Cook’s Kitchen – June 20th Banned & Restricted update
In case you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t know – this week was the banned & restricted update for the month of June. There were some cards banned, some unbanned, and decisions that just caused some confusion. My confusion begins with the announcements for Commander/Elder Dragon Highlander:
You’ve got to be kidding me, Sundering Titan!? I can understand about Griselbrand being overpowered but Sundering Titan shocks me. I just don’t understand.
“Sundering Titan has long been a card on the edge. The decision to get rid of it came from the combination of two points. One, it simply created undesirable game states. It was too easily both intentionally abused and unintentionally game-warping, especially since its ability triggers on both entering and leaving the battlefield. Two, there has been a fair amount of community distaste for the card, and we agreed that the card overwhelmingly creates a negative experience for players. Listening to the ever-growing and ever more-involved community is important to us.” – (From: http://mtgcommander.net/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=12073)
This is ridiculous. Players aren’t happy that their lands are getting blown up? Boo-friggen-hoo. Not every game of casual magic should be ramp into a huge powerful spell and end the game. Sundering Titan keeps those strategies in check. More importantly, why Titan? If it’s land destruction that’s creating the “undesirable” game states why not just get rid of land destruction all together? There should be ways to punish greedy mana bases. Land destruction has always been the best way of doing so in Magic! Well this may not be true, but just go with it please? There’s “Blood Moon” effects and Price of Progress, but pretend I’m right.
Titan isn’t even always good, there have been plenty of situations in my Godo deck where Titan is terrible but Destructive Force is just incredible. I believe Titan was chosen because of the fact it’s potentially playable in all decks due to the fact that it’s an artifact. Land destruction punishes people who have poor deck construction and there should be a way to do it with any color! I would personally rather see a Sundering Titan every single time over a Tooth and Nail, Genesis Wave, or Time Stretch. Those cards create “undesirable game states”, the reason being that it’s very difficult to win after those cards have resolved. Not that I want to see any of those cards banned, because playing with big spells can be fun. With Sundering Titan it’s easily possible to get back into the game. There’s much more to the card rather than recklessly blowing up lands, there are plenty of politics in cards, like Titan, that make the games more enjoyable. Targeting the dominating person’s lands on the table with Titan to slow them down and then when Sundering Titan is on its way out making negotiations with other players to keep your things alive is a great way to play Sundering Titan.
Griselbrand or “Griselbro” as my playgroup likes to call the flying nuisance was an expected banning by the team in charge of the format. With forty life it didn’t take too long to realize it was a card that would be banned. I’m just a little upset that I only got to use my foil one a handful of times in my Kresh deck before the card got the axe. Recently at the invitational open, I played a game that looked like this:
Turn two: Sakura Tribe Elder (Sacrificed)
Turn three: Explosive Vegetation
Turn four: Primeval Titan
Turn five: Griselbrand
Turn six: Draw 21 cards, Tooth and Nail
That may of been the best draw possible or at least close to it, but the point of it is that it’s possible to just keep drawing cards until you find a big game ending type spell. That’s the unfair part of the card, it’s not that swinging for seven lifelink was too much. In a format with forty life, Griselbrand’s ability would have to be altered to paying an additional seven life. I’m aware that the guys in charge are against doing this to cards, but it would be the only way to keep it around. Instead they proposed a banning of the card. While we’re on the topic of Griselbrand, let’s take a look at the changes for Legacy!
Land Tax is unbanned”
WE’LL GET TO LAND TAX IN A SECOND. For now, we talk about our bro, Griselbrand. I’ve been telling people all week that Griselbro doesn’t deserve to get banned. Because, well, it’s not the culprit. When looking for the guilty, turn eyes at Show and Tell. Griselbrand certainly isn’t going to be the last big, dumb, ridiculously good, and fat creature to put into play. Banning the creature isn’t the solution; it never has been, look at Oath of Druids and Survival of the Fittest. It’s the enablers that always get the banhammer.
I understand that there are other ways to get Griselbrand into play. When comparing Reanimator, Sneak and Show, and Hypergenesis they all play Show and Tell. It’s something they all have in common other than Griselbrand! Without Show and Tell these decks all become less consistent because there are fewer ways that are splashable to get the creatures into play. With Reanimator, they would be forced to interact with sideboard hate in games two and three instead of just ignoring the issue and putting the creature into play. Sneak and Show would be hard stretched to find an answer for Pithing Needle on Sneak Attack outside of Through the Breach. A five mana card in a format with Spell Pierce and Daze. Hypergenesis would fear Stifles a whole lot more than ever. There’s ways to interact with Sneak Attack and Hypergenesis, with Show and Tell there are just less ways to be able to stop big creatures from ruining the day.
Part of the problem with Show and Tell is that it’s very difficult to interact with if the opponent isn’t playing Blue or Black. Maverick is basically cold to the card outside of Karakas to bounce whatever is put into play. That being said, I’ve always been a fan of the wait it out and see what happens plan. As long as I can remember, people have wanted a card banned. In Legacy it began with Goblin Lackey, then Tarmogoyf, Empty the Warrens, Green Sun Zenith, and now it’s Griselbrand/Show and Tell. I believe if we give decks a reasonable amount of time the metagame will shift toward decks that beat these big, stupid, fatty type decks. This metagame is something new and refreshing from the stale Maverick/RUG/Stoneblade metagame that we’re all so used to. Meaning the numbers of these decks are a bit higher, by the time the next announcement comes along it may not even be an issue – look at Green Sun Zenith now. Give it some time. More than likely the masses will be screaming for some other card to be banned – hopefully Island! Jokes aside, let’s talk about that Land Tax thing.
Well, it’s about time! About time for people to realize that this card just sucks. I played when it was legal back in “Type 1.5”, mono white parfait was the only deck to use the card effectively and that deck was terrible. It’s a slow and grind-y card that doesn’t show immediate results. How good can it be? Well it’s apparently busted with Scroll Rack, here’s a spoiler – it’s not. It’s too much time and mana while a Flying Demon or Human Insect are eating your face. I honestly hope these decks become popular so I can combo off without the fear of something relevant the majority of the time.
People have been talking about Land Tax with Brainstorm and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. While these effects are cute, you’re going to be Brainstorming into lands and putting back lands back because a card like Land Tax requires a TON of basics in the deck. This is even more true when Scroll Rack is incorporated. I can only imagine if a deck like this became popular how often it would go to time in round between Land Tax, Scroll Rack, Jace/Brainstorm, and potentially Sensei’s Diving Top.
Part of me believes the card was banned due to time restrictions. Tax is going to cause a lot of “time in round”s much like Top. But then again, I have a feeling it was Wizards/DCI being afraid of it fueling Mox Diamond decks. Either way, it’s one less card on the banned list, which is a good thing in my eyes. I just hope the hype of the card dies down sooner rather than later. I think Land Tax is a card much like Grim Monolith that will find a niche home and pretty much stay there since it was banned from fear and not results.
I have to say I’m a bit disappointed by this week’s announcements for the banned & restricted list, there were definitely some disappointments in Commander/Elder Dragon Highlander. Then with Legacy a change that’s been coming for awhile, but only the one change. I would’ve liked to see a card come off the list that would actually do something.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource