Welcome, once again to The MageLaughlin Group. It's been a while, as we're operating around each other's schedules, and Daij_Djan has been a little under the weather. But, he's feeling better now, so on with the show!
Our first question: With AOC & Ilhan Omar's recent highly successful stream of Among Us, how soon before we see Senators &/or Congressmembers streaming Magic, whom would you most like to see involved in that, and what deck choices do you think they'll make? You can adjust the question to fit the politics of your native Germany if you like, as I'm rather ignorant of that, but would love to shed such ignorance.
Before I answer your first question, some background knowledge to everyone interested reading this. Back when we started, sdfkjgh and I talked about whether or not we should let each other know the topics or not and decided to use a mixture of both – so I did know this question would be coming. Being the politically ignorant German that I am, I'm not even able to name a single Senators &/or Congressmembers (let alone know what they'd stand for), so I indeed had to adapt the challenge to fit German politics. Still, one question remained: How exactly to do that? In the end, I decided to go through each of our important political parties (compared to the two in the US, we have seven afterall) represented by their leaders. For each party I'll be giving a very short summary, and then explain how this would show in their decks choices.
We start of with the well-known Chancellor Angela Merkel representing the CDU. Technically she doesn't even lead the party anymore as she wants to leave politics by next year – but to be honest no one ever cared about her successor as party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. The CDU is the more conservative of our two „classic big parties“ and Angela Merkel is well-known for her calm and stoic demeanor (whether that is a sign of composure or showcases a lack of empathie might be debatable for some). As such, I obviously had to go with The Rock for the name pun alone – but I have to admit I think the deck's style of slowly grinding your opponent down actually also fits her pretty well This will pretty much be the only deck choice more aimed at the party's representative than the party itself – but I think it does fit pretty well considering Merkel is for many voters the reason they vote CDU (which is why many party members are kind of afraid of her leaving by next year).
Next up we have the smaller sister party CSU led by Markus Söder. The CSU has always been the more conservative of the two parties, and has in recent legislative periods mostly fought for one big topic each – yet each of those has pretty much failed in one way or the other. In the previous period Horst Seehofer (back then has was the party's leader) fought for weeks and months for some centers to slow down migration, bringing the entire government to the brink of breaking up till he finally succeeded – official numbers one year later revealed how the centers stopped like half a dozen people from migrating (so yeah, it was totally worth it -.-). One period earlier they attempted street charges for foreigners alone (which obviously got shut down by the EU as everyone knew beforehand) and the period prior to that one their socalled „Herdprämie“ indeed made it into law till it got ripped to shreads by a court for having multiple legal issues and/or mistakes. So while clearly the CSU wants to stand strong and side by side with the CDU playing Two-Headed Giant Commander, I'm afraid they somehow don't realize they're just using an underpowered uncommon legend for their commander. Maybe someone should tell them? (To be fair, Markus Söder has done pretty well recently while handling Corona and is considered by some as next potential Chancellor – so this deck choice might soon be outdated )
Next up, we have the liberal party FDP led by Christian Lindner. In the past, the FDP has been the classical junior partner of the CDU/CSU with decent success, once even aiming (with at least a semireasonable chance) at reaching 18% of the voters (even if they failed in the end). A decade ago however the party lost most of its voterbase after causing serious unrest during the current coalition, causing the party to even leave the Bundestag completely for one legislative period. Now they are back yet recently passed up the chance to go into coalition with the CDU/CSU once again preventing a new grand coalition – and their voters were once again not happy about the cop-out. To be honest, I don't really know what the FDP really is trying to achieve currently (which by itself isn't really a good sign in the first place) due to a lack of media coverage as it seems. Guess you could say they take a secret homebrew they don't want to talk about and try their best with it – not sure if it'll fit the give meta, though..
