Thursday, December 20, 2012
Naughty or nice?
It's the end of the year, and that means Christmas! That also means one of the major writing tropes is back: The Naughty or Nice list!
Let's list some EDH-related topics of the past year and see if they have been good for the game or bad.
Naughty: Commander's Arsenal
This had the potential to be something truly amazing. Wizards is self-handcuffed by the Reserved List, a document that is inviolable and was a mistake at the time, because Wizards made a huge mistake with Chronicles. (That was an expensive summer. Fourth Edition, Chronicles, Ice Age, all in the same few months!)
Wizards is pushing the oversized cards on us pretty hard, and that's sort of okay. In my experience, not many are using them, but they are a cool piece nonetheless. I've made large versions of my custom foils, and they look SWEET. The people who like them, really like them, and that's all you can ask for.
The card choices in Arsenal were reflective of what Wizards' policy has been for some time on these special reprints: some amazing, some cool, some not terribly relevant. Choices like Vela the Night-Clad or The Mimeoplasm reflect that Wizards understands the completionist nature of many players, and wanted to get foil versions out there of things that weren't foil. I know Legacy reanimator players are excited to have more Loyal Retainers floating around.
My biggest issue is the 'extras' we get in the box. The life counter, the battle marks, and the sleeves all feel cheap to the touch. My battle marks are already having some of the metallic paint chip off, my life counter is hard to use effectively, and in using the sleeves for drafts, a couple have already busted. I can handle that this is an ultra-premium set, with the MSRP and limited distribution to match, but to put these shoddy products into this package was Naughty indeed.
Nice: The EDH rules committee
In 2012, there were two major updates. In June, Griselbrand and Sundering Titan got the axe. In September, Kokusho, the Evening Star could join the 99, and Worldfire and Primeval Titan were kicked out.
These are welcome and effective changes, in my opinion. Griselbrand and the two titans were so very abusable that they warped the game. Primeval caused a bit of a stir, because to a casual player, his effect is awesome and enables awesome things, but the fundamental problem was that the first one to cast him, or Bribery him out of someone else's deck, meant that person usually won. PT was so good that I've cut Mwonvuli Beast Tracker from most decks, simply because PT was the only one putting right on top. Green Sun's Zenith had the same problem for me--I'd cast it for 2 to get Sakura-Tribe Elder, or 6 to get Primeval.
I played in a couple of games right after Griselbrand came out, and that guy was far, far too good in a deck that just got to 8 and cast him. I only saw the silly, combo-centric decks online, but my experience was that he was usually the best thing you could hope to be doing. Sundering Titan was oppressive. Worldfire, you're just boring.
Kokusho being unbanned was a called shot of mine that I'm still pleased about. I jumped the gun by three months on buying some, but it was a valid choice and I wouldn't do it differently. It's a powerful effect, but something that can be stopped by the graveyard hate that you should be playing.
Naughty: The Miracle mechanic
I rarely play Standard. I have to find a deck that is both good and fun, and that doesn't come along too often. I learned, quickly, in Avacyn drafts to do 'the miracle draw', where you draw the card and look at it for a moment before proceeding to put it in your hand. Even though there aren't that many Miracle spells, it's infiltrated most aspects of Magic, especially due to Bonfire of the Damned and Entreat the Angels. There is nothing worse than not hitting your Miracle cost, and in EDH isn't the same with the sheer number of cards you can draw per turn, but it's still something that has become a habit. I wish it were not so.
Nice: CrazyPierre of the MTGCommander forums
This year, I participated in the Secret Santa program on the official forums. I'd never done this and was curious. What did I get? A foil Masticore and a foil Eternity Vessel. I didn't even know my Nin deck needed a Masticore, and now it's got a foil. Thanks again, CrazyPierre!
(What did I send to another user? I'm too modest to brag, but if you insist, go here.)
Naughty: From the Vault: Realms
The FTV sets have become a tradition. Every year there's going to be a chase card, a few staples, and some chaff. This was no exception. Maze of Ith is the chase, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Grove of the Burnwillows, Vesuva and Ancient Tomb are nice, and then blah. I realize Wizards' goal is to not immediately reprint every awesome card (like they did in Chronicles) but people, stop getting sucked into paying a super-markup on cards. Have a little patience and you can get what you want in the singles market.
Nice: No $5 Commander games fired this past Saturday at the SCG Invitational
Look, I love playing EDH. LOVE IT. It's the best format and I treasure each game I get to play. But the 4-player pods, where the last man standing gets $20 in dealer credit, are a bad idea. People tend to sign up for those to win the $20 as fast as they can, which means combo decks. I saw one guy at the signup table, asking if others had joined, and the judge just shook his head. I asked him what legend he was playing, and he said, "Teferi, of course." Made me glad I was there for the $10 drafts.
There is an exception to this rule, one I found while at Worlds 2011. If you walk up with three friends, you can fire a pod right away, with your pals. That was a lot of fun, and if you're at a big event, with time to kill, good people, and fun decks, then why not do this?
Naughty and Nice: rk post's alters at the SCG Invitational
These are NSFW links via Twitter. There are multiple instances of genitalia as you go through his timeline, especially for December 15. rk post went on sort of a penis spree, (even on a collector's edition Force of Will!)and I didn't help by getting a well-endowed Kaervek the Merciless alter. I did get 'something normalish' as he put it on Twitter, with a Predator on my foil Lurking Predators. As I've said before, card alters are fun and an inexpensive way to have something unique and valued to you, and this is one I'm supremely happy about.
Hope you enjoyed this one, and since it's the end of the year, it's time for a wishlist and some New Year's Resolutions--coming soon!