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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Nov 10 2008 8:06am
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 Extended After December 1st

 
Pro Tour Berlin taught me a couple things. Some, like German beer being pretty darn good, are not to relevant for this website.  The top the list of relevant things I learned at the Pro Tour was that the December Banned and Restricted list will impact Extended. The Elfball decks are going to die.
 
Probably. The can mutate – I’ll discuss that in a bit.
 
If you have not read the PT Berlin coverage, let me repeat what everyone else already knows: the best deck in the format was built around cheap elves, Glimpse of Nature and Heritage Druid. Those cards, combined with Nettle Druid, often allow players to play tons of elves as early as turn two. Once they have played out tons of elves, created lots of tokens via Wirewood Hivemaster, etc., then the decks kill with Predator Dragon, Brain Freeze, Grapeshot or Mirror Entity.   The best of these decks can win on turn two.
 
Six out of the top eight decks were elf variants. There were 13 in the top 32 decks. Roughly half the players playing the deck made day two. The finals was an elves on elves mirror match.
 
That’s dominance. That is the definition of a broken format. That is the sort of thing that gets decks banned.
 
Top quote one forum poster: “The deck can be hated out. The pros just didn’t know about it or didn’t care about it...”
 
Bull.
 
The pros knew about it. Over a hundred players played it. We judges knew about it. Even the dealers knew about it. By early Wednesday, the dealers were totally sold out of Glimpse of Nature, and that fact was also widely known. Sideboards and main decks were packed with answers, including Engineered Explosives, Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere, Ethersworn Canonist, Dead//Gone, Pyroclasm, Infest, Extirpate (you hit the Glimpse), even Night of Soul’s Betrayal.   I watched people sideboard in nine or ten cards against Elves – and it often made no difference. 
 
The deck is a broken combo deck that involves a ton of twiddling and non-interactive play that wins on turn two, and the mirror match is not a lot of fun. That is exactly the kind of deck that players hate, and that drives attendance at PTQs and so forth down. That is also the kind of deck that Wizards created the ban hammer to smash.   Nothing is guaranteed, but I would certainly expect to see Wizards banning Glimpse of Nature, Heritage Druid, or both in December. I would put my money on both.
 
The deck can still exist without those two cards. You can still drive the deck with Cloudstone Curio and Birchlore Rangers, but it is slower and more interactive. That’s fine – it would be one more deck in a varied field. Without the bannings, people would play Elfball or Elf-Smasher (50% deck, 50% elf hate – and an auto-loss to anything but elves.) That a bad format. 
 
For reference, here’s the winning deck. If you really want to play Elves, this is the deck to play. 
 
Luis Scott-Vargas, Grapeshot Elves, Winner
Gilt-Leaf Palace
Overgrown Tomb
Pendelhaven
Snow-Covered Forest

Birchlore Rangers
Elves of Deep Shadow
4 Elvish Visionary
Eternal Witness
Heritage Druid
Llanowar Elves
4 Nettle Sentinel
1 Regal Force
Viridian Shaman
Wirewood Symbiote

Glimpse of Nature
Summoner's Pact
Weird Harvest
Grapeshot

Sideboard
1 Mycoloth
Nullmage Shepherd
Pendelhaven
Thorn of Amethyst
Thoughtseize
Umezawa's Jitte
Viridian Shaman

 
The deck had a few innovations, including the use of Weird Harvest over Chord of Calling, and the Grapeshot kill. It is faster than most other builds – but if you want that sort of analysis, just read the coverage over on the mothership. It’s pretty good, pretty thorough – and going to be irrelevant in just over three weeks from today.
 
Let’s assume that it will get fixed. Let’s look at the format after the bannings. The Pro Tour actually does tell us something about what that might look like. I looked at all the decks in the top 32 (okay, top 33, minus Daniel Rodi’s deck, which I could not find). Here’s what I found.
 
Elves: 13 copies, best finish: 1st place.
Faeries:   2 copies, best finish: 5th -8th place.
Tezzerator: 1 copy, best finish: 5th -8th place.
Mono-Blue Control (various types, besides Faeries): 5 copies, best finish 9th place.
Goblins w/ Fecundity: 1 copy, best finish 10th place.
Dredge: 2 copies, best finish 12th place.
Death Cloud: 1 copy, best finish 13th place.
All in Red: 1 copy, best finish 14th place.
Zoo: 1 copy, best finish 13th place.
Doran: 1 copy, best finish 18th place.
Zoo: 2 copies, best finish 19th place.
Mind’s Desire: 2 copies, best finish 20th place.
 
