A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: Why Standard is not Magic

A Magical Huffalump Resides Here

My name is Ed, I am a programmer. Just another dude with another blog. I like MTG, Open Source (more towards FREE software). I like sports, and eventually I hope to do business and do good for the world in general. This blog is gonna be about Magic The Gathering. Decklists and snippets will be posted here. It may lead somewhere or nowhere, as with all things arcane, that was bloody obvious =)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Why Standard is not Magic

Magic is so rubbishy these days and reading developing-annihilation-2014-08-15 only kinda confirms it.

We are spiralling into mediocrity.

I am all for balancing power creep, but please don't give me power weep and turn Magic the Gathering into Magic the Gathering: Dust or Tragic the Gathering lol

Now i recently mentioned that Standard is not Magic.

Now that is a loaded statement and probably requires some caveats and definition of parameters to make any sense.

Exactly what is Magic?

I can only define that for myself unfortunately, as Magic is many things to many people.

To me pokemon is not magic, creatures dumping themselves on each other is a subset of magic, but can NEVER claim to be all that Magic is.

Magic to me, is everything that it can be. Think about that for a moment. Circa 1993, the game was broken beyond itty bitty.

But it was fun. It was gorgeous. At that time Vintage was akin to drving a fast car. Well no. Actually Shivan Dragon was King and so was Leviathan and Lord of the Pit. So you have the fire, the pit the meat and the dude who cooks em'! Oh and Force of Nature if you want veggies.

That was cold.

Anyways, magic in its original incarnation was kinda boring I guess. But boring is a good baseline. A good hole to climb out from. The only way is up. Kinda like in Batman. Rise of the Black Knight. Rise, rise and the only way is to lose all inhibitions. So it was the wild wild west. Moxes traded for Dragons. I wished I played then. I only came in when the party was over.

Though Moxes were still only 100 SGD, when I started and Lotus was 300 SGD. I was only a teen with money for Mirage though. So those times, those were out of reach for me. But they were legend.

Then. It enthralled me. The combos that were possible. The first combo. Channel Fireball. Oh it was'nt just a shop front yo. It was the first combo. The first combo deck! Prosbloom! Cadervourous Bloom into Drain Life. and Before that, there was Necro Summer and later on Academy Winter. Those were the heights of Magic for me as information was scarce and Magic was a game where there was a big bad and decks were build to prove their mettle. Innovation was demanded to bring the latest scourge down.


Mind you in those days the big bad sat for months or years at the top. Necro was eventually defeated by Sligh (or was it turbo stasis?). Combo Winter? I honestly cannot remember but I am on combo's side so it was never my prerogative to remember :P

I liked the decks in combo winter.

Magic was magic in those days. Power levels were high and with each printing, everyone was looking forward to the next combo, the next great card. The next innovation! The next mechanic. All artifact! All graveyard! All whatever.... and i suspect WOTC just ran out of ideas eventually. Magic was then fresh and ideas were unbounded.

Now mind you, people poo poo at high power levels. But I'll give you a clue. Only when power levels are high, will the mechanics actually make a dent in eternal formats. Look at devotion, and the othe gadzillion mechanics created in the past 3-5 years. Which is prevalent or even standing in Modern (the weakest of eternal). Nada. Why? Because we are spiralling into mediocrity. Mechanics today are watered down and priced very safely. And this is done for a watered down environment. Is it really that surprising that everything goes down the drain and becomes irrelevant in Modern?

I don't know about you but a bunch of cards that are only relevant and played for 2 years plus... and then *POOF* become totally irrelevant is really not Magic to me. Don't get me wrong, I am not wearing rose tinted glasses where EVERYTHING in Standard is playable in eternal format. We are now even lacking the proverbial bone (Okay that was a little harsh we did get some good stuff, Abrupt Decay and DRS -- but still. most standard cards are rubbishy - and personally I like the Gatecrash 1cc dudes... but Theros block  has me floundering tho...). Standard used to bring in new cards that contribute to the playable pool in Magic the gathering (that to me would be the eternal formats, so it must at least make the cut in Modern). Now of course it is still magic in terms of the all things magic. Like playing a random pile is magic. Like ermm like homelands only is playable magic :)

To me, these days, Standard is no longer Magic. It might as well be a different game bought to have fun for two years and then you say goodbye to it. With zero worth to it. Much like a PC game I guess. You could take it out and lose with it once in awhile. Alright I am being very negative here, but I hope you get my point. Sure you and a bunch of pals can play block cube from 2013. Which is cool if thats all you want from ex-standard cards.

