“We can now conclude that if we give green all the best creatures — weenies and fatties — that it’s too good.” – Randy Buehler, R&D Lead Developer
“Clearly, green’s too good if the dominant deck is Psychatog.” – Brian Epstein, Star City’s mailing list
Some of you may think of me as Magic’s Chicken Little. Every so often, something freaks me out and I go running around screaming that the sky is falling. Or that Upheaval decks are too strong. Or that the qualifying slots for Regionals are unfair. So I write about it in the hopes that some of you have the same worries, will rally to the cause, start an email campaign, and soon the deluge of grassroots support will pound at the island huts of the Powers that Be until they are forced to Do Something About It.
Unfortunately, Idealism is usually body-slammed by reality time and time again.
Upheaval is still grossly skewing the environment. The DCI and Wizards are still mute on the Regionals issue. Sigh.
If the sky falls on a chicken in the woods, and no one is around to hear it scream, does it make a peep?
Anyway, I’m here to flap around and let you know the sky may be falling again. How so? In case you hadn’t noticed, green is completely dominating the environment. It seems that every single good creature in Magic is green, and it’s completely screwed everything up. Haven’t you heard why white sucks right now? It’s because green is too good. It’s ruining the game!
Oh wait, that’s not me. That’s Randy Buehler in the chicken outfit. My bad. Hang on a sec while I dig up my chicken suit…. Squawwwwwk!
You know, I should have realized something was up when the mysterious”Sideboard Staff” (just who is Mr. Staff, anyway?) wrote in the Regionals overview a month or so ago:
“… It seems clear that Green is the best color in a pretty diverse field.”
The”best” color? There’s no doubt that Green has been lifted from depths of mediocrity into being a solid color again, but is it the Best? Let’s look at the numbers from the Regionals page. Out of over one hundred and eighty top 8 decks, those with green hold a slim first place lead, with blue a close (less than ten decks) second. That’s hardly a”clear” indication of green’s dominance. And it’s hard to evaluate a color’s strength based on the Regionals results, since the metagame was very young and relatively untested. R/G was the top qualifying deck for Nationals.. But I’m willing to bet it was also the most played archetype, sending people into the top 8 by sheer volume. What’s the overall win percentage of all the R/G decks vs. the Tog decks? That would be a better indicator of dominance.
Now flash forward to GP: Milwaukee. 650 people came to play in a much more defined metagame. At the end of the tournament, seven of the top eight decks featured blue spells, while only three of them featured green.
Clearly, green is a problem.
Heh; I think my old Critical Thinking teacher would flunk me for that conclusion.
I have to admit that I pay closest attention to Randy Buehler weekly column on Magicthegathering.com. It’s nothing against Anthony or Jay or Ben or Mark; I try and read their stuff, too. But each week’s Latest Developments are required reading for me. Randy’s words are tealeaves, clues to the future of the game. If you look close, you can divine what’s ahead. And it ain’t always pretty. Sometimes you get a glimpse of a train wreck ahead, the kind that plummets into alligator-infested swampland. The kind that freaks you out and sends you off in search of a chicken suit.
Like last Friday’s, cleverly entitled”Resurrecting Flying Men“; you’d never guess the real title should have been”Stopping Short the Green Age.” And we’re not talking about stopping short to cop a feel. We’re talking about stopping short to send someone flying through the windshield.
Boil away all the misleading crap about the Herculean effort it’s taking to fix white from being such a terrible color right now, and what you get is the true horrifying nugget at the heart of Randy’s column:
“We kept pushing green cards and pushing green cards until we found out what it takes to make them good in Constructed. Since green had really never been on top before, we felt we were better off erring on the side of green being too good for a little while rather than continuing to be weak. Well… mission accomplished, and then some. We now know that it’s very possible to make green good. In fact, we can now conclude that if we give green all the best creatures — weenies and fatties — that it’s too good.”
Randy obviously is operating under the assumption that green is a runaway dominant color right now. Clearly, we are entering into Call of the Herd Summer, right? You either play green or play to beat green; that’s the metagame in a nutshell.
Er… Or not.
Randy, you love your polls, right? I’ve got an idea for one: Which color is dominant in Type 2 right now? Have each color be a choice, and then let’s take bets on the results. You can pick green, and I’ll pick some other random color, say blue. I wonder who walks away with whose money?
“Wait a minute, Bennie,” some of you might be saying.”Maybe Randy’s telling us that green is going to be the best color in the future future…”
Ahhh, you’re getting pretty good at reading those tea leaves, too. Good point – and it could very well be true. Green’s strength right now lies solidly in the Odyssey block, while blue will be taking a massive blow when Invasion leaves. With Fact or Fiction leaving, we might be seeing the end of blue’s instant speed card drawing. No longer will blue get to choose between countering a spell or drawing cards when said spell is on the stack; blue will now need to decide during their main phase whether to draw cards or leave counter mana open. That could very well knock blue off the catbird seat. And without blue to keep green decks in check, they’re sure to run rampant, forcing everyone to fully utilize both main phases AND their combat phase. Oh, the humanity!
“Previously, we had been thinking of green as ‘the’ creature color and so it was getting the best creatures up and down the mana curve. Really, though, green should get the best fatties and white should get the best weenies… So enjoy your Wild Mongrels and Basking Rootwalla s while you still can because they’re a bit better than what we plan to give to green in the future. For 2 mana, green isn’t going to do much better than good old Grizzly Bears and the only really good 1-drops green should get are fatty-enablers (like Llanowar Elves or Birds of Paradise).”
Man, these tea leaves are particularly disturbing. What it basically shows is a future where a green deck’s mana curve starts at three and goes from there. Over half of your deck is mana, including the four Birds and four Elves you’re going to be forced to play (in the hopes that they survive long enough for you to be able to cast a spell on turn 2). God help you if your turn 1 mana critter gets nuked; you get to sit and squirm with a fist full of higher casting cost spells, churning them out one a turn starting on turn 3.
Green already comes to the ass-kicking party with one leg, being a color imprisoned in the main phase, as SorcerySpeed.dec. Playing base green feels like playing Portal. EOT means Excellent Overrun Topdeck. End of someone else’s turn? Heck, one of the best green instants to come out in a while can only be cast during your own turn (and not that I’m complaining about Seedtime; I’m glad it was made, but you gotta admit that it’s pretty ironic).
But back to the weenie issue… Now, why exactly is green being stripped of good weenies?
“Now we’ve turned our attention to white. It’s going to be hard to make white truly the best weenie color until the current crop of great green weenies rotates out, but we think we can at least make it competitive and going forward we can put it on top.”
So basically, in order for white weenies to be any good… Green can’t have any good weenies. I don’t get that logic. What, is there only a set number of good weenies allowed in any given card pool? I can understand that you want white to have better weenies, and more numerous weenies, you want white to be the premier weenie color, but I don’t see that you have to strip away some of green’s limited power to do it. White has a lot going for it – it’s got utility out the wazoo, global creature pump, protection, damage prevention and the ultimate mass removal spell; features that green can’t touch with a ten-foot pole.
The solutions to white’s troubles are threefold – it needs Swords-like removal, it needs Armageddon-like disruption, and it needs better weenies. But you don’t have to neuter green’s weenies to make good white weenies! There’s room for White Knights and Mothers of Runes in the same universe as Wild Mongrel and Basking Rootwalla.
Is it too late to raise some hell about this? I have no idea. But maybe if we all put on our chicken suits and squawk like crazy in Randy’s emailbox, maybe he’ll realize his mistake in time to change the future, to prevent that train wreck. Who’s with me?