The rest of the top 33 decks were duplicates of the above decks.
     
Let’s go through this decklist by decklist. After all, decklists are why we read articles like this, right?
 
Denis Sinner, Faeries, 5th-8th Place  
Mutavault
Polluted Delta
Riptide Laboratory
Secluded Glen
Flooded Strand
Watery Grave
Island
Swamp

Spellstutter Sprite
Mistbind Clique
Vendilion Clique

Mana Leak
Spell Snare
Bitterblossom
Cryptic Command
Ancestral Vision
Smother
Threads of Disloyalty
Umezawa's Jitte
Remand

Sideboard)
Annul
Chalice of the Void
Smother
Sower of Temptation
Stifle
Thoughtseize
Threads of Disloyalty

 
Faeries decks have evolved, and that evolution means that the decks are playing fewer and fewer Fae as the formats get faster. This build is down to 14 Fae, counting the Bitterblossoms. It also runs 12 counters, with more in the sideboard.    In other decks, the Fae get cut even further, to the point of running just the V-Cliques and Spellstutters. Actually, all of the Fae and blue/x control decks vary a bit – and even verge over into UG Next Level Blue decks like those brought by Pat Chapin, Guilliame Wafo-Tapa  and so forth.
 
The exact mix of counters, card draw and support varies – and will be tweaked further once the bannings have affected the formats.
 
Kenny Öberg,  The Tezzerator, 5th-8th Place 
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Steam Vents
Academy Ruins
Breeding Pool
Great Furnace
Miren, the Moaning Well
Riptide Laboratory
Island

Trinket Mage
Vendilion Clique
Venser, Shaper Savant

Thirst for Knowledge
4  
Chrome Mox
Spell Snare
Stifle
3 Tezzeret the Seeker
Cryptic Command
Chalice of the Void
Vedalken Shackles
Engineered Explosives
Ensnaring Bridge
Pithing Needle
Pyrite Spellbomb
AEther Spellbomb
Trinisphere

Sideboard
Ancient Grudge
Blood Moon
Firespout
Stifle
Threads of Disloyalty
Tormod's Crypt

 
This deck was, at the start of day three, the most feared deck in the tournament. No one really expected Luis Scott-Vargas to be able to beat it. The Tezzerator deck features a ton of artifacts, including a toolbox, and both Trinket Mage and Tezzeret the Seeker to fetch them out.  I have not had a chance to playtest this specific deck, but I really like this sort of deck. In many ways, it resembles my current favorite 100 card singleton deck (although I have to admit that I have not opened a Tezzeret the Seeker, yet, and I really need one.)
 
I feel like I should say more, but that would just be padding the article. I just don’t have enough experience with Tezzeret.
 
Tomohiro Aridome: Mono-Blue Control, 9th Place
18 Island
Mutavault
Riptide Laboratory

Sower of Temptation
Spellstutter Sprite
Vendilion Clique
3 Glen Elendra Archmage
Azami, Lady of Scrolls

Ancestral Vision
Mana Leak
Spell Snare
Stifle
Threads of Disloyalty
Vedalken Shackles

Sideboard
Chalice of the Void
Engineered Explosives
Hurkyl's Recall
Negate
Stifle
Threads of Disloyalty
Umezawa's Jitte

 
If I can get my hands on a few more Stifles, this is the control deck I would play. I still have great liking for a mono-blue control deck, and this one is very good.   My only recommendation would be to tweak it some as the new metagame develops. I suspect we will see more control and less creature based beats.   The maindeck Sowers, Threads and Shackles can be a lot of dead cards if you are facing a combo deck or another control deck.  Against creature decks, however, this is just fine. 
 
Another note on the deck – it includes a number of anti-artifact cards, like Hurkyls’ Recall.   I did not see much Affinity in Berlin, even on day one, but that does not mean that it might not reappear once Elves is gone. Affinity can have trouble against combo, which is basically what Elves is.  Once the metagame changes, I expect people to be dusting off Arcbound Ravagers again.
 
