Latest Developments: Dealing With Power Creep

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Wow, between this and MaRo's article, this week's theme seems to be less 20 and more"let's incite the trolls".

Actually talking about the article, Sam lays down a really solid definition of power creep, although the specific example of Thragtusk versus Kitchen Finks might not be the best. Thragtusk's leave the battlefield trigger is probably better against the Snapcast Vapor Snag style of play that was around before Scars rotated. 90% of the time Kitchen Finks is a better choice but I kind of have to nitpick that.

Also, can we never have that godawful Crypt Creeper art in an article again?
> line up every card ever printed and make sure that we aren't printing a better version

such an exercise in itself would inherit the balance wrought in previous sets
it's not like we go out of our way to outmode old cards in every set



Sam, you're a nice guy and I don't want to call you a liar . . . but at the same time, this just isn't the impression I get from a lot of recent Magic sets.

 
Said deck can even be one of the most powerful decks in Standard because the cards within it are able to compete within the environment they are asked to compete in, not against every card ever printed



I'm sorry, but this is really just a more polite way of expressing something Rosewater was blustering about in one of his podcasts, where he said that trying to design cards in anything other than a "durational" perspective is "inherently unbalanced." It's especially disappointing because your blurb comments that that "new expansions are meant to be played with cards from older sets". But I don't have the impression you really take that into account at all. How many broken combos are/were there in Modern? And in less cutthroat environments, you've created an environment where people have a very real risk of literally being laughed at for playing with an old sentimental favorite like a Revised Serra Angel or even Ryusei, the Falling Star. (Did the game shape the obnoxious fans? Did the fans shape the game? Or did they carve each other in a never-ending cycle spiralling out of control?)

And that brings me to your continuous use of the word "compete." I know that you have much better metrics and data for tournaments than anything else, and that casual players by their nature are often difficult to measure. But I've been curious recently as to how you decide when you're going to just decide what's good for fans. For example, why did you decide one day that it was time for us to have a new card face, but nobody ever thought of the possibility of announcing that "Magic is not going to be a tournament game; you guys out there can do whatever you want, but we're not going to design for that"? I don't mean to pick on you, because I know that both of those decisions were before your time as a member of R&D, but it has certainly crossed my mind.
Players often want to level up when the buy new cards
unless the deck becomes complete in its conception.
{After that completion}adding new cards would mean removing old cards.
When this occurs; new decks are formed.

I don't need more sapoirlines , thanks
I only logged in to post that I think that this is an excellent article.  I've been paying more attention to articles lately, and was feeling a bit disparaged, but it feels and sounds as if you and the people you work with do actually have the same hopes for the game that I do.  There was a time when I disparaged about the cards in an expansion or core set that had absolutely no purpose than Limited fodder, but after learning more about the necesseties of making sure the game isn't just great, but sustainable, I've come to understand what sounds like your vision is for the game, and appreciate it.

Two thumbs up  
First of all... Regrowth really doesn't deserve to be on the Alpha "never reprint due to being overpowered" list. The 3 mana sorcery version was unplayably weak, and the OTHER 3 mana version is a *better* card, not just for coming with a 2/1 body stapled to it, but because it has more stupid tricks that can be played with it. (and hey, the OTHER 2/1 "regrowth" - that's the blue one with flash - is totally Standard-legal).

Rest of the list? Sure. Well... actually, Power Sink? Really? Didn't they just print that? Oh wait, they did. Render Silent. Except instead of XU, where X must be greater than their untapped lands, it costs UUW. Not seeing the huge difference, really. (Assuming Syncopate would be printable, given Dissipate wasn't only printable, it saw minimal play - I'm assuming Syncopate would still be fine given Condescend and Broken Ambitions).


Anyway. Article as a whole? Pretty damn BS. Creatures should be as good as every other type of card put together?
Bonfire of the Damned is a sign that spells are still good? Bonfire of the Damned is creature removal.
Farseek is a powerhouse spell?

Brainstorm is stronger than most creatures? Well duh. Most creatures are limited chaff; Divination is better than most creatures. Brainstorm works better when paired with strong spell cards than most strong creatures do, sure - but it's never gong to be the card responsible for degenerate formats. Ponder has comparable strength, and while it was good when it was legal in Standard, it was never the problem card.



Do I sound like a bitter "bring back counterspell" player? Because what I'd actually like is a Standard where Mist Raven could be a good card. Where Werewolf Tribal wasn't doomed from the start. In short, a Standard where a handful of elite cards didn't have their power levels pushed to the point where they define the format such that the best deck is whatever can run the most of the cards from the short list of broken.


Edit: The proof that power creep is real? Cards that would have been good "back in the day" suck
I miss Erhnam Djinn.
First of all... Regrowth really doesn't deserve to be on the Alpha "never reprint due to being overpowered" list. The 3 mana sorcery version was unplayably weak, and the OTHER 3 mana version is a *better* card, not just for coming with a 2/1 body stapled to it, but because it has more stupid tricks that can be played with it. (and hey, the OTHER 2/1 "regrowth" - that's the blue one with flash - is totally Standard-legal).

Rest of the list? Sure. Well... actually, Power Sink? Really? Didn't they just print that? Oh wait, they did. Render Silent. Except instead of XU, where X must be greater than their untapped lands, it costs UUW. Not seeing the huge difference, really. (Assuming Syncopate would be printable, given Dissipate wasn't only printable, it saw minimal play - I'm assuming Syncopate would still be fine given Condescend and Broken Ambitions).


Anyway. Article as a whole? Pretty damn BS. Creatures should be as good as every other type of card put together?
Bonfire of the Damned is a sign that spells are still good? Bonfire of the Damned is creature removal.
Farseek is a powerhouse spell?

Brainstorm is stronger than most creatures? Well duh. Most creatures are limited chaff; Divination is better than most creatures. Brainstorm works better when paired with strong spell cards than most strong creatures do, sure - but it's never gong to be the card responsible for degenerate formats. Ponder has comparable strength, and while it was good when it was legal in Standard, it was never the problem card.



