Tonight's our company holiday party. All our remote employees are in the office for the day, and everyone's chatting and getting nothing done. Carols are playing, people are buzzing about the holiday party — it's a nice little scene.
Out the windows, the wind howls. Snow falls fast and thick, but we're all warm in here. People are acting so gregarious towards each other that you start to wonder what's in their coffee mugs. I am hunched over my laptop, writin' 'bout wizzerd squares. I'm excited to report that there are, in fact, some shakeups in the rankings this week. Let's dive in.
Since there are a couple new cards in the top 10, stuff like Thraben Inspector and Blossoming Defense dropped off a bit. Beck & Call slipped a bit as well, but only a bit — it's holding steady at 14th. The interesting addition here is Sunken Hollow at 13th — if I had to guess, Sunken Hollow's surge is a result of Bobby Fortanely's Top 16 finish with U/B Summonings.
This is almost certainly a Commander buy, but it's not unreasonable to pin its spike on the rise of Frontier.
Here is my take on Frontier: Oath of the Gatewatch Standard sucked. Every turn was fetching, decks cost a billion dollars, and Four-Color Rally was obnoxiously powerful. This format might be great in the future, and it's easy enough to understand why it starts where it starts (Magic 2015 introduced the new card frame; 8th Edition, the beginning set for Modern, also introduced a new card frame), but I have zero desire to even explore it right now.
Magic players suffer from a really specific kind of amnesia where we'd like to believe anything new is great. Case in point: I was freaking out about how good Ajani Unyielding is last weekend until my friend Justin asked, "is it better than Sorin, Grim Nemesis?"
It's not! Sorin, Grim Nemesis is better and currently sees zero play. That's the kind of amnesia I'm talking about. Frontier is just Oath of the Gatewatch Standard right now, and that Standard sucked. I'm off it for now.
It's surprising to see a rare with such a high price tag have such a sustained run of strong sales. It's a testament to its power — the card's not getting worse anytime soon.
I love the design on this card. What Kaladesh brings to the table for aggressive decks is recurring card advantage. Between Smuggler's Copter, Depala, Pilot Exemplar, and Key to the City, aggressive deck have access to card filtering that they're not really supposed to get. Key to the City is especially bonkers because it does multiple things aggressive decks traditionally have trouble with: it draws cards in the late game and it breaks through cluttered boards.
I never really understood why Modern players got so invested in their weird decks... until I picked up Lantern Control. Oh man does that deck hit the sweet spot for me. As a guy that played a lot of Stasis + Rescue + Claws of Gix back in the day, Lantern Control is a straight-up nostalgia IV. Cards that should never see play — I probably wrote on dozens of Lantern of Insight to use as proxies — working in perfect harmony? To me, that is the Platonic Ideal of a Magic deck. Also, the fact that it's misery to play against is not lost on me. I love it, and when they finally ban Mox Opal, or Ensnaring Bridge, or whatever, that'll be very sad for me.
Non-white decks get a free graveyard hoser, just like they did last week and the week before WHEEEEEEE
It's between Aether Hub and Harnessed Lightning for the title of best uncommon in Kaladesh, and as fundamentally solid as Aether Hub is, it's Harnessed Lightning that's impressed the most time after time. It's a pushed card that's efficient and has a high ceiling and a high floor as far as impact on a game goes.
This could be a spec. Saheeli Rai is pretty cheap for a Planeswalker, and I've seen it break control mirrors wide open. It gets in under countermagic and creates a lot of incremental advantage, and while its ultimate ability won't blow anyone away, it doesn't take much to tip a control mirror in your favor, espeically if you've been chipping away with Saheeli Rai for a bunch of turns.
It's not often that a common plays better in Constructed than it does in Limited, but Woodweaver's Puzzleknot does a great job at both generating energy and stymieing decks designed to deal exactly 20 damage and nothing more.
Any conversation about the best active Magic player has to start with Owen Turtenwald and Seth Manfield. Their crazy 2016 Player of the Year race came down to the wire, and since Seth's narrow runner-up finish, he's been lighting up the scoreboard with two Grand Prix Top 8s — one with B/G Delirium, and the other with this monster of a deck:
People have been freaking out over this deck this week, and with good reason: it friggin' rules. Panharmonicon captured a lot of players' imaginations during Kaladesh spoiler season, so for a lot of people, Seth's Top 8 is validation.
I'm just excited to see what his next trick will be.
Happy holidays, nerds.