The Magic Show #18: Predictions!

Predictions are funny things. I tend to predict things when I see patterns: American Idol winners, how drivers act on highways, how someone will take a compliment or a criticism. And in the world of Magic, prediction means finding “the next big thing” — the angle that everyone is either missing or simply leaning towards, and it takes that one big finish to get everyone on board. So let’s peer into the crystal ball, with Worlds looming this weekend, and see what we can see.

[The following is a transcript of the video, which you really should check out.]

Hello everybody, welcome to the Magic Show. I’m your host, Evan Erwin.

Predictions are funny things. I tend to predict things when I see patterns: American Idol winners, how drivers act on highways, how someone will take a compliment or a criticism.

And in the world of Magic, prediction means finding “the next big thing” – the angle that everyone is either missing or simply leaning towards, and it takes that one big finish to get everyone on board.

So let’s peer into the crystal ball, with Worlds looming this weekend, and see what we can see.

Standard is currently ruled by Izzetron and Boros. They are the best at what they do, and their good matchups are ridiculously good, and their bad matchups are ridiculously bad. Boros can goldfish Dragonstorm by a turn, Izzetron can completely demolish Firemane Angel (and virtually any control mirror), and in the end this two-deck metagame has a few fluctuations.

And if I were to pick one deck or another, it would be Boros with a full compliment of Cap’n Tickles. And that’s not just the love of the Cap’n talking – this is actual Japanese tech. Who knew running creatures like Soltari Priest main gives Wildfire fits? I mean, seriously?

But Serrated Arrows? You go to hell.

Today I’m going to be making some predictions on what’s to come. Let’s take a look:

Prediction #1: Greater Gargadon is the biggest and best secret in Time Spiral.
I don’t know why there aren’t more articles about him, about how he works and how he completely takes over games he is in. Every creature removal spell becomes another turn he doesn’t have to wait to enter play. Land Destruction targets give you another turn. Virtually anything that "X for 1s" on their end gives you X turns in which he’s coming into play. Sure they can have answers for him… But what if they don’t? What if that answer was used on another threat and now they have to deal with a 9/7? He’s a 9/7 for one mana. And that’s something to take notice of.

Prediction #2: Deep-Sea Kraken will find love soon.
Speaking of Suspend cards that get no love, where is Deep-Sea Kraken at? Why does this card not rule sideboards of blue-based decks who want to whip up on other Blue-based control decks? Counter war? Oh, sure, let’s get him into play faster. He’s just, you know, unblockable. And, considering he’s a 6/6 and I’m playing Counterspells, you can’t Wildfire him away (while he survives mine as well) and spot removal will be countered before you can say "I thought you just had a Remand." Which, by the way, removes two turns from this guy’s Suspension.

Prediction #3: Gauntlet of Power is a format-defining card.
Yes, the Power Glove is kinda catching on, as our own Master Innovator gave us the gas in Extended (but was immediately brushed off because, well, hey, Psychatog rules in this house), but this is just aching for some ridiculous combo and/or beatdown strategy in Standard. We have the big mana, we have the creature pump, we have the ability to go low on resources and get a leg up before your opponent can. Gauntlet Wildfire, anyone? How about Gauntlet of the Warrens? How about I stop trying to make cool deck names?

Here’s a neat combo: Gauntlet of Power and Wurmcalling. Just sayin’.

By the way, will someone please break Stuffy Doll already? We just passed Thanksgiving, and so any Holiday Stuffing jokes just went right out the window. Ugh.

Prediction #4: Someone, somewhere, will find a Sliver deck that doesn’t suck.
I’m speaking primarily of Psionic Sliver. Now everyone wonders if Slivers really can make a difference in Standard if they’re not all pumping themselves silly or making themselves untargetable. Well, this one is your ticket… But is it enough? Are we complacent enough with the mediocre and expensive slivers we have to just sit back and hope Planar Chaos and Future Sight give us the boffo cheap Sliver bears that make it so scary?

Also – Dear Wizards: Stop designing expansions based on old card names. It’s annoying. Stay tuned for next year’s block Ninja of the Deep Hours, with its expansions Chimney Imp and Norin the Wary.

Extended is a real gamer’s paradise. Every deck is so good, everything is so, I don’t know, available. I mean, my God, they even gave you Disenchant for another six years! Can’t complain peeps, can’t complain.

So – Prediction #1: Psychatog Will Remain a Tier 1 Deck.
There are Sudden Shocks, and there are also cards which dutifully extract those burn spells. There are also Psychatog players who – gasp – actually have another copy in their hands! The one in play is only there as bait! Those conniving little punks…

Prediction #2: Mana Producers Will Take Over The Meta.
We have Gauntlet of Power and Heartbeat of Spring along with Mirari’s Wake. That’s a lot of mana. That’s a lot of mana you can reasonably get going Turn 3 and then Turn 4 you can explode with a ferocity that will never be seen in Standard. Make no mistake, it’s combo’s time to shine.

