Another month has passed by, and it’s time for more voting in Five Color. One of the benefits of a casual format like Five is that there is a monthly vote on the status of cards and rules: Cards may be restricted in Type One annually – but in Five Color, changes can occur as problems arise. In a previous article, I discussed being on the Voting Committee of Five Color, and my votes for the status of six cards. To recap, here were my votes:
Wishes – Vote to restrict, with ruling that they cannot make a deck illegal, and can only retrieve cards from a seated position without getting up
Recoup – Vote to remain restricted
Intuition – Vote to ban
Restock – Vote to unrestrict
Divining Witch – Vote to unrestrict
Quiet Speculation – Vote to unrestrict
In fact, the Voting Committee did vote to restrict the Wishes with the above ruling. This will very likely make the three good Wishes – Cunning, Burning, and Living – automatic inclusions in most decks. Even Golden Wish may have the occasional appearance, although I doubt Death Wish will show up that often. It will be quite interesting to see how people use the ruling: Will they make little sideboards to play with? Carry a box of rares with a few extra utility cards tossed in? Keep their trade binder handy, with a few extra pages at the back with various cards for use for a Wish? This adds a new and exciting dimension to Five Color, and I am really excited to play around with it.
The committee also voted to ban Intuition: This was simply viewed as too much of a problem post-Odyssey Block, and I agree. Its loss might even hurt several decks. And Recoup remains on the cusp of being banned, but was voted to remain restricted pending the banning of Intuition. Recoup single-handedly allows for broken plays to occur.
Quiet Speculation was also moved back to the unrestricted list. The power of this card is far less than many other powerful tutors – and as such, is allowed in multiples, but remains on the Watch List. Divining Witch was also unrestricted by the committee, although some people on the mailing list have already claimed that Divining Witch is too powerful to leave unrestricted. They may be right, and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the Witch back on the Watch List soon. That’s another thing I like about Five Color, though; we are sometimes willing to try card out and see how it goes.
So on five out of six issues, the way I voted was in the majority. However, Restock was voted to remain restricted – which I personally feel is a mistake. Again, I think Restock is a good card, but hardly broken post-Intuition-banning.
Each of these changes mean big things for the environment, and it is shaping up quite nicely.
This month we have votes on two more cards: As I mentioned previously, I recommended Recall for unrestriction and Phyrexian Portal for unbanning. There were several reservations with the Portal, and I withdrew my recommendation. However, my request for a vote on Recall was seconded, and as such, it is one of the two cards up for vote.
Recall (Vote to unrestrict) – Recall is quite the underpowered card. I still do not even understand why the DCI continues to feel it is restricted worthy in Type One. In Five Color, we have Restock and Nostalgic Dreams – each of which is arguably more powerful than Recall at what it does. And if Restock is on the cusp of restricted-ness, I believe that Recall is simply not restricted-worthy. It is, quite simply, less powerful than many unrestricted cards, and its low power level warrants unrestriction.
Hermit Druid (Vote to restrict) – Honestly, I had never thought of Hermit Druid as this powerful creature, until someone mentioned that it should be restricted. Then I started thinking: A well-constructed deck (with, say, eight basic lands or so) would mill a large portion of their deck into the graveyard, thus making Replenish (which is restricted) or Living Death an auto-win – never mind having a Yawgmoth’s Will handy, or a milled Recoup. I am close on this one, but I haven’t really heard many arguments for the continued unrestriction of the Druid, which makes me think that it is necessary. It is a quick Morality Shift or Traumatize, going off as soon as turn 3.
In addition to these two cards, the Voting Committee is also considering two major rules changes: The first would affect ante. Currently, there are two times in the game that ante is required – at the beginning, and when casting a card (namely Contract) that requires or allows for an ante. There are, however, different rules that govern these situations. In an attempt to simplify the rules, the Voting Committee is considering how to consolidate these antes.
The first ante proposition on the ballot is to allow any rare or foil (other than basic land foils) to automatically stop the ante. Ante is determined by flipping over one card after another until the opponent chooses to play for a card revealed or an automatic ante is revealed. Of course, the opponent may elect to play for a foil basic land or uncommon or something if it comes up. An Ice Age Icy Manipulator may be uncommon, but it’s still a good enough card to play for.
The other ante proposal is to disallow any land from automatically stopping the ante: So for example, if I flip over Adarkar Wastes, you as my opponent can choose to accept it or force me to keep flipping. If I were to have flipped over Forsaken Wastes, a rare Mirage Enchant World, then the ante would be automatically stopped.
Alternatively, I assume that we could vote for the rule to remain the same, therefore making technically three possible choices.
I choose to vote for the first proposal, where rare and foil non-basic stop the ante just like anything else. Including rare cards in order to stop the ante is a valued aspect of Five Color. For example, Soltari Emissary, a rarely-played card in DCI Magic, sees some play in beatdown Five Color, simply because it is rare. Forsaken Wastes, mentioned above, are played in several Five decks, including my own beatdown deck. The inclusion of these rare cards is an important strategic element, and the inclusion of lands into this element is interesting. It is important to note that the rules were vague on this point previously, and as such, different groups played differently with regards to rare lands. For a while, I played the old Tempest comes-into-played-tapped cross-color painlands because they did stop the ante.
