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  • posted a message on Mana Burn?
    Quote from darrenhabib »
    What am I missing?
    Damage on the stack.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Phelddagrif: Show Weakness to Hide Your Strength
    So, I finally decided to put this deck together.

    After having built decks that I thought would be as much fun as possible to play against only to have these experiences consistently ruined by players with no regard for good gameplay, I'm now bitter and jaded, and I just want to punish my opponents for their lack of skill and for their complete dependence on lame two-card combos. Naturally, a three-color control deck armed to the teeth with removal, sweepers, and countermagic seemed like a perfect fit. Hence, this deck. It's classic Bant control. (Though maybe Esper would suit me better? I'm unsure.)

    My rendition doesn't follow all of your advice to a T, but I tried to keep everything as close to the original as possible, especially when it came to some of the more unusual cards like Pulse of the Fields and Telepathy; I definitely wanted to give those an honest go. That said, I think the biggest difference between your take and mine is that, when the time comes, I am perfectly happy to do the thing or play the card that gives me a commanding lead even if it makes me public enemy number one. After all, virtually no other deck is better equipped to defend itself when in that position anyway.

    One card I'm particularly fond of is Rest in Peace. I love playing powerful hate cards that can single-handedly shut down players for building their decks in a hyper-linear fashion, especially if fair decks aren't punished in the process. Sure, just about everyone uses their graveyard to some extent, so a card like Rest in Peace is going to be a little annoying for everyone, but why should I care if I make myself the mortal enemy of the Muldrotha player when their entire deck centers around the graveyard? Experience has taught me that, when it comes to certain decks, it's always feast or famine. You either do everything in your power to stop them, or they completely take over the game, and there's nothing you can do about it, no in-between. Investing as little as two mana to stop an entire deck like that is too worthwhile (and too satisfying) for me not to do even if it makes me a target. And what can Muldrotha do about it anyway? Only focus me? Good luck with that; my entire deck is removal, and theirs is offline. And if my other opponents know what's best for them, they'll leave that Rest in Peace alone. Hell, they may even kick Muldrotha while they're down so that, once they've lost the game, they can then safely dispose of my Rest in Peace later.

    One of my biggest concerns right now is that my deck won't generate enough card advantage. Single shot X spells like Sphinx's Revelation and Blue Sun's Zenith can be great, but they're also a bit situational. They require a lot of mana to be worthwhile, and every turn I have to react to some other player is a turn where I'm spending mana and unlikely to cast them. Permanent based card advantage seems like it might be worth pursuing, but it's difficult to support those sorts of cards while simultaneously playing sweepers like Cleansing Nova, Hour of Revelation, and Fracturing Gust. So, right now, I'm not sure what I should do. I'm going to play a good number of games before making any serious changes, but I'm currently contemplating cutting all the noncreature sweepers in favor of more Return to Dust variants so that I might play more artifacts and enchantments.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Serra Planeswalker
    Serra the Benevolent is part of the reason why folks really want to be able to play planeswalkers as commanders.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Phelddagrif: Show Weakness to Hide Your Strength
    Hey, Dirk. Have you ever considered playing Very Cryptic Command, specifically this version, or is having to constantly ask for your opponents' permission not worth the hassle?
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on How expensive should "win the game" be?
    Quote from Ree Wicker »
    Really?
    I mean, yeah. Most folks don't track that kind of stuff, especially if they're just casual players. You might take some extensive notes while you play, but that's pretty far from the norm. Hell, where I play, a lot of players don't even write their own life totals down, let alone their opponent's. They just track their life with a pair of d20s. Going so far as to record what turn the game is on is pretty unusual.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on How expensive should "win the game" be?
    Quote from Ree Wicker »
    The Twelfth Hour 7WUBRG
    Sorcery (MR)
    The Twelfth Hour can't be cast this game unless you reached your twelfth turn this game without taking an extra turn.
    You win the game.

