all the time, it would be silly for R&D to print the other cards in a set. Magic skill isn't and shouldn't be limited to in-game skill, but should also require deck construction skill. As for the overall cost of the deck being prohibitive, I think there are two things to say about that as well: 1) This is largely a side effect of printing Mythic rares - Particularly Jace.  When the deck DEMANDS a card to function, and the SUPPLY of said card is lower than other rarities... well, you can figure out the rest.  One can compare this to Rav-Affinity, which predated Mythics but was just as (more?) dominating as Caw-Blade, but the total cost of the deck was significantly lower.  On the flip side of that, the deck's pieces were only as crazy expensive on the secondary market because they were required for the best deck in standard.  If there were other competitive decks out there, the overall cost of the deck would be lower as there wouldn't be A deck you need to build, but multiple decks you could build.  Just my two cents on that particular issue.

I'm also intrigued by the fact there was no 'THE DECK' during Ravnica's time in standard.  I certainly don't think it's a result of in being multicolored as Solmalka suggests (look at Jund).  But rather due to the structure of Ravnica which as best I can describe it was simultaneously modular and linear.  It was modular in that you could (assuming you only stuck to two colors and the theme of the guild) build 10 very different decks; each of those 10 decks would be relatively linear in construction (Golgari dredge, Boros beatdown, Azorius control etc.) but if you branched out into three or more colors the decks would take on lives of their own.  Likewise the variance within the monocolored cards allowed you to change up the nature of the guilds themselves.

As I said, I don't really play standard competitively so maybe I'm just rambling incoherently, just my thoughts on a few issues. 
Great article. This one will still be interesting years from now (though may need a few updates for the new boogeymen).

I take pride when I say I vehemently despise the Standard format, and people look at me like I'm crazy or something. After 15 years of playing this game, and one on the things I've learned is do not take what you read on this website at face value, (especially from writes like Flores.) It's very nice that you did a retrospect on Standard; it perfectly sums up why I hate it. You can describe the Standard format at the given time in game's history by simply naming...one deck. The one deck that defines and dominates the format and it is true tha decks will change because they rotate out, but ever year it's that ONE deck. That one deck that summarizes the entire year in Magic for the Standard format. And I don't get why people believe that it's such a great format. Pros will constantly say, writer claim it is, but I don’t buy it.


Nothing changes, the same cycle perpetuates over and over and over again. Standard hasn’t evolved; the only thing that changed was instead of the “non-interactive” time of counter-magic and Swords to Plowshares to an uber-fast, uber-aggressive, kill your opponent as fast as possible creature beatdown format. Standard is such a turn off. Fortunately it hasn’t killed my enjoyment of the game, because I never made an effort to play it and I’m not alone in that sentiment.


What was really so taboo about Counterspell? What happened to the days counter wars during games where a spell was followed by multiple counters trying to prevent or fight first spell into play? Those days are long gone.


Let’s not forget the wonderful (/sarcasm) mechanics that Wizards created recently like Storm, Affinity, Equipment, Planeswalkers, Infect, and Phyrexian mana, Pinnacles of design right there. Oh, and let’s not forget Mythic rares. There was a time when Magic did not have to stoop to levels that other lesser CCG’s had to sell their product. Way to lower yourselves Wizards, and let’s be fair they’ve made quite a few mistakes in design over the last few years. Admit it.


There was a time Extended used to be a great format. (Yes, LSV, people played Extended.) Decks had an identity. Nowadays decks function the same way, the cards are slightly different yet they serve the same purpose. Oath of Druids, Reanimator, Sligh, Land Tax, Land destruction decks, White Weenine, ANYTHING was a viable strategy. Standard limits the diversity; it’s an uninspired format where everything is the same: Play creature, attack, interact with creature, and pass turn.


The best days of the game lie in the past, and we’re far from the quality of those days.

Interesting article.  I was vaguely aware of most of those deck types, but it's neat to see how the power levels and card interactions have bounced around over the years.

Casual Magic player since 2003 (Onslaught Block). 60% Johnny, 40% Timmy. Want a free, graphics-based, collection database to inventory your cards? I made one! Feedback welcome. Program runs offline, includes powerful search options, art, Oracle text, data import/export, and a rigorously updated list of every card ever printed. Version 5.13 (Theros) now available!

So. Green needs an iconic creature type, eh? How about wurms!

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This quote is very... revealing. And MaRo is going to have to work even harder if he wants us to enjoy winning or losing to topdecked Bonfire of the Damned.

Don't mind Flores; he's just taking a cheap shot at people who didn't like Caw-Blade. Nobody actually wants the game to be less skill-testing.

Incidentally, a lot of people, including pro players, enjoy miracles. I'm more or less indifferent toward them myself, but just saying.



I think what he should have said was that Caw-Blade was too consistent. Consistent decks are necessarily more skill-testing because the element of luck, or randomness, is diminished. Namely, Caw-Blade had Preordain, Jace's Brainstorm ability, and the SFM toolbox. But being skill-testing isn't in itself a problem. Bad, or underpowered decks are also very skill-testing because they demand better play from their pilots. Most slow, interactive decks are very skill-testing in the mirror. On the contrary, if a deck lets you go into autopilot mode and win, then there's a problem.

