You Lika The Juice? - The Case Against Seedborn Muse
“No self respectin' Southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits.”
“So Mr. Tipton how could it take you 5 minutes to cook your grits when it takes the entire grit eating world 20 minutes?”
“I don't know I'm a fast cook I guess.”
“I'm sorry I was all the way over here. I couldn't hear you. Did you say you were a fast cook? That's it?”
“Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than anywhere else on the face of the earth?”
“I don't know.”
“Well I guess the laws of physics cease to exist on top of your stove. Were these magic grits? Did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?”
Recently Ken Nagle asked on his Twitter account “what card would you like to see banned in what format?” I pondered what card banned could finally knock Jund off its obnoxious pedestal and eventually arrived at Bloodbraid Elf. Then I turned to other formats and wondered what card banned would make EDH more enjoyable? My choice surprised some folks: Seedborn Muse.
Why would Bennie Smith ostensibly a Green-loving mage who fights for the color at every turn think EDH better off without one of the best multiplayer Green cards in the game?
Because Seedborn Muse removes tapping as a limiter for your resources making the game much less fun.
There’s been some recent grumblings about the upcoming Rise of the Eldrazi Level Up guys and the clause that says leveling up can only be done as a sorcery. Players have been complaining the ability would be so much better if you could do it at instant speed. Well yes that is certainly true. But the real question these players should be asking is which way would make the Level Up creatures be more fun more interesting?
Patrick Chapin and some others have pointed out that if Level Up worked at instant speed there are no real choices to be made - you pretty much use the ability at the last possible chance leaving your mana up until then. At sorcery speed you bring skill to the equation forcing you to figure out when is a good time to use the ability and when it’s not. Here’s what Patrick said:
“…it avoids annoying complications instead shifting the skill to correctly gauging how much to level them each turn. If you could do it at instant speed the correct play would generally be to just wait until your opponent’s end step every time then pump-let it resolve repeat etc. This is yet another example of how removing an option actually adds skill as it forces you to choose between multiple options that each have merits instead of just a single option that is clearly the best.”
This ties directly into Seedborn Muse and why it’s so insidiously bad for an EDH game. Without a Seedborn Muse in play you generally have to choose when to use your resources (tap and attack with creatures tap your mana to cast spells or activate abilities tap artifacts to benefit from their abilities etc.) and these decisions are more and more important the more players you have in the game. I’ve seen games come down to where if I’d tapped one less mana during my turn then I’d have had enough mana to stop the fifth player after me from blowing up the board. On the flip side I’ve also won games where I’ve made sure to have enough mana to do something during someone else’s turn to provoke another player to tap down to stop it so that he didn’t have enough mana to stop my big haymaker on my turn. Magic is a game of managing your resources to achieve your goals and how well you manage those resources often determines how well you do.
Seedborn Muse blows that dynamic all to hell; instead of a responsible resource manager you become a drunken oligarch scion on a spending spree with no limits to his allowance. Let’s say there are five people playing and you’ve got five lands when you cast Seedborn Muse. Instead of five mana available to you in a round of turns you now have twenty five mana. You’ve got more mana available to you than everyone else combined. When you have that sort of mana advantage over your opponents it generally means an end to the game very soon; it’s just a matter of how.
Now I’m just talking about Seedborn Muse and five lands here. What happens when you add in other cards that tap to do stuff? What about Visara the Dreadful or Arcanis the Omnipotent? What about Mishra’s Helix?
Ramp things up to an even more obnoxious level if you’ve got a Vedalken Orrery in play where you basically get to take a full turn during each other players turn.
Let’s compare Seedborn Muse to Time Warp a card that a lot of people complain about in EDH on the grounds that it violates the principal of fun you’re supposed to keep in the front of your mind. In multiplayer it’s not really that you’re taking an extra turn; you’re effectively shutting down each other player’s turn preventing them each from playing spells or doing anything. Let’s say you play Time Warp on your fifth turn and all players have five lands in play. You’ve basically robbed them of five mana each and all the other things they might do on their turn. You’ve just set all your opponents back a step (or two if you’re doing Time Stretch) while you keep walking.
Seedborn Muse doesn’t stop your opponents from walking but it basically gives you an extra step for each step your opponent takes. It just doesn’t feel as bad as Time Warp because you’re not preventing your opponents from playing the game.
It’s pretty easy to see that in terms of sheer power a Seedborn Muse in play enhances your deck’s muscle orders of magnitude. I’ve seen games where one player plays a Seedborn Muse then another player Clones it (with plenty of other supposedly more powerful targets on the board). Then someone plays Control Magic and steals the original Seedborn Muse and then someone else casts Bribery targeting the Green mage who has not yet played Seedborn Muse and puts his copy into play under the blue mage’s control. Eventually some of those Muses got destroyed but the player that was able to successfully keep his Muse out the longest unsurprisingly won the game. The advantage you get from keeping a Muse in play is just that potent.