    Would that work?
    The problem with this design (aside from the fact that it's a game ending card that players can't interact with) is that players don't naturally track the number of turns that pass in a game, nor is it something they want to do. Sure, the person playing this card is incentivized to track the turn count (or at least they ought to, as unfun as that is), and in a digital space, it wouldn't matter at all, but for a physical game like Magic, keeping track of how many turns have passed is an annoying bookkeeping chore that detracts from the game and is irrelevant in 99% of cases. And when a player actually goes about casting this spell, because his opponents haven't been tracking the turn count, they sort of just have to take their opponent's word for it that everyone is indeed on the twelve turn of the game and not the eleventh one (because the eleventh turn feels nearly identical to the twelve turn). With Serra Avenger, you can at least count backwards and ensure you aren't casting it prematurely. Not so much with this design.

    EDIT: Extra turn spells exacerbate the problems with this design even further by making the turn count less symmetrical.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on How expensive should "win the game" be?
    I voted "never fair at any cost."

    From a design perspective, it's an unprintable card. From a balance perspective, I'm sure you could find some cost at which the card is fair. After all, if you make the card so ludicrously expensive that it's virtually uncastable, you basically relegate it to combo use only, and at that point it wouldn't be different from any other game winning combo. So, that suggests there must be a point where "win the game" is extremely expensive, but also not so expensive that it can't ever be hard cast under the proper conditions. So, what should that cost exactly? I don't know. You're definitely looking at double digits, but quantifying the exact amount isn't something I'm interested in since, again, this kind of effect is unprintable from a design perspective.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Should Doubling Season be banned?
    And those people have no idea what they are talking about.
    Oh really?

    Quote from Toby Elliott »
    I think letting all Planeswalkers be commanders ends up a net negative for the format. We probably end up having to ban Doubling Season.
    This was from Toby's article on SCG a few months ago here.
    Posted in: Commander Rules Discussion Forum
  • posted a message on C19 officially announced
    Quote from Ryperior74 »
    And I don’t know the source and name but the guy who makes the commmander decks heard all of are criticisms about C18 and will take them to heart for C19
    Gavin Verhey
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Challenge: Break This Rule
    Wait. I'm confused. What's the point of the "if that player controls fewer lands than any other player" line? Like, what is that part of the rule specifically trying to accomplish here? Is it trying to punish the player furthest ahead on lands? If so, why? I mean, for one, the player with the most lands is probably the least likely to want to use this ability anyway. Why take away an option they might not even care about? For two, sometimes the player with the most lands isn't the player furthest ahead on mana. That honor may belong to the player ramping with elves and rocks. What's the point in denying a player the ability to use this rule if they aren't necessarily the furthest ahead AND if they might not care anyway? I don't get it.

    Something no one has mentioned thus far is that one of the consequences of this rule is that it discourages players from going first. If you're the player that takes the first turn of the game, you can't use this ability since, barring Gemstone Caverns, everyone will have the same number of lands in play at the start of the game (zero). From that point on though, provided players don't stumble and miss their land drops, everyone except player 1 will basically be able to use this ability all the time, at least until someone plays a Rampant Growth or something. And that first player might just get stuck. If players just play one land each turn as they normally would, the player that went first won't ever get to use this effect unless something unusual happens, like if they happen to miss a land drop themselves. Is that the intended purpose here? To usually punish the player going first?
    Posted in: Commander Rules Discussion Forum
  • posted a message on Crazy/Funny/Hilarious Deck Ideas
    I can recommend tstorm823's Zedruu the GOAT.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Tolaria West (and other utility lands)
    Quote from DirkGently »
    I think his point is that you never want the effect "search for a card", what you REALLY want is just to draw the card you were planning to search for. When you want creature removal you want to draw creature removal, when you want an overrun you want to draw an overrun. Drawing one when you wanted the other is bad. Drawing a tutor means you're effective drawing BOTH...but at a less efficient cost. Demonic tutor is like a split card of every card in your deck, with the cost + 1B.
    Sure, you could describe Demonic Tutor this way. I don't think that changes that "search for a card" is an effect certain decks want though. For example, let's say you're some kind of combo deck. Maybe you play multiple combos, but one combo you play is Dark Depths + Vampire Hexmage. Now, say you want to increase the probability of drawing certain cards for your combo. One way you could do this is by including more cards in your deck with the same effect, but for something like Dark Depths and Vampire Hexmage, that isn't exactly the case. There's functionally only one Dark Depths, and while other counter removing cards like AEther Snap exist, they're still worse than using Demonic Tutor to find Vampire Hexmage.

