You CAN Play Type I #107: Maximizing Mirrodin, Part V – Mail Call, Part 2

Well, my last column opened a can of worms about Chalice of the Void and the future of Vintage – and letters are still coming in! Let me answer your questions and concerns.

Well, the last column opened a can of worms – and letters are still coming in, so I guess I have to print the next batch as well. This is probably the last mail call on this topic, but I realize we can do it every time a big issue (or reaction to one) comes up.

Just note that I usually skip letters that are unsigned. Ideally, I print letters where I can identify the writer by full name, online alias, occupation or major (if a student) and rough location. This is in line with my”building an online Type I community” thrust.

After this column, I’ll be out of touch for maybe a week. Last exam, the professor walked into the room and suddenly announced he’d make it a take-home quiz, to be submitted in nineteen hours. So a classmate of mine, his girlfriend and myself holed up in our personal law library called the Law Journal office, and the male half of the other section held a slumber party in the Student Lounge.

Sure enough, nineteen hours later, the guys of that other section were guzzling gin at ten in the morning.

Yeah, finishing law school is a parallel evolution all around the world.

So anyway, this week, we feature a lot of non-American correspondents. Hello in advance to George Bush, Jr. who will grace our lovely archipelago this week, the anticipation for the highest stock market finish in sixteen months last week.

(The anticipation was also responsible for a small Secret Service invasion. Too bad the First Lady has to hold her storytelling session for schoolchildren in the presidential palace due to security concerns, instead of being able to go around the city.)


Incidentally, in the last column, Ferrett made a revision that made me sound strange. To clarify, the line about Ancestral Recall and Necropotence was worded to say Ancestral Recall is the second strongest card drawer in the game, and Necropotence is even stronger (not, Necropotence is the second strongest one).

The tangential defense of Workshop


I read through your article about restricting the Workshop. First of all: Great work! But I must admit, one thing is completely forgotten: The Workshop sells for about $150 at StarCityGames right now. Anyone who finally managed to gather four of them paid at least $500 for these cards to play them in tournaments.

And now, how much do (or did??) you lose when the DCI restricts a card like Tolarian Academy? Some $15? $25? Nothing  to complain about in my opinion, if it keeps the metagame healthy.  Do you remember how much the Workshop was worth back in the days when it WAS restricted? $20? $30?

As you are a student (so am I), you might know how much $500 is for people who do not have much money to spare, and reducing them to about $80 is a hard hit. Imagine Black Lotus being banned (which, hopefully, will never happen), then you get an experience how people in possession of four Workshops will feel when it is finally restricted.

Kind Regards,

Jakob Striffler


Excellent point, Jakob. It’s one that I admit I don’t have a ready answer to.

I have to frame my articles in the theoretical metagame, an imaginary tournament where only the best players with access to any card are qualified. In other words, I first have to assume that your opponents don’t make mistakes – which is a fair assumption, since it should only be a bonus if you win off those.

Second, I have to assume out”budget” players. I know it’s very relevant and right now a high school or small store metagame of”Type I, but up to Revised only” sounds like a much more attractive metagame. Thing is, it’s impossible to incorporate card availability into a strategy discussion. The easiest compromise is to talk about the theoretical metagame but explain the underlying principles so any reader can compensate if he can identify which assumptions don’t apply to him, or which decks he definitely won’t see.

Incidentally, I always mention archetypes like Sligh, Stompy, Suicide Black, Fish, Forbiddian, White Weenie and Deck Parfait when discussing a new block because these are fundamental and logical starting points for a lot of players, regardless of actual viability in the”full” theoretical metagame. It’s also easy to illustrate a new card in these basic contexts.

So the above is why I said it’s obvious that Chalice of the Void hits budget players hardest, without intending to focus on them in the discussion.

But if I never intend to focus on budget players due to the nature of my analysis, I never intend to focus on the value of”powered” players’ collections, either.

The best I can do is print this letter, and note that I’ve experienced serious drops in the value of chase cards. Jester’s Cap is a shadow of its former glory, and Grinning Totem has also experienced a ridiculous drop in price.

On the other hand, Cursed Scroll and Morphling are still among the most expensive cards printed after The Dark.

It’s not a good answer, but I don’t think there’s one given the indirect relationship between a card’s value and its playability.

Well, at least my beloved Mirror Universe still retains some value aside from all its sentimental value.

The Dojo, er, Morphling.de Effect

Hallo Oscar,

You said:

“However, sometime after the World Championships at GenCon, I have to admit to a sense of boredom with the game. At the time, it felt like just about every Tier 1 deck revolved around one or two broken cards, non-combo decks included: Mishra’s Workshop, Illusionary Mask, Psychatog, and a handful of others…

“However, I’m beginning to feel that brokenness is too high a bar, and we should begin thinking about restricting to prevent boredom.”

I don’t agree with you. I do not think that there are so few playable decks because of the cards in these decks are way too powerful, but because of bad players.

