A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: Standard is Broken... or Goodbye Coresets!!!

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, February 08, 2015

Standard is Broken... or Goodbye Coresets!!!

I just had something of an epiphany about standard.

I have always been troubled by standard. And then it hit me. While I was showering and yelling a song or something (well I did'nt but it seemed a funny thing to write).

Standard is broken.

Now I know, it sounds stupid. And if it did'nt you probably think I am referring to Treasure Cruise.

Well no. I mean Standard as a whole, as a concept is broken.


Now my initial line of thought was:

Hey, I can't play counterspells, I can't lock down, I cannot play extreme fast weenies (currently anyways), I cannot LD my opponent to tears etc etc etc.

Well sure, the first retort is likely: Damn well you can't you whiner!! THOSE be BROKEN cards!!!

And my next line of thought was... so standard is balanced. Or at least an aim was balance. Still it did not sit well with me.Balance is actually easily achieved. Yep i said it. Balance is easily achieved. I can say it again, but then it would be like the song that does'nt end, so I'll spare ya. So anyways, as I mentioned in previous rants, to achieve balance you print everything powerful or everything weak. So balance in and of itself is not a big deal. What concerned me was... why balance? What is the point of balance, do we play magic to go back and forth like  some kind of Sim City? I dunno, Farmville? Why balance? ... well I guess balance helps to make money. And it stems power creep no?

So another thought came along... power creep... Power creep monitoring hints that there is some kind of balance we are aiming for...

So what is that Standard/Benchmark/Marker?

And it hit me again! Say Mana Leak. Should I reasonably be able to play Mana Leak. If Mana Leak is in an environment and it is BAROKEN!!!, is it Mana Leak that is broken or the FORMAT that is broken.

How can a format be broken for gwad's sake?!?!?!

I dunno... its just that bad tummy, gut feel. SOmething is broken. So I kept thinking. What if there were more cards that I should reasonably be able to play? And then it hit me again! Thats exactly what the CORE SET was for?!?!

Coreset. Think about it, think about the lineage of coreset. The first, the fabulous! was Alpha! then Beta! then Gamma! no wait. Then Unlimited, then revised, then errr 4th 5th 6th etc to today's M15 and soon to be extincted M16.

Think about it. Why did Alpha/Beta became revised? Some cards were too powerful and were taken out. Taken out of what? Taken out of what was then the BASIC set. Yup. There you have it, the coreset was the measure of what a standard game of magic should be. It is kinda like the marker of the power level by default. Hence the core set was where you got your llanowar elves, Wrath of God, terror, counterspells, stone rain...

The coreset was a collection of cards that one should reasonably be able to play in standard!!!

So when I came to that conclusion it hit me again!! *ow*

but but but, coreset is going to be taken out of existence! Coreset is irrelevant! I mean heck,  almost all the spells I mentioned in the above paragraph has been removed or nerfed!! Now think about it: the CORESET was/is being changed to adhere to another standard, rather than being the core that was supposed to be THE standard.

I think that was why the coreset failed. It lost its purpose. It was no longer the standard set of cards that Magic should be played by. When statements like , coreset is irrelevant because any card can simply be reprinted in another expansion, it reeks of the source's incomprehension of the concept of a set of basic standard CORE cards. When the coreset, starts to be nerfed... that is when it is no longer being used as a marker or standard to be held against, rather it is now being tweaked to fit another standard. Another bench mark. At this point it totally loses its purpose!

Which was why I guess they started putting in new cards! Which further emphasises the fact that coreset... is no longer the standard. No longer THE CORE set. No longer a bench mark of Magic as a game. No longer the CORE set of cards that a player should play Standard by. It was by that time simply another expansion. And with M16, and the subsequent removal of CORESET as a product. It is clear that the concept of a core set of cards that one can use as a measure of Magic as a game is now lost.

but something must be in its place? no? There is! And very oddly too. The new STANDARD to be measured by is actually.....  An archtype. It is the Midrange deck.

Anything that is too fast, or is able to interact in an axis where the Midrange deck is vulnerable to (i.e. ironically anything that only interacts via the stack derp derp - ironic because slinging spells is now being nerfed - we no mages. we beast masters rawr!!!!) is now taboo or nerfed. Sure there is alot of theory crafting in adjusting casting costs, making sure everything is fun. but the I guess the idea of fun now is Midrange, and everything lives or dies by that standard.

I don't know about you but I do regard a Standard that seems to revolve around Midrange to be broken. Not powerful broken, but ... "yo Magic! why art thou in a Pokemon 2.0 suit?" broken.(Again I apologise to my Pokemon loving friends, Pokemon is just too funny to not poke fun of, I myself like the pika pika choo!)

Hmmm I hate it that I ended up with a "sob, Standard is all midrangy" rant again. But I honestly feel that the Coreset's concept was forgotten somehow (maybe it was planned, i dunno), and somehow, somewhere in the murkiness of history and all that power creep monitoring, the measure went from CORESET to a Midrange range deck concept. And with that, the purpose of having a Core set. Hence the demise of Coreset.

Hmmm, I never really liked the Coresets anyways aside from the first three. From 4th ed onwards it was a constant barrage of nerfs and buying coreset became kinda stupid, since you can get stronger cards from expansions. I guess that was why they added new cards to the coresets (which were originally all reprints). That both made me happy and annoyed. Happy because, hey who does'nt like new potentially broken cards ;) and annoyed because, now I actually have to buy core sets to keep up in the arms race ?!?!?! .... and get a shitload of reprints in the process since I can no longer ignore the coreset. In order words.. coreset became a half baked kinda expansion.

... Still. I like tradition and core sets have been something of a tradition. So I will miss ya Core set! but having lost your purpose and intent... you were just a sucky expansion with lots of irrelevant nerfed reprints, sorry if it hurts your feelin's but thats the way the cookie crumbles bub.

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