Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The King Is Dead, Long Live the King

I'm back. So f'n what. I just lost approximately $40 bucks - and that's just so far.

What is he talking about, you ask? First, read this:


Now I know, those of you who don't play competitive Magic would like me to just get to the punchline. The first card listed under the "Standard" heading - Arcbound Ravager - is rare. I bought four (the most you can play of any one card under tournament rules) at $25/each approximately one year ago. The price has stood pat pretty much all year. Now it's banned.

Quit whining, you say. "Bah!" I say. I'm out $40 today, probably another $20 to $40 before the price finishes plummeting. I'm distraught, I don't know what to do...my Ravagers are gone, and I've got a deck that sucks complete and total ass now!!!! I have no further reason to live, and I'll now be signing off...forever.



OK, not really (drama, much?). Actually, I'm quite happy that the DCI (the governing body of Magic tournaments) did what they did. I don't really care about my cards being devalued - that happens all the time in a game that's always changing. I care about competition, and the Affinity deck which Arcbound Ravager, Disciple of the Vault, and the Artifact lands appeared in was too dominant. It was so good that you either needed to play it or build your deck to beat it. That isn't healthy. I remember 1999.

1999 was the year when Urza's Saga was released onto the Magic community. In this expansion, the card Tolarian Academy was included. Tolarian Academy provided an amount of blue mana (the stuff used to cast spell cards in Magic) equal to the number of artifacts its controller had on his or her side. A card called Mind over Matter was released in the previous set (Exodus) which allowed you to discard a card to tap or untap pretty much anything - including lands. Therefore, using cards like Windfall, Time Spiral, and others to draw most of their deck, casting low-cost artifacts along the way to make Academy produce stupid amounts of mana, they would use a card called Stroke of Genius to make you draw something like one million cards. The problem with that is what? A simple rule of Magic - if the game tells you to draw a card and you can't, you lose. These decks could go off no matter what was put up against them, and even if you did beat them, you were probably just extremely lucky (or the Academy player was that bad).

Therefore, when the opportunity came, Tolarian Academy was banned. At the time, I was frustrated, yet relieved. You see, I had four Academies, which I allowed a friend to appropriate because I refused to play the deck (I hate combo decks). But those things were worth $25 or $30 bucks a pop. Once we tired of them, we'd move them to someother evil combo player. Of course, the bottom fell out of the market, and we were stuck with them. Over time, though, I realized something...I was having more fun at the tournaments. You see, everyone had been so worried about Academy, that real deck innovation was almost nonexistent. You could try as you might, but if you weren't playing Academy or one of two other decks (which could beat Academy 30 percent of the time - a good percentage, trust me), you had no chance.

Wizards decided to ban Academy for the good of the game, not for the good of the Sam. I thought that sucked for me, but in reality, they did me a favor. They made the game more accessible by fixing a mistake.

Today, they banned Arcbound Ravager. They did so for the good of the game. And again, they made the game more accessible by fixing a mistake. I can live with that, even though I might lose a little money on the deal.

As for those Tolarian Academies, I gave them to another friend about six months ago for a couple of random cards. I hear he wants to build an old school version of the deck that terrorized Magic in 1999. As for me, I'll keep my Ravagers, because they didn't ban them in Extended...

'Til next time,


P.S. I've posted a link to the Magic card database over on the right. If you need to know what any cards do, it can help you.

Edit: I removed the link, but you can click here instead. I plan on linking to individual cards in future posts, but I'm not going back and adding links to all of them to this post.

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