Filler and mid-season rants

Our hero over at The Sentinel, Dave Firth Bard, is currently in India making the world a better place. As such, he wont post a spoiler today, and we'll go for a double spoiler 12/12 next week instead. Spoiler-free Friday it is. As good an excuse as any to rant a bit.

First of all, bow your heads mofos, 'cause I was recently dubbed an honorary member of the Akron Legionnaires.

While the Akron Legionnaires may be a fairly small team (five people when counting my honorary membership as a proper), we do have both sweet attitudes and impressive output. 80% of the team members do have their own blags after all. Matt, Bill, Sean and myself keep screaming at the void that is the Internet, while Jimmy act as the get-away driver. I assume. Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to meet the guys face-to-face yet, but until then I will presume that this is the case. Regardless, the honor is mine, and I hope to do you guys proud on this side of the continent in any upcoming gatherings here.

I also got a new card! #NotMailDayPerSayButBoughtThisInALocalPub

The Candlestick is super sweet, and in the top pedigree as awe-inspiring antiquities go. Never had one of these before. Been wanting one for a long time though. Can't wait to try it out in Project M and a bunch of other sweet brews.

Though my main thing the last weeks has been the crafts. Scissors, glue and printer ink is my company whenever the lil' changeling is asleep.

Cutting corners.

Mailed these six out three or four weeks ago, as the mail route to the US can take almost a month during the season. Still haven't finished gluing the last few of the forty packs. Glad I went for draft rather than sealed for the upcoming release event.

It has been very fun to see people follow the spoiler season, coming with wishes and feedback along the way. In some cases even their own guesses about the full set. A lot of the input has been really insightful. Though at this point I guess it is kinda moot. The set is done, and random boosters have been made and sent out. Most everyone participating in the spoiler season knew their cards about a month ago. There might (most probably) be some room for improvement, but there's no going back and changing now.

Still, looking through my binder of the Scryings set, there isn't really anything I blatantly wish I'd done different right now. Well, maybe one card, but that's a card no one has asked about, so maybe I was wrong about that one anyway. (Image censored to avoid spoilers. The binder is still sorted by color and in alphabetical order, so take your best guesses I suppose).

About half-way through, the reactions towards the spoiler season have been above and beyond what I anticipated. The "Announcing Scryings" post has well over 5,000 reads by now, and double that if we look at the spoiler page. So it seems that far more people than just the n00bcon crew cares about the pet project this is. And looking to the grander old school community, out of ten players it appears that about one thinks that this is a bad idea, about four thinks it looks fun, and about five doesn't really care that much one way or the other. That is a much better hit rate than any B&R update I've ever announced. Better than most other ideas I've tried for that matter, like gatherings for charity (#MtgForLife) or playing with only Alpha cards in penny sleeves. So I guess there's that. I've been blagging long enough that I suspect that not having anyone on the internet being annoyed with an idea i simply a sign that the idea was uninteresting or bland.

Anyway, spoilers. As we don't have a spoiler for today, I was thinking about doing a few reversed spoilers of sorts. Cards that didn't end up in the set, that is.

As a few of you might know, the idea of having a curated set of "future cards" rather than just, say, allowing Fallen Empires and Homelands or playing AA (Alpha-Alliances) had been a pet project for some time. Though I did want to try it on a very voluntary basis, so forcing Scryings upon the World Championship at n00bcon seemed weird. But earlier this year, after it was finalized that we wouldn't host the World Championship at n00bcon in 2020 (gogo Winc0n!), the plan was set to action. Two weeks before n00bcon 11, I had written up version one of the "set". Then I did some small tinkering on spare time for a couple of months, and at the beginning of September I shared the list with Honka and Kalle for some actual feedback. We changed a few cards (perhaps most notably adding the card that Wak-Wak will spoil in about a week), and then simply ordered a bunch of the commons, a handful of the uncommons, and at least one of each rare to build boosters. There are however two months between September and November, and I did go on to reconsider a few more cards on the list. So a handful of the cards I ordered and expected to use in September didn't end up in the set by November. Here are six of them.

Maro, Polymorph, Storm Cauldron, Tranquil Domain, Swamp Mosquito, Ophidian.

Maro is a fine card, but underwhelming in this setting. Green rares have a lot to offer among the almost 1,400 cards available to Scryings, and a 4-drop beatstick is not really that interesting. What does Maro do that Erhnam, Nettletooth or Su-Chi doesn't?

Polymorph had a little more convoluted reason for being cut; the effect simply didn't feel "oldschool enough". Sacking a factory or random token to consistently land a Spirit of the Night or Nicol Bolas felt more like playing Oath of Druids, or even dabbling in the lines of Premodern. If we want to cheat creatures into play here, our plans are more akin to Eureka or All Hallow's Eve. Polymorph stepped over the line into middle-school sorcery a little too much. That's not to say that the effect of putting cards from the library into play is completely off the table (e.g. Transmute Artifact is an oldschool card after all), but Polymorph's style of forcing the hand in deckbuilding to make a kinda random effect less random was a little too on the nose.

Storm Cauldron was the very last card to be changed in the set, and a very late cut to that. I even suggested to a few people to spoil it when asked for spoilers. It was after all the card that got Fastbond restricted in Vintage, and it looked like it could be a fun combo card. However, nobody I talked to seemed excited by the card nor interested in having that as their spoiler. And if we are going to add a card that would presumably act as a tier2.x combo engine, at least we need the card to be exciting. There were some solid competition among the colorless/multicolored rares, so Storm Cauldron would eventually have to step aside.

I wont go into the details on why the commons below were cut now, but feel free to ask (or speculate) if you are interested.

I look forward to more tech and ideas as the spoiler season keeps going. I've consciously tried to avoid building too much with cards before the spoilers are out. Right now, my mind is fully set on building a Jokulhaups deck for the Arvika Festival in February. It is such a nostalgic piece of Magic for me, and I'm thoroughly enjoying trying to break it in this new setting. Thanks for indulging, and happy brewing!


  1. That's funny, I was actually talking up Storm Cauldron about a week ago! I think it's a really exciting card, was trying to think what could be done with it effectively outside of Fastbond. :)

    And thanks again for the awesome shoutout! :D

    1. Yeah, it is an interesting one, maybe cutting it was a mistake ;) I think it is pretty good against control, as "end of turn, activate book" doesn't really work, and it is much harder to cast counterspells (or activate factories for that matter). It also encourages a low curve, which is kinda interesting. Though I guess that the control punishing lines of play with the card can be well enough approximated with City of Solitude, and there are a bunch of other combo enablers in the set (Enduring Renewal, Zur's Weirding and Anvil of Bogardan to name some spoiled ones), so maybe it would have been superfluous regardless.

  2. Stan Sterkendries9 december 2019 kl. 13:16

    Pity about Storm Cauldron. I'm sure you found a suitable replacement for it though. I was one of the people who chose a different release card (it would have been odd if the os95 group had spoiled a card that isn't legal in our format). This card and unrestricted Fastbond would probably have combined into a cool all in combo deck, and with 2/3rds of the set not spoiled yet there's really no telling if the format is ready for that or not.

    If I may ask, what was the logic behind leaving the mosquito and the snake out? You probably added a more pinpoint enchantment removal card in the set.

    1. Yeah, I hope the replacement card will be a better fit. It was at least a card very high up on my personal list, and one of the most requested cards that hadn't been included. Though I'm pretty sure that most players will be able to find one or another multicolor/artifact rare that they would rather have cut to have Storm Cauldron in the set, though I assume that it will be a different card for most people. Some players will probably be annoyed with Anvil of Bogardan locks, and some will think that e.g. Grinning Totem is too cute to have in the set ;)

      Btw, when you got your spoiler (which was pretty late in the season), Storm Cauldron was almost out already, even being placed in a separate pile and not having been in the piles randomized for any boosters I'd already made. So it is by no means on you that it is out (though I guess that if you would have picked it, it would have been the last possible life-line ;)).

      Swamp Mosquito wasn't enough on its own to move Poison from tier5 (or something) to tier3-4; in order to make any impact we would have needed to add at least Suqata Assassin as well. And taking two slots for a potential future tier3.5 deck that only the most poison-dedicated would try out seemed a little much. People play poison and lose with some joy already today after all, so giving it the mosquito didn't seem that necessary all things considered.

      Ophidian changed the tempo of control decks a little too much. Against aggressive decks like sligh, goblins or stompy, it can act as a proficient wall for almost no card investment. It makes Savannah Lions and similar "fair cards" much worse. And as a card draw engine against decks with few or no creatures, it is a little to easy to use. We kinda like that control decks on average will have to expect to pay about four mana to consistently get a new card in oldschool, and Ophidian changed the tempo.

  3. Good read! even though i have so many memories of Ophidian im glad it was not released.Grinning Totem is probably one of the cards im most excited about at the moment :) // Jhovalking

  4. Storm Cauldron is hilarious, it brings Kismet and Ankh Of Mishra to my mind -- anwer


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