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Why change is good

May 2, 2012

Lately, Cavern of Souls out of Avacyn Restored has stirred a lot of emotions in the Magic community and it’s understandable. Here we have a card that at least suggest that it will render countermagic near useless against most creature based decks. That proposition is a big deal as one of the most prominent cards of the Standard format is Mana Leak.

While it’s a staple in control decks that we have seen up to this point, it’s really in the Delver decks where Mana Leak has pulled the most weight recently. While the numbers of Mana Leak has gone up and down over the month due to meta game shifts (as the card isn’t terribly exciting to use on spells that cost 2 or less, it’s the dangerous cards that usually costs 4+ that you want to nab with the card) it has always been a great tool for stopping shenanigans from happening. The card along with the Delver decks gameplan is whats been really keeping the Primeval Titan decks “honest” recently, speaking of shenanigans.

Now, enter Cavern of Souls. It’s not too hard to understand that many players are nervous on what the future of Standard might hold if you can’t reliably stop a Primeval Titan, for example, with a counterspell.

I personally think the impact Cavern of Souls will have on Standard, if nothing else,  is greatly exaggerated but I can’t honestly tell exactly how much of an impact the card will actually have at this point. I haven’t played much with the card yet nor are there decklists from tournaments out yet when I’m writing this to draw conclusions from. The jury is still out on how much Cavern of Souls will actually do.

What I do know is that the card will certainly stir up the format in the way of how people builds their decks and choose strategies on how to tackle the environment. And no matter the end result of the format might be, this process is always a good thing.

Recently I read a blog post on Mike Flores blog, where he wrote about Cavern of Souls and the accompanying article by Wizards where they explained their design decisions regarding aforementioned card. While the post in it’s entirely certainly was a good read, it’s the last portion of the text that I found really striking.

I quote from the blog:

Magic is wonderful because sometimes we have permission based control and other times we have tapout control. Sometimes we have a Red Deck with terrible creatures and high quality burn, and other times we have a streamlined Goblins shell that takes a Fujita or Paskins to improve upon… and yet they can! Which is awesome! We have formats where The Rock is the best deck, and we have longer stretches of sanity. We have formats defined by singular challenges of Bitterblossom or Survival of the Fittest, which reward great play for long stretches… and allow the best gap designers to build even more exciting decks that can only be uncovered via the fires of seemingly oppressive strife. We would have had no Cruel Control or Blightning Beatdown if not for Faeries, no Exarch Twin without the pall of Caw-Blade.

There is one constant when it comes to the long-term enjoyment of Magic: The Gathering; and that is change.

So, even if Cavern of Souls turns out to be the bringer of doom for countermagic in Standard, which I highly, highly doubt, it’s a good thing when everything comes around. The resulting format might turn out to be worse than the one we previously had, but that is okay. Since there are constantly new sets coming out and rotations every year, Standard has the beautiful ability to “heal” itself in that way. The important part is that we as players constantly get new challenges in terms of cards, decks and meta games.

Even if you as a players like nothing more than casting a Mana Leak, I highly doubt you would enjoy it after doing it for years. So, if supposedly Mana Leak decks were the best deck in Standard for year after year, there is a high possibility that you would be fed up with the game and have quit sooner or later.

That the game is ever changing and is constantly evolving is perhaps the greatest reason why we as players continue to play this game and thus why Magic is as healthy and growing as it is today. So, even if it sucks a little on the short term for you as on a individual level to have your favorite toy taken away from you, it’s beneficial for the game and the playerbase at large on a grander scheme of things.

Persevere,

Bernhard

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