(Editor’s Note:”Wait a minute,” you may be saying. “Didn’t we just have You CAN Play Type 1 #102 last week?” And you’d be right… Sort of. To our mutual dismay, Oscar discovered that he had misnumbered his columns many times along the way early on, skipping some numbers and then losing some… And I hadn’t caught it. So for the past two weeks, I’ve been covertly going through and renumbering all of them by hand – a tedious process. This week, after spending much spare time, I got it right. This is, if you’ll look through the archives, his hundredth You CAN Play Type 1 column. Take a bow, Oscar! – The Ferrett)
Vintage’s”Comedy of Errors”
Last week’s column generated quite a few reactions, and more emotional than the ones about the photo of my Dalmatian. One e-mail, though, takes first prize:
From: Brian Weissman
Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2003 10:44 AM
To: Oscar Tan
Subject: JESUS CHRIST!!!
Seriously, Oscar, I want to SCREAM!Â Apparently twenty-five people took”The Deck” to GenCon, and somehow ALL of them managed to not make Top 8.Â That is unbelievable… [many, many unprintable things follow]
So if you thought I was bad, sorry, but that’s the word from on high (give Menendian an excuse to call me geriatric, would you?). Thanks to reader Keith Sesler for getting us in touch again; I said that I had lost touch and Brian could best be found through Diablo II online circles, and he actually found the guy.
Contrary to what I assumed, Brian hasn’t married his fiancÃ©e yet, but they should be getting there.
Also, Brian shares that he and Mikey Pustilnik had a mini-showdown at the last US Nationals. After the dust cleared around the”The Deck” unsideboarded mirror games, Brian emerged victorious, 3-2.
In other news, Kevin Cron, a.k.a. Chain5, co-developer of Stax, also saw his name in the column and dropped a line. I noted that he committed one of the subtlest heartbreakers in the Type I Championship: In the deciding game of Kevin’s quarterfinal match, his first-turn Tangle Wire was matched by Richard Mattiuzzo’s, a.k.a. Shock Wave, end-of-turn Intuition for two Worldgorger Dragons and Ambassador Laquatus.
Kevin put a Dragon in Richard’s hand, and Richard untapped and played a Necromancy during his upkeep, going infinite and knocking Kevin out. He readily accepts the point that there was no reason not to put Ambassador (since he didn’t have anything that could remove it from the graveyard), but clarifies that Richard had that game won, regardless. Richard had another Intuition in hand, and he would simply Intuition for three Bazaars of Baghdad to discard Ambassador, and then cast Necromancy. It wasn’t likely Kevin could disrupt that backup plan.
But hey, Top 8 in the first Type I Championships – with a deck of your own creation, no less – is hardly something to be ashamed about, right? As far as I’m concerned, eing caught off-guard by a surprise Dragon deck after hours of play diminishes one about as much as not knowing the pick orders for The Dark-Homelands-Fallen Empires draft.
Kenny Oberg from Sweden also dropped a line, and related how Sweden has a Type I circuit that rivals the German DÃ¼lmen. I’d like to ask all the Swedes a favor: Point a Noble Panther at this guy’s forehead and get him to write the Ninth-Place tourney report he promised. The power of the Internet can’t do much if you don’t input the material.
His excuse was that Swedes don’t have a www.Morphling.de to show off your tech. I answered that, on behalf of StarCityGames, feel free to use ours.
Finally, the wiener himself JP”Polluted” Meyer summed up the feedback on the forums:
This article was supposed to be sort of painful. The point was to say”Look, Type 1 players, I know that you’ve been clamoring for more support and recognition for your format, and Wizards threw you a bone and gave you this tournament. However, once you got your time to shine, you kind of came off as second-rate. You guys want respect and you got your shot, but you didn’t come through in the end. We’ve got a while to go still.”
The DCI Is Going To Get Hit By A Ten-Wheeler Truck
It wasn’t pleasant, but I feel I had to get a basin of cold water and remind some people that the Type I championship wasn’t the end-all of the format. Unfortunately, persistent rumors on both public forums and my mailbox strongly imply that the catastrophic blunders weren’t made by players alone.
