Hello, everyone. Today's article is going to be a little different from most of the articles I've written in the past. I don't recall ever doing a mailbag-style article before, but I have always wanted to. And, since I'm still neck-deep in Standard testing in preparation for Grand Prix Washington DC, I don't have a whole lot to offer on that subject just yet. Next week I'll share with you everything I've learned about Standard, as well as the deck I am most likely to play.
But today we're going to have a little fun. I asked you on social media to shoot me some questions, and I have to say that I'm very happy with the response I got. In fact, many of these questions are good enough to write entire articles about (and I have done so in the past!). So, without further ado, let's get to it!
First up, let's field some softball questions.
What deck has most disappointed you after your initial excitement/reaction to seeing it?— Joe Spanier (@FoundOmega) August 23, 2017
This is a tough question to answer, only because I've played a lot of terrible decks in the past. But, if I'm going to have to pick just one deck that disappointed me the most, I'd have to go with this little number.
- 4 Experiment One
- 1 Figure of Destiny
- 2 Flinthoof Boar
- 4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 4 Kird Ape
- 4 Loam Lion
- 4 Tarmogoyf
- 4 Wild Nacatl
After Wild Nacatl was unbanned in Modern right before a Pro Tour, I was convinced that Zoo was a serious threat in the Modern format. At the time, I thought it had all the tools to interact with Splinter Twin and put enough pressure on combo decks to slice a hole directly through the Modern metagame. Unfortunately, the metagame was overtaken by an absurd number of control and midrange decks, and I was quickly sent packing.
My goal for this deck was to lean on the strength of one-drop creatures, but I vastly underestimated how difficult it would be to beat a Tarmogoyf. With only four copies of Path to Exile, and Ghor-Clan Rampager being a potential liability, I regularly found myself on the losing side of combat. This feeling of failure was exacerbated by a number of outside factors, but the blow was softened after I picked up Patrick Dickmann's Temur Twin deck for the next few Modern events.
Actually, Ross, I would argue that you are the worst.
Why is the concept of a "best deck" bad for MTG?— michael marlow (@47marlow) August 23, 2017
Personally, I don't think having a "best deck" in a format is ever a bad thing, unless the "best deck" has absolutely no weaknesses. We've only seen a handful of decks in the last decade or so that were truly unmatched by anything else in the format (think CawBlade). If you want to talk about older formats, well, then it might get a little bit sticky (and that usually leads to bans).
Aside from having a "best deck" problem, you really need to look deeper at what is actually going on. If the "best deck" is a format-warping combo, and the play patterns inside the games themselves aren't very much fun, then maybe it is time to call out to WotC in favor of banning something. We saw that with Felidar Guardian and Aetherworks Marvel recently, both strategies that could effectively (or literally) win the game on the fourth turn, but neither deck offered up much in the way of diverse gameplay.
If there is a "best deck" in a format, it also depends on how many viable archetypes exist outside of that deck. If there are only two decks (think Felidar Guardian and Mardu Vehicles), then you have a serious issue. If your "best deck" is just a fluid midrange strategy (Death's Shadow) in a field with twenty other playable archetypes (Modern, currently), then there's nothing actually wrong.
What is your most prized card in your temur box?— Brian Kobel (@kobelianinc) August 24, 2017
A Spanish Snapcaster Mage. Behold, Mago lanzachasquidos.
I don't think that's a terrible idea, but my main concern is actually casting it. It all depends on how you build your manabase. I would argue that Maelstrom Pulse is a better answer in general, though. While it is a sorcery, you get to kill literally any non-hexproof nonland permanent, so it doesn't always just have to be used as an answer to hate cards. I get that you can draw and discard with Sultai Charm when your opponent doesn't present you with a hate card, and that can be attractive, but you have far too many Mountains in your deck for me to want to play a three-color card that isn't red. I've had a hard enough time casting Prized Amalgam.
In the past, I've been a huge fan of playing sweet cards like Sultai Charm in Modern. In fact, Bant Charm is one of my favorite cards of all time. But, like Sultai Charm, there are more efficient cards that do similar things, and Modern is more about speed than anything else. But don't let that keep you from doing your best to find more cards like Sultai Charm for a spin!
But not Sultai Charm. It can't kill Eldrazi.
I've written a lot of content about each of these cards, so I'll make this short and sweet.
If this card ever becomes Modern-legal, I'd be very surprised. The fact that this card combos with Batterskull to make a super-cheap Baneslayer Angel was one of the reasons CawBlade was so overly dominant in Standard. While Modern does have answers to both creatures and artifacts, the risk is just not worth it. Either Stoneforge Mystic will be far too good, or it will blend in with the rest of the pack.
A lot of people are clamoring for a Jace, the Mind Sculptor unban, and have been for a very long time. Most people see Modern as a turn 3 or 4 format, where someone trying to cast Jace, the Mind Sculptor would be far too slow. I would agree that Jace, the Mind Sculptor being a four-mana card is a bit slow for Modern, but the cards that surround it could easily buy you enough time to leverage the advantage gained.
I've never seen another Magic card that made me feel like I couldn't lose if I got to untap with it. Jace, the Mind Sculptor is unique, flavorful, and could give control decks a needed boost in Modern, but the downside is that we'd have to deal with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I love blue. I love Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Please, for the love of all that is good in the world, don't unban this card. Ever.
