Changes In Five Color – October

like every three months or so, the Five Color Council’s ballot becomes important again. This time, October rolls around and brings with it a new set adorned with several troubling cards that may or may not need to be restricted, as well as some changes that may affect the popularity of Five Color. So what’s on the agenda this month, and how will I be voting?

It’s that time again. Seems like every three months or so, the Five Color Council’s ballot becomes important again. This time, October rolls around and brings with it a new set adorned with several troubling cards.

Just as in June, the format has been quiet for a few months. Scourge brought two new cards to the Restricted List party. Plus we acted on some other cards, including two of the Wishes.

As a reminder, Five Color is its own separate casual format wherein players must play eighteen cards of each color and have a minimum of 250 cards. Due to the size of the card pool and the decks, the format has its own restricted and banned list and uses Type I legal sets.

It is our duty as council members to try and figure out what is in the best interests of the environment. Hence, the October ballot, where the council will vote on these various cards.

The following ballot has been published on the Five Color Yahoo! Newsgroup as well as the brand new Five Color forums. We do this so that a maximum of people are exposed to the ballot and can give their opinion on the matters under consideration. Please feel encouraged to post replies, e-mail the newsgroup, and so forth in order to make your voice heard. Several council members, including myself, have been open and up front about being swayed by public opinion in the past.

Without further ado, here is the October Ballot:



  • 5-Color Worlds 2004 (Open Attendance or Invited Attendance)

Watch List:

Braingeyser – Proposed to be Unrestricted.

The theory behind this move is that the Braingeyser has become antiquated by newer card drawing. Cards like Deep Analysis, Fact or Fiction, and the restricted Stroke of Genius have pushed Braingeyser out of the prime spot it used to hold.

And that certainly is true. A lot of modern decks simply do not include Braingeyser. It’s a very odd card to play one of in a lot of decks. Control has better and faster ways of drawing cards, as alluded to above. And aggressive decks look to other, faster way of drawing cards.

Also, remember that the environment is chock full of the best cards ever. Restricted card drawers include Wheel of Fortune, Memory Jar, Timetwister, Time Spiral, Windfall, Ancestral Recall, Stroke of Genius, and arguably Yawgmoth’s Will all have tremendously drawing power. Add in the ability to play four Contract from Belows, and you have to wonder where Braingeyser fits in.

So honestly, I can understand why people are interested in restricting the Braingeyser. And I also think that it is a mistake. Just because a card is not played much doesn’t mean that it has become powerless.

Currently, we have two Draw X spells available in blue – One copy each of Stroke of Genius and Braingeyser. Sure, there are other Draw X spells, Prosperity, Read the Runes, Skeletal Scrying, Illuminate, and so forth – but they all have drawbacks. If we unrestrict Braingeyser, then we have five Draw X spells available. Unrestricting this card will more than double the number of Draw X spells that a combo player has access to.

Why is this considered a good thing? Let’s face it, Braingeyser has all of two knocks against it as a card. It costs two blue to play, which is a bit prohibitive in a Five Color deck. And it is a sorcery.

Sorcery speed and double blue costs are hardly the sorts of things that neuter a broken restricted card to the point where it’s unworthy of the restricted list.

As an analogy, Timetwister is a great card. It definitely merits restriction. Diminishing Returns costs an extra blue mana and removes ten cards from the game. There is no question as to which card is stronger. And yet both are on the restricted list, because the Twister ability is simply so good, that unless a card has significant restrictions regarding its use (like the new Temporal Cascade), then it should be restricted.

I think the same rule applies to Braingeyser. The ability to Draw X cards is so good, that unless it comes with a significant disadvantage, a card with the ability should remain restricted.

Verdict: Vote to remain restricted.

Fabricate – Proposed to be Restricted.

The theory behind this card is that artifacts are hardly the most broken card type, and that Tinker is vastly superior. However, Fabricate suffers from a very important stigma – it’s a tutor.

See, tutors in 250 card decks break one of the most basic rules of the format – namely, that it be more random and selective. But a tutor allows decks to play more consistently. And Fabricate’s status as a tutor hurts it.

Honestly, I haven’t used Fabricate as a broken card yet. Throwing it into my Five Color deck has found me Fabricating early for mana. I Fabricate for a Fellwar Stone or a Sol Ring or something. In the later game, I Fabricate for removal like Nevinyrral’s Disk or Oblivion Stone.

But, then again, I don’t have a mono-brown deck (Should it me renamed to mono-silver these days?). In that sort of deck, Fabricate would be more broken than all but three or four tutors. As such, I can see where the power of Fabricate becomes difficult to deal with

And it is not a big jump to go from brokenly good in a mono-brown deck to brokenly good in any deck that builds in a few extra cards for situations where a tutor is needed. Adding some additional removal of various types, a few different sorts of beatsticks, and so forth. In fact, with the increasing number of artifacts, it will get easier and easier to put together a cheap all-artifact combo that wins the game with just two cards. And do we really want an unrestricted Fabricate when that happens? This vote is relatively easy.

Verdict: Vote to restrict Fabricate.

Isochron Scepter – Proposed to be Restricted.

Ahh, the card that is making every Magic player have dreams of grandeur. Will you be the one to break this card?

There are massive quantities of good utility cards to Imprint with the Scepter. Dan Flood mentioned Artifact Mutation against mono-brown and the new slew of artifacts coming out of Mirrodin. That’s a good idea. You can add Lightning Bolts, Counterspells, enchantment removal, creature removal, and even Dark Rituals to the list.

The question remains, are there enough cards that break the Scepter? Someone on the Five Color list or forum, (I forget which) claimed that the best card to Isochron Scepter was Impulse. Impulse? Impulse is nothing compared to the power of cards like Ancestral Recall.