You might remember passing notes from the coverage about how Randy Buehler and some other people passed by the Type I Championships and watched a few matches. Players reported, however, that they weren’t just watching idly.
Rumor is some serious talking was done.
Something about… Updating the Restricted list?
Oh yes, you heard me.
Strangely enough, the very, very persistent rumor comes without at least months to prove a certain deck type’s degeneracy (Necropotence in Trix, Fact or Fiction in blue-based control of all stripes, Gush in Growing ‘Tog) or a very obvious R&D mistake (Mind’s Desire). In fact, the GenCon Top 8 and not to mention the entire metagame reflected a very healthy variety of archetypes, and this was only at the start of a brand new metagame after the demise of Growing ‘Tog. The only possible culprit could be the extremely broken Hulk Smash (yes, Psychatog), but the secret Paragon build had just been unveiled in that tournament.
Nevertheless, I take the rumors at face value, and I’d like to discuss them in case there’s any truth behind them. (Before you ask, I e-mailed Randy Buehler that weekend, but received no response as I never do. I asked a lesser known member of R&D about it, but I was informed Randy and Mark Rosewater had already flown out for Worlds.)
(I asked Randy at the tourney, and he said that any bannings or restrictions would depend strongly on how the tournament turned out. – The Ferrett)
At the very least, this will be a good academic exercise – and I hope it’ll be no more than that.
Rumored target #1: Academy Rector
At one point, the Coverage hinted this would happen. And then Kenny Oberg deck decided it needed to stack all its mana on top against Sligh, and we saw only one Rector-based deck in the Top 8 after that loss.
To give you some background, Rector has been a favorite cute card in both casual Type I and Extended, and my personal favorite was going unpowered RecSur (Recurring Nightmare + Survival of the Fittest) with Enduring Renewal, Goblin Bombardment, and Shield Sphere discreetly slipped in. In competitive Type I, however, there was a small but dedicated segment of combo players who tried in vain to use Rector as the delivery mechanism for Yawgmoth’s Bargain. They tried the Type II tricks from Phyrexian Tower to Claws of Gix, but all the decks that resulted proved too clunky.
And then Cabal Therapy was printed, and their Holy Grail was found.
Not only was there finally a maindeck-worthy Rector activation card, it also combined with Duress and Force of Will for a formidable disruption core. Yawgmoth’s Bargain was the obvious target, and the first builds used the Illusions of Grandeur + Donate combo, which has a lot of synergy with Bargain. And last month, Rector-Trix saw a splinter group, and some leaned heavier on the black to run an uncounterable Tendrils of Agony kill.
Reasons To Justify Restricting Rector
Now, giving an opinion is problematic because Type I doesn’t offer a lot of standards to refer to. Past restrictions were decided solely on the basis of brokenness, either individual or because of some combo. However, we’ve already established that the Type I Championships metagame was prepared for Rector with cards like Coffin Purge and Tormod’s Crypt. It did not even come close to dominating that event; hell, Dragon overshadowed it both in terms of results and its pilots’ displayed skill.
If you need further proof (or rather, the lack of it), the Germans told me the August 3 DÃ¼lmen featured just one Rector-based deck in the Top 8 and it was played by no less than former World Champion Tom Van de Logt. Incidentally, Hulk Smash won the tournament, and Stax, Vengeur Masque and (the rogue metagame pick I noted in the past column) Suicide Black with Null Rod all finished higher.
So no, there is no proven degeneracy here, and any hype about Rector died at GenCon.
Your second choice is to go theoretical. This isn’t easy because DCI has never discussed its underlying restriction theories in any detail, and especially not rejected theories.
Rector isn’t so tough, though, because it’s a tutor. Although it’s a creature and it costs four mana, Rector for Bargain is a very close parallel to the slightly less-broken”Tinker for Memory Jar” combo. Even with Cabal Therapy, it only costs five to six mana, which isn’t so bad for such a broken combo cornerstone.
If, purely for this theoretical reason, I could accept restricting Academy Rector.