Another reason is that it is much simpler. The entire goal is to streamline the ante rules, and make "ante" a keyword for Contract and its friends. As such, I do not want to add another layer to the rule – let’s keep it simple.
The other major vote on rules, and the most debated issue considered by the Voting Committee, is regarding sleeves. This may be the most important card or rules vote in the past year, and it is generating quite a lot of heat in the community. Currently, sleeves are discouraged in Five Color, and supposedly not allowed in high-level events (5C Qualifiers, 5C Worlds, 5C Invitational). The vote is to modify this rule.
The first option is to keep the rule the same; the second allows sleeves, but also allows opponents to require the desleeving of any card played. The third disallows sleeves in title events but allows them in qualifiers at the discretion of the tournament organizer. Plus, a statement supporting use of sleeves in casual play exists in both alternatives.
No issue has so polarized the Five Color community. There are those who believe that sleeves should never be allowed; threats of not trading back antes won from a sleeved opponent are numerous. Several people have stated that they will require opponents to desleeve every single card played, just on principle, should that suggestion pass. One person even threatened to knock down every deck he played against that was sleeved, requiring 250-card pickup.
There are several arguments against sleeves. The first is that the very casualness of the environment is at stake. Sleeves, supposedly, suggest the highly competitive DCI, not casual Five Color formats. Then there are those who suggest that sleeved decks with over 250 cards are unwieldy, and take too long to shuffle.
I think the issue is really twofold – some people take pride in having an unsleeved format. After all, if sleeves are suggestive of a competitive format, then why disallow them at the most competitive events, such as Five Color Worlds? Secondly, people learn to shuffle with sleeves quite quickly. I went to a weekly Type One tournament in Washington, PA a few times. Players there had their decks in huge hard plastic cases. A simple sixty-card deck was over a foot tall! Yet, they shuffled their decks with great ease.
One of my Five Color decks is sleeved; two are not. The sleeved deck does not take me any longer to shuffle than the others.
Ultimately, I believe that most people argue against sleeves out of a sense of territory, tradition, or pride: The problem is that this gets in the way of the format.
There are two really good reasons why sleeves should be allowed. Firstly, some of the decks used in Five are so marked that it defies belief. There are some players who can roll call over half of their deck by simply looking at the backs of their cards. Being able to accurately predict the card coming up because it is so worn uniquely is hardly fair; I think that’s okay for casual play, but not tournaments. Tournaments should try to give everybody the same footing. Note that the old quote, "There is no such thing as a marked card" rule of 250 is, I think, in direct opposition to the, "Don’t be a D**k" rule (DBAD).
Let’s face it – such marked decks are not conducive to allowing more people into the format. Which leads me to point number two: Some people just want to wear sleeves, and as such, the current rule excludes these people from Five. Maybe they want to use deck condoms because they have old cards. Or Marked Cards. Or they just want to. Or they take pride in it. For whatever reason, lots of people like to sleeve their decks, casual and tournament decks alike.
I find it interesting that those who advocate sleeveless want everybody to be sleeveless. On the other hand, those who advocate for sleeves still recognize the rights of others to go sleeveless; they just want to sleeve their own decks, not force others to do so. This is an important point – this vote is about choice. You may choose to go sleeveless, or to gird your cards, at your discretion. When you factor in all of the other issues – sleeveless being an obstacle to letting people in, and sleeveless allowing certain players to blatantly cheat – I think that it becomes more obvious how I will vote. Logically, I am led to cast my vote for the third reason, for political reasons.
Personally, I want to allow sleeves at any event with no desleeving rule. That is not an option, and the second best is to choose between losing the title events or allowing an opponent to force me to desleeve. Of those two evils, I think the second is worse. Some opponents should, honestly, force their opponents to sleeve. Those decks are obviously marked. Maybe make that a rule for Chaos Orb too, or something, but not otherwise.
The DBAD rule applies here as well. And since the third voting option does not allow players to make their opponent’s desleeve, I am voting for it. Plus, I can see lots of other members of the committee voting for this option, but not the other, which simply solidifies my vote.
All of this is big news in the Five Color community. Another major issue lies on the horizon, though: Onslaught. Are there any cards in Onslaught which, if true to the spoiler, should be restricted or watched? One card jumps out at me as an automatic restricted candidate:
Creature – Nomad Cleric Rare
W, T: Search your library for a land card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library. Play this ability only if an opponent controls more lands than you.
Assuming that Weathered Wayfarer works for any land, as it currently reads, then this is a recurring tutor every turn for any land, and that is quite powerful in 250. If it reads like this at the Pre-release, then I will personally recommend that it be placed on the October Ballot for restriction.
There are other cards which will be watched with a careful eye, but this one appears to be the most egregious. Rest assured that each month the Voting Committee looks at these types of cards and issues. This is the kind of care that many players only wish the DCI gave.
Welcome to Five Color.