    Alternatively, say you play a card like Mana Crypt in your deck. You don't even need to treat Demonic Tutor as a tutor effect in order to want to play it since, if you treat Demonic Tutor as a ramp spell, Mana Crypt is still bonkers when it costs 1B, and you'd want to play that anyway. The fact that Demonic Tutor is also versatile needn't even factor into that decision if you look at it from that perspective.

    Quote from DirkGently »
    The cost of running a tapped land is always going to depend on the deck, so I definitely wouldn't recommend them for all decks. Phelddagrif in particular, since I very very rarely have need to play something on curve, is a particularly good place to run tapped lands imo. The odds of drawing an etbt land when I needed a non-etbt land are pretty miniscule.
    I don't think there are many decks where I would advocate ETBTapped lands even when this is true though. The opportunity cost of playing only lands that enter the battlefield untapped is just so low. Having said that, I do think a lot of decks can get away with playing an extremely small number of ETBTapped lands because ETBTapped lands get better the more lands you play that don't enter tapped since that increases the likelihood that you won't get stuck playing an ETBTapped land on a turn you don't want to.

    Quote from DirkGently »
    I think we're approaching deckbuilding from different angles. I never have some set-in-stone number of lands I intend to play, it's always a balancing act of value vs reliability - fewer lands means higher value, more lands means more reliability. My budget Phelddagrif build skews hard towards reliability because I think the deck can do quite well with a very low amount of value (that's kind of the main thing the deck DOES). But I think most control builds would reduce the number of lands and add more high-impact, high-efficiency cards like Rest in peace, consecrated sphinx, etc, and I think from the perspective of building a straightforward control deck those would be good decisions, replacing, say, Arch with Con Sphinx. I don't think it would suddenly be too short on lands, but it would probably be a few percent more likely to get stuck on mana. That would probably be worth it for the opportunity to play a bomb like Con Sphinx for that deck, though. So yes, I think you absolutely can cut lands for spells and vice versa. There's no "right" amount of lands for a deck - or if there is, it'd would require a million simulations to figure out. It's mostly a matter of how much you want to risk running out of value versus risking getting mana-screwed.
    Yeah, it certainly looks like we're approaching deckbuilding from different angles. I'm not sure I agree that there isn't a "right" number of lands for any given deck though. I feel fairly certain there is, and I don't think you need a million simulations to figure it out either. In fact, I think most players naturally stumble across this number heuristically. Have you ever seen a table like this one from Dawnglare? It uses a kind of math called hypergeometric distribution to calculate the probabilities of making a land drop by turn X.

    Normally, when building decks, I think a lot of players, myself included, tend to trust heuristics when it comes to the number of lands they play; they just sort of get a feel for the right number, and they can generally tell when they stray away from it. What's interesting to note is that that heuristic is going to vary for different people. Some players, given the exact same list, are going to feel that, on average, they draw too many lands. Some will feel like they draw too few. The equilibrium for any given player, depending on the deck they're playing (a deck with a lower curve will obviously want fewer lands, a deck with a higher curve will want more lands, etc.), can be described by the table I've linked you. Essentially, each player has a baked in preference for the number of lands they want to play. That preference is certainly going to fluctuate depending upon things like the aforementioned mana curve as well as things like the number of Ponder-esque cantrips played, but when you factor all of those things in, you can definitely say that player X ought to play Y number of lands because that is what they most prefer. (The number of lands you ought to play if you want to maximize your win rate is another subject entirely.)