On the other hand, theoreticals become less convincing when you have large tournaments that say Rector hasn’t proven anything yet. I, personally, have a respectable record against it, and that’s with unmetagamed”The Deck.” And while I couldn’t get anything from the Germans, Kenny Oberg from Sweden echoed the theoreticals but emphasized that the metagame has handled Rector and it’s nowhere close to dominating like Growing ‘Tog. Moreover, he adds that their favored Rector-Tendrils is forced to run almost 50% mana, and you all saw how consistent that can be the last time he lost to Sligh in the most unbelievable combo solitaire since Necropotence’s restriction.
Aggro players should be protesting the loudest against Rector. Not only is combo their traditional nightmare matchup, but playing against a Rector-based deck is like playing against a combo deck with four maindeck Moats. However, you have to note Rector is far from the only combo deck in the format, and they’ll still have to deal with Tolarian Academy-based decks, plus everything else from Dragon to Reap-Lace. You can do what Shane Stoots does and play two trampling Phyrexian Dreadnoughts (with Vengeur Masque) against Rector, or you can simply run graveyard removal like everyone else, since it’s good against a lot of other decks.
Heck, run Carrion Beetle again if you really have to, but you’re bound to find something if you feel Tormod’s Crypt doesn’t have enough synergy with your deck.
Growing ‘Tog took a serious hit, but with the Stax locks and combos still keeping Rector down, the aggro-control decks with less spectacular combo phases have more room to work with. If they want to move beyond their normal disruption, black-based decks have Withered Wretch, and the blue-based decks most recently touted on TheManaDrain.com are experimenting with Stifle as a pseudo-Sinkhole to back up Null Rod. I never liked Stifle in control, but it seems better there. As you know, in addition to killing fetch lands, Stifle counters Rector’s fetch ability.
Kenny names control as the other archetype that should be scared of Rector, and it gets scary because of the initial barrage of disruption (or Rector-Tendrils’ extra bombs in place of Force of Will, yanked due to the lack of blue cards). However, control decks didn’t really change much except for added graveyard removal. If you can withstand the initial barrage, you can usually recover faster and will have the more consistent deck. And if you have”The Deck,” you will have him on the ropes with a couple of Wastelands and Gorilla Shaman.
As for combo, finally, I had a healthy practice run against Hajo HÃ¶h, and the Germans prefer Academy-based decks to Rector because they feel it’s more explosive and has it better in combo-on-combo, and a lot of other decks without Duress, Mana Drain, and Force of Will (that’s blue-based control).
Thus, looking at a Rector restriction category by category, it just doesn’t look like it’ll achieve much. If someone in DCI really feels strongly about it, I’d advise sticking to the Watch List and giving it three to six months. Most likely, aggro (assuming DCI wants to do a restricting partly to help aggro) will have something by then – maybe even one of those promised Mirrodin Type I cards I’m crossing my fingers on.
Remember, the last”it’s a good tutor” line was used to justify the restriction of Entomb – and if you took that at face value, you’d be sorely tempted to ask if Dragon prophet Roy Spires was calling the shots over at DCI. (I believe it was more for 1.5’s sake, reading between lines that aren’t there.)
Rumored target #2: Intuition
Much like Rector, Intuition has its array of memorable casual decks, from Intuition for Shard Phoenixes to reanimation targets to Saproling Burst and Pandemonium. In more competitive play, it can fetch multiple Squee, Goblin Nabobs, the Worldgorger Dragon combo of Dragon-Dragon-Ambassador, triple-Accumulated Knowledge or Hulk’s latest: Deep Analysis.
Why Intuition? Simple:
Crazy Carl Winter, Hulk Smash, Vintage World Champion
Counters and disruption (11)
4 Mana Drain
4 Force of Will
Other spells (22)
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Time Walk
2 Merchant Scroll
3 Cunning Wish
4 Accumulated Knowledge
2 Deep Analysis
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Sol Ring
1 Library of Alexandria
2 Polluted Delta
3 Flooded Strand
4 Underground Sea
3 Volcanic Island
2 Tropical Island
1 Fire / Ice
1 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Mind Twist
3 Coffin Purge
1 Lim-Dul’s Vault
2 Pernicious Deed
1 Artifact Mutation
3 Red Elemental Blast
Reasons To Justify Restricting Intuition
If you want to go into the degeneracy argument, then at least you have the Champion’s near-undefeated deck backing it up.