Do I sound like a bitter "bring back counterspell" player? Because what I'd actually like is a Standard where Mist Raven could be a good card. Where Werewolf Tribal wasn't doomed from the start. In short, a Standard where a handful of elite cards didn't have their power levels pushed to the point where they define the format such that the best deck is whatever can run the most of the cards from the short list of broken.


Edit: The proof that power creep is real? Cards that would have been good "back in the day" suck




Regrowth seems to be because Sam likely just copy and pasted the B&R list.  Treasured Find is the same card (at least in this environment of perfect mana), and not only sees no play, but is not even considered for play.  Regrowth is only broken when you can return Time Walks and Ancestral Recalls to your hand.


I'm guessing Power Sink was meant to be something else.  Power Sink is not remotely overpowered (of course neither is Counterspell).  It's fine if you want to argue that "people have an irrational dislike for getting their spells countered, so we're going to stop printing powerful counters."  That's obnoxious, but at least it's better than being disingenuous and pretending that Counterspell and Power Sink are overpowered.


Same goes with the Circles of Protection.  They aren't very fun cards, but they're also not overpowered.  They existed in standard for long periods of time, and the only one that was ever good was COP Red as a sideboard card.  And it still wasn't overpowered, even in that role.  Chill, on the other hand...


It's also very frustrating to see control Magic on that list.  Control Magic + 1 CMC was in standard for years, and didn't see any play.  And that was with Titans and things running around.  Now one mana is admittedly a bib difference, but it's rarely the difference between unplayable and broken, especially as you go up in CMC.  Basically, if a spell would be overpowered at 4 mana, then it would still see some play at 5 mana.  Control Magic could very safely be printed today, and would likely bring an interesting dynamic to the game.  Instead, we get Sam Stoddard, who has replaced Zac Hill in making bold pronouncements about design that don't tend to make a ton of sense.

First of all... Regrowth really doesn't deserve to be on the Alpha "never reprint due to being overpowered" list. The 3 mana sorcery version was unplayably weak, and the OTHER 3 mana version is a *better* card, not just for coming with a 2/1 body stapled to it, but because it has more stupid tricks that can be played with it. (and hey, the OTHER 2/1 "regrowth" - that's the blue one with flash - is totally Standard-legal).

I'm only half-convinced you're not a troll, but I'll humor you. Do you not see how giving a card flashback and returning a card to your hand isn't the same thing? One is clearly better than the other. As for Eternal Witness vs. Regrowth, there's a big difference between 3 mana and 2 mana, even if the three mana version comes with a 2/1 body attached.

EDIT: And Treasured Find is not comparable to Regrowth. Treasured Find exiles itself and costs two colors of mana, which, even in this Standard environment, is a very real cost. Also, Snapcaster + Regrowth in the same Standard environment would be completely disgusting. That has to do partly with the power level of Snapcaster, but still.

Rest of the list? Sure. Well... actually, Power Sink? Really? Didn't they just print that? Oh wait, they did. Render Silent. Except instead of XU, where X must be greater than their untapped lands, it costs UUW. Not seeing the huge difference, really. (Assuming Syncopate would be printable, given Dissipate wasn't only printable, it saw minimal play - I'm assuming Syncopate would still be fine given Condescend and Broken Ambitions).

Seriously? Render Silent, Syncopate, and Dissipate are not even close to the power level of Power Sink. I bet if you think really hard you'll be able to figure out why.

Brainstorm is stronger than most creatures? Well duh. Most creatures are limited chaff; Divination is better than most creatures. Brainstorm works better when paired with strong spell cards than most strong creatures do, sure - but it's never gong to be the card responsible for degenerate formats. Ponder has comparable strength, and while it was good when it was legal in Standard, it was never the problem card.

Ponder was absolutely a problem card in Standard. It was the reason that Delver was able to exist as a deck. Yes, Delver, Snapcaster, Geist, Vapor Snag, and Mana Leak were powerful, but Ponder was the glue that held that deck together. It allowed it to play fewer lands, it allowed Delver to flip consistently. Without Ponder, Delver wouldn't have been the OP deck that it was. Ponder was good enough to be banned in Modern, and Brainstorm is just a better Ponder (no, their power levels are not comparable) in a format with any way to shuffle your deck (ie, any constructed format).

Do I sound like a bitter "bring back counterspell" player? Because what I'd actually like is a Standard where Mist Raven could be a good card. Where Werewolf Tribal wasn't doomed from the start. In short, a Standard where a handful of elite cards didn't have their power levels pushed to the point where they define the format such that the best deck is whatever can run the most of the cards from the short list of broken.

You can't make every card in Standard good. Some cards have to be bad. For better or for worse, R&D chose to make Mist Raven and werewolves (except for Huntmaster) bad cards and pushed other cards to constructed playability. Keep in mind, though, that the current standard environment is the best one in years. There are tons of viable decks, and even though Jund and UWR are the best decks, they are not overpowered, and there are lots of decks that still beat them. Also, Jund and UWR only became the best decks with the release of M14, and will cease to be the best decks come rotation, if not sooner. Before M14, Standard was even more wide open, with tons of different decks being roughly equal in power level. The standard environment is great. Just because your pet cards weren't push to constructed playability doesn't mean there's a problem.


Edit: The proof that power creep is real? Cards that would have been good "back in the day" suck.

I know, right! Black Lotus would suck so bad if they printed it now! Man, old cards were so bad.

I don't think people's dislike of getting their spells countered is "irrational." How'd you like to get your spells countered? >:-I
Don't lie, even if banding was somehow okay to print these days a W 1/1 banding would be way over the power-level line.
Berserk is close to printable, though probably more of a 1G effect.  Though I don't know, maybe their goal is to push creatures enough that it appears broken?

