On The Board: Changing The Face Of 5

I was recently selected to be on the 5 Color Voting Committee, and now I have to decide what to vote on for the month. How should Wishes be used? What card needs to be restricted in 5? Let me tell you why, and the strategy behind my decisions.

Well, they say that bad news happens in threes. Good news, apparently, does as well. The Ferrett decided to offer me a featured writer position here at StarCity, and I was jumping up in the air and pumping my fist. I was given another complex to run at work and I was skipping outside. And I was recently selected to be on the 5 Color Voting Committee, and now I am writing an article.

5 Color, for the uninitiated, is the last bastion of competitive and casual Magic. Requiring all colors and 250 cards is a great way to see cards that would never see play in any other format. It is zounds of fun to play.

Now, my 5 Color experience is all casual: There are 5 Color Qualifiers, and even a 5 Color Worlds, but in my area of Michigan, I am unaware of nearby Qualifiers, so I play strictly casual. I love the format, and have been playing for almost a year and a half. I have played beatdown, combo, and control, before settling on my Living Death recursion deck.

So, when I applied to be on the selection committee, I mentioned that I was a casual player. I thought that we should be represented. Therefore, I see myself as the casual representative, as well as the lower Michigan representative.

If you are unaware of format, don’t worry. The rules are simple: You must have a 250-card deck that contains eighteen cards of each color, and you are allowed four of any legal card from any legal set. Except that – oh yeah – we have our own banned and restricted list. Some cards are too good for the environment, such as Battle of Wits or Survival of the Fittest. And most tutors, good recursion, and powerful card drawing engines are likewise restricted.

It is the responsibility of the Voting Committee to vote on the restricted status of cards. Each month, approximately, there is a vote with issues raised by Kurtis Hahn. The votes of each committee member will be made public on the 5 Color”Yahoo!” Newsgroup. As this is my first vote, ever; I am quite proud. And I have a few trepidations. What if I am the only person who votes a particular way? What if my extensive casual playing is limited by my lack of playing in a more competitive atmosphere? And so forth.

Now I begin to know how a politician feels, even though I wasn’t elected.

A seven-member committee will change the shape of 5 Color. This month there are a pretty hefty set of issues we are voting on. In the past, I have been a little vocal on the newsgroups in regards to restriction issues. But now, pen is being put to paper and we will all see what is happening. It’s exciting.

Here are the issues up for vote:

Wishes – Restricted or no? What rulings should they have?

Restock – Should it be taken off the restricted list?

Intuition – Should it be banned?

Quiet Speculation – Restricted or no?

Recoup – Should it be banned?

Divining Witch – Should it be taken off the restricted list?

Six issues that seem so small. Yet they could be quite powerful. So, here are my votes, and why.

Divining Witch – Vote for Unrestriction

The Divining Witch may very well be a fine card, but she is hardly played. There have been several cards in the past on the restricted list that rarely see play – like the Skyship Weatherlight, whose disadvantages are too high to ignore. The”Good Ship Lollypop” was removed from the restricted list several months ago, and I think that the Witch should be likewise. If there is a tutor so bad that it should be unrestricted, Divining Witch should qualify. Decks have scads of ways to off creatures. Especially 1/1 creatures.

Wishes – Vote for Restriction

Get any card that does not make your deck illegal without getting out of your seat?

This ruling has been discussed on the 5 Color newsgroup. It was one of several issues I have chimed in on, and my opinion on this is hardly new. The Wishes could be one of the most fun cards in the environment of 5 Color. They could be new ambassadors of the game. A list of fun cards to play in 5C usually includes Chaos Orb, Contract from Below, and so forth. The Wishes should be added to this list.

But they can only achieve their potential if they have enough power. There are some who would advocate that they should only be able to retrieve cards that have been removed from the game, but that seems particularly limiting to me. Instead, I feel that the spirit of the card should be preserved. Folks, this is a Wish, not a Memory. Cunning Wish isn’t entitled Reminiscence. Wishes should retrieve any card which would not make your deck illegal. (Note that getting a banned card, a fifth copy of a card, a second copy of a restricted card, any Unglued or illegal Portal card, or the Ace of Spades would all make your deck illegal… So you can’t get Battle of Wits.)

And to save on time, you cannot get up to find a card. This prevents someone who is playing in their basement to stop the game and go riffling through their closet looking for that Kaervek’s Torch or something. You have to have it on hand. It can be in another deck, your trade binder, a box, or whatever, but it must be nearby. Actually, I recommend this rule for all players utilizing wishes casually, in any environment.

Restock – Vote for Unrestriction.