I don't really get why this card is banned in Modern. At the time, it felt like Jund needed to be cooled down a little. Deathrite Shaman had just been printed, and Jund was definitely stifling the development of the Modern format. However, even with Bloodbraid Elf banned, the deck was still too good. So they took Deathrite Shaman too.
I wish they'd given back Bloodbraid Elf then, but I suppose it is unlikely that they're ever going to unban it. Just look at what happened with Golgari Grave-Troll. If anything, they're going to be pretty gun-shy about letting these loose from the Banned and Restricted list.
First of all, Roll Tide. Second of all, I made the Top 4 of the last marquee event that StarCityGames.com® has organized, the Season One Invitational. I made Top 8 of a Standard Open earlier this year. I have made Top 16 at a Grand Prix in the last few months. While I have been skipping a few events here and there, I am still fairly active on the SCG Tour® and Grand Prix circuit. I just pick the events I want to go to instead of blindly going to every single event.
Am I burnt out? A little, yeah. But getting back on the Pro Tour is pretty difficult to do. But I have been trying. Most weekends where I skip a live tournament, I'm at home playing a Magic Online PTQ (or two). I've made Top 8 of three of those. Outside of winning a PTQ or making the Top 8 of a Grand Prix, I find it pretty demoralizing that my best option is to play PPTQs and RPTQs. I would gladly do both if my local store had more than one PPTQ every three months.
But I get where you're coming from. I'm sorry I've been slacking off a bit lately. I should try to focus more and get back to where I was in the last few years. Watching BBD win Worlds, GerryT win a Pro Tour, and Brad Nelson win two Grand Prix in the last year has made me very happy, but also hungry to get back on the PT. And with the SCG Tour® moving away from the Players' Championship model, I've been playing a lot more Magic Online PTQs in order to make that a reality. You just don't get to see my lovely face on camera as much.
If you could reasonably unban a single card to put back in the modern format. What would you pick and why? Then what deck would you build— will (@Bigwill10995) August 24, 2017
Plain and simple, I want to play Delver of Secrets in Modern, but there just aren't enough good cantrips to make it viable. Or, at least, there aren't enough that can help you set up a good Delver flip. I would likely play Temur Delver, given the chance, but you already knew that. In fact, I have still considered playing Temur Delver even though I know it's bad.
My real wish is to put some amount of Legacy-only cards into Modern to spice things up a bit. I honestly hoped they'd use Modern Masters as a vehicle to reprint older cards and have them become Modern-legal. The closest thing we got was Scavenging Ooze a few years back.
Standard right now is the best it's been since _____— brian benns (@spence0016) August 24, 2017
...as far back as I can remember.
The last few years of Standard didn't feel great to me, for obvious reasons, but even before that it wasn't all that good. Battle of Zendikar dual lands with fetchlands made building manabases too easy, and there were far too many powerful multicolored cards. Mono Black Devotion was a three-deck format. Even before that, with Theros and Innistrad, we had a Thragtusk / Restoration Angel mess.
At times, there have been Standard formats better than this one, but I'll say one thing: cherish this moment. I'm sure the next set will offer another busted two-card combo and we'll be pining for the good ol' days. And that's the thing: you don't know you're in the good ol' days until they're already long gone.
Well, Jim, this is a pretty great story. My first Pro Tour was in Honolulu back in 2006. At the time, I was 19 years old and was nearly flat broke. I asked my stepfather for a loan to help get me there and back, which he kindly supplied. But I was not used to traveling by myself. In fact, I hadn't flown anywhere since I was seven years old, so this was going to be a new experience for me.
Because I was a child at 19 (and still am today), I didn't even book a hotel room. I didn't have the money for it, to be honest. If I spent $300 on a hotel room by myself for three or four nights, I wouldn't have enough money to get me through the weekend. But I still went. I got on my free-via-PTQ flight, and sat next to a very nice lady who bought me some snacks and such after we had a long conversation about life, travel, and everything in between.
Upon landing in Honolulu, I didn't know what to do really. I knew I needed to get to the convention center, and my plan was to find the cheapest hotel I could find. This was before smartphones were a thing, and I didn't own a laptop. See? Fully prepared.
After talking to a nice gentleman at the transportation desk, I was directed to ride a bus downtown. At this point, it was getting pretty late, but I just figured I'd wing it like I always did. As I walked outside onto the sidewalk to wait for the bus to arrive, I saw someone wearing a Pro Tour shirt. I was hesitant to approach, because he gave off some odd vibes. But I decided look past the gigantic baggy jeans and dreadlocks and strike up a conversation. After all, I didn't know anyone here. He might be a nice guy.
"Hey man, you here for the Pro Tour?" I asked, sheepishly.
After a short conversation, I gathered the courage to ask this newfound friend if he had a hotel room. He did. I asked if he had any roommates. He didn't. I asked this total stranger if he wanted one. He did. So, just like that, everything worked out. Looking back, I have no idea how I got so insanely lucky to find someone at the airport, there for the Pro Tour, and in need of someone to help split hotel costs. It was absurd.
And, in case you haven't figured it out yet, that JNCO-jean wearing, dreadlocked random Magic player who was kind enough to let me stay in his room was none other than Jim Davis. Yeah, he looks a lot different now.
Also, I made Day 2 of my first Pro Tour, but failed to cash.