"Our new baseline is a 10/10 Vanilla for WG."
"So it's a one-hit kill with Berserk?"
"You're right, clearly Berserk is overpowered..."

--------------

Word of Command is not overpowered at all, and hasn't even been playable since 6th edition rules.

--------------

Regrowth is an interesting case.  They are afraid that one day they will print a broken blue card and Regrowth will let one copy be played 5 times.  (More if there are Regrowth variants around.  Even at 3 mana, Call to Mind did see play.)  Which they probably will.  So they prefer flashback that exiles the chosen card, or at minimum exiles itself so you can't create a combo loop.  So it's not that Regrowth is broken, but that other things are an Regrowth enables it.

Also Regrowth has the Lightning Bolt effect in that they couldn't print anything better, but have lots of ideas for stuff that's worse.  So it would crowd out Nature's Spiral, Down // Dirty, Revive, Treasured Find, etc.  And unlike Lightning Bolt, it's not an effect where worse versions are additive to the environment.  (Either because multiple effects aren't wanted, or because they are wanted for something degenerate.)

However, if Recollect is the standard then they can easily print better stuff.  And that's the context in which Regrowth is a power issue: printing it would inhibit printing other versions.
 
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A lot of the cards on their list aren't "power level" so much as "unwanted effect".  Contemporary Magic is a game about playing with your cards while a person sits across the table playing with his.  And cards that interact with his are "No Fun".  (Allegedly.)  Therefore:

No Counterspell / Power Sink
No Control Magic
No Crusade / Bad Moon
No Stone Rain / Ice Storm
No Circles of Protection
No Armageddon / Ankh of Mishra
No Flashfires / Gloom / Karma etc

And lately even creature removal is getting the evil eye...

If it's a card that hurt your opponent, they make it worse so you can't.  If it's a card that could help your opponent, they'll make it better so it won't.  The common theme is clear: interaction is bad. 

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 don't think people's dislike of getting their spells countered is "irrational." How'd you like to get your spells countered? >:-I


You assume that people who like Counterspells are too dumb to understand they work both ways?  Arrogant, much?

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.

First of all... Regrowth really doesn't deserve to be on the Alpha "never reprint due to being overpowered" list. The 3 mana sorcery version was unplayably weak, and the OTHER 3 mana version is a *better* card, not just for coming with a 2/1 body stapled to it, but because it has more stupid tricks that can be played with it. (and hey, the OTHER 2/1 "regrowth" - that's the blue one with flash - is totally Standard-legal).

I'm only half-convinced you're not a troll, but I'll humor you. Do you not see how giving a card flashback and returning a card to your hand isn't the same thing? One is clearly better than the other. As for Eternal Witness vs. Regrowth, there's a big difference between 3 mana and 2 mana, even if the three mana version comes with a 2/1 body attached.

EDIT: And Treasured Find is not comparable to Regrowth. Treasured Find exiles itself and costs two colors of mana, which, even in this Standard environment, is a very real cost. Also, Snapcaster + Regrowth in the same Standard environment would be completely disgusting. That has to do partly with the power level of Snapcaster, but still.



You are just wrong about that. Regrowth was only powerful, because you could fetch another time walk/Ancestral recall/diabolic tutor.

Today, you much rather just draw a real card that regrowth. Why regrow a card, when you can just draw the same one and play it without a fee of 2 extra mana.
No card in standard would be played, if you add 2 mana.

But you would play ancestral recall for 2 extra mana any day of the week. You also could not put 4 Timewalks in your deck. These were the reasons why regrowth was strong.

And look at the meta, before you say GB is a real cost in todays standard. (For example Jund playing Garruk and Olivia in one deck without any problems)
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true">\A lot of the cards on their list aren't "power level" so much as "unwanted effect".  Contemporary Magic is a game about playing with your cards while a person sits across the table playing with his.  And cards that interact with his are "No Fun".  (Allegedly.)  Therefore:

No Counterspell / Power Sink
No Control Magic
No Crusade / Bad Moon
No Stone Rain / Ice Storm
No Circles of Protection
No Armageddon / Ankh of Mishra
No Flashfires / Gloom / Karma etc

And lately even creature removal is getting the evil eye...

If it's a card that hurt your opponent, they make it worse so you can't.  If it's a card that could help your opponent, they'll make it better so it won't.  The common theme is clear: interaction is bad. 


Counterspells still see play, even if they aren't Counterspell.

Mass land destruction is terrible for the game.  You can recover from a Supreme Verdict, but if you're behind on board at all, Armageddon is "counter this or lose". Honestly, I'm confused why you think cards that lock a player out of the game are interactive.

If creature removal is getting the evil eye, why did they reprint Doom Blade and continue printing 4 mana wraths?

And you seem to be forgetting that combat is extremely interactive. But everyone who complains about these things seems to hate the idea of creature combat, so I guess it's to be expected.
First of all... Regrowth really doesn't deserve to be on the Alpha "never reprint due to being overpowered" list. The 3 mana sorcery version was unplayably weak, and the OTHER 3 mana version is a *better* card, not just for coming with a 2/1 body stapled to it, but because it has more stupid tricks that can be played with it. (and hey, the OTHER 2/1 "regrowth" - that's the blue one with flash - is totally Standard-legal).

I'm only half-convinced you're not a troll, but I'll humor you. Do you not see how giving a card flashback and returning a card to your hand isn't the same thing? One is clearly better than the other. As for Eternal Witness vs. Regrowth, there's a big difference between 3 mana and 2 mana, even if the three mana version comes with a 2/1 body attached.

EDIT: And Treasured Find is not comparable to Regrowth. Treasured Find exiles itself and costs two colors of mana, which, even in this Standard environment, is a very real cost. Also, Snapcaster + Regrowth in the same Standard environment would be completely disgusting. That has to do partly with the power level of Snapcaster, but still.



You are just wrong about that. Regrowth was only powerful, because you could fetch another time walk/Ancestral recall/diabolic tutor.