    Quote from DirkGently »
    Your last paragraph is kind of confusing. You've got a deck with 10 AB spells and one with 10 A and 10 B spells. Ok, so then the first deck could...run 5 more A and 5 more B and have better odds of drawing either? Dedicate the 10 extra slots to some other effect? You only have the "same odds of drawing the right spell" if you're putting blanks into those remaining 10 slots.
    If the deck with 10 AB spells ran 5 extra A spells and 5 extra B spells, yes, they certainly would have better odds of drawing both A and B compared to the other deck. This isn't a fair comparison though. You could totally flip the situation around and say that the deck with 10 A spells and 10 B spells is just going to play 10 more of each, and that deck would then have the better odds of drawing an A spell or a B spell. The number of cards you use here doesn't matter. What matters is if a deck can achieve the correct ratio of one kind of effect that it wants to another. Provided a deck reaches that number, the versatility of their spells doesn't matter.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Tolaria West (and other utility lands)
    Quote from DirkGently »
    He's saying it applies to tutors because tutors are, in essence, flexibility at the cost of efficiency. Demonic tutor is every card in your deck, except costing 1B more (in an installment plan, granted).
    I'm starting to think I may have explained everything in a really misleading way.

    I'm not sure this will be helpful, but to reiterate, what I care most about is rate. If the effect that I want is "put a card from my deck into my hand," then what I'm probably looking for is the card that does that as efficiently as possible. You can interpret what the effect is however you like. Maybe the effect I want is Naturalize plus draw a card. I don't know why I'd want that specific effect, but if that's the effect I want, I want it at the best possible rate.

    Quote from DirkGently »
    But I think many decks wouldn't have a difficult time playing TW as a tapped land on one, although it's much more likely to be a stumbling block for decks running sol ring and mana vault and other powerful T1 plays.
    I'm with you that most decks won't have a problem playing Tolaria West on turn 1, Sol Ring or not. The problem with lands that enter play tapped is that you can't really control when you draw them though, and lands that enter play tapped tend to get significantly worse after the first few turns of the game. Sometimes you luck out, and you can find a way to weave them into your curve without losing any tempo, but that isn't always the case.

    Quote from DirkGently »
    I strongly disagree with your argument that versatile cards doesn't change the odds of mana screw or flood. A big part of the reason to run 45 lands with many utility lands in Phelddagrif is that it gives you late-game power while lowering your risk of mana screw. If the deck was rebuilt with a reasonable balance of more potent, nonland versions of those effects - rest in peace instead of scavenger grounds, mind's eye instead of arch of orazca, etc - you'd have to accept a significantly higher chance of mana screw, but at the benefit of having more powerful/efficient versions of those effects (ofc Phelddagrif is a special snowflake that doesn't WANT more powerful versions of those effects, which is why the balance is what it is).
    Sorry, but I'm afraid I don't follow. Why would you remove lands to make room for spells? Aren't you going to play a set number of lands to begin with? Like, say 45 is the "sweet spot" where that's the perfect balance of lands to spells for your deck, 46 being slightly too many, and 44 being, on average, slightly too few. Given those 45 lands, some of those are going to be utility lands because although you need a high enough density of land to ensure that you draw plenty of them each game, you don't need all 45 of those lands to be Command Tower; you're comfortable accepting some tiny amount of color screw and/or tempo loss because utility lands can be powerful, and it's worthwhile trading a small amount of consistency for a potentially larger amount of power.

    Now, having said all that, the idea that you would trade out Scavenger Grounds for Rest in Peace or Arch of Orazca for Mind's Eye doesn't make sense to me. Like, I get that maybe you wouldn't want to include Scavenger Grounds if you already decided you were going to play Rest in Peace because maybe that's too much graveyard hate, and you think you could benefit more by playing some other utility land instead, but that's exactly it; you'd be playing some other utility land instead of Scavenger Grounds. You wouldn't mess with that 45 number because exchanging Scavenger Grounds for Rest in Peace would now leave you with slightly too few land. So, I don't see how you've reached the conclusion you have.

    Quote from DirkGently »
    Generally-speaking, the point of flexible cards is to ensure you aren't flooded or screwed on ANY particular axis. Demystify is more efficient than disenchant at removing enchantments, but having disenchant means you won't be "screwed" on artifact removal when you need it, or "flooded" on enchantment removal when you don't. And the same is even more true of anguished unmaking. For almost any effect you want, there's a more efficient version that does the precise thing you want better, but flexibility is valuable because it gives you the reliability of having the effect you want more often, and having effects you can't use less often. Tapping for mana just happens to be one of the effects that you want the most often, so a card doing that dramatically improves its chances of being useful.
    Again, I agree with a lot you're saying here, but I'm still trying to make sense of it all since I don't really see how you've reached the conclusion you have.

