Monday, June 25, 2012

Mass Land... blinking?

When I started playing magic, armageddon was a fairly common card. It wasn't something to worry or complain about, it was just a part of the game. I can remember in the good old days trying to exploit mass land destruction with decks built around ernham djinn + armageddon or jokulhaups + ivory gargoyle.

Many years later when I picked up the EDH torch, mass land destruction no longer looked so benign. The key differences are how long the average game of commander takes and the likelihood of a land sweeper bringing a game to its end versus adding an extra hour or two to it. In a duel, with even a small advantage on the board sweeping away the lands can cripple your opponents' ability to improve and let that advantage translate into a quick victory. In a 40 life multiplayer format, that is just a lot less likely to be the result. Its harder to get an advantage on the board, and there are a plethora of 1 and 2 mana spells that can stop you from winning post-LD. You might think darksteel colossus is a sure bet if you blow up all the lands, but you're one unsummon or swords to plowshares away from joining your opponents in recovery mode.

And what's wrong with that? Topdeck wars. It is not fun to have to pray that your next card/s will be land/s. This is compounded by the fact that most EDH decks are built to play 7 mana crap rares - having to rebuild from scratch means every one of these beauties you draw is now a dead card further hindering the re-development of your mana base.

Mass land destruction is a totally legitimate strategy that can lead to a quick victory. For me tho (and my playgroup) it is simply not worth the downside of a slow crawl back into the game. Commander games already tend to lean towards 2 hours or more so having one grind to a halt due to an obliterate is extremely painful. I would rather just play the game to its conclusion and then start a new game afterwards, than have obliterate as a full reset mid-way through the same game.

But what if there was a card that could give you the benefits of a land sweeper, without the risk of slow and painful topdeck wars? That would be a pretty cool card wouldn't it?

I wasn't sure how this would play out, and I only got to use it once, but it seemed like a perfect compromise on the issues with cards like jokulhaups or obliterate. If you've got an advantage on the board, you'll get it back before others have all of their mana available. There's no risk of a topdeck war really because everyone will get a land drop each turn as long as that's what they want (you usually want your other permanents first). If someone has an answer to your threat and plays it right away, oh well, proceed with restoring your lands from exile. If they were relying on confiscate though, you've now got 6-ish turns to do your worst.

Macaroni or Cheese

This is a fairly old card, and I've never seen anyone else play it. That lets it pass the hipster test of a macaroni card. I also think its awesome that it lets people play with the mass LD strategy - and who knows, if I saw it enough and saw that the land sweeping tends to end games far more often than it prolongs them, I'd consider lifting the house rule against it. That's a long shot, so in the meantime let's just send those lands on vacation rather than blowing them up.