Today, you much rather just draw a real card that regrowth. Why regrow a card, when you can just draw the same one and play it without a fee of 2 extra mana.
No card in standard would be played, if you add 2 mana.

But you would play ancestral recall for 2 extra mana any day of the week. You also could not put 4 Timewalks in your deck. These were the reasons why regrowth was strong.

And look at the meta, before you say GB is a real cost in todays standard. (For example Jund playing Garruk and Olivia in one deck without any problems)

You're misunderstanding the issue. There are decks in Standard that would run Regrowth if they could that don't run Treasured Find because of the BG cost. You don't look at the current BG decks and say "None of those decks are running Treasured Find, so Regrowth must be fine." You look at the decks that run green, but not black, that want a regrowth effect, and try to guess what would happen if those decks had Regrowth. And you look at what decks might arise as a result of having the significantly easier to cast (and flashback-able) Regrowth in the format instead of Treasured Find.

And the answer is that those decks would be stupidly powerful. The consistency you'd get from having both Snapcaster and Regrowth in a Bant control deck, for example, would be ridiculous. With Snapcasters and Regrowths, you could cast the same spell 9 times (10 if you Resto a Snapcaster and flash back the spell itself): Cast the spell. Regrowth, getting the spell back. Cast the spell again. Snapcaster the Regrowth, getting the spell back. Cast the spell again. Keep doing that with the three other Regrowths and Snapcasters in your deck. Decks shouldn't have that kind of consistency. R&D has said they specifically want to avoid repetitive game states, and Snapcaster + Regrowth would be the epitome of a repetitive game state.

And you think that no decks would want to spend two more to cast a card, but that is short-sighted and, again, makes the mistake of only looking at the current builds of current decks in Standard. Control decks could start running more situational, silver bullet-esque cards, because they would only need to draw a spell once to be able to use it multiple times if they had Regrowth in the deck. This would lead to super-powerful goodstuff decks that would just pack a bunch of powerful, narrow answers, then find the one answer that was relevant in the match and loop it a bunch of times with Snapcaster and Regrowth. Or it would just make the current control decks a lot more consistent. Again, Regrowth only costing green instead of GB would open up the possibility for a lot more decks to run it and for a lot of decks that don't exist right now to spring up.

That's not even considering combo, which would get a lot more consistent with Regrowth and might make some combo decks viable that aren't currently viable.
Oh, I love that insanely annoying quirk where I read an article, and end up being drawn in, fixating on one point.

Circle of Protections being too powerful to reprint?  Really?
It's funny how people insist that certain card is not overpowered, when it has proven to be awfully oppresive in the past, and has had worse versions printed and still played.

Of the entire list, I don't get Mana Sink, because I've never played it or had it played against me. But, until then, I believe people that say it is.
Oh, I love that isanely annoying quirk where I read an article, and end up being drawn in, fiating on one point.

Circle of Protections being too powerful to reprint?  Really?


I suspect that some of them (see Chaos Orb and Word of Command) are less "too powerful" and more "effects we wouldn't print". I can see the dislike for CoP, as it lends itself to game states where nothing happens.
Isn't this just about the only article this week that didn't get a Top 20 treatment? I feel like Sam missed a memo.
Rules Nut Advisor
Don't put words in my mouth Amarsir. Wizards had to power down counterspell strategies for the good of the game. Playing a one-sided game where you just watch your opponent take turns and wait around to die because you can't cast spells is no fun. A lot of players have given up the game because they didn't feel like they were playing a game or involved in any way. You can still use control stategies, you just have to be smart about it now and actually be strategic. I hope I'm using words that are simple enough for you to understand :-(
Oh, I love that isanely annoying quirk where I read an article, and end up being drawn in, fiating on one point.

Circle of Protections being too powerful to reprint?  Really?


This is pretty much exactly why I came here. COPs just aren't that good. Annoying sure, but not powerful.

Myths of Theros: Part 1, Part 2, Born of the Gods Myths

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Momir Basic Primer

Counterspells still see play, even if they aren't Counterspell.

So?

You can recover from a Supreme Verdict, but if you're behind on board at all, Armageddon is "counter this or lose".

First of all I like how you snuck "if you're behind on board" in there.  "If" can make a lot of arguments good.  "If they just tapped out to Blue Sun's Zenith themselves for 20, then Sudden Impact is an unstoppable 1-card win!" "Ifs" are pretty mighty.

Being ahead on board and having the ability to cast a 4-mana sorcery is not just an "if" you can throw in for free.  It's 4 mana, a card, and a main phase that you spent on a parallel effect and your opponent didn't.  If you can get ahead on board, AND you have Armageddon in hand, AND you can cast it, AND your opponent doesn't have a response that changes your "ahead on board" status, AND they weren't holding up lands and removal to plan for this eventuality ... IF all that happens, then yeah, you win.  Why is that bad?  

Someone has to win, R&D hasn't figured out a way past that yet.

Honestly, I'm confused why you think cards that lock a player out of the game are interactive.

Because they change the way the game is played.  I sit down to Magic to play the opponent, not the cards.  If he has Winter Orb or Blood Clock, or it turns out his changelings benefit from my Muscle Sliver, these are things I need to take into account.  If I don't, they beat me.  I'll take that a thousand times over "I have my Garruk and you have yours."  


If creature removal is getting the evil eye, why did they reprint Doom Blade and continue printing 4 mana wraths?

You mean the Doom Blade which was just taken out of common for the first time in its history?  That Doom Blade?

Alpha / Beta: Terror at Common
Revised: Terror at Common
4th: Terror at Common
5th: Terror at Common
6th: Terror at Common
7th: Dark Banishing at Common
8th: Dark Banishing at Common
9th: Dark Banishing at Common
10th: Terror at Common
M10: Doom Blade at Common
M11: Doom Blade at Common
M12: Doom Blade at Common
M13: Murder at Common
M14: Doom Blade at Uncommon

Many people have noticed that removal felt weaker in RTR block.  And just last week, Sam said "no commons can be as powerful as Dark Banishing".  You can disagree on how much you like creature removal, but don't be willfully blind.  It's not gone; it will never be gone.  But it's weaker.