Philipp Summereder, Dredge, 11th place
Watery Grave
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Gemstone Caverns
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Steam Vents

Golgari Grave-Troll
Magus of the Moon
Narcomoeba
Stinkweed Imp
2 Fatestitcher
Mulldrifter
Flame-Kin Zealot
Golgari Thug

Bridge from Below
Chrome Mox
Glimpse the Unthinkable
Ideas Unbound
Dread Return
Goblin Lore
Darkblast

Sideboard
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Ancestor's Chosen
Blazing Archon
Chain of Vapor
Extirpate
Firespout
Gemstone Caverns
Thoughtseize

 
I so wanted this deck to be gone. I never liked Dredge decks – or Reanimator decks, for that matter.   That said, apparently the deck still works. I like the idea of adding Glimpse – the other Glimpse, that is – to the deck in place of Careful Study and the other card drawers. Glimpse the Unthinkable certainly does help fill the graveyard. 
 
I also like the idea of including Magus of the Moon in the deck. It provides another angle of attack verses control decks. I wonder, though, whether the format will be quite as colorful expected. The most colorful decks in the Top 8 were basically Fae decks, and not much has changed after that.
 
Rashad Miller's All-in Red, 14th Place
18 Mountain

Demigod of Revenge
Deus of Calamity
Magus of the Moon
Simian Spirit Guide

Blood Moon
Chrome Mox
Desperate Ritual
Empty the Warrens
Genju of the Spires
Rite of Flame
Seething Song

Sideboard
Chalice of the Void
Dead // Gone
Shattering Spree
Shatterstorm
Trinisphere
 
Speaking of colorful decks, this one most certainly is not. What it is is a super-explosive fatties deck that can, potentially, drop a Dues of Calamity on turn one.   Alternatively – and more likely – it can drop a Blood Moon effect on turn one. Some decks – like 5 color Zoo, just fold to this. Other decks – not so much. I am impressed with the deck running both Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. Many decks run Firespout as an answer to the Magus, but that won’t answer Blood Moon.   The combination can certainly mess up many opponents’ mana, at least long enough for a fattie to start rumbling across the red zone.
 
I am so putting together this deck online.  I have something very like it – and I also played Zvi’s Dues deck in standard for a while. My only limitation is that I only have three Chrome Moxen. This might just get me to buy the fourth.
 
Congrats, Rashad, BTW.

Marcio Carvalho, Doran, 18th Place
Windswept Heath
Treetop Village
Temple Garden
Bloodstained Mire
Godless Shrine
Overgrown Tomb
Swamp
Forest
Plains

Birds of Paradise
Dark Confidant
Doran, the Siege Tower
Kitchen Finks
Tarmogoyf
Tidehollow Sculler

Thoughtseize
Chrome Mox
Condemn
Putrefy
Smother
Umezawa's Jitte

Sideboard
Bitterblossom
Engineered Explosives
Ethersworn Canonist
Kataki, War's Wage
Loxodon Hierarch

 
The first of the mid-range beatdown decks came in 18th (of 454 players – which is plenty respectable.)  The deck is basically Doran: Tidehollow Scullers are the main innovation . The Scullers are card advantage bears – and twice the beater that Mesmeric Fiend ever was. Beyond that, it is pretty much a standard Doran deck. 
 
Note that is a Doran deck - not Rock. This deck does not have the control elements that an mid-range control deck like Rock had. It has no Pernicious Deed equivalent, no Damnation, etc. It is aggro-control – basically an aggro beats deck with just enough hand destruction to slow the opponent for a turn or two. With a fast aggro deck like Doran, that should be enough.
 
A. J. Sacher: Domain Zoo, 19th Place
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Bloodstained Mire
Godless Shrine
Blood Crypt
Hallowed Fountain
Overgrown Tomb
Sacred Foundry
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Plains

Dark Confidant
1 Figure of Destiny
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Kird Ape
Tarmogoyf
Tidehollow Sculler
4 Wild Nacatl

Lightning Helix
Oblivion Ring
1 Rise // Fall
Seal of Fire
Smother
Tribal Flames

Sideboard
Ancient Grudge
Burrenton Forge-Tender
1 Ethersworn Canonist
Kami of Ancient Law
Kitchen Finks
2 Ranger of Eos
Smother
Stifle

 
This is the first true aggro deck in the Top 32 – a classic Zoo deck that has added the Scullers we just saw in the Doran deck. A 2/2 that hides the opponent’s best card is strong in any fast deck – and this should be fast.   It is everything that the old Zoo decks were – but I would hate to face Rashad’s deck with this. The deck can handle almost anything, except a turn one Blood Moon.
 