With sites like TheManaDrain.com, StarCityGames.com or Morphling.de, T1-players have the chance to copy successful decklists. Without the need to think about their own decks. I think this is the main reason, that there are so few Tier 1 decks. The Golden Age of T1 (like 2000 and before) when we had lots of different decks are long gone. Our beloved format has the same problem like T2 or Extended: netdecking.

I think it started in 2000 when everyone and his pal were playing DrawGo, it continued with TnT, and had climaxed with Growing Tog.

If more people would design their own decks or just alter the netdecks (by adding maindecked artifact removal, for example) a bit, we’d have more diversity.

So long,

Benjamin Rott


Of course, what’s a Workshop discussion without the two marks’ worth of Tools ‘n’ Tubbies’ creator? Yeah, when a German speaks, better listen, boys.

Well, Benny, I have to disagree with you on this one. First of all, I think it’s the card pool responsible for archetypes, and not the Net primarily. That is, StarCityGames and Sideboard Online didn’t make Wild Mongrel and Psychatog good cards, right?

Ferrett is good, but we know even his limits. (Feel free to mail me a foil Chrome Mox, boss.)

Second, I emphasized in the last column that Type I now revolves around a small core of brokenness that power almost all the top decks. I think you give players around the world too little credit, and I still think Andy Stokinger did us all a disservice when he wished for playgroups to develop the format.

Put it this way. Remember Psychatog a few expansions back? We had Cunning Wish ‘Tog, Burning Wish ‘Tog, Wishless ‘Tog, removal-heavy ‘Tog, bad ‘Tog, but it was all Psychatog. Similarly, we’ve seen Stacker 2, TnT, Stax, and Welder MUD, but underneath, we know it’s all about Workshop’s permanent tempo boost.

In other words, why bother to test anything else when you already know a Workshop-based strategy will do it better? This is what I meant when I said Workshop shuts out so many potential strategies. So does Illusionary Mask, Psychatog pre-Mirrodin, and in narrower senses, maybe Bazaar of Baghdad and Lion’s Eye Diamond.

Following your own examples, when Fact or Fiction was unrestricted, people did test other things, but they all concluded blue-based control was king and only foil decks were worth it. Same with Growing ‘Tog.

It was also the same with TnT in the narrower sense that no aggro deck was worth playing before TnT was superseded by Vengeur Masque, which, simplistically speaking, substituted Illusionary Mask for Mishra’s Workshop.

So I think that we can do what you propose if we find a way to lower the current benchmarks like Workshop.

Finally, I don’t think forcing everyone to maindeck artifact removal will achieve any real diversity. When TnT was new, we all had to add graveyard removal, but that in itself didn’t result in diversity.

Banned Or Restricted Creatures

I don’t play Type One any more but your logic seems sound. Just a note, though – you said this:

“…but note that the first creature after Ali from Cairo to get restricted or banned was Goblin Lackey in Extended (well, Rukh Egg was also restricted for a very short while, but that was a little rules problem).”

This isn’t entirely accurate – and no, I am not talking about ante cards. When Extended was first made a format, both Juggernaut and Kird Ape were banned. I always found this interesting, as both cards were far worse than Hypnotic Specter, which was free to roam the Extended earth. But I just wanted to point that out.

KKrouner on the StarCityGames Forums

He got me there. And yes, to everyone who reminded me that Lin Sivvi was banned in block, but I didn’t think anything below Extended was relevant. Give me a break!

Seriously, though, only the implication that Goblin Lackey is too strong a tempo-breaker is relevant for our intellectual purposes. Lin Sivvi was from too narrow a card pool, and everything else came from a lesser understanding of the game’s underlying mechanics.

Banned Or Restricted Creatures


I would like to commend you on writing a clear and succinct (or relatively succinct) column introducing Type 1 to different players.  I think a recent conversation I had with Jacob Orlove sheds some light on when a card needs restriction in Type 1.

First, a story:  There was an episode of the Simpsons when Mr. Burns when to Dr. Hibbert and got a physical.  The physical revealed that the reason Mr. Burns was still alive after more than a hundred years of disease was because of what Dr. Hibbert called the”Three Stooges Effect.”  Essentially there were all these fatal diseases trying to kill him at the same time, so many so that they got stuck in a door jam and none of them could break out.  In sum, the hundreds of would be fatal diseases were canceling each other out, holding each other in balance.

Jacob and I decided that for the most part Type 1 also operates under the Three Stooges Effect.  There are a large handful of cards that are so broken, so obviously superior to other cards that alone in a format they would ravage the format.  But together, with other brokenness these cards balance each other out.  For example,”The Glue,” a.k.a. Force of Will, balances out”too fast” cards.  In a format with just The Glue and no other similarly powered cards, control would dominate.  But in a format with Dark Ritual and Phyrexian Negator, as a simple example, The Glue is not only good but not broken, but is actually essential.  The Glue prevents a good deal of lock decks for locking people out on the first turn.  The Glue holds back, along with a similarly situated card Swords to Plowshares, a wave of ridiculous creatures like Jackal Pup, Goblin Lackey, and so on.  Mana Drain prevents the format from being dominated by high-power, mid-cost permanents like Morphling, Moat, and The AbyssDuress, likewise hammers Prison and control.  So in general, the format is balanced.

