I had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Necropotence, Survival of the Fittest, Replenish and Demonic Consultation are banned. Finally. At long last, I will be able to sit opposite an opponent and not have the game end in three turns because he cast Replenish. I will be able to sit across from an opponent and think through a strategy without Survival of the Fittest getting my opponent better and greater resources. I’ll be able to play Control, White Weenie, Secret Force, Burn, all with their own advantages and disadvantages… And hope to win.
I’ll do a short card-by-card analysis of each banning and then end with a prospective view of the new environment, and a word about the DCI. The following quotes are paraphrased directly from the Sideboard, with my own comments thereafter.
"Force of Will is on the Extended watch list."
Generally, cards on the watch list find themselves banned in the future. Is Force of Will a powerful card? Yes. Does it merit being banned? I’m not so sure. What this card does is give blue mages (and I must admit to be a part-time member of this much-reviled group) a last breath for survival or a chance to stall till they can start casting regular counters. While it was habitually used in Combo decks to protect the win condition, and it did this very well, it is also used in any deck that can afford to remove a Blue card from the game at very little extra cost. The fact of the matter is that in a lot of decks Misdirection can just as easily replace Terese Nielsen’s burly friend.
Does of Force of Will win games? Yes. Does it create an unhealthy environment all of itself? No. What it does is give you a safety belt that can be relied on almost all the time. With cards like Orim’s Chant and Abeyance available, however, Force of Will may become a "must-have" in Extended. Or perhaps not.
"One of the best card-drawing engines ever, this card has been a potential problem since its release. Players have constantly found ways to use (and abuse) this card."
No kidding. Ever since it came out of the ground of the frozen Ice Age, Lim-Dûl’s frozen skull has been a machine. First used to fuel a steady stream of efficient black Knights and Hypnotic Specters, and refueled with Ivory Tower, Lake of the Dead, and Drain Life, it was a Blue mage’s nightmare… And other decks weren’t too crazy about it either. Later, players clicked on to the potential of "setting their hands" and simply brought it out turn 1 with ritual, set aside ten cards, and made their best possible hand. It became a centerpiece of many combo decks, and allowed some decks to pull off extremely silly combos – apologies to Michelle Bush and the creators of Cocoa Pebbles. 😉 Speaking of Trix, can it live without Consult AND Necro? Maybe….It can use Vampiric Tutor, Intuition and other search cards, but the Skull and the Rabbit were such a great match it’s hard to imagine what the deck will look like now that those two cards are gone.
"Severely undercosted to begin with, this card simply does so much for too little cost."
The idea behind this card was laudable. A self-only Living Death effect for Enchantments; Donald Lim made a terrific deck with it with Opalescence, the Parallax effects, and Opposition, if I am not mistaken. Opalescence went from being a fun card, comparable to Titania’s Song and Living Plane, to a veritable machine. Turn my Enchantments that Wrath of God and Armageddon you into Derelors, kill you.
Of course, in Extended, a Red Enchantment from Exodus made things VERY interesting. Pandemonium with Opalescence was nice, but when Nemesis was released, Saproling Burst turned Replenish into an auto-win. It didn’t matter if you had cast Disenchant on the Burst OR the Pandemonium – the fact is, you were dead. Often on turn 3, sometimes earlier if the opponent had an incredible draw.
Replenish was simply too powerful for its cost. Had it cost six mana, or perhaps seven, it might never have seen professional play. The fact that it only affected YOU, the caster, made it far too abusable. Not to mention the fact that Discard, Enchantment removal, and other regular solutions made the deck work BETTER, not worse.
I, for one, will be glad that Replenish will no longer be in the environment, so I won’t have to sit down and watch my opponent combo me without me interacting with him. Thank god that combo deck is gone….
"Cards that have been introduced since this card left the Standard environment have severely increased the power level of this already undercosted Enchantment."
Heh…. Any idea what card in particular could have catapulted this card into the stratosphere?
Squee, Goblin Nabob<———–Knows he’s the culprit, but he ain’t talking, mate.
Squee quite possibly made a silly card extremely dumb. The fact that you could Survival for free made the Green Demonic Tutor almost unbearably good. When people tell me that all Survival does is fetch creatures, I shake my head, dunk theirs in cold water and SLOWLY explain to them the full potential of the card:
1) The first thing Survival of the Fittest obviously does is draw you the best card at any one time. The fact that the card is a creature is meaningless. Creatures in Survival decks can destroy lands, artifacts, enchantments, and sometimes creatures. By eliminating the "luck-of-the-draw" element essential to Magic, Survival becomes an incredible asset to any deck splashing Green.
2) It serves as a reverse Land Tax by allowing you to draw land during your draw step while getting the most efficient solution in your hand every turn. And have we mentioned silly Squee, Goblin Nabob makes this card really good??
3) There is no three, except to say IT’S ABOUT TIME THEY BANNED A GREEN CARD! We Green Mages are very fickle! Every other colour had brokens, but Green…..noooooooooo.
"Undercosted tutors amplify the effects of other broken cards. While there is an obvious element of risk with this card, the reward is usually worth it."
Is it ever.
Let’s see: I play a Mox Diamond and City of Traitors, you play a Taiga and Birds of Paradise, end of your turn I Demonic Consult for an Intuition; my turn, I Frantic Search, Intuition, then kill you.
Wow…Now I am probably the only player in the world to have Consulted away ALL his Illusions of Grandeur in the first six cards, but hey, even I couldn’t resist it.
I think what all these changes do to Extended is making it a fresh, vibrant format. You still have speed in the manner of Mox Diamonds and Sol Ring Lands (City of Traitors, Ancient Tomb, etc) but now the game might actually GO SOMEWHERE. You won’t be on a two- to four-turn clock.
Decks such as 4-Color Green, Sligh, Secret Force, Stasis, and others will be able to come to the forefront. CONTROL might be able to set up. There will be less metagaming against graveyard recursion. People may stop putting Emerald Charm, Phyrexian Furnace and Honorable Passage in their ‘boards.
I’ll let Darwin Kastle and John Friggin’ Rizzo tell us which decks come out on top; all I have to say is:
Thank you, DCI. Thank you for making Extended a playable, enjoyable format, where some combinations exist, but not at the expense of the other decks.
Keep up the good work, guys.