However, you also have the problem that it went down to two Inituitions – and this was after a lot of testing and tuning. Must be really degenerate, huh? (And this means a Hulk player could theoretically just stick in another tutor and be good to go.)
Moreover, the main Accumulated Knowledge combo gets worse the more people use it, and JP Meyer would explain it to you more vividly with solid Extended Pro Tour and Grand Prix history. This neuters any comparisons to tutoring for Ancestral Recall or Fact or Fiction. If you then argue based on Deep Analysis, I’d have to cite a lack of evidence at present, and a more prudent Wait and See.
Again, thus, we’d have to go back to a theoretical”It’s a tutor!” line of thinking.
There’s a big difference, though. Tinker fetches Memory Jar, Academy Rector fetches Yawgmoth’s Bargain, Crop Rotation fetches Tolarian Academy, and Intuition fetches… Accumulated Knowledge?
When a tutor is restricted, it’s usually to keep the restrictions of more broken cards effective. The best Intuition does in this department is something like Ancestral Recall, Yawgmoth’s Will, Regrowth. This fact alone should keep it off the chopping block.
Intuition, admittedly, gets better and better the more graveyard-related tricks are printed. With my extremely limited Type II knowledge, I’d compare it to Quiet Speculation, which can fetch a bunch of Deep Analysis to set up or a bunch of Wurms to kill. This was how Oliver Daems’ old SquirrelCraft deck played; it could Intuition for AK early and Squirrel Nest later on. Hulk can do the same thing by getting a Psychatog if it’s about to go off, or something else, and if you’re going to win next turn, you don’t care so much about the cards you removed from your library so you could tutor.
But again, utility alone has never been a reason to restrict a card in Type I. Perhaps the only other argument is how Intuition sets up Dragon, and they can’t solve that combo with restricting combo components, and would have to errata Dragon or the Animate Dead cards. But again, no one has raised an outcry against Dragon even after the Type I Championships, and it can be hosed by Swords to Plowshares in addition to the usual anti-graveyard tech.
Parenthetically, DCI tries to discourage too-easy combos, and Psychatog is really the combo in Hulk (comboing with cards drawn, something any good deck should be doing anyway). This one-turn kill mechanism lets the deck race just about anything, and you Hulk doesn’t even bother to run Wastelands and removal because of this. Brian was surprised at the dearth of Wastelands in the GenCon Top 8, for example… And I simply answered that you don’t bother if you’ll win the next turn, anyway.
It won’t radically change Hulk, so it may not achieve much. Maybe it’ll weaken control slightly. (You could restrict Merchant Scroll as well for good reason since it has a less compelling”It’s a tutor!” argument going for it, but no one uses more than two of that as well.)
Maybe DCI just hates Dragon, and you once again have to ask who is feeding them metagame info. Again, I sure hope it isn’t just Roy Spires.
Rumored target #3: Burning Wish
I’m sure you’re familiar with how differently Burning Wish and Cunning Wish worked in Type II. While Cunning Wish sees the most mileage, some players use Burning Wish to get stronger bombs over flexible cards. These are primarily combo players, because the inherent advantage of combo over aggro means they don’t need the extra flexibility in that matchup. At the very least, you can stick Burning Wish in a combo deck and the kill card in the sideboard, such as Tendrils of Agony, then get the option to get sorceries from Duress to Obliterate while setting up.
To demonstrate, here’s a most interesting Rector/Academy hybrid from DÃ¼lmen:
Brenn Oosterbaan, 5th Place, August 3, 2003 DÃ¼lmen
4 Cabal Therapy
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Yawgmoth’s Bargain
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
4 Burning Wish
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Orim’s Chant
4 Academy Rector
4 Dark Ritual
1 Black Lotus
4 Lion’s Eye Diamond
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Diamond
1 Mana Crypt
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mana Vault
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Underground Sea
1 Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author]
1 Volcanic Island
1 Mind Twist
1 Mind’s Desire
4 Phyrexian Negator
2 Red Elemental Blast
1 Seal of Cleansing
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Words of Worship
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
Reasons To Justify Restricting Burning Wish
I’ll do this in reverse.
