Wednesday, March 3, 2010

extended banned list

Current Extended banned list consists of:

Sensei's Divining Top
Aether Vial
Disciple of the Vault

SDT and Skullclamp obviously need to remain banned; the former simply for time reasons, the latter because have you read the card seriously just look at it. The latter two, though, seem like they don't need to be banned any more. First, let's look at the reasons for banning them in the first place:

"Last season's Extended metagame was pretty amazing. There were lots and lots of decks—all of them very powerful and very fast. Of course, with the format rotating in October, we lose a lot of that diversity.

The fact that nothing approximating a normal control deck was viable in the format was not a huge problem considering the wide range of options. But with half the decks rotating out, we had to take a serious look at starting the “new” format off in a place more conducive to a traditional “rock-paper-scissors” metagame.

What we didn't want to do was take good decks and blow them to smithereens like we did with Affinity in Standard three months ago. Instead we opted for the “surgical strike” option on some of the more resilient aggressive decks.

Aether Vial is a pretty ridiculous card. It costs but one mana, and it makes all of your creatures essentially uncounterable free instants. It messes up permission, combat, you name it. Basically it's like a super Dark Ritual that gives you 17 free mana over the course of a game. Somehow it has survived getting the axe in other formats, but knowing how much of a head start it gives Goblins and Affinity in this format—and how much it cripples control—we can't justify leaving it around.

Disciple of the Vault was a less obvious candidate, but in general we really dislike the “Oops, I win” draws that Ravager Affinity is capable of, especially since there isn't much anyone can do to stop them once they start going for the Disciple combo-kill. We certainly don't have a policy of banning cards preemptively—Disciple has proven itself again and again. Affinity took the crown at the last Extended Pro Tour using a card pool that was significantly bigger than what will be available in LA this fall; it probably won't even need Disciple to remain competitive.

Will there still be a good Goblin deck? Absolutely. Affinity deck? Yes, hopefully with some new twists. Pro Tour LA should be very interesting—and it needs to be. It has large shoes to fill based on the popularity of the last Extended season."

Goblins obviously isn't a concern since Onslaught rotated out, so let's just talk about Affinity. First, if you look at Affinity in Legacy, where both Disciple and Vial are legal, in an environment with a lot of countermagic (making Vial a lot better), absolutely no one plays Aether Vial. No one. In fact, it lists the top twenty cards most often played in it, and Vial doesn't even make that list, while Relic of Progenitus does. This says to me, rather clearly, that if it were unbanned, Affinity wouldn't even want it. To be blunt, Springleaf Drum is just a better card at doing the same thing, since you don't have to wait a turn. Zoo, same thing: the Legacy versions play about 90% Extended-legal spells, and they don't play Vial either, ever, so it's pretty easy to assume they wouldn't want it. Who would? Well, the most common deck that uses it in Legacy is Merfolk... a deck known for how it gets crushed by the format's Zoo. I'm also unsure how synergystic blue men could possibly compete with indestructible 20/20s on turn two... Unsummon, I guess? Doesn't seem like a solid plan. Even if it does enable a Merfolk deck or some better version of White Weenie, is anyone really not okay with this? Aggro decks that aren't Zoo have a very tough time in the format currently, and Vial would make them better, but not absurd, especially since almost no one plays real countermagic (one of the main reasons Vial is a useful card in Legacy).

Now on to Disciple of the Vault. To put it simply: Affinity sucks in Extended right now. It's not like last season where you needed some Kataki or Ancient Grudge to beat it; no, it just loses to most decks even with zero dedicated hate cards. Again, synergistic creatures have a pretty hard time dealing with 20/20s, turn one 3/3s, or turn three kills. Disciple, at its best, gives your Ravager the additional ability of making them lose one life; this would make the deck better, but certainly not great, in the format.

Affinity: "turn one Frogmite, turn two Ravager and Disciple! Oh what now!!! You thought it was banned BUT IT ISN'T"
Dark Depths/Elves/Hypergenesis/Living End: "oh I remember that card. Cool. Kill you."
Affinity: "oh. Too bad my deck still plays no relevant disruption and does nothing other than play undercosted or free creatures."

Worst-case, if I'm wrong about how good it is, it'll be another deck and people will have to go back to actually sideboarding against the deck. Doesn't seem like a bad result.


Charles said...

unbanning aether vial is stupid

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