You CAN Play Type I #49: CAN Mark Rosewater Play Type I?

I e-mailed MaRo half an hour after his column was posted, and I thanked him for a sober, realistic survey of Type I issues. It wasn’t what some players wanted to read – did you really expect him to announce the venue of the next Type I Pro Tour? – but I don’t think he could have done better.

Mike Long: Where is he now?

He still plays Type I, if that’s what you’re asking.

I’ll reserve my comments, but let me just say that his decklist is”Keeper” while The Control Player’s Bible discusses”The Deck.” The sample decklist in the latter is far closer to what is accepted worldwide, as far as I know.

The latest Type I controversy

I ended my last column with these words:”I’m one of the Type I players fervently hoping his eyes don’t bleed. Hopefully, he wrote something I can respect.”

This week’s Mark Rosewater article is something the online Type I network will be nitpicking over for a long time: Playing to Type I.

Heck, some players couldn’t wait, and actually waited for MagictheGathering.com to update at 12:01 a.m.. Being twelve time zones away, I caught them on IRC at noon here and read MaRo’s column within half an hour of its posting. By noon in the USA, a lot of vocal Type I players had fired off angry e-mails.

Deconstructing Mark Rosewater: The epilogue

I e-mailed MaRo half an hour after his column was posted, and I thanked him for a sober, realistic survey of Type I issues. It wasn’t what some players wanted to read – did you really expect him to announce the venue of the next Type I Pro Tour? – but I don’t think he could have done better.

This guy couldn’t play Type I if his life depended on it – his idea of wishing good luck is hoping a guy draws Black Lotus every opening hand; let’s see how the guy matches up against an opponent who draws Ancestral Recall every opening hand – but the introduction alone surprised me:

“Let me be up front. I have not played Type 1 in years. I make no claim to have a grasp of the Type 1 metagame. Recently at U.S. Nationals, I discussed the current Type 1 metagame with a pro player (Pat Chapin, for those that care) who I believed had his pulse on the format. That is where my previous comments on Type 1 came from. I apologize, and I promise today to make no claims to understanding the current metagame as I am sure I will get bashed plenty for things I think I do understand.”

(One of my previous columns explained the controversy.)

Issue #1: Type I is NOT accessible

The worst part of MaRo’s column was the graphic that emphasized Type I is inaccessible. It showed a Black Lotus, Mox Sapphire and Time Walk, then quoted Inquest and said these three alone added up to $950.

Hey, it was an Inquest quote, right? (In other words, why was Ancestral Recall not there?)

But it’s a skewed picture.

Hymn to Tourach – a Fallen Empires common – defines the Type I metagame as strongly as Mana Drain, for example. Phyrexian Negator and Jackal Pup – from Urza’s Destiny and Tempest, respectively – shape modern Type I more strongly than Juzam Djinn.

In the same way, not every competitive deck is as expensive as the ones in my Control Player’s Bible. Not every deck runs on the Power Ten – and if you remove these, your extremely expensive staples boil down to The Abyss, Moat and a set of Mana Drains, plus a handful of others like Mishra’s Workshop.

Come now… Tell me again how much a rare-intensive Type II deck costs? The price of Urza’s Rage alone is enough to keep me out of that format.

Stereotypes aside, however, you can’t deny MaRo’s point.

The competitive”budget” decks are mainly the monos: Mono green Stompy, mono red Sligh, mono black Suicide Black and mono blue Forbiddian. (And a couple of years ago, the mono black Necrodeck could tear power apart.)

I’m not joking. Matt D’Avanzo claims 70%, unsideboarded, against the best”The Deck” players in Neutral Ground (in New York) with his Stompy deck. Former JSSer David Kaplan has his share of Top 8s against the same players, and all he has is a Mox Ruby – and Black Lotus is even bad in his Sligh deck.

But everything else aside, those are the most monotonous decks in Type I! You can compete with them, sure… But I doubt you’d enjoy the full range of the format.

And from experience and what I get in my Inbox, I don’t even think the majority of Star City readers can fully appreciate the strategies in my Control Player’s Bible unless they own an Ancestral Recall. I tell aspiring budget”The Deck” players that without that single card, they will end up playing Extended instead of Type I control.

So while you can compete with a”budget” deck, and while superior skill has let countless players out there own fully-powered opponents, you just can’t deny the accessibility problem. Would you honestly start a new casual player with Type I instead of draft, for example?

Further, MaRo reminds everyone that Magic goes beyond the United States.

Case in point: The Philippines.

How many Ancestral Recalls do you honestly think we have in this entire country?

Heck, screw that –

How easy do you think it is for your average high school student to pick up a set of Chain Lightnings from the local store?

How many of our average high school players have even seen a Chain Lightning – a Legends common – in Type I Sligh?

In fairness, Magic didn’t begin in 1993 for everyone. Before Fourth Edition, we allegedly had only two Mishra’s Factories in this archipelago.

Caveat #1: Type II is NOT accessible

However valid all of the above points are, you can’t limit yourself to them, however.

Are you one of the lucky bastards who once sold his soul for a set of Rishadan Ports?

I’ve seen local Manila players practically beg for them in between rounds. Years back, I saw similar scenes, only people were begging for Cursed Scrolls.

How did you feel when Port rotated out and you owned a set of four?

How do you feel about your set of Urza’s Rages now that Onslaught is coming up?

I’m sure you can understand that sick feeling that accompanies every new block. Heck, some people wanted to quit Magic when their cherished dual lands and Forces of Will rotated out of Extended, didn’t they?

Well, some of those people took a second look at Type I, that loveable format where your favorite cards never, ever rotate out. Heck, there’s a serenity in being able to keep your favorite deck on your shelf and knowing you don’t need to touch it for a year because it’ll still be legal when you get back to it. Collectors and players both love that feeling.

Now, Rishadan Port isn’t particularly strong in Type I. Urza’s Rage is, in fact, mediocre.

So, while Ancestral Recall might cost well over a hundred dollars, you can use it for as long as you can find an opponent.

Multiply that argument by sixty card slots, and you understand why Type I can be cheaper than Type II after you’ve put together the core of your first deck.

Type I isn’t immediately accessible – but at the very least, it’s a format players can keep going back to with their old cards, especially those who quit. It’s worth a little time for Wizards of the Coast to keep these players in the game, even if they’re out of Type II. Many curious casual players buy a box of every new expansion, and some veteran Type I players I know have 1800+ Limited ratings.

At the very least.

Issue #2: Popularity

I don’t need Rosewater’s statistics to tell me that not every Timmy, Johnny and Spike is dying to play Type I. It’s been several years, for example, since they last announced a sanctioned Type I tournament here in Manila. I had something important to do that day, but I just heard it was cancelled because no one showed up to play.

Granted, part of that is because Type I receives no support. But what about the accessibility issue? What about simple exposure to older cards? What about exposure to basic Type I strategy (like, if you really had to choose, Mark, you take Ancestral Recall over a Black Lotus)?

While many new players do trade for or buy older cards they missed, you can’t deny that many Type I players are the types who’ll say,”Back when I started playing in 1994…”

Thus, it’s hard for Type I to be popular among potential players who’ve never even seen an Arabian Nights common. Surely not impossible, but admittedly hard.

MaRo wasn’t using circular logic – there are few Type I tournaments because they’re not popular, and they’re not popular because there are few Type I tournaments – he was just being frank.

Caveat #2: YES, popularity

Popularity… let’s talk about popularity.

Which lucky bastard won the last Writer’s War, hmmm?

Yes, that bastard was a Type I writer.

There’s one statistic. Arguably, people who’ve never held an Arabian Nights common in their lives are still entertained by Type I, do read the feature matches in The Control Player’s Bible, and know how Jon Finkel owned Mike Long with an Obliterate in the Sydney Invitational.

Yes, popularity.

What was the single most memorable play in that entire Invitational? Sure as hell wasn’t from Duplicate Sealed, right?

Interest in Type I is there; it’s just of a different nature. I’ve heard from a number of players, for example, about how their local tourney organizers were happy with the response to new Type I events that they decided to make them regular. Neutral Ground is probably the best example, since they have a Type I grinder that feeds into their Grudge Match. It worked well enough that they eventually held $250 Type I tournaments, with healthy attendance to this day.

Thus, although a Type I Pro Tour is absurd, Type I Pro Tour side events are most definitely not.

I think it’s a matter of expectations.

Everyone today admits that Type I is part of Magic, simply not as big a part as Type II. But I think it finds a good niche as an”alternative” format, something you can enjoy at a slower, more leisurely pace – one that doesn’t demand forty hours of playtesting a week, not to mention a new deck every month.

The Neutral Ground $250 tournaments, for example, are held regularly, but not weekly. And you have to admit it’s far more entertaining to see about Mikey Pustilnik get owned by Battle of Wits in Type I.

So long as you don’t peg your expectations to Type II, it won’t even cost Wizards much to maintain what popularity Type I enjoys. With minimal but visible support, stores and tournament organizers can take care of their local Type I players, both hardcore and merely curious. A very cost-effective step in this direction is the small boost in Type I literature on MagictheGathering.com that MaRo mentioned.

Issue #3: Designing more Type I cards

I honestly don’t think they can.

Randy Buehler already mentioned that they simply don’t have the resources to playtest for Extended, much less Type I. That’s not just an excuse; testing for Type I would require more resources than any other format, yet offer the least tangible returns.

I don’t think they should even bother.

In general, I’d say that any card that stands to shake up Extended would have a shot in Type I. Remember my two rules for rating cards:

1) Is the card more efficient than an established benchmark? (Or, do I get more bang from my buck?

2) Does the card do something no past card ever did, and if it does, is this new card playable?

These apply to any format and even casual play, so long as you’re clear what benchmarks you’re using. Now, to hurdle Rule #1, they’d have to print cards more brutally efficient than anything we’ve ever seen before. We already saw how ugly that can get with unrestricted Fact or Fiction, so we know we don’t want one-mana Edicts, counters, or 5/5s.

Now, Rule #2 is about exploring abilities no past card ever did, and isn’t R&D already doing that?

In fact, how would you design abilities for Type I yet make them different from abilities designed for Extended? You’d have to consciously consider certain nuances of Type I – presence of fast artifact mana, presence of Mana Drain, presence of anti-creature permanents like The Abyss, etc. – and tailor abilities to take advantage of these. Or you’d have to tailor abilities to enhance or counter a certain deck.

To give one example, take this obscure Homelands card:

Merchant Scroll



Homelands common

Search your library for a blue instant card, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library

It doesn’t look spectacular, but wait till you use it in a format with a blue instant called Ancestral Recall. Same reasoning with Gorilla Shaman in a format with Moxen, and Misdirection in a format with Ancestral, Mind Twist, Braingeyser and Stroke of Genius.

But if you design new abilities to interact with specifically Type I mechanics, I think you’ll come out with chaff for the mainstream formats like Obstinate Familiar, yet potentially cheesy or narrow Type I cards. It’s not as though just letting things fall where they do hasn’t produced Type I-worthy cards that can take advantage of Type I-specific details.

In”The Deck,” which is a collection of the most broken cards ever printed, Dismantling Blow and Chainer’s Edict see play because of the faster mana development. Fire/Ice is strong in a format that uses only the most efficient creatures and thus many 2/1s, and in a format that can milk Force of Will and Misdirection. Some are also experimenting with Cunning Wish in a format with every instant ever printed.

And there are many other cards. Tainted Pact isn’t bad in a format with black-based combos such as Worldgorger DragonAnimate Dead and black-supported combos such as Illusionary MaskPhyrexian Dreadnought. Blurred and Nimble Mongeese are being tested in various aggro and aggro-control decks because they naturally evade The Abyss.

Not all of these cards are as playable in Type II and Block, however.

So long as new mechanics aren’t incredibly weak, it’s going to be hard not to produce new cards worth testing in Extended and Type I. R&D doesn’t have to build all our decks for us.

Caveat #3: Correcting Type I cards

While I don’t think R&D should move mountains to design Type I-specific cards, I think they should be conscious about the format’s nuances, so they don’t accidentally print anything too cheesy.

Certain rulings or rules changes have unexpected effects. Sixth Edition rules, for example, killed most of Mirror Universe’s punch, and the simplification of Interrupts made cards from Fork to Avoid Fate work differently. But not all changes are as harmless.

Whatever errata Illusionary Mask and Phyrexian Dreadnought have now, for example, give the format a two-card combo that produces uncounterable 12/12s, possibly on Turn 1.

As for new cards, you can’t just sweep Worldgorger DragonAnimate Dead under the rug. It’s still effectively a combo of two unrestricted, easy-to-find cards – and [author name="Peter Jahn"]Peter Jahn[/author] even reported that it cheesed Emperor for crying out loud.

(And imagine if these two-card combos were printed when NECRO-friggin-POTENCE was unrestricted…)

I know this is Type I, and broken things happen, but some things are too cheesy by any standard. Although everyone knows what unchecked Academy and Trix did to player interaction in Type I, you have to be a little more vigilant with the cheesiness that’s left.

Issuing intelligent errata doesn’t cost much, anyway, does it?

And on this topic, reviewing past restrictions and bannings is a cheap way of maintaining Type I as well. I know green fans, for example, who can make a good case for unrestricting Berserk. Of course, if anyone proposes the unrestriction of uber-cheesy Black Vise, I’ll have him hit by a bus…

(Yeah, you haven’t lived till you’ve tried Turbo Stasis with four Black Vise and four Copy Artifact…)

Issue #4: Proxies?

With all candor, MaRo simply asks why they’d allow proxy cards when they’re in the business of selling real ones.

Can’t argue with that, can you?

Add other factors like added confusion in tournaments and he makes an airtight case. I mean, imagine if Kai Budde had waved around a Forest with”Jeweled Bird” written on it with a marker during the Cape Town Invitational?

That’s even cheesier than mono blue.

We’ve had other proposals, like selling”official proxies” or printing Type I-only expansions with gold borders, but they may just – may, I’m not saying they necessarily will – conjure enough images of Unglued to make a company think twice.

Caveat #4: YES, Proxies

I said bragging about a Type I rating is as impressive as bragging about a Homelands Team Sealed rating.

Unlike in Type II, sanctioned play is simply not as big a part of Type I. So if you want to run unsanctioned Type I tournaments with a certain number of proxies allowed, then go right ahead. There’s no way you’re not increasing booster sales by keeping players interested.

And I wouldn’t mind playing against a kid who needs to proxy Ancestral Recall. If I were truly skillful, then the last thing I’d want an opponent to say is that I won only because I had the better cards, right? And if it’ll get you more opponents, why wouldn’t you be happy?

Until they resurrect the Type I Pro Tour, your immediate concern is your local store. Your house, your rules… Makes sense to me.

And if it’s a matter of aesthetics, I still have the set of beautiful proxy playtest decks Javier Vazquez, a.k.a. ORRGG, once sent all the way from Belgium, and all he needed was a copy of Magic Interactive Encyclopedia and a color printer.

On the other hand, there’s no reason for Wizards of the Coast not to print proxies even if it doesn’t want them in tournaments.

Remember those commemorative World Championship decks… Recreate Worlds in the comfort of your own home? Well, then, all you have to do is find a quartet of wonderful 2002 Type I decks. The Beatdown box was a satisfying product and there’s no reason a Type I”Broken” box – Garfield’s Ancestral Recall v. Chapin’s Gush, no holds barred? – wouldn’t sell to everyone from veteran players to curious 10-year olds.

People have been photocopying, cutting, and pasting the text of Inquest’s spoiler lists for years. I’m sure they’ll pay for official gold-bordered proxies with classic art by now.

Issue #5: Reprints

First, you say that Type I players were those longtime players who were there for Wizards when the game was just picking up speed… Then you say it’s okay to screw them so you can have your chance to get an Ancestral Recall out of the pack?

Something’s wrong with that logic.

I doubt MaRo is kidding when he went to the sensitive topic of just how many collectors there are in their target market. In fact, there should be an even higher ratio among Type I players. How can you not feel that attachment when you can keep your Type I deck intact practically forever? Heck, Type I players are probably pickier about black borders than any other group, and I know people who aim to play with all-black border, all-foil decks, down to foil promo cards like Stroke of Genius.

Moreover, you have to admit that you wouldn’t want to bother with reprints unless you could get the really powerful cards, so if you’re not getting them, there’s no need to screw the guy with the beloved Pyramids or Word of Command.

My Mirror Universe, for example, has no more play value, but I’d drive a bus across the Pacific Ocean and go after Rosewater myself if he ever had the sacred Foglio art reprinted on a white bordered card.

Caveat #5: Reprints

Sure, I suppose we can talk about reprinting some of the cuter commons and uncommons (except from the sets with no rares), though they’ll probably end up with different art and flavor text.

But you’d have to hit a lot of people with a bus or force them to quit in disgust before you have the reserved rares reprinted. And in case they reprint your treasured set of Rishadan Ports in Ninth Edition, just remember that the much older sets had much smaller print runs, making cards from these far more valuable to the guys who kept them.

You can’t just brush off the collectors, and you’ll have to be content with other methods like printing near-copies of less broken oldies (such as Phyrexian Scuta and Juzam Djinn).

Issue #6: Richard Garfield’s vision

Honestly, I have no idea where this came from, and I never heard this particular”issue” before. If you’re a fan of Alpha, well, there’s no way you’re beating my 2002 Type I deck with cards from Invasion block.

Whatever Garfield’s vision was, just don’t print another Urza Block (you know… those expansions whose brokenness rivaled Alpha) and we’re sure you’re still printing the same game.

Bottom line

If I had to list the things I feel Type I players really want, I’d write:

1) Respect for their intelligence and play skill

2) Sensible errata, other rules support, and a bit of sense when it comes to new cards like Worldgorger Dragon

3) Three rounds every Invitational

#1 is free, and I think that MaRo has taken this”demand” to heart with his apology. Erasing”Card X must be broken in Type I!” comments, which are clearly unwarranted, from MagictheGathering.com goes further than anyone thinks. (And how about erasing”Gush > Ancestral Recall” quotes from the Sideboard, too?)

#2 is something that hasn’t been discussed or mentioned, and I hope Pat Chapin’s little talk with MaRo shows a need to. These rules-based changes such as errata and adjustments to the restricted list cost nothing. I think they’re easier and more realistic than asking for reprints or cards specifically tailored for Type I’s mechanics.

#3 is something we hope to see after this year’s Magic Online-based show. Remember that aside from the old-timers, you have many more players with at least a passing interest in Type I. Aside from the Invitational, I think everyone just wants a foundation that will let them run their own local or side Type I events, even if Wizards doesn’t run them itself.

A Type I championship?

By the way, I don’t think a Wizards-sponsored Type I championship will make much difference.

Is this a controversial statement from a Type I writer? It shouldn’t be.

Large and pretty much regular Type I events already exist, such as those in conventions like Origins. I’ve heard many good players critique the winning decklists from such tournaments… And they weren’t impressed. I’m not saying that winning something like a Type I in Origins isn’t a big thing; all I’m saying is that if Wizards declares a”US National Champion” for a format without the established circuit Type II and Limited have, you’d better make sure he isn’t just the best guy who lived within ten miles and wasn’t doing anything that particular day.

If people nitpick over the Invitational Type I decklists, then they’ll put the ones from your Type I championship through an X-ray. And honestly, decklists from the old Beyond Dominia were more widely circulated than Top 4 decklists from any of these existing big tournaments.

To give another example, the old Beyond Dominia group sponsored its”Type I Tournament of Champions” series, and you already had an international pool there. Still, JP”Polluted” Meyer commented that winning one of those gave you all the credibility of the valedictorian of summer school – for crying out loud, a mono blue deck with Prohibit Top 8ed in the last one. Now, look at other factors and you’ll notice that some players didn’t participate because they can’t commit the time or because of extreme time zone differences.

Without the grassroots, store-level support for the format, you might just end up with a glorified open side event and have Battle of Wits win at random. Compare that to seeing Miracle Gro or Psychatog win a Pro Tour after seeing how earlier evolutions perform in PTQs and Nationals worldwide, with running commentary from various writers.

In short, I don’t think it’ll add credibility to Type I until after you’ve firmed up roots in the corner store.

Like MaRo, I doubt I can outline all the issues in one column, but I hope this shows how the underlying issues can be as complicated as the actual gameplay. But if anything, I think Mark Rosewater did us a favor by forcing us all to take a long, hard look at how our favorite format fits into the larger Magic universe.

Anyway, I’ll wish him luck in true Type I fashion:”May you be adept at dodging buses…”

Oscar Tan

[email protected]

rakso on #BDChat on EFNet

Manila, Philippines

Forum Administrator, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi)

Featured writer, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/archive.php?Article=Oscar Tan)

Author of the Control Player’s Bible (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdominia/files/ControlBible.zip)

Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (http://www.starcitygames.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=list&forum=DCForumID89&conf=DCConfID19)

Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance (http://www.casualplayers.org)

P.S. – In case you’re not familiar with it, the old joke went that R&D would have to be hit by a bus before they reprinted Mana Drain.

P.P.S. – With all this talk of accessibility, popularity, and all that, I’d like to share an e-mail I received while writing this rushed column. I think a lot of Type I players-both longtime and potential-can relate to the emotion:

—– Original Message —–

From:”Gijsbert Hoogendijk”

To:”Oscar Tan

Sent: Monday, July 15, 2002 9:15 PM

Subject: Guess…

> Hi Oscar,


> Guess what I traded for the day before Nationals…..


> A Mox Jet


> Guess what I traded for day 2 of Nationals?


> A Black Lotus & a Mox Emerald


> Guess what I traded for at the last PTQ I head Judged?


> Time Walk, Library of Alexandria and The Abyss!


> O, I already had 4 Mana Drains and a Moat.


> Just 5 more to go….


> Just wanted to let you know I am doing this Type I

> thing too.


> Take care,


> Gis