Witnessing the Changes
Hey Ya’ll and welcome back to Eternal Witness!
It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the Magic world (and in my personal life, so my apologies for the delayed article!) and so this fortnight, I am going to chat about a couple of changes to the Banned and Restricted list and how it affects the current Eternal metagame, including testing one of the recent unbannings in an established deck, as well as talking a bit about my last performance in the London Games Club League.
Now, unless you have been living under a rock or been trapped in your fridge (don’t you just hate it when that happens?!?) for the last couple of weeks, you know that on June 18th, Wizards and the DCI announced the July 1st changes to the Banned and Restricted list for all formats. They also announced changes to the Extended format, which I will not being going into here, but has been covered extensively elsewhere on this site. I will say that I believe that this paves the way for “Over” or “Super” Extended format that has been on the rumour mill lately. This rumour states that there will be a new Eternal format starting at Mercadian Masques up to the current set. This format will be available on Magic Online from 2011, so I would think this would be the time they would also launch the new format. Only time will tell!
Righto, enough of my paranoid mutterings, onto something better! In this last Banned and Restricted listing, Wizards banned Mystical Tutor and unbanned Grim Monolith and Illusionary Mask in the Legacy format. No changes were made to the Vintage format however. More on this in a moment.
The banning of Mystical Tutor has caused an internet frenzy and MTGTheSource had a 15 page thread regarding this change within 24 hours of the announcement. The reason? Mystical Tutor was one of the best unbanned search cards in Legacy and powered two of the best decks, Reanimator and ANT (Ad Nauseum Tendrils). Wizards discussed this in their The Week that Was article on the 25th of June, and they basically said that the reason Mystical was banned was that it was an unfair play anywhere outside of tournaments and people didn’t play unfair cards in their weekly events, due to some unmentioned “Gentleman’s Agreement”. I, personally, can understand this banning, as I have played against Reanimator several times both in testing and in tournament surroundings and the deck is just a monster. With a good pilot, there isn’t anything they can’t do and they can generally play the card they need whenever they like thanks to being able to Tutor it up!
Lots of people are testing ANT and Reanimator without Mystical Tutor, but in the case of ANT, I believe that deck to be dead and a new combo deck that isn’t as resilient will come out instead. In the case of Reanimator, lots of people are testing Ponder or Lim-Duls Vault in the place of Mystical Tutor, but I was watching testing of this on Friday and the deck, whilst still OK, isn’t the powerhouse it once was. I feel it is now a “fair” deck, rather than the monster it once was!
At the same time as the bannings, the unbannings were released and we have 2, count ’em 2, new toys to play with! Grim Monolith and Illusionary Mask! Now, as you read last week, I am a hardcore Belcher player and the unbanning of Grim Monolith makes me happy in parts other cards can’t reach!
The unbanning of Illusionary Mask doesn’t float my boat in quite the same manner, as I feel this is one of those unbannings that really shouldn’t have that much effect on the meta, as 1) it is now very expensive, 2) the deck it ran in, Masknought, which used the Mask to put an uncounterable Phyrexian Dreadnought into play no longer works, as Mask has been erratta’d so that you can now counter the creature put into play with the Mask and 3) Stiflenaught is a much better version of this same idea. Some people will now run the Mask alongside Stifle to maximise the ways to cheat the big 12/12 Trampler into play, but time will only tell on that!
As I just said, I love Belcher in an almost unhealthy way and I had my Grim Monoliths ordered within a couple of hours of the announcement. I had gotten burned the last time cards were unbanned (ie Entomb) and didn’t get them when they were cheap, so I made sure to get them as soon as possible, as I didn’t want to pay $40 each for a card I knew I wanted to play. I think, going forward, that this will be my aim from now on!
Now, I was going to go into in-depth analysis of my Belcher testing, explaining more about the deck and it’s ins and outs, but there has been a new red mana accelerant spoiled on MTGSalvation and therefore, I have halted my testing with Grim Monolith for now, as I have 8 flexible slots in my deck so the two new cards will be taking those places. More on this soon, I promise, I just want my testing to be as thorough as possible for you all!
On the 21st of June, we had the second monthly London Games Club and this time round we had 9 participants this time round, compared to the 14 we had the first month. I think this may have been partly to do with the change of night, from a Friday to a Monday, but Fridays were just a seating nightmare, as FNM was also trying to draft at the same time, as well as all the Yu Gi Oh homies trying to do their thang, so Monday is the new night.
I was tired of playing Belcher, as, while I had seen success with it, people were now well aware of its possible power and the meta had shifted from Aggro and non-blue control (such as Lands) to decks such as Merfolk, Reanimator, Bant Control, and other such decks, which all run Force of Will and make for a miserable night for the Belcher Guy. Because of this, I decided I would play Zoo, as it has comparatively simple decision trees (in my opinion) and good matchups with most of the above. I was also hoping that because of the recent banning, people would be leaving their Reanimators at home, as that is near enough impossible to beat! Here is the list I played:
I really felt this was a solid list and cards like Elspeth, Knight Errant and Basilisk Collar were there to help with the Bant and Reanimator matchups that I know can be miserable for this deck. I won’t go into too much detail, but I finished up 6th with a record of 1-2, beating Merfolk in 3 games and then losing to a Zoo mirror and then to Reanimator. I think I probably picked the wrong deck, as I was hoping that the Reanimator players would hopefully leave their decks at home, thanks to the banning, but they obviously wanted once last dance! I was disappointed with my performance, but I think a lack of real practice with the deck and a poor deck choice were the reasons behind my failure and I am looking forward to doing better next time round!
Anyways, that’s it from me this week, I have bored ya’ll enough for now, but if you enjoyed my article, please tell your friends!
Oh, and the winner of my Tagline Contest is Jay, who offered the suggestion of:
Until next time, keep ‘em sleeved. :) (Yeah, just enough of a double entendre to make me happy!)