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By: stsung, Jaroslava Stefankova
Apr 18 2018 12:00pm
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On April 16th many of us waited for B&R Announcement and I suppose that many of us playing regular formats like Vintage, Legacy, Modern and Standard didn't expect any changes. The announcement read 'No changes'.

1v1 players though expected some changes. 1v1 B&R Announcement brought changes. Here they are.

Cards banned:

Cards unbanned:

 

Banned cards

Edgar Markov

In November with new Treasure Chest content we could get our hands on Edgar Markov and build a deck around it. I waited just few hours to get a copy of the new vampire so I could play with it and I wrote an article about talking how this card's design breaks the rules and what we need to keep the format good and healthy. I wanted people to see how the Eminence ability is broken and why Edgar Markov should not even be allowed to be legal in 1v1 no matter how broken that format is. To prove my point I even played with 10 tix deck running 40 basics and some Vampires I drafted. I still went 3-2 and the games I lost, I lost because I couldn't draw a (second) black source. Even though I'd never want to experience that again, it was clear how powerful Edgar's ability is.

10tix in action (not counting Edgar which cost 20 when I bought it and 30 an hour later)!

Edgar wasn't banned. After I bought the card I entered several Leagues and I was playing pretty much Edgar Markov mirrors - it was clear that the card was absurd to other players as well. In one week only I got enough of all those mirror matches. Later on I switched to Leovold with some anti-vampire hate. I even put Engineered Plague in my deck which was also ok against Breya and Tymna/Kraum decks but was certainly an oddity to see in a decklist. Anyone heard about Light of Day? Do you remember decks running Carpet of Flowers because Baral, Chief of Compliance was practically everywhere? This is a similar case and it showed clearly that something was wrong with the format. It should have been addressed sooner.

Even Engineered Plague wasn't enough to stop my Edgar playing opponents (1v1 is used at GP side events).

Edgar Markov from my point of view really deserved to be banned because it was warping the metagame - it became dominant and players were simply trying to beat the deck or rather a single card's ability.

Fast mana

Since the beginning of 1v1 on Magic Online we all could see the power of Moxen and Ancient Tomb. Seeing our opponents cast spells a turn early was very devastating, especially when 1v1 is played as best of 1 match. This means that there is more variance involved and fast mana is something that many of us can't really compete with unless we have access to it too (rare). See, in Vintage, we all have access to fast mana if we choose to play it. The player who has it turn 1 can have a very explosive start. We have the means to stop the player from getting too far ahead, we can also have an explosive start and win instead, or we just simply lose because cards like Black Lotus are indeed broken. That is in a format were drawing restricted cards is rather common and we have the means to stop them or play our own to catch up. In 1v1 we play with 100 card decks and the fast mana is rather rare. When we have it though, it becomes too powerful and most of the time will simply lead to winning the game. It changes the tempo of the game and our opponent can't really do much about it. We simply do not have the means to catch up.

 

Believe it or not this is how my three rounds of this Challenge looked like: turn 1 fast mana and one or two cards. Next turn Breya or Leovold. Since my opponents were also multitabling these games took ages and it was clear from turn 1 I'd pretty much lose since there was no way to catch up with these kind of plays.

One of the things I do not understand is the fact that Wizards of the Coast didn't decide to ban these cards sooner. The thing is that if we remove these cards from the format it won't have a negative impact. If we remove these cards all decks will be affected but not in a way that we would have to stop playing them. It will make the games a bit more fair because we all will know that we won't just simply die to one additional mana our opponent will produce to cast something we can't deal with on a certain turn in the game. When these cards were in the format we could play the game keeping in our minds that something like this can happen. We usually didn't have the means to deal with it anyway which led to our loss that felt bad because the game suddenly became very unbalanced and there was nothing we could do. We also didn't get the possibility to win other two games to win a match because this is best of 1 rather than best of 3 which is the standard in other formats.

Banning Chrome Mox, Mox Diamond and Ancient Tomb was a good decision.

Winter Orb

Honestly this is a card that caught even me by surprise. Many after seeing the announcement asked this question - why not ban Wildfire, Burning of Xinye Armageddon and Ravages of War? All these cards are common in 1v1. The red spells require a lot of mana and are also limited by which deck can run them. Even before partners and/or four color generals we saw these cards mainly in UR Control decks with generals like Keranos, God of Storms or Surrak Dragonclaw and lately in Daretti, Scrap Savant. It is not just the color (or identity) of the card that limits the decks that can play it, not all decks will find use for a Wildfire effect because it will affect them as well in a very negative way. These cards require a deck to be build in a certain way (for example running mana rocks to be able to cast the card on the same turn as other decks can play Armageddon and also having access to mana sources after this card resolves). Armageddon and Ravages of War are cards played in decks like Geist of Saint Traft tempo, Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder partner aggro decks, more stax-y Breya, Etherium Shaper decks. It is not like that we would see those cards in all white decks. 