    Say deck 'A' has 10 removal spells and 10 card draw spells. So, 20 cards total. Say deck 'B' has 10 removal spells and 10 card draw spells just like deck 'A' does except all the removal spells in deck 'B' also double as card draw and vice-versa, so deck 'B' only has 10 cards total. Deck 'A' and deck 'B' are each playing the same number of removal spells and card draw spells, so the chance you draw any one kind of particular effect is the same even though the spells in deck 'B' are more versatile. To increase the probability of drawing more removal, you would need to increase the total number of removal spells you were playing.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Tolaria West (and other utility lands)
    Quote from DirkGently »
    I would argue that TW is actually a pretty good island turn 1 since I basically never need mana on turn 1 (unless there's some serious cEDH stuff and I want to keep up rapid hybridization or whatever).
    For what it's worth, I wasn't evaluating Tolaria West in the context of your deck. I was just looking at the card on its own.

    Quote from DirkGently »
    I mean, think about the scale from "totally not a land" to "a totally reasonable card that's only a land". In the circumstance where you're stuck on 2 or 3 or whatever, the difference between an untapped blue land and a tapped blue land is perhaps significant, but the difference between drawing an etbt land or another uncastable nonland is huuuuuge.
    I agree. Maybe it's just that I don't particularly care if I get boned in these kinds of situations since Magic is random anyway. Sometimes I'm going to draw too many lands, and sometimes I'm not going to draw enough lands. Playing versatile cards doesn't not make that true, and it isn't as though playing some card over Tolaria West, be it a land or a spell, is going to affect those chances anyway since you're always just going to play whatever ratio of lands to spells is most appropriate for your deck regardless.

    Quote from DirkGently »
    But I would bet that you aren't as squeamish about flexiblity as you think you are. Do you like vindicate, beast within, anguished unmaking, or even naturalize? In all those cases you're paying a premium for flexibility, but it ensures that it does the thing you need right now. It's just that you maybe aren't considering this because they're similar effects, whereas something like warrant // warden has very different effects, but in both cases you're paying extra for the flexibility. Trying to compare any single mode for those cards, of course there will be better options, but flexibility has value, especially in a format like commander. But you don't need to focus on commander to see the strength of flexibility, in (real) competitive formats flexible cards are played frequently, because the tradeoff is often worth it.
    I'll admit, what constitutes the "minimum possible effect" for any given card I might care about is somewhat arbitrary. Vindicate, Beast Within, and Anguished Unmaking are all cards I certainly love, but I've always thought of these cards as also being the minimum possible effect (in this case, something that destroys any one card, whatever it happens to be). The minimum possible effect isn't anything tangible in my mind. It's just in how the effect is framed. So, when you say that maybe I'm not so squeamish about playing flexible cards, I suppose that is true. It just sounds to me like we're arguing more over semantics than anything else. That, or me using the word "flexibility" earlier was a grievous error on my part as a writer.

    Quote from DirkGently »
    As far as slice in twain, I think what I'd want to consider are the play patterns of the deck. So for example, in which circumstances do I want to cast a disenchant effect, and in those circumstances is an extra 2 (or 3) mana going to be a burden? How valuable is the card, am I frequently running out of gas because my deck is excessively tempo-focused, or do I usually have a full grip anyway? When I want to cast disenchant specifically, is that a time when I'm likely to want the extra card? Do I want to be able to hold up mana to cast it during someone else's turn right after they play an artifact or enchantment, or is it ok to wait until my turn to untap to cast a disenchant? These sorts of questions. If I need early responses to fast combo then there's no question that naturalize is better. If games are taking an eternity and value is paramount, then slice in twain is better. I don't think there's a reasonable way to evaluate these two cards against each other in a total vacuum. I would probably trend toward naturalize but there are definitely circumstances where it's the other way around.
    I think you're asking the right questions here. The way you're looking at Slice in Twain is the way I think anyone ought to look at a card when they're trying to decide if they should play it or not. The only problem I have here (if you can even call this a problem) is that this way of looking at cards is completely contextual. What you're saying (and this is true) is that Slice in Twain's value as a card can't be compared to Naturalize. The two cards are different, and because they are different, one isn't definitively better than the other. It doesn't matter how similar they might be. The fact that they are different alone means that there will be contexts where Naturalize is better and there will be contexts where Slice in Twain is better. I find this to be seriously unhelpful when discussing the worth of cards.