Now going to the other end of the political spectrum, we have the more leftwing of the two „classic big parties“ – the SPD led by Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans. Compared to the other big player however the SPD has fallen really hard since Gerhard Schröder was their last Chancellor fifteen years ago and made some decisions the party's voter base still hates them for today. Since then they've been the junior partner in a grand coalition with the CDU/CSU three times, not realizing soon enough how Angela Merkel managed to move the CDU slightly more into the middle of the political spectrum by taking over some core competences the SPD once held – combine this with some staff struggles and you're basically left with a party that in some regions celebrated merely reaching two-digit voting results at all. The party nowadays is completely torn without any clear path to getting back to its former status which they however claim they want to get back to, so I'm afraid I don't know which deck they decided to take to the Vintage tournament they signed in for – and I'm afraid they don't know either. At first glimpse it kind of looks like a Homelands Draft deck gone bad, though..
Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen led by Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck is the green German party (who would've guessed ). In the past they've been mostly know as the SPD's junior partner whereas nowadays they've left their old partner in the dust as the second strongest German party. They've slowly but surely increased their voter base, obviously getting a big boost when Fridays for Future turned viral, and have mostly kept their momentum by not having any staff struggles and not talking much about their programm directly – because in the past that's where they've always fallen flat as it's always been to expensive and/or taxing on the population. I think they'd best be represented playing some sort of glass canon combo deck like Belcher. It looks awesome on paper, yet tends to fall apart easily when you look at it close enough and give it just the slightest bit of hate. Still, Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen are currently considered a very likely candidate for becoming the next junior partner in a CDU/CSU government next year.
Finally getting close to the end we have Die Linke led by Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger as the more radical leftwing party. They're still a rather young party (founded by fusing two old parties together thirteen years ago) and since then have had some quite reasonable success on the smaller scale. They desperately try to become part of a coalition led by the SPD together with Die Grünen on the national level for years now – however parts of the party have rather extreme standpoints which are considered unacceptable on a national level by those two (like leaving the NATO for example). Also the SPD continuously falling from grace and Die Grünen more and more openly flirting with CDU/CSU obviously isn't helping their cause either. Think of them as a stubborn player, desperately wanting to sign into a team tournament with some friends yet insisting on playing their own deck no matter what their potential teammates might think of their choices or whether it directly clashes with the team's gameplan.
And last but not and absolutely least we have the AfD led by Jörg Meuthen and Tino Chrupalla. A party founded from scratch merely seven years ago originally as some sort of rightwing FDP, they have changed leaders several times since then while each time moving more and more to the extreme right of the political spectrum. When Trunp began his election campain back in 2015, he basically felt like the personification of this party (except him being a bit more pompous and them being more openly racist). While still going strong in some parts of the country, it seems like the party's success is finally fading though (but you never know). They are oviously a self-proclaimed eilte player, trying to make the game as miserable as possible for everyone else – probably playing a Stax deck or similar.
OK, this was a long one. And yes, while I normally don't do this as I like adding fresh ideas to my thoughts, I did prepare this text in advance (introduction aside)
Is there any universe where a Homelands draft deck goes well?
Touchée^^ I do think there is a difference between bad and bad, though
Now concerning your next question: Since I started playing, I've played with and against each of the archetypes listed with various different decks. Midrange is probably the strategy I like and can actually pilot best, while in contrast I do love the concept behind Combo decks but rarely pilot them well. Control is probably the archetype I like playing least myself – also I'm really not good at doing so either
Playing against these strategies obviously can be vastly different – playing against Control decks can be super interesting to me for example. That's why no matter how long I think about this question, I cannot name an entire strategy I'd consider my „least favorite“ (I tend to struggle naming extremes on both ends of the spectrum in general. Favorite movie? No idea, seriously..), instead I think it'd be the most fitting to name two substrategies instead.
Because there is one thing about Magic decks I know I do dislike: And that's making other players not participate in the game at all. Whether this is achieved using a Prison style Control deck or one of these „Solitaire playing“ Control decks (whom at some point take one final turn which takes ages but cannot be skipped as they technically could still fail) doesn't matter much to me.
I don't think these strategies need any additional nervs in general, though. The combo decks are hard to keep in check without trying to keep every card interaction ever in mind – so rather than using a global strategy targeted bans seem to be the best choice here. Prison style Control decks are a bit different to be fair, but I actually think WotC does have some basic guidelines in mind here already (like how they nerved land destruction) – not saying they never fail, obviously
But other than that, I think all five strategies play an important part in the meta and should be more or less viable in any healthy format.
