Saturday, December 20, 2014

Blue Questions with No Answers

In Magic the Gathering, players often talk in terms of question and answer. Essentially, a powerful card asks a question of your opponent - Can you answer this? And if the answer is negative, then that card will typically take over the game, often leading to the win.

One of the trends that has been pointed out to me over the past few set releases is that while Commons continue to ask the same type of questions, more often that not the answers have been moved up to Uncommon rarity. The current Standard Pauper metagame has a perfect example of this:

The Hexproof mechanic asks a straight-forward question: Can you deal with this creature even if you can't target  it? In the past, the format has included "edict"-style effects that force an opponent to sacrifice a card. But currently, no such effects exist at Common. This means that the only way to deal with a Hexproof creature is to either block it in combat or counter it before it can resolve. Add in an Aura like Aqueous Form, and you've essentially got a win condition that your opponent has no means of interacting with.

We are fortunate that the current cardpool doesn't include cheap Green creatures with Hexproof like we have in the past, or Hexproof archetypes would probably be the dominant force in the metagame. As it is, the fact that both of these Blue creatures cost 5 and 6 mana respectively means that fast aggro decks don't actually have to worry much about them, since if they are going to win the game, they will do so long before these creatures become a threat. But for midrange and control strategies, you have to rely either on holding up counter magic or simply hoping your opponent never assembles the combo. So if you're looking for something unfair to abuse, this is probably one of your better options.

Perhaps we'll get back to some sacrifice effects in the next expansion. But until then, these two Blue cards ask a question that we simply do not have a good answer for.

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