And you seem to be forgetting that combat is extremely interactive.

It is, though more in theory than in reality.  Choosing how to block is interactive.  If you can't or the choice is obvious, then it's not.  I do like a good creature combat.

Don't lie to yourself though, they've been nerfing that interaction too.  Damage on the stack made trades less appealing.  Switching to ordered blockers instead of assigning damage reduced a number of options.  Interactions that change combat were labeled with the pejorative "brain melting" and reduced in favor of vanillas.  Onboard tricks are similarly labeled "feel bad" and moved from a Common staple to an infrequent Uncommon.

(And I won't even include the Alpha-relevant banding, which definitely did make combat more interactive but was admittedly a confusing rules mess.)

So I repeat, the direction is clear: less design that makes you react to the opponent, more that just lets cards be cards.

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 hope I'm using words that are simple enough for you to understand :-(

Well don't I feel silly for accusing you of arrogance...

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 don't mind being called arrogant... I'll admit to it. Now run along and play until you have something that can be considered an intelligent thought. You really haven't said anything that would support your argument Amarsir.
First off, I registered just to post a reply to this thread... so good work on the baiting, even during a week of epic troll articles!

My problem is this bit, right here...

Instead of spells being very powerful, and creatures weak, we have been steadily moving them closer and closer to being about even.


Creatures have been way, way more powerful than spells for the longest time.

I dialled down my playing significantly after Masques/Invasion block (aka. Counter-Rebels and Fires) and I'd argue that that was the time of evenly balanced spells and creatures.

The problem isn't just the power disparity though, which in itself is pretty laughable, but rather how creatures are becoming spells in their own right.

Why play a Regrowth when you can play Eternal Witness or Snapcaster Mage?

Why even bother with spells when utility creatures, along with ETB/LTB effects, does things more efficiently and leaves a body behind?

I'm not opposed to seeing stronger creatures overall but there was no need to nerf the living hell out of spells in addition to that. Indeed, in many ways I feel Legacy is the most compelling format in that sense... as it's a format that embraces strong spells and strong creatures both.

Normally I might not have bothered to reply but a couple of fairly recent discussions in the MTGS forums helped highlight the issue in a way I wouldn't have thought possible. Namely, polling for the best creature and best non-creature in M14.

Best creature is interesting, there are compelling reasons to go with Lifebane Zombie, Imposing Sovereign, Kalonian Hydra, Archangel of Thune, Young Pyromancer, Xathrid Necromancer or a decent number of runners up.

However, I've yet to see a compelling argument for a non-creature spell that isn't Doom Blade.

Seriously, go through the list yourself if you don't belive me.... it really is that bad.

That Sam references Farseek as one of the powerhouse non-creature spells just drives home how terrible the situation has become. Indeed, even if you replace it with Abrupt Decay the number of of powerhouse non-creatures in Standard pales in comparison to creatures. And once you start judging spells by their eternal format worthiness it becomes even worse.

I don't live under the illusion that WotC cares about my view here, or that of anyone who might share it, but I'd consider it wise to realize that the game is currently teetering at the other edge right now. "Dumbing it down for the masses" is hyperbole but there is such a thing as going too far with slugfest Magic and we're rapidly approaching that point.

Personally, I'd consider us way past it and going on endurance... but that's probably just me.
First of all... Regrowth really doesn't deserve to be on the Alpha "never reprint due to being overpowered" list. The 3 mana sorcery version was unplayably weak, and the OTHER 3 mana version is a *better* card, not just for coming with a 2/1 body stapled to it, but because it has more stupid tricks that can be played with it. (and hey, the OTHER 2/1 "regrowth" - that's the blue one with flash - is totally Standard-legal).

I'm only half-convinced you're not a troll, but I'll humor you. Do you not see how giving a card flashback and returning a card to your hand isn't the same thing? One is clearly better than the other. As for Eternal Witness vs. Regrowth, there's a big difference between 3 mana and 2 mana, even if the three mana version comes with a 2/1 body attached.



I love how the best argument for not reprinting Regrowth is the existence of Snapcaster Mage and how ridiculous they'd be together. Wait, what's the opposite of love? Hate. That's right. I hate that.

If you can't see how a free 2/1 body - otherwise known as 2-for-1 card advantage - isn't an amazing rider *easily* worth an extra mana or flashback vs. flat return to hand, I'm really not sure why I should be paying attention to your opinions on Magic.


EDIT: And Treasured Find is not comparable to Regrowth. Treasured Find exiles itself and costs two colors of mana, which, even in this Standard environment, is a very real cost. Also, Snapcaster + Regrowth in the same Standard environment would be completely disgusting. That has to do partly with the power level of Snapcaster, but still.



Of course it's a real cost; a real cost that's sufficient to drive a playable effect into unplayable dreck. I never said Regrowth would be a BAD card - just not overpowered compared to current Standard's pushed cards.

Oh, and "unfun" is not "overpowered". If Sam had said we'd never reprint Regrowth because it's not fun, that I would shrug at. Sure. Repetitive game states bad. Stone Rain isn't OP, it's just not the kind of card we want to be playable. That's legit, but it means that Regrowth (or Stone Rain) don't deserve to be on the list of overpowered cards.


Rest of the list? Sure. Well... actually, Power Sink? Really? Didn't they just print that? Oh wait, they did. Render Silent. Except instead of XU, where X must be greater than their untapped lands, it costs UUW. Not seeing the huge difference, really. (Assuming Syncopate would be printable, given Dissipate wasn't only printable, it saw minimal play - I'm assuming Syncopate would still be fine given Condescend and Broken Ambitions).

Seriously? Render Silent, Syncopate, and Dissipate are not even close to the power level of Power Sink. I bet if you think really hard you'll be able to figure out why.



Lazy, LAZY debate technique.

My argument, by the way, is that Render Silent is to Power Sink as Dissipate is to Syncopate - in the former case, a spell that counters your spell and prevents you from casting more spells, in the latter case a spell that counters your spell and exiles it. Same CMCs.

Power Sink would be *better* than Syncopate, sure. Ridiculously so? No


Brainstorm is stronger than most creatures? Well duh. Most creatures are limited chaff; Divination is better than most creatures. Brainstorm works better when paired with strong spell cards than most strong creatures do, sure - but it's never gong to be the card responsible for degenerate formats. Ponder has comparable strength, and while it was good when it was legal in Standard, it was never the problem card.

Ponder was absolutely a problem card in Standard. It was the reason that Delver was able to exist as a deck. Yes, Delver, Snapcaster, Geist, Vapor Snag, and Mana Leak were powerful, but Ponder was the glue that held that deck together. It allowed it to play fewer lands, it allowed Delver to flip consistently. Without Ponder, Delver wouldn't have been the OP deck that it was. Ponder was good enough to be banned in Modern, and Brainstorm is just a better Ponder (no, their power levels are not comparable) in a format with any way to shuffle your deck (ie, any constructed format).



The problem there is Delver of Secrets. 3/2 flying for 1 blue is stupidly overpowered power creep, and the randomness of the flip makes it a MORE obnoxious card to play against, not less. Without Delver and Geist of St. Traft (also stupidly overpowered power creep), that format would have been much better. Ponder is a card that makes it easier to play your intended game of magic; it's the rest of the deck that determines whether that's fun to play against or not. I hate playing against decks that inconsistently get god draws far more than I hate playing against decks that consistently get god draws; in the former case, all you can do is pray they draw badly. In the latter, you need to run a better deck that can actually compete.


Do I sound like a bitter "bring back counterspell" player? Because what I'd actually like is a Standard where Mist Raven could be a good card. Where Werewolf Tribal wasn't doomed from the start. In short, a Standard where a handful of elite cards didn't have their power levels pushed to the point where they define the format such that the best deck is whatever can run the most of the cards from the short list of broken.

You can't make every card in Standard good. Some cards have to be bad. For better or for worse, R&D chose to make Mist Raven and werewolves (except for Huntmaster) bad cards and pushed other cards to constructed playability. Keep in mind, though, that the current standard environment is the best one in years. There are tons of viable decks, and even though Jund and UWR are the best decks, they are not overpowered, and there are lots of decks that still beat them. Also, Jund and UWR only became the best decks with the release of M14, and will cease to be the best decks come rotation, if not sooner. Before M14, Standard was even more wide open, with tons of different decks being roughly equal in power level. The standard environment is great. Just because your pet cards weren't push to constructed playability doesn't mean there's a problem.



Dude, I read MaRo's articles too. *pats on head*

The decks might be different, but the cards aren't. It's the same kind of "diversity" you see in Type One: tons of different decks. By which we mean "most of the restricted list, plus 10 other cards" where the 10 other cards are "diverse".



Edit: The proof that power creep is real? Cards that would have been good "back in the day" suck.

I know, right! Black Lotus would suck so bad if they printed it now! Man, old cards were so bad.




See, I meant things like "Man of War with Flying". "Savannah Lions with upside". I'm not talking "back in the day" as in the wild and woolly era - I mean the "day" when they finally reined in the overpowered stuff from Alpha and hadn't yet begun creeping the power on stuff. (and frankly, Revelation annoys me just as much as any creeped creature - they made STROKE OF GENIUS WITH UPSIDE???? And they're trying to deny power creep???)
First of all... Regrowth really doesn't deserve to be on the Alpha "never reprint due to being overpowered" list. The 3 mana sorcery version was unplayably weak, and the OTHER 3 mana version is a *better* card, not just for coming with a 2/1 body stapled to it, but because it has more stupid tricks that can be played with it. (and hey, the OTHER 2/1 "regrowth" - that's the blue one with flash - is totally Standard-legal).

I'm only half-convinced you're not a troll, but I'll humor you. Do you not see how giving a card flashback and returning a card to your hand isn't the same thing? One is clearly better than the other. As for Eternal Witness vs. Regrowth, there's a big difference between 3 mana and 2 mana, even if the three mana version comes with a 2/1 body attached.



I love how the best argument for not reprinting Regrowth is the existence of Snapcaster Mage and how ridiculous they'd be together. Wait, what's the opposite of love? Hate. That's right. I hate that.

If you can't see how a free 2/1 body - otherwise known as 2-for-1 card advantage - isn't an amazing rider *easily* worth an extra mana or flashback vs. flat return to hand, I'm really not sure why I should be paying attention to your opinions on Magic.


EDIT: And Treasured Find is not comparable to Regrowth. Treasured Find exiles itself and costs two colors of mana, which, even in this Standard environment, is a very real cost. Also, Snapcaster + Regrowth in the same Standard environment would be completely disgusting. That has to do partly with the power level of Snapcaster, but still.



Of course it's a real cost; a real cost that's sufficient to drive a playable effect into unplayable dreck. I never said Regrowth would be a BAD card - just not overpowered compared to current Standard's pushed cards.

Oh, and "unfun" is not "overpowered". If Sam had said we'd never reprint Regrowth because it's not fun, that I would shrug at. Sure. Repetitive game states bad. Stone Rain isn't OP, it's just not the kind of card we want to be playable. That's legit, but it means that Regrowth (or Stone Rain) don't deserve to be on the list of overpowered cards.


Rest of the list? Sure. Well... actually, Power Sink? Really? Didn't they just print that? Oh wait, they did. Render Silent. Except instead of XU, where X must be greater than their untapped lands, it costs UUW. Not seeing the huge difference, really. (Assuming Syncopate would be printable, given Dissipate wasn't only printable, it saw minimal play - I'm assuming Syncopate would still be fine given Condescend and Broken Ambitions).

Seriously? Render Silent, Syncopate, and Dissipate are not even close to the power level of Power Sink. I bet if you think really hard you'll be able to figure out why.



Lazy, LAZY debate technique.

My argument, by the way, is that Render Silent is to Power Sink as Dissipate is to Syncopate - in the former case, a spell that counters your spell and prevents you from casting more spells, in the latter case a spell that counters your spell and exiles it. Same CMCs.

Power Sink would be *better* than Syncopate, sure. Ridiculously so? No


Brainstorm is stronger than most creatures? Well duh. Most creatures are limited chaff; Divination is better than most creatures. Brainstorm works better when paired with strong spell cards than most strong creatures do, sure - but it's never gong to be the card responsible for degenerate formats. Ponder has comparable strength, and while it was good when it was legal in Standard, it was never the problem card.

Ponder was absolutely a problem card in Standard. It was the reason that Delver was able to exist as a deck. Yes, Delver, Snapcaster, Geist, Vapor Snag, and Mana Leak were powerful, but Ponder was the glue that held that deck together. It allowed it to play fewer lands, it allowed Delver to flip consistently. Without Ponder, Delver wouldn't have been the OP deck that it was. Ponder was good enough to be banned in Modern, and Brainstorm is just a better Ponder (no, their power levels are not comparable) in a format with any way to shuffle your deck (ie, any constructed format).



The problem there is Delver of Secrets. 3/2 flying for 1 blue is stupidly overpowered power creep, and the randomness of the flip makes it a MORE obnoxious card to play against, not less. Without Delver and Geist of St. Traft (also stupidly overpowered power creep), that format would have been much better. Ponder is a card that makes it easier to play your intended game of magic; it's the rest of the deck that determines whether that's fun to play against or not. I hate playing against decks that inconsistently get god draws far more than I hate playing against decks that consistently get god draws; in the former case, all you can do is pray they draw badly. In the latter, you need to run a better deck that can actually compete.


Do I sound like a bitter "bring back counterspell" player? Because what I'd actually like is a Standard where Mist Raven could be a good card. Where Werewolf Tribal wasn't doomed from the start. In short, a Standard where a handful of elite cards didn't have their power levels pushed to the point where they define the format such that the best deck is whatever can run the most of the cards from the short list of broken.

You can't make every card in Standard good. Some cards have to be bad. For better or for worse, R&D chose to make Mist Raven and werewolves (except for Huntmaster) bad cards and pushed other cards to constructed playability. Keep in mind, though, that the current standard environment is the best one in years. There are tons of viable decks, and even though Jund and UWR are the best decks, they are not overpowered, and there are lots of decks that still beat them. Also, Jund and UWR only became the best decks with the release of M14, and will cease to be the best decks come rotation, if not sooner. Before M14, Standard was even more wide open, with tons of different decks being roughly equal in power level. The standard environment is great. Just because your pet cards weren't push to constructed playability doesn't mean there's a problem.



Dude, I read MaRo's articles too. *pats on head*

The decks might be different, but the cards aren't. It's the same kind of "diversity" you see in Type One: tons of different decks. By which we mean "most of the restricted list, plus 10 other cards" where the 10 other cards are "diverse".



Edit: The proof that power creep is real? Cards that would have been good "back in the day" suck.

I know, right! Black Lotus would suck so bad if they printed it now! Man, old cards were so bad.




See, I meant things like "Man of War with Flying". "Savannah Lions with upside". I'm not talking "back in the day" as in the wild and woolly era - I mean the "day" when they finally reined in the overpowered stuff from Alpha and hadn't yet begun creeping the power on stuff. (and frankly, Revelation annoys me just as much as any creeped creature - they made STROKE OF GENIUS WITH UPSIDE???? And they're trying to deny power creep???)




Excellent post.
Power Sink is a relatively weak counterspell that sees no play in any format where it is legal. It stops late-game bomb X spells and can ocasionally nab an early-game threat, which is playable but not great.

The "mistake" counterspell didn't get printed until Legends.


The Circles of Protection are probably on the list only because R&D doesn't print color hosers any more. Power-wise they're extremely weak, especially compared to some of the other hosers on the list.


Regrowth shouldn't be on the list. Even in Vintage, where Regrowth has its most busted interactions with spells like Gush and Black Lotus, its unrestriction has caused no noticeable disruption. In a modern set, where the creatures are cheap and the spells are 2-3 mana too expensive, it would be perfectly fair. In addition to Eternal Witness and Snapcaster Mage mentioned above, another notable comparison is to Noxious Revival; two life and a card for a two mana discount is often a good deal.


No idea why he thinks Mox Opal was printed in Alpha ;)


Mind Twist is not that powerful (Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach are much better, depending on what you're trying to do), but it's extremely feared and "feel-bad" and admittedly too powerful for Standard.


No idea why Stasis isn't on the list. It's not all that powerful, but given R&D's extreme allergy to printing cards that might ruffle the feathers of any significant minority of its players (see: counterspells, land destruction, hand destruction, drawback mechanics, ...) I'm shocked they don't consider Stasis a mistake.


Word of Command is perfectly innocuous; it would be a lot more useful/powerful with something like Split Second. I guess it's the rules confusion that's keeping it on the list, although if so, Raging River clearly belongs on the list as well.



Why even bother with spells when utility creatures, along with ETB/LTB effects, does things more efficiently and leaves a body behind?



I guess that's why all decks move to creatures only...

Oh wait. If you look at the top8 decks from high-profile tournaments, you'll see that on average more spells than creatures are being played. All those pros must be doing something wrong.

Or maybe, just maybe, you are overreacting?

Being ahead on board and having the ability to cast a 4-mana sorcery is not just an "if" you can throw in for free.  It's 4 mana, a card, and a main phase that you spent on a parallel effect and your opponent didn't.  If you can get ahead on board, AND you have Armageddon in hand, AND you can cast it, AND your opponent doesn't have a response that changes your "ahead on board" status, AND they weren't holding up lands and removal to plan for this eventuality ... IF all that happens, then yeah, you win.  Why is that bad?