Counterspell is amazingly good. Mana Drain would be broken. Ancestral Recall would really rock, but it’s restricted. Impulse would still be useful, but it’s no Ancestral Recall.

With threshold, Cabal Ritual is pretty good. Swords to Plowshares will shut down a beatdown deck. Dan Flood’s Artifact Mutation gets better and better the more you think about it (you can always mutate the Scepter in response to removal aimed at the Scepter so you get two 1/1s).

All of which is quite interesting, but doesn’t really get to the point. We have two major questions with the Scepter:

1) Considering that a destroyed Scepter is card disadvantage, does it give you enough of an advantage that it’s still uber-broken?

2) Are there enough uber-broken things to do with a Scepter that it warrants restriction in the first place?

I don’t want to vote for restricting a new card simply because it’s good. It needs to be so super-death good that it breaks the game in half. If Isochron Scepter makes games laughable instead of fun, then it is in dire need of restriction.

And, simply put, I don’t think that anybody has enough play experience to answer questions one and two. I can certainly see the potential for abuse with the Scepter… And I can also see the potential for the Scepter to just stay in your hand, awaiting something useful. Ironically, I think that the Scepter is best in control decks. Most of the restricted list and restricted cards that we consider are broken in combo. But what are you going to Scepter in combo? Brain Freeze?

So I want us to wait a month on Isochron Scepter. I’d like to see it in the watch list for this month, and then vote on it next month. It has such a unique ability that we really have no basis for comparison with previous experience, so I think the Five Color community needs playing experience.

Verdict: Vote Against Restriction (for now).

Sylvan Scrying – Proposed to be Restricted.

This is a simple card to deal with, ultimately. Previously, two cards tutored for any land – Weathered Wayfarer and Crop Rotation. This card does not put a card into play like Crop Rotation, nor does it only work sometimes like Weathered Wayfarer. However, it does always work reliably, and it has a cheap cost attached.

The problem with getting any land is that the versatility involved in many decks is simply uncounterable. Up against a heavy control deck? Recur your creatures with Volrath’s Stronghold. Need land destruction? Strip Mine will help you. Library of Alexandria your way to a win. Tolarian Academy or Gaea’s Cradle will give you mana-a-go-go, never fear. Dust Bowl, Bazaar of Baghdad, Kor Haven, any two colors of mana you need, heck, even Karakas are available to you. You can have a whole toolbox of lands for different areas and purposes.

Compared in power to Weathered Wayfarer, the Scrying is easier to play, more reliable, less mana hungry, less vulnerable, but never repeatable. I’d say that list makes the Scrying more powerful.

Verdict: Vote for Restriction.

Five Color Worlds – Vote to Remain Exclusive to Qualifiers or Open With Byes.

This vote is a more intricate issue, but easy to figure out. The Five Color Worlds event, traditionally held at GenCon, is open only to people who win Five Color qualifying tournaments held around the country. However, a couple of interesting points have recently been brought up.

First of all, attendance by qualifiers at the last Worlds was poor. Therefore, this initiative would open the event to anybody, and have the same qualifying tournaments simply give out byes.

A second reason for the change is to encourage new people to play. Someone who has never been exposed to Five Color before can see the event is listed, decide to build a deck right then and there, and play. If the Five Color players in your area are casual, and you’ve never played in a Five Color tournament, you swing by the area at GenCon. If nobody plays Five where you live, and you’ve always wanted to give it a go, you can do so at GenCon. It opens the tournament up in new and exciting ways.

I want Five Color to grow and swell. I love Five Color, and I truly believe that it is the best format in Magic. Any change that helps foster growth in new areas, with new players, is fine by me.

Verdict: Vote to Change to an Open Tournament.

The Watch List (Chrome Mox, Mindslaver, Doomsday)

We currently have an interesting watch list that involves several powerful cards. Two of the cards are from Mirrodin and begin the game in the penalty box; we’ll see if they misbehave enough to warrant a vote. The third member has served its time on the restricted list and is asking for time off for good behavior.

As I mentioned in a previous article, I think that Doomsday is one of the best candidates for unrestriction. Everybody always worries about it, yet it never seems to manifest itself as a player in either Type One or Five Color. Its casting cost is prohibitive, setting the game up easily opens you up to loss, and it makes a very vulnerable winning condition. We’ll see how it goes on the watch list.

Chrome Mox is worse than Mox Diamond, which remains unrestricted. Both cause the loss of a card for a bit of tempo on the opening hand, but the Mox Diamond makes useful mana because it can make anything. The Chrome Mox only makes a color or two. Later in the game, the Mox Diamond only cause the loss of a land, minor if your mana has developed. Chrome Mox still eats a useful card. This is hardly a restriction-worthy card.

Mindslaver has cause a lot of stirring on the Yahoo! Newsgroup. A lot of people have chimed in, thinking that Mindslaver is broken or crap in Five Color. I think that this is really the different between casual and competitive Five Color, sort of. Mindslaver, for a massive ten mana, may help you win the game. Maybe. If you opponent has the right cards. For ten mana. That’s a casual environment way of winning. I’d say Myr Incubator is a more reliable way of winning than Mindslaver, because at least you can control what is in your deck.

And by the way, a good casual environment wouldn’t even allow Mindslaver to dominate. Whenever a card gets out of hand in casual Magic, the metagame shifts, just like in real Magic. And the shift always involves decks rising that a card doesn’t hurt or a way of countering that card.

This month may prove to have a powerful impact upon Five Color the format and the community. It’s an exciting time to be playing Five Color. If you haven’t ever had the opportunity, find a friend who is bored or jaded with the game and make a pair of decks. If your experience is anything like mine, I promise that it will be one of the best Magic formats that you’ve ever played.

Until later,

Abe Sargent