It has been a tumultuous couple of months for 7 Point Highlander. We’ve had the biggest event the format has ever seen (200+ players, beating our previous record of 98). We’ve had a huge influx of new decks, new people, new opinions and great new ideas.
In addition to this, the Committee has been discussing how we should react to ‘fire’ design decisions from wizards. Should we just accept them, or should we use the points system as a mechanism to slow the pace of power creep in the format?
Ultimately we decided that – while we can’t *stop* wizards printing on average more powerful cards- we can pump the brakes on the most egregious mistakes.
As such, this is a pretty big points update, which includes some changes a while coming.
- Underworld Breach +2 (Now 3 points)
- Mana Crypt +1 (Now 3 points)
- Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath +1 (now 1 point)
- Deathrite Shaman +1 (now 1 point)
- Imperial Seal -1 (now 2 points)
- Dark Petition -1 (now 0 points)
This is a lot to unpack.
Underworld breach +2 points
Breach is a good example of a card we’ve been reluctantly trying to work our way around rather than facing head on. It enables some compact and somewhat hard to interact with combo decks, including the Breach-Oracle-Lurrus combo deck which put up great numbers in the league. Breach narrows the range of viable combo decks dramatically, and increases the overall power of the format significantly.
We discussed at length if the second of these points should go on Breach directly or on to Thassa’s oracle or Lurrus; at this time, we decided the most straightforward solution was to put both on Breach. This should make Breach-Oracle much, much harder to break, but still leave dedicated versions of the breach combo alive.
Mana crypt +1 point
Mana Crypt has been two points for as long as I can recall, probably since the start of the joint points list. Many people (including me, on the Highlander Cast) have said that it’s because although mana crypt allows extremely busted starts, it’s enough worse than sol ring over the length of the average highlander game that the points difference makes sense.
However – the format now is a lot more powerful than it was. Too many decks are dipping in to Mana Crypt to power out a variety of powerful 3 drops on turn 1.
The format is fast enough that, fundamentally, Mana Crypt’s drawback of dealing 1.5 damage per turn is outweighed by it costing zero, in comparison to Sol Ring.
Imperial Seal -1 point
Putting any card in your library on top of your deck for 1 mana and 2 life is, no doubt, a really powerful effect. The singleton nature of Highlander is one of the things we all love about it, and things which provide excessive consistency are not treated lightly by the Committee.
However…Imperial Seal is a reasonable amount worse than Vampiric Tutor. More and more decks are able to play around your sorcery speed tutor, and so we think dropping it down 1 point is a worthwhile experiment.
We did discuss the fact that we’re reducing the cost of a 600+ dollar card, but we don’t think it will overnight become a must-have for a dozen archetypes.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath +1
Uro is another example of a card from the new ‘Fire’ design period which simply does too much for its cost. Uro VS removal is in general a losing battle over a long game; even VS hard exile removal you’re up a card and some life in nearly all circumstances.
The degree to which it narrows options for midrange decks, and how repetitive it makes any game it is involved in, are very powerful and not very fun. It can be weak vs extremely fast starts or combo opponents, but given we are significantly weakening the breach combo we think it is past time that it was pointed.
Deathrite shaman +1 point
Deathrite Shaman has a lot of power in its 1 mana frame. From the point of view of the committee, one of the issues with it is the amount it homogenises the format; we think it is one of the culprits making 4 and 5 colour decks so easy to put together.
In addition to this, it allows decks in colours where mana acceleration is harder to come by have access to a 1 mana threat that does everything they could ever want.
Dark Petition -1 point
Dark Petition was put to 1 on the back of Storm, primarily, being able to play it as a true Demonic Tutor, as well as providing a reasonably powerful tutoring option for other decks, like the UB tinker decks, who could make use of the mana.
Neither of those decks is really a concern at this time.
The watch list
Brainstorm/Gush potentially +1
Blue-based tempo decks performed quite well in the league. There are a number of factors involved, but one of the big ones seems to be cheap or free card advantage or card selection, typified by the above 2 cards.
Both of these are fairly significant format staples, and we wanted to see the results of the other changes before moving on these (or another blue tempo card, potentially)
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer potentially +1
Ragavan is a powerful, flexible threat which provides acceleration and sometimes card advantage. It’s too soon to make the decision to point it, but we’re concerned about it’s power level.
Urza’s Saga potentially +1
Similar to Ragavan, Urza’s Saga is new, powerful, and potentially playable in a large percentage of decks.
Profane Tutor potentially +1
Profane Tutor is a slightly hard-to-judge tutor effect. We want to keep an eye on it in case it is too flexible and powerful in midrange and control decks.
Merchant Scroll potentially -1
Merchant Scroll is another card that has been discussed to lose a point as a lower quality tutor. At this time we feel that Imperial Seal and Dark Petition are better choices.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den potentially +1
As the power level of the format increases, and the average casting cost reduces, Lurrus gets stronger and stronger. It’s likely we’re approaching a point where it is too good to be zero points.
Thassa’s Oracle potentially +1
Oracle has a problem of compactness and ubiquity. If Oracle is just the default best combo/control/any blue deck kill condition, that’s not a great state of affairs.
Right now, we think Oracle is not quite strong enough for that to be true. But if it was true, moving it to 4 would likely be our next step.
Lutri potentially +1
Lutri, despite being at 1 point, is played in somewhat more decks than we’re comfortable with for a companion.
Narset parter of veils/Teferi time raveler
No change – these are still being watched.
Fresh out of the new D&D:AFR: Commander decks, this card seems potentially extremely backbreaking for any deck not primarily on a creature-based plan. It might be the case that it’s no more ruinous than any number of other 3 mana enchantments that we’re ok with at 0, but we’d like to keep an eye on it.
Things no longer being watched – chain of smog, opposition agent
Neither of these cards have shown up in troubling enough numbers or been as problematic as we were concerned they might be.