Every single deck archetype NEEDS to be completely vulnerable to at least one thing. That one thing MUST be completely immune to EVERYTHING that strategy does, but almost completely useless against any other strategy.
1) A creature with at least 3 power and some combination of at least two of hexproof, indestructible, and "This creature can't be sacrificed." vs. control, that Aggro, Midrange, and mebbe Tempo can use, but is useless against Combo, and is only 50% effective, at most, in the mirror or against the other two strategies in the group. During that Standard, Control, Combo, and Tempo only have access to removal that is completely blanked by the combination of the above three abilities
I realized that, as I wrote that, any narrowing down into concrete examples, even ones as broad and vague as above, still create the untenable situation of a card being so good, that ALL strategies use it, and we don't want that.
Better tactic: Picture a series of circles, to be combined later into a Venn diagram. In each circle are the categories of ways in which an archetype can deal with threats to that archetype: Destroys a Creature, Destroys Multiple Creatures, Bounces, Counters, Burn, Discard, Attacking, etc. The goal we're looking for, in order to balance all strategies, is to have an area in the very center of each archetype's Venn that ISN'T covered by any of that archetype's component circles. Indeed, we want each vulnerability to be different for each archetype, and that each archetype's vulnerability comes from a different archetype, as an extreme manifestation of the old Rock-Paper-Scissors paradigm. Yes, players have complained in the past about such a dynamic being too obvious, but the Standards when that dynamic was most evident were also the healthiest Standards the game has ever had.
This goal is, to put it mildly, an extremely difficult tightrope walk to achieve, with razor-thin margins for error, but as has been said before, "You got a problem with difficult?" The rewards for solving it, and sticking to that solution for the foreseeable future, are no less than the supreme, healthy balance of the game.
I do indeed like your tactic, even though I'm not sure how well it would really work out in the end. But then again, this might simply be because (as mentioned in our first episode) I mostly think of eternal formats with a much bigger spectrum for each of the five strategies – whereas you mostly have Standard in mind with its much more smaller pool of potential deck choices.
Now concerning Lotus Cobra.. Obviously WotC didn't need to reprint it, but to be honest to some degree I do think they needed to. Kind of at least. Here's the deal:
First of all there's the question of whether or not the card is healthy for the format. Again as mentioned in our first episode, I'm not really in a position to evaluate this – however as far as I've heard, Standard seems to be fine and actually quite fun (for once) since WotC got rid of the blackless menace? If I'm wrong on this obviously let me know, because if I am, obviously my entire point falls apart instantly as nothing I have to say after this paragraph has any merit if the card would jeopardize the format's health.
Assuming the Cobra indeed doesn't break the format, I think it's indeed a card worthy of a reprint. It's a well-loved and obviously powerful card, a „money-rare“ as WotC calls them, clearly helping selling packs. I'd even argue it's the Landfall creature, so bringing it back for nostalgia alone would probably be worth it. And finally bringing down its price on the secondary market is always a plus for me – even though we know WotC obviously doesn't keep track of that.......
To be fair, I think they made the better choice by using Steppy Lynx for their „bring back something old with a new twist“ slot by colorshifting it instead. Still a nice hommage, but one that offers some new deckbuilding possibilities. It'd be hard to justify shifting Lotus Cobra in to a new color afterall
Concerning your final question – it was obviously Kibler, who else could it have been?
And concerning your other question.. I'm afraid because they don't see it as a mistake. Sure, WotC knows pretty well how messing with the castimng system can be dangerous – they've said so multiple times and I actually believe them knowing – but I don't think they consider trying as a mistake in the first place. You and I both know we both watch Magic Mics, so I'm pretty sure you've heard Evan tell the story multiple times of him adressing WotC directly after they printed an obviously busted card asking why they did so – and their response boiling down to „but isn't it fun?!“
They've basically even turned this concept into their new FIRE design philosophy, which in my book is proof of them not considering trying as a mistake in the first place. So with that in mind, I'm pretty sure we will see a new mechanic breaking the mana system at some point in the future..
One thing I forgot to say in regards to the final question is that if a card has been banned in any format, then that card should be disqualified from being reprinted in any Remastered set. Aetherworks Marvel broke Standard, why the fuck are they allowing it back in with Kaladesh Remastered?