While I was covering Grand Prix: Detroit, I worked on a team with Ben Bleiweiss, Ferrett, and the three of us rotated coverage. That was three guys with two Featured Matches to cover per round – since we usually didn’t cover the same matches the Sideboard did, that didn’t leave a whole lot of interesting matchups. What that meant is that at least one person usually had some free time each round. Hence, we wrote strategy articles and interviewed people.
During the lunch break, Ben Bleiweiss was considering side articles we could get done – 8th Edition naturally came up, and I was sent out to interview whoever was worth listening to.
I didn’t get as many interviews done as I would have liked. And you might have noticed that this isn’t part of the coverage we did. Why’s that? Like everything else in a physical reality, occasionally something goes wrong. In this case, the battery died on the laptop I was using.
So this article is a little late. Anyway, basically, I wandered around and asked various pros what their feel on 8th edition was. The answers were quite interesting. And I’m quite happy to report that Ben Bleiweiss screwed me out of interviewing Alex Shvartsman, and I will get bloody revenge upon him for at a later date.
Or I’ll just hit him in the head with a juice bottle, Hahn-style. Again.
Q: How do you feel about 8th, generally speaking?
A: I think that any fears people have about it are fear of the unknown, not fear of the cards themselves.
Q: Any strong sentiments, though – any specific feelings?
A: I think the removal of Duress and Counterspell will allow people to do a lot of stuff they haven’t been able to do in the last seven years. But I don’t form an emotional attachment to cards. I think Savannah Lions will open some new doors, and I know the kiddies will be happy to see the Hammer of Bogardan back. Other than that, I’ll just play the cards they give me.
Q: Any other key cards in your mind besides Lions and Hammer?
A: I think decks will have to deal with Viashino Sandstalker, but it could end up really important.
Q: How do you feel about 8th, generally speaking?
A: I think they definitely should have put in the painlands. I feel that would have made for a better overall environment. Just because it makes for a more consistent mana base, you can play more colors, and the colors you do play aren’t as subject to mana screw.
Q: You don’t like the”Comes into play tapped” duals, then?
A: I don’t. They’re not as good as the painlands at all. In fact, I was hoping they would reprint the off-color painlands.
Q: Anything you do like?
A: Phyrexian Arena is really good. And like everyone else, I’m happy to see Lions back. I think Arena will see a lot of play; I think it’s better than the situations it was in the Standard season it was last playable in.. There’s no Counterspell or anything like that, so I think an Arena based deck could be really good.
Q: Have you tested out that idea at all?
A: Nah, we’re going to start testing soon though. The rest of my team is from outside of North America, so they’ve already started testing. I have no idea about the metagame, though.
Q: How do you feel about Mana Leak over Counterspell?
A: I think Mana Leak will make a different impact on the format than Counterspell, it’s a beating against aggro decks, instead of stuff like say, Psychatog.
Q: Don’t you think that Tog is dead?
A: I think people will play it – just a lot less of them. If they do play it, they’ll probably play more aggressive versions, or perhaps they’ll play Zombie Infestation instead.
Q: How about MBC? Do you think that’s dead?
A: I think MBC could survive; it still has Cabal Therapies and it can run Mesmeric Fiends, so it should be okay.
Q: How do you generally feel about 8th edition?
A: I really like it! I think that the set brought in a lot of fun cards and it should be very popular – a lot like Invasion block. Invasion was popular because it brought back gold cards – but this? This will be popular because it brought back old cards.
Q: Everyone likes red cards. Anything else?
A: Furnace of Rath! I love seeing that one back. The thing that is so exciting about it is, with an Ensnaring Bridge you can keep yourself safe from creatures, making your ability to deal damage is really broken.
Q: What about the loss of Counterspell?
A: I’m both sad to see Counterspell go, and also happy to see it go. The power level of cards that exist in the current format is too low; the spell is too good.
Q: How about White cards?
A: White is boring. I don’t care about Savannah Lions or any of the other white cards. Really I like at it and I really just seem to like the red cards, I like the board control cards in red. Blood Moon seems out of place, yet I still love it.
Q: Stop talking about the red cards! What about white weenie?
A: White weenie is going to be very powerful; R/G loses out, as when it loses Llanowar Elves, Birds of Paradise will be a weak substitute. So the White weenie deck is going to be resilient enough… But what are you going to do with it? Mana Leak is a great follow-up once you’ve got board presence… But you’re not the only guy who has Mana Leaks.
Q: Any particular thoughts on 8th? Are you comfortable discussing it?
A: Not yet done any testing, but I’ve looked over the set a lot and know what’s going out.