If we come back to Winter Orb and look at the decks I mentioned above we can see that all of these decks have access to Winter Orb and that all of those decks will gladly play the card without the need to change how the deck works. Any kind of a deck can run this card in addition to other mana denial cards from Bruse aggro decks, Geist tempo to Teferi, Temporal Archmage control. Artifacts are relatively easily tutored and put in play. This way a deck can set up its board and then lock opponent out of mana and win the game in the few turns that follow.

I don't see banning of Winter Orb as a necessity but it is one of the cards if removed from the format will help make it better. We still have access to high impact mana denial cards, we'll see a wide range of them because not all decks can run the same cards.

Sylvan Library

I've seen many people have really strange reactions to Sylvan Library on the banlist. We shouldn't be that surprised about that. We all know what Sylvan Library does. Some players also have a better idea in what decks and under what condition the card is good. For many Sylvan Library is a sideboard card. What is important is the context and that is something many players forget about when looking at the 1v1 banlist and commenting on it. In 1v1 things are different so if you are not playing the format you need to try to imagine what the card actually does in the format. Most importantly 1v1 has a different starting life total and there is no sideboard. Using Sylvan Library when playing with 20 life can be dangerous and that is one of the reasons why Sylvan Library is not good in any matchup, but only in some. This card can actually not be the best card to have main deck in Legacy. In EDH though it's different. When we have 30 life available as a resource Sylvan Library becomes suddenly way better. We can draw several cards with the Library without worrying about our life total and this is what makes the card broken. See it can become your 2 mana green Ancestral Recall that actually stays in play and still can provide additional value in drawing more cards or letting you choose what you draw next turn. 

Speaking of Ancestral Recall. I don't know if any of you ever played Canadian or Australian Highlander. It is a 100 card singleton format where no card is banned. The catch is that there is list of cards that are given a point value. We get a certain amount of points that we can spend on any combination of cards from the point list. Ancestral Recall is usually valued at 7 points in a 10 points format. That might seem extreme to you but that is really what the card is worth. I used an example from Vintage and fast mana earlier and this is a similar case. In Vintage I know that if my opponent casts Ancestral Recall I can usually catch up because I have other cards that can produce a huge card advantage or I can trade some cards to in the end be at equal 'level' in resources. In the 100 card singleton format I know that when my opponent plays Ancestral Recall there is no way I can do that. If my opponent is behind in the game this single card can usually mean that the game turns into their favor. If they are in a better position it usually means I will have very low chances of winning the game. This is exactly the feeling one gets when someone plays Sylvan Library in 1v1 because that is how the card is used. It draws cards with little drawback and these cards are a huge difference in tempo.

Banning Sylvan Library was a good decision if WotC wants to ban cards that makes us feel cheated when we play a game of 1v1.

Green Tutors

Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Imperial Seal, Enlightened Tutor and Mystical Tutor are already on the banlist so being surprised that Worldly Tutor gets banned is a bit strange. On the other hand seeing Sylvan Tutor getting banned as well is a little bit odd since Personal Tutor is still unbanned.

Wizards of the Coast's reasoning is that tutors make the games play the same. Each time we get to execute what plan we wanted since we can actually tutor for the cards we want. They are right about that. Green is a color that has already many cards that can help look for creatures or somehow cheats them in play and losing 1 or 2 tutors shouldn't really matter that much.

Unbanned Cards

Protean Hulk

My Twitter feed got flooded with messages saying that unbanning Protean Hulk, Mishra's Workshop and Griselbrand was a really bad idea. First I'll talk about Protean Hulk. Protean Hulk is a combo with Flash, or rather the combo can be found with Protean Hulk that can die after we Flash it into play and don't pay the mana to keep it in play. That is something that can happen on turn 2 and that's what people see and try to use as the reasoning behind why unbanning Protean Hulk is bad. The deck that was known for this consisted of 60 cards and contained these cards in 4 copies (+ four Tutors). We are playing with 99 cards libraries and 1 general though. How often will we have access to both Protean Hulk and Flash on turn 2? Especially when tutors are banned? I don't know how often this will happen but I'm certain that it is not going to be as often as players suggest. Protean Hulk has its place in 100 card singleton formats but that deck, even when more dedicated to combo finish, usually takes 6 turns to set up even with tutors around (I played that for quite a while). The deck itself is a powerful deck but in 1v1 it won't most probably fare that well as many people expect. Against disruption it often needs to function as an aggressive midrange which is not the best position to be in 1v1. The combo also takes time to click through unlike killing someone with Walking Ballista which takes just about 2.5 minutes (my usual time I take to kill someone with Necrotic Ooze combo). It is possible that people will include Protean Hulk and a combo that we can fit into converted mana cost 6, but I doubt that we will see that often. It takes many slots in a deck and the deck really needs several outlets how to actually get the combo going (different sacrifice outlets, tutors, the actual combo pieces, alternatives to combo pieces) and I'm not even talking about disruption! Right now, we have more broken and more efficient combos in the format.