First of all, my original Wish article showed how a Wish can’t really be used to unrestrict a restricted card. (Don’t compare to Type II, where some people sideboard the fourth copy of a good card to Wish for. We have all the cheap tutors in Type I; they don’t.)
Second, Burning Wish can’t fetch any real hosers, because sorceries are one-shot. Yes, Obliterate is a tad more devastating than ordinary utility, but it’s still a different thing.
Thus, if you read the Wish article, you’ll find that”It’s a tutor!” is not a good argument against Burning Wish.
And so we go back to degeneracy. The above sideboard has Yawgmoth’s Will, Mind’s Desire, Balance, Mind Twist, Reanimate and Tendrils of Agony.
I seriously doubt anyone would complain about the last two. Again, you can use Burning Wish to put your victory condition and your more conditional spells in the sideboard, then pick them up as needed while going off. Same thing for Balance and Mind Twist, but it’s a lot more awkward timing them when you have to fetch them with a sorcery.
Yawgmoth’s Will and Mind’s Desire deserve a bit of explanation, because it has more to do with Lion’s Eye Diamond than an attempt to break the restriction. Simply, you can cast Burning Wish, respond by sacrificing all your Lion’s Eye Diamonds, use the mana to cast your fetched Yawgmoth’s Will, and replay and sac the Diamonds again. Then you replay Burning Wish for Mind’s Desire and you should be able to win by then.
While this is very cute, it’s hardly degenerate. As I illustrated in a past column, you can counter his Burning Wish after he discards his hand and sacrifices his Diamonds, and that hurts. Again, the Academy-based Mind’s Desire combo decks have it tough against blue-based control.
Moreover, Roland Bode moved Mind’s Desire back to the main deck, and I agree it’s more dangerous since you know he can topdeck it. Thus, if someone wants to move Yawgmoth’s Will to the sideboard as a mid-game mana producer, that’s hardly as degenerate as a lot of the other things that card has done before.
And finally, basic utility isn’t a ground for restriction.
So again, who is feeding metagame information to DCI? If Mike Long just caught Randy in the bathroom during GenCon 2003, then we really have to emphasize the deck he predicted would easily win the Type I Championship was not even seen anywhere near the Top 8, no matter how badly he claims to have beaten Mikey Pustilnik with the early build.
I don’t think it’ll achieve much, other than neutering the latest flashy mana combo. The Academy-based combos can just move everything they want to keep back into the maindeck and still go with the same strategy. They might yank the Lion’s Eye Diamonds, but I doubt it’ll hurt since some builds have already gone as high as thirty-five mana sources, which makes for very nasty stalls if something gets countered in the middle. Frankly, I hate Chromatic Sphere more in that deck than Lion’s Eye Diamond.
If you restrict both Academy Rector and Burning Wish, you will still have explosive, power-laden combo decks. The matchups will shuffle a little, but you still get roughly the same balance.
For good measure, let me show you a sample game against BangBus and its Burning Wishes. Again, I think they’re fair utility, or about as fair as anything gets in Type I.
Hajo HÃ¶h, again, is one of Germany’s finest Type I players, and was recommended to me by a Morphling.de staffer as a resource person for this article. This is one of the games from a lengthy playtest session:
20:54:14 – — HaJo, Master Wizard says: ”Get ready to learn !”
20:54:14 – — Rakso says: ”Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”
20:54:16 – HaJo, Master Wizard drew 7 cards.
20:54:20 – Rakso drew 7 cards.
20:55:43 – It is now turn 1.
20:55:47 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Gemstone Mine.
20:55:57 – Gemstone Mine is tapped.
20:56:00 – Gemstone Mine now has 2 counters. (-1)
20:56:02 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Sol Ring.
20:56:05 – Sol Ring is tapped.
20:56:08 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Mana Vault.
20:56:11 – Rakso says:’!’
20:56:11 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Chromatic Sphere.
20:56:19 – It is now turn 2.
20:56:24 – Rakso draws a card.
20:56:32 – Rakso plays Flooded Strand.
