Attack of the 50-Foot Chicken Littles
I was intending on kicking off the Dailies with my Geezer’s Guide to Purple, but I felt the need to share something that recently came up amongst some of my Magic-playing friends. Each day we toss around a few emails debating various thoughts on Magic, deck ideas, and Magic news, as a nice distraction from the humdrum banality of the workday (and, you know, actual work). Recently, there was a flurry of emails that started innocently enough…
Bennie: I dance naked under each full moon in celebration of Jitte leaving the format.
Jay: I don’t think that Standard is out of the woods yet. I think that people will grow to loathe the split second cards. They are terribly degenerate.
Shane: The concept of the interrupt isn’t one that needed to be resurrected.
Jay: I would not have minded interrupts so much, but the Super Duper Interrupt is just sick. There’s absolutely nothing that you can do about the spell. You can’t even respond to split second with split second. It’s insane.
(At this point I had that “huh?!” look on my face as I took to the keyboard…)
Bennie: I’m a bit confused about the gloom and doom about split second? The spells are mostly just good utility spells. I like good utility spells…
Shane: They eliminate the interactive nature of the game.
Bennie: Okay, so I can’t respond to Krosan Grip or Sudden Death. I put my permanent in the graveyard; you put your spell in the graveyard. How is this so horrible? If anything, I think these cards are great to have as a counter to problematic permanents that are typically difficult to stop, like a Pernicious Deed or anything with a cheap activation cost that hoses you.
Shane: Right, but w/ other versions of these spells, you have the option of countering it, using an effect to fizzle their spell, etc, this just gives you zero options.
Bennie: But that’s a good thing. Say for instance you’ve got two Birds of Paradise and a Jitte in play. You’re opponent has a Deed out there sitting and waiting. You’ve got a creature you’d like to play but you can’t without losing 4 cards to 1. You rip a spell off the top of your deck that can get rid of the Deed-…
If it’s Naturalize, he pops the Deed and nails you 4 cards to 1, but at least now you can cast your creature. You’re still feeling a bit raw on the backside from the exchange.
If it’s a Krosan Grip, you trade 1 for 1 on the Deed, your Birds and Jitte remain and life is good. As much as I love Deed, I think cards like it are sometimes bad for the game because once they hit play they’re going to have an impact on the game even if you draw an "answer." Now we have cards available that actually can answer. And they are particularly good because even if your opponent has their permanent protected by a fistful of counterspells, you can still punch through and answer the problem.
Jay: You’re speaking to my point exactly. It’s a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. The player with the Birds and the Jitte has a way to punish the person that’s hatching the Deed. It takes a ton of skill out of the game. Instead of having to mitigate the damage that the problematic permanents are going to cause, you can just take care of them no questions asked.
Bennie: And cards like Deed don’t take skill out of the game? If ever there have been “Get Out of Jail Free” cards, Deed ranks up there as one.
The ten split second cards aren’t going to ruin Magic – half won’t see significant play, and many of those that do are going to be sideboard cards used to answer certain problems, and I think they’re a great enhancement to the game. They answer a lot of things that need answering. In Knut’s review today, his guest writer talked about how Sudden Shock answers cards like Wild Mongrel and Psychatog in Extended, two cards that are absolutely ridiculous. Sudden Shock and Krosan Grip are also a great answer to Ravager. You don’t think having a few more answers to those cards is a good thing?
Ultimately, Magic is not damaged by having too many "answers." Magic struggles when there are too many questions that have too few viable answers.
Jay: You’re understating things all over the place. These cards aren’t "great" answers to anything. They are the "perfect" answers. There’s no answer to your answer. They say no and you say okay. For someone that dislikes counterspells so much I’m surprised that you’re okay with these.
Bennie: Again, I stand by my point: Ultimately, Magic is not going to be damaged by having too many "answers." Magic struggles when there are too many questions that have too few viable answers. In the grand scheme of things, questions are naturally stronger than answers (the old adage, "there are no wrong questions but there are wrong answers" is still very true).
In my opinion, answer cards are not worth getting upset about, and I’m completely baffled by your and Shane’s reaction to them.
Jay: Even Knutson agrees: "Sudden Shock is a card that changes how Magic is played in almost every single format." Just sayin’…
Shane: I equate these cards to being tapped out against a combo deck w/ no Force of Will in hand: zero options
Bennie: You and Shane have just earned a section in my next StarCityGames.com column. I may label it "Attack of the Fifty Foot Chicken Littles."
I am now curious how pervasive your viewpoint is, since of the three of us, I’m in the minority. I will be very curious to see the response in the forums.
So, gentle readers, what say you? Is Split Second a horrible mistake for Magic? I’d like to hear from you in the forums.
BDM: How will players have to deal with Split Second? If I am scared of my opponent using a split second card and I want to maintain priority to cast another spell or use another ability, how should I announce that to avoid confusion with my opponent?
Sheldon: You need to specifically tell them that you’re keeping priority, especially if you’re thinking about your next action. Announce your spell or ability, and then specifically say "And I’m not passing yet" or some such.