The Field Report is back!

As the subject line says, The Field Report is back…and at!
It’ll be running as a regular biweekly feature (every two weeks, that is), running the day after that week’s In Development. As before, The Field Report is all about metagame analysis from my own peculiar perspective, where my interest is what we play against rather than trying to find some magical formula that tells us which deck to play.
This week’s edition of The Field Report is all about that special two-week period of post-Jace, pre-M12 Standard that starts Friday. In it, I discuss Keynes’s strange beauty contest and explain how it helps us prepare for this narrow metagame opportunity.
Click here to read the article, and then join the discussion.
For the curious, a little explanation…the first five The Field Report columns were, as you may have noticed, at I was brought on board by Ted Knutson when he was revamping SCG’s content. Pete Hoefling (of SCG) and Jon Saso (of ChannelFireball) were both quite cool about me continuing to write In Development at CFB while I started The Field Report at SCG.
When Steve Sadin took over as head of editorial, he decided that he wanted writers — especially Premium writers, which I was — to be exclusive to SCG. I respect his decision to take this approach (seems fine by me), but given the need to decide between writing for only SCG or continuing to write for CFB, I had to go with my first home (and, incidentally, the site that’s loaded down with people who are personal friends). Luis was interested in having my metagame take appear on CFB as well, so after some time (for me to stop being so damn busy) I’ve started writing TFR for
So, no drama or acrimony (sorry about that – boring, I know). Just a little editorial shift and a new home for this column. I hope you all enjoy it no matter where it appears!

This week’s In Development – M12 cards for decks you know

It’s In Development time again, and after last week’s discussion of the impact of Jace and Stoneforge being absent, this week we’re looking ahead to the post-M12 format. Our first stop mainly concerns updates to existing decks, with a side helping of cards that push new archetypes toward tier one status.
Click here to read the article, and then join the discussion.
What decks are you looking forward to in the new Standard?

This week’s In Development – I can play my dudes now! Or not.

It’s In Development time again, and this week, well, it’s all about the ban.
Actually, it’s all about the aftermath of the ban. Now that the Jace test is off the table, we have a whole new world of old options that have been reintroduced, at least for the two weeks between the ban and the Magic 2012 release.
What are you looking forward to playing these days?
Click here to read the article, then join the discussion on what works and what doesn’t in the wake of the bans.

Two weeks of new Standard – what will it be?

It’s Standard-shifting time!
On the July 1st, the ban on Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic goes into effect. Just two weeks later Magic 2012 will roll into the format, but in the meantime, we’re in Zendikar – M11 – Scars Standard.
No doubt you’ve already seen a lot of writing on the topic.
Want to take a few minutes to have your say?
You can click here to answer three questions about the new Standard, starting with everyone’s favorite – “What’s the best deck?”
It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, and will help feed into some new content for next week.
So click here and have your say

For the curious, part 2

Per Ian’s suggestion:
Click here for a larger version.
This chart shows the attendance for each Legacy Open divided by the attendance for each Standard Open that occurred during the same weekend. In other words, if Legacy and Standard attendance are trending together, the line should move horizontally. If one attendance trends more than another, it will skew up or down.
Click here for the other chart on this topic.

Pondering a less mystical world

The next Banned/Restricted (B/R) list announcement is coming up on the 20th, and the hot talk these days has been about what, if anything, will be done about CawBlade.
Certainly, the deck is dominant in a way that even Jund never quite managed, at least (and this is important to note) the “premier” level, and in the money events on MTGO. More to the point, as I touched on here, there is a significant difference between the fundamentally democratic nature of Jund and the limiting nature of CawBlade.
Or, in other words, Jund was relatively affordable, and CawBlade is a big stack of bills.
Joey Pasco made a really nice connection between our current impressions of CawBlade and the time of Jund dominance in the most recent episode of Yo! MTG Taps!. In essence, if you look at either archetype as being uniform, then yeah, it seems like Standard is especially static during their times of dominance. On the other hand, if you care to appreciate the many different choices made within each archetype, then there’s a lot to be interested in even if Standard features CawBlade or Jund as the prevalent, or even dominant, deck.
Joey also pretty much summed up the bullet point complaints about Jund and CawBlade:

  • Jund – “Requires no skill.”
  • CawBlade – “Requires too much skill.”

Which suggests to me that “skill” is a euphemism for money, since neither statement is true. CawBlade and Jund were both skill-testing decks in skill-testing environments. They just happened to test different skills. Jund was about resource management and attrition, and Jund design was about building in optimal cascade chains and trees while gaining an edge on opposing matchups. In contrast, CawBlade appears to be more about card advantage, control, and managing the point of inflection between control and closing the game – tempo, in other words.
Since many, many players could put together a Jund deck all the way down to the FNM level, and a reasonably constructed Jund deck would beat most homebrews, it became “braindead” and “unskilled.”
I’ll suggest that if CawBlade felt equally affordable, you’d hear the exact same thing. However, since the buy-in cost starts at four copies of Jace, CawBlade graduates into an elite tier in Standard decks, meaning that the stereotypical Mister Suitcase can buy the deck, fumble his plays a lot, and nonetheless crush at FNM.

What’s actually broken

None of this money talk is meant to suggest that Standard isn’t pretty skewed right now. The CawBlade frame is genuinely impressive. Consider the comparison between a power two-drop of yesteryear and CawBlade’s beater of choice.
Right. Dark Confidant let you trade in life for cards in a somewhat uncontrolled fashion. Generally, we could reasonably expect that more cards would mean more winning, and that we’d figure things out before the Confidant took us down.
On the other hand, Stoneforge Mystic just draws you that one first card

This week’s In Development – musings on mulligans

In Development time has rolled around again – as it does on a largely weekly basis – and this time around I’ve been giving some thought to mulligans. Specifically, I found myself wondering if we can attach some actual numbers to a decision about whether we should ditch an “okay” hand in hopes of drawing an excellent one.
As it happens, the results were a little different from what I expected.
You can click here to read the article and see for yourself, then continue the discussion in the comments, via email, or on twitter.

This week’s In Development – an infinite combo and a bonk on the head

In Development time has rolled around again, and I’m setting theory aside to give you an infinite combo stapled to an aggro deck stapled to another aggro deck — all in the same seventy-five cards!
Setting aside the bombast for a bit, this week’s Standard deck won’t save you from the specter of Stoneforge Mystics and their gear, but it will give you a chance to do silly infinite things with Phyrexian Metamorph while you’re swinging with Vengevines and hacking away with Swords (of War, Peace, Feast, and Famine in this case).
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good aggro-combo build in Standard, and it’s fun to play a deck that can attack on so many friends, especially as other decks in the format narrow down and become more focused.
So, check out the article, then comment, mail me, or hit me up on twitter and let me know what you think.