Tuesday, February 23, 2010

why i don't play standard

For the three of you who read this blog, it's pretty obvious that my focus is on Extended. This isn't just because it's Extended season; it's also because I cannot stand Standard. Can't stand-ard. Hehe.

When the topic turns to Standard being a horrible pile of shit format at the moment, people usually bring up Jund, and how boring it is. To me, Jund is just a symptom of the larger problem: the cards that Wizards has put out over the past couple years cause people to make decks that are just piles of good cards, with no synergy. Off the top of my head, some of the best decks in Standard right now:

White Weenie
UW Control

Holy hell, look at all those different strategies that are viable! Well... no, not really. Here's what I see:

BRG good cards
Mono-white good fast cards
UW good slow cards (edit: it's been pointed out how synergistic the draw engine of Jace, Treasure Hunt, and Halimar Depths is, so I no longer consider UW to be just a good cards deck. Plus, it plays Cancel, and that's not on anyone's list of must-play staples.)
RGW good cards
RBU good slow cards
BGW good cards

They play in different ways, obviously, and use different cards, but the main deckbuilding strategy is the same: throw the best cards in your colors in a deck, and see whose cards end up being better. To put it simply, I do not play Magic for this. What I like about Magic decks is how they can operate like polished machines, each card in them with a specifically-defined function; how that Arcbound Worker is used as a critical piece in an overpowered monstrosity despite how terrible it looks at first glance. When I think dominant standard decks, what comes to mind are things like:

UG Madness
Astral Slide
Tooth and Nail
UR Tron
BW (insert variant here) from chk/ravnica

Obviously, there were some non-linear strategies, but all the above decks were either linear or had some powerful synergies built into them that made them function as well as they did, using cards no one else wanted to use. Even a good cards deck like Tron was built off the synergy of colorless lands that made a lot of mana, with signets to cast spells. Teachings was full of good cards, but the synergy that the card Mystical Teachings had with Teferi was pretty incredible. Right now, all the decks that have a powerful linear or at least highly synergistic gameplan are tier two in standard, and that really sucks.

I'm obviously in the minority in this opinion, since Standard tournament attendance is at an all-time high... apparently people just really like their good cards decks. Maybe that's why people insist on playing their Rock decks even when there are good synergies available. Back to Extended for me. Hey, that's why there are multiple formats, right?


Adam said...

While I do agree that many of the decks are just random cards, there are some decks such as U/W Control, Valakut Control, Boss Naya and Vampires which aren't just "every amazing card".

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