This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Without taking away from the broader points made...
Hydrosurge playable, Fervor useless?
I have never played a card whose sole effect is to temporarily reduce a creature's power. (Cantrips like Fleeting Distraction are another story altogether.) They're just too rarely useful and too difficult to get to trade with an opponent's card.
On the other hand, Fervor with a minor upside was a key component of the once-best deck in Standard. Your opponent has to respect the possibility of hasty Fire Elementals and Sentinel Spiders. It's not too hard for Fervor to translate to 7-9 extra damage or more. That's not a bad deal for three mana and a card. It's inconceivable to me that it would be in the same category of uselessness as Tormod's Crypt, pure life gain and ten-mana enchantments.
It seems to me that a number of Steve's columns have drifted into making bland general statements that are so blindingly obvious that they are hardly worth saying, unless they are an intro to a more detailed analysis. For example, the statement "cards like Phyrexian Hulk, Walking Corpse, Kindled Fury, Yeva's Forcemage, Hydrosurge, and Pillarfield Ox are all playable cards I would be willing to play in a deck... but they're also the kind of cards that I would be happy to cut if I had any other suitable options at my disposal." Hmm - this boils down to "mediocre cards are OK to play unless you have somthing better." Yeah, that's a deep thought. The only real interesting idea here is whether the cards he listed as playable but mediocre really are in that category, and if the later cards (I tend to agree that fervor can be good in the right deck - or at the very least playable) truly are unplayable.
Perhaps WOTC is forcing Steve to stick with fairly bland overviews to avoid stating actual opinions that could be seen as representing those of WOTC, but whatever the cause, I wish Steve would get into the details a bit more.
As a relative newcomer to Magic, I also found this column to be frustrating and not very useful. There's a full section on "Differentiating between OK and playable cards" which seems to only say that it is important to differentiate without actually explaining how to differentiate. As a newbie, I have enough knowledge to understand why some of the listed cards aren't very good, but, like solmalka above, I don't understand why Fervor is "simply unplayable." I think the author needs to better explain his choices and reveal some of his assumptions if the articles are going to be helpful to players.
I have to agree with the majority here that Fervor is not "simply unplayable". It offers a number of tactical advantages that easily translates into extra damage and/or forces your opponent to respect the possibility of threats you may or may not even have. It's great in a number of decks and it's not even that expensive .
I feel like I'd rather have the red Ring than the Fervor in every draft deck I'd play. Even R/W tokens. The Ring does everything Fervor does for a tiny mana premium (on the back end, it's even cheaper on the front end), and in exchange every red creature you have is potentially overwhelming. And you can actually pick up the red Ring semi-reliably because it's not rare.
As for whether Fervor is playable if you didn't get a red Ring...well, maybe in R/W tokens, but any other deck that wants that effect is probably better off just playing another threat. Threat density is difficult. (Which, again, is why the red Ring is so much better.)
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