Prediction #3: Mind’s Desire Will Be Banned.
You heard it here first.

Now, personally, I like Desire and hope it sticks around. But there’s too much mana too fast and too easy not to see Desire becoming something beyond Tier 1. I don’t see it happening this Saturday, but sometime this season, I suspect, much like Ichorid took the meta over at the end of last Extended season.

Prediction #4: Split-Second Will Have A Long-Lasting Impact.
In four years we’ll probably be talking about how Trickbind messes with this, or how good Sudden Shock is against that. Some of these really did equalize Extended to a fair degree. It is such an interesting mechanic in terms of how player’s don’t interact that these ten cards will have the most impact that ten cards (as a subset mechanic, and at a higher percentage of them comparatively), than of any printed mechanic since Storm. Expect almost every deck for many years will have something to do or deal with Split-Second or include a card with Split-Second.

In this, the "fixed" Vintage, you get no proxies but you get none of the headache that first-turn “Mishra’s Workshop/Sol Ring/Chalice for one/Sphere of Resistance, go” that Vintage can give you.

So with that, and my relatively thin knowledge of the format, I present you with such:

Prediction #1 – Goblins will forever remain a Tier 1 deck.
They’re just stupid good. Thanks for Onslaught Block, Wizards! I could go on here about how they play lots of scary guys and swing with them, but I think I covered that in last week’s show. In Vintage they can be deadlier with Food Chain, but the beatdown-lovin’ version isn’t ignored either.

Prediction #2 – A "Menendian" will rise.
Now we need to get something straight: Stephen Menendian, in accordance with Oscar Tan who came before him, carries virtually the entire Vintage community awareness on his shoulders. Now you can say that TheManaDrain.com has a lot to do with it, and they certainly do, but at the same time, if you’re going to judge relevance by how often a format is spoken of and written about, there is only one non-Standard/Extended/Limited format getting that on a regular basis, and that is given to you by Stephen. So count your blessings.

At one time I believed Nathan J. Xaxson was going to grab the Legacy Champion title, but apparently either Legacy is about three decks only – Goblins, Threshold, and High Tide – or the format just doesn’t have enough variance to warrant a semi-weekly article on its existence. I dunno.

This is the important part: For a format to be relevant, you need to be writing about it. (Tru dat – The Ferrett) This goes for Vintage or Standard or Limited or Extended or whatever. So if you want to truly champion a format, get people talking about it, get on the homepage of MagicTheGathering.com, well, then, get to scribbling. Because the easiest thing in the world to do is not write.


Prediction #1 – Split-Second Changes Nothing.
Now, I know I said that Trickbind is ridiculously important in a format like this last week, but again, this format is ridiculous (and I mean that in a good way). We’re talking about answers you don’t even remember, cards you can barely recall let alone afford. This is the place for Split-Second to take a back seat, and it does.

Any Vintage player worth his salt can smell out a Wipe Away or Trickbind coming a mile away — and will prepare accordingly.

Prediction #2 – Mishra’s Workshop Will Be Restricted.
Holy crap, what am I doing? I suggest it last week, and here I am saying it will be so. Wasn’t Workshop almost restricted because of Trinisphere?

Hell yes, it was. But after Trinisphere went away, Workshop remained the workhorse of a lot of decks, including what I personally would consider the "best" deck with Stax. Of course Meandeck Gifts is right there with it, but even it doesn’t get a four-of land-based Black Lotus for its archetype.

Prediction #3 – Merchant Scroll will be restricted.
Isn’t it weird that most predictions for this format involve things being held back to make room for “real” innovation? Now, I think of all the predictions in this article, this is the long shot. Who knows? Maybe Split-Second will change everything. But more likely, Workshop will get the axe and Merchant Scroll will survive because of one word: Sorcery. Were it not for that pesky speed of the spell, then this would’ve been restricted years ago.

So that’s another week. Oh, wait – we haven’t went over the early Planar Chaos rumors yet, have we?

Let’s take a look at the juice. We have: A black Counterspell (think Withering Boon), a black Time Walk, and, this is the biggie: A potential evil Akroma, Angel of Wrath. Look at this image. Tell me it isn’t Akroma. Tell me it isn’t evil looking. Now, isn’t this the thing that Black and Red need to be relevant again as an archetype? A huge, monster finisher? Because Stronghold Overseer, despite best intentions, kinda sucks.

Give me something Kokusho-sized with its mammoth ability and almost built-in deck archetypes (think Death Cloud and Reanimator on the day it was released) and we’ll talk.

So with the prerelease just weeks away, I must inquire: Dear Wizards of the Coast, give me a little something to preview for Planar Chaos. I can keep a secret, I promise.

Thanks for watching…

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
Written on a whim in the early morning hours.