20:56:33 – Rakso’s life is now 19. (-1)
20:56:34 – Rakso buries Flooded Strand.
20:56:38 – Rakso moves Underground Sea from Rakso’s library to tabletop.
20:56:40 – Underground Sea is tapped.
20:56:41 – Rakso plays Duress.
20:56:44 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Necropotence.
20:56:45 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Duress.
20:56:46 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Yawgmoth’s Bargain.
20:56:59 – HaJo, Master Wizard buries Duress.
20:57:01 – Rakso buries Duress.
20:57:05 – Rakso plays Mox Pearl.
20:57:05 – Mox Pearl is tapped.
20:57:08 – Rakso plays Sol Ring.
20:57:09 – It is now turn 3.
20:57:14 – HaJo, Master Wizard draws a card.
20:57:24 – Sol Ring is tapped.
20:57:27 – HaJo, Master Wizard buries Chromatic Sphere.
20:57:28 – HaJo, Master Wizard says:’b’
20:57:31 – HaJo, Master Wizard draws a card.
20:57:32 – Rakso says:’k’
20:57:55 – Gemstone Mine is tapped.
20:57:58 – Gemstone Mine now has 1 counters. (-1)
20:57:59 – Mana Vault is tapped.
20:58:11 – Rakso plays Force of Will.
20:58:12 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Yawgmoth’s Bargain.
20:58:12 – Rakso moves Force of Will from Rakso’s hand to Rakso’s removed from game pile.20:58:14 – Rakso’s life is now 18. (-1)
20:58:32 – It is now turn 4.
20:58:35 – Rakso draws a card.
20:58:40 – Rakso plays Wasteland.
20:58:44 – Underground Sea is tapped.
20:58:50 – Sol Ring is tapped.
20:58:51 – Rakso plays Time Walk.
20:58:54 – HaJo, Master Wizard says:’k’
20:58:58 – Mox Pearl is tapped.
20:58:59 – Rakso plays Balance.
20:59:02 – Rakso buries Wasteland.
20:59:16 – HaJo, Master Wizard moves Frantic Search from HaJo, Master Wizard’s hand to HaJo, Master Wizard’s graveyard.
20:59:17 – HaJo, Master Wizard moves Chromatic Sphere from HaJo, Master Wizard’s hand to HaJo, Master Wizard’s graveyard.
20:59:18 – HaJo, Master Wizard buries Necropotence.
Balance is powerful but conditional, but it loses a lot of its early bite if you have to tutor for it with a sorcery that reveals the card fetched from the sideboard.
20:59:21 – Underground Sea is untapped.
20:59:21 – Mox Pearl is untapped.
20:59:21 – Sol Ring is untapped.
20:59:22 – Rakso draws a card.
From here, four turns pass. I play Library of Alexandria and Strip Mine, still stuck at one blue source. He plays a Tropical Island and a Gemstone Mine.
21:02:17 – It is now turn 13.
21:02:26 – HaJo, Master Wizard draws a card.
21:02:48 – Tropical Island is tapped.
21:02:50 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Brainstorm.
21:02:51 – Rakso says:’k’
21:02:53 – HaJo, Master Wizard drew 3 cards.
21:03:29 – HaJo, Master Wizard moves a facedown card to HaJo, Master Wizard’s library.
21:03:30 – HaJo, Master Wizard moves a facedown card to HaJo, Master Wizard’s library.
21:03:36 – Gemstone Mine is tapped.
21:03:40 – Gemstone Mine now has 1 counters. (-1)
21:03:41 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Duress.
21:04:41 – HaJo, Master Wizard says:’wish’
21:04:43 – Rakso moves Cunning Wish from Rakso’s hand to Rakso’s graveyard.
21:05:37 – Gemstone Mine is tapped.
21:05:39 – Sol Ring is tapped.
21:05:41 – HaJo, Master Wizard buries Gemstone Mine.
21:05:43 – HaJo, Master Wizard plays Burning Wish.
21:06:15 – HaJo, Master Wizard says:’1′
21:06:19 – Rakso says:’y’
21:06:36 – HaJo, Master Wizard moves Yawgmoth’s Will from limbo to HaJo, Master Wizard’s hand.
21:07:01 – HaJo, Master Wizard’s life is now 16. (-1)
Annoyingly enough, he takes my topdecked Cunning Wish just as I was poised to Skeletal Scrying and break the stalemate.
21:07:07 – It is now turn 14.
21:07:10 – Rakso draws a card.
21:07:14 – Underground Sea is tapped.
21:07:16 – Rakso plays Brainstorm.
21:07:18 – Rakso drew 3 cards.
21:07:18 – HaJo, Master Wizard says:’k’
21:07:31 – Rakso moves a facedown card to Rakso’s library.
21:07:33 – Rakso moves a facedown card to Rakso’s library.
21:07:38 – HaJo, Master Wizard buries Gemstone Mine.
21:07:40 – Rakso buries Strip Mine.
If he had a Dark Ritual, it would be a different story, but he fortunately didn’t. I break the stalemate first, and soon find Mystical Tutor for Mind Twist, forcing a concession off just one colored land.
Again, this is a combo deck that had Necropotence and Yawgmoth’s Bargain in the opening hand, and we didn’t see anything spectacularly degenerate. If he resolved a tutored Yawgmoth’s Will midgame, well, don’t a lot of decks do that already?
Rumored target #4: Cunning Wish
Well, this may give you a heart attack, but I’ve honestly heard about this one as well, and whoever was thinking of Burning Wish ties these two together. I’ve described the use of Cunning Wish extensively, but in summary, it’s mainly a blue-based control utility card, fetching Red Elemental Blast or Swords to Plowshares by default, then a narrow selection of other cards such as Skeletal Scrying, Shattering Pulse, Disenchant, Coffin Purge, and even Jamie Schnitzius’s Flaming Gambit. Other archetypes use it for utility as well, but far more narrowly.
No, no one sideboards Ancestral Recall to Wish for, so I have no clue why anyone would have Cunning Wish restricted. Sure, some sideboard Gush, but it’s to save Islands targeted by Wasteland more than it is to draw.
Reasons To Justify Restricting Cunning Wish
You tell me. First, it can’t be degenerate since, as I explained, Wishes and regular tutors don’t interact very well and you really don’t end up unrestricted restricted cards. Again, no one sideboards Ancestral Recall to Wish for; it’s faster to topdeck it or fetch it with Merchant Scroll, Mystical Tutor or Demonic Tutor. Moreover, it doesn’t do anything with Fact or Fiction or Stroke of Genius since people side the unrestricted Skeletal Scrying for that purpose.
Second, it’s also hard to use the”It’s a tutor!” argument since it fetches mainly one-for-one cards as a slightly better Spite / Malice. Unless, of course, someone feels like restricting Skeletal Scrying, Shattering Pulse and Flaming Gambit, too.
Third, again, utility is not a ground for restricting a card. Yes, it fetches conditional cards, but that’s not very abusive, and Coffin Purge is nowhere as strong as a real graveyard-hosing permanent.
Simply, Cunning Wish has done a lot for helping blue-based control keep up with the developments in other archetypes. Remember, it’s not like aggro and combo have been stagnant.
You have to accept that control needs to be viable in a healthy metagame, unless you want something like the present Onslaught block but where the six-mana cards are Memory Jar and Yawgmoth’s Bargain.
However, for control to be viable, it has to be able to adapt to the wide range of deck choices you want in Type I. It needs graveyard removal, for everything from Tools ‘n’ Tubbies to Academy Rector. It needs artifact removal against Stax, but cannot be weighed down by dead maindeck Disenchants. It needs creature removal, but cannot be weighted down by dead maindeck Swords to Plowshares. And so on.
Hitting Cunning Wish doesn’t stop anything degenerate, but it forces blue-based control to lose a lot of flexibility and move back by several expansions, while everything else stays as is. Note that”as is” still includes Mishra’s Workshop-produced Juggernauts backed by Survival of the Fittest and Goblin Welder, and the Illusionary Mask/Phyrexian Dreadnought combo.