    I think maybe it would help if I explained my philosophy behind comparing cards a bit more. See, cards are certainly different. We definitely agree on that. But something worth mentioning is that we also have values; there are certain qualities we see in cards that we care about because we associate these qualities with winning. For example, mana costs are one thing we care about, and cards with cheaper mana costs are preferential to cards with more expensive mana costs provided that these cards are identical in every other way.

    Now, in a world where all cards are different and where all cards' worth can only be determined by context, the seemingly uncontroversial statement I made above, that cheaper mana costs are preferential to more expensive mana costs, still isn't always true. There will still be instances where, despite two cards being identical except for cost (like Lightning Bolt and Lightning Strike), the more expensive card will be better. I believe the takeaway from this is: just because Lightning Strike sometimes happens to be better than Lightning Bolt doesn't mean we shouldn't not perceive Lightning Bolt as being a better card. We can correctly attribute why Lightning Bolt is a "better" card than Lightning Strike even though we also understand that the worth of each card entirely depends on context. If we didn't do that, it would be impossible to assess any card. As humans, we aren't able to reliably determine the worth of every possible card in every possible context, and attempting to do so would be madness.

    So, when I say that Slice in Twain is a worse Naturalize than Naturalize is, it's under a sort of commonly presumed context. I just tend to believe that, when talking about cards, we usually just discuss them with this commonly presumed context in mind. (Although maybe that's not particularly helpful in this thread if what you're looking for is specific advice regarding the worth of particular utility lands in your distinct Phelddagrif deck.)

    Quote from Reaper9889 »
    I feel this is a fairly bad argument. I am certain that if slice in twain cost 3 instead of 4 that lots of people would play it, even though everything you said remainds true.
    I mean, sure. Maybe other players would play Slice in Twain more if it cost 2G. That wouldn't really change for me though. What I care about is the rate I'm getting.

    I want an effect (in this case, Naturalize), and I want that effect as cheaply as possible. The fact that Slice in Twain draws a card is irrelevant. It's not part of the effect I value, and it negatively affects the rate I pay for it. Is it useful to draw cards? Sure, but that's not the reason I'm playing Naturalize. You could replace the "draw a card" part with any sort of useful effect here, and it wouldn't matter because, so long as it negatively affects the rate for the effect I want, I'm going to play something else. If what I wanted was to draw cards, I would just find a different card that had a good rate on that.

    Quote from Reaper9889 »
    Also, you example card: the effect gain 2 life is not worth much (lets say the difference between a colored and an uncolored mana to be nice), the add a counter to target creature is bad, in that it is required. Thus, the card is still slightly below average but a bit better than Slice in Twain. Note that even average cards isnt good enough to be played.
    I think you're missing the point of the example here. The point of Slice into Too Many Pieces was to show that adding useful riders to a card doesn't necessarily make it more valuable if it makes the reason you're playing the card more expensive. In my example, it doesn't really matter what riders I chose. I just chose things that were all worse than Naturalize because if any of them were better than the Naturalize part of the effect then the Naturalize part might be misconstrued as a rider instead of the most valuable part of the card.

