Why Crucible of Worlds is the New Black Vise

The title touches something that’s been heavily discussed on the internet and by several teams recently. How good exactly is Crucible of Worlds? Team CAB’s testing indicates that it might indeed be as good (or bad, depending on your point of view) as Black Vise.

This is a Type One-only article. No other format has the same kind of manabases combined with Wastelands to let Crucible’s effect have as much influence. I just thought I’d clarify that up front.

Still with me? Good. The title touches something that’s been heavily discussed on the internet and by several teams recently. How good exactly is Crucible of Worlds? Team CAB’s testing indicates that it might indeed be as bad as Black Vise.

That means there will not be any tier 1 decks that are neither superfast combo that don’t play two or more Crucibles. Think about the natural synergies Crucible has:

  • You will never miss a land drop again once you find a Fetchland, which just about every deck runs several of.

  • Opposing Wastelands and Stifles for Fetchlands become rather meaningless. Wastelands are played a lot.

  • Mentioning Wasteland, with just about every manabase consisting of closely nothing but non-basic lands, Crucible becomes an extremely efficient lock-engine if combined with the Strip-effects. I’ll go deeper into this interaction later on.

  • Since it only costs three, it can be played on turn 2 by just about every deck thanks to the Moxen, letting it meet Type One’s high speed requirements. This is not so much a synergy, though, as it is what makes the other synergies relevant.

This are quite a few things Crucible has going for it, but because land drops are quite a slow resource, it may seem a bit ineffectual. This is until one realizes the full strength the Crucible plus Wasteland (or even sweeter, Strip Mine) lock has. It has effects on multiple levels, which are mainly:

a) Crucible is a tempo-lock. Once Crucible is on the table and you have a Wasteland, the game will stop to progressively mana-vise at your will because you can simply keep both of you at the same amount of mana until they draw another Mox. This is especially potent during the first one or two turns (not unlikely considering T1’s acceleration), at which point the opponent often won’t be able to play a spell with a higher cost than two for the entire game without the help of artifact mana.

b) Crucible gives you inevitability: Once you have Crucible, if you don’t get killed rather soon, you’ll win because your opponent runs out of lands and you can lock him. Considering how fast the lock can come online, this effect alone will allow Crucible to decide many games on it’s own. This brings us to

c) Crucible gives you random wins: 1st/2nd turn Crucible + Waste/Strip is game against a hell of a lot of decks.

Now, if you look closer, doesn’t Crucible look a lot better? After some testing and tournament experience with and against the card, I can tell you that it even better than it looks to be on paper. This is because of the way the tempo-locking aspect really effects the game. Before describing this in more detail, speed-combo like Belcher is nearly unaffected by Crucible’s effects, which is the reason why I won’t consider it in the breakdown:

If a base control-deck like 4CC deploys Crucible/Wasteland, the following scenarios are like to occur:

Vs. Aggroish* Decks

The recurring Wastelands force the opponent to miss threat-drops. This dramatically reduces the aggro deck’s efficiency. Just remember how tight mana curves are in Type One (even though they look a bit different due to all the acceleration). With the aggro deck slowed down considerably, the control deck can now slowly solve the threats that made it into play, using its life as a buffer while allowing Crucible’s inevitability to win the game afterwards.

Vs. Controlish* Decks:

Control mirrors will often come down to the mana available to both players, which makes Crucible a key play because its main effect is to heavily skew the amount of mana available in your favor.

On the other side of the equation, what happens when an aggroish deck drops Crucible/Wasteland:

Vs. Another Aggroish* Deck:

Again the recurring Wasteland stalls the game at one point, so if your threats are able to match theirs, Crucible’s effect will give you inevitability, because his manabase will be gone at some point, which will allow your threats to overwhelm his.

Vs. a Controlish* Deck:

Once you have a threat on the board, Crucible will again allow you to freeze the game, so if they are not in a position to handle that threat with the amount of mana available to them at the moment, the game will end soon.

*The reason why I use the terms”aggroish” and”controlish” decks here instead of the more traditional”aggro” and”control” is that in Type 1, almost no deck is still a pure archetype (again aside from first/second turn combo), but is instead some hybrid. It is usually easy to determine which mode such a hybrid-deck is playing in for a specific game, though, which means the effect of Crucible can be determined for the deck playing in that mode.

Now, all that wouldn’t be a problem if Wastelands and Fetchlands were bad cards in the T1 environment. Sadly they aren’t – they are all over the place. And this is the real problem. A lot of decks already play Wastelands or they are easily included. The only further cost to add Crucible to the deck now becomes to make room for it, because it is cheap enough to cast.

If you also take into account that there are multiple other specific cards that interact very powerfully with Crucible, one can start to evaluate how much Crucible may actually add to some decks.

  • Mishra’s Workshop, Trinisphere, Smokestack and the obvious Wastelands are already part of Stax, which is actually about controlling the mana-supply. We have a match!

  • 4-Color-Control has the Strip-complement and the cheap removal to use Crucibles inevitability-effect very well. Plus, it also uses mana denial as a sub-strategy. Not to mention dropping Angel and Crucible can allow them to play the aggro-part in a game superbly.

  • Fish already uses Stifles and Wastelands to make mana denial a big part of its strategy, too. It further includes Daze and Spiketail Hatchling just to limit the opponent’s effective mana supply even more. Crucible complements that strategy in a wonderful way. In addition to that, it makes Fish’s multiple Manlands into extremely durable threats.

  • The once well-liked TurboNevyn, T1’s TurboLand deck, even though not viable beforehand, has been modified for T1 and already won a Lotus-tourney (by Browser a.k.a. Brian Cox, with his own build). The new build usually includes several Workshops, Explorations, Horns of Greed as well as Zuran Orb and Fastbond. Oh, and Strip-effects, obviously.

Now this is only the tip of the iceberg, because most of the T1 community have not realized even part of the potential Crucible has. Very few players have really thought about how to use it and teams either believed the early mocking (which followed a short period of extreme hype, disregarded because what happened with Chalice of the Void at that time…) or are keeping their lists secret and unplayed for later tournaments (GenCon, maybe).

I think I have made a pretty good case for how much Crucible does. This (and testing, obviously) is what makes me believe that Crucible of Worlds will shape the environment as much as Black Vise did in it’s heyday. There will be no (non-combo) tier 1 deck that do not play the Crucible in multiples, and many games will be decided through an insane tempo-advantage gained by playing one spell between turn 1 and 3. There are even multiple different decks that abuse it heavily. So here is your new Black Vise. Thanks to all of you that voted it to what it is. Not.

Props for all of you that made it through all that theoretical analysis with me. I hope my English was up to it.

See you in Dülmen,

Carsten Kötter

a.k.a. Mon, Goblin Chief

Proud member of Team CAB

High Priest of the Church of Bla

carsten at morphling dot de

P.S. There is another parallel between Black Vise and Crucible, the metagame: This will probably suck more than anything that has sucked before. Aside from stealing TVs maybe.

P.P.S. Seems like Meandeck finally got around to testing Crucible after a PM I sent Smmenen ( Stephen Menendian), after reading a post where he disregarded it and some discussion between Womprax (Stefan Iwasienko) and Toad (Matthieu Durand). You’ve gotta love inter-team collaboration. The only thing I hate about it is that they made it public before I had totally completed the article, so it doesn’t sound as crazy or original any more.