No matter what the format may become, something like this deck should be either your choice or – at the very least – in your playtest gauntlet. It is simply good, fast and consistent.
 
Sukhum Kiwanont, Mind’s Desire, 20th Place
Steam Vents
Bloodstained Mire
Polluted Delta
2 Cascade Bluffs
Dreadship Reef
Island
Mountain

Lotus Bloom
Chrome Mox

Rite of Flame
Seething Song
Grapeshot
Manamorphose
Mind's Desire
Peer Through Depths
Remand
Ponder
Desperate Ritual
Pyromancer's Swath
Empty the Warrens

Sideboard
Echoing Truth
Empty the Warrens
Firespout
Gigadrowse
Pact of Negation
Shattering Spree
Shatterstorm

 
Finally, here’s the highest-finishing classic combo deck in the format (aside from Elves, of course.) Mind’s Desire is still potent, but not quite potent enough that I will be spending my TIX for a set anytime soon. Still, if you like combo, this combo does just fine. Two different players made Top 32 with Mind’s Desire decks, and that is despite the fact that Mind’s Desire is a half turn slower than Elves. Look for it to return once Elves I neutered.
 
Finally, I want to show one more combo deck – and the cheapest deck I have found so far.   Jacob Van Lunen wrote about this on the mothership, so read his advice on playing the deck. He did go 4-4 at PT Berlin with the deck, so it is not bad at all, for a budget deck.
 
Jacob Van Lunen’s Ednae / Second Sunrise (did not make day two)
Ghost Quarter
10 
Island
Swamp

 
Chromatic Sphere
Chromatic Star
Conjurer's Bauble
Edge of Autumn
Lotus Bloom
Manamorphose
Ponder
Pyrite Spellbomb
Reclaim
Reshape
Second Sunrise
Serum Visions
Spoils of the Vault
Sunbeam Spellbomb

 
If you want to play Extended today, get yourself an Elves deck. If you want to play something else, expect to face a lot of Elves, and max out on the hate. However, if you plan on playing Extended after December 1st, you may want to start playing some of the above decks, at least in the Tournament Practice Room. Practice makes perfect – while practicing with the Elves deck will just make you sad once the bannings are announced.
 
PRJ
 
“one million words” on MTGO.
 

26 Comments

Elves' Logistics by Ivo(Unregistered) 193.136.161.107 (not verified) at Tue, 11/18/2008 - 02:31
Ivo(Unregistered) 193.136.161.107's picture

I think Peter missed my request for comparing time spent by Berlin's Elves to time spent by Top games.

Fortunately Riki (SCG article) discusses them in detail. A must read for everyone that is interested in the under-discussed logistic problems that Elves presents (and that Riki confirms are very similar to those presented by Top, as I imagined). Even if Elves doesn't get banned for power level* they SHOULD ban something for logistic reasons if they want to be consistent with what happened to the Top.

 *something which I agree is borderline (not clear at the moment which side of the line it stands on, but it'scertainly close to the line). I welcome the opportunity to have Worlds data, although I still lean towards "Elves is over the line".

Leyline of Singularity by Anonymous(Unregistered) 68.7.225.19 (not verified) at Thu, 11/13/2008 - 17:36
Anonymous(Unregistered) 68.7.225.19's picture

Forgive my ignorance as I only play type II, but wouldn't siding in Leyline of Singularity really slow down the combo?

by JXClaytor at Thu, 11/13/2008 - 19:49
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Honestly, it does not seem terrible.

There are a lot of ways to deal with the elf deck, from Slice and Dice to discard.  I just hope they ban something, because I refuse to play with Slice and Dice in my sideboard. 

by Bazaar of Baghdad at Thu, 11/13/2008 - 22:35
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Well, no bannings, as I thought.  Wizards believes that the anti-elf tools are there, and I agree.  I thought they did a great job to reserve the timing of ban decisions if need be since they can't be sure however.

by JXClaytor at Wed, 11/12/2008 - 18:57
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Yeah it did seem really weird that the list used was using Magus of the Moon.  Blame it on a coverage guy if it happens to be the blue one :)

Through the hate? by Isotope(Unregistered) 74.39.232.97 (not verified) at Wed, 11/12/2008 - 08:32
Isotope(Unregistered) 74.39.232.97's picture

You say "through the hate" as though the hate somehow slows them down.  In reality, the only hate that exists (short of Shock effects) comes online turn 2.  So you could have 7 Pyroclasms in your hand, but you're not going to stop them from going off if they're going off on turn 2 on the play.  "Through the hate" usually means disruption that makes it harder to achieve a combo, but the hate for elves only exists to punish them if they don't go off on the ideal turn.  Worse, much of the hate can be answered by Viridian Shaman.