Q: Anything you feel gets better?
A: I think nothing really improves. Hopefully, White Weenie will improve, but generally they took out a lot of cards without good cards to replace them.
Q: Well, what cards did they put back in that you do like?
A: I’m glad to see Savannah Lions back. Mana leak is fine, but the loss of Counterspell is kinda weird. Lions is good for Extended, it will help out White weenie there a lot.
Q: You don’t sound like you like 8th much; why’s that?
A: I feel they took out a ton of good cards; Llanowar Elves, Opposition, all these good cards… They put in Rewind, which is just a bad card, and Glorious Anthem. Over Crusade? They took out Duress? Merfolk Looter? It’s pretty ridiculous, the change in quality.
Q: How do you feel that’s going to affect the game?
A: I think it’s underpowered compared to the expansion sets, which gives you less options overall. It’s gonna be like how Odyssey and Madness were too powerful. However, 8th is going to be the opposite; it’s not going to provide anything and the expansions will overwhelm it.
Q: Anything else you don’t like?
A: They took out the painlands too, and put in the tap lands. You can’t build an aggro two-color deck with the taplands; they’re just too slow.
Q: How do you feel about Blinding Angel?
A: Blinding Angel is a good card, it’s been a while where there’s been an environment with it but no Flametongue Kavu to hit it, so maybe it will actually see play.
(I admit a lot of people may not know of Mark, a rising Canadian star… But he’s so hilarious to talk to I couldn’t turn down the oppurtunity.)
Q: How do you feel about 8th?
A: It seems all right – aside from the change in the card face, which just seems stupid. I don’t like the fact there are no good counterspells, as I like to play control. I’m glad to see they kept Birds of Paradise in the set, though.
Q: Any more specific thoughts, then?
A: I think that Savannah Lions isn’t going to have much of an impact on Worlds. It’s just not the same environment as before back when Lions was really good – but it might see more play in Extended. There it has potential, since White Weenie has more of a shot.
Q: How about the removal of the pain lands?
A: I don’t like the lack of the pain lands, it makes it less fun, as it makes it harder to play with more colors. I think the tap lands are ok but it’s not really enough to give you some action.
Q: How about Duress going out?
A: Duress going out? Well, makes black a lot weaker, it’s one of the main reasons to play black! It makes the MBC deck almost unviable, as black is rather hopeless against certain cards; it needs Duress. There won’t be any Mono Black.
Q: How do you feel about 8th edition, over all?
A: 8th edition? It seems fine, I don’t think it’s really going to shake anything up. But it seems better than 7th; I’m glad Counterspell is out.
Q: Any specific thoughts?
A: It looks like they’re trying to bring combo back, they’re giving it some great cards! They took away Counterspell and added Intruder Alarm and Defense Grid, so it seems they’re giving combo-based decks some cards to play with. I don’t know exactly what combo, though; maybe Mind’s Desire.
Q: How do you feel about white in 8th?
A: I just like the beatdown! I like white in general, I’m not sure how powerful white is. I’m glad to see Lions back; it’s a great one-drop. I like stuff like Jackal Pup and Mogg Fanatic. I’ve tested some of the cards in Extended, but for Standard I don’t see it really changing the status quo
Q: How do you feel about Viashino Sandstalker?
A: Sandstalker? It might be good; it’s too slow for Extended, but in Standard it might work in an aggressive red/green deck. It would have to be another kind of red/green deck, though.
Q: And Blinding Angel?
A: Blinding Angel? It seems good without Flametongue, and it might be good in Wake – but I’d rather play Exalted Angel. Maybe the numbers might switch around, but I doubt it will replace Blinding Angel.
Q: And the painlands?
A: I don’t like that the painlands are going out; I think that with fetchlands and painlands, you could play more decks. With more duals, you can just play more; it makes the game less creative to have less viable dual lands. I hate the”comes into play tapped” lands; they just suck in aggressive decks. I don’t think the current R/G will be as viable due to losing Karplusan Forest. You can’t run too many filterlands. So fetchlands will just become more and more important. It doesn’t hurt Wake, though.
Q: Speaking of Wake, how do you feel 8th will affect it?
A: There, Mana Leak is such a better card than Counterspell, I think Wake may become more powerful; it doesn’t get hit with everything other decks did. On the other hand, I don’t think Tog will survive.
So there you go. The opinions of many talented men, who offered it to you free of charge. It’s unfortunate that no one is really going to reveal much about 8th since their testing is so hush-hush – but perhaps you might notice a hint here and there.
‘Til the next time I figure out how to open the Word Shortcut,