[Enter stage left: Lion’s Eye Diamond]

However, in one instance, there is a card that breaks through the logjam of broken cards.  This card is Lion’s Eye Diamond (LED).  I read Steve’s articles and I was amazed at the ease with which Burning Academy (Long.dec) was pulling off first turn wins.  I thought that this was a concern, but Steve is a really good player and the deck is a bear to play right, so maybe there was a natural limiter on the power of the deck and in turn LED. 

Then this weekend I witnessed a game between an okay player v. a good player.  The okay player was playing Long.dec and the other Hulk.  In short order, the Long.dec player won 25% of his games on turn 1.  And his deck was not even optimized with Diminishing Returns or Spoils of the Vault.  The deck could win a quarter of the time without allowing the other player to even touch their cards.  Only The Glue could stop the deck and sometimes even that was a mere speed bump as opposed to an actual road block.

So I would assert that LED is the only card in Vintage that is deserving of a restriction.  Under the standards Steve articulated, under the”unrecoverable early game swing” theory put forth by Wizards in the recent Extended bannings or your boredom standard, LED is the problem card in Vintage.  Chalice can only stop Long.dec if it gets to be cast.  Otherwise, only The Glue can work at all, and most times it is not enough. 

Note I am not advocating the restriction of a new card.  Chalice is fine, Spoils is fine, Chrome Mox is fine.  LED, however, has proven itself guilty over time.  Only the incredibly expensive nature of the deck prevents Long.dec from dominating the metagame.  But eventually people with take apart other decks or acquire the needed cards and build Long.dec.  Then it will be everywhere and winning.  Toss in the search ability of Spoils and I think that Long.dec even with Chalice as a natural hoser is still a viable choice.  And this is all possible because of the power of LED. 

Many people think that restricting a card that was designed as a bad card is silly, but the fact is not even Wizards can predict every card interaction.  Long.dec makes LED’s drawback negligible. 

Note I am also not claiming that”No deck should be allowed to run five Lotuses” – which, if taken to its logical extreme, would necessitate the restriction of Workshop as well.  LED makes first-turn wins possible.  Workshop does not.  LED bars interaction.  Workshop limits it but still provides opportunities for response. 

It is time for LED to go.  And I think you missed that in the article.

Tony Sculimbrene

a.k.a. Ric Flair on TMD

Hell no, Tony!

Last week’s column considered points on Chalice screwing combo well-received, but reminded everyone of the collateral damage.

When I said combo could be brought back to reality with less collateral damage, what else could I mean but hitting its current unrestricted tempo breakers?

Moreover, Chalice just adds more randomness in the sense that it makes too big a difference who’s going first, who knows what the other guy is playing, and who has a particular card in the opening hand. Hell, if Chalice remains unrestricted and combo is shut out, the next step is for smart players to drop Chalice and get an advantage over the surviving decks by having less dead cards.

Then he’ll lose to a player who picked up the game again, had no idea what’s been going on, but saw this Goblin Sligh deck he decided was cute.

Incidentally, I’m not fond of articulating theories in the sense of glue holding things together. While the comments about Force of Will are right on, note that your own description implies that whenever Force of Will is all that’s left, it may be a sign that tempo-breakers are too good.

But it’s a great analogy in the sense that when Force of Will is not strong enough, everything flies apart.

More Creatures

Leonin Abunas may have found its name in a rather simple way. Anubis was an Egyptian god who was the ruler of the underworld, a jackal god. At least, Anubis would fit well with the flavor of the card.

Ryan Cimera

My Oxford English defines ‘Abuna’ as”a title given to the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church”, originating”Amharic, from Arabic ‘abuna’ [there should be bars over the u and second a] meaning ‘our father’.

As the Leonin and other related groups seem to have obvious African cultural influences (and indeed, are modeled as anthropomorphic African animals), I suppose that this is a possible origin.

Of course, it could well be coincidence, but I thought you might like to know.

David Lyford-Smith

Cambridge, England. 

Yeah, you really got me there.

Could R&D have fixed Chalice of the Void?

Dear Oscar,

Thanks for addressing my email in your latest article.  I feel like a celebrity. 

You say:”It’s precisely the broken tempo-breakers like Moxen that can smooth the bumps in a mana curve and cards like Mana Drain that can condone a few spikes in the graph. This is why the less redundant powered decks are the least affected by Chalice.”

This is a very good point, and one I had not fully considered. I’m still skeptical about whether the bad (redundant decks being forced to diversify their mana pool and thus become worse, in some cases to the point where they are no longer viable) outweighs the good I see in the card. 

I think another excellent analysis of the card came when you mentioned the difference in this card if it had been costed differently. The cards downfall, if you’re correct and it has the ruinous effects you predict, will be the result of its insane utility / adaptability. 

