R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
May 21 2020 12:00pm

These last few years have been riddled with bans, problems, and horrible designs. Don't forget that we have gotten sweet and powerful cards as well.

Ever since War of the Spark came upon the world, we kept getting designs that are more and more pushed. And lots of people have been discontent with it. But is it just a short-term problem? Or are we going the Yu-Gi-Oh way and just filling up on all the high powered cards? Because if everything's broken, nothing is broken. Right?

Lately, everything has felt broken, busted, and just flat-out beyond acceptable. War of the Spark, Modern Horizons, Theros Beyond Death, Throne of Eldraine, and Ikoria all had completely format breaking cards in them. Which is kind of fine, Wizards wants us to want their cards after all, and what more natural way to make us get the cards then to make them the best cards ever so we can't ever avoid them if we want to win.

This, however, does have a problem. There is a significant grumbling going about how people are getting tired of having to buy cards for their "nonrotating" format, which is an honest concern. After all, people buy their eternal format cards to get to use them for years. They know that they will have to update from time to time, but variety is the spice of life, so that's fine.

But let's take, for instance, Jund.

This is a Jund deck from 2017:

Now look at a March 2020 Jund deck.

Those decks play almost the same way, although the 2020 version is a lot more powerful with all the new cards. Jund will always be Jund, but how many cards got added over those three years? I haven't counted, but I'd guess around 15-20 cards. That doesn't sound so bad. But Jund wasn't a cheap deck to begin with. A pile of the all-around best cards usually doesn't make a very budget-friendly deck. I sold my Jund deck years ago for about ~€1500. If I had kept it updated I would have had to buy another about €500,- worth of cards. Well, €500 in nearly three years isn't a big problem for me. I play Magic all the time and easily clock in at over 20 hours a week, every single week. I know I'm in the minority, though. If you only play your local FNM every week and sometimes win about 5 to 10 bucks, that is a lot of more winning those cards have to do to make it worth it for them. People love their deck, so they slowly but surely do it, just like with a Standard rotation. Taking 3-4 years for a deck to evolve is fine. However, now, not two months later, Jund has been wholly revolutionized again.

Not that many new cards this time, but it's only been a few months since the last build. So, let's buy some Mishra's Bauble. Wait, those are how expensive? Are you kidding me? 200 bucks? Jeez. And yes, I know that they are cheaper offline, but you can't play anywhere right now. When we get to play in real life again, they will probably spike.

Having to spend another 200 bucks so fast is what players are angry about. And I can't blame them, that's quite a lot of money to spend in such a small period. Especially because everyone except Wizards is expecting companion related bans in Modern at some point. So everyone but the spikiest of spikes is waiting to buy them in real life. And I can't blame them.

On the flip side of all this, though. I am loving that Wizards is pushing into all sorts of weird design spaces that they hadn't explored and just seeing how far they can ramp it up.

In the last few years, we have gotten a two mana Planeswalker, a ton of 3 Mana Planeswalkers, Planeswalkers with Static abilities, super-pushed creatures, Commanders that push for some intrinsic deck-building decisions, Godzilla, Legacy-light cards in Ice-Fang Coatl and Force of Negation.

And you know what? A lot of those things are things that players asked for. Players have wanted Force of Will in Modern since the format was a glint in the eye of a Wizards of the Coast employee. People wanted Baleful Strix, and we got an actual better one. People have been clamoring for another two mana Planeswalker that's better than Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded for almost as long as the card has existed. Godzilla, while not my thing, is something I've seen people go nuts over how cool it is, so why would I complain? Let people have their fun with it.

I love that Wizards is just going for all the things people are asking for. People wanted a Modern that was slowed down a bunch instead of being nothing but drag racing. And now we have it; there still are the turn 1, 2, and 3 kills that we all know and hate. I've been killed on turn one and turn two multiple times this week, and that's okay. I've done it to others as well, and it was fun. People like doing powerful things and being degenerate. But now we've gotten to the point where all the other archetypes are keeping up with it. And the format honestly is fantastic, and I have not wanted to play a format other than Modern in months.

Yes, there are still problems. There are still many things that I think are a bit too strong or just a net negative to the format. But I also recognize that people love the things that I dislike.

And the big problem, of course, is that everything is going fast in eternal formats. Where people are used to glacial wallet-friendly evolution. And I get it, cards are expensive, and buying the new hype thing only to have it banned hurts your wallet. It sucks. But on the other hand, if it's never necessary to ban stuff, the cards are boring, and they aren't pushing the envelope hard enough.

I do wish they would do the necessary bannings faster, announcing an announcement for an announcement for an announcement for an announcement is just stupid and just creates a bunch of worries that shouldn't happen. I've said it before. I would love a weekly update to the banlists, even if the update is: "No changes in any format, we aren't worried at all. Everything's fine and dandy." It takes 10 seconds to type that, and it would make players unbelievably happy. Such a missed opportunity. It could just be a Twitter post, no need to make a whole article about it unless you have something to say. Players like knowing their spent money is safe, or at least get a warning that there is a risk. Although Wizards has been better about it, I would love to go back to the weekly banlist schedule like on Pioneer.

Even a simple: "We are going to give Lurrus of the Dream Den some more time. We will decide by blabla." Would be fantastic. Because now everyone is just worried about how long it will take them to either ban Lurrus of the Dream Den or Mishra's Bauble. I do think one of the two has to go, of my last 25 matches on MTGO, 21 were against Lurrus decks, I don't even really have a problem with the power level, but that's just really, really boring. Splinter Twin was banned with a lot less presence.

So my conclusion to all of this is; BRING BACK SPLINTER TWIN!