As Gregandthensome pointed out, Dredge had four 0 or 1 mana answers that would seriously disrupt their combo.  Leyline could appear on turn 0 (even on the draw), and Crypt, Extirpate, and Offalsnout would all be online on turn 1.  In many cases, you could sit behind a turn 1 swamp and mess up their combo at instant speed.  With Elves, there's no equivalent.

To recap: Four serious disruptions to Dredge at 0-1 mana.  Zero disruptions to Elves (even shock doesn't do that much) at 0-1 mana.  Sure, there's lots at 2-3, but all you can do is hope you make it there.  If they get the nut draw, there's nothing you can do.

by Bazaar of Baghdad at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 15:45
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3 turn-2 kills...again goldfist and tell me the numbers...then tell me how many through hate...

by Mak(Unregistered) 128.253.217.111 (not verified) at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 16:29
Mak(Unregistered) 128.253.217.111's picture

When discussing bannings, Top cannot compare at all to Elves. Top made so many games go to time, encouraged shuffling, and it enabled cheating (switching cards via sleight of hand, looking at too many cards, etc). And because it was a 1 mana artifact, it could go in any deck. CounterTop was a good deck, but it could be beaten, and it probably wasn't even the best deck in the format. Top will stay banned.

As to whether Glimpse/Heritage Druid/Nettle Sentinel will be banned, I have no idea. I'd give it 50/50 odds that at least one component will be banned in December.

by Anonymous(Unregistered) 75.180.14.76 (not verified) at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 23:27
Anonymous(Unregistered) 75.180.14.76's picture

Just a quick note: I believe the Dredge deck is running Magus of the Bazaar, not Magus of the Moon. I could be wrong though. But it does make more sense.

Reply to Walkerdog by Ivo(Unregistered) 193.136.161.107 (not verified) at Wed, 11/12/2008 - 03:05
Ivo(Unregistered) 193.136.161.107's picture

There is a big difference in "any meta will have a best deck" and "every meta of that format will have the same best deck"; there is also a big difference between "any meta will have a best deck" (probably true, but hard to determine anyway) and "any meta will have a *clear* best deck" (which is fortunately false as most metas don't have a clear best deck, and when they do it is usually a bad sign).

Zoo running Fanatic and Seal maindeck instead of Kird Ape or whatever powerful burn they replaced with Seal isn't "more really good cards". There are good reasons that those cards weren't really in mainstream usage in Zoo before Elves dominated Berlin. I'll grant Sculler as an interesting maindeck choice even without Elves, but Canonist maindeck is just short of Kataki maindeck (if Affinity was the clear best deck instead of Elves). Sure, they swing for 2 - for 2 mana. Kird Ape does it for 1 mana and people replaced it with Fanatic. Don't be naive.

The consistency reasoning is completely separate from power level evaluations, but is certainly a relevant consideration when discussing B&R decisions. As far as I see it every single reason put forward for Top getting banned exists in the Elves deck (and really I haven't seen anyone deny that). Elves deck can also easily lead to intentional or accidental cheating as I see it, but IMO cheating should always be addressed by the judges, and not by banning cards!

by Bazaar of Baghdad at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 15:44
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I'm not saying it doesn't happen; I think LSV mentioned he had 3 turn kills that event in what, 50 tournament games.  I expect the average is less than that.

My impression was that Elves takes lots of time just like Top do by Ivo(Unregistered) 193.136.161.107 (not verified) at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 08:16
Ivo(Unregistered) 193.136.161.107's picture

You were there in Berlin, which is the only paper event having Elves, so I'd like to ask you... Do Elves deck frequently go to time? Is the deck significantly better than Top in that aspect, or about the same? I had the impression it was similar to Top decks in terms of time consumption...

I think there was a single game of Elves mirror in the top 8 that took like an hour, so from the event coverage I got the impression that whenever an Elves player combos out it can easily take a LOT of time (I'm only familiar with how the deck performs online). The mirror is bad depending on the board situation (book keeping and so on), but even against an "hate" deck if Elves manages to combo it is a huge mess not just in potentially missing triggers but also in other time consuming aspects (shuffling after each tutor effect, noting down how much floating mana many times, putting tokens in, trying to keep note of what is tapped and what is untapped, or which creatures have "summoning sickness").

