Ten Things I Like And Don’t Like, Including Blade Splicer Over Everything

Blade Splicer in Vintage Cube, Selesnya Company in Modern, and NFTs? This week’s Ten Things by Cedric Phillips covers those topics and more!

Blade Splicer, illustrated by Greg Staples

Here are ten things I like and don’t like from this week in Magic: The Gathering:

1. Blade Splicer Over Everything

I covered it so lets talk about it. First, the back story.

During the pre-show meeting for the 2020 Magic Online Champions Showcase Season 3 Finals, Jan-Moritz Merkel knew he was going to be the featured Vintage Cube drafter. As such, he reached out to the director of the show and asked if it would be helpful for him to speak to Patrick Sullivan and me about his drafting strategy so we as commentators could explain it to folks watching at home.

We didn’t seek him out. He sought us out.

During that quick chat, he let the two of us know that his preference when drafting Vintage Cube was an Orzhov-based deck, as he had been seeing a ton of success with the archetype. Patrick and I had a few questions about drafting the archetype (What cards won’t you pass? What cards wheel more often than not? etc), thanked him for his time, and kept preparing for the show.

I won’t speak for Patrick — he’s plenty good at that on his own — but I’ve been doing coverage of Magic tournaments for almost a decade, so when I say that nothing about this interaction from Merkel was out of the ordinary, know that I mean it. All Magic players have their preferences, especially successful ones, so for Merkel to note that he liked something that most people don’t even consider viable wasn’t an earthshattering event. The number of interactions I’ve had in convention centers of “check out this unique thing that no one else is doing!” has desensitized in ways I never thought possible. At the end of the day, said unique thing is either going to work or it isn’t and then I’ll go from there.

Well, here’s the thing. Jan’s thing worked just like he said it would. And then people called him some combination of lucky and/or an idiot. And if that doesn’t sum up Magic Twitter in one fell swoop, I don’t know what does.

Do I think we should trust people blindly? No, I do not. That’s a combination of dangerous and irresponsible. But I do find it rather interesting that people who have never accomplished much of anything in Magic, let alone what Merkel has accomplished in Magic before he won Sunday’s event, were so supremely confident that it was in fact he who was wrong and not themselves. It takes a special kind of hubris to not be able to take a step back and think “Maybe the dude with a 73.6% win percentage in the event and a Pro Tour title may know more than I do” but we got plenty of that and then some.

It sure is weird that the same people keep winning at this game, isn’t it?

2. Green And White, Let’s Fight!

Is it possible that the best deck in Modern, a format known for busted cards, insane interactions, and Turn 3 kills, is a Selesnya-based deck with 30+ creatures and maindeck copies of Auriok Champion?

Yes. Yes it is.

Simply put, Selesnya Company is incredible and it’s a perfect best deck for Modern to have. Because while the deck is powerful (it can gain infinite life, it utilizes Collected Company better than anything else, etc), it’s also incredibly fair when you consider Modern’s past (it’s a deck with 30+ creatures, Selesnya is generally fair color combination, etc) but also very easy to understand (which is not something I can say about Ironworks or other decks of Modern’s past).

The other thing to like about Selesnya Company is how customizable it is. In some Modern metagames, it’s going to be correct to play Arbor Elf + Utopia Sprawl. In others, one will prefer Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise. What tutor targets one sleeves up for Ranger-Captain of Eos will, over time, be more than simply Walking Ballista. And, of course, there’s the decision to play Archangel of Thune or not. Throw in sideboarding decisions in combination with Modern’s diversity and we’re looking at a deck that looks like it can beat everything.

Except that it can’t. Because, at the end of the day, the deck is 30+ creatures and the Modern card pool will eventually figure out how to dismantle it. When will someone find the perfect combination of cards to manage Selesnya Company and the majority of the Modern metagame? Hard to say but I feel safe in saying sooner rather than later.

3. NFTs Eh?

Ways I know I’m old:

  • Tik Tok
  • Kids hating on skinny jeans
  • NBA Top Shot
  • NFTs

Tik Tok is my line in the sand of “social media app I refuse to download and learn”, I cannot rationalize hating skinny jeans (it must be exhausting hating fabric), and while I watch at least two NBA games daily, the idea of “owning” Anthony Edwards dunking on Yuta Wantanabe (not that Wantanabe) sure seems weird to me when I can just watch it on YouTube or just post it in here for you to watch:

So when I saw that Kirsten Zirngibl de-listed the digital original of an Island from War of the Spark from Foundation, waiting to hear from Wizards of the Coast on their policy on NFTs, my head exploded.

What am I missing with NFTs? Can anyone tell me?

I’m not of the opinion that at age 35 I should stop learning (Tik Tok notwithstanding) but I just do not get this and when I ask around to people who I consider to be significantly smarter than me, they don’t get it either. So if you, person reading this column, do not understand NFTs, know that you’re not alone. I genuinely believe that most people do not understand them and those that do cannot explain them particularly well.

That said, if you do understand them and believe you can explain them well, you should hit me up so I can assist in explaining them to other people in this column. Or hell, you can write about it on SCG. We’ve got Select back after all, so there’s a great spot for you to do so.

Shoot your shot NFT stans!

4. Another Preview Season?

Didn’t Kaldheim just get here?

Kaldheim is the 86th Magic expansion. It is set on the plane of the same name. It was released on February 5, 2021.

Ok cool. I’m not losing my mind…

So I don’t know how much breathing room there should be between Magic sets but it sure seems like there’s more to explore with Kaldheim, yet Strixhaven: School of Mages preview season begins next Thursday, March 25. It’s not that I’m not excited about a new set of Magic cards; it’s more that I haven’t even had the opportunity to really enjoy the existing cards Kaldheim brought to the battlefield and a new one is already coming out

Where’s the line between too many new cards/sets and not enough new cards/sets? Have we found it yet? I’m asking that question earnestly because I genuinely do not know the answer. Just consider the following graphic:

Now consider this — that is seven new sets of Magic cards for 2021 and I cannot imagine some other random products don’t get tossed in there as well. Is this product overload or just right?

5. Kaldheim Championship Weekend Is…

Next weekend!

Which means that preview season for Magic’s newest set, Strixhaven: School of Mages, is beginning before Magic’s most current set, Kaldheim, has its big tournament around it. Does that seems strange to anyone else or am I the only one?

Anyway, I’m on the coverage team so come hang out!

6. Modern Horizons PTSD Is Real

I dunno. I won a PTQ with Hogaak having never played a game with the deck before the tournament began. That could have been you too. #LongLiveModernHorizons

7. Snow In Cube?

It can be done! Just let Justin Parnell and Ryan Overturf tell you how.

8. Magic’s Worst Set Of All Time?

Patrick and I haven’t gone through them all yet, but Coldsnap is an early front runner.

9. Listen

10. Laugh