But what if the card were printed as follows:

Chalice of the Void



Players cannot play spells with casting cost 0.

Seems to me it would be so irrelevant that it wouldn’t see play, except as a sideboard. 

Anyway, I don’t want to keep you from your studies.  I sure think this is an interesting card, and a great philosophy of Magic discussion (my favorite subject).  Thanks for being such a great interlocutor and for the many philosophical catalysts your articles have provided in the past.  I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I’m a big fan or your series on Star City.  Anyway, I am.

Joe Klessert

Well, hope you feel like a star now, Joe.

Printing that kind of silver bullet, for me, would only compound any perceived problem. Silver bullets and hate cards stimulate nothing, and are a poor foundation for a metagame.

Assuming we print it, to expound on what you said, it would still boil down to who goes first, who knows who’s playing what, and if it’s drawn in the opening hand. It doesn’t address the underlying problem at all.

Besides, imagine how pathetic it would be for the average player to open that piece of crap at the Prerelease.

Sacrilege and blasphemy

Great article, great read.

However, may I just point out that I’m glad I didn’t draw my 8th Edition foil Merchant Scroll when we played at GameCon. I didn’t know you’d be *that* freaked out. 😉

I’m glad I didn’t bring Goblin Sligh that day – that would be worse. Four 8th Edition foil Blood Moons?

Glenson Lim, a.k.a. Glenchuy

Manila, Philippines

I have only one thing to say: Glenchuy here is a self-confessed closet Type II player.

Sacrilege And Blasphemy, Part II

This is Tristal, from TMD/BD.

Hopefully you’ll welcome a lighter complaint to your articles; I’m not disagreeing outright with anything you say in #106 concerning the T1 metagame. What I am concerned about is your hatred of the 8th edition card face; or, more in particular, Merchant Scroll.

Hating the 8th edition face is fine (Yes, white does look like artifacts, if you forget to look at the mana cost) – but liking a HOMELANDS card over it? Personally, I’d rather be ‘caught’ with a white-bordered 8th card than having to carry and use a Homelands card. (I think the 8th edition art is better, too!) Now if I can only find a 5th edition Sengir Autocrat for my Nether Void SB…


Todd Davis, a.k.a. Tristal

P.S. Smmenen still says stupid things in #themanadrain, you should come by. 😉

The only thing worse than a closet Type II player is a closet Type II player who started Eighth Ed.

Kidding aside, I always log on to #themanadrain and #bdchat. You might be forgetting the time zone difference.

Again, Does Chalice Help Budget Players?

Hi Oscar,

Just read your article. I enjoyed it like always. I must say it is very good of you to let other voices speak up in your own article. It gives a very open minded air to it.

As I am sitting here typing and deciding whether I should the red or the yellow gummy bear first, I am also very intrigued with all the statements and opinions around the Chalice.

I also wrote to you about this yesterday and can’t help but wonder how this is going to work out. At first, I was convinced the Chalice was a good thing, but your argument about the mana curve cannot not be ignored. It will be extremely difficult to build a budget deck with Chalice, without the efficiency in the curve, and that still has a viable chance. I am still hoping for more diversity, but if I will be accommodated in that is less and less likely. Things will change but mostly likely not in the way I hoped. I am convinced that R&D doesn’t see this card as a fixer. If they do, they are pretty dumb. I mean, even I thought of the fact that you can use it against Moxen – but the player who has Moxen will be able to play it sooner and better. Besides if you both have power, the one who goes first has the chance of playing Moxen first and Chalice second, giving going first another edge, which is a very bad thing in my opinion.

Another thought though. After reading your articles about tempo I thought that something like Reverse Damage should be a sort off a Time Walk against an aggro deck? You gain two turns in your own favor. Since the aggro player tries to get those Time Walks by creating”extra” attack phases, you gain a”turn” by nullifying this attack and by gaining the life instead of loosing it you win another”turn.” Right?

Well that´s it for now. Take it easy, for as far as possible.

Peter Bokhorst

Rijsenhout, The Netherlands

Regarding budget play, consider this:”Powered” player goes first in Game 2 against Sligh, goes Mox, Land (or Mishra’s Workshop), Chalice for one.

Regarding Reverse Damage, it’s less a Time Walk than it is a Fog. It only nullifies an attack phase, and if you’re attacked by two weenies, just one attack phase. If you happen to be up against a Juggernaut, Phyrexian Negator, or Phyrexian Dreadnought, then you get two attack phases for one card. If you’re up against a creatureless deck, of course, drawing this is like drawing a dead card, and life is one of the most irrelevant resources in the game, anyway.

So unless you’re in the habit of playing against Mana FlareFireball decks, just run a creature removal spell. If everyone is maindecking Price of Progress against you, you might look up”Honorable Passage” instead.

The Costs Of Using Chalice

Hi Oscar,

I am an old-school Type I player who for the past several months has been a regular reader of your column. One thing I haven’t seen discussed much regarding Chalice of the Void is how it also hoses the person who actually puts it into play.

