We got input from a lot -a lot- of active players this year. Some things are pretty much equal across the different groups; e.g. a great majority thinks that City in a Bottle should be unrestricted and that Strip Mine should be restricted, but there are still a handful very vocal opponents against their current status. Further away from the status quo than that, I've heard great players well invested in the format give arguments for restricting cards like Swords to Plowshares and Power Sink, and others arguing the merits for unrestricting Balance and Mana Drain. As noted by the response for the Aprils Fools post this year, it's easy to give somewhat good arguments for many, many different cards. And everyone wont always share the same experience playing with or against them. So it's important to test, talk to people, look at actual results, and understand that the changes should be made in the spirit of having people enjoy the format. It's a format for us who like flipping Chaos Orbs on Circle of Protection: Black and putting Shivan Dragons into play with Eureka after all.
|A few of the cards that spark debates|
And again, everyone wont like everything. As we've done for the last nine years, we might well keep making minor tweaks to this list every year for a long time coming. Promoting a small update to the meta, while at the same time trying to not mess too much with any pet decks. And if you don't like the changes or really want to play with four Strip Mines or 4th Edition Sylvan Libraries, just organize a gathering and do it. Make up your own house rules, or you can follow Eternal Central rules, BoM Rules, ChannelFireball rules, Local Danish rules, Ravenna rules, UK rules, EudoGames rules, Australian rules or whatever you want. There are a lot of variants. A group in Spain decides Chaos Orb flips with a coin flip to get a 50/50 chance of destroying a card rather than flipping the Orb itself. It's not like a gang of raging Scandinavians will come to your home and spill out your beer and break your kitchen table.
That said, I do realize that the great majority of the different players and playgroups around the world follow this B&R for their Old School needs. Even if many groups allow a few additional reprint sets, the B&R is almost uniformly consistent outside of USA. It's used in most all of the large European tournaments, and it's the list commonly used for 93/94 on Skype (more on that next week btw!). So we try and approach it with some thought to make it easier for players in different groups have a mostly common ground to stand on when they face each other across the borders. As a community driven format, I think that there will always be some differences, but it's important not to mess too much with the baseline and alienate players. Sure, it would be cool to legalize Rebirth, but it would also be a pretty weird play. Maybe in the future sometime ;)
|I mean, you don't even have to ante if you don't want to.|
Distress from the last Arvika top8, Oldschool's winning Nether Void deck from the Mindstage Convention, or Pefken's winning Parfait from n00bcon 4 for some different examples on prison decks). Black Vise stays restricted.
|"The Jace, the Mind Sculptor of 93/94" -Stephen Menendian|
The arguments against restriction is first that The Deck isn't the "end all be all" deck of the format, and restricting a card that isn't inherently broken by itself to nerf a great, but not really suppressive, strategy is bad policy. It's not like we're looking at The Deck before the restriction of Mana Drain. Second, it might not really make that big a difference; it's still very possible to play the deck with just one Tome and add something like Transmute Artifacts, Jalum Tome or Scepters in it's place. And third, the guys that are successful with The Deck are among the absolute elite in skill level in the format. It's not like any player showing up with The Deck will go top8.
This was a really hard one, and the discussions went back and forth. In the end, it seems better to possibly err on the side of keeping cards legal. I'm sure we'll look at it again next year, and maybe the meta has tipped the scale in the other direction then. Jayemdae Tome stays unrestricted.
|Summer is coming.|
But, and here's a but for you, people really like to play with the Factories. It's kinda like Brainstorm in the Legacy format; it may seem like an uniformed decision to keep them legal if we are objective about it, but people like playing them and a majority of the players would never want to restrict them. The Factory discussion started with a lot of animosity towards the card, but the longer it went, the more clear it was that most players really wanted to play with the card and didn't feel its power level was a big deal. So in the end we have a case of what might not be the most logical choice in a strictly competitive sense, but what's best for the format in a utilitarian sense. And after all, the answers are there and we could all afford to play a Stone Rain or two. We'll keep a close eye on the Factories the coming year, but for now Mishra's Factory is still unrestricted.
|"After I started playing MtG again I can't even fork a GitHub project without tapping two mountains." -Bjørn Einar Bjartnes|
The update will take effect in tournaments from May 15, but feel free to try it out already. I'm always happy to get feedback, even if it's just "This sounds ok". There are always a lot of people who don't agree who make their voices heard, and it's always nice to balance with people who might agree ;)
Oh, also go check out Stephen Menendian's awesome article on the history of The Deck, complete with new (!) tech from the original 1994 control master Brian Weissman if you haven't yet. A great read with some very impressive research.