ToT: How to Have a Healthy Standard in a Few Easy Steps Jul 16, 2020 17:09:19 GMT
Post by sdfkjgh on Jul 16, 2020 17:09:19 GMT
(Writer's note: this column was originally written 7/3/20, but was delayed due to our Editor's recent illness.)
First, we need to have a good, strong foundation, so let’s start there:
The 3.1 Pillars of Standard Constructed
- 1) Aggro
- 2) Midrange
- 3) Control
- 0.1) Combo
I’m not including Tempo as a 0.2, because the only Archetype with which it’s combined, Aggro, makes it feel the same as Control. Now, let me explain that 0.1: it’s ok (fun, even) when it occasionally shows up as a viable (~tier 1.5-3) tournament option, but when it’s the ONLY viable tier 1 deck (aka The Deck to Beat, aka TDtB, and the The is fully justified here), then your format isn’t healthy.
So, building up from there, we have some relatively easy rules:
1) STOP SUBVERTING THE MANA SYSTEM!!!
- Every single time Magic has broken, it’s been because someone forgot Rule #1. I’m sick of having to suffer through R&D constantly relearning this, and then turning around and remaking the exact same mistakes in initially interesting new ways. One ramp spell every 2nd or 3rd rotation is fine, but we currently have Devoted Druid, Growth Spiral, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Cultivate. Wilderness Reclamation, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, TOO FUCKING MANY!!!
- A mana cost of is supposed to mean “This card isn’t seeing the battlefield until turn 7, maybe turn 6, AT THE EARLIEST”. Wizards, I know you know this, because why else would you give it such a high mana cost? You designed that high mana cost precisely because of how powerful its abilities are. But then, you turn around and say “Forget all that, turn 4 or 5 AT THE LATEST, because fuck you having permanents, that’s why!”
- This is just the latest in a loooong-ass line of examples of them forgetting Rule #1.
- Another aspect of The Mana System is the separation of colors, and too many multilands and fetchlands completely ignores these restrictions, thereby violating Rule #1. Here’s one possible solution, with an accompanying highly intelligent discussion on refining the basic premise to be as precise within the spirit of the OP’s intent as the rules and elegance will allow.
2) If Midrange isn’t a tournament-viable tier 1 (tvt1) option, your format isn’t healthy.
- Corollary to 2) If Midrange is the ONLY tvt1 option, or, even worse, TDtB, then your format is also not healthy.
3) The health of the format is directly proportional to the number of Pillars that are tvt1; more Pillars means a healthier format.
3a) The health of the format is directly proportional to the number of unique, tournament-viable decks that qualify for each of the Pillars, save Control.
3a.1) The health of the format is inversely proportional to the number of unique tournament-viable decks that qualify as Control.
- Take the current Standard (please!): right now, and just before the Companion nerf, there were/are tournament-viable Control decks for the following color combinations: Azorius , Dimir , Esper (both Dimir and Esper Control have or had 1 Companion deck, and 1-2 non-Companion decks), Bant (with 2 or more unique decks1, Rakdos , Orzhov , Temur , Jeskai (with 3 or more unique decks, before the banning of Fires of Invention), and Mardu .
- THIS IS FAR TOO MUCH! Even after the bans/nerfs, with Jeskai and Rakdos no longer even seen, there’s still far too many Control decks. This many viable Control decks gives their opponents the feeling like they’ve been enchanted, irl, with an Aura that has “As an additional cost to breathe in, punch yourself in the solar plexus as hard as you can.”
4) If a tvt1 deck has already proven itself to have all the tools it needs to be tvt1, DON’T GIVE IT ANY MORE TOYS!!
- Wizards, why are you acting like the gop? The 1% don’t need any more help. They’ve already proven themselves. What’s really needed, what everybody has been clamoring for these past couple of months, is cards to beat the existing tvt1 decks. WE’RE FUCKING SICK OF THE ESTABLISHED METAGAME, AND ALL THE CURRENTLY VIABLE DECKS!!! In fact,
5) If the entire metagame hasn’t shifted, either significantly at the least, or drastically at the most, from one rotation to the next, then your format is stagnant, and therefore isn’t healthy.
- A significant shift would be if, instead of what we have now, with Control getting even more superfluous help, Core 2021 made the entire Pillar of Control actively bad. A drastic shift would be an almost complete restructuring of the Pillars (ie instead of Aggro, Midrange, Control, and maybe combo, it’s now Combo, non-Combo altwincon, Synergy, and maybe Aggro. Note: this is just an example, and a horrifying one at that. Don’t take this as me actually wanting this exact shift to happen. I do want to see drastic shifts happen every so often. I don’t necessarily wanna see this particular drastic shift happen).
- What they did between Worldwake and Rise of the Eldrazi was brilliant, because prior to ROE, it was the fastest format that’d been seen in years, with regular old Bears being just good enough to be worth running (of course, they also had a few Bears with Upside™). However, after the release of Rise, with its Battlecruiser Magic, ALL the Bears, Upside or no, were rendered terrible by the very nature of the format slowdown. Stuff like that is what I wanna see more of. Unfortunately, it’s a very fine line, and get it wrong, and you get Fifth Dawn. But that has more to do with just how absolutely borken Mirrodin and Darksteel were.2
6) No more “Oops, I win!” cards, AND ESPECIALLY no more “Oops, I win!” cards that can ONLY be played by a single deck archetype.
- Beacon Bolt was a huge mistake, one that didn’t need to
be madeeven exist. The cycling deck is still good, even without it, despite the Companion nerf, hell, even sans Companions altogether. It did not need the cardboard equivalent of a Fist of the North Star meme.
- On that note, Explosion is also an “Oops, I win!” card, but only in conjunction with a card that should’ve also been banned alongside Fires of Invention. You get rid of the Rule #1 violating enchantment, Explosion goes back to being what it was supposed to be all along: an expensive utility card.
- I know you say you don’t test for older formats, Wizards, but could you at least design such that it doesn’t seem like you don’t test for Standard constructed as well? Is that too much to ask? Lately, it seems like you’ve only been testing for Limited and Arena, and we’re suffering for your seeming shortsightedness.3 You’ve shown willingness to form essential new committees, like the Council of Colors, so take it a few steps further, and hire a team dedicated to extensive stress-testing of every single relevant format a potential new card would impact, BEFORE YOU RELEASE THAT CAD INTO THE WILD! You have a worldwide talent pool of at least 20 million players, from every creed and walk of life, USE IT! It’s not like you’re averse to profiting off the backs of your workers without paying them…
Anyway, all this was what was bothering me this week, and also a continuation of what was bothering me for the past week or two. Thanks to Daij_Djan, & I’ll see you all whenever.
|1||Here I define unique as sharing less than 50% of the same cards in the main &/or sideboard.|
|2||Yet another example of R&D forgetting Rule #1, and I think one of the only two (mebbe it’s only the one, with Urza block) times R&D was called into the President’s office to be yelled at. Yeah, they broke it that hard.|