Since everyone in Type I plays cards costing zero to three mana, you have to be sure you have multiple victory conditions (or artifact removal) to avoid a”Chalice lock.” Granted, if you can drop couple Moxen, a land and a Chalice for zero on turn 1, you probably only hurt someone who is loaded with Moxes and LEDs. But doesn’t this free things up for those who don’t have access to the Power 9? Didn’t this just hurt the original player who also has several Moxes still in their library?

While I do agree that Chalice is best used offensively, you have to be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot, especially in a mirror match.

Jeffrey Kuta

Vallejo, California, United States

If you drop a Mox and a Chalice for zero against a combo player (aside from Dragon, which runs on Bazaar of Baghdad now and is immune), then not being able to play the other three or four Moxen plus your Black Lotus is a very favorable trade-off.

It works the same way in so many cases, such that your only problem is having Chalice against an archetype that can’t be hosed by a single Chalice. However, you shouldn’t be worried about dead cards yet, theoretically, because all rational players should be running them. Consider that no archetype has extremely good matchups against both Sligh-esque aggro and combo.

Further, the archetypes that aren’t hosed by Chalice all have ways to make use of a dead Chalice in hand.”The Deck” has Brainstorm, Dragon has Bazaar of Baghdad, and Workshop decks have Goblin Welder. Even in if your opponent won’t be totally hosed, a cunning player can break the symmetry, you always can. Say, a Welder MUD player goes first against”The Deck” with Workshop, Mox Ruby, Goblin Welder. Playing Chalice for one sure wouldn’t hurt him here.

Dancing Around Chalice

Congrats on a very interesting article on the current Type 1 environment. As a Magic player who got out of the game while in college and is getting back into it while in law school and who has been playing for so long his original DCI number had only four digits, I am impressed with the breadth of the environment. The last big tournament I played Type 1 in was a battle between people who were fighting Mirror Universe control decks and people who played Mirror Universe decks. My mono black, which was a precursor to Suicide Black, was the talk of Type One because no one believed mono black could win. The only game I lost was against Jon Finkel, whose Mirror deck beat me a turn from winning when he managed to take around five turns in a row with Time Walk.

Type One has always been an environment where broken cards fought each other to create the most unfair and boring deck possible. In an environment such as this, I fully agree with you that the restriction and ban lists have to be used by the DCI as a tool for control. Otherwise, Type One will become stagnant – or stay stagnant depending on your opinion of the subject.

The key to proper use of this tool is for the DCI to make careful decisions. If we restrict or ban every card people cry about, we run the same risk of stagnation as if we did not act at all. The point of Magic, and what makes it fun, is the strategy aspect of it all. If something is dominant, the easy answer is”hate” cards; more interesting is the clever deck that gets around these problems. Mirrodin has only just come out, its full impact yet to be seen. I am faithful a clever player will be able to get around control decks.

My suggestion is to play a land kill deck – or, more precisely, a mana source kill deck. Though these are typically weak against Sligh decks, against an artifact control deck it could be interesting. Having artifact removal as a double creature and land kill makes such hate much more versatile and a part of your general strategy. A person staring at one or maybe two mana sources will really regret playing cards that make all spells more expensive. And this is just the idea of a person whose finger is off the pulse.

I can bet better-informed players will be able to come up with better ideas. So let us test the waters and then cry foul in the fullness of time. We will be much better informed because of it.

Thanks for your time, and good luck with wills. I am first year and am playing with defeasible fee estates in property myself so I feel your pain. Good luck.

Peter Whittlesey

Arlington, Massachusetts

New England School of Law

First of all, Peter, I wonder how many people forget that I live in Southeast Asia. I mean, how many people on this side of the world do you really think know what your state acronyms mean, let alone spell”Massachusetts” without running the spell checker?

No wonder the United States makes so many enemies. I mean, Dutch readers write out their addresses, for crying out loud!

Kidding aside, that’s a very interesting story. Here I thought,”Hymn to Tourach, Hymn, you’re dead!” didn’t take a while to catch on, unlike the entire idea of backing that up with Necropotence.

Again, I dislike the idea of relying on hate to restrain a deck that’s inherently too degenerate. You’re right that some decks can incorporate solutions without diluting themselves too much. For example, when Fact or Fiction was unrestricted, some Sligh decks replaced Gorilla Shaman with Goblin Vandal as a foil to Powder Keg, which was mono blue’s only weenie removal aside from an early Morphling.

However, I seriously doubt every archetype can do that, and at any rate, Goblin Vandal sure wasn’t enough for Sligh back then. I also doubt that all creativity can flourish when the rules of the game themselves are broken too well to the point of irrelevance in some cases. Again, Chalice attacks the concept of the mana curve itself, and Mishra’s Workshop lets a deck permanently break the fundamental”one land a turn” rule.

I don’t see what mana denial deck you’re talking about, though, since I don’t think you mean Nether Void. Let me just share, however, that I’ve lost more land to Smokestack than I have to Sinkholes.

The Costs Of Using Chalice

Dear Oscar,

Just in response to your post on StarCityGames about Chalice and about hosers. Chalice is a format changing card. And the reason why I think that Chalice should be restricted is because ALL hosers in the past have been cost-effective. Choke, Flashfires, every single hoser in existence is at a cost while this one is completely undercosted. Another reason is that hosers often have a detriment effect on the opponent but sometimes they can

fight through it, like Flashfires and Boil and whatnot – but with Chalice, there is just no way to fight through it when your spells get countered. It’s not cost-effective to literally take twenty-plus cards out of a player’s deck and label them useless for the rest of the game. It’s just not a fair card for players alike. It really is a card that attempts to cure all the problems that R&D made in the past, nuff said.

Shane Crawford

Delaware, United States

Thanks, Shane – you just articulated why I think Back to Basics and Blood Moon can be like Rishadan Port in its block environment.

You’re right that it’s stronger than any hoser ever printed (except Blood Moon) in that you can’t even play the spells it hoses, and in Type I, the affected spells can add up to over a third of your deck. I’d just add that it’s even worse than any hoser we’ve seen because it’s so easily main decked because it’s really a modal hoser, and it’s colorless at that.

And if it’s a cure, it might be one worse than the disease in this case.

Help Parfait, Slow Down The Format

Basically, I think the format is a turn too fast. Yes, I like broken things once in a while: that’s why I play Type 1 and not 1.5. The problem is that we have a format where the brokenness of opening plays has become the norm. So instead of having a normal hand and, once in a while, a broken hand, we have the opposite. It’s so easy to get a degenerate start that you’re pissed off if you don’t have it. To be competitive in T1 right now, you NEED broken starting hands.

That annoys me a lot, because, while broken plays are flashy, they become rather dull when repetitive. Type 1 is a format where anything can happen with your next topdeck. Really? Today’s current broken plays imply that you won’t be able to play that swingy card, or that you simply won’t play another turn at all.

I think we’ll have to restrict many cards to slow down the format to a speed where you can actually play a game:

  • First of all, Lion’s Eye Diamond, as it makes combo way too consistent.

  • Secondly, Mishra’s Workshop, which allows ridiculous first-turn plays that rival the efficiency of Moxes.

  • Third, Mana Drain. This sacred cow of T1 is one of the most format-defining cards and it certainly makes more cards unplayable than any other. It is especially offensive in a Chalice-filled metagame, since most people will diversify the mana cost of their spells to counter Chalice’s effect.

  • Fourth, Intuition has to go. Dragon is the only combo deck not too affected by Chalice. Moreover, Intuition is arguably better than Entomb (a card restricted because of Dragon.dec) in the newer builds.

  • Finally, my last suggestion is to restrict Dark Ritual. Not only this card allows one of the most brutal combos ever made (Ritual/Duress/Hymn), but it also speeds up combo decks and feeds the most broken card in T1 – Yawgmoth’s Will.

You could also predict that Chrome Mox will be restricted for comboriffic reasons too.

Now, I agree that some of those suggestions are quite surprising and rather unexpected. However, I really think we’ll have to look to old cards if we want to slow the environment down, or else we’ll have to restrict all the new good cards Wizards prints.

How did I find those cards? Just imagine, for each deck, what would be the best starting hand not containing a restricted card. You mostly end up with hands containing broken unrestricted mana accelerators. I think that explains a bit why our format is now so fast.

Raphaël Caron, a.k.a. K-Run

Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada

And what would a collection of letters that touch on budget play be without one from the creator of Deck Parfait? Incidentally, Raph is one of the first non-Paragon Magic correspondents who hooked up to my Friendster account, and it’s worth it to link me just to see the photos he and fellow Paragon”Crazy” Carl Winter put up. (I am seriously waiting for JP Meyer.)

I think my points on the first two are clear, but the others need some explanation. Remember that although I favor restricting a card when necessary, I still follow the general rule that restriction is highly disfavored.

First, beginners have been crying for Mana Drain’s restriction since time immemorial, but I’m surprised to hear Raph echo it. Mana Drain is an ordinary Counterspell that also produces mana the following turn. The bonus ability is distinguished from other tempo-breakers in that this one is reactive, and what it does depends on what your opponent just did. Thus, you never really rely on the second ability and just count it as a bonus when it kicks in (it’s worthless against Stompy, to take an extreme example). Thus, Mana Drain is only played in decks that would use Counterspell or Mana Leak.

Mana Drain has, in fact, grown weaker through the years. More efficient cards have been printed and mana costs have gone down to the point that formerly efficient benchmarks like Serendib Efreet and Erhnam Djinn are now too expensive to play. Mana Draining into a giant Braingeyser or Mind Twist is more hyperbole from very old school”The Deck” players than the norm. If anything, the decks the bonus ability hits hardest are precisely the decks that use mana acceleration to play more expensive spells. Smokestack is one of the juiciest targets I can think of right now, aside from alternative cost cards like Force of Will, and Gush some time back.

Restricting Mana Drain, honestly, won’t do a thing unless you also restrict Counterspell and Mana Leak, and that will turn the format into Type II, where they decided counter ability was too cheap and gave blue too strong a tempo advantage. And even then, cheap removal will still inflict tempo losses on people who use expensive spells.

I think the tempo benchmarks in Type I are fine, and it’s the broken mana producers we want to address to keep those benchmarks relevant (see “Counting Tempo”).

Second, Intuition is a strong ability, but your basis will be that it’s too strong a tutor. Entomb isn’t that strong a point since everyone thinks it was unwarranted, anyway. One note on tutors is that they’re most unfair when they’re much cheaper than the cards they set up, but this one costs three. Moreover, decks that use it to fetch Accumulated Knowledge don’t use all four. Dragon make good use of it, but I’d consider Bazaar of Baghdad as more unintuitive and restriction-worthy there, and that one just costs a land drop and can’t be countered.

As for Dark Ritual, I listed it with Lion’s Eye Diamond as the present combo’s problem cards. At this point, I can’t say no since that would be akin to crying against Necropotence’s restriction because Classic Necro would be killed along with Trix, which was a futile position.

Incidentally, if you read the GenCon coverage, you’ll note that against Rector one game, Shane Stoots (with Vengeur Masque) Duressed away his opponent’s Dark Ritual over Necropotence, and won that game.

Another point. Lotus Petal is restricted but Suicide Black players actually use it as a pseudo-Turn 1 play. Color fixing aside, Dark Ritual is twice as strong as Petal.

In principle, it’s not as ridiculous as one thinks, though DCI gave the wrong reason when they banned it as a mistaken fix against Trix, and they happened to leave that archetype Necropotence as a consolation.

Fix Illusionary Mask


During my read of your”You CAN Play Type I #106: Maximizing Mirrodin, Part IV – The Half Time Mail Call” you mentioned the idea of Illusionary Mask being errataed. This is very possible because the card is doing an effect other than its intended use (that is, avoiding the drawback of Phyrexian Dreadnought). This scenario reminds me of when Waylay was errataed due to it being played at the end of the opponent’s turn, which allowed one to avoid the drawback of losing the tokens.

Your comments on Sligh having to evolve because of the Chalice (in ways such as using Mishra’s Factory or Crash) are a good example of how decks may evolve around it. However, I do not see Sligh evolving to overcome Chalice of the Void when many decks without Chalice of the Void already beat Sligh down.

Decks that are already winning for the most part (perhaps with the exception of Workshop based decks) need not use the Chalice simply because they are already doing well. Workshop decks may use it not because they need it, but because they can abuse it (as you have already implied in your article). The decks that are not winning may try to use the Chalice to gain some footing in the format – but this will be a fruitless venture. The reason that it will be a fruitless venture is that the non-tier one decks that are fast and efficient enough to have chance against the tier one decks, either cannot cast the chalice for a large enough X to do anything or by casting the chalice for a low X, they hose themselves.

Dan Bright

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Thanks, Danny, for another spelling monstrosity after”Massachusetts.”

I guess Illusionary Mask, under the present rulings, really is nothing but a tempo-breaker in disguise, right? You have to admit that it’s far, far from the original intent of the card.

Once More, Restrict Workshop

You said:

“Drawing a parallel, you might say that Mishra’s Workshop unduly shuts out a lot of strategies that just don’t have the brokenness to race the locks, through no fault of their own.

“Simply, the idea that Jackal Pup is far, far too slow in this format just bothers me.”

I agree 100% with what you are saying here. Mishra’s Workshop and the speed of some of the newest zero-drop artifacts for mana, makes an opening hand with Black Lotus, all of a sudden not look so broken. The fact that the Workshop is capable of pulling this off a good percentage of times in their opening hand, and more often than not rubbing it in even more by the fact that you will now most likely be facing a Sphere of Resistance, is just huge. Even the power decks packing all the power cards have a tough time coping speed-wise with opening moves like that, and Sligh and Budget players can pretty much just bend over.

Whether or not this warrants the restriction of Workshop or not remains to be seen, but with new cards like Chalice of the Void rearing its head, I think a second look at either Workshop, or perhaps even Void itself, may actually be needed.

The biggest speculation I have heard from various people I associate in the Magic community, is that Isochron Scepter is actually the more likely candidate for restriction, with the ease in which a permission deck or the like has with imprinting something really wrong on it. Ancestral, etc… Even an Impulse left unchecked for a few rounds will more than likely spell disaster for a lot of decks out there.

“While other cards are criticized for breaking too well a fundamental rule, I criticize Chalice for turning it on its head. In this case, Chalice attacks the mana curve a little too well in Type I, where a flat mana curve of one-drops is a natural evolution of efficiency. For other color’s pools, it might be a lot of one- and two-drops, but the idea and the concentration of spells follows.

“This is why, again, Chalice hits budget decks hardest, and since it defeats precisely the efficiency and redundancy they fall back on for lack of raw brokenness. It forces them to either stray from this efficiency, or dilute their strategy with anti-artifact spells, which achieves the same result.”

Again I must agree, but I’d also like to point out that your fellow teammate Smmenen said it best when he made reference to the entire metagame slowing down as a whole. You yourself actually mentioned that this artifact alone was a direct attack on tight streamlined decks… Which I believe it is, but I also believe that as a whole, the metagame needed something to kick it in the pants, and really slow it down. I like you was getting a bit tired of the fact that Type 1 was becoming more and more like you hear clueless people to the type 1 metagame say,”whoever goes first wins.” In fact at the store I play at, until I actually started playing type 1 decks around there, and introducing some of the kids there to the format, they believed Type 1 games ended more often than not, prior to the opponent getting a turn.

The sad thing is, that the way type 1 was headed prior to Chalice, was precisely that… A game where whoever went first went combo quickest and won.

So although I have sympathy for some of the decks that are hit the hardest by Chalice, yet at the same time I am overjoyed that just the mere presence of Chalice; mind you, you do not even have to play the card, but just its presence alone in the metagame will dramatically slow down the speed of all decks, those decks that incorporate it included.

“So what change are we being asked to embrace?”

I think all in all that like I said above, this is an excellent chance. The metagame as a whole has slowed down quite a bit, decks will either have to diversify their mana curves more, thereby slowing down their deck, or they will have to put in cards that hose it, yet at the same time slowing down their deck, and hurting its efficiency. No matter what route they go, they have slowed down in some way.

Quickly people say”But this kills Sligh.” Now although I believe it hurts Sligh, and it hurts Sui, or any deck that has a single casting cost as its majority of cards, I still believe those decks will continue to be played. Perhaps now, decks we have not seen for awhile may actually make reappearance now that the metagame has slowed down enough to justify it. All of a sudden maybe Juzam Djinn can make a return, maybe Serendib Efreet becomes a popular card again, maybe Roy Spires will actually gets his wish and Sedge Troll will actually see play again, and be considered – gasp – a good card!

There were a number of archetypes that due to the ever-increasing speed of Type 1 just disappeared… I mean when is the last time you saw a Land Destruction deck at a tournament, and I do mean the Sinkhole/Icequake/Stone Rain type…?

Where did Erhnam Djinn disappear to?

I think a lot of older archetypes, or at least remnants of those older archetypes may very well surface in this new metagame… only time will tell.

“To end, let me just say that Chalice is pretty good in”The Deck,” but I’ve felt zero enthusiasm to retool my list. Playing”The Deck” has been characterized by subtle decisions and graceful pirouettes around an opponent, and remember that the very first section of”The Control Player’s Bible” written two years ago emphasized that it is no simplistic collection of silver bullets.

“Frankly, opening with a Chalice for zero or one makes for some very pathetic feature match articles.”

Whether or not The Deck is a silver bullet deck I think remains to be seen. I think it is more the player of the deck that emphasizes the strength of the deck. I think a player can take the”Silver Bullet” approach to playing the deck, and in fact a lot of players do play that way. At the same time, though, I think the better players do not play with that strategy in mind. But who can argue with a guy, who feels that you Balancing away two or three of their creatures, or Mind Twisting their hand away, is not a silver bullet play? In his mind, he just lost to a silver bullet, yet in your mind it was merely”excellent timing” and a well-played card.

There really is no right or wrong way to think about it like that.

As for your”Feature Matches” I agree… A lot of the decision making, at least at initial glance at Chalice of the Void does seem to lean towards the fact that they will be a bit (different). Yet at the same time, you may actually find out that a lot of your players and moves you would do, and your decision making process with Chalice of the Void in play dramatically changes, and in turn, is just as interesting as it was prior to Chalice of the Void.

Whelp… that’s my thoughts… Just thought I would shoot you an email… love reading your articles…

Jamie Schnitzius

Jamie, in case you might have forgotten, is Mr. Flaming Gambit from the last Origins.

One reaction I have is,”Who said the metagame is slowing down?”

Juzam Djinn being playable? Impossible, unless you remove every cheap counter and removal spell, and take out Mishra’s Workshop and Illusionary Mask. In other words, if you transform Type I into Odyssey Block Constructed before Scourge.

Incidentally, land destruction is (or was) still alive in the form of Nether Void. There’s simple no reason to play Ice Storm when Sinkhole exists and Nether Void is in its color. Again, think tempo.

If Type I is slowing down due to Chalice, the only reason is that you can now expect to get locked down on Turn 1 instead of losing outright.

Well, that’s it for this week. Back to the wonderful world of dead people, greedy relatives, and rich lawyers.

Oscar Tan (e-mail: Rakso at StarCityGames.com)

rakso on #BDChat on EFNet

Team Paragons of Vintage

University of the Philippines, College of Law

Forum Administrator, Star City Games

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Author of the Control Player’s Bible

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