Because it isn't fun.

Losing while fighting for your life is fun.
Losing while being unable to do anything is not. 

No idea why Stasis isn't on the list. It's not all that powerful, but given R&D's extreme allergy to printing cards that might ruffle the feathers of any significant minority of its players (see: counterspells, land destruction, hand destruction, drawback mechanics, ...) I'm shocked they don't consider Stasis a mistake.



You misspelled majority.
The problem there is Delver of Secrets. 3/2 flying for 1 blue is stupidly overpowered power creep, and the randomness of the flip makes it a MORE obnoxious card to play against, not less. Without Delver and Geist of St. Traft (also stupidly overpowered power creep), that format would have been much better. Ponder is a card that makes it easier to play your intended game of magic; it's the rest of the deck that determines whether that's fun to play against or not. I hate playing against decks that inconsistently get god draws far more than I hate playing against decks that consistently get god draws; in the former case, all you can do is pray they draw badly. In the latter, you need to run a better deck that can actually compete.



The power of such cards is quite subtle and you seem to miss it. Ever since Ponder rotated Delver is no problem in Standard anymore. Preordain had the same problem in its day. 

See, I meant things like "Man of War with Flying". "Savannah Lions with upside". I'm not talking "back in the day" as in the wild and woolly era - I mean the "day" when they finally reined in the overpowered stuff from Alpha and hadn't yet begun creeping the power on stuff. (and frankly, Revelation annoys me just as much as any creeped creature - they made STROKE OF GENIUS WITH UPSIDE???? And they're trying to deny power creep???)



Creatures have become more powerful, nobody denies that and that has been a conscious move by Wizards. But you didn't specify creatures.
By definition, if a player can force through a win at all, no matter by what means, the opponent IS unable to do anything about it. If Nissa has 7 life, no playable cards in hand, and no relevant permanents (which includes a lack of potential blockers), and is being attacked by Chandra's 9/3, Nissa cannot do anything, and will lose. In this case, any relevant cards from Nissa have already been answered, preemptively or otherwise, while Chandra's beater has not been answered and carries the game.

Unless an opponent makes an inexcusable misplay, there is no way for either player to raise their Win Probability to 100% except by rendering their opponent helpless to stop that, and eventually, at some point if the game is to be decisive at all, it must pass through such a position. Whether the clinching piece takes the form of Armageddon, or of "WotC-Approved BIG NUMBERS!" (tm), the purpose is the same: make the opponent incapable of stopping your route to victory, because if they have the power to stop you, they most certainly will use it, being an independent, rivalrous actor and what not.
placing a players life on the level with creature damage reduces board interaction
By definition, if a player can force through a win at all, no matter by what means, the opponent IS unable to do anything about it. If Nissa has 7 life, no playable cards in hand, and no relevant permanents (which includes a lack of potential blockers), and is being attacked by Chandra's 9/3, Nissa cannot do anything, and will lose. In this case, any relevant cards from Nissa have already been answered, preemptively or otherwise, while Chandra's beater has not been answered and carries the game.

Unless an opponent makes an inexcusable misplay, there is no way for either player to raise their Win Probability to 100% except by rendering their opponent helpless to stop that, and eventually, at some point if the game is to be decisive at all, it must pass through such a position. Whether the clinching piece takes the form of Armageddon, or of "WotC-Approved BIG NUMBERS!" (tm), the purpose is the same: make the opponent incapable of stopping your route to victory, because if they have the power to stop you, they most certainly will use it, being an independent, rivalrous actor and what not.



You are missing the point. Hmm, I'll try to explain in a different way:
The 'fun' way of losing means that your last topdeck could've been relevant, could've turned the game around. Yes Nissa is unable to do anything about it the last 2 turns of the game (the turn she loses and the turn before that when she failed to topdeck something relevant) but the turns before that she was able to try to turn things around.
The 'unfun' way of losing means that for quite a number of turns, it doesn't really matter anymore what you draw/do.

Also, there's a HUGE difference between "unable to do anything about it" and "unable to do anything". Even if Nissa's last topdecked Nissa's Chosen doesn't prevent her from losing, that she's able to cast it and block at least 1 of the attacking creatures already alleviates some of the 'unfunness'. At least she was able to play her cards. 
yep pretty low mana curve in standard
I could troll and complain about what cards are on the too powerful list, but i wont. I thought the article was well written and gave good points on power creep over the years. Wizards is trying to power creep creatures because thats what they feel most players want, more bigger badass creatures with no drawbacks at all. (I suspect they are trying to lure in the yugioh crowd.) They have also been trying to phase out things that most players dont like like discard, land destruction, effects that might help opponent, unable to untap, and cannot attack permanants (moat, ensnaring bridge, propaganda). Some people like these cards (me/ griefers), but a good way to tell if a card is unfun is to play it in a multiplayer game and see if everyone suddenly wants to kill you.

I do think they have been going a little far on the power of creatures lately (no need to give examples, cause everyone knows them), especialy the way they have been pushing hexproof and unblockability lately.  I personally wish combo would make a comeback in standard.
Good article, but amen to Mulen.

Creatures are mostly offensive, so having the power skewed there means shorter games, wheras spells are mostly reactive so assigning power there means longer games with a better narrative, and plenty of surprise comebacks when the board is swept clean.

I prefer longer games, and I sometimes wonder if the popularity of Commander is partly due to the fact that 40 life today lasts about as long as 20 life did when Alpha came out.

I also like to have time for bizarre Johnny rares to take effect and generate interesting board conditions before Spikier opponents win. It used to be possible for "Ritual of Subdual" to slow down a game, but now if a 6 mana card isn't a win condition, it will rarely have time to take effect if someone is playing with the new creature power curve.



I found this article to be interesting.

Overall, the comments were even better.