Magic has been experiencing a lot of ups and downs lately and some formats are feeling it more than others. We are trying our best to keep this format healthy and fun for new and existing players alike.
Oko, Thief of Crowns is now 2 Points. (from 1 to 2)
To improve the health of the format we aim to tax UGx decks, and 4c Midrange decks containing Oko. He has been referred to an “army in a can” and has seen a lot of play even in combo decks like Thoracle and Time vault. Appearing in 29% of the top decks in the meta, the low deck building cost of 1 point is too strong a draw into UGx (particularly when paired with Uro). For a similar reason True-Name Nemesis got a second point, Oko can slot into almost any deck strategy and at 2 points we hope to see fewer copies of Oko in the meta. This aims to help aggro decks and reduce the number of games dominated by this very powerful card.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath was originally considered our target for the extra point to tax these midrange UGx piles. However, we noted that these decks also chose to spend a point on Oko. We looked at the data from past events and noticed that decks playing Uro were almost always playing Oko, but rarely played Uro on its own. We decided the point here would tax these midrange decks choosing to sleeve up Oko and allow Uro to be a free roll for now. When you compare Uro to the other cards in these midrange shells, you will find lots of powerful value engines. Uro is just another slow value engine with a high upside that is perfect for Midrange decks.
Tolarian Academy is now 1 point. (from 2 points to 1)
Artifact Ramp decks have been represented in very small numbers in our top 8 records. You can see that in the Q4 meta report – ramp as a strategy is one of the lowest represented. With cards like Collector Ouphe and Null Rod being in most sideboards we think it is time to make another point available to those decks. We will be keeping a close eye on its splash effects on storm and time vault decks (considering 50% of the time vault decks were playing it).
Yawgmoth’s Bargain is now 0 points. (from 1 to 0)
Each set release we take a look at reducing the number of needlessly pointed cards on the points list. Recently this card at 1 point has seen 0% play in Q3 and Q4 (and quite possibly longer). 6 mana is a lot. Often we compared this card to other zero pointed cards like Bolas Citadel and Necropotence and couldn’t justify its position on the list at 1 point.
We understand that there may eventually be a critical amount of cards depointed that allows the flood gates of non-interactive combo decks to open. However, at this stage, we think it is safe to drop Yawmoth’s Bargain down to 0 points and remove it from the points list. Storm, arguably the deck that wants this card the most, is not seeing alot of play but we will be keeping an eye on these fast and highly non-interactive decks.
Ancestral Recall & Time Walk are both now 5 points. (from 4 to 5)
Historically we’ve resisted any individual card costing more than 4 of the 7 points. Ancestral Recall is performing really well. Unfortunately its price tag reduces the amount it’s played. Wizards of the Coast keep printing more and more cards which return Ancestral Recall and Time Walk from the graveyard or create copies of it on the stack. In earlier post we have said, “It may be inevitable that one or both of these become our first five point card.” The extra point on Ancestral Recall and TIme Walk has become an evergreen topic most pointing discussions. This is points change is an effort to “rip the Band-Aid off” on both of these cards.
There are a surprising number of decks playing Ancestral Recall or Time Walk in the recent magic online tournaments. We assume this is due to them being cheap online in addition to their power level. If blue power was $4 in real life rather than $4000, would we expect to see a lot more copies in our meta games?
While Ancestral Recall can fit in many more shells than Time Walk can, we are specifically looking at the amount of recursion and loops being printed. More and more cards return Ancestral Recall (and Time Walk) from the graveyard or create copies of it on the stack (Sea Gate Stormcaller and Lutri, the Spellchaser). Cards like Ancestral Recall or Time Walk were always a massive barrier to entry for players wanting to sleeve up those decks.
While Ancestral Recall’s points can be substituted by other blue power houses like Treasure cruise and Dig Through Time allowing player to get a similar effect on a budget, Time Walk has a unique effect at that mana cost. We considered taxing decks looking to abuse Time Walk loops by putting an extra point on spell seeker. However we decided that the extra point belongs on the looped card, particularly when Time Walk has a $2500 price tag.
The affordability of this format is a small yet critical factor in the committee’s pointing decisions. If a card is being debated on whether or not it should get an extra point (due to power level or meta game balance) then we use price as a tie breaker.
Watch list update
Enlightened Tutor: Top-deck tutors are less powerful than they used to be. Tutoring Time Vault, Oath of Druids, Underworld Breach and Black Lotus, is undeniably powerful.
It is not seeing much play. However, many of the most powerful combo decks could increase their number of effective turn two and three kills by adding it. In Storm and Breach decks it finds pieces to the combo: Underworld Breach and Lion’s Eye Diamond. In Reanimator it finds Oath of Druids and Animate Dead. In Time Vault it finds the namesake and also gets the other half. We currently see no reason to potentially improve these decks, and turn two and three kills are typically not enjoyable games.
Teferi, Time Raveler / Narset, Parter of Veils / Opposition Agent: These 3 drop cards may be holding back/ making it hard for combo decks. We are very conscious of Opposition Agent’s “feel bad” factor, however, we do like the fact that it is a great at combating tutors.
Deathrite Shaman: On the surface this one seems really strange. However, this card has been banned in multiple formats due to its power level and its effect at all stages of the game. While we don’t believe this card alone is an issue in this format. We are looking at reducing the power level of midrange decks and for that reason we are going to watch list this card.
Birgi, God of Storytelling: The front side of this card has the potential to go infinite with cards like Grinning Ignus. The back half is a massive engine to tear through your library. It’s a combo piece we would like to keep an eye on.
Hermit Druid: While this card is very powerful it’s not seeing any play. It is basically a one card combo with the draw back being you have no library anymore.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath: It’s good against Aggro and it’s a power house in midrange.