Getting bait-and-switched sucks.
Got that? Great. On to the Magic cards.
HA. Just kidding.
So getting bait-and-switched sucks. That's not breaking news. Getting promised something and then receiving something way worse than what you were promised is a terrible feeling. Whenever I feel like this, my first step is to make sure my expectations synced up with reality.
Should I have expected that grinding Magic events was going to be all sunshine and rainbows, or did I get into it by thinking about the ends and not the means?
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, as the theory goes. Every piece of content seeking to sell Magic as a zero-downside bastion of good times will inspire someone who knows better to Tell It Like It Really Is.
The truth of the matter is that things aren't neatly classified into Fun and Unfun buckets. Things are complicated. Our feels are complicated. Presenting just the upsides of something is exactly as dishonest as only presenting the downside, but both can paint a clear enough picture to allow you to decide if competitive Magic is right for you. Accounts from both sides can be enjoyable to consume, but using only one side of the coin to influence your decisions is a punt. That's obvious, but is an easy rule to lose in the shuffle when each side presents their argument really well.
Alright, Magic. Let's go.
Ah, the cards that didn't quite make the Top 10 cutoff. The cards that should've tried harder. Classic underachievers. These are the cards that just didn't want it bad enough this week.
Blessed Alliance is a mana-efficient removal spell that offers awesome versatility and takes care of indestructible and hexproof creatures alike, given they're the only ones attacking. Neck Snap with four life attached to it is a fine card by itself. Blessed Alliance is capable of even more than that.
Blooming Marsh and Spirebluff Canal are good cards and will be good for the rest of their tenure in Standard. I'd much rather talk about Gonti, Lord of Luxury. I don't know what it's doing here, but I love it. There's definitely a level of feel-bad your opponent gets when you cast all their best cards, but it's really their fault for putting such good cards in their deck. Shoulda been playing around Gonti, dum-dum.
The rise of Blossoming Defense in more and more green decks of all speeds as a Turn Aside with upside is likely triggering more uses of Blessed Alliance. It'll be interesting to see where Standard settles and how much players use Blessed Alliance to adapt to Blossoming Defense.
I'm glad this card continues to sell so well. I still haven't gotten to cast this card but I'm excited to do it. Maybe this weekend I'll catch up on all those Kaladesh drafts I've been meaning to do.
A dual-land cracked the top ten, so it's time to break out my "why a Kaladesh dual-land is good" boilerplate:
Here's what makes dual-lands good: basic lands create only one color of mana. That means the baseline value of a land is that it makes one mana of one color. Any time a land is able to cheat on this principle, its value is higher than the value of a basic land. This is why lands like these generally have some sort of qualifier, or drawback, built in. Sometimes the drawbacks are too great, like with Lotus Vale or Cinder Marsh, for them to have more value than a basic land. However, the drawback on the Kaladesh rare dual-land cycle is barely a drawback, yielding value way past the value of a basic land. That is why Concealed Courtyard is a Good Wizard Square.
In hindisght, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim and Kambal, Consul of Allocation is so obvious, but that doesn't stop this deck from being totally sweet:
This deck plays all phases of the game really well, applying aggression early with enough recurring advantage to close opponents out late. A lot of aggressive Standard decks have this quality; W/R Vehicles is the most-known for it, but this white/black deck can go toe-to-toe with any deck in the long game.
Got a bit of feedback from my Monday question, but I'm still looking for more Commander ideas! My latest brainchild: Hazezon Tamar and Warp World. That deck sounds awesome.
Let's talk Squires here for a minute. Thraben Inspector, the only non-Kaladesh card to crack the top 10, is likely the best Squire ever printed (Academy Rector doesn't count, that thing costs four mana). I enjoy that. Squire played a big role in my understanding variance; I did a lot of Time Spiral drafts as a kid, and opened an immoderate amount of Squires in what often amounted to a second rare slot. Timeshifted cards were a cool, great idea and I loved everything about them, from the callbacks to the aesthetic feel of old Magic cards and playing them next to cards with a completely different frame, but in a rarity slot that could've offered up Disintegrate, Psionic Blast, or Teferi's Moat, opening Squire never failed to tilt me off into the stratosphere. "Why the hell is this card here?" "Why would they ever print this card, even in The Dark?" "This game sucks!" Things of that nature.
You'll be delighted to know that my co-workers read this column, and that I will never be able to live down saying the following cards were bad:
Oath of Nissa
Siege Rhino (yikes)
Liliana, the Last Hope (hoo boy)
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
I should stop there.
I won a draft with this card once. Animation Module is bonkers. I can't imagine many uncommons or any commons I'd take over it. I would not be surprised if Animation Module was better than any uncommon. I'm glad this card caught on in Standard.
OH SNAP AETHER HUB ISN'T #1 THIS WEEK WHAT COULD HAVE POSSIBLY DETHRONED IT
Let's call back that white/black deck for a second.
A reason that deck has such a good long game is Angel of Invention. I'm not sure where or how this deck blew up, but clearly people saw it and are going in on the cards. I'm looking forward to see if it makes a dent in this weekend's Standard classic.
See you Monday.