 

Just a turn 3 kill...

 

Mishra's Workshop

Mishra's Workshop is also a boogeyman in Magic. Mishra's Workshop produces three colorless mana that can be used to cast artifact spells. I put cast in bold because you can't even used that to activate abilities of artifacts which is one of the most common questions when I let someone play with my Vintage Shops deck (no, it doesn't work with Walking Ballista). While Mishra's Workshop in 4 copies in a Vintage deck can be great (and honestly is) it does not need to do much in a 100 card deck. Especially when the deck is often multicolored because I have yet to see a good colorless deck. Daretti can use Mishra's Workshop the best because that deck is really built around playing expensive and powerful artifacts or bringing them from graveyard to play. Probably even Teferi players could think about playing Workshop. Those players though could find themselves in a situation where they can't cast a blue spell because of that Workshop in play. I suppose that any of you that ever played a blue deck know how badly a game can go if you miss a land drop. Now imagine that you didn't skip the land drop but played Mishra's Workshop instead. This card, in certain situations, will actually screw you up more than it will help you. Explosive starts with Workshop may sound enticing but what are you going to play with it? Mana rocks? How often your opening hand will contain something worth playing turn 1 (Trinisphere?) with that artifact mana? If this happens you also have to bear in mind that the nonartifact part of the deck won't even get a single mana out of that Shop. Also the card top decked late in game will turn into a dead card.

 

Sometimes it works out though! That's a turn 2 Batterskull from an Academy deck. Beat that if you are playing mostly blue deck (photo comes from a German Highlander event where Mishra's Workshop is legal and never posed a problem for the metagame)

All this shows that Mishra's Workshop will have to find a home. In a Daretti deck the card will be fine but it is not like you can just take this card and put it in any deck that is heavy on artifacts!

Bazaar of Baghdad

Surprisingly I haven't seen people commenting on Bazaar of Baghdad. From my point of view this is the most powerful card of the four even though the use of this card will be limited to very few decks - mostly reanimator and graveyard based combo decks. That is the reason why I think it is safe to have the card in the format. Simply too few decks will profit from it.

 

Griselbrand

Griselbrand is a card I didn't expect to be banned in the first place. This card could be very powerful as a general if you have access to enough fast mana and have a fast way to win the game. In 1v1 though one may not have enough time to actually cast Griselbrand from the command zone even once. As for people saying that we will see many Griselbrands on turn 2. While this can certainly happen (I've done that a lot in the past) it's not going to be the normal scenario. One of the cards that allows us to reanimate something early in the game is Entomb and that is actually banned. We will have to draw Griselbrand first in order to actually do something with it, whether that means putting it into play with Show and Tell or reanimating it. This takes time! And believe it or not I've lost many games after getting Griselbrand into play. It either died while not drawing anything relevant, or got stolen and I lost to an opponent on Storm, or I simply lost to another combo.

 

I hoped to draw something relevant like another creature to reanimate - I drew seven lands! This way I at least had lands I could discard to get threshold. I reanimated Griselbrand 3 times in this game and still utterly lost.

 

The changes are good and are really meant to help us. They won't create a metagame that would be worse than the one we played in. So take your time to understand what the cards do in the context of this format and after that join some Leagues that changed back to a Friendly structure. Good luck and have fun!

Thanks for reading
S'Tsung (stsung on Magic Online, follow me on Twitter at stsungjp)

1 Comments

I still don't know why they by ArchGenius at Thu, 04/19/2018 - 19:16
ArchGenius's picture

I still don't know why they got rid of Edgar, but left Leovold and Breya alone. Sure, Edgar is powerful, but it is very susceptible to sweepers and doesn't have any real oops, I win combos like so many other decks have.

Bazaar seems nuts with reanimator, and I could definitely see some blue artifact decks utilizing workshop, grim monolith/basalt monolith/ power artifact, but I don't know how consistent it will be.