Another question - someone said in the officials forum that Top was banned because of cheating. It was the first time I heard that, and if true I don't remember that being the official policy. As a paper judge you may know about it... If that was an important "secret" factor in getting Top banned (it was providing cheating opportunities) then I certainly think that the Elves deck is once again on par with Top - it will also provide plenty of cheating opportunities in the middle of the book keeping and confusion.

by Isotope(Unregistered) 74.39.232.97 (not verified) at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 09:19
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I think many of you are underestimating Elves, or at least overestimating the answers to it.  In most cases, board sweepers are too slow.  Heck, ANYTHING that costs more than 1 is too slow!  Let's recap:

2 mana (too slow on the draw if they go off turn 2): Chalice, Pyroclasm, Explosives (if you drop it on turn 1), Canonist

3 mana (waaay to slow, on play or draw): Firespout, Jund Charm (good luck with the mana), Trinisphere, Infest

4 mana (why bother?): Night of Souls' Betrayal, Wrath, Tezzer, Worship, etc

The only half-reliable answers are the ones that cost 0 or 1 mana.  Tremor, anyone?  Seeing as there are no zeros, it's down to the various Shock effects, and possibly Extirpate (thought if they already resolved Glipse, you've probably lost).  Also note that even if you resolve a sweeper, Symbiote lets them save their best guy and they can often rebuild in a turn or two.  Not to mention they may have a full hand from previous Glimpse shenanigans...

I run 4 SB Martyr of Ashes in any deck with significant Red presence.  Even that can be too slow , but at least I can pop it at instant speed.

by one million words at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 11:45
one million words's picture

please read Luis Scott-Vargas' tournament report on StarCity.  

"Round 13 versus Kenny Oberg

Game 1
He is on the play, and has turn 2 Mox into Trinket Mage for Chalice of the Void. I can’t win with a Chalice out, so I have the perfectly reasonable response of simply winning on my turn 2 instead. "

Or look at Benjamin Peebles Mundy, Adriian Sullivan and other talking about Elves.  Turn two happens.  The decks do just fine playing through Chalice.  etc.   

 

nono by walkerdog at Mon, 11/10/2008 - 18:13
walkerdog's picture

What I'm saying isn't that it doesn't warrant a banning, I mean it could be that it does.  I'm saying that last year people packed MORE hate for Ichy, and still lost to it quite a bit, and in a more degenerate manner, and still no bannings occured.

Remember, sideboards last year started LLotV x 4, Crypt x 4.  Ichy sbs started 4 chain, 4 pithing needle, and some other anti-hate hate.  People haven't built the "anti-elf" sb, at least not like we saw last year for Ichy.  The pros knew about Elves.  However, they didn't know HOW dominant elves was.  It was seen as viable, but not the best deck before the PT.  If it dominates through 8 SB cards (and I'm not counting decks that have very little game against elves anyway), then maybe bannings should occur.  But until people are giving it respect when they build their decks, it's unfair to call for bannings or assume they will occur.

by Bazaar of Baghdad at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 10:44
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The chances of elves going off on turn 2 are pretty remote.  Someone show me the math.  Pyroclasm is just fine, and the others are the 3cc quite answers are quite fine too except in unlucky circumstances.

Are you serious? by walkerdog at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 10:41
walkerdog's picture

There will be a best deck in any given meta.  The fact that Zoo has tweaked their build to have MORE REALLY GOOD CARDS STILL IN IT that just happen to beat up elves is not a testament to a warped meta.  You're wayyy too anxious to see Top unbanned or Elves banned.  Consistancy has nothing to do with it.  They're two different issues.

Elves! vs. Dredge by Gregandthensome(Unregistered) 211.18.204.251 (not verified) at Mon, 11/10/2008 - 23:00
Gregandthensome(Unregistered) 211.18.204.251's picture

It's not really worth comparing Elves! to Dredge. Leyline and Crypt both effectively cost zero. What does Extended have to beat Elves! with such effeciency?

Disagree by Josh Silvestri(Unregistered) 98.210.212.39 (not verified) at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 00:17
Josh Silvestri(Unregistered) 98.210.212.39's picture

I think the deck is very good, but no more warping than Dredge was. I believe this, except I think it's emminently more beatable g1 than that deck was. Here's the thing, Fae and Tezzeret decks both have decent matches against it. If they aren't favored, than they have slight edges against the Elves deck! That's already a good sign.  Now take into account that decks like Goblins can absolutely destroy the deck if constructed properly. One that wasn't particularly geared toward beating Elves went 4-1 against it at the PT. Not a legit sample size I agree, but another ancedotal piece of evidence toward a little overhype.

