Because Grizzly Bears was always lame

Over on Twitter, Aaron Forsythe asked this question:
“Functional reprints: Is the problem that you have to buy new verions of random commons again, or that we said 50% new when it was 40%?”
Evan Erwin’s answer neatly summarizes most of the complaints I’ve seen about this:
“Mainly that some of them seemed silly/unnecessary. I agree with most, but, was Grizzly Bears really worth changing?”
Trust me, it is. More in the extended entry.

Continue reading


I attended the Sunday prerelease flight today at Superstars in San Jose. There was a good turnout today, and more yesterday.
Thanks go out to Eric Levine for his affable head judging of the event.
My understanding of Sealed, which I play very, very rarely (basically, at PTQs and the occasional prerelease) is “build to your bombs.” Today, my six packs included the following clear bombs:
Planar Cleansing
Ajani Goldmane
That, along with a generally poor quality of anything outside of green and white, led to a very brief and focused deck construction experience for me. I ended up with a green-white build with various two, three, and four drops, as well as some big-mana spells. I had almost no removal, and very little to do against yo random permanents (consider the beating I took from a Whispersilk Cloaked creature in game one, round one).
I went 3-1, picking up an extra six packs, and subsequently arbitraging some of my winnings into another (my fourth) Elspeth.
My favorite play series on the day:
Planar Cleansing to clear the board.
Howl of the Night Pack for four 2/2 Wolves.
Overrun for 20.
The round I lost came down to Master of the Wild Hunt in both games. In game two, I hit Planar Cleansing to eight-for-one my opponent, and then he drew the Master off the top. Ouch. He had two in his deck, notably.
Overall, it was a good time, and I enjoyed going with some friends. I also enjoyed doing a bit of trading (which I rarely do) and taking the time out to help a newer player revise his deck to make it more effective, as he had good cards but was having trouble winning. It was a fun chance to meet players I never see at our PTQs. There are simply a lot of people who play only the occasional draft, or only kitchen table Magic, who nonetheless come out for prereleases. I did my bit of proselytizing for PTQs as a fun experience, since I genuinely think PTQs are.
Also, although I don’t know if it’s a commentary on M10 sealed or not, with my deck I decided to choose “play” all day when I had a chance, and that worked out well for me.

Fear no more

As it happens, the comprehensive changes to the comprehensive rules (as outlined in the July 2009 update bulletin) contain some gems. Thanks to SSO for pointing this one out (I admit I kind of glanced for a couple seconds at the page describing comprehensive rules updates):
This is intimidate, an evergreen keyword that doesn’t quite exist yet. A creature with intimidate can’t be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it. It’s coming soon, so rather than renumber everything in a few months, it was added in early. (It essentially takes the place of fear, which will remain in place but won’t appear on new cards.)

Mark Rosewater has talked previously about how he didn’t like that the Fear keyword was linked to black, but that it would be too problematic a change to try and modify how Fear works. Generating a new keyword seems like a good plan, and Intimidate is a very appropriate name now that it’s generic across the colors.
I notice that they haven’t yet modified the Oracle text of Skirk Shaman to reflect that it does, indeed, have Intimidate.

“Just thought you should know…” July 2009 update bulltein

The July update bulletin is up here. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of card changes (changing zone names will do that), and the usual Mark Gottlieb funnies:
How do you play Coal Stoker as a land? Simple: Have a Coal Stoker already on the battlefield, equip it with Runed Stalactite so it’s a Saproling, control Life and Limb so it’s also a land, and play Vesuva copying it. Sadly, you’ll no longer get any mana in this situation. Just thought you should know.

STE is still good

Amidst all the discussion about the combat changes in M2010, one of the big complaints has been that removing “damage on” devalues cards like Siege-Gang Commander and Sakura-Tribe Elder. The counter-argument, of course, is that many of these cards were good before damage ever found the stack (cf Mogg Fanatic), and that you actually pick up some interesting cost-benefit decisions now instead of the brain-dead “put damage on, sacrifice” before.
Patrick Chapin spoke about this in his most recent SCG article:
Under the old system, when a Savannah Lion attacks and I have a Sakura-Tribe Elder, there is only really one play. Block, damage on stack, sac. This is the same play that every

Chill guys, chill

Reposting with permission from his Facebook page, here’s Zac Hill’s nice take on why the current combat rules are counter-intuitive:
Basically: That the existing combat damage rules, although we’ve gotten used to them, are counter-intuitive beyond belief. So my guy and this other guy stab each other in the heart with some spears, but before either one of us dies, we’re like “WHOA WHOA WHOA WAIT A SEC CHILL GUYS CHILL” while our homeboy-wizard-dude sets about casting some shit at his convenience? It just makes no sense. Plus, trying to explain deathtouch interactions to new players, or killing 2/2s with Blinking Spirit or whatever, always elicits these huge I-don’t-understand groans. Because how can two guys deal damage simultaneously, yet one gets hit and the other doesn’t?
Remember, Mogg Fanatic won a Pro Tour in pre-6th edition rules. Some cards get better, some get worse, but it’s not like there’s going to be all these huge huge huge power-level shakeups.

And you can read more about why I like this change in my previous post.

Making the invisible visible

Since the announcement of the coming rules changes in M2010, there has been the most wigging out about the changes to combat. A lot of the complaints come from the idea that putting damage on the stack is an integral concept, that removing it makes for dumber game play, and that players will need to learn what the stack is eventually anyway.
Well, yes they will, but from my own perspective of having taken a ten-year hiatus from the game (1996-2006, give or take), “damage on” is hardly integral to what makes Magic Magic. More to the point, I think the big gain here vis-a-vis new players has nothing to do with the stack or no, but in making invisible information visible.
More on that (with pictures!) in the extended entry. Go take a look!

Continue reading