    Quote from Reaper9889 »
    Like, seriusly, your argument applies to most every tutor and suggests that you would never play any because they are too weak! (This might be a strawman, but I fail to see why it is not fair critic)
    Sorry, you lost me here. How does my argument apply to tutors?
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Tolaria West (and other utility lands)
    This is kind of an interesting topic from my perspective since, unlike most players, I tend to despise flexibility in cards, and that puts utility lands in a rather odd place for me. Here's an internal monologue on how I would assess Tolaria West:

    Why would I play Tolaria West? Is it because it's a land? No, because Tolaria West is terrible at being a land; it's usually a worse Island. As such, the only reason I'd want to play Tolaria West is if I transmute it. How good is Tolaria West when I transmute it? That depends on the deck. At 1UU, the price is fair. It lines up with others tutors like Fabricate and Call the Gatewatch, but if I don't play any 0 mana cards that are worth spending 1UU to search for, then this is obviously terrible, and I shouldn't be playing it. The fact that Tolaria West can sometimes be played as a land isn't worth much because that's the floor of the card. I'm not playing Tolaria West because it can be played as a land. I'm playing it for other reasons, so every time I play Tolaria West as a land, that's a strike against it because it's terrible at being a land, and I could have played some other card in Tolaria West's place that is actually good at being a land instead. As such, for Tolaria West to be good, I need to rarely play it as a land, AND it's transmute effect needs to be better than any other card I could comparatively play with that ability. Just because Tolaria West is a tapped Island at worst doesn't mean other cards aren't better than it.

    This whole thought process is something I've touched on before in the Brawl forum. Because it's pertinent to the conversation (and because the post there was probably read by all of two people, it being the Brawl forum and all), I'm going to shamelessly quote myself here.
    So, I think I've already said my bit when it comes to Slice in Twain, but I don't think it would hurt much for me to elaborate either.

    When I look at a card like Slice in Twain, what I ask myself is, "Why exactly do I want to play this card? Is it because it destroys artifacts and enchantments, or is it because it draws a card?" The answer to that question is because it destroys artifacts and enchantments. You can tell this is true because if you took off the "draw a card" clause, you would still consider the card, but if you took off the Disenchant clause, you wouldn't. That's because the Disenchant clause is the primary purpose of Slice in Twain and drawing the card is just extra. As such, the reason I would want to play Slice in Twain is because it destroys artifacts and enchantments and not because it draws cards.

    Understanding this, I now ask myself, "Okay, if the reason I want to play Slice in Twain is because it destroys artifacts and enchantments, are there any other cards that are better at destroying artifacts and enchantments than Slice in Twain? If so, I should probably consider those cards first." Indeed, there just so happens to be other cards that are better at destroying artifacts and enchantments than Slice in Twain. Naturalize, for one, does exactly the same effect at the cost of 2 less mana. The fact that Naturalize doesn't draw a card isn't important here because the reason I would play Slice in Twain isn't because I care about it drawing cards; it's because I care about it destroying artifacts and enchantments. And If I happened to care about Slice in Twain drawing cards, I would compare it to something that draws cards instead.

    In essence, this is ultimately what I care about when it comes to Magic cards: I want my cards to be good at doing whatever it is I put them in my deck to do. It's their rates that matter most, not their flexibility. Here's a hypothetical to illustrate my point:

    Slice into Too Many Pieces 3GG
    Instant
    Destroy target artifact or enchantment. Draw a card. You gain 2 life. Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature. It gains reach until end of turn.

    The argument here isn't about whether or not Slice into Too Many Pieces is costed appropriately. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it isn't. The argument here is about why I might want to play a given card in question. If it's because there's a particular effect on the card that I want, it needs to be able to compete with every other card with that effect for me to want to play with it. The card that does that effect "best" is usually the one I'm going to choose to play. That is, after all, why I'm playing the card in the first place, because it does whatever particular effect I want it to do at the best rate possible. The fact that some cards also do other things is more than often detrimental because it usually makes those particular cards worse at performing its desired effect (usually by increasing the card's casting cost). If any one card does two different effects I might want, I'll almost always just find two different cards that do each of those individual effects better than the one card.

    In the case of Slice in Twain, I'm definitely going to play Naturalize before it if I'm looking for Disenchant effects. Slice in Twain just exists in this grey area where it's too poor at being a Naturalize for its cost and too poor at being card advantage for its cost for it to ever be playable in my eyes.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
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