 

Now I take the MODO 8-mans into account to some degree. Elves have completely flooded the 8-man queues. We took our Zoo deck, made some minor adjustments, Canonist Main, Fanatic over Kird Ape, etc. cards that are good in general, but slightly geared toward beating Elves. The single concession we made was addinig Pyrostatic Pillar specifically to help against them, since Wild Nacatl + removal + Pillar is usually GG.

 As a team with our Zoo decks, we have gone  14-2 against them in matches. Other people have reported similar types of results with modified Affinity and Dredge. The deck is very good, but hardly unbeatable. It skews the metagame, but no moreso than CB-Top or Dredge did imo. And that's the key. It isn't a level of warping we haven't seen before, in fact it was just last season we saw this! 

 

Just my thoughts. 

I'm old, so I must be right.... by one million words at Mon, 11/10/2008 - 14:48
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:)

Seriously, though, I remember the combo winter bannings.  I was playing and writing about this stuff during PT Lin Sivvi, all three rounds of Trix bannings, PT Tinker, BBS's reign and the various forms of Affinity.  I remember the prebanning formats, and the DCI rationals for bannings.  The DCI takes action when a card warps the metagame.  All of the banned decks could be beaten.  The problem was that you had to devote so much hate to beating those decks that you could not compete against anything else.  

Sure, there are cards that beat Elves.   The problem is that everyone had them in sideboards at Berlin, and they were not enough.  6/8th of the T8, all of the T4, etc.  Predicting the future is never perfect, but all the evidence says that this situation is nearly identical to the situations where the DCI has banned cards in the past.  Sure, this time could be different, but I doubt it.

 

by one million words at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 06:03
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Good post.  Just a couple points.

Speaking as a judge in the paper world, I hate Top.  It really does add tons of time to a game,  More importantly, it means probably 10% of the decks go into extra turns, and that adds an hour or more to the day.  Since that hour is basically time wasted for the majority of players - those who have finised their matches and are waiting for the next round to begin - that is bad for tournament Magic.  I would be amazed to see Top unbanned. 

Also as a judge, I don't like elves.  in the paper world, the game does not prompt you for triggers, and it is very, very easy to miss triggers with Elves.  At aBerlin, I handed out my first penalties at slightly under 4 minutes into the first round, and I was still seeing penalities at the end.  That, alone, is not a reason to ban anything, but it may add a bit of weight for the DCI.

The format should change by Ivo(Unregistered) 193.136.161.107 (not verified) at Tue, 11/11/2008 - 04:10
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 There is a thread in the official forums where I have been writing my opinion.

My 1st choice would be just unban Top, don't ban anything else; otherwise ban just one card: 2nd choice, ban just Nettle (deck will survive and evolve IMO); 3rd choice, ban just Glimpse (deck will survive and evolve, IMO) - see Cloudstone Curio. If the deck doesn't survive at all no big deal anyway, but I think it would - as I see it, it can still be made into a strong, resilient combo deck with a very strong backup of going beatdown. Heritage Druid isn't in my list of cards up for a ban. Birchlore can suitably replace it in most circumstances (1 Birchlore + 1 Nettle = play as many 1 mana Elves from your hand as you want). The deck doesn't need to go "infinite" to win. I rather keep number of cards banned low. Nettle can be sort of replaced by Curio or Intruder Alarm, but we can all agree that makes the deck much less ruthless (if perhaps viable); I think Nettle is the best card to ban if exactly 1 card gets banned.

The biggest point IMO is that it is simply not consistent to keep Top banned and do nothing to address Elves. Top wasn't really banned for power level reasons. I think Elves MAY need bannings on power level reasons, but it may be the case that it does not, I'm not 100% sure. However I'm sure that Elves is a huge time waster in paper (and online to some extent).

Either Top gets unbanned, Elves gets something banned to make it less prevalent, or WotC just ins't being consistent with their B&R decisions. There is no way around that. I don't see many people addressing this viewpoint at all, but I think it is a rather important one because it isn't based on opinions and "little" data (if you can call a 400+ Pro Tour "little").

I actually think Elves has a power level issue (at the very least, it has much more of a power level issue than Top ever did).

I'd certainly like to have more data on top of Berlin. I've been playtesting in the TP room but you probably know as I do that isn't solid data.

I'm hoping our WotC people in MTGO schedule a special PE - the data from that would be very useful towards justifying the existence or lack of power level bans.

My current opinion has changed very little since I saw Elves dominating PT Berlin. They can run the beatdown plan (even going for it as the main plan when the opponent can't afford to not sideboard in heavily against the combo); they can even maindeck 4 shamans and 4 thoughseize without slowing down their combo significantly.

Elves is just too resilient to hate. It's not impossible to win against it, but people are seriously talking about 8 sideboard cards on top of a maindeck pre-tuned with cards that are better against Elves but are worse in the abstract. Come on! Is that a healthy format?

A good example is Zoo. With scullers, fanatics, seal of fire and canonists, many of each maindecked and some of them sideboard. Yes, it can probably beat Elves consistently. That Zoo decks are going to that extent is a sign of a warped metagame to me, though.

Well by spg at Mon, 11/10/2008 - 09:40
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Another potential solution is to unban Sensei's Divining Top, right? Although that does seem unlikely.

Banning by Jimb0v(Unregistered) 12.27.12.174 (not verified) at Mon, 11/10/2008 - 11:12
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I appreciate the article, and its cool that you took a stand are not wish washy.

I don't think elves will be banned.  If the field really becomes even more lopsided in view of PT Berlin, there is just so much that can be done to make an "elf-smasher" deck, like darkblast, peppersmoke, even scar.  If the format just ends there and we have elf decks and elf-smash decks, then your right, but I think its too early to tell.  The question really becomes if a third or fourth deck arises that has *some* game against elves, and can destroy the "elf smash" strategies.

For now, it just seems like a really good idea to come up with some *new* strategies that pummel elves and try them out.  It really is a deck builder's paradise right now.  Even with all these devleoped decks out there, most of them are worthless and the landscape is pretty wide open.  I might be way too optimistic, but it just seems to me that there are a lot of possibilites and a lot of things that elves cannot deal with at all. 

by Bazaar of Baghdad at Mon, 11/10/2008 - 09:22
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I appreciate you brought a lot of evidence to your side of the argument (dealer supplies, substantial sideboard hate was insufficient, etc.), however I'm still inclined to disagree.  There are many hate cards that are sufficiently playable to make a reasonable rock-paper-scissors metagame, and hopefully with even a 4th or 5th deck.

 They've been listed before, but Jund Charm, Firespout, Brain Freeze (in storm decks), Trinisphere, Canonist, Chalice of the Void, Explosives, Thoughtseize are all powerful cards that can either directly go into a lot of decks or simply graduate from a niche strategy to a metagame maindeck choice.  It sucks that many of those answers are artifacts and that Viridian Shaman is so good.   Maybe Zoo can try to catch Elves with its pants down with a naked Worship from the board.

Anyways, my main point is that Berlin was evidence for banning - not proof of such.  More information needs to be gathered; who knows? MTGO may have already given the B&R that evidence.

Well, one thing we have in common - all of us are somewhere between curious and anxious for 12/1.

Potential disagreement by walkerdog at Mon, 11/10/2008 - 14:33
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I agree that some answers are too slow,a nd the deck may be too strong, but:

"The pros knew about it. Over a hundred players played it. We judges knew about it. Even the dealers knew about it. By early Wednesday, the dealers were totally sold out of Glimpse of Nature, and that fact was also widely known. Sideboards and main decks were packed with answers, including Engineered Explosives, Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere, Ethersworn Canonist, Dead//Gone, Pyroclasm, Infest, Extirpate (you hit the Glimpse), even Night of Soul’s Betrayal.   I watched people sideboard in nine or ten cards against Elves – and it often made no difference. "

That quote seemed to indicate people heavily sided for the matchup, and looking at most people's lists, they WEREN'T siding heavily against the deck. T hey'd have 4 Chalice SB and call it good.  Or 2 Canonists MD and then 4 more cards from the side, and figure that was sufficient hate.  This deck is like Friggorid from last year.  It is the best deck.  You NEED 8+ SB cards for it.  Frig wasn't banned out.  Should Elves be?  Not imo, but maybe if people start siding a ton of cards and it still wins.  For now though, people built their decks almost totally ignoring that Elves was not just good, but was the BEST deck.