Aggro players might rejoice at the thought of a weakened control, but they better take into account what a strengthened combo will do to them. You just end up trying to accelerate decks as much as possible, because it’ll become hopeless to try to answer the broad array of threats from artifact to graveyard. You’ll end up with decks like Hulk and Mask, whose answer to everything is a big trampler in your face, or some similarly fast combo.
So much for interactivity and elegance.
If you cut back the power level this way, you’d have to do something to the other archetypes as well, such as restrict Mishra’s Workshop (which would be absurd in the present status quo). For good measure, you’d probably address Survival of the Fittest and Illusionary Mask as well.
Is the DCI going to try to force Sligh as the best Type I deck?
(We may as well, so I can take up Eric Wilkinson on his threat to maindeck Daru Warchief and Goblin Trenches in his control deck if DCI does anything insane.)
Transparency And The Restricted List
This intellectual exercise – and I hope it’s just that – brings several problems to the fore.
First, there is a marked lack of transparency in how DCI handles the Restricted list. They owe some kind of accountability to players, since it’s like some kind of black box. They print a few e-mails and then post surprise restriction announcements with two or three sentences of explanation; if Congress operated that way, there’d be a revolution.
Consider that you have no idea how DCI decides to restrict a Type I card. Again, for all you know, they might just have Roy Spires or Mike Long locked in a room somewhere. You have no idea who talks to them, or who they ask, since they certainly don’t playtest Type I (and don’t have anyone intimately familiar with it, judging from the Sideboard’s MVP series). You have no idea what reasons they consider, and what reasons they reject.
Most importantly, there’s no prior notice about a restriction, and there’s no way to address tentative changes until they’re made final, no matter how much of a mail campaign or online riot you try to raise.
Remember that without the extensive tournament circuit Type II and Extended have, proof is a very different animal in Type I.
Second, DCI has always claimed they want to make the maximum number of cards playable. However, they define this by having the shortest list of banned cards possible, no matter how many cards they restrict. It is undeniable that the Restricted list would be a lot shorter if you just banned Tolarian Academy, Memory Jar, Yawgmoth’s Bargain and Necropotence.
Going to the present rumors, if you banned Bargain and Necro, there would be absolutely no reason to touch Rector. Same with Burning Wish and Mind’s Desire, assuming there’s a reason to fear Burning Wish as something that evades a restriction. Trust me, no one’s going to mind correcting these mistakes.
This is no joke since the restrictions aimed at very specific decks or combos end up doing a lot of collateral damage-just look at Growing ‘Tog taking TurboNevyn with it. If it gets out of hand, the casual end of Type I is going to be really ridiculous, since, for example, you wouldn’t even be able to play your Parallel Thoughts–Decree of Silence–Form of the Dragon Academy Rector deck in Type I, but it’s Extended legal.
Third, please separate the Type I and Type 1.5 lists already. With every expansion, the policy gets more counter-intuitive. If you restricted Academy Rector, for example, it would be banned in Type 1.5, yet Bargain is already banned there so there’s no point. Moreover, Type I players are still scratching their heads over Entomb and Earthcraft.
I hope that if there really are any restrictions, there will be some kind of public consultation. And more than that, I hope it will be an intelligent consultation, and not an informal post on an Internet forum, or some kind of invitation to e-mail where everyone and his mother can chime in (unrestrict Moxen like Zvi wanted years back, perhaps?). In any case, I did see a poll on TheManaDrain.com, but the ones on Cunning Wish and Burning Wish had to be closed due to the sheer stupidity of the question (Intuition is probably more reasonable than these two, though, but still dubious).
Frankly, I’d note that I admire the 5-Color restriction process a lot more than the DCI’s. I don’t play that format, but I can appreciate how transparent the thought process and discussion is, especially with Abe Sargent, among others, running a regular column here.
Randy Buehler and Mark Rosewater, on the other hand, haven’t replied to a single e-mail since I started writing for StarCityGames.
I hope they’re not too busy asking about whether Noble Panther and Sedge Troll need to be restricted.
E-mail: Rakso at StarCityGames.com
IRC: rakso on #BDChat on EFNet
University of the Philippines, College of Law
Forum Administrator, Star City Games
Featured Writer, Star City Games
Author of the Control Player’s Bible
Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (R.I.P.)
Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance