Here are ten things I like and don’t like from this week in Magic: The Gathering:
1. Stop Acting Like Crossovers Aren’t Cool
Back when I was a wee pup, I was super into fighting games. Be it Street Fighter, Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Darkstalkers, or some other off brand nonsense, if there was a reason for me to press down right fierce, I was into it.
I was also really into collecting comic book cards. My father is to blame for this, as he has always been a huge comic book nerd (both he and I have lost count on how many he owns at this point). So, yes, Wolverine, Cyclops, Magneto, and the entire Marvel and DC universe was basically my version of Saturday cartoons. And it doesn’t hurt that there actually was an X-Men cartoon that just so happened to have the dopest opening + theme song of all time!
So imagine my joy when I found out about X-Men vs Street Fighter.
You’re telling me I can have Charlie throw a Sonic Boom at Magneto? I can watch Ken Dragon Punch the living hell out of Sabertooth? And, best of all, I can Spinning Piledriver Juggernaut into oblivion with Zangief? WHERE DO I SIGN UP?!
But the crossovers didn’t stop there:
- Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter
- Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes
- Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes
- Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
But those are just fighting games. Well, technically, this is also a fighting game…
I’d argue that Super Smash Bros is the most successful crossover of all time.
Apparently I was wrong…
Earlier this week, Wizards of the Coast announced that Magic plans to release Lord of the Rings and Warhammer 40,000 crossovers and a non-zero number of people were upset about it.
The amount of complaining around crossovers within Magic has gone from annoying to exhausting. Secret Lair x The Walking Dead was, unsurprisingly, the most successful Secret Lair drop of all time and my expectation is that the Lords of the Rings and Warhammer 40,000 crossovers will be similar successful.
Because people like crossovers.
And these crossovers existing do nothing to stop people from playing Magic. To act like they do is total nonsense. Grow up.
2. Kaldheim Standard Is Still Awesome
Last week, I sang the praises of Kaldheim Standard to kick off this column and this week, I’m doing the exact same thing. With an MPL Kaldheim Split and Magic Arena Qualifier taking place this weekend, there’s going to be a huge spotlight on Standard and I’m totally here for it.
It’s just really nice to be able to watch or play games of Standard where there isn’t some obnoxiously busted deck running roughshod over everything and everyone. Last year when I was having success with Mono-Green Aggro during the reign of Temur Reclamation, it was less about me enjoying the games I was playing and more about being in the midst of a pandemic and not really knowing what else to do to escape reality. Should I have spent my time playing Temur Reclamation if I was serious about winning? Sure. It was clearly the best thing going on and won all the major tournaments, but playing that deck just wasn’t my idea of fun so I played the second best thing and was happy enough.
That said, it kinda sucks when you look in the mirror and know you’re not playing the best deck. But given the nightmare that was 2020, I was good with it.
Now, I can fire up Arena, pick up a deck, and know that I’m not making some egregious error. If I want to play Mono-White Aggro❄, it’s a totally respectable choice. One can say the same about Mono-Red Aggro❄, Gruul Adventures, Sultai Ramp (Yorion), Dimir Rogues (Lurrus), and even the various takes on Naya Adventures. There’s comfort in knowing that one of a dozen options is viable as opposed to “you’re an idiot if you’re not playing Wilderness Reclamation.”
So kudos to the folks in Renton, WA on cultivating a Standard format that’s actually fun and doesn’t make people feel like a moron for not selecting a certain deck.
3. The Sealed Deck Arena Open Was A Blast
Back when I was at my most competitive 10+ years ago, I couldn’t sleep before tournaments due to being so excited to compete the next day. Be it a PTQ, a GP, or a PT, I lived for playing in events with something on the line to test myself against the best. This past weekend, I got eight (!) totals hours of sleep across two days. For a while, I couldn’t figure out why. Then I put the pieces together.
I was really excited to play in the Sealed Deck Arena Open.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve played in a Sealed Deck event that meant much of anything, but the opportunity to win $2k certainly got my competitive juices flowing. And while I know a lot of people despise Sealed and its randomness, I adore it and find it to be one of, if not the most, skill testing formats in all of Magic.
It took me firing off five bullets to make Day 2 but I love a good rebuy event as much as the next degenerate does. And while going 3-0, 0-2 on Day 2 was quite the tease (especially because I really liked my deck on Day 2), it was an experience I absolutely loved and will play as many times as it’s made available.
So kudos, once again, to the folks in Renton, WA.
4. Kaldheim Sealed Doesn’t Have Much Depth To It
As much fun as I had competing in the Arena Open, I’ve done 30+ Sealed Deck events since the release of Kaldheim and I’m already fairly over it. Every Sealed Deck experience in Kaldheim has started to feel the same:
- Do I have a four/five-color Snow deck?
- Do I have a good Boros Aggro deck
- Do I have a good Izzet Giants deck
- Please god not the black cards. Anything but the black cards!
Obviously it’s a bit more strategic than what I’ve outlined above but not by as much as you’d think. Does that make for a bad format? No, I do not believe so. But I do think it makes for a fairly repetitive one that doesn’t have high marks in replay value over time. My first ten or so Sealed Deck events were a lot of fun but then it started to trail off since I was asking (and answering) the same questions every single time.
So it goes, I suppose…
5. Strixhaven… Already…?
So, like, is it a good thing that we already know details about Strixhaven? It’s a set I know a ton of people are excited about but how early is too early? When the details were unveiled on Weekly MTG last week, I was all “Can we give Kaldheim a little time to breathe?” Hell, we hadn’t even started Time Spiral Remastered preview season yet and we already know the five schools and their color combinations?
When to unveil the next thing is a tough call to make. You want to give time for your existing products to breathe but you also want to keep your audience excited about things to come, and what the most effective way to do both of those things is anyone’s guess. But there was certainly a part of me that thought “Lets just pump the breaks here a sec eh?”
Maybe I’m just an old man — I do turn 35 next week after all — but I just wasn’t ready to know those details yet. But hey, if other people are pumped about it, that’s dope. And, FWIW, I do think the set looks cool (but there’s a lot of pressure there for it to be super cool and not a flop given what it’s trying to accomplish).
6. Time Spiral Remastered Preview Season Is Cooking With Gas
I wasn’t really sure what to expect with Time Spiral Remastered preview season since the set is entirely reprints and I was at my most active when the set was released so I own all the cards. But if you’re into the old Magic border, this set is almost assuredly your jam since so many cards are unexpectedly getting this treatment (nostalgia FTW!).
And those are just some of the blue cards! It looks like black, red, green, and the rest of the gang come at us next week and I can’t wait to see what else is coming down the pipeline.
From skeptic to believer, Time Spiral Remastered is actually just cool as hell.
7. Make White Great Again
If you know anything about me, you know that white is my favorite color in Magic. Whether it’s Figure of Destiny, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, or Armageddon, I’ve always been a big fan of white cards and always will be. However, as just about everyone has noticed, white has been extremely lacking over the past 5+ years.
Last week, Senior Magic Designer at Wizards of the Coast, Gavin Verhey, took some time to address the future of white.
Am I excited about this new development?
- You wanna give white more access to flash? Sure!
- You wanna give white a lil’ card draw ? Ok!
- You wanna give white a lil’ mana acceleration? You betcha!
- You’re gonna reprint Armageddon so I can make everyone’s life miserable? A boy can dream!
Gavin Verhey, my new president elect (vote of 1), I’m with you 100%! Let’s make white great again!
8. Cube Fans Rejoice