Frankly, I was close here. The issue with Restock is that, unrestricted, it can cause problems. An example given was a player casting Intuition for Restock, Restock, and Ancestral Recall or Time Walk or something. Even in today’s environment, you could Intuition for Restock, Recoup, and Time Walk. There would be several turns taken no matter what card you choose. And if I need cards, Restock, Recoup, and Contract might be particularly powerful. But when you look below, I believe that the cumulative effect of my votes removes this situation.

Sans Intuition, what power does Restock have? It grabs two cards, and that can be really good. But the job of the committee is not to ban and restrict all good cards everywhere. Instead, it is supposed to create a balanced and fair environment. Restock is fair. Five mana for two cards, and you can never cast it again. This is fair. Ergo, my vote for the unrestriction of Restock.

Intuition – Vote for Banning

You may have already figured out this vote from my comments above. At first, I was going to vote to keep Intuition restricted – but I have since changed my mind. What has done it for me is Intuition as an Instant. By being an Instant, I can cast Intuition at the end of your turn and grab the broken cards. You never have any possibility of playing Morningtide, or that Tormod’s Crypt you have waiting in your hand. You can’t Tutor with an Enlightened Tutor for a Crypt and so forth. Essentially, there is nothing you can do to attack my graveyard, short of already having a Crypt out (in which case the Intuition would never have been cast) or your own Instant like Krosan Reclamation or something; this is very bad for the game.

Take the RestockRecoup-Contract choice, for example. Which do you choose? Give me the Contract and I can immediately untap, cast the Contract, start rolling off a new hand, when I have the mana I can Recoup the Restock getting the Contract and something else back (or Recoup the Contract straight up if there is nothing that great in the ‘Yard), and so forth. Give me the Recoup and I cast the Restock with it, getting a Contract and something else. Now I can Contract, and then Recoup the Contract. Give me the Restock and I can get the Contract and something else, allowing me to Contract twice again. There is no choice that can save you from having your opponent get fourteen cards.

And there are lots of other choices for an Intuition: Recently, someone mentioned Yawgmoth’s Will, Recoup, and Fastbond as three particularly good targets. Back when Krovikan Horror and Shard Phoenix were your best choices, Intuition may have been okay… But in this post-Odyssey Block environment, I think that Intuition has been placed over the top. Simply put, Intuition is the lynchpin of brokenness.

Intuition is not merely as good as Ancestral; it is much better. But if it had been a Sorcery, Intuition could have been countered by many more strategies and cards. Its Instant status has damned it, in my opinion.

Recoup – Vote to Remain Restricted

With Recoup restricted, you can, at most, recur two sorceries. I do not see how that is broken. Yes, someone can cast Quiet Speculation for Roar, Roar, and Recoup, allowing you to Recoup a broken card if you have one. If you don’t have a broken card, you can always Recoup the Speculation and get another Roar, Roar, and, say, Deep Analysis or something; still, this is hardly a broken play. So many cards are out there that can counter this strategy. Evacuation, Wash Out, Wrath of God, Morningtide, Tormod’s Crypt… All take this puppy out.

Yeah, someone could cast the Morality Shift and then Recoup a Living Death… But that would not be broken, that would be fun. Heck, if someone pulled that off, I’d give them applause, not a restriction.

Like Restock, Intuition is the problem here, not Recoup. I think Intuition puts Recoup over the top – and without Intuition, Recoup is fine.

Quiet Speculation – Vote for Unrestricted Status

Quiet Speculation does tutor, but no card, other than arguably Recoup, is at a level where getting it is too good. As mentioned above in the Recoup discussion, bunches of Roar tokens are easily handled through lots of means, from Powder Keg to Retribution of the Meek (heh, just kidding).

Yes, occasionally A Quiet Speculation can grab that Recoup which allows a Recouped Balance or Contract to go off. So? Is that really all that powerful compared to, say, Regrowth, Nostalgic Dreams, and so forth?

And what about that second Quiet Speculation? Sure, the first could get a Recoup, but that’s it. Does the second one grab Firebolts and Lightning Surges? Roars and Deep Analysis? This is not that powerful when cast the second time. Cards that are restricted are usually so because, in multiples, they are broken. Not so with Quiet Speculation. As such, I want to allow a player to play with multiples of our favorite OBC cards.

Additionally, as a member of the Voting Committee, I am allowed to present issues that I feel the committee should vote on. I will be raising two issues: I believe Recall should be unrestricted. And I believe that Phyrexian Portal should be voted on to be unbanned.

Ahhh, the wonders of 5 Color. This is an environment where Recoup is argued to be banned, but Force of Will has never been restricted. Where Ancestral Recall is decent, and powerful, but is outshone by Contract and Intuition.

5 Color rides that line between casual and competition.