They need to do more of those "historical" articles. This one's a good read and some interesting discussion has resulted here.
In Legacy, Blue is the best color. Let's punish blue, in Modern. And they listened!
Tymestalker: Yeah, Ravager Affinity in the Onslaught - Mirrodin environment was probably the best deck, but not 100% broken.  (Goblins w/ Artifact hate, White control that could survive to Akroma's Vengeance somehow).  I used it as an example boogeyman that requires bans post-rotation in the Mirrodin / Kamigawa environment - Samurai of the Pale Curtain was an interesting subtle hoser, but Affinity needed something a lot less subtle than that.
"the beloved Ravnica block" is the "good ol days" even if they weren't really that long ago in magic terms, tier 2 meta game is a healthy one and was one of the best time periods of standard. And a deck like Caw-blade that had no viable opposing deck other than the mirror? that's what you want to go with as the best deck of all time in standard? How is that? It had no competion in the format... What did it prove itself against?
Tymestalker: Yeah, Ravager Affinity in the Onslaught - Mirrodin environment was probably the best deck, but not 100% broken.  (Goblins w/ Artifact hate, White control that could survive to Akroma's Vengeance somehow).  I used it as an example boogeyman that requires bans post-rotation in the Mirrodin / Kamigawa environment - Samurai of the Pale Curtain was an interesting subtle hoser, but Affinity needed something a lot less subtle than that.




That might have been due to the underwhelming power of Kamigawa compared to the mostly equal power of Onslaught.  Kamigawa was okay as a block format, but compared to the insane level that Affinity was at from Mirrodin in Standard, that was a requirement. 

Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do.

I've seen angels fall from blinding heights. But you yourself are nothing so divine. Just next in line.

191752181 wrote:
All I'm saying is, I don't really see how she goes around petrifying swords and boots and especially mirrors. How the heck does she beat a Panoptic Mirror? It makes no sense for artifacts either. Or enchantments, for that matter. "Well, you see, Jimmy cast this spell to flood the mountain, but then the gorgon just looked at the water really hard and it went away."
 It's very nice that you did a retrospect on Standard; it perfectly sums up why I hate it. You can describe the Standard format at the given time in game's history by simply naming...one deck. The one deck that defines and dominates the format and it is true tha decks will change because they rotate out, but ever year it's that ONE deck. That one deck that summarizes the entire year in Magic for the Standard format.



I understand your perspective, but it's not automatically true for all standard environments.

Consider, if you will, the environment during the Odyssey/Onslaught era.  You had a massive metagame, incorporating a large number of diverse decks.  Basically at tier 1 we had:

U/B Psychatog
W/U/G Mirari's Wake
U/G Madness
B/R Goblin Bidding
W/R Astral Slide

We also had several competitive tier 2 decks:

Mono-Green Elves
Mono-Black Control
G/R Aggro

All of these decks could, if played well, take a tournament.  And the decks themselves evolved on a daily basis, let alone weekly.  Add in all of the variants on each deck (Threshold for example), it was a truly boggling metagame.  Of course, like all environments, it did have favoured decks.  Wake and Madness could be counted upon to make up a large part of any field toward the end.

I wasn't playing anywhere near as actively during Kamigawa/Ravnica or Ravnica/Time Spiral, but I also observed very dynamic and diverse metagames during those eras, so it's far from fair to characterise Standard as necessarily dominated by a single deck.

However, many of your other points carry a great deal more weight in my opinion.  I also miss the diversity that was the Extended metagame, and having Counterspell available in environments outside of Vintage and Legacy.  In many ways, those were the days.  But really, we're looking at that largely with a case of rose coloured glasses too.  Many of the scourges of the various standard environments were also heavily present and dominant in the extended environment before bannings and eratta carried them away.
Something else nice about Odyssey / Onslaught Standard: the decks were actually *affordable*.  Okay, Odyssey block had too many horrible rares and I'm glad WotC has moved away from this, but making all the rares & mythics awesome has its own price inflation.  U/G Madness famously was no rares (which is partially why people complained - you got to play it all the time at FNM).  Psychatog was 1-2 Upheavals, maybe 1 Haunting Echoes, rare lands, then commons/uncommons.  Goblins & Goblin Bidding had Goblin Piledriver & Patriarch's Bidding & rare lands, but that was it.  Same was true of most of the notable Tier 2 decks (Elves, Clerics, etc.)  A number of budget-friendly decks was just really awesome.  (And sure, if you want to bling out, you could play Wake with a bunch of bomby rares, and Slide had some pricey Exalted Angels & sweepers.)

Sadly I don't think we'll ever have an environment like that again in the era of mythic rares.  Oh, well.
Yeah, it actually makes me nostalgic for the days when Tarmogoyf was seen as as an anomaly for being a $50 card from an in-print set.
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This is why I prefer standard.  At least after a year those annoying cards/decks eventually go away and something different comes along (I'm looking at you Jace the MS). 

The current standard environment is quite good at present with at least 3-4 good decks out there and a few out of left field ones sometimes surprising the delvers.  At least now not EVERYONE is playing UW delver which is good.
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Out of all of these I think I would hate to play against fairies the most, just because all the cards in the deck are just so damn... good. It's like you slapped a "good stuff" deck together, except all the cards have incredible synergy with one another.