Thursday, December 4, 2014

So Now It's Come To This

I hope stonethorn doesn't mind but I'm going to use one of his decks as my example for what is wrong with Magic in a big picture sense. Take a look at this Commander deck.

There is nothing wrong with it at all. I'm even helping him improve it!

Except for what that deck says about Magic right now.

There are enough viable Planeswalkers at this point that one can make a five-color Commander deck from them. In a few more years, the number of Commanders will increase to the point where a viable three color deck will be OK. Then two colors. This is just inevitability coming from the nature of production. I don't see how that can be disputed: If Magic continues as a game, then the number of Planeswalkers will increase to the point where you can run three or even two color decks, perhaps even monochrome ones, that just have Planeswalkers in them.

That isn't the problem. The problem is that WotC has provided Planeswalkers with a protected status and that status needs to end. The sooner the better.

Because Planeswalkers require an incredible amount of resources to deal with and if any of them ultimate (that is, use their final and strongest ability) that usually definitively tilts the game in favor of the player who owns the Planeswalker. If you can run a deck purely made from Planeswalkers, you are forcing opponents to deal with nothing but those things before advancing their gamestate. This creates incredibly grindy situations that are wholly favorable to the controller of the Planeswalker, leaving the player without the Planeswalker with no real way out.

Take any other permanent type in the game and there is a common-level way to handle it. Even indestructible or recurring permanents have cards like Angelic Edict or Annihilating Fire to remove them from the game. Not every color gets these things, of course, which is fine! But lands, artifacts, enchantments and creatures all have common-level ways to handle them. This is critical, because first, it opens the door to a variety of ways to handle said permanents at multiple rarities. That is: options are available to players of different strategic bents, with a couple different colors as options. Second: players on a budget can afford to handle those troublesome permanents.

There are two common level permanents I have been able to find that could destroy a Planeswalker: Mold Shambler and Rootgrapple, both of which are over five years old. There are a few others, like Hydroblast, which is even older and far too narrow to consider and there is nothing at the common level to handle Planeswalkers.

The best argument against common-level Planeswalker removal is the impact it will have on draft but since when has there ever been a draft where there weren't shitty cards that were useless? Since I'm not talking about putting common removal in every damn set, I fail to see the issue. Constructed control decks using none or virtually no creatures already exist in Modern and Legacy. They aren't trumping the format yet but it is just a matter of time and production. The inevitability is out there.

So give us more ways to handle Planeswalkers than just attacking with creatures and redirection of damage. Those just aren't enough.

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