And worst of all. I see what is happening in Modern, happening in Legacy now. Strange people who never cared for the format, suddenly pop up to claim that Brainstorm is broken. And that it should be banned blah blah. But seriously, there is no doubt that blue is strong in Legacy. That is not blue's fault, that is a design problem where WOTC did not make the other colours strong enough. Its not that Blue is too strong, but that its basic premise is one of the strongest elements in the game: card draw and variance reducing. It was a WOTC mistake to make it exclusive to blue. It was also a design mistake to make creatures weak (that was a basic tenet before the recent power up of creatures). Already now other colours are making a comeback in Legacy. I see that as a good correction by WOTC. However as the format gets more popular, newer players bring their perception of Modern in (a la ban everything etc etc). Please play another format if you are not able to keep up. But don't expect the format to slow down or dumb down for you. You have modern. Leave Legacy be. Legacy was ground up. Even without SCG or WOTC it will persist (and be better for it). And oh brainstorm is a dollar card. You DO NOT have to play blue. You can splash blue. I see nonsensical arguments like BUG is blue splashing black and green. I would argue that it is as much the other way round... its just that haters will forever see it in a way that benefits them. There is no doubt that brainstorm is pervasive in the environment. But seriously you have people thinking that you should remove a good thing rather than build on it? And damn I am not even a blue player.

In the past people build decks to beat the top dog, these days with a new set every few months and the meta changing so fast, people would rather be spoonfed and get pushed cards and decks or just follow the crowd. And when no new decks or cards that were pushed can beat the current top dog. They whine. "Oh control is too strong" or "I did'nt get to play Magic". People, its simple. You have tried and tested and your deck (and you if you say so) have been found wanting. Thats all there is to it. You can either find a solution or whine. Its kinda sad.

Sorry it was rantish, but that comes from reading inane rants I guess.


This just came to mind:

Recently there seems to be a trend where, WOTC prints modern, legacy or Vintage specific cards in non-standard sets. I see this as a double-edged sword. While it is good in that, it is more likely that we get more eternal playable cards, since they do not disrupt the "balance" in the environment for the cash cow called Standard. It also makes me question if there will be eternal playable cards in Standard. Which is the main problem I see here. If Standard cards are not strong enough to stand in Modern, then is Standard still Magic? Or really just a card board PC game to be bought and forgotten after two years (well sure its mainstream Magic for two whole years. Wonderful stuff.).

And then another scary thought comes to mind since. If you cannot print strong cards to make Standard cards relevant in Modern, the "obvious" (seriously there are people who think this way) solution is to cut Modern down to size (through bannings) and make it like Standard, in terms of speed and functionality.

Which I am fine with, and I say it with kindness.
But please stay away from Legacy and Vintage :p

[Edit 2]

And I still do play Standard, I just don't like the direction it is going ;P

[Edit 3]

I was just thinking why did I reject Standard as Magic. What triggered it? And then it occurred to me that with the way WOTC is going, the Magic that I loved was being rejected. Its not easy to erase 20 years of cardboard (ah yes the trials and tribulation of geeks, wrangling over card board... it amuses me sometimes... oooh the ragin'!) but they try. Modern bannings, the removal of LD, and until recently hand disruption, fast mana, playable hard counters. Alternative resource constriction (I can't off hand give a better name) like sphere effects or even cheap repeatable tap effects. Combo's neutering. Old Magic is being pissed on. To me thats WOTC rejecting the old Magic. It did'nt really occur to me that as a whole that is what they were doing, and that is what riles me. I guess it is to cater to newer players. Who prefer more interactivity (a false premise) through creatures. It took me awhile to realise that since I played for quite awhile, Magic to me is really not the magic they have been dishing for the past 3-5 years. Hence the rant and my question of whether Standard is really Magic, or simply a different game in the form of Magic. (this is even more stark if Standard contributes little to Modern (the easiest eternal format to make a difference to)).

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