Now the insidious thing about Seedborn Muse is that it’s “just” a creature. People shrug their shoulders and respond “sure it’s a powerful card but it’s just a creature and everyone playing EDH has plenty of ways to handle creatures.” He also doesn’t just blatantly win the game on his own like say Felidar Sovereign does. So I think it’s pretty easy for a lot of people to not take his threat seriously especially if there’s already a general or some other huge creature in play that may pose a more direct threat. If you’ve got a Tsabo’s Decree in hand and are facing down one player with a Uril enchanted by a Runes of the Deus and another Aura another player with a Lord of Extinction and big graveyards all around and then a player with a Seedborn Muse which way are you pointing that Decree? You’re probably saving it until one of the big boys walks your way but in the meantime the player with Seedborn Muse awash in mana and untapping permanents is quickly establishing control of the game.
Seedborn Muse breaks a fundamental rule of the game in a way that gets obscene and unfun in multiplayer. It reduces strategic choices impacts the game immediately upon playing and scales up for every permanent you have in play that taps for a resource. I’m not sure if anyone on the Elder Dragon Highlander Rules Committee reads my column but it’s my hope that perhaps my arguments here might persuade one or more of them to ponder the problem the card poses and how much more fun EDH would be without Seedborn Muse around.
My New Omnath Deck
A couple weeks back I talked about a new Sean O’Neil (creator of the 99-Mountain-Ashling EDH deck) creation the 99-Forest-Omnath EDH deck and I was going to post my take on “enhancing” the concept by adding some non-Forests to the deck while keeping the land count extremely high. I didn’t get around to posting my take because Rise of the Eldrazi spoilers were starting to hit and I had a feeling that I’d want to include some of those heavy hitting spells in my Omnath deck. Sure enough from what I’ve seen spoiled I definitely want to add some of those cards to the deck so without further ado here is my “Enhanced” Omnath Forest EDH deck:
Omnath Can’t See the 78 Forests for the ‘Drazi EDH
1 Omnath Locus of Mana
1 Carpet of Flowers
1 Crop Rotation
1 Rofellos Llanowar Emissary
1 Extraplanar Lens
1 Eternal Witness
1 Greater Good
1 Vedalken Orrery
1 Seedborn Muse
1 Urza’s Blueprints
1 All Is Dust
1 Patron of the Orochi
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 Kozilek Butcher of Truth
1 Ulamog the Infinite Gyre
1 Emrakul the Aeons Torn
1 Diamond Valley
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Winding Canyons
1 Mikokoro Center of the Sea
Yes I just spent a thousand words condemning Seedborn Muse and recognize the irony of including it in my EDH decklist. However so long as the card remains legal I am going to occasionally run it where it makes sense and it obvious makes perfect sense in an Omnath deck.
Most of these cards I explained in a column I wrote about Omnath in EDH a month or two back but I love the sheer power and flexibility the Eldrazi cards add to this monocolor deck that can churn out the mana. All Is Dust gives you a neo-Akroma’s Vengeance; Artisan of Kozilek gives you reanimation; Kozilek refills your hand; Ulamog is your Darksteel Colossus with a Vindicate attached; and Emrakul gives you a freaking Time Walk! Mix in the Annihilator ability the Gaea’s Blessing triggers… and it’s just a barrel of good times. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on the set and giving this a whirl!
Kill My Darlings
Before I go I wanted to solicit your opinion on something. I’ve got the itch to make a handful of new decks but a lot of my staple cards are tied up in the six decks I have currently (scroll down to see the list below my sig). I’ve decided that I’m going to dismantle all my EDH decks but one; which one do you think I should keep? I’ll tally the votes and let you know next week what general survived the EDH deck massacre!
Tonight I plan on hitting Friday Night Magic at Richmond Comix. I’m probably going to be playing some sort of Bant/Mythic deck to try and roll over any Jund villains that show up. I’m curious if anyone has any last-minute updates/technology for the deck that you could shoot my way either IM me email me or hit me in the forums!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
My current EDH decks:
Jacques Le Vert (lots of legends good stuff)
Tibor and Lumia (copy copy copy copy)
Baron Sengir (Evile Vampires!)
Rofellos Llanowar Emissary (huge creatures big mana spells)
Sharuum the Hegemon (Kaldra Lives!)
Karrthus Tyrant of Jund (DRAGONS RAHRRR!!)